Cheney Lies, Obstruction Of Justice & Torture Tape Destruction

Marcy earlier noted the article in today’s Washington Post by Peter Finn and Joby Warrick detailing the story surrounding abu-Zubaydah’s capture and torture. I want to pick up with Marcy’s last line:

Yet more reason they destroyed the torture tapes showing Abu Zubaydah’s interrogation.

Well, yes, because it was crystal clear at the outset the explanation initially given by the Bush/Cheney Administration – that they had researched the matter completely and the tapes had no evidentiary value in any possible proceeding whatsoever and they were concerned about privacy of hard working investigators – was totally bogus.

It has been my belief from the outset that the reason the "torture tapes" were destroyed was not simply because they depicted the brutal torture of detainee subjects but, just as importantly, if not more so, they demonstrated there was no credible/usable information produced as a result of that torture. Warrick and Finn confirm this. Even worse, they confirm what little good information the Bushies did extract from abu-Zubaydah was obtained through traditional interrogation prior to the onset of the torture program:

In the end, though, not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida’s tortured confessions, according to former senior government officials who closely followed the interrogations. Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida — chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates — was obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said.

Moreover, within weeks of his capture, U.S. officials had gained evidence that made clear they had misjudged Abu Zubaida. President George W. Bush had publicly described him as "al-Qaeda’s chief of operations," and other top officials called him a "trusted associate" of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and a major figure in the planning of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. None of that was accurate, the new evidence showed.

Abu Zubaida was not even an official member of al-Qaeda, according to a portrait of the man that emerges from court documents and interviews with current and former intelligence, law enforcement and military sources.

And there you have it. The Bushies made the conscious and criminal decision to go full tilt torture having direct reason to know both that abu-Zubaydah was cooperating through traditional interrogation and he was of very marginal use as an information source to start with.

Frustrated, the Bush administration ratcheted up the pressure — for the first time approving the use of increasingly harsh interrogations, including waterboarding.

The application of techniques such as waterboarding — a form of simulated drowning that U.S. officials had previously deemed a crime — prompted a sudden torrent of names and facts. Abu Zubaida began unspooling the details of various al-Qaeda plots, including plans to unleash weapons of mass destruction.

Abu Zubaida’s revelations triggered a series of alerts and sent hundreds of CIA and FBI investigators scurrying in pursuit of phantoms….Every other lead ultimately dissolved into smoke and shadow, according to high-ranking former U.S. officials with access to classified reports.

"We spent millions of dollars chasing false alarms," one former intelligence official said.

Such is the clincher as to why the torture tapes had to be destroyed. It wasn’t just that Bush/Cheney et. al wanted to keep evidence of their torture program secret, there was never any complete way to do that. But there was only one thing that could prove they tortured for nothing and got nothing – the tapes. Cheney and his coterie of fellow Torquemadas were fiends proud of their handiwork; if they had evidence that it worked, they would have kept it. They burn spies for fun, crow on television about their willingness to torture and what they have accomplished, do you really think for one second they wouldn’t retain proof if they had it?

And let us not forget just who we are talking about here – it is the White House Principals group:

The so-called Principals who participated in the meetings also approved the use of "combined" interrogation techniques — using different techniques during interrogations, instead of using one method at a time — on terrorist suspects who proved difficult to break, sources said.

Highly placed sources said a handful of top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects — whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding.

The high-level discussions about these "enhanced interrogation techniques" were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed — down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.

The advisers were members of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee, a select group of senior officials who met frequently to advise President Bush on issues of national security policy.

At the time, the Principals Committee included Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

As the national security adviser, Rice chaired the meetings, which took place in the White House Situation Room and were typically attended by most of the principals or their deputies.

Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, Tenet and Ashcroft. Means, motive and opportunity. Who could have imagined?

This certainly explains why it was top White House lawyers including Gonzales, Addington, Bellinger and Miers, with "vigorous sentiment", assisted the CIA in the decision and process to destroy the torture tapes of abu-Zubaydah and others. There are definable offenses in their conduct: obstruction of justice, contempt of court, conspiracy, false statement/perjury, mishandling of classified material, and willful destruction of material evidence in federal investigations.

There exist patently clear crimes; where is the criminal justice system? We should not have to be humiliated by having to rely on other first world countries such as Spain, or international committees such as the Red Cross, to show us functioning justice and the rule of law.

I don’t want the Obama Administration to be partisan and spiteful, I want them to do their damn job. Is that too much to ask?

130 replies
  1. bobschacht says:

    Thanks for continuing to pound on this point. Maybe someday posts like this will tip the balance in the direction of the Rule of Law.

    Bob in HI

    • TomPaine says:

      For the life of me, I can’t see why people are only now coming to recognize that Dick Cheney is a pathological liar; I met him the first day he came to Washington in December 1988 and he was lying even then!

  2. darms says:

    I don’t want the Obama Administration to be partisan and spiteful, I want them to do their damn job. Is that too much to ask?

    Short answer – “Yes”

  3. perris says:

    In the end, though, not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida’s tortured confessions, according to former senior government officials who closely followed the interrogations. Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida — chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates — was obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said.
    Moreover, within weeks of his capture, U.S. officials had gained evidence that made clear they had misjudged Abu Zubaida. . . . None of [their earlier claims] was accurate, the new evidence showed.

    as I commented downstairs, when you torture to get “information” you get less information, you don’t prevent events you cause them, you don’t frighten the oposition you invigortate them and justify their cause

    for each man tortured you’ve turned all of his family into terrorists, all of his friends into terrorists and everyone he knows becomes an insurgent, if they sympathised with you before, they are your enemy now

    however cheney/rumsfeld new this, they were well briefed before they initiated the program, the cia told them, the fbi told them

    the purpose for their policie for torture was not to gain information, they knew there were better, more accurate and actionable methods, their purpose was perpetuating unrest for uneding war.

    they got what they wanted

    I am yet indecided on the the boy king though, I believe he is such a dullard he simply beleived whatever cheney told him about the program, then when he found out the reverse it was too late and he never admits mistakes

  4. JimWhite says:

    Very well stated, bmaz. I also still wonder if perhaps the tapes had evidence of a direct, live link to the situation room where members of the White House Principals group were actually doing the choreography in real time.

  5. Valtin says:

    Excellent essay, bmaz. With the imminent release of the SASC full declassified report on DoD torture, the growing crescendo of calls for prosecutions will be unavoidable.

    So they knew he was a nobody. So they knew his information was not valuable. It did not stop them… because they knew the underlying purpose of the interrogations was never to obtain information, but false confessions. Or, beyond confessions…?

    As O’Brien put it in Orwell’s magnificent treatise (emphasis added):

    ‘Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?’

    • acquarius74 says:

      Thank you, Valtin. Everything I have read that you have written rings true for me – almost unbearable, but true.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The monologues Orwell gives him are all too fitting for Mr. Cheney. I guess that means Mr. Cheney casts us as Winston.

      • Valtin says:

        I’m sure we are Winston to Cheney. Crush Big Brother in the egg. Throw him in jail. It only stopped Hitler for a decade, of course.

    • acquarius74 says:

      I read the entire piece at your Orwell treatise link at #6. It is almost as if Cheney took the inquisitor, O’Brien’s, insane preachings for a blueprint.

      The article is to George Orwell’s ‘1984′, Part 3, Chapter 3. The description of O’Brien as he tortures Winston is, IMO, pure Cheney.

      In answering some interviewer’s question about whether he wanted to be president, Cheney replied to the effect, no, I gave that up. In doing so he admitted that he had wanted to become president. Strong desires which are thwarted have peculiar consequences.

      The convoluted irrational workings of a demented mind cannot be understood by the use of rational reason and logic. Much to my regret I defied that sound principle for some 35 years in dealing with a unfortunate sibling.

      IMO, at some point Cheney will lose the ability to distinguish and control his concept of appropriate behavior and his dementia will rule his actions.

      As the public demands for prosecutions for the Bush administration for torture grow louder, we will see and hear more from Cheney…

      • BillE says:

        I always thought it was interesting that Mukasey had a portrait of Blair in his office. That kind of says it all doesn’t it.

