April 1, 2014 archive

It was all worth(less) it.


The CIA Won’t Let Senate Report Settle ‘Debate’ on Whether Torture Led to Bin Laden

By: Kevin Gosztola Firedog Lake

Monday March 31, 2014 11:41 am

For former government officials who have defended torture techniques, this report poses a key threat to their ability to continue to appear on cable news programs, pen editorials for newspapers and participate in speaking engagements where they can claim torture played an effective role in leading the US to bin Laden and helped keep the country safe.

This key talking point makes it possible to convince audiences and hosts of news programs to ignore the unmistakable fact that the interrogation techniques authorized were torture and should not be used on any human being. If it is lost, they will only have their disingenuous fear and crude ideology to aid them when confronted over their role in the CIA’s rendition, detention and torture program.

Former vice president Dick Cheney said on “The Charlie Rose Show” on February 13, 2013, “KSM was more than anybody else [subjected] to enhanced interrogation techniques and more than anybody else provided us with key pieces of intelligence that we needed in order to defend the nation against al Qaeda.”

On January 29, 2013, Jose Rodriguez, the former CIA Counterterrorism Center head who authorized the destruction of videotapes of interrogations, “It’s a ridiculous assertion when a report says that enhanced interrogation program had no value or produced nothing. Frankly it’s disturbing. Because in my view it is an attempt to rewrite history. The narrative of this administration is that the enhanced interrogation program was torture and nothing came out of it, but in fact we were able to destroy al Qaeda because of it.”

Rodriguez used appearances on television, where he was promoting his book, Hard Measures, to defend President George W. Bush’s administration and the use of torture techniques on terrorism suspects. He also, like other former officials, benefited from the release of the film, Zero Dark Thirty, depicting the hunt for bin Laden because it garnered him invitations to speak about how he believed intelligence from torture had led to bin Laden’s execution.

Former CIA director Michael Hayden has maintained that, “as late as 2006, even with the growing success of other intelligence tools, fully half of the government’s knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from those interrogations.” On February 23, 2013, on Fareed Zakaria’s program on CNN, he said, “Part of that fabric in the hunt for bin Laden came from detainees against whom enhanced interrogation techniques have been used.”

John Rizzo, a former top CIA lawyer who oversaw whether torture techniques used on captives were “legal,” also during this same month, “This program was carried out, was originally carried out, evolved over the years, was refined, produced thousands of intelligence reports and was conducted, mind you, all those years, by career CIA officers, non-political public servants.”

“To say – to make a blanket statement that nothing of any value ever came out of these techniques, I just think beggars the imagination. I just don’t buy that.”

Torture and Lies

CIA misled on interrogation program, Senate report says

By Greg Miller, Adam Goldman and Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post

Published: March 31

“The CIA described [its program] repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives,” said one U.S. official briefed on the report. “Was that actually true? The answer is no.”

Classified files reviewed by committee investigators reveal internal divisions over the interrogation program, officials said, including one case in which CIA employees left the agency’s secret prison in Thailand after becoming disturbed by the brutal measures being employed there. The report also cites cases in which officials at CIA headquarters demanded the continued use of harsh interrogation techniques even after analysts were convinced that prisoners had no more information to give.

U.S. officials said the committee refrained from assigning motives to CIA officials whose actions or statements were scrutinized. The report also does not recommend new administrative punishment or further criminal inquiry into a program that the Justice Department has investigated repeatedly. Still, the document is almost certain to reignite an unresolved public debate over a period that many regard as the most controversial in CIA history.

The Damning New Torture Report Shows The CIA Doing What It’s Always Done

By Charles P. Pierce, Esquire

on April 1, 2014

Surely this can’t be the work of the all-too-human, but mysteriously error-prone, heroes of our surveillance state? Surely this must be the result of the fact that Glenn Greenwald is a big dork, and, besides, Amazon has your information, so what do you care if the government does, anyway? Surely this can’t be the result of how we, as a nation, allowed the surveillance state to metastasize to the point at which it has corrupted almost every inch of our democracy. It will be easy to dismiss this, and the revelations about the NSA, as two different horses of two different colors, but the fact is, it is all of a piece. Once you accept one massive and ongoing violation of the Constitution in the name of security, whether or not it is obscured by a figleaf of legality provided by the government’s pet lawyers, you will find it difficult to get outraged about another one. Once you have allowed the surveillance state to grow, it will operate on its own imperatives, outside democratic norms.

