Wednesday, December 19

FBI Threatened to Arrest Zubaydah's CIA Interrogators

In the wake of the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes in direct violation of several court orders, it appears more and more information is being released about the wide rift between the CIA and FBI on the methods that were being used.

From Newsweek.

Justice officials refused to comment on what the new A.G. will do, but White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said that if he does open an investigation, the White House would support him. The videotapes, made in 2002, showed the questioning of two high-level Qaeda detainees, including logistics chief Abu Zubaydah, whose interrogation at a secret cell in Thailand sparked an internal battle within the U.S. intelligence community after FBI agents angrily protested the aggressive methods that were used. In addition to waterboarding, Zubaydah was subjected to sleep deprivation and bombarded with blaring rock music by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. One agent was so offended he threatened to arrest the CIA interrogators, according to two former government officials directly familiar with the dispute.

This sounds almost like a scene from 1998's The Seige where FBI Agent Hubbard (Denzel Washington) threatens to arrest General Devereux (Bruce Willis) for his treatment of a terrorist suspect. But this is far more than life immitating art.

Like Denzel, the real FBI was outraged by Zubaydah's treatment.

"They said, 'You've got to be kidding me,' " said Coleman, recalling accounts from FBI employees who were there. " 'This guy's a Muslim. That's not going to win his confidence. Are you trying to get information out of him or just belittle him?' " Coleman helped lead the bureau's efforts against Osama bin Laden for a decade, ending in 2004.

In contrast to the claims of CIA agent Kiriakou, Zubaydah didn't supposedly break after just "35 seconds" - just in time for the next commercial break in "24" - it took weeks.

According to Kiriakou's account, which he said is based on detailed descriptions by fellow team members, Abu Zubaida broke after just 35 seconds of waterboarding, which involved stretching cellophane over his mouth and nose and pouring water on his face to create the sensation of drowning.

But other former and current officials disagreed that Abu Zubaida's cooperation came quickly under harsh interrogation or that it was the result of a single waterboarding session. Instead, these officials said, harsh tactics used on him at a secret detention facility in Thailand went on for weeks or, depending on the account, even months.

Apparently there were several hundred hours of tapes documenting multiple waterboarding sessions with Zubaydah including techniques used during his attempts to sleep.

But interestingly, it appears that he actually gave better information before he was tortured than after...

During his first month of captivity, Abu Zubaida described an al-Qaeda associate whose physical description matched that of Padilla, leading to Padilla's arrest at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago in May 2002. A former CIA officer said in an interview that Abu Zubaida's "disclosure of Padilla was accidental." The officer added that Abu Zubaida "was talking about minor things and provided a small amount of information and a description of a person, just enough to identify him because he had just visited the U.S. Embassy" in Pakistan.

Other officials, including Bush, have said that during those early weeks -- before the interrogation turned harsh -- Abu Zubaida confirmed that Mohammed's role as the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Before he was tortured he gave us Padilla, and confirmed the involvement of KSM. So what did we get after he was tortured?

There is little dispute, according to officials from both agencies, that Abu Zubaida provided some valuable intelligence before CIA interrogators began to rough him up, including information that helped identify Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, and al-Qaeda operative Jose Padilla.

But FBI officials, including agents who questioned him after his capture or reviewed documents seized from his home, have concluded that even though he knew some al-Qaeda players, he provided interrogators with increasingly dubious information as the CIA's harsh treatment intensified in late 2002.

In legal papers prepared for a military hearing, Abu Zubaida himself has asserted that he told his interrogators whatever they wanted to hear to make the treatment stop.

Garbage In. Garage out.

In the film Denzel does eventually arrest Bruce for the torture and cold blooded murder of his suspect. In real life, the FBI Cut and Ran

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III eventually ordered the FBI team to withdraw from the interrogation, largely because bureau procedures prohibit agents from being involved in such techniques, according to several officials familiar with the episode.

Instead of upholding the Law, Mueller had the FBI agents withdraw - but then what choice did he have when all the criminal masterminds behind this plot - were in the Whitehouse.

This isn’t something done willy nilly. It’s not something that an agency officer just wakes up in the morning and decides he’s going to carry out an enhanced technique on a prisoner. This was a policy made at the White House, with concurrence from the National Security Council and Justice Department.

But apparently not the FBI, who happens to be the one agency with a long established track record at bringing criminals, including terrorists, to justice.


Judge calls for CIA torture Tape Hearings, Defies DOJ

From the AP.

WASHINGTON (CBS) ― A federal judge has ordered a hearing on whether the Bush administration violated a court order by destroying CIA interrogation videos of two Al Qaeda suspects.

U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy rejected calls from the Justice Department to stay out of the matter. He ordered lawyers to appear before him Friday morning.

