Saturday, January 31

Former Gitmo Prosecutor Quits in Disgust

For all the Bushies who think that Gitmo should remain open - this former Military Prosecutor explains that the case files are a shambles and that there IS NO EVIDENCE against many who've been held there and mistreated for years - including some who are children.


Thursday, January 29

John Yoo Blasts Obama on Torture Ban - Incriminates Bush on War Crimes

In an WSJ Op-ed former OLC Attorney John Yoo blasts President Barack Obama for removing the One and Only Effective Tool for protecting America from the horrors of Terrorism which is - well - using Terrorism.

While these actions will certainly please his base -- gone are the cries of an "imperial presidency" -- they will also seriously handicap our intelligence agencies from preventing future terrorist attacks. In issuing these executive orders, Mr. Obama is returning America to the failed law enforcement approach to fighting terrorism that prevailed before Sept. 11, 2001.

You mean the policy that captured, tried and successfully imprisoned Terry Nichols, Ramzi Yousef, the "Blind Sheikh" and executed Timothy McVeigh under Clinton or the "Ok, Now you've covered you ass" policy of Bush?

He's also drying up the most valuable sources of intelligence on al Qaeda, which, according to CIA Director Michael Hayden, has come largely out of the tough interrogation of high-level operatives during the early years of the war.

Michael Hayden would be the former head of the NSA who illegally spied on Everyone? Yeah, we should take his advice.

Not only does Yoo have a rather distorted view of the past, he can see the future too.

The question Mr. Obama should have asked right after the inaugural parade was: What will happen after we capture the next Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or Abu Zubaydah? Instead, he took action without a meeting of his full national security staff, and without a legal review of all the policy options available to meet the threats facing our country.

What such a review would have made clear is that the civilian law-enforcement system cannot prevent terrorist attacks.

It can't? You mean that it wasn't civilian law enforcement that prevented the Millenium Attacks on the L.A.X., the bombing of Lincoln and Holland tunnels and Project Bojinka (A plot to blow up 12 planes over the Pacific simultaneously, led by WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef)?

It's not like regular cops, the border patrol and the FBI foiled all these plans using fully legal and humane methods.... except that they did!

What is needed are the tools to gain vital intelligence, which is why, under President George W. Bush, the CIA could hold and interrogate high-value al Qaeda leaders. On the advice of his intelligence advisers, the president could have authorized coercive interrogation methods like those used by Israel and Great Britain in their antiterrorism campaigns. (He could even authorize waterboarding, which he did three times in the years after 9/11.)

So Bush and Rice spent 9 months blowing off Richard Clarke who urged we need to take urgent action on al Qeada, and they blew off George Tenet and the August 6th PDB which said that al Qeada was likely to "Hijack Planes and attack New York and Washington" - and their only recourse after 9-11 - is to use Torture - and Yoo Verifies that Bush did exactly that at least three times!. Interesting that he wouldn't say any of that when he was under oath before congress.

Coincidence? I think not.

Then Yoo really starts talking some straight up nonsense.

The CIA must now conduct interrogations according to the rules of the Army Field Manual, which prohibits coercive techniques, threats and promises, and the good-cop bad-cop routines used in police stations throughout America.

No, it doesn't Mr. Boalt Hall Professor. From Media Matters via Thinkprogres.

In fact, the Army Field Manual explicitly permits good cop-bad cop interrogations under the name of “Mutt and Jeff” interrogations, which involve two interrogators “display[ing] opposing personalities and attitudes toward the source.” The Field Manual says the “goal of this technique is to make the source identify with one of the interrogators and thereby establish[ing] rapport and cooperation.”

Wanna go 0 for 6 Professor Yoo? I thought you did.

Mr. Obama has also ordered that al Qaeda leaders are to be protected from "outrages on personal dignity" and "humiliating and degrading treatment" in accord with the Geneva Conventions.

No, actually that Order came from the Supreme Court in Hamdan V Rumsfeld. It's also in the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Obama is simply following and implementing the law - unlike yourself.

His new order amounts to requiring -- on penalty of prosecution -- that CIA interrogators be polite. Coercive measures are unwisely banned with no exceptions, regardless of the danger confronting the country.

