Gitmo as OUR Recruitment Tool

The NYT is out with another report of the Pentagon stat that 14% of those released after being held in Gitmo subsequently engaged in terrorism.

An unreleased Pentagon report concludes that about one in seven of the 534 prisoners already transferred abroad from the detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has returned to terrorism or militant activity, according to administration officials. 


The report, a copy of which was made available to The New York Times, says the Pentagon believes that 74 prisoners released from Guantánamo have returned to terrorism or militant activity, making for a recidivism rate of nearly 14 percent.

There’s something that all of the discussion on so-called "recidivism" from Gitmo never considers.

What are the chances that some, or even most, of these "recidivist" terrorists are actually men we recruited to spy for us? That is, they may have "returned to terrorism or militant activity," but did so with our blessing, with the understanding they’d send back information on what those militant groups were doing.

We do know the US and its allies were using those captured as spies of a sort. Just last weekend, for example, newspapers in the UK reported that an "Informant A" was used by the Brits and Morrocco to try to get Binyam Mohamed to "cooperate" with his captives. 

Mohamed, 31, says that in September 2002, after his ‘extraordinary rendition’ to North Africa, an agent known only as Informant A told him the torture would stop if he gave intelligence to the British.

The offer from the agent, a UK citizen of Moroccan descent, suggests that British security forces had the power to end his treatment, Mohamed’s lawyer claims.

Mohamed already knew the agent from London.


Clive Stafford Smith said: ‘The Moroccans told Mr Mohamed that Informant A was working with the British Government and pressed Mr Mohamed to do the same if he wanted to end his torture.


Informant A is said to have fought alongside Osama Bin Laden in the caves of Tora Bora.

He was said to have been captured and held at a U.S. base in Afghanistan in 2002, when he agreed to turn informant.

Terek Dergoul, held at the same base, said: ‘One of the guards was saying, "We’ve got another 007".’

The language here is particularly interesting: the reference to Informant A as "another 007" and the suggestions that Mohamed should "work with the British Government." If Binyam Mohamed had agreed to spy for the Brits, would he have avoided all that horrible torture he suffered?

The possibility that these "recidivists" are actually our recruits spying on Islamic extremists for the Americans might explain a few details about the report. For example, the report only lists 29 of the 74 purported "recidivists" by name. It doesn’t mention the others "because of national security and intelligence-gathering concerns." Sure, that might reflect a desire not to alert militants to our intelligence channels. It might also reflect a desire to protect our spies in the field.

And the possibility that at least some of these "recidivists" are now our spies might explain the hold-up on the release of the document. The NYT suggests the Bush dead-enders who did the report won’t release the report for fear of pissing off Obama and/or out of fear for their jobs, even while reporting that Obama is not pressuring anyone in the Pentagon to hold up the report. But the detail that the findings are "under review" suggests the dead-enders who did the report might have a credibility problem.

The Pentagon promised in January that the latest report would be released soon, but Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said this week that the findings were still “under review.”

Two administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said the report was being held up by Defense Department employees fearful of upsetting the White House, at a time when even Congressional Democrats have begun to show misgivings over Mr. Obama’s plan to close Guantánamo.


Pentagon officials said there had been no pressure from the Obama White House to suppress the report about the Guantánamo detainees who had been transferred abroad under the Bush administration. The officials said they believed that Defense Department employees, some of them holdovers from the Bush administration, were acting to protect their jobs.

There are a lot of reasons why such a report might have a credibility problem. But if they were counting the spies we recruited under threat of harsh treatment as "recidivists,"  it would certainly call into question the validity of the numbers. 

Aside from some allegations that recruitment is what the Americans were trying to do with their torture at Abu Ghraib (the pictures showing men in humiliating poses, which could serve as blackmail, were supposed to be a part of that), I really haven’t heard this question asked. But we do know they used detainees as informants and possibly as spies. If so, it might explain why so many went on to "rejoin" militant groups. 

143 replies
  1. lllphd says:

    great insights, marcy.

    in addition to the patently obvious point that, duh, after being held in many cases without cause and tortured for years at gitmo, is that not enough to turn these guys into america-hating monsters?

    • DWBartoo says:

      I am not certain that they would be ‘monsters’ simply because they might decide to dedicate whatever life remained to them to trying to do ’something’ to bring America to ‘account’.

      It is possible that we might diffuse some of these human beings’ justifiable anger and even hatred, were WE to be the ones to bring certain American ‘officials’ to account, however unpopular this might be amongst the so-called ‘leadership’ of this nation.

      But your “obvious” point needs underscoring because the obvious seems to get little attention, these days, llphd, as, I am certain, many here have noticed …


      • lllphd says:

        agreed, and i should have put monsters in quotes. it’s of course the blanket accusation the fearful right ascribe to these folks, for whom i have the deepest compassion.

        and it just occurs to me how painfully monstrous would be our hold on these poor souls if we are, as marcy suggests, conscripting them for espionage purposes. talk about a no-win situation; if they agree to do this, they have no option of quitting because then our wonderful cia will out them. and if they don’t agree, they stay in gitmo.


        as for the ‘obvious’ recidivism logic for these guys, all the more reason to keep these people in our ward and see to their rehabilitation, a word obama has just used in his speech. (my god, even pat buchanan praises him to the skies!!)

        so far, fwiw, he’s impressing me with his approach to these complications. the point that i’ve been trying to make here in the past is one he seems to have made yesterday in that meeting with progressives on these national security topics. namely, one of his top priorities is to reverse the bush trend toward the unitary executive, most especially toward being above the law. he stated that he wants his solution to hold for all coming administrations, and so his approach must adhere with exquisite dedication to this principle of the executive being fully directed by law. in order to achieve this goal, he cannot in any way take a position that will even be construed as dictatorial.

        i’ve tried to apply this consideration in reflecting on some of his more baffling decisions, such as defending the bush admin on state secrets, etc. my reflections satisfy me, but i beg input from the lawyers out there. succinctly, i see obama as relying on the courts and congress to do the heavy lifting; his job as executor is to yield to the laws of the people’s reps and the courts’ interpretations of them, not to impose his own position on their execution. so, to me, it actually seems wise for him to take the contrary position on many cases; this is the ONLY way the debates will be forced into the courts and congress, and the only way for the truly principled position to really enjoy a win that will stick. think what it would mean were obama to take the principled position we all have and assume he does on many of these cases, like state secrets. if he takes his own position, he would be forced to essentially withdraw from those cases where the disputes NEED to be decided, and decided NOT in the executive branch, but in the courts and in congress.

        i actually see this as profoundly wise on his part, as no one will be able to accuse him of just moving into the WH and summarily reversing the previous party’s rules. he wants to see these things debated that require debate. he has made some exceptions, such as banning EITs and planning to close gitmo, where not only is there simply no question (despite the dick’s flailing assertions), but for the most part, and when it comes to the more granular details, he seems to be treading very carefully in terms of asserting too much power.

        i am obviously not a lawyer, but nor am i a zealot. zealots find easier comfort with dictating “principles.” i am more comforted with obama’s determination to push back executive power by not assuming it, instead of waving his wand made powerful by the power-mad dick&W show he ultimately wishes to reverse.

        just my opinion.

        • DLoerke says:

          You can’t treat these terrorists with more cruelty than they have already perpetrated. Anything done against them is justified, legally and by the laws of war to whom they remain unrecognized. If they are forced to spy, well, too bad. People are blackmailed for less…

          • Mary says:

            once again, true true true true true.

            I still remember the day we declared war on souffles.

            Anyone who has watched Iron Chef would certainly agree that they deserve what they get.

