Panetta: Contractors Not Allowed to Interrogate (Anymore)

Leon Panetta just wrote a letter to Congress assuring them that contractors will not be used for interrogations.

The Central Intelligence Agency has banned contractors from conducting interrogations, CIA Director Leon Panetta told lawmakers in a letter Thursday outlining the agency’s dismantling of several Bush-era policies.

The letter and an accompanying memo to CIA employees were the fullest explanation to date of how the agency is carrying out President Barack Obama’s executive order of Jan. 22 ending the CIA’s "black site" program that detained terror suspects.

One flashpoint in that program was the use of outside contractors to interrogate suspects. Under congressional pressure, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair recently said he was reviewing that policy and added that government employees should handle the most important detainees.

Mr. Panetta went further, saying flatly: "No CIA contractors will conduct interrogations."

[anip]

An intelligence official said the contractor ban doesn’t extend to support of interrogations. "If a contractor has, say, special language skills, it’s conceivable that he or she could be asked to support a debriefing," the official said.

Read the whole argument, as it includes easily parsed reassurances that the CIA is out of the black site business as well.

Panetta did not mention, apparently, whether or not the contractors who designed our torture system were still on contract. 

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67 replies
  1. Mary says:

    Nothing about just torturing without including questions with the torture either, eh?

    BTW – if these guys are worthy of direct CIA attention and questioning, then why wouldn’t they also be committing to record the interrogations whenever and wherever possible and keep and retain those recordings for continued review. Think how often that damn Kennedy video gets re-examined. Given real issues with translations, dialects, overlays of info obtained from other sources etc. why wouldn’t you record every word out of the mouths of someone who is supposedly plotting to ignite nuclear holocaust in our nation?

    • Synoia says:

      Its quite hard to make a nuclear weapon. To date the external terrorists have used somewhat less expensive and difficult means.

      Box cutters plus plane tickets, with a follow on helping of video tapes from a scary tall man with a long beard (Gandalf you a sooo busted), and probably lots of cell phone calls in the ME, making threats “Abdul shall we make a large edifice in LA fail next week Thursday?” — And Britney goes nuts again.

      After making the threating phone calls, they fall around laughing in their coffee shops, and high five each other, whilst the US spends another $1 Billion trying to prevent a fiction serious Britney incident.

  2. BoxTurtle says:

    The letter is a mixed bag for me. It’s good that contractors will no longer be doing interrogations, but I doubt the CIA is out of the black site business.

    Mary – The only reason such records would be purged is if they were embarassing enough to the politicians. I like the theory I read here: The reason they were purged is because nothing useful was obtained from anyone using the “enhanced” methods.

    Boxturtle (I don’t worry too much about a terrorist with nukes. Simple nerve gases can be made with household chemicals, however)

  3. skdadl says:

    Meanwhile, back at the DoD …

    Has someone else sorted out better than I have who was doing the interrogating at GTMO and other military sites (excepting FBI and foreign agents slotted into the process midway)? When I try to explain the regime to others, that is always a problem I run into. I know the JTF were/are at GTMO, and were feared (although I can’t put my hands on a source right away). Were they the primary interrogators? Were there contractors employed by the military as well?

  4. Mary says:

    2 – sure, that’s why they need to be hammered with questions on the commitment to taping and keeping the tapes.

    OT – Jeff Stein has a piece up at CQ on how the ICRC never got a chance to question al-Jamadi, whose death was ruled a homicide and generated a Justice Dept referral. He leaves off the fact that while the CIA agent involved, Swanner, has never been tried, one of the coroners, Cyril Wecht, has been. Now that DOJ is looking into Stevens and maybe Seigelman, it ought to consider Wecht as well. Won’t, but should.

    Also OT – I didn’t see this until today.

    Louis Freeh says the 2 billion in BAE payments to:

    Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then Saudi ambassador to the U.S., was not a bribe, but was instead part of a complex barter involving the exchange of Saudi oil for British fighter jets

    Buy the boy a flag to wave.

    • emptywheel says:

      Oh yeah. I meant to post on that before I got a Chase hankering.

      Isn’t it nice that our former FBI head is not defending what was basically an effort to launder money to use for off the books ops?