In June 2005, Kennedy ordered the administration to safeguard "all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment, and abuse of detainees now at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay."

Five months later, the CIA destroyed the interrogation videos. The recordings involved suspected terrorists Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. The Justice Department argued that the videos weren't covered by the order because the two men were being held in secret CIA prisons overseas, not at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

I think this just might be time to go "Oh uh".

The fact that these tapes involve persons not being held at Guantanemo at the time, might be a escape loophole for the Bush Administration however there is also the fact that the ACLU made requests for the same interogation tapes - which weren't limit to GITMO.

NEW YORK - The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a motion asking a federal judge to hold the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in contempt, charging that the agency flouted a court order when it destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the harsh interrogation of prisoners in its custody. In response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed by the ACLU and other organizations in October 2003 and May 2004, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered the CIA to produce or identify all records pertaining to the treatment of detainees in its custody. Despite the court’s ruling, the CIA never produced the tapes or even acknowledged their existence.

So even if things fall through on Judge Kennedy's hearing, there is still a motion pending in Federal Court to pursue this matter.

And another things it appears that the FBI disputes the CIA claims that Waterboarding Zubaydah was such a good idea afterall.

From the WaPo.

While CIA officials have described him as an important insider whose disclosures under intense pressure saved lives, some FBI agents and analysts say he is largely a loudmouthed and mentally troubled hotelier whose credibility dropped as the CIA subjected him to a simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding and to other "enhanced interrogation" measures.

There is little dispute, according to officials from both agencies, that Abu Zubaida provided some valuable intelligence before CIA interrogators began to rough him up, including information that helped identify Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, and al-Qaeda operative Jose Padilla.

But FBI officials, including agents who questioned him after his capture or reviewed documents seized from his home, have concluded that even though he knew some al-Qaeda players, he provided interrogators with increasingly dubious information as the CIA's harsh treatment intensified in late 2002.

In legal papers prepared for a military hearing, Abu Zubaida himself has asserted that he told his interrogators whatever they wanted to hear to make the treatment stop.

One wonders that the real reason that these tapes were destroyed, is because they prove that these techniques are ineffective - not to mention completely and totally illegal.


Sunday, December 16

Reid and Pelosi are Pathetic!

Cenk makes some great points in this particular outburst, but he fails to realize something very basic - The Republicans and the President are Sociopaths! Yes, we want Democrats to fight back - but not at the cost of the entire nation in the process - because Repubs have repeatedly demonstrated that they don't care about anything other than bitch-slapping Democrats. If the entire country goes into the toilet in the process - they clearly wouldn't even bother to flush.

But there just might be an upside to all this. With 53 Vetoes on Deck and a possible year-long continuing resolution to keep the government from shutting down Congress may be left with literally nothing to do for 2008. The only option left to them, since they will have been completely disabled from doing the people's business - is to persue removing the President for obstruction.

Maybe has gone up just in time.


Sick of the Lies

'm sick of listening to the lies. I'm sick of reading the lies. I'm sick of trying to refute the lies.

Iraq had NOTHING to do with 9/11. Saddam and OBL hated each other. Saddam was an asshole, but there are a LOT of assholes out there.

Telling the truth is not treasonous. It's telling the truth. Something more politicians should try now and again.

The "liberal" media is anything but liberal. It's beholden to the advertisers, who have their OWN fucking agenda. It's entertainment, and not even GOOD entertainment. It's not remotely connected to the truth anymore. It's all about ratings, and ratings are all about commercials, and commercials are all about corporate advertising. It's a no brainer.

People need the help of their community to succeed. There's no such thing as bootstrap levitation. No man or woman is an island, and without community support, people are lost...or crawl off into the woods to mail letter-bombs.

Everyone deserves decent healthcare, and socialized medicine actually works! The ONLY flaw in the system at that point is if fewer people can afford to become doctors because they go into debt trying to pay their way through medical school on student loans.

What part of "you can't fight an enemy you can't even identify" don't these people get? Not all Iraqis, Arabs, or Muslims are the enemy. The enemy is a mindset--and it's the same goddam mindset our current government seems to embrace. Violence is rarely an answer to anything without sincere attempts at diplomacy and compromise to go along with it.

People who've never been to war should not be allowed to play army with REAL SOLDIERS.

Gay marriage is only a threat to people who don't understand that marriage is a partnership, not a ownership contract.

The PEOPLE own themselves--their bodies and souls do not belong to the State, their employers, their church, or anyone else.

Freedom of speech is sacrosanct. Mess with it at your peril.

We OWN the government. Not the other way around.

You can oppose abortion or effective birth control and sex education. Pick one.

If I want to hear about Jesus, I'll ask.

Higher wages for the lowest classes means more money to spend. More money for the upper classes means LESS money spent. Which do you really think stimulates the economy?

