Look Forward, and Promote the Torturers

There’s Matt, who froze Gul Rahman to death in the Salt Pit. Paul, his boss and the CIA Station Chief of Afghanistan, who ignored Matt’s requests for more help at the prison. There’s Albert, who staged a mock execution of Rahim al-Nashiri, and his boss, Ron, the Station Chief in Poland, who witnessed the forbidden technique and did nothing to stop it. There’s Frances, the analyst who was certain that Khaled el-Masri had to be the terrorist with a similar name, and Elizabeth, the lawyer who approved Frances’ decision to have el-Masri rendered and tortured. There’s Steve, the CIA guy who interrogated Manadel al-Jamadi and, some say, effectively crucified him. There’s Gerry Meyer, the Baghdad station chief, and his deputy, Gordon, who permitted the ghost detainee system in Iraq. And of course, there’s Jennifer Matthews, the Khost station chief who ignored warnings about Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi that might have prevented his attack (and her own death).

These are the CIA officers responsible for the Agency’s biggest known fuck-ups and crimes since 9/11.

The AP has a story tracking what happened to those officers. And it finds that few were held accountable, particularly not senior officers, and even those who were reprimanded have continued to prosper in the agency.

In the years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, officers who committed serious mistakes that left people wrongly imprisoned or even dead have received only minor admonishments or no punishment at all, an Associated Press investigation has revealed.


Though Obama has sought to put the CIA’s interrogation program behind him, the result of a decade of haphazard accountability is that many officers who made significant missteps are now the senior managers fighting the president’s spy wars.

The AP investigation of the CIA’s actions revealed a disciplinary system that takes years to make decisions, hands down reprimands inconsistently and is viewed inside the agency as prone to favoritism and manipulation. When people are disciplined, the punishment seems to roll downhill, sparing senior managers even when they were directly involved in operations that go awry.

Paul–the guy who let the inexperienced Matt freeze Gul Rahman to death–is now chief of the Near East Division.

Ron–who watched Albert stage a forbidden mock execution–now heads the Central European Division.

Albert–who staged the mock execution–was reprimanded, left the CIA, but returned to the CIA as a contractor involved in training officers.

Frances–who insisted Khaled el-Masri be rendered and tortured–was not disciplined and now heads the CIA’s “Global Jihad” unit.

Elizabeth–the lawyer who approved el-Masri’s rendition–was disciplined, but has since been promoted to the legal adviser to the Near East Division.

Steve was reprimanded–not for his interrogation of al-Janabi, but for not having him seen by a doctor. He retired and is back at CIA as a contractor.

Gordon–the Deputy at the Baghdad station at the time of the worst torture–was temporarily barred from working overseas and sent to training; he’s now in charge of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Department of the Counterterrorism Center.

And, as the AP notes, several of these people are now among Obama’s key counter-terrorism advisors. (Of course, John Brennan, who oversaw targeting for Dick Cheney’s illegal wiretap program, is his top counter-terrorism advisor.)

No wonder Obama has no problem pushing our Egyptian torturer, Omar Suleiman, to lead Egypt. It’s completely consistent with our own practice of promoting our own torturers.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

  1. klynn says:

    Looks like a new, improved, revised and updated edition of Peter’s Principle needs to be published…hard to believe it is 42 years later…

    Peter’s Principle, Evil Edition

    “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence”.

    Gottah eliminate the lust for accomplishment at any cost.

  2. bobschacht says:

    Thanks for this, EW.
    A roster of infamy, to be sure, that needs to be spotlighted.
    In fact, I just did, to
    John Wilke : Justice Pod Leader : Wall Street Journal
    Dan Eggen : National Staff Writer – Justice Department : Washington Post
    Dorothy Samuels : Law, Civil Rights, National Affairs Editorial Writer : New York Times
    Eric Lichtblau : Justice Department Correspondent : New York Times
    Dennis Akizuki : Law and Justice Editor : San Jose Mercury News
    Maurice Possley : Criminal Justice Reporter : Chicago Tribune
    Maura Dolan : Legal Affairs Writer : Los Angeles Times
    Jane Mayer : Washington Correspondent : New Yorker
    Curt Anderson : Justice Correspondent : Associated Press
    Jim Rubin : Legal Editor : Bloomberg News

    Bob in AZ

  3. Mary says:

    You’d like to be able to say “unbelievable” but I don’t have any unbelievables left in me anymore.

