The CIA: A Legacy of Ashes

March 20, 2008 at 5:05 am | Posted in CIA | 7 Comments

I really need to go read that book because we see in the news even more examples of how much the CIA has failed us. It is quite painful actually, because, well, Westerners were able to get into the highest levels of Al-Qaeda. Anyone remember John Walker Lindh? He did meet Bin Laden you know.

Not only does the CIA have no ability to actually do its job of intelligence into our real enemy, but they are effectively making it worse by torturing Al-Qaeda suspects. George Bush, the Idiot, made sure that the CIA was not liable by vetoing a law intended to prohibit torture by the CIA.

The CIA Blames Al-Qaeda for Bhutto’s Assassination

January 18, 2008 at 10:16 am | Posted in CIA, corruption, Pakistan | Leave a comment

Because of course they can be trusted to be definitive. And of course, they have no bias, and are not protecting the Pakistani Intelligence Service (which is most likely the real culprit).

Many Pakistanis have voiced suspicions that Musharraf’s government played a role in Bhutto’s assassination, and Bhutto’s family has alleged a wide conspiracy involving government officials. Hayden declined to discuss the intelligence behind the CIA’s assessment, which is at odds with that view and supports Musharraf’s assertions.

Huh, one has to wonder why Mr. Hayden refuses to show the evidence…

“This was done by that network around Baitullah Mehsud. We have no reason to question that,” Hayden said.

Um…sorry Mr. Hayden, but you bet your CIA butt we do!

Curveball was the pseudonym given by the Central Intelligence Agency to Rafid Ahmed Alwan (Arabic: رافد أحمد علوان), an Iraqi citizen who defected from Iraq in 1999, claiming that he had worked as a chemical engineer at a plant that manufactured mobile biological weapon laboratories as part of an Iraqi weapons of mass destruction program.[1] Alwan’s allegations were subsequently shown to be false by the Iraq Survey Group’s final report published in 2004. Despite warnings from the German Federal Intelligence Service regarding the authenticity of the claims, the US Government utilized them to build a rationale for military action in the lead up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, including in the 2003 State of the Union address, where President Bush said “we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs”, and Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN Security Council, which contained a computer generated image of a mobile biological weapons laboratory.[2][1] On November 4, 2007, CBS 60 Minutes revealed Curveball’s real identity.[3] Former CIA official Tyler Drumheller summed up Curveball as “a guy trying to get his green card essentially, in Germany, and playing the system for what it was worth.”[1]

The CIA does not have the credibility to be given the benefit of the doubt anymore, Mr. Hayden. If you make a definitive accusation, you better have the evidence to back you up.

Back to the story…

Some administration officials outside the agency who deal with Pakistani issues were less conclusive, with one calling the assertion “a very good assumption.”

One of the officials said there was no “incontrovertible” evidence to prove or rebut the assessment.

So you’ve got analysts dissenting, yet the CIA’s director making definitive statements. We haven’t had that before, now have we? (“Slam dunk!” anyone?).

Hayden said that the United States has “not had a better partner in the war on terrorism than the Pakistanis.” The turmoil of the past few weeks has only deepened that cooperation, he said, by highlighting “what are now even more clearly mutual and common interests.”

I’m sure, and here is where the real answer lies. The CIA is protecting its “never-a-better-partner-in-the-war-on-terrorism” even though it is a complete failure of a partner.

The article ends with this:

Regarding the public controversy over the CIA’s harsh interrogation of detainees at secret prisons, Hayden reiterated previous agency statements that lives were saved and attacks were prevented as a result of those interrogations.

He said he does not support proposals, put forward by some lawmakers in recent weeks, to require the CIA to abide by the Army Field Manual in conducting interrogations. The manual, adopted by the Defense Department, prohibits the use of many aggressive methods, including a simulated-drowning technique known as waterboarding.

“I would offer my professional judgment that that will make us less capable in gaining the information we need,” he said.

Meaning quite clearly without stating it of course, that the CIA continues to torture its prisoners and will not change its tactics anytime soon, damn all Congressmen and critics, and damn the law!

The Timeline of America’s Use of Torture

December 19, 2007 at 4:38 am | Posted in CIA, Torture | Leave a comment

is found here, complete with numerous references and citations. The evidence is there, and has been since 2001. Highly recommended reading.

