Where’s the waterboard?


I’m against waterboarding because I believe it’s illegal, but many on the right clamored for it when we were fighting our war on terror against people with Arabic names who, it was said, posed a threat to our Republic.  The waterboard, that instrument of death, was pointed to as something needed to extract information from even the most diehard terrorist in order to save lives.  When it was presented in those stark terms even some “progressives” demurred in their protests afraid they would be seen as anti-American, traitors or worse, threats themselves and singled out for persecution.  (Regrettably, the latter  may have happened a time or two.)  It didn’t matter that America was a signatory to a law that said we were against torture and would prosecute anyone who committed it, we were told waterboarding was necessary.

After the latest assault on a sitting member of Congress and the murder of a federal judge at the hands of an assassin who resembles a skinhead in all appearances and who had made references to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, there comes news that another congressman has received ominious  threats from places unknown, raising the specter that more death and destruction might be visited on members of Congress.  How can we stop what looks like certain carnage?  Waterboarding and profiling are two solutions offered up by those on the right when they spoke of Muslims and jihadists who were threats to the American way of life and yet not once, except on the pages of Miscellany101 have these tools not too long ago embraced by many Americans, been mention in the latest discourse.  Unfortunately, neither has the matter of whether what Loughner commited is terrorism been discussed much in the media and for obvious reasons.

Terrorists can’t be white, non-Muslims and waterboarding or profiling (racial profiling) can’t be applied to them because it obscures the debate about what’s good and what’s bad for America.  White crime is tolerated and ostensibly good for America…we can build case law around it, institutionalize it and put people to work combating it yet maintain a civil society, or so it seems.  Terrorism many on the right maintain is the purveyor of dark skinned or Muslim people who  threaten  our very civilization and we must fight them by any means necessary, even illegal means that we visit upon them and sometimes ourselves. We have bemoaned that double standard time and time again here on Miscellany101. The right seems to relish, embrace it and heap scorn on those who point it out.

The “wingnuts” on the right have for the past decade managed to escape responsibility for any miscalculations on the political stage.  The WMD fiasco was dismissed because Saddam was a bad guy and we needed to get rid of him anyway, the encroachment on our civil liberties was proposed because it’s government’s job to take care of us, during the administration of Bush, and during Obama because liberals elected him into office and he is a socialist and that’s what socialists do.  The spiteful and intemperate political rhetoric is necessary because it’s a “war” of ideas and too the hearts and minds of the people.  It seems every excuse is made that absolves the right from any responsibility for any misfortune that has occurred over the past decade even though they were the party in power for over half the time.

Now comes the political assassination in Tuscon, Arizona right after the virulent election campaigning of 2010 where the political opposition rode on the backs of people who believe in conspiracy theories that rival those concocted after 911.  This murder didn’t come in a vacuum; it was sparked by a constant barrage of speech that equated a democratically elected  political party  with the equally repugnant foe of terrorists, jihadists and Muslims; some even calling the President a secret Muslim, whose goal is to promote a socialist agenda.  It was against these policies that the right was shaped and the makers of these policies were the focal point of everyone’s  rage.  Loughner who it was claimed by neighbors/friends targeted Congresswoman Giffords wasn’t the only one.  Byron Williams who had a shootout with authorities after planning acts of violence against the ACLU, a favorite target of the right and the Tides Foundation, said he wanted to spark a civil war and he pointed to a radio head pundit as being a primary source of his information and motivation.   Yet the right, the more vocal among them, claim no responsibility for this violent swing in politics even while others among them are asking for de-escalation in the rhetoric. Fat chance.

This is the group that claims when it comes to their enemies that everyone of them is responsible for the crimes committed by one of them; that the idea of collective punishment, something practiced by the Israelis against Palestinians, is a legitimate way of dealing with a threat, not just the kind that a Loughner, or a Williams or the unknown assailant threatening Congressman Renny Davis pose.  So there will be no talk of waterboarding anyone to get information from them about the impending murder of another Congressman, now will there be calls for profiling white males who look like Loughner, or Williams and we won’t hear not one suggestion that the motivating factors behind their rage be investigated  or asked to condemn their murderous impulses because in almost every case they, these perpetrators of terrorism against the homeland are just like the pundits and politicians who use these acts of government coercion on others.  That is the story of America and her injustices and it will plague us for as long as we continue to ignore it.

 

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.’