    • madma says:

      I have to say, my husband and I are still in disbelief. Who knew how horrible we have become. And the fact that so many americans are continuing to be conned by our own torturer and chief is pretty appalling.

  4. wavpeac says:

    In my opinion, this is the stuff that conspiracy are truly made of, as opposed to all the secret back room dealings. This is how gangs work. This is how the mafia worked, this is how domestic violence remained consequence free for so many years. It’s collusion. You don’t have to talk about it, you just promote the people who have a personal stake in the outcome of “silence” or “keeping the secret”.

    • NMvoiceofreason says:

      And that very secrecy – the criminal conspiracy hiding behind “state secrets” – is the albatross hanging around their necks that will drag them down until they are caught and punished. There is no statute of limitations for torture or felony murder.

  5. Mary says:

    How bad is it when Kit Bond is voice of reason and Obama is the spider at the center of the web?

    How proud is DiFi of her demand to Obama to keep Kappes on, looking at the Khost bombing?

    Hayden’s input is pretty telling as well – it’s a shocking thing for such a man to have been given not just a uniform but leadership. When he in essence proudly says that, looking at vicious criminal deviancy, he and his pals at the top of the Exec branch food chain judge it not so much based on justice, but based on how much damage not allowing free rein to such deviancy is going to have on their “operational” capabilities in the future.

    Beyond the requirements of fairness and justice, you always made these decisions with an eye toward the future health and operational success of the institution

    I mean, you might miss out on those great agents who will drug and rape women, disappear innocents, and use an al-libi to give false torture confessions that can be succesfully laundered through the UN to support a war that will send 18 yo Americans home in body boxes or without their limbs and create 2 million refugees who will have long memories.

    What a shame that would be – obviously fairness and justice don’t hold a candle to those needs.

    Seriously – a Palin presidency isn’t looking that bad to me anymore.

    • NMvoiceofreason says:

      Sarah would be worse. Global Thermonuclear War before Christmas the year she goes into office.

  6. Gitcheegumee says:

    Well, Rumsfeld DID tell them to take the gloves off,didn’t he?

    John Walker Lindh: The Original Bush Era Torture Victim?

    Bush/Cheney Torture Campaign Began with Rumsfeld Instructions to ‘Take the Gloves Off’ with John Walker Lindh

    by Dave Lindorff

    As pressure mounts for an investigation or criminal prosecution of the officials and the decisions that led to an official government program of torture, the case of John Walker Liindh, the young American fighter arrested with the Taliban early in the Afghanistan invasion, may offer an example of the earliest case of documentable officially sanctioned torture.

    One of the documents obtained by Lindh’s lawyers, who finally got on the case once Lindh had been flown home by the government to face trial on a terrorism charge of helping to kill Americans, was a written memo from the office of then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, instructing Lindh’s captors to “take the gloves off” in interrogating him. The memo, signed by Rumsfeld’s Defense Department General Counsel William J. Haynes II, does not lay out in detail the specific treatments to which Lindh can be subjected, but appears to simply tell his tormentors that they are free to use harsh measures. this Rumsfeld office memo, written back in December 2001, in a sense opened the door to the torture of captives with the encouragement of Rumsfeld and the Bush/Cheney administration.Back in June of 2002, torture by US forces was just a faint rumor. Now, with the release of memos by White House and Justice Department lawyers authorizing official torture retroactively and going forward, and with evidence that has shown torture to have been widely practiced on people held in American captivity, it is clear why Chertoff and the Bush/Cheney administration went to such hurried and extraordinary lengths to completely silence Lindh. His wasn’t just the first trial in the “War on Terror.” Lindh was the first victim whose torture could be shown to have been officially sanctioned.

