Monday, April 27, 2009

Bush, Cheney & the Pro-Torture Lobby Redefining America's Core Values

Special Mission Unit (SMU) Task Force (TF) interrogation policies were influenced by the Secretary of Defense's December 2,2002 approval of aggressive interrogation techniques for use at GTMO. SMU TF interrogation policies in Iraq included the use of aggressive interrogation techniques such as military working dogs and stress positions. SMU TF policies were a direct cause of detainee abuse and influenced interrogation policies at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq.

During his assessment visit to Iraq in August and September 2003, GTMO
Commander Major General Geoffrey Miller encouraged a view that interrogators should be more aggressive during detainee interrogations.

Interrogation policies approved by Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, which included the use of military working dogs and stress positions, were a direct cause of detainee abuse in Iraq. Lieutenant General Sanchez's decision to issue his September 14,2003 policy with the knowledge that there were ongoing discussions as to the legality of some techniques in it was a serious error in judgment The September policy was superseded on October 12,2003 as a result of legal concerns raised by U.S. Central Command. That superseding policy,however, contained ambiguities and contributed to confusion about whether aggressive techniques, such as military working dogs, were authorized for use during interrogations.

The abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own. Interrogation techniques such as stripping detainees of their clothes, placing them in stress positions, and using military working dogs to intimidate them appeared in Iraq only after they had been approved for use in Afghanistan and at GTMO.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's December 2,2002 authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques and subsequent interrogation policies and plans approved by senior military and civilian officials conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees in U.S. military custody. What followed was an erosion in standards dictating that detainees be treated humanely.


- The abuse and torture of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan was not simply a matter of a "FEW BAD APPLES" but was part of an approved policy from the White House down.

- "Enhanced Techniques " are in fact torture techniques
Pro-Torture Lobby Redefining American Values

- They claim that Any action which is done in the defense of America's security is by definition moral and acceptable

-So much for their Christian Principles of Peace , Love, Compassion, Empathy these get tossed out in favor of barbarism in the defense of America-

-But why is Obama acting as an apologist for their criminal and immoral actions
If the torturers or those who ordered the use of torture are allowed to go free then -what does Obama mean by "The Rule Of Law' ?

-Is the Rule of Law only to be applied to some Americans bu not all because some because they are politically powerful , or because they acted in "GOOD FAITH " they are to be exempt or are these people in Obama's view as in Bush's and Cheney's part of the ELECT- the chosen of God as the Evangelical Christian Fundamentalists would claim-

-Or are some people or some Americans "MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS"

Bush Enjoying Himself- Given what we now know that is what has become part of the public record the characterization of Bush in this photo no longer appears as outrageous as it once did.

Remember the Bush White House had been told torture or the so-called "Enhanced Techniques " did not work.

Bush and Cheney were told these Techniques constituted torture no matter how they tried to redefine or re-brand these techniques.

Further the White House was told that all these techniques were illegal under U.S. law and under the Geneva Conventions - & the CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment(see NOTE below)

and according to the "U.S. Constitution, Article VI:

[A]ll Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land." and this would include the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture.

Another factor is that the F.B.I. refused to take part in the use of these enhanced techniques because they were against the law and because they were not as effective as more traditional forms of interrogation.

Yet the C.I.A. and the U.S. military freely chose to take part in the training of their personnel in these techniques and then took them into the field and put them into use. Like the F.B.I they could have refused and showed that they believed in the rule of law and that acting in a moral fashion was more important then some form of expediency to merely appease the White House.

Torture Was Used To Link Saddam Hussein To September 11th
Earthtoobama April 22, 2009 MSNBC

Bill O'Reilly calls torture a matter of opinion and goes onto claim that Torture is OK to use to defend America. Being a bit cynical this just reveals what a significant number of Americans believe which is that the Rule of Law or moral and ethical considerations do not apply to America when America feels imperiled.From torture to the unnecessary and therefore immoral invasion of Iraq may or may not have been wrong but no other Nation or the United Nations or any International Criminal Court have no right to judge America. Once again we are back to the notion of "American Exceptionalism " . America can judge other nations but no nation can judge America.

O'Reilly 's argument is that all that the anti-torture people want is a Show Trial- ala Stalin or other dictators so this plays into O'Reillys and Glenn Beck's and Fox News ' notion about Obama being a socialist and a communists who is dedicated to turning America into a state similar to that of Stalin's or Mao's in which they held phony trials with phony confessions which are often referred to as "Show Trials".

What O'Reilly is also arguing is that the torture issue is just a means for the Democrats, the Godless Liberals and the Left to take revenge on the Republicans, the Conservative movement and the Bush administration to tarnish the Bush legacy. Since O'Reilly like Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity and Fox News believe the Bush presidency was in fact a resounding success which the Liberals and left will do anything to undermine.

