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The secret CIA prisons are real, it's Official!™
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Samsally



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 6330

PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2006 5:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agamemnon wrote:
Hypotheticals aside, there needs to be justification from the admin.


Legit justification that makes sense.


There is no justification to purposely hurting someone.

There just isn't. It is wrong.
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MsFrisby



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Burying the Lede Again: It's Not about the DEFINITION of Torture
Posted on 2006.09.16 at 01:41
Current Mood: good
Tags: current events, war on terror
Like a lot of "dry alcoholics," President Bush almost never lets himself show any anger. And to keep that anger out of his voice, he talks very slowly, with an almost sing-song pitch. Frankly, even when I want to know what he's saying, I usually find this self-enforced blandness in his speech sleep-inducing; I literally can not stay awake while listening to the man's voice for more than a minute or two. I end up, usually, having to read the text off the White House web site the next day. But that hasn't been a problem for me in the last couple of days. The blandness is gone. The President has thrown emotional self-censorship out the window. He's royally pissed off. It's probably not the first time in the last six years that he's been made angry, but this time it's over the top. This time it's a bridge too far. No, this time he's pissed off and he doesn't care if we know about it. I got my first view of this watching a stand-up interview with Matt Lauer in the White House. It went perfectly normally, and I might have slipped off to sleep again ... until Matt Lauer started asking follow-up questions, trying to put the President on the record about one particular issue. The President lost his temper, and started yelling, and leaned in on Matt Lauer like a drill sergeant berating a substandard recruit. He then went on to give a couple of angry speeches on the same subject over the next couple of days. But then, during Friday's press conference, another NBC reporter David Gregory asked an extremely well-crafted question back on that subject, and this time the President went truly ballistic.

The subject in question is that over the last weekend, the White House complied with the Supreme Court's ruling in Hamdan v Rumsfeld and shut down the secret prisons where, in former Soviet gulags all over eastern Europe, the CIA was using what the President euphemistically calls "harsh questioning" on 14 "high value" al Qaeda prisoners in an attempt to torture them into betraying al Qaeda operatives and plans. Per Supreme Court order, those 14 prisoners have been transferred to our more permanent detainment camp in the US-occupied legal limbo of the eastern tip of Cuba, Guantanamo Bay. And it is against this backdrop that the White House attempted to get the Armed Forces Subcommittees of both houses of Congress to pass yet another "clarification" of the rules for interrogating accused terrorists. The White House version sailed right through the House committee (something I haven't seen reported on enough). But in the Senate, 4 of the Republicans on the evenly divided committee said flatly "NO," sided with the unanimous Democratic members of the committee, and passed their own version of the bill that 100% flatly contradicts the White House bill. Among those leading the revolt were the only member of the US Senate to have himself been tortured in violation of the Geneva Conventions while being held as a prisoner of war, John McCain, and the most ardently pro-military senator in the whole US congress, John Warner.

It took David Gregory to do the best job of explaining why the revolt happened, with a hypothetical question during Friday's press conference: what if North Korea were to capture a CIA operative, one of our people who might meet the same definition of non-uniformed non-regular combatant -- would we want the North Koreans to feel that they had the right to re-interpret the Geneva Conventions according to their own standards and their own needs when they were questioning that guy? I wonder if Gregory realizes that this isn't, exactly, a hypothetical -- it actually happened in one famous case. When Iranian radicals seized the US embassy in Tehran, Iran back in 1979, one of the people they caught inside was the CIA's top agent in the region. They tortured that man to death over several days. They videotaped the whole thing, and distributed that tape pretty widely throughout the Middle East because using torture, they managed to extract from him a complete confession of the CIA's role in the torture and murder of thousands of suspected anti-Shah-of-Iran dissidents and their families and friends. Considering how essential it was to the (now) Iranian government that they obtain that information, and considering that (since what they did to him was nothing more or less than what his agents had done to them and their families) it rather obviously didn't "shock the conscience" of the interrogators, would the President or his ever-fewer remaining backers like to extend, retroactively, to the barbarians who seized our embassy back then the "right" under the Geneva Conventions to "clarify" and "re-interpret" the Third Geneva Convention? Or was that, in fact, like virtually every other step the Iranians took during that crisis, a festering war crime for which we're entitled to still be angry and to still hope, some day, for convictions and reparations?

