An urgent appeal


A US Senate select committee on intelligence today, 12-09-2014 released its report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program.  Miscellany101 has talked extensively about torture being implemented by America and becoming a form of policy and the report lays it out in startling detail, hereTorture-on-Trial-Waterboard

If you don’t want to read it, the appeal I’d like to make is that you head over to this site and sign the petition that asks the US Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the program carried out by the CIA and all those responsible for it in government and prosecute them under appropriate, relevant and prevailing law.  America must take full responsibility for its role in breaking international law during the debacle that became known as Operation Iraqi Freedom and like countries that have preceded us one way to do that is to bring those within our borders to justice.

Before we go any further, lets reflect on the past


WMDs & Saddam

We’ve been here before haven’t we.  In the lead up to the Iraqi war….both of them….we heard politicians we trusted come out and declare that the foe of the day was complicit in crimes against humanity or some such charge drastic enough to call for American intervention.  In both cases we found out later, after many lives were lost and a lot of damage inflicted on innocent people the charges were not true.  Before we embark on another potential mis-adventure let’s take time to rehash what happened to the last Middle East tyrant we both embraced and deposed

The U.S. government may be considering military action in response to chemical strikes near Damascus. But a generation ago, America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen,Foreign Policy has learned.

In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq’s war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.

The intelligence included imagery and maps about Iranian troop movements, as well as the locations of Iranian logistics facilities and details about Iranian air defenses. The Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence. These attacks helped to tilt the war in Iraq’s favor and bring Iran to the negotiating table, and they ensured that the Reagan administration’s long-standing policy of securing an Iraqi victory would succeed. But they were also the last in a series of chemical strikes stretching back several years that the Reagan administration knew about and didn’t disclose.

U.S. officials have long denied acquiescing to Iraqi chemical attacks, insisting that Hussein’s government never announced he was going to use the weapons. But retired Air Force Col. Rick Francona, who was a military attaché in Baghdad during the 1988 strikes, paints a different picture.

“The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn’t have to. We already knew,” he told Foreign Policy.

Chemical_weapon1According to recently declassified CIA documents and interviews with former intelligence officials like Francona, the U.S. had firm evidence of Iraqi chemical attacks beginning in 1983. At the time, Iran was publicly alleging that illegal chemical attacks were carried out on its forces, and was building a case to present to the United Nations. But it lacked the evidence implicating Iraq, much of which was contained in top secret reports and memoranda sent to the most senior intelligence officials in the U.S. government. The CIA declined to comment for this story.

In contrast to today’s wrenching debate over whether the United States should intervene to stop alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, the United States applied a cold calculus three decades ago to Hussein’s widespread use of chemical weapons against his enemies and his own people. The Reagan administration decided that it was better to let the attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war. And even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and condemnation would be muted.

In the documents, the CIA said that Iran might not discover persuasive evidence of the weapons’ use — even though the agency possessed it. Also, the agency noted that the Soviet Union had previously used chemical agents in Afghanistan and suffered few repercussions.

It has been previously reported that the United States provided tactical intelligence to Iraq at the same time that officials suspected Hussein would use chemical weapons. But the CIA documents, which sat almost entirely unnoticed in a trove of declassified material at the National Archives in College Park, Md., combined with exclusive interviews with former intelligence officials, reveal new details about the depth of the United States’ knowledge of how and when Iraq employed the deadly agents. They show that senior U.S. officials were being regularly informed about the scale of the nerve gas attacks. They are tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched.

Top CIA officials, including the Director of Central Intelligence William J. Casey, a close friend of President Ronald Reagan, were told about the location of Iraqi chemical weapons assembly plants; that Iraq was desperately trying to make enough mustard agent to keep up with frontline demand from its forces; that Iraq was about to buy equipment from Italy to help speed up production of chemical-packed artillery rounds and bombs; and that Iraq could also use nerve agents on Iranian troops and possibly civilians.

Officials were also warned that Iran might launch retaliatory attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East, including terrorist strikes, if it believed the United States was complicit in Iraq’s chemical warfare campaign.

“As Iraqi attacks continue and intensify the chances increase that Iranian forces will acquire a shell containing mustard agent with Iraqi markings,” the CIA reported in a top secret document in November 1983. “Tehran would take such evidence to the U.N. and charge U.S. complicity in violating international law.”