Various Items

December 15, 2007 at 6:52 am | Posted in America, American politics, Barry Bonds, baseball, Bush Administration, CIA, Civil War, Congress, conservatives, corruption, Democrats, Ethiopia, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Middle East, mukasey, Musharraf, Pakistan, Peace, Republicans, secret combinations, Somalia, Terrorism, Thoughts, War, World Events | Leave a comment

There are a few items in the news today that I feel are important.

Justice Department Seeks Delay in CIA Tapes

Surprise, surprise. The Bush Administration Justice Department does not wish for Congress to really know what was going on at the CIA when they destroyed evidence. What do you think, Mr. Chuck Shumer? Ms. Diane Feinstein? Was Mukasey worth this? Did you really think he would allow you into the deepest darkest corners of the Bush administration? Serious, high crimes have been committed by the Bush administration, ordered from Bush himself. Do you really think he would let you in?

Do Congressional Democrats realize just how frustrating they have been at allowing the Bush administration and the minority Republicans to thrash them so many times? Do Congressional Democrats realize just how frustrating it is for citizens to see them capitulate at the mere THREAT of filibuster. LET THEM FILIBUSTER ALREADY! Let them do it guys! Let’s see Republicans talk themselves to death! Let them truly be obstructionist. Why do you give them such political victories, by both giving in to their demands without making them sweat for it, and letting them take the public relations coup?

I think we need new Democratic leadership. Y’all are cowards. Yes, you Mr. Harry Reid. Yes you, Ms. Nancy Pelosi. What do Bush and the Republicans have on you? Why do you bend over for them? STOP IT!

Musharraf Lifts Pakistan’s State of Emergency.

Heh, one wonders why. Let’s see, the reason given for the state of emergency two months ago was a threat to the state of Pakistan by Al-Qaeda. Now that the state of emergency was removed, can anyone point to any reduced threat from Al-Qaeda? Any evidence? Are they still a threat to Pakistan? Hmmm.

Maybe the real reason had to do with Pakistan’s Supreme Court, which was about to rule against Musharraf. Let’s see. Musharraf declares emergency, martial law, basically. He removes justices from the Supreme Court he didn’t like, and places ones on there that would rule in his favor. He arrests some thousands of lawyers—a true threat to the viability of the state, no doubt—-but, well…nothing really drastic done against the stated threat, Al-Qaeda. Huh.

So, who, besides Musharraf, can even consider the upcoming elections as anything but fair?

Ethiopians said to push civilians into rebel war.

This piece of news is important because Ethiopia entered into Somalia at our request. We again farmed out what we should have done to someone else. Now that someone else, in this case, Ethiopia, is stretched too thin. Because many of its troops are in Somalia, Ethiopia does not have enough to deal with the rebels in a really dry region between Somalia and Eritrea. This is bad because it is undermining the strength of a fairly stable country on Africa’s horn. Meanwhile, over in Somalia, the Islamic militants increase their power.

Huh, I wonder if Bush will pull a Bush senior move and send soldiers into Somalia just before he gets out of office forcing his Democratic successor to handle his mess.

Sealed off by Israel, Gaza a beggar state

I don’t get Israel. I don’t think they realize the enormity of the problem in Gaza, and that by continuing to starve them out, it will only be worse for them. 1.5 million people is a hell of a lot of people. I’m sure Israel would love it for them not to be there anymore, but there is no way for that to happen.

It is really sad. A peace conference photo-op was done at Annapolis just a few weeks ago, but notably absent are the conflicting parties. Where was Hamas? Where was Hesbollah? Where was Iran? Interestingly, where was Iraq? How can you make peace with your enemy if you do not invite them to a peace conference?

Voters offer mixed responses on Clemens’ HOF chances

On baseball here. The Mitchell Report has certainly increased baseball talk, here in mid-winter. I’ll be fascinated to see what happens in the Spring. But I wanted to quote from Ray Ratto, who is quoted in this piece. I think he makes some very interesting points in regards to baseball, the Hall of Fame, numbers, and more importantly, the business itself.

“I would vote for Bonds on the first ballot, as I would vote for Clemens, because the Hall of Fame isn’t church,” Ratto said. “It’s the history of baseball, and this is part of the history of baseball. I can assure you that Bud Selig will be voted into the Hall of Fame, and he is the commissioner whose name will be linked with the steroid era by first ignoring it, then profiting from it, and finally blaming others for it.