      • phred says:

        Yep. My favorite Freeh quote from the article is this one…

        “U.S. arms could be purchased through BAE in a way that did not deal with the objection of the U.S. Congress to the selling of American equipment to the Saudis,” Freeh says. He does not elaborate.

        Nothing like a former FBI chief flipping the bird to Congress. Nice.

        • Rayne says:

          Yeah, I think they have a couple of terms for that.

          Illegal transshipment of unlicensed arms in contravention of U.S. and international law.

      • GregB says:

        He was the same scumbag who’s moral sensibilities were thrown asunder by Bill Clinton’s cock.

        Well, at least we know that freedom isn’t Freeh.

        -G

  5. freepatriot says:

    lou pannetta DOES UNDERSTAND that we ain’t all idiots, right ???

    so why is this stupid fucker trying to bullshit me ???

    is there some kind of a booth outside washington dc where these sad pathetic fuckers leave their morality and common sense ???

    • gryphon says:

      I think the booth actually has smart card meter now for those too lazy to slow down and turn in their ethics …

    • freepatriot says:

      no

      but he was thoroughly grilled about bowing to some Saudi guy

      so we know that chicken noodle network is the number one political team on television

      cuz they had the balls to ask about the bow

      we’re dealing with important stuff here …

      • MadDog says:

        And while that is an unclassified letter to employees, one wonders what was in the classified letter he sent to Congressional Oversight committees:

        …Mr. Panetta’s statement, along with a classified letter about interrogation policy that he sent Thursday to the Senate and House intelligence oversight committees, underscored the new administration’s sharp break with one of the most controversial programs of the Bush administration…

        (My Bold)

        And that same NYT article confirms this:

        …Former military psychologists working under contract for the agency helped design the harsh interrogation procedures, and contractors carried out some interrogations, as well as performing medical and security tasks, according to former agency officials. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California and the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee…

        Blackwater, blackwater…
        Dark and deep…

        • MadDog says:

          Blackwater, blackwater…
          Dark and deep…

          From the AP:

          CIA fires contractors guarding secret prisons

          CIA Director Leon Panetta has told Congress the spy agency has taken no new prisoners since he became director in February.

          He also says the CIA has terminated contracts with private companies that provided security at secret overseas CIA prisons. That will save up to $4 million…

          Cofer Black, where are you now?

          Blackwater’s Owner Has Spies for Hire

          …Its chairman is Cofer Black, the former head of counterterrorism at CIA known for his leading role in many of the agency’s more controversial programs, including the rendition and interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects and the detention of some of them in secret prisons overseas…

      • MadDog says:

        And this part of Panetta’s statement begs some questions:

        o CIA no longer operates detention facilities or black sites and has proposed a plan to decommission the remaining sites…

        It clearly indicates that black sites continue to exist, but that they’re operated by someone other than the CIA.

        Who would that be? Another Federal government acronym? Another country? Another contractor?

  6. Mary says:

    3 – from the reports it sounds like a free for all. There was a good two or three part article that I linked to a few times from back in 2006 or 07 I think, focusing on some of the joint task force and navy guys who resisted torture (not Mayer’s piece on Mora and Brant) that spelled out some of the parallel interrogations, but I can’t find it and can’t come up with a google input that gives it to me.

    IIRC, you had the Joint Task Force, also CIA, also non-JTF military interrogators, and JTF had FBI, navy and I think some others assigned to it. There were parallel abusive and non-abusive interogations, then they would let Brits, Canadians, Chinese, etc down for their time etc. Add in torture field trips from lawyers at DOJ (who apparently didn’t ask questions) and later interrogations by JAG prosecutors, and I think you have all kinds of things – everyone using their own tactics, reference points, agendas, filing of into, etc.

    Wish I could find that two or three part series – it did a good job explaining. Included descriptions of complaints about Geneva Conventions abuses starting in Jan 2002 (also the time Gonzales told Bush not to worry about war crimes) and profiled some of the guys who refused to participate in abusive interrogations and talked about them giving McDonalds to the detainees to make progress and how when they would get good info, the abusive teams would then go back and drag the detainees out to try to get the same info and more by their techniques – it sounded like a mess. They also talked about how they could see the export of abuse to Abu Ghraib coming and tried to prevail upon the GITMO commander NOT to GITMO-ize Abu Ghraib – IIRC.