        • acquarius74 says:

          BillE, that’s not too bizarre to be true for master-wimp Mukasey – but you wouldn’t be flim-flammin’ me, now would you?

            • acquarius74 says:

              Thank you BillE. I’m stunned! I followed your link @82 back to Marcy’s Jan/2008 article, then followed her link back to KO’s article telling of Mukasey’s hanging two portraits on his office wall: George Orwell and Judge Robert Jackson (of the Nuremberg WWII war crimes trials) – – how bi-polar can you get??

              Marcy’s article has about 122 comments, and the KO article has 809! So, I’ve got a lot of reading to do, but wanted to come back here and thank you for setting me straight, though my soul groans in response to what I’ve learned.

              One of those who commented at KO gave this quote:

              We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.

              — Barack Obama

              We believed him, followed him, worked for him; and got him elected. Now so many of his fine words are, for me, ringing hollow.

              Though the good citizens of America are not en mass physically strapped down to that table as was Orwell’s Winston, we have been continually mentally assaulted and our character tested by the 2000 criminal take-over of our government and their unspeakable acts.

              I am so grateful for the moral strength shared among us here at the Lake.

            • acquarius74 says:

              BillE, I just finished reading EW’s Jan/2008 diary on the Mukasey-Orwell subject. I vote it one of the top 5 diaries I have ever read here at the Lake, saved it for further study. The discussion there is the best! Thanks again.

          • acquarius74 says:

            bmaz, I finally made the connection: Your dog remark referred to Tony Blair as Bush’s poodle….but BillE’s link was to Eric Arthur Blair, AKA George Orwell, whose book, 1984 featured the character, O’Brien, the torturing inquisitor. (whose conduct Cheney brought from fiction into reality).

          • acquarius74 says:

            bmaz, I just finished reading Marcy’s Jan/2008 diary on the Muksey – Orwell subject. Seems I was totally somewhere else back then.

            IMHO, that entire discussion is one of the best ever here at the Lake.
            One of your comments there was on the economy and you gave an explanation of derivatives. You and your friends recognized the trouble the economy was in back then, but Greenspan & Co. did not??? I believe one of Robspeirre’s comments laid out the whole scenario – – economy built on debt, plight of the farmers, lack of real products being produced, continued fallacy of encouraging more indebetness by the people, etc.

            You and he and others here got it right back then, while the Masters of the Universe continued to feed us destructive propaganda.

            FWIW, I think you and Mary have got it right again; and I take no pleasure in coming to that conclusion.

            Thanks for all your clear-eyed thinking and willingness to share.

  6. MadDog says:

    This may all be imaginary 11 dimensional chess, but if the Obama Administration is doing anything positive about this issue, it may be as a result of cold political calculation.

    For example, one might view the release of previously secret and close-held OLC memos (and more memos to be released evidently forthcoming) and the oft nebulous Senate Judiciary Committee “hearings” proposed by Senator Leahy, to be a “toe in the water” method of creating the political constituency for dealing with this issue.

    When I write of “political constituency”, I do not mean the public support for such activities. Instead, I mean Congressional political support.

    The public already supports such activities. Our “political leaders” in Congress (an oxymoron because they are the epitome of “followers” rather than “leaders”) are too politically afraid of tackling this issue without concrete evidence that to do so won’t come back to bite them at the ballot box.

    It has never been about whether the Bush/Cheney Administration broke the laws, but instead whether our “political leaders” had the courage to hold them to account.

    Our “political leaders” are inherently scaredy cats who first and foremost imagine the worst personal political outcomes from any attempted action. They do not use a moral, ethical or even legal scale to weigh their actions. They use a political scale which is heavily biased towards their doing nothing.

    The political mindset is that “if I do nothing, I can’t be accused of doing something wrong”.

    It is this mindset that rules the DC poohbahs.

    Perhaps we’ll see further trickling out of OLC memos and NYT and WaPo “tell alls” that the DC politicos can focus-group to not only find which way the political winds are blowing, but also whether these winds are sufficient to fill their own political ambition sails.

    This political diagnosis is almost certainly a factor in the Obama executive branch’s calculations: i.e. “Will it help us or will it hurt us?”

    Finally, imagine if you will, that all the hard choices about our nation’s problems/directions/actions were subject to such political calculations.

    Now, believe it!

    • JimWhite says:

      We were writing at the same time, but it looks like Sullivan agrees with your “if”. Although I very much prefer a straightforward criminal process starting now, if this “calculated” process gets us there successfully, I’ll be happy to hand Obama the chess victory.

    • Loo Hoo. says:

      When I write of “political constituency”, I do not mean the public support for such activities. Instead, I mean Congressional political support.

      The article in the New Yorker, Hellhole, points to the same conclusion wrt putting Americans prisoners in solitary confinement for extended periods of time.

      Commissioners are not powerless. They could eliminate prolonged isolation with the stroke of a pen. So, I asked, why haven’t they? He told me what happened when he tried to move just one prisoner out of isolation. Legislators called for him to be fired and threatened to withhold basic funding. Corrections officers called members of the crime victim’s family and told them that he’d gone soft on crime. Hostile stories appeared in the tabloids. It is pointless for commissioners to act unilaterally, he said, without a change in public opinion.

      This past year, both the Republican and the Democratic Presidential candidates came out firmly for banning torture and closing the facility in Guantánamo Bay, where hundreds of prisoners have been held in years-long isolation. Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain, however, addressed the question of whether prolonged solitary confinement is torture.

      • MadDog says:

        Yup, politicos are useful only in that they are the ultimate “canaries in the coal mine”.

        They aren’t there to dig the coal or produce anything else of consequence.

        They exist solely to detect the most minute trace of disturbing air.

        And then of course, to take flight for the exit first before anyone else including women, children and old geezers.

        Heading for the exits first is such an admirable quality, doncha think? *g*

    • quake says:

      I won’t believe the Obama administration is serious about this until either of the following happens: (1) indictments, or (2) massive subsidies for pitchfork mfrs.

    • rapt says:

      MadDog: “…but instead whether our “political leaders” had the courage to hold them to account.”

      But you might consider looking at the politico’s quandry up close, from his POV. Dissenters, if they happen to have enough power to be noticed, get whacked. And remember too, that all presidents including our baby Obama, are selected and controlled. JFK deviated from the script, and so did Nixon. Both were eliminated.

  7. JimWhite says:

    Andrew Sullivan chimes in on this topic today in The Sunday Times (UK) (h/t Retired Military Patriot in comments at Glenn Greenwald’s current thread). This is possibly the first “multi-dimensional chess” argument I’ve seen that I can come close to buying. The whole column about Cheney showing up to criticize Obama and defend torture is worth a read, but here are a few snippets:

    Barack Obama’s most underrated talent is his ability to get his enemies to self-destruct. It takes a lot less energy than defeating them directly, and helps maintain Obama’s largely false patina of apolitical niceness.


    So what was Cheney thinking? My guess is that he fears he is in trouble. This fear has been created by Obama, but indirectly. Obama has declined to launch a prosecution of Cheney for war crimes, as many in his party (and outside it) would like. He has set up a review of detention, rendition and interrogation policies. And he has simply declassified many of the infamous torture memos kept under wraps by Bush.

    He has the power to do this, and much of the time it is in response to outside requests. But as the memos have emerged, the awful truth of what Cheney actually authorised becomes harder and harder to deny. And Cheney is desperately trying to maintain a grip on the narrative before it grips him by the throat.


    The documents detailed horrifying CIA practices that the Red Cross unequivocally called torture – shoving prisoners in tiny, air-tight coffins, waterboarding, beatings, sleep deprivation, stress positions: all the techniques we have now come to know almost by heart. And torture is a war crime. War crimes have no statute of limitations and are among the most serious crimes of which one can be accused.

    This is what Cheney is desperate to avoid. It is unclear whether he will actually ever be prosecuted, but the facts of his record will wend their way inexorably into the sunlight. That means he could become a pariah. Even though the CIA actively destroyed the videotapes of torture sessions, it could not destroy the legal and administrative record now available to the new administration.