Y'know what - according to the people who actually perform interrogations, including former Special Forces Operative Matthew Alexander, the man who'se techniques led to the neutralization of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi head of Al Qeada In Iraq - Being Polite Works! - while getting all Jack Bauer with it actually puts us and our troops at far greater risk.

I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It's no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse.


I refused to participate in such practices, and a month later, I extended that prohibition to the team of interrogators I was assigned to lead. I taught the members of my unit a new methodology -- one based on building rapport with suspects, showing cultural understanding and using good old-fashioned brainpower to tease out information. I personally conducted more than 300 interrogations, and I supervised more than 1,000. The methods my team used are not classified (they're listed in the unclassified Field Manual), but the way we used them was, I like to think, unique. We got to know our enemies, we learned to negotiate with them, and we adapted criminal investigative techniques to our work (something that the Field Manual permits, under the concept of "ruses and trickery"). It worked. Our efforts started a chain of successes that ultimately led to Zarqawi.

More from Alexander on Countdown.

More Yoo.

Eliminating the Bush system will mean that we will get no more information from captured al Qaeda terrorists. Every prisoner will have the right to a lawyer (which they will surely demand), the right to remain silent, and the right to a speedy trial.

All of which are parts of - um - Our Constitution, y'now that thing you swore and oath to protect and defend as a member of the U.S. Government?

Here's the thing, Yoo notes that the Israelis and the British have used these techniques (against the PLO and IRA) respectively - but he leaves out the fact that both of them found that they generally created a ton of Blowback. Just as Alexander points out - it energizes the forces against you when you use inhumane techniques, Israel is having the problem right now after hitting Gaza with White-Phosphorus and destroying the UN headquarters.

He forgets that in WWII many Italian and even some German soldiers were more than eager to surrender because they knew they would be treated well by American Troops, and this was even true during the first Gulf War when many Iraqi soldiers gave up immediately upon encountering our forces with fighting. Contrast those facts to the rise of the insurgency following Abu Ghraib - and you have the answer to his hypothetical question of "risk vs reward" on the banning of torture in other coercive interrogation techniques. Following the law saves lives - Our Lives and Their Lives Too!

Yoo would seem to believe that techniques such as water-boarding are NOT torture simply because he wrote a memo saying so which re-defined "Torture" as treatment leading to imminent organ failure or death.

Here's the thing, if you stuff a pillow or a rag over someone's nose and mouth - how long will it take for their lungs to fail from lack of oxygen? And if you add water to that - how much quicker will they fail as the person DROWNS? The reason people respond so quickly to waterboarding is because - It's Attempted Murder. They're Killing YOU!

Oh sure, it doesn't leave any bruises - which allows for deniability, something that the Khmer Rouge certainly loved - but it's still attempted murder. The only thing that prevents from being full-on murder is whether they stop soon enough. And it's not that hard to cross that line.

According to Human Rights Watch - this type of "Murder" is not a hypothetical question from their 2006 Report

Since August 2002, nearly 100 detainees have died while in the hands of U.S. officials in the global “war on terror.” According to the U.S. military’s own classifications, 34 of these cases are suspected or confirmed homicides; Human Rights First has identified another 11 in which the facts suggest death as a result of physical abuse or harsh conditions of detention. In close to half the deaths Human Rights First surveyed, the cause of death remains officially undetermined or unannounced. Overall, eight people in U.S. custody were tortured to death.

Ya hear that Billo? Get it Johnny? Tortured TO DEATH. NOT "Near Organ Failure" - Not "Simulated" or "Feels Like" - Dead!!

Estimates from the ACLU's review of various autopsy reports are far higher, more than 44 detainees tortured to death. If true, that's 44 War Crimes all punishable by Execution under U.S. Law.

Those deaths - all of them in addition to thousands of needlessly injured, wounded and dead U.S. soldiers - lay directly at the feet on John Yoo, Alberto Gonzales and George W. Bush.

Eat it up Johnny.


P.S. Jack Bauer is a Fracking Tool - not a "Hero".

Update from Comments:
FYI - John Yoo's Homepage at UC Berkeley

Tuesday, January 27

Keith Olbermann is Reading my Mail!!

I don't know how... but somehow, someway, Olbermann has been reading my mail.