“I know that Cap Anson is in the Hall of Fame, and he was instrumental in the creation of the color line, which is way worse than PEDs. So this discussion ends up being an excuse for people with no institutional memory or understanding to claim a moral superiority they’re not really equipped to display.”

I always liked Ray Ratto. I grew up in the Bay Area and read his opinions frequently. I think he says it best here. Firstly that the Hall of Fame already includes cheaters, as well as racists and womanizers. It isn’t church. We don’t need to deify these players.

More important is his point about how the business of baseball profited from these past 12 years of steroid and human growth hormone abuse. I remember seeing a comment from a reader on CNN.com who said that Barry Bonds was being used. This commentator wrote when Barry was indicted by the grand jury on perjury. Barry Bonds may be done playing baseball for good. But that is a point rarely made.

Barry Bonds was indeed used. Bud Selig was silent because Barry Bonds brought in money. Look at just this last year’s revenue, over $6 billion dollars, according to sources. $6 billion dollars. That’s almost as good as America’s most popular sport—where enhancement drugs are also abused—football. On what did those baseball owners profit? On juiced up players of course. How much revenue did the San Francisco Giants get from the year 2000-2007? Shall we look at what profit Peter Magowan made during that time? How about Steinbrenner and the Yankees?

Baseball millionaire owners profited from their players getting juiced. And who gets blamed now? The players of course. Rape them for all they’ve got and then throw them to the trash compactor when you’re through with them. Who is the public face of the San Francisco Giants? Barry Bonds of course. Who is the money behind the San Francisco Giants? Peter Magowan. Who will pay for the juiced player? Barry Bonds of course. Who will profit from the juiced player? Peter Magowan.

Remember that.

Mitchell Report can’t be good for baseball’s short term business

Read for yourself:

George Mitchell’s steroids report hasn’t just rocked the game of baseball. It figures to shake the business of baseball, too.

As an industry, MLB has been even hotter than Josh Beckett in October. It posted record revenues of $6 billion this year. Baseball has more than doubled its take of a decade ago and is closing fast on the NFL as the top-grossing league in sports.

The Mitchell Report, though, could jeopardize that run. Maybe Commissioner Bud Selig just couldn’t stand too much prosperity. He ordered up the Mitchell Report and re-focused attention on a problem that, in many fans’ eyes, had faded as a concern.

Just remember who profited on baseball’s steroids. Not the players who get the fans’ wrath. Oh no. People like Bud Selig. I wish we had our priorities straight, here in America.

The CIA Broke The Law

December 8, 2007 at 12:34 am | Posted in American politics, CIA, Torture | 2 Comments

the story continues:

White House and Justice Department officials, along with senior members of Congress, advised the Central Intelligence Agency in 2003 against a plan to destroy hundreds of hours of videotapes showing the interrogations of two operatives of Al Qaeda, government officials said Friday.

The chief of the agency’s clandestine service nevertheless ordered their destruction in November 2005, taking the step without notifying even the C.I.A.’s own top lawyer, John A. Rizzo, who was angry at the decision, the officials said.

The disclosures provide new details about what Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the C.I.A. director, has said was a decision “made within C.I.A. itself” to destroy the videotapes. In interviews, members of Congress and former intelligence officials also questioned some aspects of the account General Hayden provided Thursday about when Congress was notified that the tapes had been destroyed.

Can you see it? Everybody is in a CYA (cover your ass) mode. One man is made the fall guy. Meanwhile, the Agency will survive this crime, the White House (who ordered the torture) will emerge unscathed, because the damning videos are destroyed, and Congressional leaders like Hoekstra and Rockefeller, who KNEW of this, wash their hands and say, “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

Marty Lederman writes that in this particular case, the CIA made a rational choice. In this case, the crime was truly worse than the cover-up.

After all, haven’t they learned from the experience of the past 35 years that it’s not the crime but the cover-up that’ll get you?