    Timeline: June 12,2002 Lindh evidentiary hearing before Judge TS Ellis

    July 15,2002Lindh accept’s Chertoff’s plea deal and pleads guilty to two charges,and agrees to a gag order to not speak about his treatment during captivity. He is given a 20 yearsentence.

    NOTE: This is one day prior to the July 16,2002 Yoo meeting where Chertoff admonishes Yoo about no get out of jail free card.- the SAME day Bush unveiled the Homeland Security plan to the public .

    • NMvoiceofreason says:

      Also, in “The Dark Side” by Mayer, she documents how he had asked for a lawyer, the family hired one, but the DOJ blocked all efforts to let them talk to each other. Would be a “mistake” except it was DOJ policy: US v. Lopez, 989 F.2d 1032 (9th 1993) AUSA misconduct, “Thornburgh Memorandum”, US v. KOJAY AN et. al., 8 F.3d 1315 (9th 1993) Misconduct of AUSA. The Department of Justice has a long tradition of protecting the unethical practices of its attorneys, see Matter of Doe, 801 F. Supp. 478 (D.N.M. 1992). As Judge Burciaga observed: “When a government lawyer, with enormous resources at his or her disposal, abuses this power and ignores ethical standards, he or she not only undermines the public trust, but inflicts damage beyond calculation to our system of justice. This alone compels the responsible and ethical exercise of this power.”, In re Doe, 801 F.Supp. At 480. see also IN RE: G. Paul HOWES, NM (1997).

      • JamesJoyce says:

        “… ignores ethical standards, he or she not only undermines the public trust, but inflicts damage beyond calculation to our system of justice.

        For some Justice Thomas, comes to mind! The “mere appearance of impropriety,” or something like that?

  7. Gitcheegumee says:

    Just came across this :

    (Reuters) – Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. defence secretary under George W. Bush, warned on Tuesday that attempts to prosecute the ex-president abroad for alleged torture of terrorism suspects was a misguided response to U.S. public policy.

    Rights groups have threatened legal action against Bush in Switzerland for alleged mistreatment of inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. Bush was due to visit Geneva to address a Jewish charity gala on Saturday, but organizers cancelled the event due to what they described as security concerns.

    “People are trying to make legal issues out of public policy issues, which is unfortunate,” Rumsfeld told Reuters. “I think it’s a sign of the times.”

    Rumsfeld, who personally authorized harsh interrogation techniques used on some terrorism suspects, said he had not considered whether he, too, might face prosecution if he travelled abroad.

    Still, he warned of efforts overseas to create “universal jurisdiction” to try Americans in foreign countries.

    Read more: http://in.reuters.com/article/2011/02/09/idINIndia-5475

    NOTE: WTF??

    • wavpeac says:

      I also thought that O’Reilly’s reference to Mubarek regarding fear that he would “go off the reservation” in regard to “our rendition program” while interviewing Obama was interesting. We are currently getting a full on press regarding “how we should feel” about torture. They are trying to desensitize the country to this violence. Think of the meaning of this. Basically they are advertising torture…hoping that the American public buys it. They will go further to suggest that attempts to hold us accountable, will hurt our country, our freedom. They are trying desperately to twist this country inside and out. This is the work of sociapaths and psycho paths. We literally are being given “the treatment”. And our country will fall under this spell because most people do not have the ability to distinguish the moral twisting of a sociopath. The right knows why we are supporting Mubarek..they just have to be careful about how they “frame it”.

      The more we can put the pictures out there…tell the truth of it, put it out there…the better. Just like during slavery…we had to talk it to death. We had to keep the cruelty of it along with the reasoning beside it. We have to press back, we need a montage of great leaders with little clips bragging about how our country lives by it’s morals, with the pictures of the tortured..right along side. WE need to focus on the cognitive dissonance it creates.

