At Least Some Mormons Understand The Awful Nature of The Use of Torture

April 30, 2009 at 8:43 am | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

Here’s one:

Two devout Mormons also engineered the more grisly wet work. Because the CIA lacked personnel in 2001 with interrogation expertise, the agency turned to two psychologists, James E. Mitchell and John B. Jessen, who had worked with the Air Force’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape programs. Neither had an intelligence or interrogation background or had experience with Muslim terrorists, but, according to the FBI, they had experience in designing, testing, implementing and monitoring torture techniques that were illegal in the United States and elsewhere in the civilized world.
These two were responsible for “reverse-engineering” the SERE program — which was intended to toughen American pilots against torture (and the false confessions it had produced in the Korean War) — and they built the CIA’s surreal secret interrogation program around the same brutal coercion that had successfully forced American POWs to lie to their North Korean and Chinese captors. In other words, they assumed that the very brutality which had forced American soldiers to lie would magically force a Muslim terrorist to tell the truth, even if he had to be waterboarded 183 times.
Mitchell advised that suspects must be treated like dogs in a cage. “It’s like an experiment, when you apply electric shocks to a caged dog, after a while, he’s so diminished, he can’t resist.” The Mitchell/Jessen methodology became the basis for prisoner treatment at Guantanamo, Bagram, CIA secret prisons and Abu Ghraib. It involved isolation, sensory deprivation, disorientation, nudity, sexual humiliation, waterboarding, painful stress positions, withholding food and medical treatment, extended sleep deprivation and subjection to temperature extremes. These were used singly and, more commonly, in combination with one another.
Retired Air Force Col. Steve Kleinman, a former SERE instructor and interrogator, says of Mitchell and Jessen: “I think they have caused more harm to American national security than they’ll ever understand.”

Well said.

Why Are Republicans So Stupid?

April 30, 2009 at 8:08 am | Posted in American politics | 11 Comments

Michelle Bachman is the latest.

Take a look at what she said on the House floor:

“We were led to believe that we would see great change, immediate change, and all we’re seeing is a prolonged effort, because just what happened in the 1930s with FDR.

“The more the government spent, the more the government regulated, the more the government put up tariff barriers — trade barriers — the more government intervened, the longer the recession occurred. And as a matter of fact, the recession that FDR had to deal with wasn’t as bad as the recession Coolidge had to deal with in the early ’20s. Yet, the prescription that Coolidge put on that, from history, is lower taxes, lower regulatory burden, and we saw the roaring ’20s where we saw markets and growth in the economy like we never seen before in the history of the country.

“FDR applied just the opposite formula — the Hoot-Smalley Act, which was a tremendous burden on tariff restrictions, and then, of course, trade barriers and the regulatory burden and tax barriers. That’s what we saw happen under FDR. That took a recession and blew it into a full-scale depression. The American people suffered for almost 10 years under that kind of thinking.”

Hoot-Smalley Act? Was there a Senator who’s last name was Hoot? Senator Hoot! That’s a real hoot!

Seriously, why are Republicans so stupid? Not only does she get the name wrong (it is Smoot-Hawley), but the Smoot Hawley Act was not passed under FDR, but rather under Hoover, signed by Hoover! That would be a Republican. So let’s really put her argument in with the right people:

“[Hoover] applied just the opposite formula — the [Smoot-Hawley Act], which was a tremendous burden on tariff restrictions, and then, of course, trade barriers and the regulatory burden and tax barriers. That’s what we saw happen under [Hoover]. That took a recession and blew it into a full-scale depression. The American people suffered for almost 10 years under that kind of thinking.”

When you put the right players in place, she actually makes sense! But she is so stupid and does not realize she makes the Democrats’ point that it was Republicans who fucked up. The Bachmans of the world are fighting against FDR today because they can’t fight against Obama. It no longer works to fight against Clinton. Carter is a has been, who has been beaten up enough. Johnson, for some odd reason they don’t pick on. JFK is golden territory, never attack him. Truman, well, they like his foreign policy, so they can’t attack him. That leaves FDR. It is really pathetic what the Republican party has come to. Though, from researching history, they’ve rarely had good moments.