    The title of the piece: “Scared Cheney puts his head in the noose”.

    We should be so lucky.

    • marymccurnin says:

      Scenarios like the on Mr. Sullivan is providing are the reason I get so confused about Obama. Will he? Won’t he? Is he? Is he not? Is he a secret stealth superman who is doing all kinds of things in his own good time or is he a center right dem who is doing nothing about the previous admin?

      Leave me alooooooone.

    • bmaz says:

      I disagree with Andrew here; I don’t think Cheney is fearful in the least. I think he is indignant and boisterous. And I certainly do not think for one split second that Obama is shrewdly playing 11 dimensional chess. How much duplicity and complicity will it take to get people to quit buying into that? There is no evidence whatsoever that Obama has any intention of doing anything that doesn’t move him forward; he has no desire to litigate the past and apply the rule of law to it. None.

      • MadDog says:

        I disagree with Andrew here; I don’t think Cheney is fearful in the least…

        I beg to differ, but only in the basic underlying motivations that are Cheney (and to a great degree, many if not all other Repugs).

        Fear is what drives Dick Cheney! It is what has driven him his entire life!

        While he may never self-diagnose his own paranoia, it is the foundation of all that he is.

        So in that respect, yes, Dick Cheney fears!

        As to his own recognition that he might be held to account, no, I don’t think that ever percolates up into his consciousness.

        But underneath everything that is Dick Cheney, lies a paranoid’s panoply of perceived persecution and panic.

        Cheney didn’t order the shoot down of Flight 93 because he wanted to save the Capital. He did so because he personally feared he was the target (NOT. GONNA. HAPPEN!).

        Given his prediliction towards blasting unarmed birdies out of the sky, I suspect that Deadeye has had non-stop recurring nightmares ever since watching Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.

      • JimWhite says:

        I’m not so sure about Cheney and fear. To me, his entire existence for the past 35 years has been focused on undoing what he perceives as the “injustice” of what Republicans and the presidency suffered for Watergate. I view his entire power grab through that lens. With that in mind, Sullivan’s suggestion that the steady drip, drip, drip of new memos being released increases the possibility that Cheney’s evil will come to be regarded just as distastefully as Nixon’s. I think there has to be at least a smidgen of fear for Cheney that his entire life for all those years has been for naught and his abject failure will take his party and the presidency right back to where they were when Nixon boarded that helicopter for the last time.

        • sojourner says:

          “I think there has to be at least a smidgen of fear for Cheney that his entire life for all those years has been for naught and his abject failure will take his party and the presidency right back to where they were when Nixon boarded that helicopter for the last time.”

          There is a difference, though. When Nixon boarded that helicopter for the last time, we at least had proof that our system worked — and his own party recognized that fact. In the end, justice was truly done.

          Cheney, I think, for so long as he lives will live with that fear — but will also believe that he has covered his tracks. The sad part is that he probably will not live long enough to see the complete destruction of what he worked for, although I think it will happen in its own way.

          In the meantime, there is no justice — and the Repugs continue to try to hold the line. Until there is some justice, I sense an anger across the population…

        • Peterr says:

          If one accepts your basic premise, that Cheney is (to some degree) scared, then why 11 dimensional chess? An ordinary prosecutorial movement forward with the evidence would produce the same result — or push Cheney even harder into his fear.

          Cheney’s only powers at this point are his ability to push behind the scenes and to spin out in public. These are both easily neutered with public disclosure, as (for example) the declassified Yoo opinions from the OLC demonstrate. “You were basing the presumption of legality on THIS?”

          If Obama really wanted to push Cheney & Co into self destruction, he’d be putting more of this kind of thing out there. Instead, he sadly seems to be sitting on it and hoping that folks will be more worried about AIG bonuses.

          Shorter Peterr: Occam’s Razor says Obama doesn’t really want to deal with this.

          • JimWhite says:

            Oh, I agree that it’s much easier to see Obama’s actions in a light that says he doesn’t want to pursue this, but as I said up at 8, this is the first time the “chess” story had any appeal to me at all. Probably wishful thinking, but this time there would be at least a little logic based on building sufficient public outrage to make sure the prosecution doesn’t get waylaid by the “political firestorm” Kit Bond tells us to expect. Even if it isn’t Obama’s intent, it could play out that way because of the outrage developing, especially if those next three memos are as bad as some are suggesting.

          • MarkH says:

            If Obama really wanted to push Cheney & Co into self destruction, he’d be putting more of this kind of thing out there. Instead, he sadly seems to be sitting on it and hoping that folks will be more worried about AIG bonuses.

            Perhaps on blogs there is concern about Constitutional Law being upheld, but the American public are losing retirement savings, homes, jobs and I doubt they can focus on anything because of their emotions.

            And Obama, he is rather busy at the moment with current events. You do realize that, don’t you?

            I’m not keen on having Europeans sitting in judgment of Americans, though we can’t stop them if they want. What is the alternative except to ask them to hold off, so we can get to it some day?

            How will Americans feel about the idea, just the idea, of Europeans judging American ‘leaders’? I agree with Pat Leahy that this requires some kind of public constituency and not just going on in denial. But, certainly the President can’t lead a discussion about this NOW. It just isn’t possible.

            That leaves us in a kind of nasty limbo. It’s also unprecedented.

      • MarkH says:

        There is no evidence whatsoever that Obama has any intention of doing anything that doesn’t move him forward; he has no desire to litigate the past and apply the rule of law to it. None.

        Hamlet act III ?

  8. Teddy Partridge says:

    How many days of non-prosecution of war criminals is the Obama Administration permitted before they, through inaction and guilty knowledge, are also war criminals themselves?

    This is really the question: can America afford two successive presidencies known to the world to harbor war criminals?

    • darms says:

      Like my opinions matter (heh), but I for one am giving Obama one year in office before his ‘benefit of the doubt’ expires. After that he’s on his own but it’s not like I’m going rethuglican on him, either – bad as his response has been, at least when viewed from street level, can you imagine what today would be like w/McCain & Palin at the helm? **shudder**

  9. acquarius74 says:

    Again I’m giving the link to the ACLU’s petition to Holder to appoint an independent prosecutor. Excerpt:

    ,,,It is time to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate who knew about and authorized the Bush administration’s torture policies. If evidence warrants, prosecutions should occur…

    The info we have about this and the torture memos is largely the work of the ACLU. Please consider signing this online petition.

    I am in no way connected with the ACLU except for an occasional small donation.

  10. skdadl says:

    The SERE and KUBARK programs were themselves “reverse-engineered” from what was understood of foreign programs aimed at producing pliant witnesses at show trials or propaganda mouthpieces. The Soviets, Chinese, and North Koreans never expected their abusive treatment of any detainees to produce much in the way of truth; they wanted political exhibits, and that has been more or less obvious since the 1930s.

    So when Rumsfeld and Haynes and Co re-reversed, they got exactly the same products that Stalin did so long ago — political exhibits.

    I can believe that some of the Principals grasped, even embraced, this surreality at the time and some didn’t. The problem remains that citizens don’t generally grasp what has been done in their name, that it was both evil and practically and legally useless, that it never had anything to do with truth or evidence at all.

    • Valtin says:

      acquarius74 @ #9 — thanks for the kind words

      skdadl @ #19 — You are correct about the “reverse-engineering” aspects of the earlier CIA/SERE programs, and how the Stalinists sought to engineer show trials. But this is not the totality of the situation, and reliance on those facts could possible confuse us re the current situation.

      The KUBARK/SERE programs each had their own research programs, especially the CIA program, which went under many names (MKULTRA, MKDELTA, Project Bluebird, Project Artichoke, MKNAOMI, etc.). The final torture protocols, as discussed in the KUBARK manual, involved a great deal of research over a ten to twenty year period. The CIA also put a lot more emphasis on the use of drugs than the Stalinists/Maoists did. I suspect that one of the reasons the videotapes of the interrogation of Zubaydah and others were destroyed was because they would have shown use of drugs (”narcosis”).