      • JamesJoyce says:

        “The more we can put the pictures out there…tell the truth of it, put it out there…the better. Just like during slavery…we had to talk it to death. We had to keep the cruelty of it along with the reasoning beside it. We have to press back, we need a montage of great leaders with little clips bragging about how our country lives by it’s morals, with the pictures of the tortured..right along side. WE need to focus on the cognitive dissonance it creates.”

        President Lincoln did not compromise with slave-owners who challenge the rule of law and sought to break up the union.

        • wavpeac says:

          agreed…but it makes our job no different…just like starting the movement before Lincoln. They are trying to twist the truth about torture and make it in to a “noble” and “necessary” task. We have to hold it up over and over again for the lie it is. I remember when the movement started in domestic violence to encourage men to speak up about domestic violence and how wrong it is…that silence is collusion. We have to keep making the opposition heard despite the fact that so many Americans buy the idea of safety at any cost.

    • madma says:

      Rumsfeld came very close to being nabbed by the same people after Bush. so close that he exited out the back door. So once again he lies when he says he had not considered the same treatment for him.

    • bobschacht says:

      Yeah, I guess those German lawyers at Nuremberg used the wrong defense. They should have charged the prosecutors with criminalizing policy decisions.

      Seriously, when did it become the case that policies are exempt from legal scrutiny?

      Bob in AZ

      • Gitcheegumee says:


        I was under the impression that official policy had to be legal,in order to become official policy in the first place.(Aren’t I just “the quaintest “?)

        Perhaps RumDum is referring to “unofficial” policy,hmmh?

    • youmayberight says:

      And here is a part of the statement Ronald Reagan made when he signed the Convention Against Torture in 1988: “The core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called ‘universal jurisdiction.’ Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution.”

      His statement at the signing — not a signing statement — is available here: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1079/is_n2137_v88/ai_6742034/.

      • NMvoiceofreason says:

        Madeline Albright, in the official US filing under article 19 (due 1995, filed 1999, amended 2000) “Initial reports of States parties due in 1995” says in paragraph 6:
        “6. Torture is prohibited by law throughout the United States. It is categorically denounced as a matter of policy and as a tool of state authority. Every act constituting torture under the Convention constitutes a criminal offence under the law of the United States. No official of the Government, federal, state or local, civilian or military, is authorized to commit or to instruct anyone else to commit torture. Nor may any official condone or tolerate torture in any form. No exceptional circumstances may be invoked as a justification of torture. United States law contains no provision permitting otherwise prohibited acts of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to be employed on grounds of exigent circumstances (for example, during a “state of public emergency”) or on orders from a superior officer or public authority, and the protective mechanisms of an independent judiciary are not subject to suspension. The United States is committed to the full and effective implementation of its obligations under the Convention throughout its territory.”
        As an official act of the US government, it throws all of Yoo and Bybee’s later justification defenses right under the prosecutable bus.

  8. Mary says:

    Torturing someone to give you false info so that you can go to war and kill thousands – “public policy” Isn’t there something in a prior thread about Rumsfeld encouraging everyone to come up with new, better sounding, euphemisms for things like occupying a country? So torture is now recast as “public policy” Unfortunately for Rummy, after 10 years of Bush and Obama, “public policy” garners a more negative reaction than torture.

  9. Mary says:

    This is OT, but related. ABC is now also running the story about the guys killed in Pakistan by Raymond Davis being ISI (together with some info about him having been warned out of an area previously and not heading that warning)


    But what struck me vis a vis this story is that Buck McKeon is over there telling the Pakistanis that if they try Davis or the SUV killers there will be such huge ANGER in the US that people like him will take to the House floor and will do things like cutting aid and speaking out.

