Saturday, April 25

CIA Inspector General Confirms FBI: Torture FAILS!

In a report from McClatchy, the CIA Inspector General's Report from 2004 confirms the recent statement in Vanity Fair by FBI Director Mueller, which found that "No Plots were Thwarted" by harsh interrogation measures.

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.


This is actually something I noted just the other day while debunking Liz Cheney's Lies, but it bears repeating what was actually in the IG report.

"It is difficult to quantify with confidence and precision the effectiveness of the program," Steven G. Bradbury, then the Justice Department's principal deputy assistant attorney general, wrote in a May 30, 2005, memo to CIA General Counsel John Rizzo, one of four released last week by the Obama administration.

"As the IG Report notes, it is difficult to determine conclusively whether interrogations provided information critical to interdicting specific imminent attacks. And because the CIA has used enhanced techniques sparingly, 'there is limited data on which to assess their individual effectiveness'," Bradbury wrote, quoting the IG report.


As has been noted most of the worthwhile information we received from Abu Zubaydah came from Before he was tortured, and what we received afterward was mostly garbage.


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.


Yet again the desperate canard that "These Harsh Tactics are Worth It Because they Save Lives dies with narry a wimper.

Vyan

Abu Ghraib was no Boating Accident (More Liz Cheney Lies)

Toward the end of this second portion from her interview with Nora O'Donnell this week, Liz Cheney proclaimed that there was "No Connection" between the policies endorsed by her Father for "Enhanced Interrogation" Torture and the tragic events at Abu Ghraib Prison.



This claim is false. (Taken from an update to my Rec'd Diary from Yesterday)

False Claim: That the events at Abu Ghraib were in no way connected to changes made in Bush Policy.

As shown by the ACLU's Torture Timeline.

Following Bush's determination that "Geneva Doesn't Apply" and various memos from Gonzales, Yoo and Bybee authorizing and justifying the use of a variety of harsh interrogation methods which were first tested on Zubaydah in Thailand, were exported in response to requests from the commanders at GTMO. Following that request in Dec of 2002 SECDEF Rumsfeld authorized new techniques such as hooding, stress positions, nudity, the use of phobias, dogs, sensory deprivation, environmental controls (hypothermia), sexual humiliation as a way to "soften up" detainees.

On that memo Rumsfeld handwrote... "I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?" Rumsfeld used a "standing desk" for doing his work, the problem with his argument is that he has freedom to move and shift positions, but in a standing stress position the subjects movements are limited which can over the coarse of time induce renal failure and death. That's why the 4-hour limit.

In January of 2003 the commander at Bagram AFB, Afghanistan officially implemented the new Rumsfeld's techniques going far beyond the Army Field Manual, which is written to be consistent with Geneva. This ultimately results in the death of several detainees (A clear violation of even the "Bybee Standard").

In August of 2003 on recommendations from Lt. Gen Sanchez, Rumsfeld sent the commander of Guantanamo (Gen. Miller) to Abu Ghraib to Gitmo-ize it. The new commander removed the authority of the standard base commander Gen. Kaprinski over the "Hard Site" and positions the MP's handling prisoners there under the command of Military Intelligence, then proceeded to implement The same tactics Rumsfeld had previously approved for GITMO and Bagram

The pictures that we all saw at Abu Ghraib, the hooding, the nudity, and stress positions were all authorized by Rumsfeld and exported to the Hard Site on his orders. The argument has long been that this wasn't an "Intelligence Mission" because those who were mistreated clearly were not high-value members of al Qaeda, but using his sources journalist Sy Hersh (who first broke the Abu Ghraib story) has found the explanation for all this. In his book "Chain of Command" he argues that this treatment was intended to be used a s blackmail (hence all the pictures and photos) against low-value targets who would them be released and coerced into becoming spies against the insurgency.

The original idea behind the sexually humiliating photos taken at Abu Ghraib, Hersh said he had heard, was to use them as blackmail so that the newly released prisoners - many of whom were ordinary Iraqi thieves or even civilian bystanders rounded up in dragnets - would act as informants. "We operate on guilt, [Muslims] operate on shame," Hersh explained. "The idea of photographing an Arab man naked and having him simulate homosexual activity, and having an American GI woman in the photographs, is the end of society in their eyes."


Abu Ghraib was no boating accident, it was a Covert Op.

This is why even in while putting together the Taguba Report, investigators into Abu Ghraib were prohibited from looking at the actions and motivations of higher-ups, and instead told to focus on scapegoats like Grainer and England who were for the most part only doing what Un-ranked Military Intelligence Officers had instructed them to do.

Friday, April 24

The Top 10 Torturous Lies of Liz Cheney

In this performance on MSNBC Liz Cheney, daughter of the Former Vice President, was absolutely stunning in her delivery of rapid-fire talking points in an attempt to obfuscate the fact that under her Father and President Bush this country engaged in Totalitarian Methods and War Crimes - and in the process still failed to protect America by using false intelligence and false confessions to begin an unwarranted invasion of Iraq.



Point by Point...

False Claim 1: The Program was Widely Approved and Legal

The first act by President Bush in this matter, on recommendation from John Yoo and Alberto Gonzales, was to deny that Geneva protections applied to al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. This temporarily invalidated the War Crimes Act (18 USC 2441), but did not make Torture (18 USC 2340) Legal. This action was later overturned by the SCOTUS in Hamdan v Rumsfeld which found that Geneva absolutely *did* apply, meaning that Bush's original determination was wrongly reached.

Also FBI Agents threatened to Arrest CIA interrogators for their treatment of Abu Zubaydah.

This conflict between FBI and CIA led to Director Mueller's pulling all of his agents out of future CIA directed interrogation efforts. If all of this was so legal, why did the FBI run like scared rabbits away from it?

Several attorney's within DOJ and the State Dept dissented with OLC memos which legitimized the use of SERE-tactics as legal interrogation methods. THESE ATTORNEY'S WERE RETALIATED AGAINST FOR THEIR VIEWS. The Zelikow Memo was ordered to be destroyed. Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith was forced to resign by Cheney's Counsel David Addington after ordering the Yoo memos rescinded. General Counsel to the Navy, Alberto Mora wrote a memo detailing the abuse at GTMO and rebutting the Yoo Memos, he was forced to retire.


False Claim 2: President Obama and AG Holder have ignored evidence of the program effectiveness.

Key information from Zubaydah was gathered by the FBI before harsh methods were used, such as confirming the identity of KSM. Information gathered after these methods were applied remain dubious and have appeared to be false.