Judge Jay Bybee Is Unrepentant About Memos, Impeach Him

April 29, 2009 at 6:47 am | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

There you have it. He thinks the memos were just fine.

Judge Jay S. Bybee broke his silence on Tuesday and defended the conclusions of legal memorandums he had signed as a Bush administration lawyer that allowed use of several coercive interrogation practices on suspected terrorists.

Judge Bybee, who issued the memorandums as the head of the Office of Legal Counsel and was later nominated to the federal appeals court by President George W. Bush, said in a statement in response to questions from The New York Times that he continued to believe that the memorandums represented “a good-faith analysis of the law” that properly defined the thin line between harsh treatment and torture.

But he said: “The central question for lawyers was a narrow one; locate, under the statutory definition, the thin line between harsh treatment of a high-ranking Al Qaeda terrorist that is not torture and harsh treatment that is. I believed at the time, and continue to believe today, that the conclusions were legally correct.”

There you have it folks. He is unrepentant. He thinks the advice was legally sound (it is not). It is high time to impeach him. He won’t be resigning on his own. The pressure must be put on him, and he needs to remain a focal point until he resigns or he is forced out. Such a judge must not be allowed to rule over a people.

By the way, I find the last part of the article interesting:

Judge Betty Fletcher, a member of the court for 30 years, said in a statement: “He is a moderate conservative, very bright and always attentive to the record and the applicable law. I have not talked to other judges about his memo on torture, but to me it seems completely out of character and inexplicable that he would have signed such a document.”

Indeed, Judge Fletcher. But apparently it is a part of his character. He’s fine with torture. He’s fine with abusing other people who are not American. He thinks the law allows for such abuse. It is time for him to face the consequences. Impeach Judge Jay Bybee.

Quote of the Day – LDS Church Position on Torture

April 28, 2009 at 1:39 pm | Posted in American politics | 1 Comment

This is the best anyone can get out of the LDS Church

LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter on Monday told me: “Abuse of any kind is incompatible with the Church of Jesus Christ.”

Abuse of any kind. That should cover every kind of abuse. Waterboarding someone against their will is considered abuse. Depriving someone of sleep for 11 straight days is considered abuse. Slamming their heads against a fake wall is considered abuse. Dousing someone with near ice cold water for minutes on end is considered abuse. Putting someone in a coffin and making him think there is a deadly spider in that same coffin is considered abuse.

These things are “incompatible with the Church of Jesus Christ.”

The Torture of A Detainee Gave Us the False Lead to Iraq

April 28, 2009 at 7:21 am | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

emptywheel has been working doubly hard at giving us a good understanding of the timing of the approval of torture. In this post, she offers the most important information of all.

At least according to the Senate narrative, they started discussing torture plans for Abu Zubaydah after February 22, 2002–when DIA first questioned Ibn Sheikh al-Libi’s claim of a tie between Iraq and al Qaeda that derived from torture. And they signed the Bybee Memo the day after the second DIA report questioning al-Libi’s Iraq-al Qaeda ties.

There is a third person who was waterboarded. And that one was the first one waterboarded, a man named Sheikh al-Libi. In December 2001, he was tortured, and to stop the torture, he gave the Americans what they wanted to hear—that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden.

How do we know this information was used to push for the war in Iraq? Well, as emptywheel notes, you just have to read Colin Powell’s testimony to the UN in February 2003:

I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these weapons to al Qaeda.

Fortunately, this operative is now detained, and he has told his story. I will relate it to you now as he, himself, described it.

This senior al Qaeda terrorist was responsible for one of al Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan.

His information comes firsthand from his personal involvement at senior levels of al Qaeda. He says bin Laden and his top deputy in Afghanistan, deceased al Qaeda leader Mohammed Atef, did not believe that al Qaeda labs in Afghanistan were capable enough to manufacture these chemical or biological agents. They needed to go somewhere else. They had to look outside of Afghanistan for help. Where did they go? Where did they look? They went to Iraq.