            • Rayne says:

              Maybe the last administration really got the wrong intel from the get-go; maybe they mistook this CIA for the other CIA.

              Might be the closest thing to a logical explanation for the meat tenderizing methods they used on detainees.

          • phred says:

            You wouldn’t know cruelty if it slapped you upside the head 20 or 30 times, suspended you naked from the ceiling of your freezing cell and sodomized your children in front of you.

            Please tell me that when the National Anthem is sung in your presence that you cross your fingers behind your back and hum though the “land of the free and the home of the brave” part.

            • Petrocelli says:

              WOW … great takedown ! Chin-ee should have to hear that.

              BTW, I still haven’t seen teh Movie That Should Not Be Named Here … been meaning to but with a sunny week, all the Beer Parties barbecuing keep stopping me.

              • phred says:

                Thanks Petro ; ) Have you noticed I’m getting a bit peevish with the torture apologists lately? ; )

                P.S. As for the not-exactly-aforementioned movie, one of us is having a hard time biting our tongue. Stop carousing and get thee to a theater!

            • DLoerke says:

              We will only be free and brave if we are alive…Islamic extremists want us dead. See New York Terrorists arrested trying to blow up Jewish sysagogues…

              • phred says:

                Evidently being alive has not made you brave, and freedom requires a lot more work than drawing breath. I’ve also heard “terrorists” who couldn’t tie their own shoelaces were going to blow up the Sears Tower. I will be more impressed with your terrifying NY terrorists when they are convicted in a court of law. Until then, not so much.

              • randiego says:

                We will only be free and brave if we are alive…Islamic extremists want us dead. See New York Terrorists arrested trying to blow up Jewish sysagogues…

                Get that weak shit out of here, troll.

                Why are all wingers such fucking pantywaists?

          • lllphd says:

            just gonna give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re being cynical here and move on. impossible to take you seriously, given the facts.

        • esseff44 says:

          I tend to agree about the kind of cautious approach Obama is taking. So many of these issues have been litigated and others are still in the process. It is much better to have the courts lay down some guidelines which will give him cover. It has become clear he cannot depend on the Dems in Congress when he needs backup. When it’s coming from Bush appointed judges, it’s another story and precedents are set for future administrations. Obama is a pragmatist and thinks things through. I think he has a good sense of where the courts are going on the detainee issues.

          • Nell says:

            Developing from scratch a system to preventively detain people, that is, hold them without charge indefinitely until the “war” we “captured” them in is declared ended?

            That’s not a particularly cautious, or constitutional, approach.

            In fact, it’s freaking totalitarian.

          • Mary says:

            YOu mean like the Supreme Court’s denial of cert on the el-Masri case, despite everyone knowing that Bush had him kidnapped and tortured?

            Yeah – that works.

            • esseff44 says:

              There are different problems to look at. One is what Obama does going forward balancing security interests and human rights.

              The el-Masri case is about past violations. Like el-Masri, there were many cases of mistaken identity. What do we do about those cases now? How do we make sure they don’t happen again? We cannot prevent cases of mistaken identity but if they are treated humanely, it is forgiveable. It is the inhumane treatment still has to be addressed somehow. There has to be more than “We don’t torture now like the other guys did.” The people who care will have to keep the issue alive until more people are aware and pressure builds to bring the bad guys to justice. That is going to take some doing and we are not going to get help from Congress members who were complicit. Look how long it took to get an apology for Japanese internment. We will get help from the courts some of the time and some of the time not. Judge Vaughn Walker has a case somewhat similar to el-Masri that is still alive.

          • lllphd says:

            thanks so much. i pride myself on being principled, but i cringe when the ‘highest’ principles are shoved down anyones’ throat. obama is so impressive because he recognizes not just what the highest principles are — and appears to adhere to them — but also because he is fully and pragmatically (as you astutely point out) aware of how things will play out. if nothing else, he is an absolute maestro on timing.

    • DLoerke says:

      No, they get better treatment at Gitmo than they would anywhere else. A lot DON’T want to return because of the three hots and a cot they get in a warm, luxurious climate. It’s no Saudi Jail or Afghanistan cave..

        • Blub says:

          I’m not that happy with Obama’s statement that he plans to bury transferees in supermax dungeons either. Don’t the Saudi’s have a fairly effective program for “treating” islamists (convincing them that they’re wrong and reintegrating them into society)?

      • Mary says:

        This is so true. Back home, the dog collar used on Qhatani didn’t have his named spelled out in sparkly rhinestones.

        And everyone knows that they are treated even better than the soldiers on base. Just ask Sean Baker.

        All in all, it’s so great to be kidnapped, sold and used for human interrogation experimentation that some detainees get all choked up, just thinking about it.


        BTW, Andy Worthington had a piece up last year that showed the difficulty the Pentagon has with counting when it comes to GITMO.

        When pressed on holding juveniles, the Pentagon came out with the number of 8 as the sum total of the juveniles it had shipped to human interrogation experimenation at GITMO. But then someone made them actually name their 8 and they were very quickly and very easily shown to be misstating the number.

        Last week, the Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, based at the University of California, issued a report pointing out that, contrary to the Pentagon’s assertions, at least 12 prisoners were juveniles at the time of their capture. The report correctly stated that, in addition to Omar Khadr and Mohamed Jawad, Mohamed El-Gharani (photo, left), a Saudi resident born to parents from Chad, was still imprisoned. Just 14 years old when he was seized in October 2001, El-Gharani had traveled to Pakistan to study information technology, but had been rounded up in a random raid on a mosque, tortured in Pakistani custody and then held in U.S. detention, first in Afghanistan, and then in Guantánamo.

        The report also asserted that the Pentagon had forgotten to include Yasser Talal al-Zahrani. Al-Zahrani, a Saudi national, was 17 when he was seized in Afghanistan, and was one of three prisoners who died in Guantánamo (apparently by committing suicide) in June 2006.

        After the report was issued, the Pentagon acknowledged that it had revised its figure from eight to 12,

        The truth is, no one is paying much attention to any of our detainee programs and hasn’t for years and they both operate and pontificate in ignorance and also have disinformation programs, so that it is a huge mess, even after all this time, to try to figure out what is going on. And as Worthington pointed out, right after the immediate response to the Pentagon and the revision of their numbers based on casual observations by orgs that didn’t have access to Pentagon data bases — right after that, a little closer look made it seem pretty likely that the “12″ was wrong as well.

        After looking at the Pentagon’s own finally published list of those held at GITMO:

        Close scrutiny of this list reveals that the Pentagon will need to revise its figures once more, as, by its own account, a total of 22 prisoners were juveniles at the time of capture. Moreover, contrary to the Pentagon’s account, five of these prisoners are still being held.

        PS – Worthington’s summary also provides a profile of one of those that is likely on the Pentagon list as “returning to the battlefield”

        Rasul Kudayev, who was released to Russia in 2004. In 2005 Russia picked him back up on suspicion that he participated in some way in an attack on government installations near Nalcik, although last public word seems to be that no charges have been made yet and his health is pretty bad.

  2. alabama says:

    Then again, how many detainees who weren’t previously terrorists might have become such, thanks to their schooling at Gitmo?

  3. ghostof911 says:

    By having “returned to terrorism or militant activity,” does that mean the missed an appointment with their parole officer?

  4. scribe says:

    Excellent insight.

    I would add a further, more cynical, and as-yet unsupported-by-reported-facts possibility: that the bureaucrats in government who support, uphold and defend the Bushco torture regime and Gitmo do so because they know it will recruit future knuckleheads to the terrist cause and, thereby, perpetuate the bureaucrats’ own jobs.