I know it sounds crazy, but then with all this NSA Spying stuff who knows what they're leaking out and who they're leaking it too. But after I posted on sunday about Alberto Gonzales thinking he's not gonna get prosecuted, and how Steve King said Khallid Sheikh Mohammed isn't on a "Path to Citizenship" and is more likely to wind up in the Florence SUPERMAX in Colorado - I just had to start wondering when I saw this last night...

Here's the really creepy part. Olbermann isn't the only one.

Look at this Shit from the Daily Show, again from just last night... I'm telling you It's Creepy!

Maybe it's just the fact that both of them tend to read - which I admit I do everyday. And they did post the Gonzo Prosecution story, as well as the Steve King Crazy Talk Story.

The story about the Vice President's House no-longer being obscured on Google Maps was on Thinkprogress too.

So maybe it's not just me. (Although the entire Florence SUPERMAX Thing with Tim McVeigh, the Unibomber and Ramzi Yousef was my Idea. IT REALLY REALLY WAS) Ok. ok. enough - obvious the paranoid delusions of the right wing are starting to get to me....


Ok, Here's a test. One thing that was on Thinkprogress yesterday that I wanted to write about bit didn't were the following comments from one of Bush's former speechwriters justifying and praising U.S. Torturers as "Heroes".

Just Listen.

THIESSEN: The CIA developed these alternative interrogation techniques, and all of a sudden he started talking. Zubaydah’s information led us to Ramsey bin al Shibh, who was was one of the 9/11 hijackers. Together, they gave us the information that led the capture of KSM. Then, KSM gave us information about another al Qaeda operative, Majid Khan, who was in CIA custody. He told us that Majid Khan had been tasked to give $50,000 to an operative named Zubair, who was developing plots with a Southeast Asian group called JI.

THIESSEN: They’re not torturers. They’re heroes. ... And the thought that we’re sitting here discussing whether these people should be prosecuted or investigated is just outrageous. These people are American heroes who saved lives and stopped the next Sept. 11.

Ok, MY RESPONSE to this is to point out what both the CIA and the Pentagon said about the information we received from Zubaydah After he was tortured as reported by Ron Suskind in the Washington Post last year.

Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries "in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3" -- a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail "what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said." Dan Coleman, then the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."

Abu Zubaydah also appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations; rather, he was al-Qaeda's go-to guy for minor logistics -- travel for wives and children and the like. That judgment was "echoed at the top of CIA and was, of course, briefed to the President and Vice President," Suskind writes. And yet somehow, in a speech delivered two weeks later, President Bush portrayed Abu Zubaydah as "one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States."


After Thiessen's comments, I think we know part of why Bush speech on Zubaydah had nothing to do with the reality about Zubaydah.

Far from being "Heroes", the FBI nearly arrested the Interrogators who water-boarded Zubaydah, and like the criminals they are they destroyed the interview tapes - and oh by the way - that alone isn't what "broke" him.

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.

But here's the thing - the good information we got from Zubaydah was all BEFORE he was tortured.

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.

So he did confirm KSM's role for us, but it wasn't because of those "Heroes" who tortured him - it was the Other Heroes who didn't. Not only that, but the information he gave us after he was tortured just got worse and worse and worse....

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 of the bogus things that Zubaydah told us - most likely after "Theissen's Heroes" got ahold of him was that Saddam Hussein and Al Qeada had an "Operational Relationship". Zubaydah is apparently a source for the fabled "Meeting in Prague" between Iraq Intelligence and Mohommed Atta. It's just that - that shit didn't happen according to a former Pentagon Analyst.

“The intelligence community was lapping this up, and so was the administration, obviously. Abu Zubaydah was saying Iraq and al-Qaeda had an operational relationship. It was everything the administration hoped it would be.” [...]

The White House knew he’d been tortured. I didn’t, though I was supposed to be evaluating that intelligence. ... It seems to me they were using torture to achieve a political objective.”

Ya think?

Because of what Zubaydah told us under torture falsely linking Saddam to 9-11 because That's what the White House Wanted to Hear, and what Curveball (who was also nuts) told us about "mobile weapons labs" which didn't exist - 4000 American soldiers, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are now DEAD!

Torture is why we wound up in the wrong war with the WRONG COUNTRY!

Admittedly I've been focusing on Zubaydah and Thiessen went much further than just him bringing up some links that I suspect have never been revealed before, but it's also clear that we didn't get any good intelligence from water-boarding Khallid Sheikh Mohammed either. From Vanity Fair via my favorite site - Thinkprogress.