Evil Personified


In an interview on ABC’s This Week, Dick Cheney loudly proclaimed, ‘I was a big supporter of waterboarding. I was a big supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques’ and forever cast himself as an indictable war criminal who will never be indicted.   He has been assailed by the progressive side of the political spectrum for not only putting his foot in his own mouth but also for so clearly incriminating himself.  Cheney however knows he won’t be indicted and the simple reason is his logic is far more pervasive in the American body politic than any of us would care to admit.  It would appear the only opposition coming to his remarks is from people outside of government and politics who might possess the last vestiges of decency still have left in America; those people who believe in the American system and ideals and not those who merely spout them as a means to assuming a really nice paying job in government at taxpayer expense.

On all the websites that feature articles about Cheney so prominently one can always find letters or comments from people who ask why isn’t Cheney in jail, or why hasn’t he been indicted.  I myself have asked that question a time or two, but when reading another reporter’s take on Cheney’s remarks ran across this snippet

The “torture memo” and related legal opinions were considered so unprofessional that Bybee’s replacement to head the OLC, Jack Goldsmith, himself a conservative Republican, took the extraordinary step of withdrawing them after he was appointed in October 2003.

However, Goldsmith was pushed out of his job after a confrontation with Cheney’s counsel Addington, and the later appointment of Bradbury enabled the Bush White House to reinstate many of the Yoo-Bybee opinions.

Last month, Newsweek reported that Yoo and Bybee had avoided any disciplinary recommendations because a draft report by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility had been rewritten to remove harsh criticism that the two lawyers had violated professional standards, softening the language to simple criticism of their judgment.

The weaker language meant that the Justice Department would not refer the cases to state bar associations for possible disbarment proceedings.

Despite the really sophomoric job that Yoo and Bybee did in supporting the Bush administration’s desire to torture, a job done so poorly that it was immediately tossed out by someone who replaced them, someone who was also a lawyer,  who knew the law and knew that the legal brief written didn’t have a leg to stand on and would not hold up to judicial review, members of the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility would not phrase their criticism of such low standards in such a way as to punish Yoo and Bybee.  Instead those two gentlemen have gone on to lucrative careers, Bybee as a federal judge who might very well adjudicate terrorist cases he was responsible for jeopardizing with his justification for torture, and Yoo as law professor at UC-Berkeley without any consequence for advising a US administration to break the law!  That eventuality was made possible by career government officials who are not accountable to all the voices of disgust and anger at obvious Bush-Cheney illegality who have made it possible for all concerned to evade and escape punishment.  But there’s also this admission by Cheney himself

The reason I’ve been outspoken is because there were some things being said, especially after we left office, about prosecuting CIA personnel that had carried out our counterterrorism policy or disbarring lawyers in the Justice Department who had — had helped us put those policies together, and I was deeply offended by that, and I thought it was important that some senior person in the administration stand up and defend those people who’d done what we asked them to do.And that’s why I got started on it. I’m the vice president now — ex-vice president. I have the great freedom and luxury of speaking out, saying what I — what I want to say, what I believe. And I have not been discouraged from doing so.

The obvious implication is that Cheney’s reach inside the bowels of government is long; anyone not willing to accommodate those who have signed on to his belief in the validity of torture as a tool of foreign policy risks losing his or her job.  Similarly, if you are willing to cover for those who have broken the law there is some temporal reward for you.  Bybee was appointed to his seat as a circuit court judge  by Bush.  While he may be at the end of his political career Cheney still has  access to  many others who depend on politics, political good fortune, appointments and corruptible politicians and he seems quite intent on keeping those who agree with his torturous politics from any harm, professionally or legally, and they in turn are intent on protecting him.  So the fix is in and despite our protestations to the contrary, Cheney will not face prosecution because career diplomats, lawyers, intelligence agents and agencies have too much at stake and will do everything possible to protect themselves and their titular heads, i.e. the Cheneys and the Bushes,  Obama’s pledges of change and transparency nothwithstanding.  It’s sad that a constitutional lawyer now president like Obama has had his hands tied up by criminal politicians like Cheney who have no regard for the Constitution but such is the situation he finds himself.  Realistically, there is no way out; Obama’s position is intractable and for us progressives, the sooner we realize that the better.  Such is the cost of doing business with evil.

Where do they find these people?


I saw JD Hayworth do an interview with Chris Mathews on Hardball the other night and one of his comments really struck me as being typical of the last eight years of nonsense, lies and deception.  No, it wasn’t his remark about Obama needing to produce his birth certificate to prove to the American people whether he is a real American or not, and in the process avoiding Mathews question whether he, Hayworth, was a conspiracy theorist birther.  It was Hayworth’s dodging the question of whether he supported torture as an implement for policy by American agencies.  He went on to say that waterboarding, i.e. torture was responsible for stopping several planned terror attacks because of actionable intelligence derived therefrom.