    OTOH, when our own CIA targets a missionary plane carrying American missionaries for a shootdown that kills a mother clutching her infant child – – we got mostly crickets.


    “America” is going to be more angry over a trial in Pakistan of a guy who drilled bullets into the backs of two guys than it was over our CIA having our missionaries killed?

    Which America does McKeon live in?

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      Which America?

      The Never Neverland of Zero Accountability Zone…..

      The Disneyfication of this land began long before Jeff Immelt was anointed to the (no ) Jobs Commission.

    • madma says:

      They will cut aid to Pak over one guy at the same time we are continuing shipments of military hardware to Egypt to kill innocent protestors and are refusing to even consider cutting aid to Mubarak and torture chief.

  10. PeasantParty says:

    Arggghhhh! Retired, but back as a contractor! Is our entire nation and it’s business being handled by contractors? No wonder the budget can never be fully itemized, identified, or cut. No wonder so many things go wrong and there is no accountability. Insight, Hindsight, Oversight? Anywhere on any agency or topic?


    Obama, has continued on the Bush role play and did not remove any of these neocons from their places. Until the rocks are turned over and the curtains are pulled back, this empire will fade away into even darker places.

    • NMvoiceofreason says:

      Some of us are working on new drapes. More like sheers, let a little light in. Just some festive window decorations with sconces and subpoenas.

  11. papau says:

    You can’t be a contractor without an agency “insider” or major major political influence.

    The con job of “small business contracts” set asides is as big a disaster as the the mortgage HAMP program. Indeed I believe the GOP do not even want to do the pretend – so “small business” will likely no longer even have a fake welcome at “intel”.

    Private enterprise big company style needs its profit via your taxes – and just as hired management – CEO’s – now pick their boards and almost never suffer from disaster to the company (beyond the rare parachute plus new job as CEO elsewhere), Gov contractor/Gov contractor supervisor do not suffer if our intel sucks.

  12. Knut says:

    I think it is pretty clear that Obama does not control the CIA. He was a newcomer, and had to follow what they told me. His staff are pretty much old timers with the same world-view as the toughs at CIA. It was asking too much to think he could do anything with that festering bag of pus. Clinton was in the same situation.

    • bobschacht says:

      His staff are pretty much old timers with the same world-view as the toughs at CIA.

      “Toughs” is the wrong word here. Makes them sound too macho, manly, i.e., good. It would be more accurate to use a word such as “sadists” or maybe even “criminals”.

      Bob in AZ

    • spanishinquisition says:

      If the buck doesn’t stop with Obama, it’s time to find a President who will actually be the President.

  13. eCAHNomics says:

    As I typed on an earlier thread, I caught a snippet of a speaker at Hudson Institute earlier this morning, who was pumping the idea that Egypt was a disguised military coup. That the Egyptian military were very unhappy with Mubarak’s son next in line, and not too keen about Mubarak anymore.

    I didn’t watch very long (have low threshold for pain).

    Lotsa criticism could be advanced against that idea, like how the protests started. I’d imagine the speaker thought they might have started spontaneously, but that the military was now manipulating them to get Mubarak out & Sulieman in.

    That would also explain why O is so eager for Sulieman to take over quickly.

    Presumably, once that occurs, ‘discussions’ begin on ‘reforms,’ all the pro-democracy stuff grinds to a halt & U.S. has its next dictator in place. (Or the one after him lined up, as I have read that Sulieman’s health is not good.)

  14. tjbs says:

    Torture /Murder/ Treason

    There have to be hundreds or thousands involved right ?

    Most have returned home to do what they do, though they’ll never be who they were before they succumbed to getting with the torture program.