  7. Mary says:

    6 – yep, and to apply all his skills, connection and inside info on behalf of a client who — was threatening to hold back terrorism attack info to Britain (although wth, Obama has been willing to do the same of Binyam Mohamed).

  8. Mary says:

    8 – they had multimillion dollar “site security” contracts with outside contractors for the black sites? And even though they are decommissioning the black sites, they seem to feel something like the Goldsmith memo makes it still okfor them to pick up whoever they want to with no probable cause and ‘hold’ on a ‘transitory’ basis before the turn them over to some other country without really worrying over compliance with torture convetions?

    I have … further directed that the contracts for site security be promptly terminated. It is estimated that our taking over site security will result in savings of up to $4 million.

    CIA retains the authority to detain individuals on a short-term transitory basis. … We anticipate that we would quickly turn over any person in our custody to U.S. military authorities or to their country of jurisdiction, depending on the situation.

    I am thinking he doesn’t mean country of origin, so I’m not sure what country of jurisdiction means.

    You have to wonder what el-Masri thinks of the allegations that the CIA operatives who snatched and held him have terrorist organization knowledge that is second to none. And what Maher Arar’s daughters think of that “fairness and wisdom” reference

    • Nell says:

      I’m not sure what country of jurisdiction means

      Maybe ‘the country which has issued an arrest warrant at our request’ (Egypt, Jordan, Morocco…?)

  9. Rayne says:

    I reall want to know about Mauritania, the site they hoped most of us never heard about, especially since there’s no online news outlet in that nation-state. The one that likely took in detainees from the black site in Poland…

    And this bit:

    CIA no longer operates detention facilities or black sites and has proposed a plan to decommission the remaining sites.

    I can drive a truck through this. Does it mean that DoD’s intel branch will be operating them instead?

    Of course nothing is ever what it seems on the face of it; I wonder what Panetta had to do to keep from getting figuratively stabbed in the back while trying to close these site down.

    • skdadl says:

      I wonder what Panetta had to do to keep from getting figuratively stabbed in the back while trying to close these site down.

      He had to deliver the Nuremberg defence, or a version of it. Anyone who had a little piece of paper from the DoJ/OLC is off the hook, and is not supposed ever to have had a functioning human conscience or a knowledge of the law.

      The sentence you quote is either illogical or a cover-up of something else, and the rest of that paragraph just deepens the mystery.

  10. Mary says:

    20- Obviously you missed the links to the “have bucket, can create nuclear bomb” websites.

    21 – I had thoughts along those lines too. Doesn’t really address that Geneva Conventions issue of not being allowed to transport protected persons out of country, does it?

    The real problem with Panetta’s memo is that, despite the NPR/BBC reports I was listening to on the radio earlier, it doesn’t really reject torture by the US. At best, it puts it on hold. Because what he is very clearly saying is that as long as someone in DOJ gives you a thumbs up, you can torture and your torture crimes will never be “even investigated, much less prosecuted.” As a matter of fact, he’s made sure that he expressly incorporates “acts on” in addition to his reference to “acted on”

    Officers who act on guidance from the Department of Justice-or acted on such guidance previously-should not be investigated, let alone punished.

    So he’s saying, *we are going to be acting on advice that we can engage in “transitory” torture and hand offs to torture and don’t sweat it kidz, uncle leon will make it ok.

  11. Mary says:

    24 – somewhere else. It wasn’t the Mayer series, I think it was maybe MSN hard copy? Focus was on JTF guys who wouldn’t play ball with torture – I’m so damn bad with names, I can even see the picture of the one guy, son of a NYC cop IIRC. Frustrating – oh well, it didn’t go into all the interrogations but it did give insights into at least two parallel tracks of interrogations going on. Flagged the story of the FBI trying to ship a detainee from GITMO to Jordan to have special treatment and the intervention to shut that down.