    A friend used to call it “the Bureaucrats’ Prime Directive”, defined as “always conduct the business of your office in such a way as to ensure the continued existence of your job (and budget) and, where possible, the expansion of both.”

    If the terror threat goes away, so do the cushy jobs giving bureaucrats control over other peoples’ lives and empowering the bureaucrats to make them miserable.

    It is a given that the biggest recruiting tools for the terrist cause have been, respectively, Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, yet neither of them has been efficiaciously rendered a nullity, i.e., no one has cleaned up the messes which they are. They keep festering, and policy is designed to keep them festering. For all the negative that gets said about mid-level and higher government employees, the one thing which is true about them is that they are not stupid people, nor are they irrational. They may respond in what seem, to the outside observer, in a stupid manner or irrationally, but once one digs in to the context, there is almost always something rational driving the response, and something rational structuring the situation such that the stupid-appearing response is revealed as being actually quite rational.

    So, the question remains: if these are the terrists greatest recruiting tool, why have they not been removed from the table?

    I suggest there is a symbiotic relationship between the bureaucrats and the terrists, in which neither wants to get rid of the other. It is no less symbiotic than the relationship between Bin Laden and Bushco – so long as he could be credibly “Seen” as being “out there, on the loose”, Bush could wave him like a red flag before the bull of public opinion. And Bush and his torture camps was the biggest recruiting magnet for Bin Laden and his followers.

    • DWBartoo says:

      Most (absolutely) well-said!

      The, at present,(as you term it) ‘cynical’ speculation you put before us, has, somehow, the ‘feel’ of truth about it, and, as a working hypothesis, is likely (should a genuine concern for larger truth, play any role in the assessment of our ‘predicament’) to become sustained theory.

    • ghostof911 says:

      If the terror threat goes away…

      It’s never going away. Per Donald Rumsfeld, in a prior Quadrennial Defense Review:

      A policy of perpetual war against a threatening enemy is the best way to ward off political decay. And if the enemy cannot be found, then it must be invented.

      • scribe says:

        Give us a link, rather than a quote (which could be fabricated, though I don’t doubt you….). This is one I’ve never seen nor heard before and, given how inflammatory it seems, surely would have been dug up before.

        The thing is, in going after these clowns, our logic must be impeccable, our facts well-sourced, and our speculations, deductions, and intuited conclusions identified as such. “Cleaner than the proverbial hound’s tooth”….

      • Civlibertarian says:

        It’s never going away. Per Donald Rumsfeld, in a prior Quadrennial Defense Review:

        A policy of perpetual war against a threatening enemy is the best way to ward off political decay. And if the enemy cannot be found, then it must be invented.

        Um, no, not Rumsfeld. Try Leo Strauss and the Grand Inquisitor by Shadia B. Drury in Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 24, Number 4.

  5. Rayne says:

    OT — LMAO after reading this tweet by @pourmecoffee:

    Outside Cheney speech, Jay Bybee has booth where he’ll write you a memo justifying anything for $24.99.

    Surprised after long dry spell without a job that AGAG didn’t try this…maybe we should check eBay for authorizations…

    • Mary says:

      CIA has one too – for half the price of a Bybee memo, you too can be listed on a CIA briefing schedule. Pick your favorite date (pet birthdays are very popular) and pick you favorite (or least favorite) members of Congress and get your own, official, CIA Briefing Schedule to amaze your friends and worry your boss.

      Pay the upgrade fee and you can even fill DCI Goss’s phantom Congressional seat on the schedule. Great resume builder!

    • freepatriot says:

      Outside Cheney speech, Jay Bybee has booth where he’ll write you a memo justifying anything for $24.99.

      and for an additional $5, you can get a letter from leon panetta, saying that it is not your policy to mislead congress

      so CALL NOW

      and get a beautiful gift box

      but wait, THERE’S MORE …

  6. WarOnWarOff says:

    Outside Cheney speech, Jay Bybee has booth where he’ll write you a memo justifying anything for $24.99.

    Wait, there’s MORE. We’ll even throw in the Snake Knives, all for the low, LOW price of $24.99!

  7. Rayne says:

    Wasn’t al-Libi an example of a resource for OUR team, meaning he was used directly and indirectly by a couple different European intelligence agencies?

    Have to wonder what other resources we’ve had — and how many were treated almost as badly as al-Libi, now to become real threats against us.

    cbl2 (9) — thanks, he’s tried it, and used it as a reason to beg for a higher powered, newer computer. I told him maybe he needs to take a dive in Lake Superior instead of using our regular computer…that literally cooled his interest.

      • Blub says:

        awwww. child welfare???? aha! still more evidence of the oppressive tyranny of the Democratic Socialist librul nanny state /s

      • Rayne says:

        Heh. The boy’s been in Superior of his own accord. I figure if he’s highly motivated about seeing the underwater topography of Lake Superior, a slow computer or a dip in the lake aren’t going to stop him.

        No sane human would think of going in that lake now; it’s still chunky in spots, only 32-40 degrees.

        • emptywheel says:

          He’s been in Superior THIS YEAR?

          Wow. Shh. Don’t tell child welfare!!

          (Joking. I guess if you’ve got grandparents there you get born with the built-in seal skin, right??)

          • JClausen says:

            As this well fatted polar bear says, a dip at 32-36 is good for the soul. Did Quetico in May. Each day was lovely for a dip and the mosquitoes waited their turn as opposed to swarming my fellow voyageaurs who did not take the dip.

          • Rayne says:

            Not this year, but every summer he’s spent time in Gitche Gumee. Some years the lake’s been as cold as 42 degrees; the lake usually doesn’t get above 60-65 F at the height of summer even in the shallow bay where my folks have their summer home.

            It’s the Finn blood in the family on my mom’s side; they probably do have some seal in them way back. Goodness knows they ate enough fish — yum, kalamojakka! — to be seals.

            (BTW, you ought to try the kalamojakka; it’s a lot like an Irish potato soup, but with rutabagas, and you know how good those brassicas are for you.)

    • prostratedragon says:

      Wasn’t al-Libi an example of a resource for OUR team, meaning he was used directly and indirectly by a couple different European intelligence agencies?

      Have to wonder what other resources we’ve had — and how many were treated almost as badly as al-Libi, now to become real threats against us.

      Abu Omar informed for CIA, via the Albanian agency, for years. He’d apparently stopped doing so after 1997, though who knows what’s really behind that*. Also, one wonders whether he really never suspected how useful he was to Milanese and Italian authorities between then and 2003 when he was snatched off the streets and spirited to Egypt.

      * Here’s another article by the same reporting team that I’d never seen before. Accordingly, some things about Abu Omar’s moving about Europe might be explained by family circumstances. His wife is Albanian, he Egyptian, and consequently they face different sets of immigration constraints so that even before his kidnapping, by this account, it was not easy for them to be in the same country.

  8. cbl2 says:

    did everyone see Binyan Mohammed’s atty on CNN yesterday ?

    maybe just TradMed’s fascination with anything grisly, but maybe a sign they are all starting to dig around.

    scroll down for video

  9. Jeff Kaye says:

    Excellent observation, re the doubling of the prisoners. This is the goal of almost every intelligence operation. If successful, the other side will try to turn them back, i.e., make them a triple agent. I personally worked with a torture victim who a Middle Eastern country tried to “turn.” He refused and then he was tortured much worse, either to try and convince him, or to punish him. In any case, upon his release, he escaped to the U.S. and applied for political asylum, fearful they had not “tried” to convince for the last time.