The actual capture of KSM came from other sources besides Zubaydah.

The Los Angeles Library Tower attack was thwarted over a year before KSM was captured.

When asked FBI Director Mueller has stated that to his knowledge No Terrorist Plots were thwarted using coerced information.

Lastly "It Worked" is no excuse - under the UN Convention Against Torture which was signed by President Reagan and ratified by a Republican Congress in 1995, which forms the basis for 18 USC 2340...

No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

False Claim 3: These tactics weren't torture because they are used in SERE in the training of our own troops.

SERE was developed in response to torture tactics used against our troops in the Korean war by Communist forces. The techniques are identical to those which led to the execution of Japanese soldiers in WWII and prosecution of American soldiers in Vietnam. The Communist used them to illicit False Confessions, not the truth. S.E.R.E. attempts to prepare our Special Forces Troops for undergoing Illegal Tactics used by totalitarian regimes, and is completely voluntary. (UPDATE via Wapo: The Officers who run S.E.R.E. - Call it TORTURE!) The difference between a voluntary program meant to protect our troops and using those techniques on unwitting and unwilling detainees is like the difference between a consensual act and a violent rape. It's obscene.

False Claim 4: Two of the people who were Waterboarded gave us information that saved American Lives.

Yet again the key information supposedly gleaned from Zubaydah, was the identity of KSm - however that was *before* waterboarding was used. The key piece of information from KSM was the Library Tower attack, yet that attack had already been stopped

Further, this isn't just about "Waterboarding" - Geneva prohibits "All Affronts to Personal Dignity" and all forms of torture including psychological torture. Exceeding this is a War Crime. Stress positions, sleep deprivation, hypothermia and the exploitation phobias and fears (dogs, insects) can lead to a psychotic break in the subject (as may have occurred with Jose Padilla) renal failure, heart-attack, stroke and/or death. Autopsy reports of detainees all across the various theater's of conflict indicate that in 2005 over 40 detainees had died in custody, largely as a result of mistreatment and that at least 20 of those appeared to have died as a result of HOMICIDE, most likely while being interrogated by CIA, Navy Seals and Military Intelligence.

False Claime #5: Our Intellegence Gathering and Nation has been hurt by release of these memos.

Cheney refers to this Op-ed, by former Bush AG Mukasey and former CIA Chief Hayden which claims:

Disclosure of the techniques is likely to be met by faux outrage, and is perfectly packaged for media consumption. It will also incur the utter contempt of our enemies. Somehow, it seems unlikely that the people who beheaded Nicholas Berg and Daniel Pearl, and have tortured and slain other American captives, are likely to be shamed into giving up violence by the news that the U.S. will no longer interrupt the sleep cycle of captured terrorists even to help elicit intelligence that could save the lives of its citizens.


This claim is directly contradicted by the in-the-field experience of interrogator Matthew Alexander who was able to establish a rapport with an Iraqi insurgent within a few hours and managed to use that information to take down Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the head of AQI.

I refused to participate in such (brutal) 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.

Exactly what Cheney, Mukasey and Hayden claim won't work - Does Work! Further, what they claim is "so effective" has according Alexander directly led to the death of American soldiers.

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. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me -- unless you don't count American soldiers as Americans.

False Claim #6: The Techniques were limited and carefully controlled

The clear goal of using doctors and psychiatrist during the interrogation process was not to keep them from being in discomfort, it was clearly to prevent them from dying too quickly so that the interrogations could continue on and on and on. Far from being Limited, KSM was waterboarded 183 Times within 30 days and Zubaydah over 83 times.

False Claim #7: The Program had Broad-based Support within the Higher-ups of the Administration, including all members of the National Security Council

Not if you count Secretary of State Colin Powell, the only member of the Bush NSC with Military experience, who strongly opposed invalidating the Geneva Conventions as did numerous members of the Military.

False Claim #8: These techniques were done to our own people (via S.E.R.E.) and they are not "Tortureed".

S.E.R.E. was developed from Torture done to our own people by the communists as mentioned above, but a review of CIA prisons by the International Red Cross, which is the entity empowered by Geneva to identify torture, clearly shows - We Tortured Them.

The Red Cross found that detainees were held for up to four years in secret prisons, were frequently made to stand for several days in positions evidently intended to cause pain, and were threatened with "electric shocks, infection with HIV, sodomy of the detainee and … being brought close to death."


This was also confirmed by Military Judge Susan Crawford

We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani,” said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution. [...]


False Claim #9: Revealing these techniques will allow our enemies to train to withstand them

First off, if the techniques are so effective - how can you train to withstand them? Further, since the techniques have been effectively banned not only by Obama's adoption of the Army Field Manual for the CIA, but also the Detainee Treatment Act - why should it matter what they train for, when we aren't using these techniques anymore anyway?

False Claim #10: Al Qeada doesn't follow Geneva so why should we?

Geneva doesn't require that those you are fighting against, also abide by Geneva - it applies to the actions of the signers, not the actions of the non-signatories. Also, Al-Qeada might not be the only enemy we ever face in the future, and if we can choose not to abide by Geneva just because we don't feel like it anymore - what is there to stop anyone else from doing the exact same thing, including current signatories? Future despots can and *will* use Cheney-esque argument to mistreat and abuse our soldiers and the soldiers of our allies, and because we've abdicated our authority on the matters, there's little we can do to stop it other than to say "Stop" and look ridiculous.


All taken together this is a devastating array of lies at worst, and deluded denial of facts and truth at best which has helped enable and continue a world-wide atrocity. It can't be allowed to stand, any repetition of these baseless talking points need to be taken down and taken down Hard.

Vyan

Thursday, April 23

Library Tower Plot was Foiled BEFORE KSM was Tortured



Confirming the statement today in Vanity Fair by FBI Director Mueller that "No Plots Were Foiled by Enhanced Interrogation", the allegation that the use of Water-boarding (183 Times) against Khallid Sheik Mohammad helped foil "Second Wave" terrorist attacks against the U.S. such as the alleged plan to use planes to bring down the Library Tower in Downtown Los Angeles, appears to just simply be impossible.

The Library Tower plot was foiled in February of 2002, while KSM wasn't even captured until over a year later in March 2003. So how did water boarding him stop a plot that was already stopped?

Much of this information comes from a 2005 Memo which states the following:

It is difficult quantify with confidence and precision th conclusively if interrogations have provided informationp critical to the interdiction of specific imminent attacks.