Why Are You Afraid Of The FACTS! Bill? April 22, 2009 News Corp

The Goal of Torture " The Requirement " ala Ron Susskind
Did Cheney Order The Torture To Get Bad Information?
April 23, 2009
Watch more at

GOP Strategist Phil Musser claims just by walking through Guantanamo he could tell how guilty and evil the detainees were. So no need for trials or solid evidence to determine guilt - you can just tell by looking at them -
I discussed a similar attitude of another Bush employee in an earlier blog on Phillipe Sands article in Vanity Fair "The Green Light" in May 2008:
Diane Beaver was a legal counselor under the Bush Regime who helped write some of the justification for the use of torture described Gitmo detainees as “psychopaths. Skinny, runty, dangerous, lying psychopaths.” is it racist or a matter of turning the enemy into the Other or demonizing/dehumanizing them to make it easier to hate and to kill and to torture them .

Lawrence O'Donnell Absolutely Hammers GOP Strategist- The Young Turks
April 22, 2009

See full documents at: "Bush Torture Memos Released By Obama: See The Complete Documents" at Huffington Post

and recently released:
Red Cross Report on Detainee Torture At Guantanamo
" In 2002, Military Agency Warned Against 'Torture'Extreme Duress Could Yield Unreliable Information, It Said" By Peter Finn and Joby Warrick Washington Post Staff Writers, April 25, 2009

The military agency that provided advice on harsh interrogation techniques for use against terrorism suspects referred to the application of extreme duress as "torture" in a July 2002 document sent to the Pentagon's chief lawyer and warned that it would produce "unreliable information."

"The unintended consequence of a U.S. policy that provides for the torture of prisoners is that it could be used by our adversaries as justification for the torture of captured U.S. personnel," says the document, an unsigned two-page attachment to a memo by the military's Joint Personnel Recovery Agency. Parts of the attachment, obtained in full by The Washington Post, were quoted in a Senate report on harsh interrogation released this week.

It remains unclear whether the attachment reached high-ranking officials in the Bush administration. But the document offers the clearest evidence that has come to light so far that technical advisers on the harsh interrogation methods voiced early concerns about the effectiveness of applying severe physical or psychological pressure.

The document was included among July 2002 memorandums that described severe techniques used against Americans in past conflicts and the psychological effects of such treatment. JPRA ran the military program known as Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE), which trains pilots and others to resist hostile questioning.

The cautionary attachment was forwarded to the Pentagon's Office of the General Counsel as the administration finalized the legal underpinnings of a CIA interrogation program that would sanction the use of 10 forms of coercion, including waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning. The JPRA material was sent from the Pentagon to the CIA's acting general counsel, John A. Rizzo, and on to the Justice Department, according to testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he thinks the attachment was deliberately ignored and perhaps suppressed. Excerpts from the document appeared in a report on the treatment of detainees released this month by Levin's committee. The report says the attachment echoes JPRA warnings issued in late 2001.

"It's part of a pattern of squelching dissent," said Levin, who added that there were other instances in which internal reviews of detainee treatment were halted or undercut. "They didn't want to hear the downside."

..."In essence, physical and/or psychological duress are viewed as an alternative to the more time-consuming conventional interrogation process. The error inherent in this line of thinking is the assumption that, through torture, the interrogator can extract reliable and accurate information. History and a consideration of human behavior would appear to refute this assumption."

There was no consideration within the National Security Council that the planned techniques stemmed from Chinese communist practices and had been deemed torture when employed against American personnel, the former administration official said.

The JPRA attachment said the key deficiency of physical or psychological duress is the reliability and accuracy of the information gained. "A subject in pain may provide an answer, any answer, or many answers in order to get the pain to stop," it said.

In conclusion, the document said, "the application of extreme physical and/or psychological duress (torture) has some serious operational deficits, most notably the potential to result in unreliable information." The word "extreme" is underlined.

When reality and historical facts are ignored to fit with the Cheney Pro-Torture propaganda and bizarre Talking Points which are in fact lies ie These Enhanced Techniques are not torture,
Torture is a faster and better way to gain information, these techniques are legal, these techniques have little enduring effect on those who undergo them :

" Yes, National Review, We Did Execute Japanese for Waterboarding " by Paul Begala, at Huffinton PostApril 24, 2009

In a CNN debate with Ari Fleischer, I said the United States executed Japanese war criminals for waterboarding. My point was that it is disingenuous for Bush Republicans to argue that waterboarding is not torture and thus illegal. It's kind of awkward to argue that waterboarding is not a crime when you hanged someone for doing it to our troops. My precise words were: "Our country executed Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American POWs. We executed them for the same crime we are now committing ourselves."

Mr. Fleischer, ordinarily the most voluble of men, was tongue-tied. The silence, rare in cable debates, spoke volumes for the vacuity of his position.

Now Mark Hemingway of the National Review Online has asserted that I was wrong. I bookmark NRO and read it frequently. It's smart and breezy -- but on this one it got its facts wrong.

Mr. Hemingway assumed I was citing the case of Yukio Asano, who was convicted of waterboarding and other offenses and sentenced to 15 years hard labor -- not death by hanging. Mr. Hemingway made the assumption that I was referring to the Asano case because in 2006 Sen. Edward Kennedy had referred to it. (Sen. Kennedy accurately described the sentence as hard labor and not execution, by the way.)