But according to a former senior C.I.A. official, who read all the interrogation reports on K.S.M., “90 percent of it was total f*cking bullsh*t.” A former Pentagon analyst adds: “K.S.M. produced no actionable intelligence. He was trying to tell us how stupid we were.”

Not "us" - How stupid Bush and his cronies were. No, ARE!

Fortunately the mainline professionals in the CIA knew better.

Inside the C.I.A., says a retired senior officer who was privy to the agency’s internal debate, there was hardly any argument about the value of coercive methods: “Nobody in intelligence believes in the ticking bomb. It’s just a way of framing the debate for public consumption. That is not an intelligence reality.”

Nor Reality? Do tell? Jack Bauer is just a (badly written) character on TV? Really? In fact, somebody tell Theissen - he needs a reality refresher it seems.

And if any of this shows up on Countdown tonight - I'm moving to fracking CANADA!

(Not! - Please use my shit Stuff Keith!! Pretty Please!!! Just give a shout-out to Dkos or Thinkprogress and I'm good.)


Monday, January 26

Gonzo doesn't Think he'll be Prosecuted!

Well, it looks like our favorite extremely unemployed former Attorney General - Alberto Gonzales - just doesn't seem to understand what all fuss about "Prosecutions for War Crimes" is all about since his successor Eric Holder said "Waterboarding is Torture"!

On the question of prosecuting officers who employed any of the “extreme tactics” that the Bush administration has acknowledged, without admitting to any “torture” of detainees: “I don’t think that there’s going to be a prosecution, quite frankly.” Gonzales said. “Because again, these activities.... They were authorized, they were supported by legal opinions at the Department of Justice.”

But under those circumstances, I find it hard to believe...

“Nonetheless, the very discussion about it is extremely discouraging,” the former attorney general said.

Dementia and Delusion really are sad, pathetic diseases aren't they?

Here's the thing, when the President said in his recent interview with Brit Hume that "I'm in the Oval Office and I've been told that we've captured Khallid Sheikh Mohammed - and they gave me a list of tools and I said 'Are these tools legal'?".

Well, from what we currently know one of the very first answers that Bush received that question on January 25, 2002 wasn't that the "techniques are legal" it was that you won't get prosecuted for them if you PRETEND that Geneva doesn't count.

Who offered that opinion?

Why it was then White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales.

"It is difficult to predict the motives of prosecutors and independent counsels who may in the future decide to pursue unwarranted charges based on Section 2441 [the War Crimes Act]," Gonzales wrote. The best way to guard against such "unwarranted charges," the White House lawyer concluded, would be for President Bush to stick to his decision--then being strongly challenged by Secretary of State Powell-- to exempt the treatment of captured Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters from Geneva convention provisions. "Your determination would create a reasonable basis in law that (the War Crimes Act) does not apply which would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution," Gonzales wrote.

Under Gonzales advisement Bush attempted to put forth a patently false claim that Geneva only applies to people in uniforms. Problem is that Geneva Article 5 says this...

Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.

In plain-as-day English it says everyone - EVERYONE - is presumed to be covered by the full convention, and the only thing that changes that fact would be a Tribunal that determines that they are either a POW, a Civilian Criminal, a Military War Criminal or a NON-COMBATANT. That's it, that's all.

It wasn't until the Hamdan v Rumsfeld decision that Bush finally gave this line of idiocy up.

In Hamdan the court determined (obviously) that Geneva applied, Justice Kennedy said:

Article 3 of the Geneva Convention (III)Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War,Aug. 12,1949, [1955 ] 6 U..S.T.3316,3318,T.I.A.S.No.3364. The provision is part of a treaty the United States has ratified and thus accepted as binding law.See id.,at 3316. By Act of Congress, moreover, violations of Common Article 3 are considered "war crimes," punishable as federal offenses,when committed by or against United States nationals and military personnel. See 18 U.S.C.§2441. There should be no doubt,then,that Common Article 3 is part of the law of war as that term is used in §821.

Justice Stevens said:

Hamdan is entitled to the full protections of the Third Geneva Convention until adjudged,in compliance with that treaty, not to be a prisoner of war;

Bush then responded with the Military Commissions Act, which Revoked Habeasu Corpus for "Illgal Alien Combatants", allowed for both the use of coerced confessions and information gathered using torture while protecting the torturers.