In response to this, the White House has posted to their web site a rather interesting rebuttal. In "Now and Then: Editorials on the McCain Amendment," the White House points out that their version of the bill cites the 2005 McCain Amendment as being included in the definition of what is torture, and that the same people who're going ballistic over their new bill claimed at the time that the McCain Amendment was more than sufficient, went beyond what was needed, to keep the US in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. But, I argue, this is not a point they ought to want to be winning. Because if what the President so angrily yelled at Matt Lauer and David Gregory and others is true, then what is the President so angry about? I wonder if I know what it is that they're not saying. I don't think it's the murkiness of the "clarification" of the definition of torture that is the part of the White House version of the bill that is so important to them. I think it's something else, something much more interesting to speculate about why they need it so badly that the President is losing his last vestige of self control at the thought he won't get it.

I wish I could still find a copy of their version online to show you. I can't tonight for some reason, but I remember that buried underneath the murky prose about torture is a small chunk of text regarding what should happen if any American is accused, under the War Crimes Act, of violating the Third Geneva Convention. The White House asked Congress to declare that it would be a sufficient legal defense if the person accused of a war crime "reasonably believed" that what they were doing was legal. Why is that important? Well, let's see. Let's go back and look and see who "reasonably believed" that it was perfectly legal to use things that the Third Geneva Convention, and all laws on torture, prohibit while questioning people like Khalid Sheik Mohammad. That'd be ... US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and President George W. Bush.

You see, if they haven't already done so, any day now those 14 torture victims are going to get their first meeting with the famously neutral and professional prisoner-treatment experts of the International Committee of the Red Cross. When they do, we're all going to hear the details of how the CIA questioned those 14 prisoners. I strongly suspect that when we do, we're going to wish for the "good old days" when we thought the casual depredations and random sexual sadism of Georgia, Texas, and Alabama prison guards at Abu Ghraib was as bad as it got. And when it comes out, as it frankly already has in every way but the grotesque details, that George W. Bush signed an executive order approving that treatment, he's going to have a big, big problem. Violating the War Crimes Act isn't just any old "high crimes and misdemeanors" -- it's a death penalty offense. While in office, the President enjoys a tiny slice of limited immunity, but his close friends don't. And even if the Democrats don't get enough numbers in November to pursue impeachment next spring, even if they do get the numbers and decide not to, come January 2009 he could easily be facing a death penalty war crimes trial here in the US.

So it is very important to him to try to get Congress to sign off on the following argument. The Albert Gonzalez "torture memo" outlined a new, never tested before, novel legal theory as to why the Geneva Convention didn't apply while interrogating members of the Taliban and al Qaeda. George Bush really, really wants to be able to say with a straight face that he believed what his lawyer told him when he said that this was legal. That because this theory hadn't been tried yet in the Supreme Court, it was reasonable for him to believe his lawyer. That as soon as the theory was proven false when it didn't hold up in front of the Supreme Court, he stopped. And that therefore, he should be let off the hook. Now, I suggest that you ask any criminal defense attorney if, "I thought what I was doing was legal" is sufficient defense in any criminal trial? No, it's not. And that, not any "confusion" about what the Third Geneva Convention defines as torture, may well be what's cost the President his usual self-control this week.

Postscript: I've gone on at too much length for one day already. But if you agree with the administration that whether it was legal or not, this was something we had to do to prevent another 9/11? You're wrong about that, too, say the government's own experts on stopping terrorism. I really, really, really recommend that you read Ron Suskind's analysis piece from the September 10th, 2006's Time magazine: "The Unofficial Story of the al-Qaeda 14."