The support that (inaudible) describes included Iraq offering chemical or biological weapons training for two al Qaeda associates beginning in December 2000. He says that a militant known as Abu Abdula Al-Iraqi (ph) had been sent to Iraq several times between 1997and 2000 for help in acquiring poisons and gases. Abdula Al-Iraqi (ph) characterized the relationship he forged with Iraqi officials as successful.

When Colin Powell says that the operative has been detained and is telling us his story, he fails to let his listeners know that he was tortured to tell that story, thus making the story unreliable.

And of course, the Bush administration felt that, hey, they got these little nuggets out of al-Libi, maybe Zubaydah will give more. So they waterboard him 83 times and think they get more. Then they capture KSM in March 2003. But they don’t have enough of a link yet between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. Surely the number 3 man in Al-Qaeda, KSM, can really spell it out. Much better credibility to get the #3 man to share the operational relationship between Saddam Hussein and OBL. But, as they tortured KSM, he had nothing for them. So they waterboarded him 183 times in March 2003.

March 2003.

Significant date for America. March 2003 is when we started the war in Iraq. Can you surmise why the Bush administration waterboarded KSM 183 times in March 2003?

They wanted the link. They wanted the proof. They wanted their little war against Saddam Hussein to have legitimacy because it really wasn’t legitimate. If they could prove a working relationship between Saddam Hussein and OBL, their war against Saddam would be legitimate. If not, their little war against Saddam would forever be under the cloud of illegitimacy. Hence why they tortured KSM.

There you have it folks. Torture gave us the Iraq War. The use of torture led to the deaths of hundreds of thosands of Iraqis, and over 4000 American soldiers so far. So much for keeping us safe.

Oh, and by the way, Senator John McCain on waterboarding:

“Anyone who knows what waterboarding is could not be unsure. It is a horrible torture technique used by Pol Pot,” – John McCain, October 2007.

Which is why he, of course, made it retroactively legal under the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

Hitting a Nerve

April 26, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

Truly, we’ve hit a nerve with some. Note the language, the fearmongering. If you don’t let us torture our enemies, you will die. This is good. Guys like Michael Scheuer, Michael Hayden, and Michael Mukasey squirming is a good thing for America. They’ve got nothing.

Top 20 Most Used Keywords To Search My Blog

April 25, 2009 at 2:15 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

After three years of blogging, the following are the top 20 most used keywords people used to find my blog on the internet.

  1. second world war 1,335
  2. iraq 1,175
  3. cho seung-hui 879
  4. american civil war 760
  5. mit romney 637
  6. fox news sucks 525
  7. larry craig mormon 460
  8. the good democrat 373
  9. causes of the civil war 329
  10. why was the civil war fought 311
  11. sleep deprivation torture 304
  12. republican nominee 265
  13. middle east map 264
  14. mitt romney lies 254
  15. sarah palin boots 249
  16. where is christianity practiced 240
  17. the american civil war 210
  18. obama speech 2002 208
  19. romney lies 204
  20. american civil war slavery south carolin 199

Quite an eclectic group. I find it funny that Sarah Palin boots has gotten so many views. Many people visit my blog for my posts on the Civil War. Anyways, just thought it was interesting.

Jay Bybee Apparently Regrets Writing Those Torture Memos

April 24, 2009 at 10:11 pm | Posted in American politics | 1 Comment

The circling of the wagons begins. Bybee’s friends and supporters are working the refs (the Media), trying to paint him sympathetically, so that when it comes time to render judgment against him, we’ll look more softly on him. And it will most likely succeed. It still makes him a weak coward. If he truly regrets writing those memos, he would say so, publicly. But doing so would essentially cost him his judgeship, which apparently, according to this article, he really wanted. So he will cower in silence, hoping the storm passes over him and he can remain where he is, safely to judge over a people in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

It is sad that a supposedly nice and decent person like him should have to pay for the sins of a bigger fish that refuses to be caught. That would be Bush and Cheney. They are the real evil doers in this whole saga. It is they who ordered the Bybees of the world to do what they did. Bybee and his supporters, if they want him to be saved in any way, ought to press for the prosecution of the bigger fish. The Donald Rumsfelds. The Condoleezza Rices. The George Tenets. The Dick Cheneys. The George W. Bushes of the world. Those are the ones who should be in hot water.