    I also think it’s worth pointing out that the “Informant A” story has another significance, which Andy Worthington pointed out the other day:

    …it also shines an even more uncomfortable light on the British government’s persistent attempts to claim that it was never directly involved in Mohamed’s rendition and torture than the revelation that Informant A was sent to Morocco to persuade him to cooperate. I state this for two reasons: firstly, because it suggests that the British and American intelligence services were in extremely close contact in the three months following Mohamed’s capture, when he was held in Pakistan, and secondly, because it suggests, bluntly, that the CIA’s decision to render Mohamed to Morocco only came about because of British input.

    Now, the Informant A story has taken a new turn, as testimony on Informant A before Parliament was forbidden. Worthington reports today:

    As Stafford Smith arrived at Portcullis House, ready to take the Committee on a journey to the “Dark Side,” which revealed hitherto untold evidence of British complicity in torture [i.e., on Informant A], he was informed that the Committee would be unable to hear his testimony because someone — an unidentified official in an unidentified government department — had decided that it was sub judice.

    As the Guardian described it, Mike Gapes, the Committee’s chairman, said that “he had received advice that the cases due to be raised fell ‘wholly within the house sub judice resolution,’” which states that “cases in which proceedings are active in United Kingdom courts shall not be referred to in any motion, debate or question” (PDF), and that Stafford Smith’s testimony could therefore not be heard because the police, on the advice of the Attorney General, are investigating “possible criminal wrongdoing” by an MI5 agent who visited Mohamed while he was held in Pakistan, and also because, as I have reported at length before, Mohamed’s case is still part of a tug-of-war between two high court judges and the government regarding the disclosure of a short summary, written by the judges, describing what happened to him in Pakistan, before his rendition to Morocco.

    Sooner or later the full truth must come out, and as this latest news re the production of informers demonstrates, it will not be pretty. The whole story is shaping up like some 19th century tale of imperialist overreaching and perfidy, of wars for “glory”, of “brigands” (terrorists), of torture and spies and war profiteering, even, of the struggle over the Khyber Pass. I only hope it doesn’t end the way the last period of such struggles did, on a hot summer’s day in August 1914.

    Great reporting, Marcy. You are on fire (in a good way).

    • chetnolian says:

      Even though I was going on and on here about Binyam Mohamed long before anyone in the USA thought he would be significant, I need to say the legal advice given to the Ctte Chairman was undoubtedly correct.

  10. Knut says:

    Shorter NYT, we can’t sell more papers and get our share price out of the toilet without some good fear-mongering and a good war. WaPo exactly the same. Follow the money.

  11. Mary says:

    A few things related to the post although not sequentially related to each other.

    One of the stranger “spy” stories involves Omar Khadr’s brother.
    CIA paid me to spy: Abdurahman Khadr

    Originally, there were no Combatant Status Review Tribunals at GITMO and, lest anyone forget, they really had no idea the actual identity of a big chunk of the people that they had there. And they weren’t trying all that hard to find out who they were.

    So here are some of the old stats…..ntry/1050/

    By October 2004, the United States had released 202 detainees from the prison camp and between late 2004 and March 2005 the remaining 558 detainees passed through “Combatant Status Review Tribunals,” which det ermined that 520 of these prisoners were “enemy combatants.” By 2008, however, after further review of cases and intervention by U.S. courts, the number of prisoners held at Guantanamo dropped to approximately 255

    So, to start with, you had no CSRTs and they were making decisions on who to release without any review and often without knowing who they had and without any kind of process to figure out who they had. So one of the guys who really did “return to the battlefield” did so because they never knew who they had. So process that for a moment. He wasn’t sent to GITMO bc he was one of the worst of the worst, but bc they actually thought he was just an Afghan tribesman. Based on that, and without ever really figuring out that he was Pakistani (not an Afghan) with deep Taliban ties, they turned him loose early on. So just like they held a bipolar London chef for years under mistaken identity, they turned loose a Pakistani Taliban leader for the same issue.

    They also had a coouple releases who returned to fighting – the Soviets. In Chechnya.

    Also, the “return to the battle” standard that Gov is using is one of the reasons they may not be releasing names. Seems like just last year they were doing this same thing, then floating 30 as the “return to the battlefield” numbers. And at that time, some of the GITMO lawyers pressed for more info bc they just didn’t buy it. Turns out, saying something unworshipful about the US and in particular saying anything derogatory about being kidnapped, sold and used for years for human experimenation was considered a “return to the battlefield.”

    From a piece by Sabine Willet during the last round:

    It turns out that clients of our firm, who were sent to Albania in 2006, were two of the 30. What fight had they returned to? Abu Bakker Qassim had published an op-ed in The New York Times. Adel Abdul Hakim had given an interview. These press statements were deemed hostile by the Department of Defense.

    Surely the Pentagon was joking? They weren’t.

    • skdadl says:

      There are two Khadr brothers older than Omar in play at the moment — Abdurahman, who at least co-operated enough at GTMO to be permitted to try to influence Omar, and who was then released (I’m not sure how to judge the later adventures); and the oldest brother, Abdullah, for whom the U.S. offered a bounty in Pakistan (we have proof — the Globe and Mail has published it), where he was arrested and held for a year, interrogated by proxy, by the FBI, and later by the RCMP, and then returned to Canada. About the same time, a Boston court accepted a request to extradite Khadr from Canada — actually, I see that wiki says that that happened eight days before he returned to Canada, which suggests U.S.-Canadian collusion. He has been arrested here, and the extradition hearings continue.

      • Blub says:

        I think this case is typical of how this whole clusterfrack thing has gone off… we know a lot about things we’ve done – who we’ve tried or failed to try to capture, who we’ve tortured or had tortured, who we’ve sought to extradite or just renditioned, who we’ve surveiled, what we blew up, etc. Information we get is either fear mongering and incendiary or scandal-generating and embarassing, but its mostly been all about us… all the information and disinformation is from one side… ours, our agencies, our intelligence organizations, or media…

        Of the actual enemy, we seem to know very little and care even less. On OBL & Associates, silence. Its almost as if there isn’t a real “war” out there, somewhere. This is all for internal consumption.

        • skdadl says:

          Sometimes you look at all those criss-crossing lines and you just want to say, “Oh, look — the sun’s over the yardarm.”

          Mary @ 42, I think the Khadrs are a prime example of what is wrong with the “actionable intelligence” mindset. I’m convinced, as Lt-Cmdr Kuebler is, that Omar is at GTMO because of who his father was and therefore where he would have been taken, who he’d met, what he’d seen, etc. The FBI were bullying Omar early on to identify Arar, eg, and appear to have acted on the completely unbelievable agreement they finally got from him.

          Anybody may have “actionable intelligence” — it’s like being an unwitting witness to a crime. And if the police should ever explain to me that I was an innocent witness and ask me to testify, I will do my duty as a citizen. But I don’t think that the police would throw me in jail first just to get me to describe what I saw or heard. *knock on wood*

    • phred says:

      Thanks for that Mary. After all the shenanigans they pulled in the past about the number of detainees returning to the battlefield, I am hard pressed to believe anything that is said on the matter now.

      Without a thorough investigation and public accounting for each and every detainee, I think calling bullshit should be the first order response.

    • esseff44 says:

      There’s more to the strange case of Omar Khadr’s brother who was also sent to Guantanmo but released.

      Was he a spy for the CIA or wasn’t he? He was a child caught between so many conflicting pressures influences that he may not be able to know what it real and what isn’t. He was at the center of the storm for sure. How reliable are his tales….who knows?

      Some of the prisoners defy classification.

  12. ghostof911 says:

    Why is no one in this thread questioning the veracity of the Pentagon report cleary issued to justify continued expenditures on its behalf? Where are the skeptics?