    • MadDog says:

      I’ve got a ton of links saved on the Torture stuff, and while looking through them, I came across this one by Philippe Sands in Vanity Fair that might be the one you’re referring to:

      The Green Light

      As the first anniversary of 9/11 approached, and a prized Guantánamo detainee wouldn’t talk, the Bush administration’s highest-ranking lawyers argued for extreme interrogation techniques, circumventing international law, the Geneva Conventions, and the army’s own Field Manual. The attorneys would even fly to Guantánamo to ratchet up the pressure—then blame abuses on the military. Philippe Sands follows the torture trail, and holds out the possibility of war crimes charges.
      by Philippe Sands May 2008…

  12. Mary says:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15361458/

    In extensive interviews with MSNBC.com, former leaders of the Defense Department’s Criminal Investigation Task Force said they repeatedly warned senior Pentagon officials beginning in early 2002 that the harsh interrogation techniques used by a separate intelligence team would not produce reliable information, could constitute war crimes, and would embarrass the nation when they became public knowledge.


    The investigators say their warnings began almost from the moment their agents got involved at the Guantanamo prison camp, in January 2002.

    a dual structure of intelligence gathering and criminal investigation, with two arms of the U.S. military, with overlapping missions, interrogating the same prisoners, continues today

    The task force drew from the Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as from the FBI, Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies.

    They didn’t have names for many of the detainees. It often wasn’t clear what country they were from. A detainee might claim he was a Saudi, then visiting law enforcement agents would recognize him as a Yemeni. Most weren’t picked up by U.S. forces, but were handed over by bounty hunters in the early days of the war in Afghanistan. They were transferred with scant records, often without any “pocket litter,” the possessions and documents that can be invaluable to investigators.

    Although Pentagon officials have referred to an “elaborate screening process” before detainees were sent to Guantanamo, the law enforcement agents said evidence of criminal activity or intelligence value in some cases was flimsy.

    Fallon said two detainees were suspected in a rocket attack against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The evidence against them was that they were found wearing dark olive green jackets similar to the one worn by the attacker. “I’ve been to Kabul,” he said. “That’s the only color jacket I’ve seen.”

    “There are some mean, nasty people down there,” said Jeffery K. Sieber, a former resident agent in charge of the law enforcement task force at Guantanamo. “There’s always been some hard-core people down there who want to do very bad things to the United States. And some who weren’t — but now they’re very upset.”

    That was 2006. It tracks through the frustrations in the summerfall of 02

    We know from other sources – Mayers and Harper’s – that the lackof decent intel from the GITMO detainees resulted in a top CIA analyst going to GITMO and investigating and reporting back to the White House – Addington in particular according to Mayer – that a big reason they were getting nada on intel was bc so many of the people they had there had no business being there. The reaction to that info was Addington having a hissy that they were not going to reclassify people just bc they were innocent and Rumsfeld, Haynes et al deciding that the thing to do was authorize more and worse abuse.

    I guess this series was just one more – cumulative. But people like Fallon and Mora didn’t get the print they deserved, so these are the stories that stick with me, even if I screw up the names (and NY v NJ)

    • Nell says:

      Thanks so much for the links, Mary. I think I skimmed one of those at the time but missed the part about the dual interrogation tracks.

      From your excerpt: Although Pentagon officials have referred to an “elaborate screening process” before detainees were sent to Guantanamo, the law enforcement agents said evidence of criminal activity or intelligence value in some cases was flimsy.

      Got that right. Here’s Joseph Margulies, in Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power (2006), p. 65:

      Major General Michael Dunlavey arrived the next month [Feb. 2002] to supervise interrogations and quickly learned that as many as half the prisoners at the base had little or no intelligence value. The Administration said there was an elaborate screening process in Afghanistan to separate the wheat from the chaff. Yet hundreds of prisoners were sent to the base before the screening criteria discussed the threat they might represent. In March, Lieutenant Colonel Bill Cline, deputy camp commander at the time, reported than an unknown number of prisoners were innocent “victims of circumstance,” caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time. The following month, Dunlavey traveled to Afghanistan to complain that too many “Mickey Mouse” prisoners were being sent to the base. Commanders in Afghanistan acknowledged the problems but said they had no other place to send suspects who might, onceivably, have some intelligence value.

      Dozens of prisoners described in classified intelligence reports as farmers, cab drivers, cobblers, and laborers were shipped to the prison, even though intelligence offiers at Bagram and Kandahar air bases had concluded after repeated interrogations that they should be released. [… two lurid examples, a brain-injured man and a lunatic …] In January 2002, then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales asked the Pentagon to fill out a one-page form for each prisoner describing his alleged involvement with terrorism so military prosecutors could decide who would be tried for war crimes. Intelligence officers quickly reported back that they did not even have enough evidence on most prisoners to complete the forms.