Great thoughts from three other bloggers:


It’s really quite absurd for the Washington Post to let some anonymous people spin on Jay Bybee’s behalf.

Matt Yglesias:

Maybe this business about Jay Bybee feeling bad about what he’s done in terms of putting in place a brutal system of torture is even accurate. If he really does feel remorse, it seems like the appropriate course of action would be for him to resign from the federal bench and go public with everything he knows about the situation.

And if he doesn’t want to do that, congress should impeach and remove him. If his own friends won’t bother to deny that what he did was wrong, then what’s the case for not removing him?

Steve Benen:

But if Bybee feels bad about all of this, it suggests maybe the infamous Bybee Memo was a mistake. If he’s filled with regret, maybe he realizes his legal guidance was wrong. Indeed, Bybee’s anonymous friend said the torture memo “got away from him,” and ended up in a place Bybee “never intended.” Another source said Bybee “was not pleased” with the memo that bore his name.

I’d find it a lot easier to believe this if Bybee were to say something publicly, and perhaps explain his conduct.

He quotes Adam Serwer who says:

“So Bybee knew he was breaking the law in allowing the use of torture, but you have to understand, he only did it because he really wanted to be a federal judge.”

Exactly. Bybee should be impeached.

A Sad State of Affairs

April 24, 2009 at 8:45 am | Posted in American politics | 10 Comments

Obama can’t get a truth commission going. Essentially because Boehner told him Republicans will be even more obstructive and destructive.

President Obama rebuffed calls for a commission to investigate alleged abuses under the Bush administration in fighting terrorism, telling congressional leaders at a White House meeting yesterday that he wants to look forward instead of litigating the past.

In a lengthy exchange with House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), Obama appeared to back away from a statement earlier this week that suggested he could support an independent commission to examine possible abuses, according to several attendees who spoke on the condition of anonymity so they could discuss the private meeting freely. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, also seeking to clarify the president’s position, told reporters that “the president determined the concept didn’t seem altogether workable in this case” because of the intense partisan atmosphere built around the issue.

“The last few days might be evidence of why something like this might just become a political back and forth,” Gibbs said.

The sad thing is that if we truly are a nation of laws, that means that those who committed crimes, no matter how high up in government, need to be punished, or we undermine the strength of the rule of law!

Is this really what conservatives want? I mean, I realize conservatives today have lost sense of reality and are really stupid, but do they really want their country to become a lawless dictatorship? I realize they think it is headed that way right now (solely because a Democrat won the last election), but what exactly are they doing to strengthen the rule of law when they act this way?

I wish Obama would take the political risk and stamp down such lawless acts. The ironic thing is that the individuals who have acted beyond the scope of the law are from the same stock of the Nixon administration (the last administration that broke the law, but who was not held accountable). Nixon’s group were not held accountable. They went on to other careers and then back into power in 2001. What do you think they would do when back in power? Abuse it of course! Because they know they can get away with it! THEY WILL NOT BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE! And their apprentices (people like Scotter Libby, Kyle Sampson) will eventually come to power again and guess what they will do? Abuse their power once again, because once again, they know they can get away with it!

It is time to make the painful act of holding these people accountable and sending them to jail, or if their crime is bad enough, executing them.

Churchill’s England and Hitler’s Germany Did Not Use Torture

April 24, 2009 at 8:20 am | Posted in American politics | 15 Comments

Andrew Sullivan has examples of both.