    • Blub says:

      At this point, its unclear to me that anyone who isn’t a koolaid drinking Foxnews fan is giving any credit whatsoever to anything anyone in CIA or the Pentagon has to say on this subject. I think they’ve pretty clearly demonstrated that they are not honest brokers, and that everything they can produce on torture or illegal detentions may be assumed to be suspect. They can put out as many reports as they want.. I for one (and nearly everybody I know) am reading them with the pre-judgement that they’re outright fabrications. They’re just white noise. This is the endgame for the Pinnocchio Syndrome that inevitably results when public officials lie about most things, most of the time.

    • perris says:

      Why is no one in this thread questioning the veracity of the Pentagon report cleary issued to justify continued expenditures on its behalf? Where are the skeptics?

      well there are some people, for instance think progress;

      Though a Pentagon report that said 74 released Guantanamo detainees returned to terrorism quickly made headlines, the “Pentagon has provided no way of authenticating” the 45 recidivists it leaves unnamed, while “only a few of the 29 people identified by name can be independently verified as having engaged in terrorism since their release. Many of the 29 are simply described as associating with terrorists or training with terrorists.”

  13. alank says:

    Just to be clear, one person’s idea of a terrorist is another person’s idea of a revolutionary. By the standards imposed by the current and past president, George Washington was a terrorist.

  14. perris says:

    There’s something that all of the discussion on so-called “recidivism” from Gitmo never considers.

    they might be recruited but there’s something else we are certain they consider but don’t want to admit;

    that some of these people were gathered up for no reason other then the person turning them in wanted the reward, a reqard something like 10 times their yearly salary, and WE turned them to terrorism BECAUSE of what we did

    not mentioned but certainly a factor

  15. globalcitizen says:

    Another possibility that may apply to a few ex-Gitmo prisoners is that they weren’t terrorists beforehand, but just someone that someone else didn’t like or ’sold’ for profit. After being presumed guilty and treated harshly for years they decided that if they ever got out they would become terrorists.

  16. reader says:

    Mary @ 22: Thanks, that’s all the stuff that was going thru my head when I read this NYT piece. It’s a retread. We’ve heard these lies before. There’s just even more embroidery now.

    And EW adds another layer to what is truth based on all that we know about how this world works. There are many dimensions.

  17. reader says:

    This report adds nothing to what we ”knew” before. It’s reissue is about Cheney’s speech. It’s propaganda day for Cheney and all the deadenders know it … even if they aren’t being directly ordered by Cheney himself or thru Cheney’s ’channels.’ It’s really alarming.

  18. reader says:

    It’s going to be really *funny* when Canada refuses to ”take” Omar Khadr off Obama’s hands while the EU is being asked to take people out of Gitmo! Especially since the Canadian Supreme Court has ruled that Canada MUST repatriate Khadr and the Canadian government is appealing that ruling.

    Yeah, it’s really sticky when these terrorists and child soldiers get access to any legal process at all. What a freak show.

    • skdadl says:

      Has the appeal been filed yet? It was my impression that the cangov had until about now to do that. I’m guessing that they are in quiet conversation with Obama, but that’s just a guess.

      Parliament has also voted to repatriate.

  19. reader says:

    skdadl @ 40: I heard news on the CBC that they would appeal, other than that I don’t have anything more solid or recent. IF Harper were in quiet conversations with Obama I doubt they would have stated they would be appealing .. but they are stupid too. My impression is that Harper will fight Khadr’s repatriation til the end of time. It’s really cowardly. I don’t see how any parliamentary vote would sway his resolve.

    Meanwhile, the courts have restricted the RCMP’s powers of unreasonable search (after last week’s warrantless raid) on Harkat ~ the persecuted pizza parlour ”terrorist” under house arrest here in Ottawa.

    I swear it feels like it’s worse here than in the US.

    • skdadl says:

      I agree that Harper is just perverse, reader, but more and more I am seeing a widening gap between Obama’s rhetoric and his practice. I started out by assuming that Obama, at least, would grasp the problem of violating an important body of international law re child soldiers, even if Harper never cares about that stuff. So I was thinking that we would see Khadr brought home mainly because Obama would twist Steve’s arm.

      I’m not thinking that any longer.

      Oh, and a PS: Did you know that some of the evidence they’re using against Harkat comes from Abu Zubaydah?

      • Petrocelli says:

        Now just a doggone minute young lady … are you suggesting that Harper will ignore the voice of Parliament for his own selfish reasons ? /s

        I also did not know that AZ ‘gave’ evidence against Harkat … what a tangled web we weave …

          • Petrocelli says:

            *smacks forehead*it was only s’posed to last 3 days ?!!

            B-bu-but we still have plenty of Beers and the Margaritas are untouched … how ’bout we stop
            the 3rd day after Labor Day Thanksgiving ? *g*

  20. reader says:

    OT: That fucking speech by Cheney was just dreadful. I feel physically ill. He repeated every single lie and topped it with disdain for any living thing that would deign to disagree with him. He writes a terrible speech and delivers it even more poorly.

    • lllphd says:

      you think HE wrote that??? my god, you give him way too much credit.

      clearly, it was the handiwork of bill kristol. who has now dubbed obama’s speech as ‘pseudo thoughtful’ and cheney ‘grownup’.


  21. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A valid speculation.

    The UK Independent has a front-page story on a similar theme. It claims that the UK’s MI5, domestic counter-intelligence, allegedly blackmailed British Muslims into becoming informants or face concerted harassment “at home and abroad”.

    I take the latter to include such things as being added on false pretenses to “terrorist” watch, no-fly or “special treatment” lists. That increases the likelihood of “inconvenience”, if not arrest and detention. As Bush and perhaps Obama’s governments interpret it, having distant relatives, school mates or attending the same mosque as a suspected suspect automatically makes you a “supporter” of terrorism.

    From comments by their spokesperson to an official tribunal investigating the matter (emphasis mine):

    Sharhabeel Lone, the chairman of the KTCO, said: “The only thing these young people have in common is that they studied Arabic abroad and are of Somali origin. They are not involved in any terrorist activity whatsoever, nor have they ever been, and the security services are well aware of this.”

    Mr Sharhabeel added: “These incidents smack of racism, Islamophobia and all that undermines social cohesion. Threatening British citizens, harassing them in their own country, alienating young people who have committed no crime other than practising a particular faith and being a different colour is a recipe for disaster.

    “These disgraceful incidents have undermined 10 years of hard work and severely impacted social cohesion in Camden. Targeting young people that are role models for all young people in our country in such a disparaging way demonstrates a total lack of understanding of on-the-ground reality and can only be counter-productive.

    When people are terrorised by the very same body that is meant to protect them, sowing fear, suspicion and division, we are on a slippery slope to an Orwellian society.

    The line between keeping us in a permanent state of fear – a precondition to the development of a fascistic state – and vetting credible threats to the law and civic order seems to be an aspiration, not a bright marker.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I like this method of recruiting UK Muslims, peacably living in their homes in north London, from the Independent story today:

        In one disturbing call the [MI5] agent telephoned his home at 7am to congratulate him on the birth of his baby girl. His wife was still seven months pregnant and the couple had expressly told the hospital that they did not want to know the sex of their child.

        Lovely implied threat, with the added flavor that “We know more about you than you do.” Surely, the UK is not far ahead of the US in this sort of thing.

  22. reader says:

    Wow: I get it. I always dismayed at the bluntness of the instrument that people with the most distant innocent social connections were caught in the net of the watch lists. But that’s the way it works. And that’s just the kind of infiltrator the police services want to cultivate. Someone who can ”pass” but had no terrorist leanings to start with. Someone who is impressionable and perhaps ”taken” with the idea of being a spy!