Yes, they have. Let’s not lose sight of the big picture. This was not something they did on the spur of the moment. They vetted it with Rockefeller and Harman, for goodness’ sake, and then destroyed the tapes after Harman urged them not to do so. And right after Judge Brinkema’s orders started hitting close to home and Dana Priest broke the black sites story. [Check out this great timeline from emptywheel — pay close attention to all that’s going on in October/November 2005.] I retract what I said earlier: This was the CIA. They must have gotten DOJ approval (Gonzales, anyway) for the destruction. And the POTUS and/or VP, too. And all of these folks they knew full well what the fallout might be. And they knew about criminal laws involving obstruction. Most importantly, they were actually destroying what might be incredibly valuable evidence for future uses — valuable for criminal trials, for intelligence investigations, for training purposes, and, most importantly, as a key tile in their vaunted, hallowed “mosaic” of evidence developed to construct an accurate story about al Qaeda.

And yet they chose to destroy anyway, after what must have been a lot of internal debate. Which goes to show that . . . the cover-up is not worse than the crime, and they knew it. Those tapes must have depicted pretty gruesome evidence of serious criminal conduct. Conduct that would be proof positive of serious breaches of at least two treaties. Conduct approved and implemented at the highest levels of government.

Remember, this was late 2005. By this point, they all knew damn well that “the Commander in Chief has the constitutional authority to violate the Torture Act and the Geneva Conventions” would not be viewed as a very compelling defense. Worse yet, their other defense would have been: “A 35-year-old deputy assistant attorney general by the name of John Yoo orally advised me that this was legal.”

Obstruction of justice, and the scandal we’re about to witness, was a price they concluded was well worth paying.

The biggest question I have is why is this being released NOW to the public? My own answer is that the CIA again made a rational decision. They concluded that a Democrat was going to win next year, no matter what. That Democratic administration was going to poke around the CIA’s activities, and the CIA felt they would survive easier if they released this on their own terms. They will weather this storm. They’re not going down because of this. After all, the cover-up succeeded in destroying apparently a pretty awful crime.

We never should have lowered our standards as a nation to allow torture. What a complete shame for our generation!

The CIA Destroyed Evidence of Torture!

December 6, 2007 at 6:25 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, CIA, conservatives, corruption, George W Bush, secret combinations, Torture | Leave a comment

Well, there you go, ladies and gentlemen. When facing scrutiny over its torture program, the CIA protected itself by destroying evidence.

The Central Intelligence Agency in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Al Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about the C.I.A’s secret detention program, according to current and former government officials.

The videotapes showed agency operatives in 2002 subjecting terror suspects — including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in C.I.A. custody — to severe interrogation techniques. They were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that tapes documenting controversial interrogation methods could expose agency officials to greater risk of legal jeopardy, several officials said.

They broke the law. They knew it. They destroyed the evidence that would prosecute them.

The C.I.A. said today that the decision to destroy the tapes had been made “within the C.I.A. itself,” and they were destroyed to protect the safety of undercover officers and because they no longer had intelligence value. The agency was headed at the time by Porter J. Goss. Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Goss declined this afternoon to comment on the destruction of the tapes.

And we can trust the CIA to tell us the truth. Porter Goss, that’s Bush’s man.

It was not clear who within the C.I.A. authorized the destruction of the tapes, but current and former government officials said it had been approved at the highest levels of the agency.

That would be Porter Goss, Bush’s man.

The recordings were not provided to a federal court hearing the case of the terror suspect Zacarias Moussaoui or to the Sept. 11 commission, which had made formal requests to the C.I.A. for transcripts and any other documentary evidence taken from interrogations of agency prisoners.

C.I.A. lawyers told federal prosecutors in 2003 and 2005, who relayed the information to a federal court in the Moussaoui case, that the C.I.A. did not possess recordings of interrogations sought by the judge in the case. It was unclear whether the judge had explicitly sought the videotape depicting the interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah.

Mr. Moussaoui’s lawyers had hoped that records of the interrogations might provide exculpatory evidence for Mr. Moussaoui — showing that the Al Qaeda detainees did not know Mr. Moussaoui and clearing him of involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001, plot.

They obstructed justice. Is anyone surprised?

General Hayden’s statement said that the tapes posed a “serious security risk,” and that if they were to become public they would have exposed C.I.A. officials “and their families to retaliation from Al Qaeda and its sympathizers.”

“What matters here is that it was done in line with the law,” he said. He said in his statement that he was informing agency employees because “the press has learned” about the destruction of the tapes.

General Hayden, protecting his own. Not a follower of the law. And Mr. General, they would not have been exposed to retaliation from Al-Qaeda and its sympathizers, unless you are calling the long arm of the law Al-Qaeda.