In both cases, the two men in charge of interrogating enemy spies and soldiers never once laid their hands on their detainees. Surely in the most dire war to face both nations, both Germany and England, you’d think, based on the rationale used by most Mormons today and conservative Americans, that Germany and England both should have relied on torture to gain the edge they needed to win. But no, neither the Germans nor the British resorted to torture in their conflict. That is World War II.

Speaking of World War II, the Japanese DID use waterboarding against US soldiers. Guess what? We tried and convicted those who did waterboard. Waterboarding is torture. And it is illegal under US law.


It looks like the British did indeed torture, and it seems it was out of vengeance rather than gaining information from detainees. There’s some pretty sadistic crap there.

FBI Director: Torture Did NOT Produce Results

April 24, 2009 at 8:16 am | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

Surely the FBI director knows a thing or two about effective interrogations…

I ask Mueller: So far as he is aware, have any attacks on America been disrupted thanks to intelligence obtained through what the administration still calls “enhanced techniques”?

“I’m really reluctant to answer that,” Mueller says. He pauses, looks at an aide, and then says quietly, declining to elaborate: “I don’t believe that has been the case.”

Alyssa Peterson, Mormon, Stood Against Torture

April 24, 2009 at 7:46 am | Posted in American politics | 4 Comments

Few Mormons have spoken out against torture. Few took stands of any kind. It is quite sad, because torture is so strongly against our principles and values. One Mormon did stand against torture. Alyssa Peterson. I don’t know how many remember her story, but some do. She was a Mormon soldier in Iraq who, in 2003, was ordered to use these torture techniques on Iraqi detainees. She refused. Greg Mitchell has more:

I am reminded of the chilling story of Alyssa Peterson, who I have written about numerous times in the past three years but now with especially sad relevance. Appalled when ordered to take part in interrogations that, no doubt, involved what we would call torture, she refused, then killed herself a few days later, in September 2003.

Of course, we now know from the torture memos and the U.S. Senate committee probe and various new press reports, that the “Gitmo-izing” of Iraq was happening just at the time Alyssa got swept up in it.

Alyssa Peterson was one of the first female soldiers killed in Iraq. A cover-up, naturally, followed.

Peterson, 27, a Flagstaff, Ariz., native, served with C Company, 311th Military Intelligence BN, 101st Airborne. Peterson was an Arabic-speaking interrogator assigned to the prison at our air base in troubled Tal Afar in northwestern Iraq. According to official records, she died on Sept. 15, 2003, from a “non-hostile weapons discharge.”

The military, of course, covered up her actions and didn’t tell her parents that she killed herself because she didn’t want to torture prisoners.

I don’t want more Mormons to commit suicide to send a message, but we can speak out more. Torture is anti-Christian. Torture is against the principles of the Gospel. Yet torture is approved of by most Mormons. How can this be?

On Torture and Suffering

April 23, 2009 at 2:45 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment


Here We Have It, The Reason, Why George Bush Ordered Torture

April 22, 2009 at 11:19 am | Posted in American politics | 15 Comments

At last, we have a motive. A real and true motive for why torture was used.

“There were two reasons why these interrogations were so persistent, and why extreme methods were used,” the former senior intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity.

“The main one is that everyone was worried about some kind of follow-up attack (after 9/11). But for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there.”

It was during this period that CIA interrogators waterboarded two alleged top al Qaida detainees repeatedly — Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August 2002 and Khalid Sheik Muhammed 183 times in March 2003 — according to a newly released Justice Department document.

“There was constant pressure on the intelligence agencies and the interrogators to do whatever it took to get that information out of the detainees, especially the few high-value ones we had, and when people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people to push harder,” he continued.

“Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn’t any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam, and that no such ties were likely because the two were fundamentally enemies, not allies.”

Senior administration officials, however, “blew that off and kept insisting that we’d overlooked something, that the interrogators weren’t pushing hard enough, that there had to be something more we could do to get that information,” he said.

