Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Obama 's Defense of CIA Agents and The Bush Regime Is Reprehensible- Jack Bauer '24' Logic Rules in America

All human beings are in truth akin;
All in creation share one origin.
When fate allots a member pangs and pains,
No ease for other members then remains.
If, unperturbed, another's grief canst scan,
Thou are not worthy of the name of man.

By Sa'adi Shirazi 1213-1293 Iranian Poet

Anyway I happened onto this quote while reading a book on the History of Iran which seem quite apt in light of the released Torture Memos and the ICRC Report on the torture and abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo. It is interesting and disturbing that there are so many Neocons, Bush supporters and average Americans and even Canadians who read these documents and appear not to be affected in any way by them - they can't seem to connect with the victims of this abuse and torture - is there something wrong with them or with those who find reading these documents difficult and painful-

It appears according to Karl Rove , or Sean Hannity, or the Gang at Fox News & CNN or even Chris Wallace that they believe there is something wrong with anyone who thinks torturing and abusing prisoners is wrong and criminal and abhorrent and that it undermines any claims that America or Canada or any country which allows these actions is far from being called Just or civilized. Yet these people are all over the Media defending these barbaric practices and defending the CIA and George Bush and Dick Cheney et al who permitted and even encouraged the use of torture. If the US is a country which believes in the Rule of Law then it should not use the law to rationalize or justify War Crimes. The US signed onto the Geneva Conventions and the Conventions Against Torture and so must abide by those laws and agreements. Otherwise the US is declaring itself outside and above the law or at least when it suits the United States.

President Obama is now in the process of trashing the Geneva Conventions and International Laws and the United Nations claiming he will not allow any foreign body or International organization or the World Court etc. to indict and arrests CIA agents whom he claims were just following orders and Obama says he will do what he can to defend the Bush legal staff who gave the legal veneer or cloak for these criminal actions and in the end he will defend those at the top from Rumsfeld, to Dick Cheney, to Condoleeza Rice to George Bush and Karl Rove etc.who permitted or encouraged the use of torture on prisoners.

Obama is absolutely wrong in this matter since if the US can make such rationalizations for War Crimes then so can any other country . So Saddam or Pinochet or the Shah of Iran & other such tyrants also should not be forced to face trial for their crimes since after all they had their country's best interest in mind . I guess these are not really good examples since each of these tyrants at least for a period of time were loved and often praised by past US governments and in fact the US in these cases helped them perpetrate many of their crimes. America does love its dictators until the dictator does something the US doesn't like until then they can disappear and torture as many of their fellow citizens as they wish by calling them insurgents, or Communists, or Socialists, or even Liberals or just plain Terrorists. But then again as has been said before America is all for International Laws and agreements except when they don't like the consequences.

So Obama's message to the world is that all nations are now free to breach , break or scuttle any treaty or International Agreement they have signed onto whenever they can devise some sort of rambling, intricate , byzantine piece of legal jargon and bureaucratise and other nonsense. After all BS baffles brains. Obama also like Bush & Co. believe that those of us who are part of the lowly masses just don't quite understand the intricacies of the law in these matters.

And another question we should be asking is did Obama or others in his administration put the Spanish government on notice that it would not go well for them if they dared to prosecute former Bush lawyers for giving the legal veneer for torture and abuse. And is this the message he is also sending to other nations - will America cut off trade or diplomatic relations or assassinate a judge or two or simply invade that country ???

"His administration (Obama's) also said it would try to shield CIA employees from "any international or foreign tribunal" -- an immediate challenge to Spain where a judge has threatened to investigate Bush administration officials."

"The United States, like all other states that are part of the U.N. convention against torture, is committed to conducting criminal investigations of torture and to bringing all persons against whom there is sound evidence to court," U.N. special rapporteur Manfred Nowak ..."