More from Slate.
The Library Tower, designed by I.M. Pei's architectural firm, stands 73 stories high and is the tallest skyscraper west of the Mississippi.* Sheikh Mohammed initially planned to crash a jetliner into it on 9/11 as part of a scheme involving not four but 10 passenger planes on both coasts. Osama Bin Laden vetoed that as too ambitious and scaled back the plan to focus on New York and Washington. After 9/11, Sheikh Mohammed still hoped to execute the attack on the Library Tower and, working with a Southeast Asian al-Qaida affiliate (the aforementioned Hambali), recruited four terror cell members to carry it out.

...

What clinches the falsity of Thiessen's claim, however (and that of the memo he cites, and that of an unnamed Central Intelligence Agency spokesman who today seconded Thessen's argument), is chronology. In a White House press briefing, Bush's counterterrorism chief, Frances Fragos Townsend, told reporters that the cell leader was arrested in February 2002, and "at that point, the other members of the cell" (later arrested) "believed that the West Coast plot has been canceled, was not going forward" [italics mine]. A subsequent fact sheet released by the Bush White House states, "In 2002, we broke up [italics mine] a plot by KSM to hijack an airplane and fly it into the tallest building on the West Coast." These two statements make clear that however far the plot to attack the Library Tower ever got—an unnamed senior FBI official would later tell the Los Angeles Times that Bush's characterization of it as a "disrupted plot" was "ludicrous"—that plot was foiled in 2002. But Sheikh Mohammed wasn't captured until March 2003.

Maybe, just maybe - he simply gave the interrogators Useless out-of-date information just to get them TO STOP! Ya think?

Vyan

Rightwing Sues Homeland Security for Political Profiling

The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, announced today that it has filed a federal lawsuit against Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. The lawsuit claims that her Department’s “Rightwing Extremism Policy,” as reflected in the recently publicized Intelligence Assessment, “ Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” violates the civil liberties of combat veterans as well as American citizens by targeting them for disfavored treatment on account of the political beliefs.

So let me get this straight, the Rightwing really thinks that Homeland Security is targeting Conservatives, just for the fun of it?

Where were all this outrage when Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, two show producers and other journalists including an AP photographer were being arrested at the Republican National Convention for no reason?



Apparently MIA. Instead of realizing that Left-Wing groups have frankly been illegally surveilled, harassed, watch-listed and treated far worse than simply having a "mean report" written about them they say this.

Thompson added, “Janet Napolitano is lying to the American people when she says the Report is not based on ideology or political beliefs. In fact, her report would have the admiration of any current or past dictator in the way it targets political opponents.”

The Report specifically mentions the following political beliefs that law enforcement should use to determine whether someone is a “rightwing extremist”:

• Opposes restrictions on firearms
• Opposes lax immigration
• Opposes the policies of President Obama regarding immigration, citizenship and the expansion of social programs
• Opposes continuation of free trade agreements
• Opposes same-sex marriage
• Has paranoia of foreign regimes
• Fear of Communist regimes
• Opposes one world government
• Bemoans the decline of U.S. stature in the world.
• Upset with loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs to China and India
• . . . and the list goes on

The Law Center is asking the court to declare that the DHS policy violates the First and Fifth Amendments, to permanently enjoin the Policy and its application to the plaintiffs’ speech and other activities, and to award the plaintiffs their reasonable attorney’s fees and costs for having to bring the lawsuit.

Ok, the report in plain english does not simply attack people with right-wing beliefs.

It says this.

The DHS/Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has no specific information that domestic rightwing* terrorists are currently planning acts of violence, but rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues.

Let me repeat, they aren't addressing your average church group here, they are talking about Right Wing TERRORISTS groups. Extremist Groups. They aren't saying Pro-Lifers have been recruiting, they're saying that VIOLENT groups like Operation Rescue which featured a "Wanted for Murder" list of Doctors, who were later shot to death by James Kopp, have been recruiting.

They are talking about Neo-Nazi White Supremacist/Anti-Government Hate Groups.

Threats from white supremacist and violent antigovernment groups during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts. Nevertheless, the consequences of a prolonged economic downturn—including real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inability to obtain credit—could create a fertile recruiting environment for rightwing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past.
The report warns that we need to be vigilant against a return of the worst of the worst, people like Kopp, people like Timothy McVeigh and Eric Robert Rudolph who injured 110 people and killed two with his multiple bombings including one at the Atlanta Olympics.
Paralleling the current national climate, rightwing extremists during the 1990s exploited a variety of social issues and political themes to increase group visibility and recruit new members. Prominent among these themes were the militia movement’s opposition to gun control efforts, criticism of free trade agreements (particularly those with Mexico), and highlighting perceived government infringement on civil liberties as well as white supremacists’ longstanding exploitation of social issues such as abortion, inter-racial crimes, and same-sex marriage. During the 1990s, these issues contributed to the growth in the number of domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups and an increase in violent acts targeting government facilities, law enforcement officers, banks, and infrastructure sectors.

In 1995 a White-Power group of soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg Murdered James Burmeister and Malcolm Wright just to earn the right to wear a skin-head tattoo. In 2007, 12 years later, things at Fort Bragg show signs of going backward as yet another pair of White Supremacists were arrested.

Two soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division were arrested on June 4, 2007, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and charged with selling stolen government property, including body armor and drugs, to an undercover FBI agent in Concord, North Carolina, on May 24.

One of the soldiers, Joffre "Trey Cross, 21, of Texas, is a white supremacist who has posted messages on white supremacist Internet forums graphically describing ways to kill Jews, such as positioning oneself outside a synagogue with a machine gun. On several different white supremacist forums, Cross used "jagervonjuden" (or "fighter of Jews") as a screen name and offered to give other white supremacists paramilitary training.

On his profiles on a social networking Web site, Cross cited Nazis as heroes, including Nazi commando leader Otto Skorzeny as well as Reinhard Heydrich, chief architect of the Holocaust. He gave his occupation as SS-Obersturmf├╝hrer and prominently displayed an English translation of the motto of the Waffen SS.

The point is that the concerns brought up in this report in the wake of the James Adkisson and Richard Poplawski shootings, and the discovery of a right-wing would-be Dirty Bomber in Main are legitimate. They aren't simply "imagining things" or unfairly targeting innocent conservatives, simply for being conservatives.

What I'd like to know is why Mainstream Conservatives, including John Boenher who just took a question today of "Whether Janet Napolitano should be Fired or Resign?" without flinching can't seem to recognize the difference between rank and file conservatives with honest legitimate principles and murderous terrorists like McVeigh, Adkisson, Kopp, Rudolph, Cummings and Poplawski?