A former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army investigators in 2006 that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were under “pressure” to produce evidence of ties between al Qaida and Iraq.

“While we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al Qaida and Iraq,” Burney told staff of the Army Inspector General. “The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . . . there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”

There’s your reason folks. This is why George Bush ordered torture. Because Bush and Cheney really believed (or wanted to believe) that there was a link between Al-Qaeda and Iraq. The cold hard facts proved otherwise, that Al-Qaeda and Saddam truly were enemies. But Bush and Cheney thought the CIA missed something so they pressed harder. They needed that link. Because they wanted to go to war with Iraq. So they tortured Al-Qaeda prisoners to get false evidence of links between Iraq and Al-Qaeda.

There’s enough evidence out there now that Bush and Cheney deserve to be tried for war crimes. They got us into Iraq on false premises. They tortured prisoners to get false confessions of a link between our real enemy and our perceived enemy. American soldiers died. Hundreds of billions of dollars were spent (well, really, put on credit cards for our children to pay). How much more do you need, America, in order to see that these two men are war criminals and deserve the full punishment of the law!

Donald Rumsfeld Approved Torture for the United States Military

April 21, 2009 at 9:30 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

He should therefore be tried for war crimes.

The 232-page report, the product of an 18-month inquiry, was approved on Nov. 20 by the Senate Armed Services Committee, but has since been under Pentagon review for declassification. Some of the findings were made public in a Dec. 12 article in The New York Times; a spokesman for Mr. Rumsfeld dismissed the report at the time as “unfounded allegations against those who have served our nation.”

The Senate report documented how some of the techniques used by the military at prisons in Afghanistan and at the naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as well as in Iraq — stripping detainees, placing them in “stress positions” or depriving them of sleep — originated in a military program known as Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape, or SERE, intended to train American troops to resist abusive enemy interrogations.

According to the Senate investigation, a military behavioral scientist and a colleague who had witnessed SERE training proposed its use at Guantánamo in October 2002, as pressure was rising “to get ‘tougher’ with detainee interrogations.” Officers there sought authorization, and Mr. Rumsfeld approved 15 interrogation techniques.

The report showed that Mr. Rumsfeld’s authorization was cited by a United States military special-operations lawyer in Afghanistan as “an analogy and basis for use of these techniques,” and that, in February 2003, a special-operations unit in Iraq obtained a copy of the policy from Afghanistan “that included aggressive techniques, changed the letterhead, and adopted the policy verbatim.”

Months later, the report said, the interrogation officer in charge at Abu Ghraib obtained a copy of that policy “and submitted it, virtually unchanged, through her chain of command.” This ultimately led to authorization by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez of the use of stress positions, “sleep management” and military dogs to exploit detainees’ fears, the report said.

There’s that SERE again. Man, the Chinese sure played some mind games on us! SERE comes from the torture the Chinese put American soldiers through during the Korean War. America uses SERE to train soldiers to ward off torture techniques. Now, under George W. Bush, these techniques were used against detainees, not just at the CIA, but also in the United States Military.

The Idiocy of Michael Hayden

April 19, 2009 at 5:05 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

Note here what he says.

Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who served as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency during the last two years of George W. Bush’s presidency, said Sunday that the Obama administration’s recent release of memos detailing harsh interrogation techniques would limit the agency’s ability to pursue terrorists in the future.

The C.I.A. used harsh techniques like waterboarding on detainees from 2002 through 2005, before General Hayden became director. He told a Congressional committee in 2008 that the technique was explicitly dropped from the agency’s authorized methods in 2006 and that he believed its use was likely to have been illegal.

But speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” General Hayden said that the descriptions gave Al Qaeda a tactical advantage by allowing them to prepare for specific practices used by the C.I.A., even if those practices are not in use now.

He truly is disparaging the CIA that he used to lead. He’s saying that terrorists are stronger than CIA operatives. He’s saying that simple knowledge of how we treat detainees gives terrorists an edge over our forces. What a fucking moron! How the hell did he ever get into the position of power that he did? Or maybe it is true. After all, the CIA has one truly awful history. Maybe only the worst of the worst go to work for the CIA. Maybe they truly are so terrible that a cave-dwelling terrorist can outsmart them.