Both quotes from:Waterboarding Used 266 Times on 2 Suspects by Scott Shane,at New York Times, April 19, 2009

Anyway let's begin with a few words from The Former Torturer In Chief Pres. G. Bush:

"In quotes: George W. Bush on torture:From a commitment to the worldwide elimination of torture to a defence of waterboarding: President Bush in his own words"

— “The United States is committed to the worldwide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example.” President Bush on UN Torture Victims Recognition Day 26 June 2003

— “Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right and we are committed to building a world where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law … Many have been detained, arrested, thrown in prison and subjected to torture by regimes that fail to understand that their habits of control will not serve them well in the long term.” Statement by President Bush released by the White House on June 26, 2005

— "We do not torture." President Bush to reporters during a visit to Panama in November 2005

— “The bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror — the CIA program to detain and question key terrorist leaders and operatives.” President Bush on his veto of a bill that would have outlawed waterboarding in March 2008

— “I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved ... I told the country we did that. And I also told them it was legal. We had legal opinions that enabled us to do it.” President Bush in an interview with ABC about interrogation tactics used on detainees in April 2008

and from Rep. John Conyers:

“As Americans digest the awful revelations in the Bush-era OLC opinions, our nation faces a critical choice – what will we do to ensure that abuses like those described in these memos are never again ordered by our leaders or justified by our lawyers? To me, the answer is obvious. We must have a full investigation of the circumstances under which these torture methods were created, approved, and implemented, preferably by an independent commission as I previously proposed. And if our leaders are found to have violated the strict laws against torture, either by ordering these techniques without proper legal authority or by knowingly crafting legal fictions to justify the torture, they should be criminally prosecuted. It is simply obvious that, if there is no accountability when wrongdoing is exposed, future violations will not be deterred.

“I believe a Commission is the best forum to resolve the difficult issues raised by the ever-increasing documentary record of Bush Administration interrogation abuses. To take just one example, today two former Bush Administration officials again took to the papers to justify these practices by claiming that the interrogation of Abu Zubaydeh had been a clear success and had led to the disruption of terrorist plots. Yet just two weeks ago, former Bush Administration officials who monitored this interrogation told reporters that ‘not a single significant plot was foiled’ as a result. The American people deserve a non-partisan answer to such fundamental questions.

Rep. John Conyers from article Conyers Renews Call for Investigation of Bush Administration Actions
By Daphne Eviatar , the Washington Independent, April 17, 2009

It appears there was some pushback from members of the CIA concerning the releasing of these memos- is anyone surprised ? Americans and people in other nations we are told do not have the right to know what their Secret Police are up to nor are we permitted to take them to task when they do wrong or when they commit what otherwise is a criminal act. So much for government transparency and accountability. So once again is Obama going to now do as Bush did and take on the Whistleblowers and those who leak information to the media and the public.

CIA Objections Slowed Torture Memos Release by Pamela Hess,AP,April 18

Washington - Four former CIA directors opposed releasing classified Bush-era interrogation memos, officials say, describing objections that went all the way to the White House and slowed release of the records.

Former CIA chiefs Michael Hayden, Porter Goss, George Tenet and John Deutch all called the White House in March warning that release of the so-called "torture memos" would compromise intelligence operations, current and former officials say. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in order to detail internal government discussions.

President Barack Obama ultimately overruled those concerns after internal discussions that intensified in the weeks after the former directors intervened. The memos were released Thursday.

Obama's personal involvement grew as the decision neared, and he even personally led a National Security Council session on the matter, said four senior administration officials.

... Obama also decided that the least redacting possible should be done, White House officials said. Thus the only items blacked out included names of U.S. employees or foreign services or items related to techniques still in use.

Still, CIA officials needed reassurance about the decision, the officials said.

Obama took the unusual step of accompanying his decision with a personal letter to CIA employees. He also devoted a big share of his public statement to saying - and repeating - that he believed strongly in keeping intelligence operations secret and operations about them classified. And he said he would not apologize for doing so in the future.

and as for these barbaric Interrogation Techniques it seems they were use with a great deal more frequency than the CIA, the Bush lawyers and Neocon apologists would have us believe:

CIA Waterboarded al-Qaida Suspects 266 Times:Torture technique outlawed by Obama was used extensively on 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and alleged terror commander Abu Zubaydah By Matthew Weaver and agencies

April 20, 2009 "The Guardian" - The CIA waterboarded two al-Qaida terror suspects a total of 266 times, according to a report that suggests the use of the torture technique was much more extensive than previously thought.

The documents showed waterboarding was used 183 times on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who admitted planning the 9/11 attacks, the New York Times reported today.