  15. NMvoiceofreason says:

    You forgot a big one – Mark Swanner, the CIA agent who beat a suspect then crucified him in his cell. “Manadel al-Jamadi 73. as an Iraqi prisoner who was tortured to death in United States custody during interrogation at Abu Ghraib Prison on November 4, 2003. His name became known in 2004 when the Abu Ghraib scandal made news; his corpse packed in ice was the background for widely-reprinted photographs of grinning U.S. Army Specialists Sabrina Harman and Charles Graner each offering a “thumbs-up” gesture. Al-Jamadi had been a suspect in a bomb attack that killed 12 people in a Baghdad Red Cross facility.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manadel_al-Jamadi Huffpo even has the “torture porn” of Sabrina Harman grinning over his body. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/09/at-cia-grave-mistakes-led_n_820627.html To date, no U.S. official has been punished criminally in connection with al-Jamadi’s death, not even with a written reprimand or sternly worded letter of rebuke.

  16. eCAHNomics says:

    I gotta remind folks here that the U.S., & I’d guess every other country, always tortures. Revenge, the exactly convenient false confession, etc., it’s just all so tempting.

    Torture prosecution is only for leaders who lose bigtime.

    Specific example in U.S. history (from the book Overthrow) is what the U.S. did to the Philippine insurgents in the late 19th C. Suck bamboo down their throats, poured water in until their bellies swelled, then jumped on their bellies.

  17. Jeff Kaye says:

    Great article, EW, and important to make these points. Kudos to AP… well, sort of, because the article unfortunately promotes the fable that “the CIA had never been in the interrogation and detention business”.

    That’s a total fabrication. I don’t mean that Goldman and Apuzzo are lying, but that they have accepted in this instance what was told them. If I thought they were covering up, my stinger would be out a bit farther.

    Still, I intend to write up this point in larger format.

    No accountability? Who would have thought the ruling class would resurrect an old U.S. slogan from the 18th century and emblazon it across the CIA enterprise:

    CIA: Don’t Tread on Us!

    • NMvoiceofreason says:

      Uh, Bob? I like you dude, and dont want to be harsh, but maybe a cup of coffee or something. Third paragraph, first sentence: “The AP has a story tracking what happened to those officers.” With linky.

  18. burnt says:

    I found this part of the AP article amusing:

    The AP is identifying Matt, Paul and other current and former undercover CIA officers — though only by partial names — because they are central to the question of who is being held accountable and because it enhances the credibility of AP’s reporting in this case. AP’s policy is to use names whenever possible. The AP determined that even the most sophisticated commercial information services could not be used to derive the officers’ full names or, for example, find their home addresses knowing only their first names and the fact of their CIA employment. The AP has withheld further details that could help identify them.

    I guess Emptywheel and her minions do not qualify as a sophisticated commercial information service but there has to be more than a dozen folks here who now know the full name of the man ultimately responsible for the death of Gul Rahman–and by the way why doesn’t the AP article just call him a prisoner and not name him?

    • NMvoiceofreason says:

      This is just simply not true.
      “Spy Vs…Lawyer?” = How human rights advocates investigating torture ended up snooping on the CIA—and in hot water with the feds. http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/07/john-sifton-guantanamo-aclu

      While doing research for the John Adams Project of the ACLU/NACDL, John Sifton found many of these CIA agents. And rather than prosecuting the torturers for their crimes, they are going to prosecute him – for having found them.

  19. NMvoiceofreason says:

    Resources for those who want to know more:

    Everything Emptywheel ever wrote on Torture… or anything

    “The Bush Administration Homicides”
    by John Sifton

    “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder”
    by Vincent Bugliosi

    “United States v. George W. Bush et al.”
    by Elizabeth de la Vega

    “The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals”
    by Jane Mayer

    “The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration”
    by Jack Goldsmith

    “Command’s Responsibility: Detainee Deaths in U.S. Custody in Iraq and Afghanistan”
    by Hina Shamsi, Human Rights First Senior Counsel

  20. lennyp says:

    “These are the CIA officers responsible for the Agency’s biggest known fuck-ups and crimes since 9/11.”