Either way, another black eye on the CIA. When can we shut it down?

Impeach Judge Jay Bybee

April 19, 2009 at 1:23 pm | Posted in American politics | 3 Comments

Hear! Hear!

In one of the more nauseating passages, Jay Bybee, then an assistant attorney general and now a federal judge, wrote admiringly about a contraption for waterboarding that would lurch a prisoner upright if he stopped breathing while water was poured over his face. He praised the Central Intelligence Agency for having doctors ready to perform an emergency tracheotomy if necessary.

These memos are not an honest attempt to set the legal limits on interrogations, which was the authors’ statutory obligation. They were written to provide legal immunity for acts that are clearly illegal, immoral and a violation of this country’s most basic values.

It sounds like the plot of a mob film, except the lawyers asking how much their clients can get away with are from the C.I.A. and the lawyers coaching them on how to commit the abuses are from the Justice Department. And it all played out with the blessing of the defense secretary, the attorney general, the intelligence director and, most likely, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

That investigation should start with the lawyers who wrote these sickening memos, including John Yoo, who now teaches law in California; Steven Bradbury, who was job-hunting when we last heard; and Mr. Bybee, who holds the lifetime seat on the federal appeals court that Mr. Bush rewarded him with.

These memos make it clear that Mr. Bybee is unfit for a job that requires legal judgment and a respect for the Constitution. Congress should impeach him.

Impeach him. He is a disgrace to America. He is not worthy to rule as a judge over anyone!

Andrew Sullivan shares a letter from a reader:

I am a lawyer who has practiced in Washington for more than 20 years. I’m not sure I have the words to describe my reaction upon reading the Bybee memo, but it’s fair to say it sent chills down my spine.
Lawyers are a cynical lot – it comes with the territory – but we all know that we have some basic obligations to our clients. One of them is to tell them the truth, and not to conceal facts or law that the client should know about. Even as you must represent your client zealously in disputes, you are required as an officer of the court not to hide adverse precedent. And failing to tell your client about cases that run against the client’s preferred result is a profound dereliction of duty.
In that context, the Bybee memo is a lawyer’s worst nightmare. It’s an F-minus in law school, a zero on the bar exam, grounds for firing a first-year lawyer for an utter lack of understanding of what the practice of law requires.
It is beyond conception to imagine a competent lawyer not even mentioning the cases when the U.S. prosecuted Japanese soldiers for waterboarding, let alone asserting that “there have been no prosecutions” under the specific statute. It is nearly as inconceivable that the memo concludes that the insect technique, used against someone with a known insect phobia, would not cause “severe mental pain.”
The only rational conclusion is that this memo is not, in fact, legal advice at all, at least not in the sense that a lawyer would use the term. None of the people involved in writing are incompetent, after all, and none of them would have made these kinds of elementary mistakes in writing for a private client. It was written purely to provide cover. To do that, Bybee and the others involved in these memos knowingly subordinated their oaths as officers of the court and their ethical obligations to give carte blanche to the interrogators and those who directed them. Perhaps they thought it was their patriotic duty; perhaps they thought that the “chatter” mentioned in the memo created an exigent circumstance that demanded that shortcuts be taken; or perhaps they expected that the memos never would see the light of day. I doubt we’ll ever really know. Regardless of the reason, though, the dull legalese conceals an utter lack of respect for the law and for any constraints that the law might require. And that’s what’s really chilling about it.

That’s about the whole of it. A shameful act, and deserving of impeachment.

KSM, Waterboarded 183 Times, Observed by Medical Professionals

April 19, 2009 at 7:33 am | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

One other important point to make on the revelation that KSM was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003 (we don’t know how many times in other months), is the fact that for every single 183 of those times, a medical professional was on hand to make sure KSM did not die. Think about that. That is one sick medial professional.