      They knew from the very beginning.

      • eCAHNomics says:

        Yet another analogy with Hitler. Cheney was keeping track of everything. Records abound. Of course, we’ll have to wait 50 years to get Cheney’s docs.

  13. Valtin says:

    CIA officers, whose knowledge of terrorist organizations is second to none, will continue to conduct debriefings using a dialog style of questioning that is fully consistent with the interrogation approaches authorized and listed in the Army Field Manual. CIA officers do not tolerate, and will continue to promptly report, any inappropriate behavior or allegations of abuse. That holds true whether a suspect is in the custody of an American partner or a foreign liaison service.

    Under the Executive Order, the CIA does not employ any of the enhanced interrogation techniques that were authorized by the Department of Justice from 2002 to 2009.

    There is no way that anyone can analyze the Panetta memo, or any of these CIA and Pentagon gyrations on the interrogation question unless you fully understand the role the Army Field Manual plays in this area.

    This is not just my monomaniacal fixation, but the view of Physicians for Human Rights and Center for Constitutional Rights, and a number of other anti-torture activists. However, it is still not a mainstream view, or even a minor note in the ongoing discussion of these issues by the mainstream press or by politicians.

    Briefly, the AFM implements the CIA’s own core program of interrogation, as described in its KUBARK interrogation manual of the early 1960s (and again in other CIA documents decades later). It consists of use of isolation, sensory deprivation, stress positions (oops, an “enhanced technique the AFM forgot to ban), sleep deprivation, use of drugs, and manipulation of fear and environment.

    That’s it. That’s all you need. Waterboarding, beatings, etc., that’s for amateurs, or the military bozos in SERE, who the CIA exploited for their own purposes, i.e., for research on stress in interrogations, and fine-tuning personality types and how they respond to torture. A lot of the “controversy” over enhanced techniques is a cover for making sure that the real torture program is not touched.

    This is not a fantasy. This is the way it is. I’ve written on it. I was able to convince CCR, and now I want to convince all the good bloggers and commenters here, because without this special key to understanding how and why the military/CIA torture program really works, then you are totally disarmed in reacting to news such as that of today.

    Of all the articles I’ve written, the one that I think makes the best point, including how the government has gone out of their way to mask the relevancy of what the AFM is doing (particularly in its Appendix M), is “How the Press, the Pentagon, and Even Human Rights Groups Sold Us an Army Field Manual that (Still) Sanctions Torture”, published at AlterNet.

    Here’s a snippet:

    According to an [May 2006] article in the L.A. Times, this latest fight over the classified procedures went back at least to mid-May 2006. The manual itself had been written at the U.S. Army Intelligence Center at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona, roughly a year earlier, and then sent to the Pentagon for further evalution. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s right-hand man, Stephen Cambone, was put in charge of its final draft. According the L.A. Times, members of Congress were “keen to avoid a public fight with the Pentagon.” The announcement that the controversial and still unknown procedures might not be included in the manual was seen as a success by human rights groups.

    Yet the proverbial chickens never hatched, and by early September 2006 the new Army Field Manual was finally released. The section on special interrogation procedures for “unlawful combatants” was included as a special appendix (Appendix M), and published in unclassified format. According to a L.A. Times story on September 8th, Cambone was crowing that the new Army Field Manual instructions would give interrogators “what they need to do the job”….

    Not long ago, I wrote about what was included in Appendix M, which purports to introduce the single technique of “separation.” In fact, the Appendix M includes instructions regarding solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, and, in combination with other procedures included in the Army Field Manual, amounted to a re-introduction of the psychological torture techniques practiced at Guantanamo, and taught by Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape, or SERE psychologists and other personnel at the Cuban base and elsewhere….

    It seems likely that the Army Field Manual, whether by executive order (most likely) or by legislation, will become the new “single standard” for U.S. interrogation. Press reports hint that the Obama administration may yet allow a loophole for CIA interrogators.