Lots of good links contained within the story here.
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Major Tom



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 4:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

helps to explain the unease i felt when i heard the red cross would be allowed to inspect and speak with the 14 at guantanamo only if they agreed not to release or discuss any findings
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Dusty



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 4:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

right, because if they did it would be in violation of their amendment right to privacy. Not that their being there is in violation of any other part of the constitution.
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Major Tom



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 4:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

completely off base.
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dazedb42



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 4:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
And when it comes out, as it frankly already has in every way but the grotesque details, that George W. Bush signed an executive order approving that treatment, he's going to have a big, big problem. Violating the War Crimes Act isn't just any old "high crimes and misdemeanors" -- it's a death penalty offense. While in office, the President enjoys a tiny slice of limited immunity, but his close friends don't. And even if the Democrats don't get enough numbers in November to pursue impeachment next spring, even if they do get the numbers and decide not to, come January 2009 he could easily be facing a death penalty war crimes trial here in the US.


Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing

Disclaimer. I don't endorse the death penalty for anything but maybe just this once.
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kame



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Death Penalty is too good for him (and flat-out wrong). The rest of his life in a maximum security prison would satisfy me.
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Snorri



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 1:23 pm    Post subject: Re: it saves time but it came from hatrack originally rilly Reply with quote

Agamemnon wrote:

If torture does not work, ever, why is the Bush admin asking for it to be considered? Why keep on with such a politically damaging track? Is there actual value to torture?



They're stupid?
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kame



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 1:42 pm    Post subject: Re: it saves time but it came from hatrack originally rilly Reply with quote

Snorri wrote:
Agamemnon wrote:

If torture does not work, ever, why is the Bush admin asking for it to be considered? Why keep on with such a politically damaging track? Is there actual value to torture?



They're stupid?


They've watched too many Regan-era action flicks, Alias, and 24 episodes. Never ones to admit to reality, they swallowed the idea of torture like a large-mouth bass swallows a particularily tasty lure. Razz
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Major Tom



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Editorial
Bush Untethered

Published: September 17, 2006
Watching the president on Friday in the Rose Garden as he threatened to quit interrogating terrorists if Congress did not approve his detainee bill, we were struck by how often he acts as though there were not two sides to a debate. We have lost count of the number of times he has said Americans have to choose between protecting the nation precisely the way he wants, and not protecting it at all.

On Friday, President Bush posed a choice between ignoring the law on wiretaps, and simply not keeping tabs on terrorists. Then he said the United States could rewrite the Geneva Conventions, or just stop questioning terrorists. To some degree, he is following a script for the elections: terrify Americans into voting Republican. But behind that seems to be a deeply seated conviction that under his leadership, America is right and does not need the discipline of rules. He does not seem to understand that the rules are what makes this nation as good as it can be.

The debate over prisoners is not about whether some field agent can dunk Osama bin Laden’s head to learn the location of the ticking bomb, as one senator suggested last week. It is about whether the United States can confront terrorism without shredding our democratic heritage. This nation is built on the notion that the rules restrain our behavior, because we know we’re fallible. Just look at the hundreds of men in Guantánamo Bay, many guilty of nothing, facing unending detention because Mr. Bush did not want to follow the rules after 9/11.

Now Mr. Bush insists that in cleaning up his mess, Congress should exempt C.I.A. interrogators from the Geneva Conventions. “The bottom line is simple: If Congress passes a law that does not clarify the rules — if they do not do that — the program’s not going forward,” Mr. Bush said. But clarity is not the issue. The Geneva Conventions are clear and provide ample room for interrogating terrorists. Similarly, in the debate over eavesdropping on terrorists’ conversations, Mr. Bush says that if he has to get a warrant, he can’t do it at all. Actually, he has ample authority to eavesdrop on terrorists, under the very law he is breaking, the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat who is on the Senate Intelligence Committee, says that after being briefed on the wiretapping, she concluded that “this surveillance can be done, without sacrifice to our national security,” within the law. She has introduced a bill to affirm FISA’s control over all wiretapping. It would also give the authorities far more flexibility to listen first and get a warrant later when it’s really urgent. But the only bill Mr. Bush wants is a co-production of Vice President Dick Cheney and Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that gives the president more room to ignore FISA and chokes off any court challenges.

The best thing Congress could do for America right now is to drop this issue and let the courts decide the matter. Mr. Bush can’t claim urgency; it’s not as though he has stopped the wiretapping.