      Also, it would be unfair to limit the transmission of torture techniques to some sort of original sin of the Soviets or Chinese. The use of torture spans centuries, and there was plenty the CIA, for instance, learned by studying the Nazis and other fascist police agencies, the French colonialists in Algeria, earlier experience with torture inside the U.S. itself, etc. Darius Rejali’s book, Torture and Democracy, provides an excellent and encyclopedic history of the subject.

      Finally, it is not true that torture never brings information to the torturer. I have personal experience of this, via the testimony of the tortured. However, it is also true that much that is produced is false, and when you torture someone who is essentially a nobody, like Zubaydah, then false confessions and false corroborative “evidence” (names!) is what you seek. This is what the U.S./Brit torturers wanted from Binyam Mohamed, for instance.

      • skdadl says:

        Well said, and I agree with all you’ve added there. I didn’t mean to make torture sound like “an original sin” of the Soviets, as you characterize a particular kind of thinking so well.

        Like acquarius, I can’t stop wondering about all the agents and officers who just accepted what they were told to do, took legal assurances as permission even, as though they can’t have known better all on their own. In so many of these cases, there just is no grey area at all. They were supposed to know; we’re all supposed to know. We still aren’t getting that message through.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A year more in jail for the innocent in Gitmo and Abu Ghraib would be reprehensible. Giving Mr. Obama a full year across the board would be too. Mr. Bush exhausted all benefit of doubt for US Government actions, just as did Richard Nixon.

    On the issue of NOT looking into Mr. Bush’s crimes, Mr. Obama’s position is crystal clear. He will do it only if his re-election depends on it, and even then, he would do it poorly. It’s just too hot a potato for an American politician to bite into. That position will become even more awkward when the Spanish and English investigations make Mr. Bush’s crimes even clearer.

  12. sojourner says:

    Bush / Cheney / Rumsfeld / etal… For whatever reason it happened, obviously they did not hear what they wanted to hear from normal interrogation. So, they decided to have some sick fun under the guise of keeping us all safe.

    Personally, I have had a feeling for quite some time that someone high up simply had a perversion, and torturing and taping the sessions was just a way to help satisfy it.

    But, maybe that is just too simple… Regardless of the final explanation, torture is torture — and someone went to great lengths to see that it happened.

  13. Lindy says:

    On the thread with Marcy’s “Pat Leahy Calls for Truth Commission” post, Leen asks:

    “Just when did the pursuit of truth, justice and accountability in regard to very serious issues and crimes become “vengeance”? ”

    I use that as a signature line sometimes, as it sums the situation up nicely.

  14. Peterr says:

    I don’t want the Obama Administration to be partisan and spiteful, I want them to do their damn job. Is that too much to ask?

    Apparently, the answer is “yes.”

  15. MadDog says:

    Totally OT, but more on the GM next steps from the AP via CQ Politics here:

    Sources: Obama to give GM 2 months to restructure

    The Obama administration plans to give General Motors Corp. enough government aid to restructure over the next 60 days, while Chrysler LLC will get up to $6 billion and 30 days to complete an alliance with Italian automaker Fiat SpA…

    …In progress reports filed with the government in February, GM asked for $16.6 billion more and Chrysler wanted $5 billion more.

    But the officials said the Obama plan would not go that far, providing short-term aid in exchange for significant sacrifices.

    The officials said the administration did not view Chrysler to be viable as a standalone company. Under the plan, the government would provide up to $6 billion to forge the alliance between Chrysler and Fiat, but if the companies failed to reach an agreement or find an alternative plan for viability, Chrysler would not receive additional federal aid…

    …If GM failed to reach the concessions needed, some type of bankruptcy could be used at the end of 60 days, the officials said.

    The administration planned to send a team to Detroit to help with the restructuring during the next 60 days. With Wagoner’s departure, new management would be decided by General Motors’ board of directors in consultation with the government. An official said a majority of the GM board was expected to step down…

    • MadDog says:

      My take on this?

      The Obama Administration is saying this:

      We’re throwing the USS GM Captain and all the Officers overboard! If you the crew (UAW) and the passengers (Bondholders) don’t help lighten the load, we’re going to scuttle this ship (Bankruptcy), abandon ship (Bankruptcy!), and leave ya’ll to sink or swim on your own (Bankruptcy!).

      P.S. – Btw, the ship’s life preservers are made out of lead!

      P.P.S. – Btw, the USS Chrysler is holed below the waterline, listing at 90 degrees, and should turn turtle any time now, so don’t bother swimming over there!

      • bmaz says:

        Shouldn’t Nardelli and some honchos over at Cerberus be forced out of their positions as well? How come these big business players get a pass while GM gets kicked?

        Why Rick Wagoner? He actually, although slow on the uptake years ago, has been relentlessly turning GM around for 3-4 years now. The real reason GM was so exposed to the financial meltdown was because he was paying to consolidate brands and production factories, as well as launch all new, improved and efficient products all in a short period of time; all as the bottom of the economy fell out. He didn’t cause the economic fail the masters of the universe in New York did. Where the fuck does Obama get off taking out Wagoner while sucking up to the asswipes on Wall Street?

        • MadDog says:

          Ahhh…you miss the fact that the dumping of Waggoner is Kabuki.

          If you view this with more cynical eyes, you’d probably see that Waggoner getting “dumped” was an agreed upon strategy between both parties (Waggoner and the Obama Administration) to give GM management and Obama Administration a more “tough guy” appearance in their so-far failing negotiations with the reluctant UAW and Bondholder brides.

          My take on it is that this is meant to scare both the UAW and Bondholders with the threat of Bankrupcty, where they’ll both be given haircuts they have no control over and leaving them bald.

          Negotiation Kabuki 101. *g*

        • MadDog says:

          Shouldn’t Nardelli and some honchos over at Cerberus be forced out of their positions as well? How come these big business players get a pass while GM gets kicked?

          And as far as Chysler/Cerberus is concerned, I think the Obama Adminstration is saying “Shotgun wedding with the Fiat Italianos or straight to Bankruptcy Court!”

          I don’t think the Obama Administration gives a rat’s ass about any of the Chysler/Cerberus poohbahs because they figure they’re gonna circle the drain in either case (Fiat or Bankruptcy).

          • bmaz says:

            As I described this scene in another discussion, merging Chrysler with Fiat is like merging piss with poop; you just got more waste and it still reeks. That is all he demands out of Cerberus/Chrysler and Obama has the gall to force Wagoner to resign???

        • MadDog says:

          Where the fuck does Obama get off taking out Wagoner while sucking up to the asswipes on Wall Street?

          Smacking down US auto manufacturing who actually produce something is far more politically palatable (inside the Beltway political) than taking on “The Masters of the Universe” financial poohbahs that create nothing out of nothing, but dwarf the campaign contributor lists.

          Or as a corruption of that old saying goes:

          “Money talks and cars…ahmmm…walk!”

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Yep. Let’s see the deal, the whole deal and nothing but the deal. Not the shiny object of Mr. Wagoner’s inevitably lucrative retirement. Who wins, who loses and who pays, please.

  16. Synoia says:

    Is Obama going to limit leverage properly?
    Is Obama going to properly regulate securitization?
    Is Obama going to Move to highly progressive taxation?
    Is Obama going to move to a financial transactions tax??
    Is Obama going to break up the “too big to fail”?
    Is Obama going to reinstitute the Glass-Steagall provisions?
    Is Obama going to tell his Attorney General to engage in widespread fraud investigations as to whether mortgages were sold fraudulently, Collateralized Debt Obligations were created fraudulently, and Debt Swaps were sold fraudulently?
    Is Obama going to try and pass anti-usury laws?
    Is Obama going to spend as much money, or even half as much money, helping homeowners and people who lost their jobs as has been given to banks and financial firms?
    Is Obama going to prosecute clear crimes??

    I want them to do their damn job. Is that too much to ask?

  17. nextstopchicago says:

    When Cheney says he’s seen things that make him afraid, we should all keep in mind that the Dems have seen the same classified reports, and they aren’t cowering in fear.

    Cheney is certainly to some degree machiavellian. But if you take him at all seriously, it’s hard to see him as anything but a coward.