" Are leading Democrats Afraid of a Special Prosecutor to Investigate Torture? Congress was briefed in real time on the Bush-era torture tactics. Is that why some Democrats prefer whitewash commissions and closed-door hearings?" By Jeremy Scahill at Rebel, April 24, 2009

...There are not exactly throngs of Democratic Congressmembers beating down the doors of the Justice Department demanding that Attorney General Eric Holder appoint a special Independent Prosecutor to investigate torture and other crimes. And now it seems that whatever Congress does in the near term won’t even be open to the public. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said this week that he prefers that the Senate Intelligence Committee hold private hearings. The chair of the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, has asked the White House not to take any action until this private affair is concluded. She estimates that will take 6-8 months.

...There are some powerful Democrats who certainly would not want an independent public investigation, particularly those who served on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees when Bush was in power and torture was being ordered and authorized. That’s because in the aftermath of 9/11, some in Congress were briefed on the torture methods in real time and either were silent or, in some cases, supported these brutal tactics or, as some have suggested, possibly encouraged them to be expanded.

...But contrary to Pelosi’s assertion, The Washington Post reported that Pelosi and other Democrats were “given a virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk:”

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.

“The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough,” said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.

“Among those being briefed, there was a pretty full understanding of what the CIA was doing,” said [Porter] Goss, who chaired the House intelligence committee from 1997 to 2004 and then served as CIA director from 2004 to 2006. “And the reaction in the room was not just approval, but encouragement.”

also see; "Nobody Said This Was Going To be Pretty" by digby at Hullabaloo, April 24. 2009

The Washington Post has obtained a full copy of the July 2002 JPRA (military) memo, mentioned in this week's Armed Services report, which stated that the military believed that using SERE torture techniques was illegal and unreliable. (This was before the Bybee memo. )

At AlterNet "Jack Bauer Tactics Used In Attempt to Establish Non-Existent Iraq-al Qaida Link" by Steve Benen, Washington Monthly April 22, 2009.

...Life-saving apparently wasn't always the goal of torture.

A former senior U.S. intelligence official with direct knowledge of the interrogation issue told McClatchy, "There were two reasons why these interrogations were so persistent, and why extreme methods were used. 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."

The official added, "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."

That was considered the wrong answer, so senior administration "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."

Bush and Cheney in desperation clutching at straws to justify Iraq War used torture to try to establish evidence of links between Al Qaeda, Saddam and 9/11.

" Report: Abusive tactics used to seek Iraq-al Qaida link " by Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy Newspapers, April 21, 2009

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.

Such information would've provided a foundation for one of former President George W. Bush's main arguments for invading Iraq in 2003. In fact, no evidence has ever been found of operational ties between Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and Saddam's regime.

The use of abusive interrogation — widely considered torture — as part of Bush's quest for a rationale to invade Iraq came to light as the Senate issued a major report tracing the origin of the abuses and President Barack Obama opened the door to prosecuting former U.S. officials for approving them.

and :

CIA official: no proof harsh techniques stopped terror attacks by Mark Seibel & Warren P. Strobel at McClatchey Newspapers, April 24, 2009

WASHINGTON — The CIA inspector general in 2004 found that there was no conclusive proof that waterboarding or other harsh interrogation techniques helped the Bush administration thwart any "specific imminent attacks," according to recently declassified Justice Department memos.

That undercuts assertions by former vice president Dick Cheney and other former Bush administration officials that the use of harsh interrogation tactics including waterboarding, which is widely considered torture, was justified because it headed off terrorist attacks.

What journalists don't want to know . If they don't know some ugly truths for certain then they don't have to think about such things or have to decide what to do about those things given that they are supposed to honest and ethical and reporting the truth on behalf of the people. But many journalists are so cozy with those who are members of the elite that they are reluctant to report certain stories or to take a stand.

Many Journalists act as if their job were to defend the elite at all cost. The laws of the land apply to everyone except the members of the elite- the in group however that group might be defined . The rich , the powerful, the well connected .

" Three Key Rules of Media Behavior Shape Their Discussions of “the ‘Torture’ Debate”by Glenn Greenwald,,April 24, 2009

...For years, media stars ignored the fact that our Government was chronically breaking the law and systematically torturing detainees ... Now that the sheer criminality of this conduct, really for the first time, has exploded into mainstream political debates as a result of the OLC memos, media stars are forced to address it.

... Exactly as one would expect, they are closing ranks, demanding (as always) that their big powerful political-official-friends and their elite institutions not be subject to the dirty instruments that are meant only for the masses -- things like the rule of law, investigations, prosecutions, and accountability when they abuse their power.

...(1) Any policy that Beltway elites dislike is demonized as coming from "the Left" or -- in this case (following Karl Rove) -- the "hard Left."

...(2) Nobody is more opposed to transparency and disclosure of government secrets than establishment "journalists."

...(3) The single most sacred Beltway belief is that elites are exempt from the rule of law.

NOTE: the CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Part I
Article 1

1. For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
2. This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.

Article 2

1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

Article 3

1. No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
2. For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.

Article 4

1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.
2. Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.

and so it goes,

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