Legislation is needed on the prisoner issue, although not as urgently as Mr. Bush says. Three Republican senators, John McCain, John Warner, and Lindsey Graham, have a bill that is far better than the White House version but it, too, has some huge flaws that will take time to fix. It will be hard in an election year, but if the Republicans stand firm, and Democrats insist on the needed changes, they might just require Mr. Bush to recognize that he is subject to the same restraints that applied to every other president of this nation of laws.
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mouse



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

well, here's paul krugman's take on the matter:
Quote:
September 18, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist
King of Pain
By PAUL KRUGMAN

A lot has been written and said about President Bush’s demand that Congress “clarify” the part of the Geneva Conventions that, in effect, outlaws the use of torture under any circumstances.

We know that the world would see this action as a U.S. repudiation of the rules that bind civilized nations. We also know that an extraordinary lineup of former military and intelligence leaders, including Colin Powell, have spoken out against the Bush plan, warning that it would further damage America’s faltering moral standing, and end up endangering U.S. troops.

But I haven’t seen much discussion of the underlying question: why is Mr. Bush so determined to engage in torture?

Let’s be clear what we’re talking about here. According to an ABC News report from last fall, procedures used by C.I.A. interrogators have included forcing prisoners to “stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours”; the “cold cell,” in which prisoners are forced “to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees,” while being doused with cold water; and, of course, water boarding, in which “the prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet,” then “cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner’s face and water is poured over him,” inducing “a terrifying fear of drowning.”

And bear in mind that the “few bad apples” excuse doesn’t apply; these were officially approved tactics — and Mr. Bush wants at least some of these tactics to remain in use.

I’m ashamed that my government does this sort of thing. I’d be ashamed even if I were sure that only genuine terrorists were being tortured — and I’m not. Remember that the Bush administration has imprisoned a number of innocent men at Guantánamo, and in some cases continues to imprison them even though it knows they are innocent.

Is torture a necessary evil in a post-9/11 world? No. People with actual knowledge of intelligence work tell us that reality isn’t like TV dramas, in which the good guys have to torture the bad guy to find out where he planted the ticking time bomb.

What torture produces in practice is misinformation, as its victims, desperate to end the pain, tell interrogators whatever they want to hear. Thus Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi — who ABC News says was subjected to both the cold cell and water boarding — told his questioners that Saddam Hussein’s regime had trained members of Al Qaeda in the use of biochemical weapons. This “confession” became a key part of the Bush administration’s case for invading Iraq — but it was pure invention.

So why is the Bush administration so determined to torture people?

To show that it can.

The central drive of the Bush administration — more fundamental than any particular policy — has been the effort to eliminate all limits on the president’s power. Torture, I believe, appeals to the president and the vice president precisely because it’s a violation of both law and tradition. By making an illegal and immoral practice a key element of U.S. policy, they’re asserting their right to do whatever they claim is necessary.

And many of our politicians are willing to go along. The Republican majority in the House of Representatives is poised to vote in favor of the administration’s plan to, in effect, declare torture legal. Most Republican senators are equally willing to go along, although a few, to their credit, have stood with the Democrats in opposing the administration.

Mr. Bush would have us believe that the difference between him and those opposing him on this issue is that he’s willing to do what’s necessary to protect America, and they aren’t. But the record says otherwise.

The fact is that for all his talk of being a “war president,” Mr. Bush has been conspicuously unwilling to ask Americans to make sacrifices on behalf of the cause — even when, in the days after 9/11, the nation longed to be called to a higher purpose. His admirers looked at him and thought they saw Winston Churchill. But instead of offering us blood, toil, tears and sweat, he told us to go shopping and promised tax cuts.

Only now, five years after 9/11, has Mr. Bush finally found some things he wants us to sacrifice. And those things turn out to be our principles and our self-respect.


and bob herbert's:
Quote:
September 18, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist
The Kafka Strategy
By BOB HERBERT

The president seemed about to lose it at times last week. He was fighting with everybody — tenacious reporters frustrated by the absence of straight answers about the treatment of terror suspects; key Republican senators who think it’s crazy for a great country like the U.S. to become a champion of kangaroo courts and the degradation of defendants; even his own former secretary of state, Colin Powell, who worries that the world is coming to “doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism.”