Marx called religion "the opiate of the masses." These days in America, it's probably sports. Religion is more like a hullucinogen.

"Don't do drugs. Except these. And these. And these. And these."

"Alternative energy is a pipe dream." Yeah, kinda like the moon landing.

"America. Love it or leave it." You first.

The Death Penalty is retroactive abortion.

If this administration gave a SHIT about education, they'd fund it. Talk is cheap. Education isn't.

People shouldn't have to go deep in debt just to become more productive members of society.

Minimum wage jobs do not contribute to the tax base.

A stellar teacher is worth a hundred times more than a sports star. It would be nice if they made even a tenth of the salary.

A tiny fraction of the population is getting a free ride on everyone else's labor. And complaining about everyone else while they're getting it. Must be nice.

"Freedom isn't free." As soon as someone explains to me how killing and dying in a dusty place across the ocean contributes to OUR freedom, I might be inclined to agree. Near as I can tell, with illegal wiretapping, illicit surveillance, and 'free speech zones,' we're paying one hell of a high price for increased restrictions on freedom. Tyranny isn't free either, apparently.

What makes some people think big business is more benevolent than 'big government?' Were they repeatedly dropped on their heads when they were little?

Okay, I agree with you. Bush isn't stupid. He's just an asshole. Feel better?

If unscrupulous employers didn't HIRE illegal immigrants, they wouldn't be rushing the borders. Who do you think's really to blame? People who will risk everything to have a better life, or those who already have everything but want cheap labor to exploit so they can have more?

The political divide in this country will never be healed as long as people like Ann Coulter are running around spewing shit. Maybe if she actually ate something once in a while she wouldn't be so damned nasty all the time.

Hey, if the CEO of Pollution Inc. wants to take a crap in the corner of his own living room, that's okay with me. But the minute he tries to crap in my house, I'm going to smack him in the head with a big stick. I don't care WHO his friends are.

I'd rather be friends with a spotted owl than an ignorant logger.

I'm more worried about Grand Theft America than Grand Theft Auto. Call me crazy.

I don't know if this administration had anything to do with 9/11. But I do know they've screwed up just about everything they'd done since. I've never seen any bunch of people more deserving of walking papers in my entire life. And I've worked with some real losers.

If we're depending on the Supreme Court to defend the Constitution, we are in some DEEP shit.

Randi v Oprah: Quien es mas Black?

This week on the Randi Rhodes Show an unexpected brouha occurred over Randi's attempt to poke a little harmless fun at Oprah Winfrey's Obama speach because during the speech, Oprah slipped into a "black-cent" just as Hillary Clinton had done some months ago before the NAACP and at a black church.

Part 1 of Speach

Part 2 of Speach

Randi thought it was ridiculous - that it was Pandering.

Some in her audience disagreed, saying for example that they themselves used two different dialects and accents depending on who they were speaking to and where.

That's when all hell broke lose and Randi accused them of being anti-White Racists for even thinking that way.

I was pretty annoyed with Randi's claims when I heard them, unfortunately I've been incredibly busy this week and didn't have time to post a response - until now.

On the issue of "Pandering": No, Oprah was not pandering by speaking with the accect she used since that clearly wasn't the manner that her audience would most likely speak in. She wasn't in the south. She wasn't in a church. "Pandering" would have been for her to try to sound like an Iowan, and that's not what she did. Not even close.

Yet Randi thinks that because she's watched every episode of Oprah, including 17 straight hours from the 30th Anniversay Box Set, that she "Knows" Oprah and how she talks.


Do you also know what her favorite toothp aste and nail polish color is? I doubt it. Randi was wise enough to realize that what we hear Oprah speaking most of the time is "Broacaster-eze." The allegedtly Neutral Accent (sometimes referred to as the "California Accent") that most people on television are required by their job to use. Oprah was born in Mississippi, and lived for a time in both Milwaukee and Nashville Tennesee before eventually becoming a News Anchor in Baltimore.

There's no good reason to believe that her formative time in both Mississippi and Nashville didn't produce the kind of accent we heard during the Obama speach and that even though she has been trained to suppress it - that is her natural accent and that it only came out because of her nervousness.

The point is that Oprah didn't sound "Black" or like a "Preacher" - she sounded southern, which as a matter of fact - SHE IS SOUTHERN!

The difference between this and Hillary's use of a black accent in a black church is first of all the fact that Hillary isn't Black, even though she lived in Arkansas for years - she's from Chicago, and she IMO just literally sucked at doing the accent. (Other disagree on this point) I felt it was wrong for her, simply because she didn't do it very well - exactly like when Randi herself talked about trying to use an english accent in England. She Sucked at it, so they told her to stop. Oprah sounded fine - it didn't sound either forced or unnatural for her, it just didn't sound like everyone PRESUMES Oprah is supposed to sound.