  18. Loo Hoo. says:


    The decision to ask G.M.’s chairman and chief executive, Rick
    Wagoner, to resign caught Detroit and Washington by surprise,
    and it underscored the Obama administration’s determination
    to take a hands-on role in the companies it is bailing out –
    a level of government involvement in business not seen since
    the Great Depression.

    President Obama is scheduled to announce details of the auto
    package at the White House on Monday, but two senior
    officials, offering a preview on condition of anonymity, made
    clear that some form of bankruptcy – a quick,
    court-supervised restructuring, as they described it – could
    still be an option for one or both companies.

    • bmaz says:

      Actually it only underscores Obama’s determination in regard to one company, GM. Because he hasn’t done this to any of the Wall Street firms, nor did he do it to Chrysler.

    • acquarius74 says:

      Didn’t Obama appoint that car czar who admittedly knew nothing about the auto industry? Let’s see, so far we have an economics team from outer space, a dog that won’t hunt for an AG, a Director of CIA who has a tiger by the tail – – pretty soon the presidential attire will be a little derby with a flower sticking up from the band, size 20 shoes, a ruff, and a big red smile painted on.

  19. Mary says:

    I think there’s no way that Panetta would have been given the green light to notify all the Presidential torturers that they were in the clear and the prosecution was fixed unless – they are in the clear and the prosecution is fixed.

    On this point – Moreover, within weeks of his capture, U.S. officials had gained evidence that made clear they had misjudged Abu Zubaida. – Suskind’s book describes an exchange between Bush and Tenet as this was becoming clear. Bush had given public statements about Zubaydah being the lynchpin of al-Qaeda and as it looked like that was very wrong – (paraphrasing, without pulling the book to look up) Bush pretty much told Tenet – don’t let me look bad on this.

    So a big part of the equation when Kirakou and others talk about how “necessary” it was at the time, to torture Zubaydah, is that the “necessity” that was driving Tenet, and the WH, and ultimately the Presidential torturers – was the necessity of making Bush look good.

    Then, once you start torturing under the claim that it is “necessary” then you have a self imposed need to torture more, and longer and more and longer – if you aren’t getting the “proof” of the necessity of your torture, then you pretty much have to keep torturing. If you pretend that you tortured to start with for some reason other than making Bush look good and proving to him an allegiance and loyalty that you would do absolutely anything, to anyone, to make him look good – if you pretend you were doing something else, then you lock yourself in to continuing to ratchet up the torture until you get “something” that “proves’ you were “right to torture.”

    On the destruction of the tapes, one other item to keep in mind is the information in Mayer’s book – that a female CIA officer – the same one involved in the el-Masri kidnap to torture – was panting to get to go watch torture firsthand and so she invited herself to a torture session. No, she wasn’t needed, there was not only no “necessity” for her to be there, but the torturee dug in on resistance with her giddy presence and she ended up with a censure on her record to the effect that she shouldn’t use torture at black sites as her alternative to a trip to Disneyland. If her trip to tortureland was one of the sessions taped, that would have been pretty probative.

    One last note – as the “mosaic” theory of intelligence collection has now been spelled out, it didn’t really matter that Zubaydah was only the greeter at Walmart. Little bits and pieces of background were plenty good grounds for kidnap and torture and isolation and forever detention.

    12 – I’m with bmaz on that one. He’s in “bring it on” mode bc he has Obama’s number.

    • MarkH says:

      she shouldn’t use torture at black sites as her alternative to a trip to Disneyland. If her trip to tortureland

      This brings new meaning to the phrase “electric ladyland”. Eeek!

  20. Mary says:

    Mozzam Begg, on behalf of Caged Prisoners, interviews Binyam Mohamed and the questions turn to Aafia Siddiqui…..ed/”

    CP … what I do want to focus on is people that you witnessed, and people that are still in custody of the USA. When you were in the Bagram Detention Facility after being held in the Dark Prison, you came across a female prisoner – can you describe a little bit about who you think she is and what you saw of her?

    BM: In Bagram, I did come across a female who wore a shirt with the number of ‘650’, and I saw her several times, and I heard a lot of stories about her from the guards and the other prisoners over there.

    CP: And these stories said what about her, in terms of her description and her background?

    BM: What we were told first…we were frightened by the guards not to communicate with her because they feared that we would talk to her and we would know who she was. So they told us that she was a spy from Pakistan, working with the government. And the Americans brought her to Bagram.
    CP: So you think they spread the rumour that she was a spy- that would have kept you away from her and apprehensive towards her

    BM: Basically, nobody talked to her in the facility, and she was held in isolation, where…she was only brought out to the main facility just to use the toilet. But all I knew about her was that she was from Pakistan, and that she had studied, or she had lived in America. And the guards would talk a lot about her, and I did actually see her picture when I was here a few weeks ago, and I would day she’s the very person I saw in Bagram.

    CP: And that’s the very picture I showed you of Aafia Siddiqui?

    BM: That’s the very picture I saw

    CP: There have been all sorts of rumours about what happened to her- and may Allah free her soon- but part of those rumours include her being terribly abused. Do you have any knowledge of what abuse she might have faced?

    BM: Apart from her being in isolation and the fact that I saw, when she was walking up and down, I could tell that she was severely disturbed. I don’t think she was in her right mind- literally, I don’t think she was sane, and I didn’t feel anything at that time, because as far as I was concerned, she was a hypocrite working with the other governments. But had we known that she was a sister, I don’t think we would have been silent- I think there would have been a lot of, maybe even riots, in Bagram.

    CP: Some of the brothers who later escaped from Bagram spoke about her and said that they learnt afterwards who she was and that they went on hunger strike. You might have left by this time, but were the other prisoners there upset by seeing a woman there- regardless- as a prisoner?

    BM: We were upset at witnessing just the weakened, the injured in front of us in Bagram, and had we known that there was a sister over there, I don’t anyone would have been silent. But to keep Bagram as Bagram- quiet- the Americans put out the rumour that she was not a sister…

    CP: That she was a spy.

    BM: That she was a spy and we had to stay away from her.
    CP: Did you ever hear any rumours at that time of her having children, or anything like that?

    BM: I had heard, I’m not sure if from the guards or from the brothers, that she did have children, but the children were not in Bagram- they were somewhere else.

    CP: And was there any rumour or discussion as to what happened to those children?
    BM: We had no idea what happened to the children.

    Of course that could all be so much crap, or involve someone else. I just can not get over, though, the abandonment of her young teenage son, an American citizen, in Afghanistan while they were making arrangements to bring his mother to the US for “trial” What kind of people separate a 14 yo from his mother and hand him over to Afghan intelligence to disappear and never follow up to try to get him when it becomes public knowledge and crystal clear that the boy they handed off to be disappeared by the Afghans is also an American citizen?

    That rings so wrong that other stories, even from unlikely to unreliable sources, begin to have more luster.

    BTW, Mohamed fairly credibly makes this other point – that the point of some of the detention was just to drive someone insane:

    Personally, I take the ‘Dark Prison’ as being the worst, and that’s because I was literally there…not for gathering information, it wasn’t set up as a detention centre- it was literally there just to have somebody go insane.

    After you torture to no avail and with no “necessity” I guess what that leaves you with is to kill your torture victims or to make them crazy so they will be unreliable witnesses later.

    • acquarius74 says:

      The thought occurs to me that there may be a connection between these despicable acts and the suicide rate among our soldiers. I question whether my mind could bear even being a witness to such horrors.

    • Valtin says:

      There is something terribly askew with the Siddiqui story. The hand of the CIA or some sort of covert operation plays very heavily here… the disappearances, the missing children, the way Siddiqui resurfaces, the seeming indifference or lack of curiosity of U.S. authorities to the fact she had ever disappeared… and now the interview with Binyam and the differing testimonies of psychiatrists re her mental competency to stand trial (the latter I wish to address in an article soon).

      Given the cover story they draped on her, of some kind of spy for Pakistan, does that sound like SOP? We know other women and children were (and are) at Bagram, were at Abu Ghraib, etc. So making up a story like this solely because she was a woman seems unlikely. I think it’s likely she got caught up in a counterintelligence operation of some sort, of which she was likely the innocent pawn. Or even more sadistically, and perhaps with a touch of paranoia, in their desire to punish KSM and wipe out his family, they used her for cruel experiments. I have no evidence of this. Isolation, as B. Mohamed points out in your quote, can quite clearly drive a person insane.