When did the Extremists become their Constituency? When did they join the Neo-Nazi Party?

Vyan

Calling Dick's Big Bluff: Torture Fails

So the CIA has received Fmr. Vice President Dick Cheny's request to release documents that "prove" once and for all the effectiveness of his torture (Yes, Torture) program.

There's just one problem with that argument, the CIA doesn't do the job of enforcing the law or catching terrorist, the armed forces and the FBI do that. So what, besides today's revelation that Abu Zubaydah gave up KSM without Torture does the FBI have to say?

FBI Director Mueller to Vanity Fair when asked if "Enhanced Interrogation" had foiled any plots?

I don’t believe that has been the case

Ruh Roh!

On the other hand regularly gumshoe police work by local law enforcement and the FBI DID succeed at protecting American citizens.

In an interview in London in April 2008, I remind F.B.I. director Robert Mueller of the attacks planned against targets on American soil since 9/11 that his agents have disrupted: for example, a plot to kill soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and another to wreak mayhem at army recruiting centers and synagogues in and around Torrance, California. These and other homegrown conspiracies were foiled by regular police work. The F.B.I. learned of the Fort Dix plot from a Circuit City store where a technician raised the alarm when asked to copy firearms-training videos, while the Torrance cell was rounded up when cops probed the backgrounds of two of its members after they allegedly robbed a local gas station.


No waterborading, no wide-net of electronic surveillance, just a reasonable TIP and good follow up.

Like the tip by one Pheonix FBI Agent in 2001 that I've got some guys where who want to fly planes, but don't much care about landing them.

Time and time again we hear "The Tactics were Necessary" or "There was no other way", but clearly there IS another way. A way that works.

Furthermore, what seems more and more apparent from the various sources which are now coming forward in conjuction with the Levin Senate Armed Services Report is that torture under the Bush Administration wasn't used to provide information to save Amercians, it was used to proved information to save Bush's Foreign Policy, and justify the Iraq War

Several of those I interviewed point out the dearth of specific claims the administration has proffered. “The proponents of torture say, ‘Look at the body of information that has been obtained by these methods.’ But if K.S.M. and Abu Zubaydah did give up stuff, we would have heard the details,” says Cloonan. “What we got was pabulum.” A former C.I.A. officer adds: “Why can’t they say what the good stuff from Abu Zubaydah or K.S.M. is? It’s not as if this is sensitive material from a secret, vulnerable source. You’re not blowing your source but validating your program. They say they can’t do this, even though five or six years have passed, because it’s a ‘continuing operation.’ But has it really taken so long to check it all out?”

Officials who analyzed Abu Zubaydah’s interrogation reports say that the reports were afforded the highest value within the Bush administration not because of the many American lives they were going to save but because they could be cited repeatedly against those who doubted the wisdom of ousting Saddam by force.

“We didn’t know he’d been waterboarded and tortured when we did that analysis, and the reports were marked as credible as they could be,” the former Pentagon analyst tells me. “The White House knew he’d been tortured. I didn’t, though I was supposed to be evaluating that intelligence.” To draw conclusions about the importance of what Abu Zubaydah said without knowing this crucial piece of the background nullified the value of his work. “It seems to me they were using torture to achieve a political objective. I cannot believe that the president and vice president did not know who was being waterboarded, and what was being given up.”


Oh, I think the did know. Particularly since Zubaydah and KSM weren't the only ones this technique was used against.

Ibn Shayk Al-Libi, an associate of Zubaydah who was captured and tortured in Egypt, was the primary source of information that Iraq had provided chemical weapons training to Al Qeada. Guess what, this information was false

Just like the information that Iraq possessed "Mobile Weapons Labs" come from a former Iraqi who had relocated to Germany named Rafid Alwan, aka Curveball. (See this Report from BBC Newsnight) who was also, like, al-Libi, Lying.











The information provided by Curveball and al-Libi together led us into unneccesary and tragic War with an Unarmed Nation. And many others were coercively mistreated and suffered in The Black Sites, Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram AFB in order to help bolster their false claims.

Tortured to provide Lies to justify other lies. We have to come to grips with the fact that the U.S. deliberately waged a Campaign of Terror across the middle-east all based on LIES!

What needs to be asked now is not just what information we received through "enhanced interrogation" but also - how much of that information was BULLSHIT and led us down rat-holes and on wild-goose chases like the "Liberty City Six".

It really doesn't matter if any of these claims were ever true, because if so it probably wasn't neccessary to go these lengths, most likely the reason they were "resistant" is because the questions being asked were bogus, and by using these methods all we've done is get more bad information. Bad information that cost far more lives than any of the "good" information (assuming there somehow is any that the FBI director doesn't know about) may have saved.

Garbage In, garbage out.


Vyan

Wednesday, April 22

Torture Torrent: The Levin Report Impact

Carl Levin with Andrea Mitchell explaining what so many of us have long suspected, that Abu Ghraib was not the act of a bunch of rogue bad apples - it was a direct result of Bush Detainee Policies, which had been imported by GITMO (the Testing Ground) and then transported on to Bagram AFB in Afghanistan and elsewhere.



NBC on Levin Senate Armed Services Report.



Olbermann: Bush/Cheney used torture to try and Justify attacking Iraq over 9/11.



The irony here, as I've written many times is that several of items ultimately used by Colin Powell before the UN in order to justify the Iraq was came from questionable sources such as Ibn Sheik Al-Libi and Curveball - both of whom were coerced to point the WMD/Al-Qaeda finger at Saddam Hussein.

Just like Communist China who pioneered these techniques to elicit false confessions, the only information Bush managed to get were also *FALSE* links between Al Qaeda and Iraq in order to justify a war the Bush had been itching to begin since before he became President.

Jack Rice on Countdown: The Political Argument is that your either *FOR* Torture or you're not?



And what about those soldiers from Abu Ghraib who are now serving Prison time, for doing what Bush Authorized? In a heart wrenching plea former Abu Ghraib commanding Officr Brig. Gen Janice Karpinski makes the case that the wrong people are in prison.




Rachel: Connecting the Dots.

Shep Smith- This is America - We Don't Torture!



"They better not do it," he said. "If we are going to be Ronald Reagan's Shining City on the Hill, we don't get to torture. We don't do it."


Shep, the International Red Cross has already determined that it *was* as has Gitmo Judge Susan Crawford, so did Prosecutor Lt. Col Darrel Vandeveld.

