Category Archives: 2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights

30 Disgusting Facts from the CIA Torture Report

From The Guardian:

Justification was fake:

The CIA’s justification for the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.

CIA blocked DoJ:

The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.

CIA blocked Congress:

The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.

CIA blocked the White House:

The CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making.

It disrupted national security overall:

The CIA’s operation and management of the program complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions of other Executive Branch agencies.

CIA blocked their Office of Inspector General:

The CIA impeded oversight by the CIA’s Office of Inspector General.

They didn’t even care if it worked:

The CIA failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness of its enhanced interrogation techniques.

They stopped others from finding out that it wasn’t working:

The CIA marginalized and ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections concerning the operation and management of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.

It fucked things up for the next several decades:

The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program damaged the United States’ standing in the world, and resulted in other significant monetary and non-monetary costs

From Salon:

It didn’t work:

Of 20 reported “counterterrorism successes” cited by agency officials who claimed that the use of torture was essential to thwarting terror plots. In some of the cases, the report states, there was “no relationship” between the counterterrorism success and the use of torture.

Sleep deprivation for over a week:

CIA facilities would be deprived of sleep for days on end — in some cases for up to 180 hours.

9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times:

The waterboardings eventually turned into “a series of near drownings. .Abu Zubaydah, the CIA’s first detainee, also underwent waterboarding, once to the point that he became “completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth.”

Rectal hydration and feeding:

Agency interrogators forced at least five detainees to undergo “rectal rehydration” or “rectal feeding” even in the absence of any “documented medical necessity,”

Detainees familes were threatened:

CIA interrogators threatened to harm detainees’ families — including threats to harm a detainee’s children, to commit sexual violence against a detainee’s mother, and to slit a detainee’s mother’s throat.

CIA lied about how many in the detainee population:

Even though the agency publicly maintained that it held 98 prisoners, CIA records indicated that 119 detainees were in its custody.

Detainees forced to stand on broken legs:

Detainees who had sustained either broken legs or feet were made to stand in stress positions, the committee found.

From a Think Progress rundown:

Torture didn’t help get Bin Laden:

Torture did not lead the CIA to the courier who ultimately helped capture Osama bin Laden.

CIA staff objected to torture, leadership told them to keep going:

CIA personnel objected to torture techniques, but were “instructed” by the CIA headquarters to continue. Several on the team profoundly affected.. .some to the point of tears and choking up.

Two psychologists made $81 million justifying torture:

CIA’s base contract with the company formed by the psychologists with all options exercised was in excess of $180 million; the contractors received $81 million prior to the contract’s termination in 2009

They hid it from Colin Powell:

“At the direction of the White House, the secretaries of state and defense – both principals on the National Security Council – were not briefed on program specifics until September 2003. An internal CIA email from July 2003 noted that “… the WH [White House] is extremely concerned [Secretary] Powell would blow his stack if he were to be briefed on what’s been going on.”

CIA didn’t punish an officer that killed a detainee:

In one instance, involving the death of a CIA detainee at COBALT, CIA Headquarters decided not to take disciplinary action against an officer involved because, at the time, CIA… In another instance related to a wrongful detention, no action was taken against a CIA officer

We tortured innocent people:

Of the 119 known detainees that were in CIA custody during the life of the program, at least 26 were wrongfully held.

The CIA inflicted propaganda on the public to guide opinion and stop criticism:

The CIA’s Office of Public Affairs and senior CIA officials coordinated to share classified information on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program to select members of the media to counter public criticism.

They dismissed information that later turned out to be true because it wasn’t obtained through torture:

KSM’s reporting during his first day in CIA custody included an accurate description of a Pakistani/British operative, which was dismissed as having been provided during the initial “‘throwaway’ stage” of information collection when the CIA believed detainees provided false or worthless information.’”

Torture techniques included mock burials and the use of insects:

“(1) the attention grasp, (2) walling, (3) facial hold, (4) facial slap, (5) cramped confinement, (6) wall standing, (7) stress positions, (8) sleep deprivation, (9) waterboard, (10) use of diapers, (11) use of insects, and (12) mock burial.” [Page 32]

Contractors had previously been involved in sexual assault:

Group of officers included individuals who, among other issues, had engaged in inappropriate detainee interrogations, had workplace anger management issues, and had reportedly admitted to sexual assault.