      And insane is the world we live in, where paranoia is good common sense, and a reasonable, benefit-of-the-doubt outlook is evidence of someone who has their head in the sand.

      • acquarius74 says:

        And insane is the world we live in, where paranoia is good common sense, and a reasonable, benefit-of-the-doubt outlook is evidence of someone who has their head in the sand.

        Valtin, you could write a book (at least a diary) on this paragraph alone, and it is needed. For many who have developed sufficient paranoia to recognize and speak out against the wrongs in so many areas about us, yet have been able to maintain our mental balance, it is a very uncertain world. So many have commented here that FDL has helped them stay sane.

        I live near a large army base and the local PBS stations broadcasts the Pentagon Channel 24/7. They have Army News on and I catch it occasionally. A few days ago an officer in Iraq was holding a press conference and he said there had been 700 plus juvenile detainees in Camp Crocker, but had reduced that number to something over 200. For me there seems no sane, justifiable reason to hold such a large number of juveniles as prisoners, or for having swept them up in the first place. What caliber of officers would do this, then admit to it showing no shame or guilt? Indoctrinated mutants is one answer that comes to me, another is too dark for contemplation; but Mary has touched upon it.

        You are a person of unusual wisdom and skills, Valtin. Your input here at the Lake is appreciated.

  21. lysias says:

    The 9/11 Commission Report’s account of the operational details of 9/11 is almost entirely based on the testimony of detainees, at least some of whom were tortured, and probably all of whom were subjected to inhuman treatment. Is the 9/11 Commission Report worthy of any more credence than the alleged plots revealed in Stalin’s show trials?

  22. JerryArrigoni says:

    Just a quick comment. It is my opinion that these so called “Torture Tapes” do still exist somewhere. In some form, but not as tapes. These tapes were viewed by many people at various sites. And it is highly unlikely that there where many copies of these various tapes. But more likely they were translated to digital media and transmitted to various sites for viewing via secure transmission lines or sent out as CDROM disks via courier. At any rate , there would be at least several copies sent and how many personal/pirate copies made by the technicains used for this work. Also depending on whether the go-betweens used personal or mainframe computers, the files would still be left somewhere on the system. I can’t imagine them being so thorough as to wipe that many hard-drives or mainframe disks. The task, as I understand it, was to destroy the “Tapes.”
    Do ya really think that they went as far as involving all personell involved with the “TORTURE TAPES,” in a coverup? They still exist and several people know that. If it were me I would find them.
    By the way, I am a retired Government Security Consultant.

      • Leen says:

        When will the Daniel Ellsberg of the torture tapes step forward? Well step forward in the shadows

        • pmorlan says:

          I wish I knew. I don’t think whoever has a copy has clean hands, though. I don’t think they will turn over the tape because it’s the right thing to do. I figure whoever might have a copy of the destroyed tapes made a copy or kept a copy in order to use it as a bargaining chip should a DOJ or Congressional investigation ever get close to them. I think they’re just biding their time right now to see how things shake out. Of course I have zero evidence of this I just think that there are so many shady, immoral CYA type characters involved in the Bush torture program that selling out their buddies to protect themselves is not too big of a stretch.

      • Valtin says:

        Agreed, with you and Jerry. The “tapes” exist, and many more of them than the 92 they owned up to. What about the tapes made at Guantanamo and elsewhere? There are certainly plenty of audio tapes, as well. Who remembers the lost interrogation tape during the Padilla trial?

        Padilla attorney Anthony Natale said in court papers that the March 2, 2004, interrogation at the Navy brig in Charleston, S.C., could contain information the government conveyed to Padilla that “directly impacts upon his relationship with his attorneys”….

        Authorities made 88 video recordings of Padilla being interrogated during the 3 1/2 years he was held at the brig as an “enemy combatant,” officials said. Eighty-seven tapes have been given to the defense, leaving only the last session unaccounted for….

        U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke was incredulous that anything connected to such a high-profile defendant could be lost.

        “Do you understand how it might be difficult for me to understand that a tape related to this particular individual just got mislaid?” Cooke told prosecutors at a hearing last month.

        Of course, there was even more… the Padilla defense attorneys said that there were 72 hours of missing or unrecorded interrogations info.

        This is Standard Operating Procedure: destroy and hide evidence of covert operations.

        We should understand that criminals run this country. They don’t believe in the law… for them! This is true whether it’s about breaking contracts or breaking down human psyches.

    • MarkH says:

      It is my opinion that these so called “Torture Tapes” do still exist somewhere. In some form, but not as tapes. These tapes were viewed by many people at various sites. And it is highly unlikely that there where many copies of these various tapes. But more likely they were translated to digital media and transmitted to various sites for viewing via secure transmission lines or sent out as CDROM disks via courier.

      As official documents of the administration they should be kept at the presidential library or in the library of Congress, though I remember reading about a special place (built I think in Texas) to house records of all the spying W did. They may be there — for his viewing pleasure.

      BTW, the president probably can’t lead the public to call for an inquiry, but if something horribly incriminating came out in public, then the media would be doing that leading. I think that even the larger set of Abu Ghraib pictures would have that kind of effect.

  23. wavpeac says:

    I just want to comment on Cheney’s observed state of mind. It’s the ONLY thing that gives me any peace in regard to his anti social psychopathic mental status. (I shouldn’t diagnose long distance, but…)

    He is defending and attacking. This is a fact. Is it self preservation? Yes. But in order for the need to preserve the self and to defend the behaviors there has to be a sense of shame or fear. (of being caught)..

    What is MORE fascinating to me, is Bush’s relative calm demeanor. His complete ability to “detach”. I truly believe that the two together created a very “sick” team…each contributing different anti social skills.

    God these posts make me truly feel ill. Thank you though for the illumination on such a dark topic.

    Do I think this contributes to the high suicide rate? Absolutely. Validation is key to trauma. Can we morally validate our work and behaviors over there…with facts. Nope. This means great mental stress for soldiers. The ripple effect of this war is going to be massive and it is going to live on for many, many years. It will have a life of it’s own and great consequences to the world. (theoretically, of course)

    • MarkH says:

      a very “sick” team…each contributing different anti social skills

      Now there’s a phrase I didn’t expect to ever see.

  24. george7 says:

    In response to bmaz @ 12

    There is no evidence whatsoever that Obama has any intention of doing anything that doesn’t move him forward; he has no desire to litigate the past and apply the rule of law to it. None.

    Here are three reasons why there is some evidence: Dawn Johnsen, David Barron, and Marty Lederman.

    We may not like Obama’s sense of timing. But it ain’t over till it’s over.

    • quake says:

      We may not like Obama’s sense of timing. But it ain’t over till it’s over.

      I’m afraid it was over last summer when he voted for retroactive FISA immunity. I’d be delighted to be proved wrong, but I’m not holding my breath.

  25. Mary says:

    On the earlier Noor al-Deen thread, pmorian put up a comment with a link to a story in The Independent about another British resident, GITMO detainee, Shaker Aamer who has made claims of MI5 and MI6 being involved in his torture.

    Aamer is a Saudi citizen who married a UK citizen and had several children with his wife. According to his lawyers, that marriage is considered illegal in Saudi Arabi (you can’t marry a “foreigner” without permission).

    He has a weird situation, where he shared the same number with someone else at GITMO and it’s hard to detangle the claims against the two. He does not have any military commission charges against him, but the US has refused to hand him over to the UK, even though they have been requesting his return to the UK for several years.

    This recent interview between Mozzam Begg and Binyam Mohamed (and yes, you have to consider the sources, so factor that in) points to a lot of the issues the US has with Aamer being that he became fairly important among the population at GITMO and helped negotiate an agreement to end hunger strikes in exchange for the military commiting to the Geneva Conventions in their treatment of detainees (which the GITMO commander promptly reneged on). Supposedly bc of his role and prominence, he was punished with isolation, which has now continued for years.