So is that Oprah's fault or is it theirs?

The other issue is that Randi was so deeply offended by the idea that some people function in more than one dialect/accent at a time. She clearly seemed to feel that only the corporate/mainstream/northern/white accent was acceptable, and that people who didn't fully adopt it throughout their entire life were somehow "Faking It" either at home or at work.

In many ways Randi's comments were the ugly flip-side of O'Reilly's comments about Sylvia's. Whereas O'Reilly felt that more White People need to know that Black People really can be Polite, Civil and Articulate in public - presuming either that most of them aren't, or that most White people are just plain ignorant -- Randi presumes that not talking "White" and/or "Corporate" all the time shows a lack of commitment and professionalism and that if someone discriminates against you because of it, it's your own damn fault.

This was the part the was the most offensive in what Randi was saying. It was clear to her that corporate speak was somehow superior to any other form of english, and that IHO anyone who doesn't fully embrace their inner-white-corporatist is going to be "inauthentic" and not progress in their business life because of it.

"They aren't holding you back at your job because you're black, they're holding you back because you don't to talk "professionally"! (ne: Act and Speak White/Corporate/Mainstream Enough!) when you're in the privacy of your own home! No one can be "two people at once!"

That is simply put - A CROCK of SHIT!

And then, she has the nerve to accuse the listeners who simply said - "We speak differently under different situations" of being racist? None of them, NOT ONE, accused Randi of racism - they simply said that they disagreed with her. For Randi to them turn around and claim that they were anti-white racists for pointing out that yes, indeed, black people have their own unique American dialect (actually several of them), and that when they leave work the leave all that corporate talk they have to do to "get ahead" behind was very sad and naive.

"When did this start?" she asked.

It's always been this way in America as has been documented in books such as "From Juba to Jive: A Dictionary of African-American Slang."

And guess what?

"Black's didn't land on Plymouth Rock - Plymouth Rock landed on them"

- Malcolm X.

This isn't to say that you should feel sorry for us, but I think we'd all appreciate it if you would stop jumping up and down on that Rock, while trying to turn us into little chocolate skinned copies of yourselves. We're not, and that should be "Ok".

The fact is that African slaves weren't allowed to speak their native languages when they arrived in the U.S. and it was illegal to teach them to read, so they had to make due. The result has been the black vernacular and black culture which has also spawned Gospel, Jazz, Blues, R&B, Funk, Hip-Hop and ROCK AND ROLL!

They did what they had to do to express themselves. They (we) still do.

My opinion is that Oprah was just nervous and her well-hidden "Black-cent" finally came out. Too bad Randi apparently couldn't handle the truth the Oprah really is black after all.

There is also the arguement that the manner that Oprah choose, assuming it was indeed a deliberate choice, is still the method that would part a large part of her own upbringing and experience - the oratory flair of a preacher. It can easily be said that Oprah was getting to the heart of the matter and Testifying (as we Black Folk Say) to the legitimacy and importance of the Obama campaign as being the best embodiment of dreams of Dr. King. A point which is open to considerable debate, but it makes perfect sense to use the language of Dr. King to express that. And also it wasn't present during the entire speech, only when she seemed to be trying to make a specifically truthful point, she wasn't "acting" and trying to create a "character" - she was trying to make her points as best she could.

It was also really sad that Randi equated Black-speak with BAD Speak, and with the frequent use of cuss-words. It's neither. I think that Dr. Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown and Professor Cornell West of Princeton would have a lot to say to disprove that particular view. Black English isn't "inferior" anymore than Jazz is "inferior" to Honky Tonk. It's just different.

I love Randi, I love her show and and I love what she does everyday to help bring the progressive cause into the mainstream - but I have to stand up today and say that I expect progressives to understand that we are all indeed different and that NO ONE PROGRESSIVE should endorse the ideas of supremacy and inferiority on the basis of ethnicity, culture and language. From one White person to the next, from one Black, or Latino, Asian or Muslim to the next - We ALL speak differently, we think differently, we dress differently, we do our HAIR differently - and that should be all good, since that's what "freedom" is supposed to be about, right?

It's shouldn't be fair or legitimate to limit or punish someone for not "CONFORMING" to some mainstream social ideal as long as they meeting the basic requirements of their job or being civil and cordial. That's just plain bigotry.

We are supposed to have the freedom of choice to be whoever it is we want to be - when we want to be them. That's our God Given Right and NO ONE should try to take it away from us, not even Randi.

I expect more from America, and especially from progressives.

Full Disclosure: I am Black, but my preferred candidate at this time is John Edwards. How's that for breaking the Stereotype that "we all stick together?"