Russian roulette:

“Among other abuses…had engaged in ‘Russian Roulette’ with a detainee.” [Page 424]

CIA tortured their own informants by accident:

After both detainees had spent approximately 24 hours shackled in the standing sleep deprivation position, CIA Headquarters confirmed that the detainees were former CIA sources.

We had a dungeon:

 CIA detainees at the COBALT detention facility were kept in complete darkness and constantly shackled in isolated cells with loud noise or music and only a bucket to use for human waste. Lack of heat at the facility likely contributed to the death of a detainee. The chief of interrogations described COBALT as a “dungeon.”

It cost a lot:

CIA records indicate that the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program cost well over $300 million in non-personnel costs.

Pardoning Torturers Won’t Mean Shit

I’m complete appalled at ACLU President Anthony Romero’s justification for Obama pardoning the Bush cabal for torture in The New York Times:

“The spectacle of the president’s granting pardons to torturers still makes my stomach turn. But doing so may be the only way to ensure that the American government never tortures again. Pardons would make clear that crimes were committed; that the individuals who authorized and committed torture were indeed criminals; and that future architects and perpetrators of torture should beware. Prosecutions would be preferable, but pardons may be the only viable and lasting way to close the Pandora’s box of torture once and for all.”

I think it’s disgusting for the ACLU to not hold up the highest standard of hope for action and change – instead they are downgrading their expectations and goals. Future architects and perpetrators should beware – if they torture again it will be a crime – and they will be pardoned – so why bother? Just like with the goddamn banks. ‘We’ll let you off with a warning but you guys better watch out next time you guys okay you guys?’ Drag these criminals into the sunlight, get to the truth, prosecute, and punish. The last names of these men and women should be disgraced for generations.

Image from ACLU’s own site.

Torture’s OK Because ‘America Is Awesome’

They totally said that:

“The United States of America is awesome, we are awesome. We’ve closed the book on it, and we’ve stopped doing it. And the reason they want to have this discussion is not to show how awesome we are. This administration wants to have this discussion to show us how we’re not awesome.”

Left in the Gutter

“My stepmother never complained to us, always tried to keep us busy. I know she slept with some men in a sugar daddy arrangement so we would have at least some toys, and I remember the day my father came home being so furious with her. She lied, she was a cheater, and my little sister and I had to keep it a secret forever. Which we have done; I haven’t mentioned this to anyone until this moment. I found out later that she only allowed herself to cry in the shower, except for the two times she lost patience with us and spanked us and told us that she hated us. … Poor people aren’t worried about antioxidants and a balanced diet. They’re worried about having water and electricity and heat in the winter. They are worried about how to miraculously make it through another week without losing their minds, or their children, or deciding to just give up the good fight, and spend their lives on welfare on the front porch with their neighbors, watching their kids give up too. Even the few who make it out with any kind of success have to claim that it was easy and anybody could do it. They have to blame laziness, or morality, or drugs, because the other choice is admitting that their society left them in the gutter without much of a chance of making it out.”

Commenter on a discussions about food and poverty on MetaFilter

Wielding Power

“The only rational thought is that he’s gotten what he wants. That he wanted to protect the torturers. That he wanted to protect the banksters. That he wanted to solidify and increase the powers of an Imperial Presidency. That he wanted Health Care Reform that amounts to little more than a giveaway to the megacorporations and no public option. That he wanted to put Social Security up on the chopping block.

“None of those are comforting thoughts but they don’t require us to imagine that Obama, a man of demonstrated intelligence, is an moron.

“And I’ll still (pointlessly since I live in Texas) be casting my vote for the lousy, backstabbing, villain in 2012 because even given all that he’s still a better choice than any Republican.

“Though, at this point, I’m pretty sure that’s entirely due to the Supreme Court.