It seemed that the only people the president wasn’t fighting with were the Democrats, who have gone into a coma, and the yahoos who never had much of a problem with such matters as torture and detention without trial.

As Marvin Gaye once sang, “What’s going on?”

The people at the top are getting scared, that’s what’s going on. The fog of secrecy is lifting, and the Bush administration is frightened to death that it will eventually have to pay a heavy price for the human rights abuses it has ordered or condoned in its so-called war on terror.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Geneva Conventions apply to the prisoners seized by the administration, which means that abusing those prisoners — as so many have said for so long — is unquestionably illegal. And there is also the possibility that the Democrats, if they ever wake up, may take control of at least one house of Congress, giving them the kind of subpoena power and oversight that makes the administration tremble.

Bush, Cheney & Co. are desperately trying to hold together a house of cards that is ready to collapse because their strategy and tactics for fighting terrorism were slapped together with no real regard for the rule of law. What we’ve seen over the past few years has been a nightmare version of the United States. Torture? Secret prisons? Capital trials in which key evidence is kept from the accused? That’s the stuff of Kafka, not Madison and Jefferson.

The reason President Bush has been trying so frantically to get Congressional passage of his plan to interrogate and try terror suspects is that he needs its contorted interpretations of the law to keep important cases from falling apart, and to cover the collective keisters of higher-ups who may have authorized or condoned war crimes.

There’s no guarantee that the administration can properly bring to justice even the worst of the bad guys, people like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and 13 other high-profile prisoners who were recently transferred from a secret C.I.A. program to the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. These are men accused of the most heinous of offenses, crimes that would subject them to the death penalty.

But it’s widely believed that some or all of them were tortured. In civilized countries, evidence obtained by torture is inadmissible in a court of law.

The Bush administration would also like to deny terror suspects, even those facing the death penalty, the right to see evidence against them that is classified. This is a concept that is so far beyond the pale it makes most legal scholars gasp.

“We don’t charge people — particularly in capital offenses, but in minor offenses, as well — without letting them see the evidence that is being offered against them,” said Scott Horton, a prominent New York attorney and Columbia law professor who has done extensive human rights work.

“Let’s imagine you’re a prosecutor,” said Mr. Horton. “Are you going to seek the death penalty against someone and convict them and let them be sentenced to death without letting them know what the evidence is against them? No way. What prosecutor wants that?”

One of the biggest concerns of the administration is the possibility of evidence emerging that could lead to charges of war crimes against high-ranking officials. The president and others in the administration have argued that they are seeking changes in the law in order to protect soldiers and ordinary interrogators in the field against war crimes accusations.

But there are already clear guidelines — short of war crimes prosecutions — for dealing with soldiers and civilian interrogators who abuse prisoners. The Abu Ghraib prosecutions are a good example.

The people who would have to worry, if war crimes were found to have been committed, would be those at the top of the command structure who crafted policies that were illegal and ordered them carried out — or who turned a blind eye to atrocities.

“Those are the ones,” said Mr. Horton, “who are vulnerable.”

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Major Tom



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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

House Panel Opposes Bush Detainee Bill

By REUTERS
Published: September 20, 2006
WASHINGTON, Sept 20 (Reuters) - In a rebuke of President George W. Bush, a U.S. House of Representatives panel on Wednesday rejected his plan for interrogating foreign terrorist suspects. The bill, however, will still go to the full House for consideration.

The House Judiciary Committee, in a surprise move, rejected the measure 20-17. The Republican-led panel had been widely expected to back the bill pushed by Bush while he battles with some key Republicans in the Senate for similar authority.

Bush wants the authority from Congress to allow a program of CIA interrogations and detentions that critics have said amount to torture. The White House denies the program involves torture.
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mouse



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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

whoa - that _is_ a surprise. i thought the house republicans would do their usual lap-dog thing.

hm... must be more house seats in danger than anyone wants to admit.
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Dogen



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mouse wrote:
whoa - that _is_ a surprise. i thought the house republicans would do their usual lap-dog thing.

hm... must be more house seats in danger than anyone wants to admit.

Yeah. They actually think Dems have a better chance of taking the House than the Senate. House Republicans have got to start paying attention to mundane things like "constituents" now.
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