At the time, the military attaché’s office was following Iraqi preparations for the offensive using satellite reconnaissance imagery, Francona told Foreign Policy. According to a former CIA official, the images showed Iraqi movements of chemical materials to artillery batteries opposite Iranian positions prior to each offensive.

Francona, an experienced Middle East hand and Arabic linguist who served in the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, said he first became aware of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran in 1984, while serving as air attaché in Amman, Jordan. The information he saw clearly showed that the Iraqis had used Tabun nerve agent (also known as “GA”) against Iranian forces in southern Iraq.

The declassified CIA documents show that Casey and other top officials were repeatedly informed about Iraq’s chemical attacks and its plans for launching more. “If the Iraqis produce or acquire large new supplies of mustard agent, they almost certainly would use it against Iranian troops and towns near the border,” the CIA said in a top secret document.

But it was the express policy of Reagan to ensure an Iraqi victory in the war, whatever the cost.

The CIA noted in one document that the use of nerve agent “could have a significant impact on Iran’s human wave tactics, forcing Iran to give up that strategy.” Those tactics, which involved Iranian forces swarming against conventionally armed Iraqi positions, had proved decisive in some battles. In March 1984, the CIA reported that Iraq had “begun using nerve agents on the Al Basrah front and likely will be able to employ it in militarily significant quantities by late this fall.”

The use of chemical weapons in war is banned under the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which states that parties “will exert every effort to induce other States to accede to the” agreement. Iraq never ratified the protocol; the United States did in 1975. The Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the production and use of such arms, wasn’t passed until 1997, years after the incidents in question.

The initial wave of Iraqi attacks, in 1983, used mustard agent. While generally not fatal, mustard causes severe blistering of the skin and mucus membranes, which can lead to potentially fatal infections, and can cause blindness and upper respiratory disease, while increasing the risk of cancer. The United States wasn’t yet providing battlefield intelligence to Iraq when mustard was used. But it also did nothing to assist Iran in its attempts to bring proof of illegal Iraqi chemical attacks to light. Nor did the administration inform the United Nations. The CIA determined that Iran had the capability to bomb the weapons assembly facilities, if only it could find them. The CIA believed it knew the locations.

Hard evidence of the Iraqi chemical attacks came to light in 1984. But that did little to deter Hussein from using the lethal agents, including in strikes against his own people. For as much as the CIA knew about Hussein’s use of chemical weapons, officials resisted providing Iraq with intelligence throughout much of the war. The Defense Department had proposed an intelligence-sharing program with the Iraqis in 1986. But according to Francona, it was nixed because the CIA and the State Department viewed Saddam Hussein as “anathema” and his officials as “thugs.”

The situation changed in 1987. CIA reconnaissance satellites picked up clear indications that the Iranians were concentrating large numbers of troops and equipment east of the city of Basrah, according to Francona, who was then serving with the Defense Intelligence Agency. What concerned DIA analysts the most was that the satellite imagery showed that the Iranians had discovered a gaping hole in the Iraqi lines southeast of Basrah. The seam had opened up at the junction between the Iraqi III Corps, deployed east of the city, and the Iraqi VII Corps, which was deployed to the southeast of the city in and around the hotly contested Fao Peninsula.

The satellites detected Iranian engineering and bridging units being secretly moved to deployment areas opposite the gap in the Iraqi lines, indicating that this was going to be where the main force of the annual Iranian spring offensive was going to fall, Francona said.

In late 1987, the DIA analysts in Francona’s shop in Washington wrote a Top Secret Codeword report partially entitled “At The Gates of Basrah,” warning that the Iranian 1988 spring offensive was going to be bigger than all previous spring offensives, and this offensive stood a very good chance of breaking through the Iraqi lines and capturing Basrah. The report warned that if Basrah fell, the Iraqi military would collapse and Iran would win the war.

President Reagan read the report and, according to Francona, wrote a note in the margin addressed to Secretary of Defense Frank C. Carlucci: “An Iranian victory is unacceptable.”