  • Am I worried that the next Republican president will shit all over the Constitution and start a new and obscenely costly foreign war without even pretending to care about separation of powers? Nope, Obama (the Constitutional scholar!) already did that.
  • Am I worried that the next Republican president will slash social spending to the bone while increasing military spending? Nope, Obama already did that.
  • Am I worried that the next Republican president will decide that he has the power to imprison (forever and without even the possibility of charges and trials) any American citizen they declare to be a terrorist? Nope, Obama already did that.
  • Am I worried that the next Republican president will decide that they can order the CIA to assassinate American citizens merely on the presidential declaration that those citizens are terrorists? Nope, Obama already did that.
  • Am I worried that the next Republican president will attack whistleblowers while ignoring the crimes those whistleblowers report? Nope, Obama already did that.
  • Am I worried that the next Republican president will severely restrict abortion via executive order and legislation? Nope, Obama already did that.
  • Am I worried that the next Republican president will offer retroactive immunity to corporations which cooperate with blatantly illegal civil rights abuses? Nope, Obama alread did that.
  • The only thing I can see that differentiates Obama from Romney is who they’ll appoint to the Supreme Court.
  • I can’t be scared with dire threats that if Obama loses we’ll be plunged into war, the economy will be fucked, civil rights will be trampled, and the safety net will be shredded. Obama’s already done all that.

“The single, solitary, only thing I see that makes Obama better than any Republican up to and including Palin, is the Supreme Court.

“And on that basis I’ll vote for him. It will hurt. It will make me depressed and wretched for weeks after. I’ll hate myself for doing it, but I will because the Supreme Court is important.

“But I can’t keep pretending that the problem is that Obama just isn’t good at wielding power. He’s great at wielding power, and everything that has happened since he came into office is exactly what he wanted.

Commenter on MetaFilter

Pro-War Ideology Connected to Being Shielded From the Human Cost of War

“[A new study] suggests that many Americans’ aggressively pro-war ideology may fundamentally rely on their being physically shielded/disconnected from the human cost of war. … The researchers analyzed data from the Jennings-Niemi Political Socialization Study of college-bound high schoolers and subsequent interviews of those same high-schoolers from 1965 onward. In the process, they discovered that men holding low draft lottery numbers (and therefore more at risk of being drafted into combat) “became more anti-war, more liberal, and more Democratic in their voting compared to those whose high numbers protected them from the draft.” Importantly, for these men “lottery number was a stronger influence on their political outlook than their late-childhood party identification.” That influence transcended previous party affiliation and made a permanent impact on their politics into adulthood. Men with vulnerable numbers show evidence of totally rethinking their partisanship in response to the threat of the draft,” the researchers report. “Republicans in the group abandoned their party with unusual frequency, while even Democrats moved toward the independent category with slightly greater frequency than others.””

Why people become chickenhawks, Salon.com

Justice Scalia and the Little Black Box

“I’ve always wanted someone to run a black box experiment with all the SCOTUS justices. Here’s how it would work. Take any case, X. Break it down along ideological grounds… an opinion/ruling … favored a corporation over the consumer or the other way around; or expanded/upheld/restricted civil rights; expanded/restricted government power vs citizen rights, labor vs owners etc. Now we assign Justice Scalia (or whoever) a certain profile – say, we assume that really, at bottom, Scalia is a social conservative with an authoritarian complex (for the sake of argument). … So it’s like a black box – feed Scalia on one end, and at the other end you get the ideological outcome. … A case comes up. I think to myself – “OK, how would someone rule in this case, so that they can stick it to the little guy, or favor a corporation over the consumer, or restrict civil rights, or have a negative outcome for women, gays etc.” – and then I say to myself: I put this in my magic black box, and I already know how Scalia is going to rule/opine – and darn, it, it’s right! … The black box works, folks.”

Commenter on MetaFilter

How Roger Ailes Failed at Setting Up a Strong Republican Candidate for 2012

‘”[Fox News’s Roger] Ailes is the most successful executive in television by a wide margin, and he has been so for more than a decade. He is also, in a sense, the head of the Republican Party, having employed five prospective presidential candidates and done perhaps more than anyone to alter the balance of power in the national media in favor of the Republicans. “Because of his political work”—Ailes was a media strategist for Nixon, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush—“he understood there was an audience,” Ed Rollins, the veteran GOP consultant, told me. “He knew there were a couple million conservatives who were a potential audience, and he built Fox to reach them.”’