The US Justice Department memos released last Thursday showed that waterboarding, which the US now admits is torture, was used 83 times on the alleged al-Qaida senior commander Abu Zubaydah, the paper said. A former CIA officer claimed in 2007 that Zubaydah was subjected to the simulated drowning technique for only 35 seconds.

The numbers were removed from most of the memos over the weekend. But bloggers, including Marcy Wheeler from empytwheel, discovered that the figure had not been blanked out from one of the memos.

Barack Obama has banned waterboarding and overturned a Bush administration policy that it did not amount to torture.

The president did not intend to prosecute Bush administration officials who devised the policies that led to such interrogations, his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said yesterday.

Asked on Sunday about the fate of those officials, Emanuel told ABC's This Week programme that Obama believed they "should not be prosecuted either and that's not the place that we go".

Michael Hayden, who led the CIA under Bush, said the public release of the memos would make it harder to get useful information from suspected terrorists being detained by the US.

"I think that teaching our enemies our outer limits, by taking techniques off the table, we have made it more difficult in a whole host of circumstances I can imagine, more difficult for CIA officers to defend the nation," Hayden said on Fox News Sunday.

Waterboarding Used 266 Times on 2 Suspects by Scott Shane,at New York Times, April 19, 2009

...The New York Times reported in 2007 that Mr. Mohammed had been barraged more than 100 times with harsh interrogation methods, causing C.I.A. officers to worry that they might have crossed legal limits and to halt his questioning. But the precise number and the exact nature of the interrogation method was not previously known.

The release of the numbers is likely to become part of the debate about the morality and efficacy of interrogation methods that the Justice Department under the Bush administration declared legal even though the United States had historically treated them as torture.

President Obama plans to visit C.I.A. headquarters Monday and make public remarks to employees, as well as meet privately with officials, an agency spokesman said Sunday night. It will be his first visit to the agency, whose use of harsh interrogation methods he often condemned during the presidential campaign and whose secret prisons he ordered closed on the second full day of his presidency.

...Mr. Obama said C.I.A. officers who had used waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods with the approval of the Justice Department would not be prosecuted. He has repeatedly suggested that he opposes Congressional proposals for a “truth commission” to examine Bush administration counterterrorism programs, including interrogation and warrantless eavesdropping.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has begun a yearlong, closed-door investigation of the C.I.A. interrogation program, in part to assess claims of Bush administration officials that brutal treatment, including slamming prisoners into walls, shackling them in standing positions for days and confining them in small boxes, was necessary to get information.

The fact that waterboarding was repeated so many times may raise questions about its effectiveness, as well as about assertions by Bush administration officials that their methods were used under strict guidelines.

and former intelligence insiders have contradicted the CIA official story on the need to use Waterboarding :

The Times article, based on information from former intelligence officers who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Abu Zubaydah had revealed a great deal of information before harsh methods were used and after his captors stripped him of clothes, kept him in a cold cell and kept him awake at night. The article said interrogators at the secret prison in Thailand believed he had given up all the information he had, but officials at headquarters ordered them to use waterboarding.

He revealed no new information after being waterboarded, the article said, a conclusion that appears to be supported by a footnote to a 2005 Justice Department memo saying the use of the harshest methods appeared to have been “unnecessary” in his case.

And the U.N. special Rapporteur says that according to International Law Obama can not simply give CIA agents or others a Reprieve when they knowingly committed War Crimes or Crimes Against Humanity no matter what their rationalizations and excuses.

"Obama Reprieve For CIA Illegal: U.N. Rapporteur" By Mark Heinrich; Editing by Robert Woodward April 20, 2009 at Information clearing House

VIENNA (Reuters) "04/18/09 -- - President Barack Obama's decision not to prosecute CIA interrogators who used waterboarding on terrorism suspects amounts to a breach of international law, the U.N. rapporteur on torture said.

"The United States, like all other states that are part of the U.N. convention against torture, is committed to conducting criminal investigations of torture and to bringing all persons against whom there is sound evidence to court," U.N. special rapporteur Manfred Nowak told the Austrian daily Der Standard.

Nowak did not think Obama would go as far as to seek an amnesty law for affected CIA personnel and therefore U.S. courts could still try torture suspects, he said on Saturday.

Obama has affirmed his unwillingness to prosecute under anti-torture laws CIA personnel who relied in good faith on Bush administration legal opinions issued after the September 11 attacks.