Waterboarding Sucks

April 18, 2009 at 10:21 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

KSM (Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) was supposedly waterboarded 183 times in one month!

The CIA used the waterboard “at least 83 times during August 2002” in the interrogation of Zubaydah. IG Report at 90, and 183 times during March 2003 in the interrogation of KSM, see id. at 91.

One hundred eighty three times in the month of March 2003. Let’s do some math. Divide 183 by 31 days and you get him waterboarded 5.9 times a day. That is once every four hours constantly for the entire 31 days. That’s a lot of waterboarding. Let me tell you, it must suck as a tool if it requires being used 183 times a month to extract information. 183 times. You don’t think there would be possible psychological side effects to that many times approaching death in one month. Boy, I wonder how often the interrogators who performed these 183 waterboarding sessions see KSM’s face at night struggling for air. He is a human being, after all. It isn’t really that easy on your psychology to see someone else suffer. You can’t build up a defense strong enough to ward off the images. 183 times in one month. That sure is a lot of pain and suffering KSM was put through. I wonder how many times he was waterboarded in April 2003. Or February 2003.

But let’s just get back to the other important issue. For supposedly the deal breaker, waterboarding really sucks. To have to put someone under the water that frequently, it really sucks. It’s a piece of crap tool. Maybe the CIA began to realize that waterboarding really was used to extract false confessions but thought, hey maybe if we just waterboard him one more time, he’ll get past the false confession and really reveal what we know he wants to reveal. Oh, no, not this time. Let’s try again.

And I just can’t get past one thing that we really haven’t talked about much. John Walker Lindh. Everybody remembers him, right? The American Taliban. The white dude from a rich Northern California community who shook Bin Laden’s hand… How awful is the CIA, that they cannot get an agent close enough to Bin Laden, but a rich white boy from NoCal can! Maybe the CIA should stop messing around with techniques from the Chinese and get back to making friends the old fashioned way, by being nice to them. I think we’ll get far more information that way…

heh…183 times…

A Must Read Article On Torture

April 17, 2009 at 11:08 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

From the New York Times,

The first use of waterboarding and other rough treatment against a prisoner from Al Qaeda was ordered by senior Central Intelligence Agency officials despite the belief of interrogators that the prisoner had already told them all he knew, according to former intelligence officials and a footnote in a newly released legal memorandum.

The escalation to especially brutal interrogation tactics against the prisoner, Abu Zubaydah, including confining him in boxes and slamming him against the wall, was ordered by officials at C.I.A. headquarters based on a highly inflated assessment of his importance, interviews and a review of newly released documents show.

Abu Zubaydah had provided much valuable information under less severe treatment, and the harsher handling produced no breakthroughs, according to one former intelligence official with direct knowledge of the case. Instead, watching his torment caused great distress to his captors, the official said.

Even for those who believed that brutal treatment could produce results, the official said, “seeing these depths of human misery and degradation has a traumatic effect.”

C.I.A. officers adopted these techniques only after the Justice Department had given its official approval on Aug. 1, 2002, in one of four formerly secret legal memos on interrogation that were released Thursday.

A footnote to another of the memos described a rift between line officers questioning Abu Zubaydah at a secret C.I.A. prison in Thailand and their bosses at headquarters, and asserted that the brutal treatment may have been “unnecessary.”

That about sums it up, why we never should have done it, and why we must prosecute the lawyers who tried to provide legal cover to the CIA operatives who did it.

It’s quite clear, the CIA got all the actionable intelligence from Zubaydah BEFORE they began torturing him. After they began torturing him, they got nothin’. Not only that, but they induced psychological harm upon him for the rest of his life. Not only that, but it has a profound negative effect on the interrogators who oversaw him. Not only that, but it had a profoundly negative effect on America’s moral stance in the world.

Was it worth it? You tell me. Nothing from him with the use of torture. Yet all the negatives that come with it. Was it worth it?

Not in a million years.

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