Smith has more than once shown surprising integrity for Fox News, it's still disappointing that he continues to play the "If" is was torture game. The truth is that it was once than just a few rare instances or occasions that torture occurred, this was a complete breakdown of our armed forces and inteligence policies detention policy. It's also interesting to see Judith Miller standing up so much against this since so much of the leaks that the Veep's office used her to spread also came from torture (of Ibn Sheik al-Libbi and "Curveball") - which is why so much of it was DEAD WRONG.

Vyan

Tuesday, April 21

Begala v Fleischer: Was Bush Lying about Torture?

In this clip from Anderson Cooper Paul Begala takes on Bushbot Ari Fleischer and cuts him to little teeny tiny ribbons.


Link to Transcript

COOPER: Do you believe that it did work in this case, as the vice president has -- as Vice President Cheney has indicated?

FLEISCHER: No, again, Anderson, your premise is that it is torture. And I think the only people who can determine that are people from the Department of Justice.

COOPER: But it's interesting, though...

FLEISCHER: If it is torture, if it is torture...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: ... when the Khmer Rouge did it, when the Khmer Rouge did it at Tuol Sleng prison, and you can go there, and you can see the instruments they used to water-board people, I mean, we labeled it as torture.

FLEISCHER: And, Anderson, that's why I said the only people who are in a position to make an authoritative judgment on it should be career, independent-minded people at the Department of Justice, without anybody at the White House interfering or anybody else interfering.

And then, if they decide it was, then they have got a very careful decision to make about how far and extensive do you prosecute people. Is it the people who did it? Is it the Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill who were briefed on it and didn't object to it? And who in the administration would you have to apply that standard to?

This is where this whole thing can go.

But, going back to the memo, and going back to bipartisanship, you know, it's not just the Bush people who said it was wrong to release that memo. Bill Clinton's head of the CIA said it was wrong to release those memos, because you're teaching al Qaeda operatives exactly what our techniques are.

And why do we want anybody in al Qaeda to know what the limits of our techniques are, Paul?

BEGALA: The techniques that -- the techniques that we no longer use, the techniques that were in "The New York Review of Books" and half of the newspapers and magazines in North America, Ari. I mean, it is...

FLEISCHER: Paul, it was your administration's head of the CIA who objected to the release of those memos.

BEGALA: It doesn't -- it doesn't make...

FLEISCHER: It's a Clinton official who said that.

BEGALA: It doesn't make him right. Torture is always wrong, Ari. We executed...

FLEISCHER: I agree with you that torture is always wrong. BEGALA: Excuse me for talking while you're interrupting.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Let Paul finish.

BEGALA: We -- our country executed Japanese soldiers who water- boarded American POWs. We executed them for the same crime that we are now committing ourselves. How do you defend that?

FLEISCHER: Well, again, Paul, I guess you already are the jury, the prosecutor, the judge, and a citizen all rolled into one. You have already pronounced judgment that it is a crime.

So, if it is a crime, my question goes back to. Which Democrat members of Congress who sat in on the briefings, were authorized, were told about it, while -- particularly at a time when the Democrats had the majority in the Senate, would you say need to be prosecuted, Paul?

BEGALA: Here's the thing. Ari, you think it's a political issue. And, so, you say, well, Democrats knew, or George Tenet said this, and he used to be a Democrat. And...

(CROSSTALK)

FLEISCHER: Because the only people you want to blame, Paul, are Republicans.

BEGALA: Again, excuse me for trying to make a point here.

FLEISCHER: That's why.

BEGALA: No, no, no.

FLEISCHER: The only people you want to blame are the Bush administration.

BEGALA: I just said a moment ago -- I just said a moment ago, if -- if George Tenet, who was head of the CIA when I was in the White House, if he says this, he's wrong, too.


The issue isn't partisan, but it's clearly people like Fleischer who want to *make* it partisan and therefore delegitimize the inquiry. People correctly points out that when Japanese soldier waterboarded our troops - we Executed Them! We U.S. Troops waterboarding members of the Vietcong they were prosecuted. What changed on 9/11? Did decency disappear, did the law change, did we lose our honor and integrity? Did we lose our minds? It doesn't matter if some Democrats in Congress were briefed on this - and by the way, since it was Secure Program any Congressmen who talked about or complained about it publically would have been violation National Security protocols, so it's ridiculous to say the "didn't object" because they COULDN't object without risking prison.

Vyan

Memos by Bush Official who Opposed Torture were Destroyed



This former Bush Official and counsel for Condoleeza Rice wrote a rebuttal to the Yoo/Bybee/Bradbury Torture Memos - only to have the Bush Administration respond by having his memo tracked down and destroyed.

Just like the interrogation tapes of Abu Zubaydah were (illegally) destroy in violation of a court order, the deeper and deeper we look into this situation the more and more it resembles a Criminal Cover-Up than a debate on detainee policy.

Vyan

In 2007 Glenn Beck Couldn't understand why Americans wouldn't Pray for Bush



From the Glenn Beck Radio program.

Republicans say they are twice as likely to (74%) as Democrats (37%) to pray for (President Bush). How do you not pray for everyone, how do you not pray for your enemies, how do you not pray for guidance to everyone from God, what has happened to our country!


Yeah, Word!

Vyan

Monday, April 20

AG Holder Still Considering Prosecuting Torture

in a move that just might make all of Obama's attempts to sweep the Bush-Era torture under the rug irrelvant, freshly minted Attorney General Holder appears to still seriously be considering the investigation of Torture and War Crimes via a Special Prosecutor.



From Isikoff's report in Newsweek.


But the Obama administration is not off the hook. Though administration officials declared that CIA interrogators who followed Justice's legal guidance on torture would not be prosecuted, that does not mean the inquiries are over. Senior Justice Department lawyers and other advisers, who declined to be identified discussing a sensitive subject, say Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. has discussed naming a senior prosecutor or outside counsel to review whether CIA interrogators exceeded legal boundaries--and whether Bush administration officials broke the law by giving the CIA permission to torture in the first place. Some Justice officials are deeply troubled by reports of detainee treatment and believe they may suggest criminal misconduct, these sources say. Even if prosecutions prove too difficult to bring, an outside counsel's report could be made public. For his part, Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is still pushing for a "truth commission." In a democracy, the wheels of justice grind on--and the president, for good reason under the rule of law, does not have the power to stop them.


Yet again the simply truth that the President may run the Country - but the Attorney General runs the Justice Department and for the most part - they are and should be independent of each other.