    Where as to us these are (to put it mildly) “fuck-ups,” to our “intelligence” community they are business as usual. What is the scariest to me is the simple fact that those in our intelligence community, and most all of those politicians that oversee our intelligence community find nothing wrong in these actions except perhaps that they came to light.

    Whether it’s the rationalization of the ends justifying the means as an excuse for crimes against humanity (eg torture) or simply an easy venue for sadists to practice their arts, our intelligence and political community is in need of a complete overhaul starting with international prosecution as per the Nuremberg trials.

  21. sfmikey says:

    Such horrors end up criminalizing the entire country, unless, as Americans, we refuse to be part of it anymore. If we cannot be complicit any longer in such moral outrages it is, finally, a call to be ‘un-American,’ is it not? I’m coming around to Chris Hedges’ point of view that non-violent civil disobedience is necessary, and that the so-called liberal and progressive agents in our country are useless, ineffectual, coerced or corrupt. Don’t know how exactly this might take form. Non-violent civil disobedience could likely cost friends, family, jobs, and possibly everything. (Can some end up disappeared in America? Not yet, I believe. But I really don’t know about the future if there’s a law-and-order clamp down.) It’s like looking into an abyss, it seems to me, and it’s especially hard to face what personal courage such morality requires.

  22. Gitcheegumee says:

    I’m in and out of pocket again today.

    Thanks for responses and will attempt to reply ASAP.

    Great thread and superior commentaries from all.

  23. Mary says:

    Speaking (in the anonymous sense vis a vis the AP article) of Rahman, we’re not only promoting the torturers, we’re denying burials to the victims of the torture killings.


    As of last month, Rahman’s family was still trying for a body.

    Not CIA, but another big one involves the guys who were responsible for sending off Maher Arar to be tortured (and of course, related to that, were the guys who sent all the others who were in keeping in Syria while Arar was there, including the young guy who had tried to tell the CIA that Zubaydah wasn’t a “high level al-Qaeda operative” when that storyline was unpopular and had to be hushed up.

    Not CIA, bc the guy who ultimately signed off on shipping Maher Arar out was now-Pepsico Gen Counsel, Larry Thompson. I thought about that when I read in the NYT piece on the detained journos that they were offered Pepsis – they may want to apply to be the worldwide soft drink sponsor for despotic torture regimes. They have the admin in place for it.

  24. skdadl says:

    Apologies if I’m repeating someone else’s observation earlier, but one of the things I found most interesting about the AP story was how careful they were to note that the CIA didn’t like what they were doing but they were going to do it anyway — ie, use names, even if carefully disguised names.

    We shouldn’t be in a situation where that is considered courageous behaviour from journalists, and yet we are, so … Bravo, AP.

  25. Jeff Kaye says:

    FYI, I’ve posted my take on the AP story, which takes a very different tack by looking at one particular aspect of the reporting:

    AP Repeats Fable: “CIA never had been in the interrogation and detention business”

    In an otherwise interesting article summarizing much of what is wrong with the non-accountability policies of the U.S. state when it comes to punishing its torturers, Associated Press reporters Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo repeat in passing an old canard about the CIA’s previous activities in regards to interrogation.

    The CIA had never been in the interrogation and detention business, so agency lawyers, President George W. Bush’s White House and the Justice Department were writing the rules as they went.

    While the comment may have been made in passing, and Goldman and Apuzzo mindlessly accepted a piece of history they were told, the significance of the statement is of more than passing interest, as it provides the framework for understanding the entire episode of torture and detention in the Bush II years, not to mention what is happening now under President Obama, at least in regards to the CIA. The article doesn’t mention that key Pentagon officials, not least Donald Rumsfeld, who has a self-serving and well-publicized biography just published, and many generals, admirals, and other officers, as well as officials of the Defense Intelligence Agency and JSOC, have also escaped punishment for their actions in the Defense Department torture and detention scandal.