And it’s not like this should be a surprise. The CIA — and all the elements of the intelligence apparatus — has played fast and loose with this country’s rule of law since its founding. The Church Committee gave us a very clear picture of the undying mentality of the CIA, and that was 40 years ago. That mentality demands that, if the CIA wants to do something, we should get out of the way and let them do it because they are imbued with a messianic fervor by which even their more grotesque mistakes — and history tells us there are a lot of them — are sanctified by a sense of holy mission.

“Misled investigators” is a nice, polite, journalistically objective way of saying “lied to the Congress.” People go to jail behind that stuff. Of course, the messianic sense of mission precludes punishments that might fall like bricks on ordinary mortals.

“I moved left just by standing still.”

In a recent interview with Peter Dreier at The Progressive, Bill Moyers, host of PBS’s popular Moyers and Company, was asked:

You seem to have moved steadily to the left in the past decade-not only in your public comments and articles but also in your public ties to progressive groups. Is this an accurate assessment? If so, what inspired this leftward shift?

His answer:

Journalism’s been a continuing course in adult education for me. And I’ve lived long enough to see the triumph of zealots and absolutists, to watch money swallow politics, to witness the rise of the corporate state. See the party of working and poor people become a sycophant of crony capitalism. Watch the union of church and state become fashionable again. Witness the coupling of news and entertainment. See everyday people cast overboard as the pirates and predators of Wall Street seized the ship of state. I didn’t drift; I moved left just by standing still.

Like Moyers in that interview, my politics have not changed since I became politically aware in the early 60’s. My views are the same now, as they were then. I have not moved but what passes for “left” has, to the right.

So where are you?


On This Day In History April 1

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

April 1 is the 91st day of the year (92nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 274 days remaining until the end of the year. April 1 is most notable in the Western world for being April Fools’ Day.

On this day in 1700, English pranksters begin popularizing the annual tradition of April Fools’ Day by playing practical jokes on each other.

Although the day, also called All Fools’ Day, has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, its exact origins remain a mystery. Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. These included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.

Historians have also linked April Fools’ Day to ancient festivals such as Hilaria, which was celebrated in Rome at the end of March and involved people dressing up in disguises. There’s also speculation that April Fools’ Day was tied to the vernal equinox, or first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, when Mother Nature fooled people with changing, unpredictable weather.

April Fools’ Day is celebrated all around the world on the April 1 of every year. Sometimes referred to as All Fools’ Day, April 1 is not a national holiday, but is widely recognized and celebrated as a day where everyone plays all kind of joke and foolishness. The day is marked by the commission of good humoured or funny jokes, hoaxes, and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, family members, teachers, neighbors, work associates, etc.

Traditionally, in some countries such as New Zealand, Ireland, the UK, Australia, and South Africa, the jokes only last until noon, and someone who plays a trick after noon is called an “April Fool”.

Elsewhere, such as in France, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Russia, The Netherlands, Germany, Brazil, Canada, and the U.S., the jokes last all day. The earliest recorded association between April 1 and foolishness can be found in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392). Many writers suggest that the restoration of the January 1 as New Year’s Day in the 16th century was responsible for the creation of the holiday, but this theory does not explain earlier references.

The Breakfast Club: 4-1-2014

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo BeerBreakfast_web_zps646fca37.png

This Day in History

Late Night Karaoke

March Madness 2014: Women’s Regional Finals Day 1

Time Network Seed School Record Seed School Record Region
7:30 ESPN 1 Notre Dame (35 – 0) 2 Baylor (34 – 4) East
9:30 ESPN 1 UConn (37 – 0) 3 Texas A&M (27 – 8) MidWest