In fact, this may be one of the best ways to address this issue - rather than having anything to do with partisanship, "payback" or retribution - it may in all truth simply be about "Justice". Contrary to the other diary which posits this as some kind of "game", this may exactly the way this case needs to go forward and leave Obama's own hands clean in this investigation and avoid a partisan bloodbath that would derail his agenda for the next three years.

As is discussed by Isikoff in the case of Jane Harmon, the mixing of politics and prosecutions is a highly volatile combination.

Sen. Leahy has run into a complete and total Stonewall with Senate Republicans and is so-far unwilling to persue a "Truth Commission" as a completely partisan event, meanwhile in the House Conyers has already called for a Special Prosecutor.

Holder taking the reins and assigning an independent investigator to get at the truth, no matter who or what it costs is exactly what we need. The DOJ is independent and should STAY independent of policy decisions made at the White House.

Vyan

Update Obama appears now to be backing AG Holder, a point which makes yesterdays discussion of whether or not Obama was violating the UN Convention against torture by blocking an investigation somewhat moot. What I said then was that it was inappropriate for the President to stop the AG from doing his job and that was exactly what appeared to be happening as Rahm Emmanuel and Robert Gibbs both promised "No Prosecutions".

Today seems to be a new day. With Holder learning toward investigations - NOW it would be wrong (and maybe or maybe not illegal) for the President to attempt to squash this. Maybe this was the "Plan" all along - but then again, maybe he heard the footsteps of history drawing close... hard to tell.

Update 2 From the AP.

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama said Tuesday the United States lost "our moral bearings" with gruesome terror-suspect interrogations and left the door open to prosecuting Bush administration officials who vouched for their legality.

At the same time, Obama said the question of whether to bring charges "is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general within the parameters of various laws and I don't want to prejudge that." The president discussed the continuing issue of terrorism-era interrogation tactics with reporters as he finished an Oval Office meeting with visiting King Abdullah of Jordan.

Video


Update 3 Watching the Gibb Press conference, there's clearly quite a bit of confusion as to what was said by Rahm yesterday and what the President has said today. I think some of that is cleared up by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse on Rachel.



The OPR review of the OLC memos is still ongoing and not complete. There had been some noise made that the final report would recommend disbarment of Yoo, Bybee and Bradbury.

The real question in my mind, isn't really the memos themselves but Why they were written and whether the purpose and content was specifically manipulated by people in the White House (Gonzales, Addington) to Cover-Up a Crime already in progress.

Also Cheney is loudly claiming that it was inappropriate that Obama released the OLC memos (Never mind the Court Order that requested them), while not releasing other memos that showed the "Good information" we received from them. Except that the CIA says Cheney claim that he requested the Proof of Effectiveness Memos was never received.

Let me just say again, that those Memos of post-torture claims are useless unless the information was Confirmed as Credible by the FBI, which so far they haven't been. And even if it were - it all would still be a War Crime.

Vyan

UN to Obama: Failure to Prosecute Torture is Illegal

Rahm Emmanuel on This Week: "This is not a time for Retribution or Anger"



Via Thinkprogress

The UN Special Rapporteur stated in a recent interview with Australia's Der Standard

STANDARD: CIA torturers are according to U.S. President Obama not to be prosecuted. Is that decision supportable?

NOWAK: Absolutely not. The United States has, like all other Contracting Parties to the UN Convention Against Torture, committed itself to investigate instances of torture and to prosecute all cases in which credible evidence of torture is found.


Word!

Despite what Rahm or Obama says, this is not about "Retribution or Anger" it's simply about Justice and the Law.

STANDARD: In other words, by making this announcement, Obama has violated international law?

NOWAK: Correct. It is a violation of binding international treaty law in this case, because this is an international law convention — and it provides unequivocally that states are not merely obligated to make torture a crime, but also to prosecute any incidents of which credible evidence can be found.


The UN Convention Against Torture, which was signed by Ronald Reagan and ratified by a Republican Congress in 1995 says this.

No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.


No exceptions, in plain English means - NO EXCEPTIONS.

This is the Law, ignorance of the Law - is NO EXCUSE!

This is something that someone really needs to tell GOP Torture shills like Frank Gaffney


Despite what Frank says the fact is that the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention Against Tortue aren't just some irrelevant "International Law" that has nopower within the sovereign United States. These are Treaties that WE SIGNED and Ratified and as such have the full force and binding aspect of our own Constitution as noted under Hamdan v Rumsfeld (pdf).

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.


These treaties are executed under U.S. law as 18 USC 2340 (Torture) and 18 USC 2441 (War Crimes).

Nothing in these statutes says the U.S. should only prosecute "when it's politically convenient" - in fact, I suspect Obama's open refusal to persue these charges may have left himself and A.G. Holder vulnerable to legal action by those who have been tortured under U.S. policy or their surviving families.

Suites like those already in progress against Donald Rumsfeld.

Oct. 27, 2004 – Four men, who were formerly detained at the US detention center in Guantanamo Bay, filed a lawsuit today against numerous pentagon officials, including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, for allegedly authorizing torture and other human rights violations during their detention.

The plaintiffs, Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed and Jamal Al-Harith -- all British citizens -- claim they were arbitrarily detained and suffered abuse and mistreatment while in US custody. They are each seeking $10 million in damages from those responsible in their individual capacities. This is the first case of its kind.
.


Chances are, it won't be the last.

There is also a compelling argument to made that as signatories to these treaties we are Obligated to oblige by Universal Jurisdiction (a concept that has already been employed by These states include: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, Senegal, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.)

"All states parties to the Convention against Torture and the Inter-American Convention are obliged whenever a person suspected of torture is found in their territory to submit the case to their prosecuting authorities for the purposes of prosecution, or to extradite that person. In addition, it is now widely recognized that states, even those which are not states parties to these treaties, may exercise universal jurisdiction over torture under customary international law."[10]


So, yes, Frank - Spain can prosecute Americans for Torture, even if Obama doesn't.

Oddly enough one of the few people whose got this issue right - except for his desire to keep the truth hidden so that America won't be "embarrassed" - is John McCain.



The arguement that tools such as Waterboarding are "neccesary and effective" is done and over - something isn't effective when you have to do it 183 times to get results. The CIA says that got "good information", the FBI (who had to go out and verify that info says they didn't - I trust the FBI on this one, since the same CIA said Saddam had mobile WMD labs! (A false allegation that also came about via Torture)

We have to come to realize that prosecuting criminals, especially War Criminals, is not "vindictive" - it's our responsibility as a civilized nation - if we fail at that, we fail as a society and force the hand of others to do what needs to be done.