Subsequently, a decision was made at the top level of the U.S. government (almost certainly requiring the approval of the National Security Council and the CIA). The DIA was authorized to give the Iraqi intelligence services as much detailed information as was available about the deployments and movements of all Iranian combat units. That included satellite imagery and perhaps some sanitized electronic intelligence. There was a particular focus on the area east of the city of Basrah where the DIA was convinced the next big Iranian offensive would come. The agency also provided data on the locations of key Iranian logistics facilities, and the strength and capabilities of the Iranian air force and air defense system. Francona described much of the information as “targeting packages” suitable for use by the Iraqi air force to destroy these targets.

The sarin attacks then followed.

The nerve agent causes dizziness, respiratory distress, and muscle convulsions, and can lead to death. CIA analysts could not precisely determine the Iranian casualty figures because they lacked access to Iranian officials and documents. But the agency gauged the number of dead as somewhere between “hundreds” and “thousands” in each of the four cases where chemical weapons were used prior to a military offensive. According to the CIA, two-thirds of all chemical weapons ever used by Iraq during its war with Iran were fired or dropped in the last 18 months of the war.

By 1988, U.S. intelligence was flowing freely to Hussein’s military. That March, Iraq launched a nerve gas attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja in northern Iraq.

A month later, the Iraqis used aerial bombs and artillery shells filled with sarin against Iranian troop concentrations on the Fao Peninsula southeast of Basrah, helping the Iraqi forces win a major victory and recapture the entire peninsula. The success of the Fao Peninsula offensive also prevented the Iranians from launching their much-anticipated offensive to capture Basrah. According to Francona, Washington was very pleased with the result because the Iranians never got a chance to launch their offensive.

The level of insight into Iraq’s chemical weapons program stands in marked contrast to the flawed assessments, provided by the CIA and other intelligence agencies about Iraq’s program prior to the United States’ invasion in 2003. Back then, American intelligence had better access to the region and could send officials out to assess the damage.

Francona visited the Fao Peninsula shortly after it had been captured by the Iraqis. He found the battlefield littered with hundreds of used injectors once filled with atropine, the drug commonly used to treat sarin’s lethal effects. Francona scooped up a few of the injectors and brought them back to Baghdad — proof that the Iraqis had used sarin on the Fao Peninsula.

Syria_3In the ensuing months, Francona reported, the Iraqis used sarin in massive quantities three more times in conjunction with massed artillery fire and smoke to disguise the use of nerve agents. Each offensive was hugely successful, in large part because of the increasingly sophisticated use of mass quantities of nerve agents. The last of these attacks, called the Blessed Ramadan Offensive, was launched by the Iraqis in April 1988 and involved the largest use of sarin nerve agent employed by the Iraqis to date. For a quarter-century, no chemical attack came close to the scale of Saddam’s unconventional assaults. Until, perhaps, the strikes last week outside of Damascus.

 

5 myths used to justify drone assassinations


What we misunderstand about these high-tech killings

BY ROBERT GREENWALD

America’s never-ending war on terrorism is almost always depicted in the mainstream media as a military and intelligence agency fight on a global battlefield. But it is also a propaganda war where the public is fed inaccuracies from Washington, especially when it comes to overseas killings by U.S. military drones.

Here are five myths perpetuated by the military and its weapons makers that seek to make Americans feel good about drones and the White House’s policy of targeted assassinations.

Myth No. 1: They Target High-Level Terrorists drone casualties

 

Only 2 percent of drone strikes have killed “high value targets,” former counter-terror adviser to David Petraeus, David Kilcullen, notoriously remarked in a New York Timescolumn early in the Obama presidency, where he said that 50 civilians were killed for every “high-value target” assassinated. That means that 98 percent of drone-caused deaths have been a mix of low-level militants, civilians, or another dubious Pentagon classification called “unknown militants.”

This spring McClatchy and later NBC reported that 25 percent of those killed in drone strikes in Pakistan have been classified as “unknown militants.” So by its own admission, the CIA has no idea whom they are killing about a quarter of the time. Keep in mind that if a military-aged male is killed in a strike he is automatically presumed to be a militant. The implication being, there is a huge room for error, and many of these “unknown militants” are likely civilians. In one case, the CIA classified 20-22 “unknown militants” killed. This strike actually killed around 40 civilians.