Why did this subject even come up? although the exact timeline of events has yet to be revealed, in all likelyhood It wasn't because the President was "presented with a set of techniques" - it was because an FBI Agent had tried to arrest the CIA Interrogators who were questioning Abu Zubaydah, which was discovered after the Tapes of the Interrogation WERE ILLEGALLY DESTROYED!

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.

The sad part is that the MCA was passed by Congress and therefore does provide the Bush Administration some level of legal cover (that doesn't come from their own delusions).

However, the MCA does prohibit torture in conjuction with the Detainee Treatment Act. It does not retroactively immunize illegal actions which took place prior to the passage of the DTA in 2005. This means that brutal coercive treatment Zubaydah, al-Qhatani and Khallid Sheikh Mohammed were in fact Criminal Acts directly authorized by the President!

The question of what will happen, and what won't will soon rest on the shoulders of AG Eric Holder, but it will also involve the counsel of Obama's new choice for head of the OLC (where onerous memos legitimizing torture from John Yoo and Jay Bybee worked). That nominee is Dawn Johnsen, and she's a doozy of a selection.

This what she had to say about the Yoo torture memo.

I want to second Dahlia’s frustration with those who don’t see the newly released Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) torture memo as a big deal. Where is the outrage, the public outcry?! The shockingly flawed content of this memo, the deficient processes that led to its issuance, the horrific acts it encouraged, the fact that it was kept secret for years and that the Bush administration continues to withhold other memos like it — all demand our outrage.

Yes, we’ve seen much of it before. And yes, we are counting down the remaining months. But we must regain our ability to feel outrage whenever our government acts lawlessly and devises bogus constitutional arguments for outlandishly expansive presidential power. Otherwise, our own deep cynicism, about the possibility for a President and presidential lawyers to respect legal constraints, itself will threaten the rule of law — and not just for the remaining nine months of this administration, but for years and administrations to come.

But here - right here - is the meat Johnsen's arguement on whether those "Opinions" that Bush and Gonzales are better their future freedom on have any validity what-so-ever.

OLC, the office entrusted with making sure the President obeys the law instead here told the President that in fighting the war on terror, he is not bound by the laws Congress has enacted. That Congress lacks the authority to regulate the interrogation and treatment of enemy combatants. . . .

John Yoo, the memo's author, has the gall to continue to defend the legal reasoning in this memo, in the face even of Bush administration OLC head Jack Goldsmith's harsh criticism--and withdrawal--of the memo. Not only that, Yoo attempts to spin the memo's advice on presidential power as "near boilerplate" . . .

I know (many of us know) Yoo's statement to be false. And not merely false, but irresponsibly and dangerously false in a way that impugns OLC's integrity over time and threatens to undermine public faith in the possibility that any administration can be expected to adhere to the rule of law.


Here's a little more from another Johnsen article on Slate.

The same question, of what we are to do in the face of national dishonor, also occurred to me a few weeks ago, as I listened to President Bush describe his visit to a Rwandan memorial to the 1994 genocide there. . . .

But President Bush spoke there, too, of the power of the reminder the memorial provides and the need to protect against recurrences there, or elsewhere. That brought to mind that whenever any government or people act lawlessly, on whatever scale, questions of atonement and remedy and prevention must be confronted. And fundamental to any meaningful answer is transparency about the wrong committed. . . .

The question how we restore our nation's honor takes on new urgency and promise as we approach the end of this administration. We must resist Bush administration efforts to hide evidence of its wrongdoing through demands for retroactive immunity, assertions of state privilege, and implausible claims that openness will empower terrorists. . . .

Here is a partial answer to my own question of how should we behave, directed especially to the next president and members of his or her administration but also to all of use who will be relieved by the change: We must avoid any temptation simply to move on. We must instead be honest with ourselves and the world as we condemn our nation's past transgressions and reject Bush's corruption of our American ideals.

It may be premature for me to say, but I think Gonzo, Yoo, Bybee and Bush just might be eventually making an involuntary tour of Club Fed! if both Holder and Johnsen are confirmed and in charge of Justice in this nation for the next few years.

What must we do in the face of this national disgrace? I think we must prosecute. For political reasons, it my require a Special Prosecutor - but we MUST prosecute.