Vyan

Update: There is some dispute as to whether or not the UN Conventions would override Prosecutorial Descretion since they were not Self-Executing and Congress choose to ignore the automatic provisions. I think that's a fair debate to have. Would the courts really reject a Civil Suit like the one I suggest (considering the fact they have already accept several including Hamdan, Hamdi and Boumedine already?) if it's sole purpose was primarily to argue that the failure to investigate and prosecute would be a clear violation of treaty obligations or would this have to be addressed in a Foreign Court (like Spain) or International Tribunal such as the Hague?

One other point I want to make is that Obama's argument against prosecution doesn't really follow the U.S. or the DOJ's own guidelines. He absolutely does have "credible evidence" that War Crimes took place, most of the arguments put forth in the Bybee/Yoo memos have been roundly defeated by the SCOTUS - and there are various memos, particularly those from then White House Counsel Gonzales that indicates willful knowledge that these policies may have been in violation of 18 USC 2441, and thereofore subsequent arguements were made to subvert the law such as President Bush's baseless claims that Geneva didn't apply to Al Qeada, when it clearly did and still does.
Obama's choosing not to prosecute for political reasons, not criminal ones.

Obama's choosing not to prosecute for political reasons, not criminal ones.

Obama speaking today at CIA!


Not a very inspiring speech IMO. It doesn't matter whether our Enemies are constrained by the "Rule of Law" or not - WE ARE! It might be true that the AG has prosecutorial descretion not to persue these charges based on a reasonable legal analysis, but does the President have the ability to block an thorough investigation for Politics?

Columbine Shooting : Ten Years Later




The story of one survivor on the Columbine High School shooting Ten Years Ago, Today.

Sunday, April 19

Rebuilding the Bridge Across the Ideological Divide

A few days ago I wrote an open letter to the Tea Partiers in an attempt to - just for a moment - speak to them seriously, without derision, snark or insult, simply because it seemed to me we were losing our ability to have rational discussions of public policy across the ideological chasm.

I'll admit I had low expectations, and most initial comments were similarly pessemistic - but then something (almost) amazing happened. A Conversation Started Up.

So today I'd like to keep that meager little conversation going a bit longer.

Why?

I think our country needs it. I think we need it. I don't think we can afford to continue to angrily throw word bombs at each other, demonize each other, and not even make an attempt to understand where each other is coming from. We may not agree, in fact I'm sure we won't, but at least having an ACCURATE view of each others point of view might help stem the tide of fear and vitriol that seems to be increasing to dangerous levels.

It might be fun to toss "Wingnut" and "Moonbat" back and forth across at each - sure, it's cathartic - but it's not always productive. We need to change, because if we don't, it won't just be angry words we're throwing at each other.

Exhibit A: From Countdown Last Week featuring Janeane Garafalo (I know this will be tough and difficult for Tea Partiers to watch and hear, but please bare with me and try and listen to it, what occurred here is Important and has to be addressed)



In this segment I think Janeane seriously over-steps and over-states her case against the Partiers. And I'm not the only one who feels that way coming from the Center/Left side of the aisle.

On Dailkos you had: Keith and Janeane Garofalo - Becoming what you hate...

Tonight I got home late from work and flipped to Countdown with Keith Olbermann. What I saw was disappointing, to say the least.

It was more tea bagging double entendres and cheap jokes. Now I'm with everyone in else in having a good time with these protests, but there is a limit, and I think we're approaching it. At the end of the day, however laughable the claims of these protesters may be, they are still Americans practicing a great American tradition.

But I can look passed the jokes and the mockery. What I couldn't stand was what came after - Janeane Garofalo.

Chatting in a "I know I'm being controversial and I think that's awesome" kind-of tone she said that everyone protesting yesterday were strictly racists. She claimed they were all idiots. And she went on to claim that they had a mental disorder.


The point made in this diary was that Janeane statements were identical to those we've seen all-too-often coming from prominent conservatives.

Namely Ann Coulter.


And Michael Savage.


This kind of argument has been going on so long, used by the likes of Limbaugh, that the idea of Liberalism as a Disease or Disorder has even been picked up by actual, licensed psychiatrists.

"The roots of liberalism – and its associated madness – can be clearly identified by understanding how children develop from infancy to adulthood and how distorted development produces the irrational beliefs of the liberal mind," he says. "When the modern liberal mind whines about imaginary victims, rages against imaginary villains and seeks above all else to run the lives of persons competent to run their own lives, the neurosis of the liberal mind becomes painfully obvious."


Let's also recall that Charles Krauthhammer has infamously called it "Bush Derangement Syndrome".

Clearly the "Crazy Train" accusations run down both sides of the tracks as another Dkos poster wrote an Open Letter to Olbermann to Complain about Garafalo.

Dear Mr. Olbermann,

I'm writing to complain about the appearance by Janeane Garofalo on your program Countdown on April 16, 2009. I write not as a conservative or tea tax protester. I am a liberal and supporter of Barack Obama. I am also a fan of your show and watch it online at msnbc.com on a near daily basis. The reason I am a fan of your show is because, while it is opinion driven, you make great arguments in your Special Comment section. It was your passionate defense of gay marriage, sent to me by a friend via StumbleUpon, that got me into watching your show.

My complaint with Ms. Garofalo's appearance is that her argument against the Teabaggers was way below the standards I believe your show to have. You often critique Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh for making irrational, illogical, and patently false accusations against groups or individuals that oppose their point of view. Ms. Garofalo's statements regarding the teabaggers as uniformily racist and driven by their "limbic system" rather than their frontal lobe smack of the same ignorance that you have opposed in right wing media. Ms. Garafolo fails the most basic rules of rhetoric, logic and debate. She never back up claims of racism, either with video of protesters saying or implying racist ideas. Despite her love for saying "limbic system", she cites no credentials for her to argue psychology. While it's certainly more politically correct to use "limbic system" than using the word 'retarded’, the meaning and use in her argument is the same. Ms. Garofalo cited no studies to confirm whether those protesters were more 'limbic" than "frontal lobe" in their thinking. Her analysis has as much basis as Bill Frist's analysis of Teri Shiavo as being aware based on a few seconds of video. Frist, as a medical doctor, at least had some credentials to make an assessment.


I will openly admit it that I've made arguments similar to both Garafalo's and Kruathhammer's in the past, when I wrote that Conservatism is a Sociapathic Disease. In that discussion I stated:

It's been my feeling that the modern day conservative cult that thrives in America is fueled by a low-grade form of anti-social pathology and compulsive-addictive disorder. They're like Hate-Junkies. And the number one thing they hate are Liberals.