    In any event, whether you believe he was just sold for the $ to the US or that he had some deep covert connection with lots of terrorist schemes through his relationship with an Islamic charity, the main complaint that has been lodged against him at GITMO involved contrabrand underwear.

    And he was apparently also perverting young minds with the illegal undies.

    The second detainee accused of wearing the contraband underwear is a juvenile named Mohammed El Gharani, a Chad national, who was just 14 years old when he was seized by the Pakistani authorities and sold to the US military

    In interviews with his lawyers he claims he has been terribly abused, including having a cigarette stubbed out on his arm by an interrogator. He states that much of the abuse stems from his vocal objection to being called a “nigger” by US military personnel.

  26. Mary says:

    73 – all put in OLC, where they can only respond to what is put to them, not generate or direct actions. If Holder never comes to them for an opinion on whether or could or should pursue Presidential torturers, they can’t just offer up an OLC opinion that isn’t in response to anything posed to them by anyone.

    Ditto the situation with putting Koh at State. A great lawyer and human rights leader, but in a position where he has no domestic input for the DOJ.

    • george7 says:

      Yes, you are right. But saying that there is “no evidence” that Obama intends to do anything further about ending torture once and for all is, as the lawyers say, “overly broad.” For now.

  27. Mary says:

    73 – and keep in mind that Lederman has always claimed that the prior OLC opinions DO insulate Presidential torture from prosecution.

    • george7 says:

      insulate Presidential torture from prosecution.

      This is also true, but only in a certain respect.

    • bmaz says:

      Bingo. And Obama has intentionally let Johnsen’s nomination be pitifully slow walked while all his centrist Bush like policies are set in place before she takes office.

  28. ondelette says:

    I think that people are underestimating what there is to protect, by focussing on the people who may be trying to now avoid the growing probability of prosecutions. When the tapes were destroyed, the prosecutions might not have been uppermost in people’s minds. They may well have been concealing to make sure that the scope of involvement stayed small. Consequently, they were destroying evidence of a direct link to the White House in real time during interrogations. And more importantly, they are concealing the use of information obtained using torture or CIDT, directly or otherwise used in court proceedings or anticipated to be so used. The fact that such information has been used could be very damaging, and possibly implicates a much wider circle, even including U.S. Attorneys and their staff, contempt of court, violations of international law.
    Jose Padilla got 17 years for material support of al Qaeda off the Abu Zubaydah tortures. Uzair Paracha got 30 years. In the former case, Padilla already is suing the Rumsfeld over his treatment. Can you imagine if U.S. Attorneys start going to trial for using evidence in court that was obtained by torture? Don’t forget that the S.O.P. for them was to charge something fairly mundane, and then write all sorts of scary terrorist plots into the complaint, show September 11th video at trial, and all the rest, making it clear during both trial and sentencing that this was a terrorist plot case. If the only connection to terrorist plots comes from torture, and it is written into the complaint, what is the U.S.A. guilty of, under the CAT and its implementing legislation? Instead of just some CIA going down, and the persistent threat of White House officials facing prosecution, you then have to add FBI agents, DOJ officials and all the rest.
    It could be the tapes were destroyed to limit visibility, too.

  29. Mary says:

    77 – I think the gist of the posts has been that there is no evidence that Obama plans to prosecute Presidential torturers.

    And keeping the revisions to the Army Field manual and continuing to endorse other exceptions for the CIA and continuing, along with Holder, to say they don’t support prosecutions or investigations and also sending Panetta forth to very publically issue reassurances that Presidential torture won’t result in any consequences, then opting for Lederman in the workman’s role at OLC after he also has opined loud and long that, as long as OLC gives an ok it doesn’t matter what they ok, the crimes are insulated – you can juggle those balls any way you want, but it’s going to take some nifty prestidigitation to turn them into anything other than the underpinnings of Executive branch claims that crimes for the rest of the world become mere “policy decisions” when they are committed with WH blessings.

    No matter what Obama does individually in office (and the claims of torture at GITMO and in our concentrated population camps in Afghanistan and Iraq aren’t going away nor is there any more sunshine or process there), to the extent he keeps to his meme of “we can’t criminalize policy decisions” to distract from his actions of using Presidential fiat to convert crimes into policy – he’s actively supporting torture. It’s pretty simple really.

    • RevBev says:

      Is this the FDR call to “make me do it”? These are our public criminals; justice and the law should be served. All the while, we read this and weep.

    • george7 says:

      I am not making a big point. I am making a little point. I think the situation is still ambiguous and inconclusive. If you say that it is becoming less inconclusive by the day, I would agree.

      Nevertheless, as we all know, Obama was inconclusive in what he said back in January.

      And obviously we’re going to be looking at past practices and I don’t believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand, I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards. … My orientation is going to be moving foward.

      Those who insist there is a lot of counter-evidence that he is going to take the kind of decisive action we are all hoping and working for are correct. Some of that counter-evidence is evident in the statement I just quoted.

      But for the time being we don’t know enough to despair.

  30. robspierre says:

    The thing that upsets me about the chess arguments is that they are essentially excuses for failing to do the one necessary thing. There is no need to pussyfoot around Bush, Cheyney, and the rest. The evidence is there and just has to be faced. Prosecute, try, judge. Be done with it AND save our reputation and self respect at the same time.

    I think your analysis of the reasons for destroying the tapes is brilliant and shows real insight into the psychopathology of the former incumbents. It is also important to dispose of the cheap “ticking-bomb” argument by pointing out the worthlessness of the so-called intelligence gained.

    But I worry that the discussion of efficacy tends to obscure the fact that, effective or not, torture is flat out illegal and morally repugnant.

    This is why the implications of the efficacy argument need to be brought home to its defenders in the starkest of terms: under some conditions, it might be very effective, but it would still be illegal and wrong.

    For example, if we want no more than to extract the account numbers for offshore numbered bank accounts from Wall Street investment bankers and tax cheats, the CIA techniques might be very effective. The subject can tell any lie he wants as long as it is a number. We can try it out and see if we can access the account. If we can’t, we can start again and go on until we get a number that works. It isn’t like we would be under any time pressure in this scenario. The worst that could happen would be for the subject to run out of accounts before we were convinced that no more existed. But good, preliminary forensic accounting ought to give us a good idea of what we should find.

    I think the logic of the above is indisputable. So are the defenders of the Bush-Cheyney terror and all the folks on the Wrong side of the aisles in Congress prepared to endorse such a step? If not, why not? The fate of the nation is, after all, more at threat from bankers now than it ever was from terrorists in 2001?

    The answer to my question is, of course, that the law is not about expediency. It doesn’t distinguish between parties or ideologies or persons. That is why it protects Afghan goatherds and Wall Street bankers alike. Or it protects neither.

    That’s the choice that we need to be offering to our politicians. We can’t let ourselves be put off with spurious whispers about political realities and deal-brokering and chess.

  31. ibfreenow says:

    I don’t believe that the tapes were destroyed.
    I think Big Dick Cheney’s got them and is still jerkin’ his gherkin to them.

  32. Mary says:

    81 – Ondolette, one thing that caught my eye in the link about Aamer’s claims is that they discuss very briefly the issue of the British residents being taken into custody in Pakistan, then rendered out of Pakistan to various and sundry places by the US. The article notes almost in passing that a “Witness A” who was a Sr. manager at MI5 gave evidence that pointed towards the Brits’ understanding that the renditions to torture from Pakistan were “believed to be unlawful”

    I don’t know whether their focus was on torture conventions, geneva convention restrictions on transfers of out of country (since neither Mohamed nor Aamer have in the end been charged) or other, but it was an interesting aside.

  33. tjbs says:

    The greatest threat to any man is to cut off your balls.
    We made that threat with scalpel in hand to the British citizen.
    Made some incisions too.

    Only traitors torture….. torture is treason.

