April 27, 2009 archive

Weekly Torture Action Letter 8 – AG Holder, You Are Riding A Tiger.

This is the eighth in Dog’s letter writing campaign. For those joining us in the middle the basic idea is that each week the Dog creates a letter which you, the home audience can cut and paste and send to the following list of officials:

President Obama

AG Holder

Speaker Pelosi

Majority Leader Reid

Justices of the Supreme Court

Of course you can send it to your Senators and Representative as well, but the point is to get a steady drum beat of letters to these folks in the hopes that they will read some of them and take action on the issue of the Bush administrations State Sponsored Torture program.

This week’s letter is going to be addressed to AG Holder, with copies to all of the others.  

Four at Four

  1. Newsweek reports How Ali Soufan, an FBI agent, got Abu Zubaydah to talk without torture.

    The arguments at the CIA safe house were loud and intense in the spring of 2002. Inside, a high-value terror suspect, Abu Zubaydah, was handcuffed to a gurney. He had been wounded during his capture in Pakistan and still had bullet fragments in his stomach, leg and groin. Agency operatives were aiming to crack him with rough and unorthodox interrogation tactics-including stripping him nude, turning down the temperature and bombarding him with loud music. But one impassioned young FBI agent wanted nothing to do with it. He tried to stop them.

    The agent, Ali Soufan, was known as one of the bureau’s top experts on Al Qaeda. He also had a reputation as a shrewd interrogator who could work fluently in both English and Arabic. Soufan yelled at one CIA contractor and told him that what he was doing was wrong, ineffective and an affront to American values. At one point, Soufan discovered a dark wooden “confinement box” that the contractor had built for Abu Zubaydah. It looked, Soufan recalls, “like a coffin.” The mercurial agent erupted in anger, got on a secure phone line and called Pasquale D’Amuro, then the FBI assistant director for counterterrorism. “I swear to God,” he shouted, “I’m going to arrest these guys!

    D’Amuro and other officials were alarmed at what they heard from Soufan. They fretted about the political consequences of abusive interrogations and the Washington blowback they thought was inevitable, say two high-ranking FBI sources who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. According to a later Justice Department inspector general’s report, D’Amuro warned FBI Director Bob Mueller that such activities would eventually be investigated. “Someday, people are going to be sitting in front of green felt tables having to testify about all of this,” D’Amuro said, according to one of the sources.

    Soufan wrote an April 23rd op-ed for the NY Times, titled “My Tortured Decision“.

    For seven years I have remained silent about the false claims magnifying the effectiveness of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding. I have spoken only in closed government hearings, as these matters were classified. But the release last week of four Justice Department memos on interrogations allows me to shed light on the story, and on some of the lessons to be learned…

    It is inaccurate, however, to say that Abu Zubaydah had been uncooperative. Along with another F.B.I. agent, and with several C.I.A. officers present, I questioned him from March to June 2002, before the harsh techniques were introduced later in August. Under traditional interrogation methods, he provided us with important actionable intelligence…

    There was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah that wasn’t, or couldn’t have been, gained from regular tactics. In addition, I saw that using these alternative methods on other terrorists backfired on more than a few occasions – all of which are still classified. The short sightedness behind the use of these techniques ignored the unreliability of the methods, the nature of the threat, the mentality and modus operandi of the terrorists, and due process.

Four at Four continues with torture, swine flu, Iraq, Afghanistan-Pakistan, and wave power.

Geithner and Bybee: how legal corruption works

On Monday, the New York Times front-paged a long, detailed investigative article on Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary who is looting the nation’s public funds to enrich Wall Street executives. Not surprisingly, the article points out that Tim has lots of pals on Wall Street. What is a surprise is that he was offered the job of head of Citigroup in 2007 while serving as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of NY. You got that right: one of the chief “regulators” of the banking industry was offered a highly lucrative position as the head of one of the banks he was regulating.

What the NYT article does not point out is that this is how the stealthy corruption of our public officials works. Geithner was not just offered a job, he was implicitly offered assurance that Wall Street would take care of him financially as long as he took care of Wall Street. If Geithner had been busting heads and cracking down on Citigroup’s policies, he never would have received such an offer, and the implication of the offer was that if he started to crack down he would never again receive a similar offer. Geithner’s willingness to play ball with Wall Street led to his installation as Treasury Secretary, and now we see the fruits of “deep capture” of that high office: a lavish give-away program that has Wall Street salaries soaring again while the nation remains mired in recession and record setting deficits are funneling taxpayer cash into “private sector” institutions.

Just a few days earlier, the Washington Post ran an article on Judge Bybee, the issuer of an infamous White House opinion “legalizing” torture. It seems Judge Bybee was promised an appointment to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, but first Gonzales wanted him to do a little bit of dirty work in the Office of Legal Counsel. Of course there was never an explicit deal, but the torture was approved, and the judgeship granted. Bybee knew that if he had antagonized the Bush administration by resisting their demands to make torture legal he could kiss his seat on the bench goodbye. So he did the dirty deeds.