  23. BayStateLibrul says:

    You know those forever stamps.
    Well, Sen Hutchinson R-Texas, wants to do nothing.
    Just keep Gitmo open forever, fucking jerks, they don’t want to deal with
    anything, except wallow in fear.

  24. reader says:

    skdadl: NO! I didn’t know that about the evidence against Harkat. Is that like the ”evidence” that Omar Khadr gives against Maher Arar … under torture from a black and white driver’s license?

    Harper and Obama are different animals. I don’t think Obama has time to twist Harper’s arm. And I don’t see Harper yielding on this. The Canadian government has a ’personal’ vendetta against the Khadr’s if you ask me, because of the embarrassment that Cretien ”helped” them out when the mother asked for personal favors while the father was associated with bin Laden. But who knows that these days?

    IF Obama can create some kind of justice for the people at Gitmo then the child soldier aspect should come into play. It’s just such a terrible mess the Bushies got all of us into.

  25. reader says:

    Remember the bushies’ theory of intelligence early on was to collect up a bunch of people, find out what they knew, and assemble it into somekind of technocratic super-duper database from which the location of bin Laden would pop out! This of course supported their tactic of collecting up and detaining anybody, regardless of their knowledge. It’s a circular approach mixed with a fantasy about TIA that produces … NOTHING. And NOTHING is what we got.

  26. reader says:

    ’Pseudo thoughful.” Hmmmm. That’s as bad as Cheney. Cheney probably fed that line to Kristol!!!!! lol.

    Reminds me of an article in Pravda years and years ago about the delays in bringing telephone service to the citizens: something about the ”pseudo installation of the pseudo telephones to connect to the pseudo telephone system.”

    Perhaps Kristol is being ironic too … in a way that Cheney will mistake for reverence.

    • Petrocelli says:

      Kristol worships BushCo … it’s the only way he can earn any $$$.

      Great week we’re having, eh ? Are you in Toronto ?

  27. Mary says:

    Obama finally meets with civil liberatarians and human rights activists and explains to them, with Holder sitting next to him, that he doesn’t have to pardon Bush torturers bc he and Holder can instead just pick and choose to torture guys like Burge, but not Presidential torturers.


    Isikoff reports that Obama announced his opposition to torture prosecutions–an unsurprising admission, perhaps, but one that must have disappointed many in attendance. Previously he had said that the question of investigation and prosecuting Bush administration officials was one for Holder to answer. But with Holder sitting right beside him, there’s no doubt he’s feeling pressure to, as they say, look forward, not backward.

    Good to know that our NEW and SHINEY President isn’t using the DOJ to pick and choose prosecutions to score political points instead to, you know, enforce the law.

    Did anyone exorcise the Oval Office before Obama set up shop in it?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Obama might be able to play chess, but he seems to be playing checkers in the White House. He’s following Bush’s pieces up and down the board, doubling when he can, but not changing the strategy.

        So much for our “constitutional scholar” president. In spite of what he knows, he’s letting Kristol and Cheney determine the standards for his law enforcement. Pathetic. Apart from being able to speak English better than Harry Reid, he’s showing similar “leadership” traits.

      • Mary says:

        I know. I keep telling myself it’s ridiculous to get so depressed when I knew it was coming all along, but it still gets to ya.

        I epu’d a response to you in the Durham/Torture tapes thread – more depressed whining.

        • randiego says:

          I know. I keep telling myself it’s ridiculous to get so depressed when I knew it was coming all along, but it still gets to ya.


    • phred says:

      I wonder if any of the attendees had the nerve to ask just exactly what the hell Holder was doing attending a clearly political get together? Apparently among all the other Bush policies that Obama loves, he loves having his very own DoJ to do his political bidding.

      • maryo2 says:

        Rachel Maddow touched on that point last night with Isikoff. She said something like, “Wait a minute. Are you saying that with the AG sitting right there and after saying that the legal process would take its course, that Pres. Obama stated that there would be no prosecutions? He is making that decision and not the AG? If that is what you are saying, then this hugely significant.”

        • phred says:

          Thanks for that, I’m glad to hear she followed up on that. Still I wish someone in attendance had put Obama on the spot. It would have been interesting to hear him defend the presence of Charlie McCarthy Eric Holder.

    • lllphd says:

      mary, very quickly, i watched isikoff on rachel’s show last night, and i have to say it was unconvincing. i don’t know who his source was on that meeting yesterday, but interviews with an attendee named massimino for this piece painted a somewhat different picture.

      related, i was hoping to get some feedback on my — admittedly, IANAL — perspective on why obama is taking this tack. he evidently alluded to this in that meeting yesterday; he is determined to reverse the bush unitary/tyrannical executive trend by not exercising the powers he left them. i lay this out (best i can) at 20 here, fwiw.

  28. reader says:

    Cheney is not ’grownup’ ~ he showed today that he was scared shitless on 9/11 and still is. It’s really shocking. He persists in all these lies. He is too adolescent to listen to anything contrarian to his view. He chooses to show utter contempt and disdain for anyone with any EVIDENCE that disputes the Book of Cheney.

    Unfortunately, Kristol could have written the speech better. It was a mishmash. The whole thing was embarrassing on the scale of a Palin.

    • Petrocelli says:

      I couldn’t bear to watch on my HD TeeVee … I’m always afeared the Dark One will lure me to his side. *g*

      Darth’s delivery has always been like this … a mix of talking points to confuse & obfuscate and it has worked amazingly well ’til now.

      The problem with liars and crooks is that they go to the well once too often.

      Chin-ee is fighting to stay out of jail right now.

    • Petrocelli says:

      Well, I hope you have a great spring … whenever it reaches you. *g*

      My family in Alberta got more snow last weekend !

  29. foobar says:

    Did the Pentagon attempt to quantify the number of released gitmo detainees who were never involved in terrrrism but after being locked up by the US for 5+ years and given the Cheney treatment, decided to try that “terrorism or militant activity” thing?

  30. dotsright says:

    Have often thought of the torture policies and Guantanamo as recruitment tools for terrorists to the point that I began to wonder if it wasn’t deliberate though not within the meaning of this article.

    It’s hard to have a never ending War on Terror if there just aren’t enough guys on the other side.

  31. fatster says:

    Round-up of reports (including Isikoff) on the meeting the O-team had with the “progressives”:

    Isikoff: Obama ‘curtly’ dismissed even a single torture prosecution


Published: May 21, 2009 
Updated 2 hours ago

    “President Barack Obama held an unusual meeting on Wednesday with representatives of human rights and civil liberties groups who have been disappointed by many of his recent decisions with regard to detainees.”…..osecution/

    • Leen says:

      I will promise to work AGAINST Obama in the 2012 election if he stands in the way of justice on a truth commission, special prosecutor and prosecutions. Work against him

      • fatster says:

        I hear ya. Makes me very angry and very sad, too, particularly sad that people such as yourself gave so much only to now be so disappointed.

        • Leen says:

          screw me and my feelings. I want family members who have lost children, parents, grandchildren in this bloody war of choice family members of people who have died in Iraq, people who have been tortured some to death to watch those responsible have their feet held to the fire.

          I want Obama, HOlder, Leahy, Whitehouse etc to mean what they say “no one is above the law” They either mean it or they don’t. Right now it appears that Obama does not mean what he says or has said. I am truly finding him dismissive and arrogant at this point. Health care, emission standards are not enough if our nation has no soul. What does he want a nation of walking zombies? Folks around the world knows this is the case.