    As the article points out, a number of key CIA officials in the Obama administration were themselves key actors in the rendition and torture program of the CIA. Marcy Wheeler has nicely summarized Goldman and Apuzzo’s list. But the intrepid AP reporters — they spend a couple of paragraphs explaining why they took the supposedly courageous step of mentioning the first names of CIA agents (pseudonyms anyway, at least in one case that I know of) — are off the mark in believing this non-accountability is something new. The promotions and the rewards are standard operating procedure for a government that has used the CIA as a praetorian guard and shock troops for U.S. control abroad.


  26. bobschacht says:

    I just listened to the NPR piece on this AP story, and found it distressingly inadequate. Their interview was with one of the stories authors, and the interviewer only lobbed softballs. The co-author’s explanation for the kid-gloved treatment: The CIA had been criticized for being “risk-averse,” and if these war criminals had been punished for what they had done, well, gosh golly gee whiz, future agents might become “risk averse,” and not do enough to keep Amurika safe (or words to that effect).

    This is just so much BS I can’t stand it. Our CIA agents *should* be afraid of committing war crimes. Now, it did emerge in the interview that the evaluations of the perps for accountability were done during the Bush administration, but with David Margolis still in his position, and probably others of his ilk and worse in the CIA, could one expect anything different now? I mean, heaven forbid that our agents should become risk averse.

    Bob in AZ

    • Mary says:

      Some “risk averse” (aka, legal) handling of al-Libi might just have avoided thousands of deaths, into the trillions of long term costs, and a couple of million refugees who will hate for a long time and spread that hate.

      But yeah- risk averse is a really bad thing. ;)

      I have a hard time with the NPR pieces and interviews on torture too(although I was glad to hear them refer to Suleiman as being associated with torture – they used the t word – over the last few days) It is always softball, golly, I’m sure they’re great guys, not criminal deviants.

  27. Palli says:

    Those who left to serve as contractors are, no doubt, receiving more money too.

    Marcy, using the first names is an important way to picture these failed humans- we all have moral choices to make in our lives- these, and so many others, have failed humanity. Would you get into an elevator with them alone? Or let your daughter go to a sleep-over at their house? Or next to them in a church pew?
    Sadly, our President has as well.

    “Whence is our miraculous intuition of our moral spotlessness?” Randolph Bourne referring to American exceptionalism in the article The War and the Intellectuals in Seven Arts, 1917

  28. Mary says:

    EPU’d and even so OT< but this seems the best place for it

    Lots going on in Pakistan. They may be building another reactor (not that that would explain some of the dramatic spy stand off going on – nay) – Musharraf has been charged vis a vis Bhutto's death (and how is London going to handle that – what with the US not wanting Musharraf anywhere near a Pakistani court that might also want some info on all the US ordered detentions and disappeared). Tape of the Raymond Davis interview has been released (that may have been taken by him with his cell phone) and it shows him saying he works for the Lahore consulate. And Pakistan thinks the US may have already snuck the guys in the SUV (who no one is claiming were diplomats) out of the country.


    Musharraf accused of having information about the plot to kill Bhutto and not passing it on to security services protecting her. He’s been named as an “absconding accused” for refusal to help with the investigation. He’s currently hanging out in London.


    Threats that former army officers will lead an uprising is Raymond Davis is let go.


    Plus a brief clip of the interrogation of Davis (possibly shot with his cell phone) saying he works for the consulate in Lahore – posted lots of places and covered by the Pakistani televised news. According to WaPo (2nd page), which has finally decided to pay attention, no one at State is disputing the authenticity of the video. WaPo also now reports on Davis having things like a telescope, camera, etc. but includes first aid equipment, a “cutter”(?) and disguise paraphernalia. The reference to GPS trackers that I saw at one point in another story is still gone.

    And not that it necessarily relates to other info in the Pakistani op-ed that accused Davis of trying to set up a provocation so the US could use drones to destroy Pakistani nuclear infrastructure, there is now a story out that Pakistan may be working on a 4th reactor.