    The contractors will be used to examine prisoners, to assess outcomes, to tailor interrogations to the individual prisoner. They don’t have to conduct the interrogations. In fact, it’s better to have them not conduct them (especially the behavioral and medical contractors). It was all figured out long ago. It took the CIA a little while to get back to normative functioning on the interrogation score after 9/11, but within six months they were there.

    The waterboarding, etc., was pushed from the White House, where bureaucrats who knew of SERE had gone fishing looking for interrogation “expertise” in the first months after 9/11. Then Rumsfeld got into the picture, and there was a lot of bureaucratic infighting. Now, the CIA figures it knows what its doing. Leave us alone with our “clean” AFM. It’s all kosher now.

    This is how it’s being done. Look into it. Don’t take my word. We haven’t much time left before this fight is over (for this phase of our political lives). Don’t let them use the AFM as a cover for torture.

      • Valtin says:

        I didn’t mean you or EW. I’m referring to the bulk of the blogosphere. My frustration boils over as I read article after article, day after day, and the mainstream view on this continues endlessly. No one challenges the conventional wisdom (except here, and a few other places).

        I was responding, too, to the general comment thread, without wanting to call anyone out. Because the speculations about what Panetta means or what the CIA is going to do or not do have no relevance unless one realizes that the CIA already has figured out what to do, and they’re doing it. And Obama is facilitating acceptance of the AFM torture program, and the mainstream press and most of the blogging world (including people I otherwise admire, like Scott Horton, or Glenn Greenwald) continue to ignore it. While the president of the National Lawyers Guild agrees with me, she appears to be unable to move her own organization to take a public position on it. Meanwhile, the ACLU speaks out of both sides of their mouth about it. Even prominent anti-torture writers, authors of well-known books (whose identity I will not reveal here), have told me to my face how important and right this issue is, but will not publicly write about it or include it in their own analyses. Perhaps they are only placating me, but since I’m a nobody, really, and they have nothing to gain by so doing, I suspect, and the psychologist in me tells me, they are being genuine.

        Someone, I’m not sure who, said that if you’re going to have a secret, it’s best to have one right out in the open. The AFM is there for anyone to read. So are the earlier AFMs. Anyone could do the comparison. Anyone could read what is actually said and put two and two together.

        It is similar, I suppose, to those who become incensed, as I do, too, at the massive amount of public evidence over use of torture itself (just ask Craig Murray), or the frame up and lies that led to the invasion of Iraq (just ask David Swanson over at After Downing Street), and still it’s as if none of this makes sufficient impact.

        So I’ve taken to reposting Carl Bernstein’s article from the 70s on the CIA and the Media, because I just can’t understand otherwise how a society could be so compliant, so incurious, so accepting and passive. The social psychologist in me says, what do you expect? This is how human beings are.

        So I’m reduced to ranting in a blog article and offending those who best believe and support the issues I’m pushing. Forgive me for that, and know it’s the end of a long, long day.

        Like Woody Allen’s joke in Annie Hall, I will, I suppose, end up an old man hanging out in Manhattan delis, carrying shopping bags full of old articles about the Army Field Manual and Bush-era memos, or old Obama DoJ decisions, and screaming about “torture.” And people will look at me like I’m nuts (if they don’t already).

    • eCAHNomics says:

      The U.S. and the CIA have a long history of torture. Overthrow tells about a particularly brutal form of water torture used by U.S. military against the Philippine insurgency (insert bamboo into esphogus, pour in water until stomach swells, jump on stomach; even led to jokes in U.S. MSM). Legacy of Ashes gives the CIA history of torture. Any excuse is good enough. War helps, but proxy wars (imagined and real) are just fine. I’m amazed it’s taken the U.S. so long to find methods that don’t leave physical marks.

  14. eCAHNomics says:

    OT
    Anyone find it amusing that Somali pirates are rowing circles around the U.S. navy? (Good thoughts for Phillips, of course.)

          • eCAHNomics says:

            That link worked. That’s what I was referring to. Rachel covered it. Who could have predicted that someone could have figured out that cutting thru those cables could disable important communications? Duh.

            Rule #1 for anti-terrorism: Harden the targets.