Staff members of the Sept. 11 commission, which completed its work in 2004, expressed surprise when they were told that interrogation videotapes existed until 2005.

“The commission did formally request material of this kind from all relevant agencies, and the commission was assured that we had received all the material responsive to our request,” said Philip D. Zelikow, who served as executive director of the Sept. 11 commission and later as a senior counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Makes one wonder what else is hiding in that cavernous CIA headquarters that they might not want the public to know…

Daniel Marcus, a law professor at American University who served as general counsel for the Sept. 11 commission and was involved in the discussions about interviews with Al Qaeda leaders, said he had heard nothing about any tapes being destroyed.

If tapes were destroyed, he said, “it’s a big deal, it’s a very big deal,” because it could amount to obstruction of justice to withhold evidence being sought in criminal or fact-finding investigations.

Indeed, and a worthy nominee for understatement of the year.

General Hayden said the tapes were originally made to ensure that agency employees acted in accordance with “established legal and policy guidelines.” General Hayden said the agency stopped videotaping interrogations in 2002.

Guess they realized that the more they videotaped themselves torturing suspects, the more evidence there would be later on for prosecution. Can’t have that now, can we.

A former intelligence official who was briefed on the issue said the videotaping was ordered as a way of assuring “quality control” at remote sites following reports of unauthorized interrogation techniques. He said the tapes, along with still photographs of interrogations, were destroyed after photographs of abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib became public in May 2004 and C.I.A. officers became concerned about a possible leak of the videos and photos.

Huh, like Abu Ghraib…that was bad and all. Imagine how nasty it would be to see the videos of the torture the CIA did. I’m sure the backlash around the world would be…intense.

It has been widely reported that Mr. Zubaydah was subjected to several tough physical tactics, including waterboarding, which involves near-suffocation. But C.I.A. officers judged that the release of photos or videos would nonetheless provoke a strong reaction.

“People know what happened, but to see it in living color would have far greater power,” the official said.

Um, that’s generally WHY you don’t torture. But some people, see, lost their sense of morals and reason when terrorists hit us on 9/11.

Mr. Holt said he had been told many times that the C.I.A. does not record the interrogation of detainees. “When I would ask them whether they had reviewed the tapes to better understand the intelligence, they said ‘What tapes?’,” he said.

Lawbreakers. Torturers. This is what America has become.

On the CIA’s Secret Black Sites

August 5, 2007 at 12:52 pm | Posted in American politics, CIA, secret combinations, Torture | Leave a comment

Jane Mayer writes for the New Yorker on the CIA’s black sites. I highly recommend her article.

Bush Admits Ordering the CIA to Torture Prisoners

July 20, 2007 at 9:14 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, CIA, corruption, Jose Padilla, secret combinations, Torture | 1 Comment

else why would he just now, six years after the program began sign an executive order banning some vaguely defined “cruel and inhuman” treatment? I mean, the standard should have been all along that we treat people with respect no matter who they are. By signing this executive order, Bush is admitting that by his orders the CIA engaged in illegal actions.

My guess is that some court ruling is fast approaching that will go against the Bush administration yet again. The Bush administration has backtracked before just moments before a defeat at the Supreme Court, in such cases as Jose Padilla and Hamdan.

Then again, it is Friday and Fridays are Bush’s bad news dump time…

The CIA Reveals Its Dirty Laundry

June 26, 2007 at 6:52 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, CIA, corruption, secret combinations, Torture | Leave a comment

Looks like all those who knew the CIA behaved badly were right all along, as the CIA has revealed its dirty past.

The CIA today released hundreds of pages of formerly top-secret documents on activities ranging from a plot to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro to domestic espionage against Americans.

The documents, described in internal CIA memoranda as the “family jewels,” mostly cover activities in the 1960s and early 1970s that the agency considered likely to cause embarrassment if revealed. They include material compiled as part of a directive to review CIA activity that apparently violated federal law or could be construed as nefarious.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that if the CIA behaved badly in the past, they would behave badly today, especially since evidence has already been revealed, by the President himself, that the CIA participated in black sites in Poland and Romania, and that the CIA employed Soviet and Nazi interrogation techniques previously considered illegal by the world community, including the United States.

One wonders then, why does the CIA under Michael Hayden, a very secretive man, release this kind of information now? What are they bracing for?

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