Myth No. 2: Drones Are Accurate drone

The Pentagon rhetoric touting “pinpoint” and “laser” accuracy of drones is baseless. Dr. Larry Lewis, a principal research scientist at the Center for Naval Analyses, a research group with close ties to the U.S. military, studied the record in Afghanistan and found thatdrone strikes were no more accurate than traditional air power. So, after all this talk about the ability to discern enemies through surveillance, they are no more accurate than traditional flybys. This rhetoric has allowed us to kill innocent children.

Notably, this study was done in Afghanistan, where there is ample ground and human intelligence for selecting and assessing targets, as well as people who investigate the aftermath of the strikes. But that is not the case in Pakistan and Yemen, which means that the strikes have been more deadly for civilians. The implications from this reality are cynical and cavalier: Either the information on the ground is faulty, or drone operators are OK with certain levels of civilian casualties. Regardless, drones fall far short of the hyped rhetoric coming from the Obama administration.

Myth No. 3: Drone Targets Imminently Threaten America 

Protesters hold signs and chant slogans outside the White House in Washington on April 13, 2013 during a demonstration against the use of dones against Islamic militants and other perceived enemies of the US around the world.    AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM

Protesters hold signs and chant slogans outside the White House in Washington on April 13, 2013 during a demonstration against the use of dones against Islamic militants and other perceived enemies of the US around the world. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM

The mainstream media have played into the CIA/administration’s selective leaks about drones, especially the concept of a “kill list.” This military branding conjures up a process of carefully selected enemies who pose imminent threats to the U.S. However, the reality of “signature strikes” undercuts this P.R. construction.

Never officially acknowledged by the administration, signature strikes target unknown suspected militants who display “pattern of live” behavior associated with al-Qaida and the Taliban. What the “patterns” consist of is officially a secret. What we do know is that as soon as signature strikes were implemented there was a spike in the number of drone strikes and the number of people killed in strikes.

Furthermore, reporting has recently revealed that the original authorization for drone strikes in Pakistan came from now deposed President Musharraf. The only way he would approve of the strikes was if the CIA killed his enemies. These “side-payments” became a characteristic of the CIA program. Instead of focusing on enemies of the U.S., the CIA played along with Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI, and its military to hit targets who posed no threat to the U.S.

Myth No. 4 Drones Are Cheap

Setting aside the moral, legal and efficacy arguments about drones, the mantra from the administration, lobbyists and their lackeys in Congress has been drones’ low per-unit cost of $4 million to $5 million. According to Winslow Wheeler of the Project on Government Oversight, “This is quite incorrect.” He states, “The actual cost for a Reaper unit is $120.8 million in 2012 dollars.” This is far above the $27.2 million F-16C or the $18.8 million A-10. Seemingly, this “aura of inevitability” about investing in this new revolutionizing weapon is the military-industrial-complex at its self-serving worst.

Myth No. 5: Drones Are Making Americans Safer

They are not, in fact. Not only are drones effectively destabilizing a nuclear power, Pakistan, in one of the most conflict-ridden regions of the world, they are inciting waves of suicide bombers to attack Pakistan. They are also directly threatening the U.S.

In a global age of connectivity there is a new phenomenon of self-radicalization. People who identify with the Muslim Diaspora are seeing their kinsmen being murdered by America in a most brutal way. The Boston Marathon bombers are only the latest example of this phenomenon. The most notorious self-radicalized terrorist was Faisal Shahzad, who, in 2010, tried to blow up New York’s Times Square. When asked about his motive, hedirectly cited drones.

These rebels with a cause will sadly become the norm as we push and provoke more of the world’s 1.3 billion to 1.4 billion Muslims into the political fringes where American violence begets more violence.

The skies are very vulnerable right now


These are not the words of a potential terrorist or enemy of the US, but rather the proclamation of a whistleblower with the Air Marshal Service, talking about the rampant discrimination faced by females, veterans, blacks, minority groups of all types in the Orlando, Florida office of the Air Marshals. The managers of that office were far more preoccupied making crude jokes and pranks about and against co-workers than they were with protecting passengers; one local Florida TV news crew even recorded marshals sleeping while on duty, drunk or vandalizing personal property. Yet, these are the people who are charged with insuring the safety of America’s air waves post 911 at an enormous cost of money to the public’s treasury and even by the admission of one of them they are ineffective because of…..dare I say it…….their inability to deal with a multi ethnic workplace, discrimination.