                • SouthernDragon says:

                  McVeigh and Nichols were sociopaths. A couple of pissed off losers. That didn’t make them any less dangerous, however. There was a different mindset between M & N and the WTC hijackers. McVeigh may have thought he was being a martyr for whatever his cause was when he didn’t fight his death sentence but he sure as hell had no intention of blowing himself up or getting caught that day. Nichols was a mouse trying to roar like a lion.

                  • shekissesfrogs says:

                    In hindsight, how can we be sure that McVeigh and Nichols were just sociopaths? At the time, that was one of two memorable acts of terrorism, the other the was the first WTC bombing, and that was false flag terror.
                    When I look at the pictures of the OK City bombing site, It’s hard to believe that it was just a van full of cow manure that blew the whole front end off of it. There were special interests vying for attribution to further their causes.

  15. Mary says:

    32 -yep, no wonder that the war crimes act was so strongly on Gonzales’ mind even back in the end of 01, Jan of 02.

  16. SouthernDragon says:

    Banning contractors doesn’t ban the use of the military or law enforcement personnel of the country in which the prisoner is held. In Viet Nam the CIA didn’t have contractors interrogating individuals scooped up by Phoenix teams. If the prisoner ended up in Saigon the White Mice (national police) and RVN Army personnel were used. I don’t think the Afghan police or military would object to conducting interrogations. But the WH and War Dept would be able to truthfully say that we aren’t using civilian contractors.

  17. Dru says:

    In the meantime Bagram is expanding to almost double; so that military interrogators can keep the torture in the family? I’m afraid it is going to be Obama’s Pol-i-Charkhi.

  18. perris says:

    it is my opinion that every single person hired by cheney for his alternate cia (look up “team b”) needs to be fired IMMEDIATELY

    these people are criminals, tasked with manufacturing data to suit their depraved agenda of pillage, plunder, create unrest, and destroy the future of our country

    • eCAHNomics says:

      You are deluded if you think it’s just Cheney. Torture is as American as apple pie. See my 41.

      • perris says:

        I have no such delusions, but there has also always been murder, theft, war monguers, war profiteers and despots

        the fact that there have been incidents in the past hardly forives the despots of the present

        • eCAHNomics says:

          It’s not “incidents,” it’s regular behavior. The U.S. ALWAYS tortures. It’s incidious. Until you come to grips with that, you won’t know what you are up against.

    • SouthernDragon says:

      Cheney’s an amateur. The cruelty in Cheney’s policies was secondary to the privatization of the military and CIA, which he detested. When one perceives anyone not of their class as not human it’s easy to advocate cruelty and death. These people would do to each of us here no different than what they are doing to Irakis and Afghans.

      • perris says:

        Cheney is not only an amateur, he’s also a moron, a failure at everything

        the real puppeteer here are the Koch brothers, the founders of right wing propaganda tanks like the Cato institute

      • eCAHNomics says:

        Thanks. Knew Cheney detested CIA but hadn’t thought he also detested military. But clearly he did. Ditto Rumsfeld. Don’t know why I didn’t see it before.

        • SouthernDragon says:

          I don’t know about the military but he absolutely detested CIA. I re-read that I don’t know how many times thinking someone would think both. My mistake. Rumsfeld clearly held the military is low regard. The only thing I ever agreed with Rummy about was a smaller, more efficient military. I think the days of worrying about an invasion are long gone and I agree with Washington’s (George) concerns about a standing army. Combined with the fact that we are have the most heavily armed civilian population in the world. We could get nuked, of course, but ground pounders, sailors, airmen and armed civilians ain’t gonna help with that.

        • Valtin says:

          I disagree. If anything, Cheney likely is CIA. How else do you get to run a CIA assassination ring? Cheney’s history with the CIA goes back at least to his role in helping it cover up the Frank Olson murder, and also the scandal around the release of those 1980s CIA torture manuals.

          The Plame episode actually proves my point, because how dare does one of them speak out (or have their husband speak out) against his rule? Cheney was personally offended, because in his mind he runs the CIA, just like he runs the rest of the country. If there is a war inside CIA, it’s between its covert and intelligence-gathering wings. Wilson was doing intelligence gathering, and it stepped on the toes of the covert sides Iraq operations to “game” the intelligence. Cheney knew how to smack that down.