My point here is really just to say that we all need to take a step back.

Tea Partiers argue that their concerns aren't partisan, they're angry at both parties equally, and without getting into the inconsistencies around their actions contrasted to this sentiment I want to state that at the core they are correct. But also in a way, so are Garafalo and Coulter and Savage - up to a point.

The most dangerous problems facing this nation aren't particularly political, they aren't because too much liberalism or too much conservatism, it's because of too much denial and self-delusion.

Holding a particular set of beliefs isn't where we're failing, it's when we choose to Cling (Yes, I said it) CLING DESPERATELY to those previously held beliefs rather than honestly assess the facts in front of us accurately.

All of these people are seeing the same problem, the inability of many people to function rationally and use fact and reason to reach a conclusion because doing so CONFLICTS with their deep seated beliefs. In short, what we think we know is preventing us from learning anything new.

We are learning through neurological scientific study how experiences are turned into memories in the hippocampus, and then later re-imprinted on the frontal lobe. The transfer of this information from one portion of the brain to another is most likely to speed retrieval during critical decision making and having the data already stored in the frontal lobe facilitates that.

The problem arises when our critical minds attempts to keep things "Neat and Tidy". We start to eliminate and reject thoughts or ideas which don't neatly fit into our existing thought-system. Rather than analyze the conflict and come to a resolution, we just throw it out and consider it "bad data".

This natural human tendency, which is a function of our neurology and physiology not a Mental Disability has been long called the Paradigm Paralysis.

In the late 1940s a man walked into a laboratory of a major photographic manufacturer in America to demonstrate a new photographic process. But he didn't bring along a camera or film. He brought along a red box with a shiny steel plate, a charging device, a light bulb and a container of black powder. The picture he created was faint but discernible.

"But where's the film?" they asked. "Where's the developer? Where's the darkroom? Why, that's not really photography!" And so the company passed up an opportunity to acquire the process for electrostatic photography, or xerography...a process that has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry.

Why did they pass up such a great opportunity? Because the people who saw the process were suffering from PARADIGM PARALYSIS.

What is paradigm paralysis? Or more basically, what is a paradigm?

As you probably know, a paradigm is a model or a pattern. It's a shared set of assumptions that have to do with how we perceive the world. Paradigms are very helpful because they allow us to develop expectations about what will probably occur based on these assumptions. But when data falls outside our paradigm, we find it hard to see and accept. This is called the PARADIGM EFFECT. And when the paradigm effect is so strong that we are prevented from actually seeing what is under our very noses,
we are said to be suffering from paradigm paralysis.

Perfectly smart people can and will say completely ridiculous, easily disprovable- things largely because of this paralysis.

And that's exactly what we have going on in our country today - A Paralysis.

This becomes even more intense when it goes beyond an individual opinion, and becomes a tribalistic doctrine of a larger group. We are all familiar with the loss of inhibition against unsociable behaviors that a group dynamic can create. What might seem irrational or unreasonable action to take as an individual, can become far easier and far more consequential when done as a group. We're all familiar with this in terms of Sports Team Rivalries, but it affects all types of rival groups, particularly political factions.

What I'm talking about here is the Mob Mentality.

The term “mob mentality” is used to refer to unique behavioral characteristics which emerge when people are in large groups. It is sometimes used disparagingly, as the term “mob” typically conjures up an image of a disorganized, aggressive, panicked group of people. Social psychologists who study group behavior tend to prefer terms like “herd behavior” or “crowd hysteria.” The study of mob mentality is quite fascinating, and it is used to analyze situations which range from evacuations gone awry to the moment when demonstrations turn violent.

It's when things get this level, where the Partisan Paradigm is re-enforced in order to maintain and enhance a social, political, economic or cultural power-base that some real and permanent damage can be done. This is where our society stops productively functioning, instead we spend our time any energy simply trying to "BEAT THE OTHER GUYS" rather than doing what's right and best for all of us.

From opposite sides of this political spectrum the other side just looks *CRAZY*, insane, fanatical - dangerous! While the Left is making what seems to them like perfectly cogent logical arguments to improve our country and improve the world, the Right doesn't hear them. Then the Right rails in frustration about the "Crazy Liberals" who can't seem to understand... and on and on it goes.

And the worse and worse it gets.

THIS is what the Tea Parties represent to me. A near complete collapse of our ability to work across the political chasm and work together for the greater good. Both sides have some valid points and valid arguments, but all of that is getting lost in all the Cheap Shots, the Sturm and Drang. It's all heat, no light, all carrier, no signal.

As I've stated everyone once in awhile, I'm a centrist - I don't cling to either left or right ideology - and have long felt they both had their benefits as well as their dangers. Government isn't hopelessly evil and flawed, and neither is Industry. Either can be dangerous and either can be beneficial. When we're too busy being locked into a rigid view, we can't get to the more important issue of identifying where either of these entities has truly gone wrong and what we really need to do to clean up the mess - we're too busy hurling "SOCIALISM", "FASCISM", "RACISM" accusations at each other.

We need to calm the hell down, and not look at a fact based on who said it - but whether the fact in and of itself IS VALID OR NOT. If it is, we have to embrace the Paradigm Shift, and incorporate that truth into our belief system, rather than reject it out of hand - or construct some elaborate dodge to explain it away.

The reason this is important is because if we only speak and communicate with those who Already Agree with Us, those only within our own political/social "tribe", the likelihood of making those kind of breakthroughs is limited. The likelihood of discovered NEW truths is stunted.

None of us knows everything, and if we aren't willing to constantly challenge and test our own beliefs, to UPGRADE our knowledge and facts, we fall into stagnation, then irrelevance, then frustration, then rage and eventually - violence.

It can be challenging, even annoying to have your every thought or word disputed. It gets worse when derision and ridicule is thrown on top of it. I don't know that this point itself won't be rejected out of hand, but it's better to at least make the attempt than walk away from the conversation (as so many of us have) in disgust and anger - looking for "revenge" and way to hurt each other in more and more cruel and ways.

We need to do better than this. We need to start building bridges and stop tearing them all down - Really we do - or else what Tim McVeigh attempted to start on this very day, April 19th, so many years ago and what Rick Perry and Tom Delay have hinted at this very week, Secession, a full-on Red-State/Blue-State Separation and a New American Civil War won't just be a memory.

It just might become our reality in the very near future, and I think - I hope - that none of us truly wants that.

Vyan