After 911, when government agencies were either created or expanded to deal with perceived threats against America, bureaucracies grew so quickly and to such an extent that they became inefficient, off message and unfocused, and possibly ineffective in their mission and at a cost of trillions of dollars. We were told such expansion would produce good results, a consolidation of efforts, more efficiency to fight to preserve our way of life.  Rhetoric flew fast and furious in much the same way as government expanded, but after 9 years it seems we are no better off with no appreciable gains in the war on terror than we were on September 10,2001. There’s this

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work….

Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.

At least 20 percent of the government organizations that exist to fend off terrorist threats were established or refashioned in the wake of 9/11. Many that existed before the attacks grew to historic proportions as the Bush administration and Congress gave agencies more money than they were capable of responsibly spending.

We are plagued by a bloated bureaucracy which harbors uninspired servants whose lapses endanger the security of the homeland. Not much has changed since 911 except the deficit, the size of government and the burden tax payers are paying for the perception of security, which begs the question is all this worth the price?

Democracy is a threat to America?!?!


That’s what some in the US intelligence agency believed during the term of President Jimmy Carter and so they schemed to prevent Carter from winning a second term by sabotaging his presidency.  These and other remarkable facts are contained in an article written by Robert Parry.  Take time to read the link.  Among other things it asserts

Too many powerful interests do not want the American people to accept even the possibility that U.S. intelligence operatives and a longtime ally could intervene to oust a president who had impinged on what those two groups considered their vital interests.

To accept that scenario would mean that two of the great fears of American democracy had come true – George Washington’s warning against the dangers of “entangling alliances” and Harry Truman’s concern that the clandestine operations of the CIA had the makings of an “American Gestapo.”

there is no doubt that CIA Old Boys and Likudniks had strong motives for seeking President Jimmy Carter’s defeat in 1980.Inside the CIA, Carter and his CIA Director Stansfield Turner were blamed for firing many of the free-wheeling covert operatives from the Vietnam era, for ousting legendary spymaster Ted Shackley, and for failing to protect longtime U.S. allies (and friends of the CIA), such as Iran’s Shah and Nicaragua’s dictator Anastasio Somoza.

As for Israel, Likud Prime Minister Menachem Begin was furious over Carter’s high-handed actions at Camp David in 1978 forcing Israel to trade the occupied Sinai to Egypt for a peace deal. Begin feared that Carter would use his second term to bully Israel into accepting a Palestinian state on West Bank lands that Likud considered part of Israel’s divinely granted territory.

Begin recognized that the scheme required Carter winning a second term in 1980 when, Kimche wrote, “he would be free to compel Israel to accept a settlement of the Palestinian problem on his and Egyptian terms, without having to fear the backlash of the American Jewish lobby.”In his 1992 memoir, Profits of War, Ari Ben-Menashe, an Israeli military intelligence officer who worked with Likud, agreed that Begin and other Likud leaders held Carter in contempt.

“Begin loathed Carter for the peace agreement forced upon him at Camp David,” Ben-Menashe wrote. “As Begin saw it, the agreement took away Sinai from Israel, did not create a comprehensive peace, and left the Palestinian issue hanging on Israel’s back.”

So, in order to buy time for Israel to “change the facts on the ground” by moving Jewish settlers into the West Bank, Begin felt Carter’s reelection had to be prevented. A different president also presumably would give Israel a freer hand to deal with problems on its northern border with Lebanon.

As for the CIA Old Boys, legendary CIA officer Miles Copeland told me that “the CIA within the CIA” – the inner-most circle of powerful intelligence figures who felt they understood best the strategic needs of the United States – believed Carter and his naïve faith in American democratic ideals represented a grave threat to the nation.

“Carter really believed in all the principles that we talk about in the West,” Copeland said, shaking his mane of white hair. “As smart as Carter is, he did believe in Mom, apple pie and the corner drug store. And those things that are good in America are good everywhere else. …

“Carter, I say, was not a stupid man,” Copeland said, adding that Carter had an even worse flaw: “He was a principled man.”