Obama said he had ended harrowing techniques used against detainees by Bush-era CIA personnel, but that U.S. intelligence agents still operated in a dangerous world and had to be confident they could perform their jobs.

Nowak, an Austrian, suggested an investigation by an independent commission before suspects were tried and said it would be important for all victims to receive compensation.

Human rights advocates have attacked Obama's decision, saying charges were necessary to prevent future abuses and hold people accountable. Some U.S. lawmakers have called for public investigations.

The four memos Obama released approved techniques including waterboarding, week-long sleep deprivation, forced nudity and putting insects in with a tightly confined prisoner.

His administration also said it would try to shield CIA employees from "any international or foreign tribunal" -- an immediate challenge to Spain where a judge has threatened to investigate Bush administration officials.

(Reporting by Mark Heinrich; Editing by Robert Woodward)

and more commentary on the Jack Bauer '24 ' connection to 9/11, the Bush/ Cheney Regime and softening up the American public to accept the use of torture and other illegal activities.

"How Jack Bauer's TV violence set tone for policymakers by Tom Baldwin " Times Online ,uk, April 21, 2009

It is easy to forget how the atmosphere in Washington after September 11, 2001, allowed policymakers to cite Jack Bauer, the fictional hero of Fox TV's 24, as some sort of moral compass.

Bauer, who used torture to extract information that prevented the slaughter of innocents, was cited by the likes of Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security Secretary, to justify policies including “enhanced interrogation techniques”.

To give the theory an academic sheen Alan Dershowitz, a law professor at Harvard, President Obama's alma mater, set out “the ticking-bomb scenario” in 2002 in which a terrorist who has planted a nuclear device receives some robust questioning.

and as the Pro-Torture camp make unprovable claims that through the use of torture valuable intel was extracted from detainees :

...Others, however, insist that much of the useful information could have been elicited without resorting to what many believe was torture.

Under coercion Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the twin towers attacks, also “confessed” to a great deal which was almost certainly untrue. This included the murder of journalist Daniel Pearl and plans to assassinate Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and Pope John Paul II.

The former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel told The New Yorker magazine that Mr Mohammed, with no prospect of tasting freedom, has only one gratification left in life — “to portray himself as the James Bond of jihadism”.

"CIA fears torture prosecutions
Only some of the secrets of US ‘ghost’ prisons have been revealed" by Sarah Baxter at The Sunday Times, UK , April 19, 2009

A former senior CIA official at the time of the 9/11 attacks told The Sunday Times that there was more to uncover about the ghost prisons.

Fourteen senior Al-Qaeda suspects, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the attacks, were transferred to Guantanamo Bay detention camp in 2006, but up to several dozen other high-level detainees passed through the prisons.

“We know how many were released, but we don’t know how many detainees were taken there. Did anybody die while they were waterboarding? Did anybody go too far?” the former official asked.

It is clear that some operatives exceeded the guidelines. One memo from December 2004 said waterboarding was used “with far greater frequency than initially indicated . . . with large volumes of water”, rather than those specified by the rules.

The lawyers and officials responsible for drawing up the “torture” memos also faced calls for their prosecution from some members of Congress.

John Conyers, chairman of the House of Representatives judiciary committee, said: “If our leaders are found to have violated the strict laws against torture, either by ordering these techniques without proper authority, or by knowingly crafting legal fictions to justify torture, they should be criminally prosecuted.”

Those at risk include Alberto Gonzales, the attorney-general under Bush, who convened a crucial meeting of justice department and defence department officials in 2002. America was at war, he said, and it was necessary to “lean forward”.

Yoo and fellow officials Jay Bybee and Steven Bradbury, who issued the memos, are already subjects of an ethics investigation by the justice department.

The former senior CIA official said: “We knew this was going to come back and bite us . . . These people weren’t judges, they were just lawyers in the justice department. It was kind of like us telling ourselves it was okay to do it.”

The official recalled the atmosphere at the time of the 9/11 attacks. “A colleague of mine said, ‘I know this is all wrong but I keep picturing these people jumping out of windows and falling out of buildings’.”

The meticulous description of harsh interrogation techniques in the memos seemed chilling enough, but the reality was far worse, the official said.

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