  34. pmorlan says:

    You don’t have to be one of the Obama fans who thinks he is this all powerful being to believe that he might be setting the stage to move on prosecutions. I think it’s entirely conceivable that he knows that investigations must come (doesn’t mean he wants them) because it’s impossible to keep this thing buried. He figures that the best way for him politically is to make sure that there is a groundswell to have these investigations so that he can avoid being charged with partisanship were he to get out in front of this. I think he’s hoping the slow release of documents will cause some Republicans to finally realize that they better desert the sinking Bush ship for their own self preservation (you see some of that happening now). I think a criminal investigation IS going to happen and I think it will be sometime this year.

  35. Leen says:

    So Spain’s justice system is going after Bush administration officials for the manipulation of language used to allow torture.

    Just wondering if Spain or any other nation or International body will go after the thugs who created, cherry picked and dessiminated the false pre-war intelligence. you remember the false intelligence that persuaded the majority of Americans to support the Bush administrations illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq. What ever happenned to investigations into the Niger Documents?

    Where is Paul Wolfowitz now?

  36. timr says:

    That is what happens when a TV show “24″ is used to justify what is plainly torture. I have to wonder, are the rethugs so simple minded that they actually believe that “24″ is real? They did use it as an example in testimony before congress.

  37. SeattleSourceforPolitics says:

    I’m hoping that Cheney makes a few more of his ill conceived television appearances saying that Obama is making America less safe. Maybe if he pisses off our President enough he’ll go after this asshole criminal.

    • george7 says:

      If Andrew Sullivan is right (Times/UK, March 29), Obama is already going after Cheney in exactly the same way that he knee-capped some of his other opponents.

      Barack Obama’s most underrated talent is his ability to get his enemies to self-destruct. It takes a lot less energy than defeating them directly, and helps maintain Obama’s largely false patina of apolitical niceness.

      Obama is about as far from apolitical as you can get; and while he is a decent fellow, he is also a lethal Chicago pol. His greatest achievement in this respect was the total implosion of Bill Clinton around this time last year: Hillary was next. Then came John McCain, merrily strapping on the suicide bomb of Sarah Palin. With the fate of all these formidable figures impossible to miss, one has to wonder what possessed Dick Cheney, the former vice-president, to come lumbering out twice in the first 50 days of the Obama administration to blast the new guy on national television. … [snip]


      I don’t know if Sullivan is correct. For the time being, as indicated, I remain open-minded but skeptical. But I think Sullivan has grounds for this view, and I hope he’s right.

  38. Mary says:

    90 – I don’t know about despair, ????? but it’s not too early to be pissed and fighting back. All your references to “well, golly, there’s still time to unsay what he’s said” types of analysis are really reaching imo. They remind me of the kinds of things people were saying going into the FISA vote. Even before he sold out with his vote, he made it clear that’s where it was going. He was the de facto nominee and Durbin, the whip, is his guy from his state — and yet he didn’t have Durbin whip on retroactive immunity. He set that legislation up to pass way before he added his vote to it.

    And take a look at that vote and then reconcile it with his political propaganda he has been selling that “no one is above the law.”

    If he believed that, why would he have voted to place Bush, Hayden, ATT Verizon, NSA techs, etc ALL ABOVE THE LAW?

    He made that vote and it is completely inconsistent with his rhetoric on no one being above the law being anything but a lie. So have all his actual actions to date – he has continued the Bush arguments and filings in case after case after case – whether it is torture, illegal wiretapping, forever detentions, etc. And he has, Bushlike, coupled his statements that no one is above the law with his pronouncements as head of the law enforcement branch that torture and presidential torturers are policy issues, not criminal matters.

    I never could understand how anyone watching what Obama was saying and doing before the FISA vote could have been surprised at his vote – and I never understood how people who had been adamantly against amnesty when it was Bush’s request suddenly had no problems with it when it was Obama’s fait accompli. But in any event, he isn’t that hard to call. His uses Bushlike rhetoric and like Bush, you have to watch what he does, not what he’s saying.

    Will he protect African American and minority voting rights better than Bush? Absolutely – and look at where he was with Von Spakovsky vis a vis his actions – all of a piece. A self interested piece perhaps, but of a piece. No go back and find one incident where Obama has ever taken any real stand on torture or US torture victims – Arar, el-Masri, Errachidi, Kurnaz, the Uighurs – despite court rulings and mounds of evidence, he still never calls the detainees anything but terrrorists – he’s never ever mentioned that the US has tortured innocent people, much less that it has devastated nations. He knows, he won’t acknowledge and he acts as if torture were within his power to dub as policy v. as crime. That’s not what a good man does.

      • JThomason says:

        Are you sure we aren’t witnessing the passionless machinations of a Harvard bred elitism at play?

      • bmaz says:

        Speak for yourself, I have garnered more than enough information to make the call.

        Mary is exactly right, and if you have some evidence to contradict her points specifically, please ante it up instead of tragically weak generalities.

  39. Mary says:

    Related topic: North Korea is indicating it may try the two US journalists it picked up.

    Apparently Eric Holder & Obama haven’t sold them on the “just torture and detain forever and call it policy” approach yet.

    104 – how is it too soon to tell that voting for amnesty for massive felonious lawbreaking of FISA is inconsistent with rhetoric that no one is above the law? LOL – maybe you could save some keystrokes and you go for nuh uh *g*

  40. george7 says:

    It’s clear that more than one person in this thread has a low tolerance for ambiguity. Not much I can do about that.

    In any case there’s really no point in making snarky remarks or in responding to them.

    The torture in our system is too serious, and efforts aimed at getting rid of it too arduous, for taking pot shots at one another. I can’t see that complaining about Obama gets us very far.

    If you are interested in my views, see my post at Common Dreams, “The Corruption That Is Torture” (March 27).

    • JThomason says:

      It’s clear that more than one person in this thread has a low tolerance for ambiguity.

      And this is not snark?

      I will confess to my drooling sarcasm, but many of the folks that post on here and who you characterize have been in the trenches with the facts concerning many of the facets of corruption of the rule of law for years and the discipline of their conviction to the facts to me suggests a great tolerance to ambiguity contrary to your suggestion. It may be politically prudent to extend Obama the benefit of the doubt, but I think the doubt that has accrued here with respect to the prospects of Obama taking a principled stand in terms of accountability are deeply forged in a persistent and studied immersion in the facts.

      Instead of addressing the record of Obama’s actions presented to you are dismissive. I think you will find many here that would agree with you that torture is corrosive of the Constitutional experiment. Its the practice of a kind status immunity steeped in policy that you seem to be flirting here with. Maybe some of us have lost patience with the experience of a Congress that has persistently kicked the can down the road. Maybe it has nothing to do with the common denominator like “school” but this provides at the very least some rational underpinning to the “fellow feeling” Obama seems to be extending toward Bush and his minions. Maybe a clear recognition of where Obama’s actions place him is what is needed in seeking the truth?

      Who will turn up the heat? Step it up George!!

      • george7 says:

        Not dismissive. Non-responsive. Don’t see the point of arguing with people whose minds are so thoroughly made up.

  41. Mary says:

    110 – Just because you have no response to them doesn’t mean they are pot shots.

    So far, the view you have expressed here has been pretty clear – “give Obama time and don’t complain.” I’ll work on it, but it’s hard to get much enthusiam for going to read a whole post on sitting quietly waiting for time to pass.

      • MarkH says:

        Snarky. Not a fair presentation of what I said. Peace.

        Ya see what happens when one side snipes in even a small snarky way. It creates the death spiral of back-and-forth attacks which have to escalate.

        This is what also *would* happen if Obama led any kind of partisan-like attack on Bushies. Congressional Repubs would become even more obstinate and Obama would never get anything done — and there’s a lot of important stuff he needs to get done and might get done.

        If this were being instigated by anti-Obamaites I might call them on using the old “let’s you and him fight while I watch” to destroy America.

        That’s a strategy we need to be using more in northern Pakistan than in American politics.

  42. Prairie Sunshine says:

    The thesis of your post is getting excellent coverage in the blogosphere. And this may have come up in comments, if so mea culpa, I’m drivin’ by at warp X to the max.

    But one thought occurs that I can’t shake off: Why do we believe the tapes were destroyed?

  43. JThomason says:

    Well I guess if nothing else we have established that there is a significant segment that holds that the rule of law and human decency are expendable if a dollar is at stake.

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