Anyone who knows anything about torture and its use during the last decade and all of the “actionable intelligence” that might have come about because of it would and should take such claims with a grain of salt.  Such claims of the importance of torture came from people like John Kiriakou, a former CIA operative who affirmed that waterboarding quickly unloosed the tongues of hard-core terrorists.  His accounts were picked up by main stream media and pundits and published as gospel in an attempt to legitimize an internationally recognized crime.  Of course it turns out all of Kiriakou’s stories were lies made up to extricate a criminal administration and its agencies from criminal behavior.

On the next-to-last page of a new memoir, The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror (written with Michael Ruby), Kiriakou now rather off handedly admits that he basically made it all up.”What I told Brian Ross in late 2007 was wrong on a couple counts,” he writes. “I suggested that Abu Zubaydah had lasted only thirty or thirty-five seconds during his waterboarding before he begged his interrogators to stop; after that, I said he opened up and gave the agency actionable intelligence.”

“I wasn’t there when the interrogation took place; instead, I relied on what I’d heard and read inside the agency at the time.”

“Now we know,” Kiriakou goes on, “that Zubaydah was waterboarded eighty-three times in a single month, raising questions about how much useful information he actually supplied.”

Indeed. But after his one-paragraph confession, Kiriakou adds that he didn’t have any first hand knowledge of anything relating to CIA torture routines, and still doesn’t. And he claims that the disinformation he helped spread was a CIA dirty trick: “In retrospect, it was a valuable lesson in how the CIA uses the fine arts of deception even among its own.”


Yet again, another lie about the effectiveness of our war on terror, from the people who too many of us depend on to protect us! It would behoove Hayworth not to mention this proven lie too many times as he stumps for John McCain’s senate seat for the state of Arizona, or else he might have to explain to those who are conscientious to want to know how it’s all a lie!

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Waterboarding in the news again!


waterboardedI saw Jesse Ventura on one of the talk shows ask the rhetorical question, ‘if waterboarding isn’t torture, why don’t the police waterboard criminal suspects to get information from them’, or words to that effect.  Of course at the time I thought to myself, ‘score one for Ventura’.  After reading this bit of shocking news, I wish Jesse hadn’t gone there!

The Independent Police Complaints commission is investigating claims that Metropolitan police officers mishandled prisoners and submerged the head of one man in a bucket of water during the course of a raid. The allegation was made by Metropolitan Police employee, thought to be a serving officer.

There was alarm at the allegations at Scotland Yard, which has faced several crises over the actions of its officers in past months, including the death of a man at the G20 protests.

The officers under investigation were among 10 based in Enfield, north London, who were suspended in February in one of the worst allegations of corruption to hit the Metropolitan police in recent years.

And there’s this

A group of Scotland Yard officers were suspended after “serious allegations” about their behavior during the arrests of five suspects last year, police said Tuesday.London’s police force did not go into detail, but Sky News television, the Daily Mail and The Times of London newspapers reported that six officers were accused of “waterboarding” drug suspects.

The papers gave varying accounts of the exact technique used by police, with the Times saying that officers poured water on a cloth and placed it over a suspect’s face to simulate the experience of drowning. The Daily Mail said police officers repeatedly dunked the suspects’ heads in buckets of water.

At first glance this shouldn’t be so disturbing, because British police have shot at and in one case shot and killed an innocent man, lied about why and how he was shot with nothing happening to the offending officer(s). On a more visceral level is the terrible thought that criminal behavior is now commonly employed by police the world over  plunging the world into chaos.  We’ve written about police brutality here in the States and now waterboarding or some variation thereof used in the UK seems to suggest an attitude of ‘anything goes’ in government’s reaction with its citizenry.  Whereas possession of marijuana used to be viewed as an offense which merely got a person a ticket, and large amounts a court date and maybe a few years in jail, now law officers see nothing wrong with waterboarding suspects.  Whereas failure to yield to a police or emergency vehicle would get one a ticket, now one is liable to be arrested and brutalized by law enforcement officers!  So I wish Jesse hadn’t mentioned that the reason  the law doesn’t waterboard suspects is because it’s illegal, because now it appears they don’t it’s illegal and a necessary part of the trade!  As an aside, I wonder if any of the officers in the UK charged with this served in Iraq either in the regular British army or as mercenaries……..make that contractors.  Finally, I’m glad to see that it was someone on the force who turned these thugs in. The only way this problem of criminal behavior on the part of the police is going to get solved is when good cops turn in the bad ones who then get prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  I love good, faithful, law abiding police and appreciate their service to the society; the bad ones are the reasons we should cherish and internalize the 2nd amendment.

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