          If Obama does not change his tune on accountability most of the folks I know who worked for him will not be doing it again…including me. The chatter will start soon

          • emerson says:

            You’re damn right, Leen. You’re not the only one feeling used. The wall is coming unless he starts paying attention to his constituents. Euros will also feel stung because they HATED Bush as much as we did. I guarantee he won’t get the same Euro reception if he gives criminals a free ride.

            • Rayne says:

              But what if the criminals are also EU members?

              Flights from/through/to EU countries without any questions make EU member states complicit in rendition and torture.

              Operatives hidden among the detainees, contracted by EU states, also make EU member states complicit.

              I suspect this is the reason we saw the UK backpedaling hard on the release of intelligence info; Poland has already been “compensated” for its troubles with a missile defense system, but what happens when their role is fully exposed?

    • Leen says:

      Obama “too distracting” to hold alleged war criminals accountable. WTF! How fucking arrogant.

      That is an important clip of Maddow’s interview with Isikoff

      have not listened to the interview on the Diane Rehm show yet(sounds like Massimino was at that meeting that Isikoff was reporting about)

      10:00The Challenges of Closing Guantanamo

      President Obama announces plans for the detainees still held at Guantanamo. Diane and her guests will discuss new questions and concerns from Congress about the administration’s plan for closing the detention facility.

      Elisa Massimino, CEO and Executive Director of Human Rights First

      Naftali Bendavid, national correspondent, Wall Street Journal author of “The Thumpin’: How Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats Learned to be Ruthless and Ended the Republican Revolution.”

      Victoria Toensing, former chief counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General. While serving at the Department of Justice Ms. Toensing created the Terrorism Section. She is now in private practice in Washington, D.C.

      David Remes, attorney in private practice, representing several detainees at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba.

  32. Petrocelli says:

    How come da new guy has me yearning for da last one ?

    I’m just about ready to sing “miss you much” to jodi … *g*

    • Rayne says:

      Oh, don’t go there.

      Not that you don’t have a voice for the internet, but we could have been much worse off.

      Cannot even imagine what kind of crap we’d be dealing with if someone other than Obama had been elected. It’s a pity this is the best we can do, but we have to deal with the fact that nearly all other options would have been worse.

      We missed our best chance in 2000, and it’s going to take a lifetime to fix the mess that’s been made since then.

        • Rayne says:

          My bad, Petro. Wow, Freudian much? You can tell what was on my mind. [sigh]

          The troll gave it away with the choice of name; what a pity for them that they think they are completely anonymous.

          randiego (97) – yeah, domestic terrorists nabbed by solid police work, and trolls are whining about their safety and security. They don’t recognize it when it bites them in the butt, only when it looks like Cheney in a dominatrix’ uniform.

          emerson (104) – have cited that one before, in part because of the reference to the Halloween Massacre. These guys have done so much of this stuff before, under the Nixon, Ford and Bush I administrations; it’s just going to take some time to pick out how they improved on their previous criminal efforts during Bush II. Definitely a piece to bookmark for those footnotes.

      • Mary says:

        I don’t necessarily agree.

        I think that Dems would have been forced to actually be a party of opposition more if McCain & Maliboubarbie were elected.

        And I also am pretty certain that Hillary wouldn’t have done any worse on civil liberties than Obama has and she might well have been more effective on domestic policy issues.

        But I also think precedent has tremendous importance (that’s my background popping out). Obama has now set a really horrible precedent. At least McCain, and maybe Hillary, would have been spinning about the fact that the US didn’t torture. Obama and Holder have come out and made it clear that we did, but that it is OK for the AG to keep a President from having to “tarnish his halo” with torture pardons by just refusing to prosecute clear and admitted torture.

        I don’t think even McCain would have done that and I think Obama’s decision to handle things this way has a horrible long term effect.

        He also is reinforcing that even the “best” of America’s “liberal” and “progressive” political elements are fine with both lying about the guilt status of hundreds at GITMO and thousands and thousands in Afghanistan and Bagram; fine with dismissing torture of Muslims as not being a big deal; and fine with bombing Muslim babies. So no more claim that there is any political element in America that will be even minimally fair.

        I think the nation would have been better off to be stuck with McCain and Barbie and at least still be able to claim that if we could “only” get a “good Democrat” elected, things would change.

        Obama is the proof that no political solutions exist for Muslims and Muslim nations in the US choice to invade and occupy their countries and torture their people.

        • Rayne says:

          We’ll have to agree to disagree.

          If McGeezer and Pinhead had won, the economy would have utterly crashed. We’d be talking about completely different things, even though Dems would have to ramp up opposition.

          If Hillary had won, the Dems would have probably fractured more than they have because the rightist/Blue Dog elements would have been bolstered by the win. And again, the economy would have played a much larger role, since the same forces which created this debacle would have had much more rein to continue as toxic parasites.

          I continue to wonder what the first African American president is up against now that he’s inside the fenceline; I suspect if he went too far to the left, the forces we see acting now would summon far worse. It remains to us on the left to be America’s conscience and push mightily, even though IMO this is likely the best we could have done. This is a lifetime project, not one which will be solved with an election, and until the average American participates more fully in our democracy, we are at great risk.

        • Leen says:

          I have lived without health care coverage for 35 years.(self employed) I can continue to live without a health care plan although I would rather not.

          But whet the fuck I can not live without a soul. How in the hell can Obama even utter the words “no one is above the law” if he stands in the way of truth commissions, special prosecutor and prosecutions? If he stands in the way he is no different than Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith. As attached to his agenda to stand in the way of justice, accountability and the rule of law.

          If he stands in the way every time he dares whisper “no one is above the law” many in the U.S. and around the world will be laughing at him.

          • Mary says:

            That’s pretty much where I am too.

            Except vis a vis your 119, I think a lot of people either forget or try to spin it that he meant something diffent when he popped back up in 2004 saying that, at that point, he was on the same page as Bush with the war strategies. He wouldn’t have gone in, but once we were there, by 2004 he was being very supportive of Bush’s conduct of the war.

            I know that everyone, including apparently Obama from the reports of his meeting with civil libertarian and human rights groups, wants to make much of the fact that he was left with such a mess, but he knew what he’d have all through his campaigns -primary and presidential.

            To me a back of hand to brow with a sighed, “Bush left me such a mess” is way to akin to Bush’s “It’s hard work being President”

            Enough of the heads you get Compassionate Conservative, tails you get Conservative Compassionate coin.

            And for that matter, I don’t necessarily even think that the economy would have been in that different a situation if McCain had been elected. The forces that shaped the bailouts were basically the same – Goldman called the Bush and Obama shots and would have the McCain shots as well.

            It’s not like Obama shaped a Stiglitz/Krugaman styled response — Geithner wasn’t a wild maverick butting up against Paulsen’screw.

  33. behindthefall says:

    The links yesterday to Leo Strauss’ philosophy (TheraP): if I understand correctly, Strauss would advocate never-ending war. Why wouldn’t a government run its own breeding-ground for extraterritorial discontent?

  34. fatster says:

    O/T and apologies, for this won’t help lift your spirits, but it is important.

    U.S. sneezes, rest of world drops dead

    Thursday, May 21, 2009 07:08 PDT Andrew Leonard

    “So we think we’ve got it bad in the U.S., when we witness gross domestic product contracting at annualized rate of 6.3 percent in the first quarter? The Wall Street Journal provides some context:

    • Mexico -21.5 percent
    • Japan -15.2 percent
    • German -14.4 percent

    “Household wealth in the United States fell by $11 trillion in 2008. We’ll be saving our pennies for years to come.”…..index.html

  35. randiego says:

    Since Marcy has been cranking out new posts like so much pasta lately… have I missed in one of the threads a discussion of Isikoff’s breathless reporting on Rachel last night?