          This country is so far from coming to terms with the degree in which the intelligence agencies have warped governance that it isn’t funny.

  19. Nell says:

    Valtin: CIA’s own core program of interrogation [which] consists of [the] use of isolation, sensory deprivation, stress positions (oops, an “enhanced technique” the AFM forgot to ban), sleep deprivation, use of drugs, and manipulation of fear and environment.

    On blogs where I’ve commented regularly, I’ve done a significant amount of calling attention to your point about the Appendix and how it incorporates the core of the CIA torture program and its coercive model of interrogation (citing and linking to your blog).

    Just from a campaigning standpoint, I’d like to be clear: If we could achieve the rescinding of Appendix M, would the AFM in your view allow torture? My understanding was that the body of the manual is not substantially different than previous versions.

    It’s also my understanding that neither stress positions nor drugs are permitted in the new (or old) AFM, in Appendix M or anywhere else. The manual, like a lot of military training, only allows things specifically cited as allowed; it is not intended to be a taking-off point for soldiers’ imaginations. Could you clarify how and where the revised manual contemplates the use of stress positions?

    I recently wrote about the false connection between torture (which is about obtaining false information desired by the torturers, among other purposes) and legitimate interrogation. The revision of the Army Field Manual is an effort to legitimize torture, for both the military and the CIA, but it also strengthens the propaganda that torture is simply legitimate interrogation that goes further/too far.

    The torture of people known from the beginning to have no intelligence value whatsoever was done to extract “information” that could be used to justify their continued detention and, through the revelation of other “terror plots”, the whole highly profitable waronterra enterprise involving the capture, detention, and torture of more people.

    • perris says:

      The torture of people known from the beginning to have no intelligence value whatsoever was done to extract “information” that could be used to justify their continued detention and, through the revelation of other “terror plots”, the whole highly profitable waronterra enterprise involving the capture, detention, and torture of more people.

      that was only a residual side “benefit” for their real purpose

      EVERYONE knows torture gets you LESS information, everyone knows it creates MORE enemies, MORE events

      everyone knows policies of torture turn sypathisers into activists against our cause

      the only purpose of torture is to create the envirnment where we CANNOT “win the hearts and minds” of a people who’s land we occupy

      the only purpose was to perpetuate the insurgency, this is the only purpose for policies of torture

      their program actually worked quite well when we consider those facts and their true purpose

    • eCAHNomics says:

      Um, yep. Like al-Libi’s confession about the link between Saddam Hussein and AQ.

      For all the torture they did, it’s pretty amazing how few useful false confessions they got. But I suppose the same “Powell doctrine” applies: use overwhelming torture to extact only the smallest bit of useful disinformation.

    • Valtin says:

      All excellent points. As to whether the AFM would include torture if Appendix M was rescinded, I think that it would, and will address this in a lengthy new article I hope will also be posted at AlterNet in the coming few weeks. The crux of the matter concerns what techniques were not banned, e.g., stress positions, and the way the manual deals with the use of certain “standard” techniques, such as “Fear Up” and “Ego Down”. Finally, the new AFM made changes in the language it uses to describe drugging of prisoners that is quite scary.

  20. Robt says:

    Wel when the Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce President says, The Employee Free Choice Act is the single most threatening issue that faces Nebraska” , it seems concerning.

    “the most threatening issue”?

    Does he not realize that Nebraska is in America and America is a brink shot
    away from a greater economic depression? America is in 2 Wars, it needs energy security, Health care is in a crisis, Climate change, Constitutional rights and the Bill of Rights need restored to post Bush levels? That no where in history have I ever heard or seen the feat of stimulating a “service economy” back to health?

    Yet the EFCA is most threatening?

  21. Palli says:

    The idea of military: uniform, personal arms, hierarchy rank, power, ethnocentrism, and all else that goes with it means there will be torture.
    A standing army keeps people in these warped human relationships long periods of time and serves to breakdown instinctive humane feelings (only nascent in too many people anyway.)
    A standing Peace Corps, yes. Military, no.

  22. Leen says:

    Obama, Whitehouse, Holder, Leahy, Pelosi, “no one is above the law”

    That is unless we can say that someone else ordered you to torture or kill. Then you are “above the law”

    Where have we heard this horseshit before. I was just following orders

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