Parry, who has been following and writing about this thread for several decades provides extensive documentation about the claims of the CIA and G.H.W.Bush’s involvement in the ‘October surprise’ that resulted in the release of American hostages on the day of Ronald Regan’s inauguration in 1981.  I strongly suggest you read the entire article; it dispels a lot of current myths about what went on during that period, but two in particular I want to point out here. First off, the Iranians were negotiating with the Great Satan, not fighting it, and the Republicans were negotiating with the Iranians as well; Reagan was not someone Iranians feared rather he was someone they felt they could trust.  Indeed, ever since the inception of the theocratic Iran, its leaders have reached out to America and tried to negotiate peacefully and come to terms with it. The second myth which must be refuted is the notion that our ally Israel does not spy on its friend America.  Rather, since the Camp David accords, Israel has been actively engaged in inserting itself in American politics, directly and through its surrogates, Jonathan Pollard just one of many, to influence the American political process.  CIA operatives implied that Jimmy Carter’s belief in ‘democracy’ was a threat to American interests and the same meme has been proclaimed by the Israeli ambassador to the US, yet both countries claim to be democracies.  If that doesn’t get you to rethink politics, nothing will.

Back From The Brink


One of the reasons Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize from a grateful prize committee is because those who awarded it to him realized America has barely escaped falling into the abyss of becoming a dictatorial and insane government worse than Josef Stalin et.co could ever imagine.  It wasn’t without a big price that we as a Nation and the world community had to pay; two invasions, the almost complete evisceration of the US Constitution and the de facto persecution and or ethnic cleansing of a religious group that would make even Israel green with envy.  In the clear light of day, absent the Bush Administration and its evil cohorts cooperation spin of fantasy from reality, the blinders are falling from our eyes and there is some sense of truth that has made its way in the media, that was once the stenographer for what could be the most corrupt US administration in the history of this country.

One such revelation came in the form of a lecture by a CIA employee, a 30 year veteran by the way, who it can be said has been around in the intelligence field a lot longer than Dick Cheney has, that intelligence gathering by his agency HAS NOT suffered as a result of not waterboarding terrorist suspects.  This flies in the face of assertions made by Dick Cheney, most notably, and others in the former Administration who claimed the US was at risk of an imminent attack if it did not waterboard information from people.  We’ve written about waterboarding alot here on the pages of Miscellany101 because it is an illegal activity that was sanctioned and made legal by the illegal Administration of Bush/Cheney.  Every other month or so another crack appears in the wall they set up to separate America from the rule of law and slowly but surely voices are speaking out to say we can survive as a Nation without resorting to criminal behavior.  This latest voice, that of  career intelligence agent, Michael Sulick is a welcomed addition to the others who stand up to say what makes America great and exceptional is ‘after 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true to the granite ridge, and her glow has held no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.’

The War On Terror Underscores Big Government Inefficiency


All the fear mongering and brutal imagery of war and terrorism aren’t enough to overshadow the fact that this war is as much a plague on the national identity of America as terrorism itself and the government has hindered not helped nor made safer the public it claims it wants to safeguard.  The recent statistics bear that out; with regards to detainees at Guantanamo Bay, only 15%………15% have withstood the habeas corpus guidelines and remained imprisoned…the remaining 85% have been set free, many times by George W. Bush appointed judges who followed the rule of law and not the whimsical desires of their mentor, a public figure drunk with power and image.  So why do we settle for such inefficiency from our government?  Why do we continue to insist the state pursue a course of action which yields only a bare minimum of results for the price we as a society have had to pay?

Even now we are still arguing whether the “enhanced interrogation” methods of the CIA yielded any actionable intelligence, trusting the word of a bygone administration that has continued to lie about its role in this phony war.  All those on the right clamoring for a restoration of government, should also ask for a restoration of the Law and ask why is the government in times of economic difficulty spending countless amounts of money for enforcements that can’t stand the test of the law?  Does the economic expenditure of a Guantanamo Bay which has perhaps even less than 15% of real terrorist inmates, worth the money it costs the US taxpayer at anytime, but especially now?  Is this what we demand and expect from government, that they run on only 15% efficiency?  Are the continued renditions of prisoner away from the scrutiny of an American judicial system we claim to love, honor, support and fight for worth the emotional, moral and financial price we pay for as a country? Do we still claim to assert that acts of violence against people we detained are not torture and therefore not illegal, when there are other indisputable acts of sound law enforcement and military training which yield better, more actionable results?    Glenn Greenwald in a very good piece on the propensity of some in government to support torture mentions this rather eloquent quote from Thomas Paine which should be noted here.

An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

It doesn’t get much better than that.