The perfection of legalized corruption is the main reason why no change of elected officials will clean up the United States government. The practice of controlling politicians and political appointees with tacit quid pro quos is legally impregnable. Only far-reaching reforms requiring rigid separation of public and private sector careers can overcome this stealthy form of corruption, and it is the corrupted politicians who would have to pass these laws. A new form of government must arise to end the insidious and destructive practices of stealthy, legal corruption. Building this new governmental structure should be the political goal of the citizens of the world. My book-in-progress on the Netstate is one step towards that goal. The first chapter can be read here:


Gallup Poll…Half of all Americans Want Investigations!

Note: Gallup did NOY use the word torture, but referred to torture by The BushSpeak term…”harsh interrogation.”

A new Gallup Poll finds 51% of Americans in favor and 42% opposed to an investigation into the use of harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects during the Bush administration.


In the disappointing part of the poll…

At the same time, 55% of Americans believe in retrospect that the use of the interrogation techniques was justified, while only 36% say it was not.


To gain a better understanding of how Americans feel about the matter, Gallup combined the results of the questions on whether the techniques were justified and whether the government should investigate. All told, the greatest number of Americans, 30%, seem to agree with Cheney’s position that the ends justified the means and that no investigation is necessary. Nearly as many (25%), though, would appear to side with many congressional Democrats who say the techniques should not have been used and an investigation is warranted. Twenty-three percent think the techniques were warranted yet still favor an investigation, while 10% think the methods should not have been used but nevertheless oppose an official inquiry.

The thing to take away from this, in my opinion, is that over half of America DOES want to see investigations.

Half of America does NOT want to “Move Forward”

Half of America does NOT want this swept under the rug.

half of America does NOT think investigations are a waste of time.

That to me, is damn good news.

Especially in light of the results showing that they watch too damn much “24” and STILL but Dick Cheney’s Bull.

Simulposted at Dkos

Reagan’s DOJ Prosecuted Texas Sheriff For Waterboarding Prisoners

Reagan’s DOJ Prosecuted Texas Sheriff For Waterboarding Prisoners

by Jason Leopold, April 27, 2009 – 8:49am  

George W. Bush’s Justice Department said subjecting a person to the near drowning of waterboarding was not a crime and didn’t even cause pain, but Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department thought otherwise, prosecuting a Texas sheriff and three deputies for using the practice to get confessions.

Federal prosecutors secured a 10-year sentence against the sheriff and four years in prison for the deputies. But that 1983 case – which would seem to be directly on point for a legal analysis on waterboarding two decades later – was never mentioned in the four Bush administration opinions released last week.

The failure to cite the earlier waterboarding case and a half-dozen other precedents that dealt with torture is reportedly one of the critical findings of a Justice Department watchdog report that legal sources say faults former Bush administration lawyers – Jay Bybee, John Yoo and Steven Bradbury – for violating “professional standards.”

Read the whole thing here…

Torture is not a “Policy” ….It Is A Crime

The Republicans have hijacked yet another issue with a meaningless deflection.

Actually two.

The first one is rather easily dealt with. One of their current deflections is rather easily dealt with, at least in theory.

They object that there was a ‘selective’ release of memos. They want more memos released.

U.S. Weighs Release of More CIA Memos

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has requested that the administration declassify additional CIA memos that he said would show the tactics worked.

It is of course, a bluff. How do we call that bluff? Easy!

Great, we say! Release em all! All the way back to the secret energy meetings Cheney held early on that led to Enron gaming the deregulated energy market. And that some have claimed was part of the slicing up of the Iraq oil pie, post invasion. Release the memos around manufacturing the evidence to invade Iraq.  Release the memos on the WTC site being environmentally safe after 9/11.  Release the memos on the Don Seigelman case. Release the memos on the US Attorney firings. Release the memos on Blackwater.  Release the memos on using white phosphorous in Iraq. Release the memos on the Katrina response.  Release the memos on illegal wiretapping. Release the memos on how the Black Sites were established and what went on there.  Release the memos on stalling on Climate Change and the political reasons for doing so. Release the memos about exposing Valerie Plame and an entire CIA nuclear counter-terrorism network.

Release the memos on Tora Bora and letting Bin Laden escape.

Release em all!

After all, we wouldn’t want to be ….selective…. now would we?


Nothing’s changed. Bush got his third term, and that’s why there will never be prosecutions.

(Cross-posted from www.progressive-independence.org.)

Paul Krugman says that prosecuting the previous regime for war crimes is about recovering America’s soul, and as usual he’s absolutely right.

the only way we can regain our moral compass, not just for the sake of our position in the world, but for the sake of our own national conscience, is to investigate how that happened, and, if necessary, to prosecute those responsible.

What about the argument that investigating the Bush administration’s abuses will impede efforts to deal with the crises of today? Even if that were true – even if truth and justice came at a high price – that would arguably be a price we must pay: laws aren’t supposed to be enforced only when convenient. But is there any real reason to believe that the nation would pay a high price for accountability?

For example, would investigating the crimes of the Bush era really divert time and energy needed elsewhere? Let’s be concrete: whose time and energy are we talking about?

Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, wouldn’t be called away from his efforts to rescue the economy. Peter Orszag, the budget director, wouldn’t be called away from his efforts to reform health care. Steven Chu, the energy secretary, wouldn’t be called away from his efforts to limit climate change. Even the president needn’t, and indeed shouldn’t, be involved. All he would have to do is let the Justice Department do its job – which he’s supposed to do in any case – and not get in the way of any Congressional investigations.

I don’t know about you, but I think America is capable of uncovering the truth and enforcing the law even while it goes about its other business.

Still, you might argue – and many do – that revisiting the abuses of the Bush years would undermine the political consensus the president needs to pursue his agenda.

But the answer to that is, what political consensus? There are still, alas, a significant number of people in our political life who stand on the side of the torturers. But these are the same people who have been relentless in their efforts to block President Obama’s attempt to deal with our economic crisis and will be equally relentless in their opposition when he endeavors to deal with health care and climate change. The president cannot lose their good will, because they never offered any.

The Torture of Dick Cheney



A Play in Two Scenes

Caution; the scene of interrogation might seem a tad bit harsh.

The Play begins below. Please turn off your cell phones. No flash photography. Thank you and enjoy the show.

Docudharma Times Monday April 28

Headlines Like This

Don’t Help

Is swine flu ‘the big one’  

I Guess They Just Love

Instilling Fear In People    

Monday’s Headlines:

U.S. toxic-asset plan stirs fears

Sri Lanka rejects Tamil Tigers’ ceasefire

Many reported dead as Pakistani army attacks Taleban near Swat

Saudi women face gyms ban

Israel’s secret plan for West Bank expansion

Chirac to be charged in cash for cronies case

Moscow police chief kills three in gun rampage

Italian cruise ship guards fire shots to repel pirates near Seychelles

Odinga calls for new Kenya poll

Ecuador’s populist leader still strong

U.S. Steps Up Alert as More Swine Flu Is Found

Precaution Taken Despite Mildness Of Cases Detected Domestically

By David Brown

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, April 27, 2009

The United States declared a “public health emergency” yesterday as countries from New Zealand to Scotland investigated suspected cases of illness that they feared might be a strain of swine flu that has been identified in Mexico, the United States and Canada.

As of yesterday, however, no confirmed cases of the newly emerged flu strain had been found outside those three countries. Many of the people under observation around the world reported recent travel to Mexico.

With the U.S. announcement, civilian and military stockpiles of antiviral drugs were being readied for rapid distribution in the event that transmission of swine flu virus accelerates.

Swine flu death toll exceeds 100 as pandemic fears grow

• World Health Organisation urges global vigilance

• US declares national health emergency

Chris McGreal in Washington, Jo Tuckman in Mexico City and agencies

guardian.co.uk, Monday 27 April 2009 07.26 BST

Governments around the world are on high alert for a swine flu pandemic today as the death toll from the virus in Mexico rose to more than 100 and possible cases were reported as far afield as Israel, New Zealand and Scotland.

A declaration at the weekend by the World Health Organisation of an international public health emergency was followed by a call for worldwide surveillance of the spread of the virus. The illness has rapidly claimed 103 lives, confined hundreds of people to hospital, and brought Mexico City, one of the world’s largest, to a near standstill.The United States last night separately declared its own emergency after officials said the virus was now so widespread it was unlikely it could be contained. However, White House officials urged people not to panic and pointed out that no case outside Mexico had proved fatal.


Shortage of Doctors Proves Obstacle to Obama Goals


Published: April 26, 2009

WASHINGTON – Obama administration officials, alarmed at doctor shortages, are looking for ways to increase the supply of physicians to meet the needs of an aging population and millions of uninsured people who would gain coverage under legislation championed by the president.

The officials said they were particularly concerned about shortages of primary care providers who are the main source of health care for most Americans.

One proposal – to increase Medicare payments to general practitioners, at the expense of high-paid specialists – has touched off a lobbying fight.

Family doctors and internists are pressing Congress for an increase in their Medicare payments.

Monday Morning Business Update

Old News


1 U.S. offers strong backing for IMF governance overhaul

By Glenn Somerville, Reuters

2 hrs 46 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Saturday pledged robust support for an overhaul of governing power within the International Monetary Fund so key emerging-market nations get more say in how the lender operates.

In a speech to the IMF’s steering committee, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner also called on the Fund to be prepared to offer loans to recapitalize banks or to aid developing countries in rolling over corporate debt.

Geithner’s proposals, delivered in a strongly worded address at the IMF’s semiannual meeting, are likely to provoke some controversy among the other industrialized countries who, with the United States, have long dominated the global lender.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

An Opened Mind XXIV

Art Link

Black and Gold

Tarnishing the Gold


he was a handsome man

handsome of soul

if not countenance

He should have been

what he wanted to be

a breeder of peace and love

He told me I should

do unto others

as I would want them

to do unto me

He never told me

it was a bargain

or payment

or investment

to expect benefit


or return

— nothing —


for the knowledge

that I did the right thing

Those who want more

have tarnished his name

and denied his dream

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–January 20, 2006

Late Night Karaoke

 Don’t Look Now

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