‘”You can’t run for the Republican nomination without talking to Roger,” one GOPer told me. “Every single candidate has consulted with Roger.” But he hasn’t found any of them, including the adults in the room—Jon Huntsman, Mitch Daniels, Mitt Romney—compelling. “He finds flaws in every one,” says a person familiar with his thinking.’

“It would be easy to look at Fox and think it’s conservative because Rupert and Roger are conservative and they program it the way they like. And to a degree, that’s true. But it’s also a business,” a person close to Ailes explained. “And the way the business works is, they control conservative commentary the way ESPN controls the market for sports rights. If you have a league, you have a meeting with ESPN, you find out how much they’re willing to pay, and then everyone else agrees to pay the same amount if they want it … It’s sort of the same at Fox. I was surprised at some of what was being paid until I processed it that way. If you’re ABC and you don’t have Newt Gingrich on a particular morning, you can put someone else on. But if you’re Fox, and Newt is moving and talking today, you got to have him. Otherwise, your people are like, ‘Where’s Newt? Why isn’t he on my channel?’ ”’

And then the wheels came off: How Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes Failed at Setting Up a Strong Republican Candidate for 2012 — New York Magazine.

Private Insurance is a Defective Product

“Private insurance is a defective product. … Even middle-class families with supposedly good coverage are just one serious illness away from financial ruin. My colleagues and I recently found that medical bills and illness contribute to 62 percent of all personal bankruptcies — a 50 percent increase since 2001. Strikingly, three-quarters of the medically bankrupt had insurance — at least when they first got sick. In case after case, the insurance families bought in good faith failed them when they needed it most. Some were bankrupted by co-payments and deductibles, and loopholes that allowed their insurer to deny coverage. Others got too sick to work, leaving them unemployed and uninsured. And insurance regulations like those proposed in the tri-committee bill cannot fix these problems.”

Testimony of Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., to the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee

Former Military Interrogator on How Torture Delayed Finding Bin Laden

“One of the things that people aren’t talking about is the fact that one of the people that was confronted with this information that bin Laden had a courier is Skaykh al-Libi, who was held in a CIA secret prison and was tortured and who gave his CIA interrogators the name of the courier as being Maulawi Jan. And the CIA chased down that information and found out that person didn’t exist, that al-Libi had lied. And nobody is talking about the fact that al-Libi caused us to waste resources and time by chasing a false lead because he was tortured. The other thing that’s being left out of this conversation is the fact that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed certainly knew the real name of the courier, whose nom de guerre or nickname was Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. But Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had to have known his real name or at least how to find him, a location that we might look, but he never gave up that information. And so, what we’re seeing is that waterboarding and enhanced interrogation techniques, just like professional interrogators have been saying for years, always result in either limited information, false information or no information.

” I don’t torture because it doesn’t work. I don’t torture, because it’s immoral, and it’s against the law, and it’s inconsistent with my oath of office, in which I swore to defend the Constitution of the United States. And it’s also inconsistent with American principles. So, my primary argument against torture is one of morality, not one of efficacy. You know, if torture did work and we could say it worked 100 percent of the time, I still wouldn’t use it. The U.S. Army Infantry, when it goes out into battle and it faces resistance, it doesn’t come back and ask for the permission to use chemical weapons. I mean, chemical weapons are extremely effective—we could say almost 100 percent effective. And yet, we don’t use them. But we make this—carve out this special space for interrogators and say that, well, they’re different, so they can violate the laws of war if they face obstacles.”

“When I was in Iraq, I oversaw the interrogations of foreign fighters. And those foreign fighters, the majority of them, said, time and time again, the reason they had come to Iraq to fight was because of the torture and abuse of detainees at both Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay. And this is not my opinion. The Department of Defense tracked these statistics. And they were briefed, every interrogator who arrived there, that torture and abuse was al-Qaeda’s number one recruiting tool.

“They won’t talk about the fact that al-Qaeda uses it to recruit. They won’t talk about the fact that future Americans are going to be subjected to the same techniques by future enemies using our own actions as justification. They’re not going to talk about the fact that it makes detainees more resistant to interrogations as soon as they walked in the interrogation room, because they see us all as torturers. So they’re not going to talk about all these long-term negative consequences.”

Former Military Interrogator Matthew Alexander on Democracy Now.