    Every time that guy talks my bullshit meter goes to max.

    • phred says:

      I haven’t, but then I haven’t been paying very close attention today. I just got an email from CCR that their executive director (who was actually at the meeting yesterday) will be on tonight. We’ll see how well his remarks validate (or not ; ) Isikoff.

      • randiego says:

        yeah, it really smelled… I’m supposed to believe that the first thing someone did upon leaving a “secret” meeting with Obama is to run to the phone and relate the entire substance of the meeting. To Isikoff, palace stenographer of the Bushies.

        Either Obama’s people leaked it, or there’s a mole on Obama’s team (in which case they just outed themselves), or someone just had their last meeting with Obama.

        • phred says:

          Yeah I was wondering about that. I really really hate the idea of an “off the record” meeting, because I do think policy meetings ought to be public so that we can be part of the discussion. But even if you go along with the notion of an “off the record” thing, then it strikes me as odd that it makes the evening news.

          Either my civil libertarian compatriots in the meeting also didn’t like the “off the record” business, or TeamO leaked it. If TeamO leaked, is this just another example of O kissing Rethug ass? Because Isikoff sold it as a slap across the face to us lefties, hard to see how such a TeamO leak would be intended to win us over to his cause. So, it will be interesting to hear CCR’s take…

  36. JohnEly says:

    ‘Recidivism’ and ‘terrorists’, not to mention ‘militant activity’, is white wash.

    The only substantive test is: those released who have been caught by the police for committing violent crimes and tried and convicted in the court of law for it.

    The Pentagon needs to figure out who it is at war with. If it cannot find a conventional army, and apply the rules of war, it should be catching those who have committed crimes and referring them to the proper criminal courts.

    Even the President in his national security speech still wants to make war on nouns, in this case agent-nouns formed from verbs. There are prisoners of war from conventional armies, and criminals who have committed or are conspiring to commit crimes. There is no ideological grey area full of ‘ists’ and ‘activities’ as regards this question.

    To operate otherwise is an abuse of the troops the Pentagon is supposed to be commanding, sending them on a dangerous fool’s errand.

    • cinnamonape says:

      I believe they are defining “militant activity” as speaking up about the torture or abuse that they met with. That serves as “recruitment”. In addition any statement about wanting to kill an American soldier if they come to their village would serve the purpose, as well. Anything that is a violation of their “release papers” (even superficial interaction with someone affilited with the Taliban or AQ would likely suffice).

      Given this it would also be worthwhile to ask…is this “recidivism” at all. Perhaps the very fact that they were abused makes them more likely to become radicalized. Much like people jailed for minor crimes in this country, there tends to be a shift to criminal behavior once released. They start associating with people that they met in jail, or people like them. So perhaps by abusing them we gave non-radicals good cause to become radicalized.

  37. ChuckinDenton says:

    What gain does Obama see from taking prosecutions off the table? Happy shiny forward-looking people who think because “he says so” things will be different? Sorry, right now I’m pissed. The president unilaterally saying that it is “off the table” interposes politics over the rule of law and is NOT why I voted for him.

  38. Leen says:

    Obama: From Anti-war Law Professor to Warmonger in 100 Days

    It didn’t take long for President Barack Obama to swing behind targeted assassinations and bombing raids, says Alexander Cockburn

    By Alexander Cockburn

    May 21, 2009 “First Post” — How long does it take a mild-mannered, anti-war, black professor of constitutional law, trained as a community organiser on the South Side of Chicago, to become an enthusiastic sponsor of targeted assassinations, ‘decapitation’ strategies and remote-control bombing of mud houses at the far end of the globe?


  39. JohnLopresti says:

    There was a study December 16, 2006, as the prior administration repatriated 200 detainees, reported in associated Press, which claimed no recidivism in that batch.

    In April 2008 a US Supreme Court Associate Justice ‘discussed’ justification for suspension of the cruel treatment prohibitions in US law; that Assoc Justice is known for a unilateral form of presenting argument. The cite is from a television program.

  40. freepatriot says:

    I’m gonna do my On-Topic comment now:

    anybody ever READ the book “Dune” (fuck the movie, this is stuff that doesn’t translate to film)

    the emporer trained his best soldiers on a prison planet that had a 70% mortality rate amongst prisoners in their first year

    I never bought Herbert’s idea that the loyalty of the surviving prisoners could be trusted

    but what Marcy is proposing is a viable theory

    I could see this working

    btw, I’ve got a really twisted Machiavellian political view, based upon Frank Herbert’s view of politics as seen in the “Dune” series, with some JRR Tolkien on the side …

    and in other news, even Tweety calls em “spooks”, to their faces

    • Rayne says:

      Been stewing on this all afternoon…

      This is purely conjecture, but…

      What if the detainees which are potentially targeted for permanent detention without charges or trial are the operatives? What if they are double- and treble-agents?

      And what if it’s simply too dangerous for it to appear these same guys have been released?

        • Rayne says:

          Yeah, exactly…look how many potential assets, like al-Libbi, have already been compromised because their names and appearance has been published.

          We don’t know right now with absolute certainty that al-Libbi was actually dead, or “suicided” as cover for a “witness protection”-like program.

          Maybe I’ve been watching too many spy movies or reading too many spy books, but the lack of names, the weird about-face on treatment of detainees, other oddities like the reaction from overseas “partners”, all without explanation.

          I wonder who if anybody or any group like ICRC has an itemization of detainees.

          Also have to wonder if this is why old Deadeye is whining so much about detainees posing a threat; are some of these guys still going to finish their previously contracted jobs?

          Again, pure conjecture. Perhaps a potential fiction plot line waiting a better author…

          • emerson says:

            In this environment, I would not discount it. And anything coming from the Pentagon is questionable at best, so all bets are off.

  41. robspierre says:

    If you are right, we have another reliability problem in our intelligence.

    Turning enemies and getting them to work for us is something that the old-fashioned, American-made interrogation methods that worked so well in WW2 in the Pacific were very good at. Kindness, fairness, and a superior ethic made sincere converts. Torture, terrorism, and brainwashing seem far less likely to produce reliable agents.

    So where does the Bush-Cheyney cancer stop? If we are using torture victims as supposed double-agents, another generation of intelligence will be compromised and another generation of policy will be corrupted. Punishing torturers is not enough. We need to release everyone we have tortured unconditionally–in the US if necessary–and systematically root out every piece of so-called information obtained by illegal methods. It is all poison fruit.

  42. YYSyd says:

    I get the impression that the Pentagon study was mostly a focus group that was polled on what sounds most menacing while being believable. One in seven as opposed to other alternatives such as one in ten or one in three. I thought recidivism was more a measure of effectiveness of correctional aspect of incarceration and not a measure of effectiveness of torture and mistreatment. One is also supposed to believe that the worst of the worst monsters, who are presumably born bad and so hardcore as to be uncorrectable are at Gitmo. People who, if given life sentence, would still bite through their shackles and escape to kill, unless kept on an inescapable island. If this is the case, 6 out of 7 should never have been there and 1 out of 7 should never have been released (certainly not in less than 6 years). So this just proves the injustice and incompetence involved. How do they get the figures anyway? Do they send out survey questions or interviewers?

    If they are enemy combatants and the war is not over, they are also duty bound to rejoin the battle upon release. One out of seven is very low in that context. Either we’re dealing with a war or we’re dealing with crime, you can not have it both ways. Unless you’re a war criminal like Rumsfeld.

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