Wednesday, March 31, 2010

AP INVESTIGATION: Cautionary tale from CIA prison

By ADAM GOLDMAN and KATHY GANNON, Associated Press Writers
Sun Mar 28, 6:08 pm ET

WASHINGTON – More than seven years ago, a suspected Afghan militant was brought to a dimly lit CIA compound northeast of the airport in Kabul. The CIA called it the Salt Pit. Inmates knew it as the dark prison.

Inside a chilly cell, the man was shackled and left half-naked. He was found dead, exposed to the cold, in the early hours of Nov. 20, 2002.

The Salt Pit death was the only fatality known to have occurred inside the secret prison network the CIA operated abroad after the Sept. 11 attacks. The death had strong repercussions inside the CIA. It helped lead to a review that uncovered abuses in detention and interrogation procedures, and forced the agency to change those procedures.

Little has emerged about the Afghan's death, which the Justice Department is investigating. The Associated Press has learned the dead man's name, as well as new details about his capture in Pakistan and his Afghan imprisonment.

The man was Gul Rahman (gool RAHK'-mahn), a suspected militant captured on Oct. 29, 2002, a U.S. official familiar with the case confirmed. The official said Rahman was taken during an operation against Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, an insurgent group headed by Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (gool-boo-DEEN' hek-mat-YAR') and allied with al-Qaida.

Rahman's identity also was confirmed by a former U.S. official familiar with the case, as well as by several other former and current officials. A reference to Rahman's death also turned up in a recently declassified government document.

The CIA's program of waterboarding and other harsh treatment of suspected terrorists has been debated since it ended in 2006. The Salt Pit case stands as a cautionary tale about the unfettered use of such practices. The Obama administration shut the CIA's prisons last year.

It remains uncertain whether any intelligence officers have been punished as a result of the Afghan's death, raising questions about the CIA's accountability in the case. The CIA's then-station chief in Afghanistan was promoted after Rahman's death, and the officer who ran the prison went on to other assignments, including one overseas, several former intelligence officials said.

The CIA declined to discuss the Salt Pit case and denied a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the AP.

Rahman was taken into custody in Islamabad with four others. They included Dr. Ghairat Baheer, a physician who is Hekmatyar's son-in-law and a leader of Hezb-e-Islami, an insurgent faction blamed for numerous bombings and violence in Afghanistan.

Baheer, who said he spent six months in the Salt Pit during six years in Afghan prisons, said in an interview in Islamabad that he never learned what happened to Rahman. Rahman's family repeatedly pressed International Red Cross officials about his fate, Baheer said.

"If he died there in interrogation or he died a natural death, they should have told his family and ended their uncertainty," Baheer said.

This account of the Salt Pit case was assembled from documents and interviews with both militants and officials in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and with more than two dozen current and former U.S. officials. The Americans spoke on condition of anonymity because the details of the case remain classified.


Rahman vanished before dawn on Oct. 29, 2002.

He had driven from Peshawar, Pakistan, the northwest frontier city known as a haven for insurgents. Leaving behind his wife and four daughters, Rahman had come to Islamabad for a medical checkup and was staying with Baheer, an old friend.

Rahman, in his early 30s, had worked as a driver for Baheer and in the mid-1990s as a guard for Hekmatyar, who is designated a global terrorist by the U.S.

About 1:30 a.m., U.S. agents and Pakistani security forces stormed Baheer's house and arrested him, two guards, a cook and Rahman.

After a week in custody, Rahman was separated from the others. "That was the last time I saw him," said Baheer, now a member of a Hezb-e-Islami delegation that met this month in Kabul, the Afghan capital, for peace talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Baheer said he was flown to Afghanistan and taken to the Salt Pit, the code name for an abandoned brick factory that became a forerunner of the network of secret CIA-run prisons operating from Poland to Thailand.

The Salt Pit contained a patchwork of small, windowless cells where detainees were subjected to harsh treatment and at least one mock execution, according to several former CIA officials.

"I was left naked, sleeping on the barren concrete," said Baheer. His toilet was a bucket. Loudspeakers blared. Guards concealed their identity with masks and carried torches.

Baheer said his American interrogators would tie him to a chair and sit on his stomach. They hung him naked, he said, for hours on end.


As a former Hekmatyar guard, Rahman had a militant's history. His nom de guerre was Abdul Manan. "Some time ago, he was with the jihad," Baheer acknowledged.

That description matches recollections of former and current U.S. officials who said the Afghan brought into the Salt Pit in late 2002 was violently uncooperative.

At one point, the detainee threw a latrine bucket at his guards. He also threatened to kill them. His stubborn responses provoked harsher treatment. His hands were shackled over his head, he was roughed up and doused with water, according to several former CIA officials.

The exact circumstances of Rahman's death are not clear, but the Afghan was left in the cold cell on the morning of Nov. 20, when the temperature dipped just below 36 degrees. He was naked from the waist down, said two former U.S. officials familiar with the case. Within hours, he was dead.

CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., sent a team "to gather the facts," the current U.S. official said. "The guidance was for the people on scene to preserve everything as it was."

A CIA medic at the site concluded the Afghan died of hypothermia. A doctor sent later confirmed that judgment. But the detainee's body was never returned to his family for burial.

A week later, Amnesty International issued a statement saying Baheer was being held without charge and possibly in CIA or FBI custody. No mention was made of Rahman.

Rahman's family, Baheer said, went to the Red Cross in Islamabad and Kabul. They are still uncertain of Rahman's fate, he said.

"The Americans have had enough time," said Baheer. "They should expose all those missing people who have died. After nearly eight years, enough is enough."


At CIA headquarters, the agency's inspector general learned about the Salt Pit death and the existence of the agency's secret interrogation program. The inspector, John Helgerson, began an investigation into the death as well as a special review of the program.

The case appeared to prod the CIA to codify its interrogation program. The same month that the detainee died, the CIA's Counterterrorism Center started training courses for interrogators, according to public documents.

The following year, the CIA issued guidelines covering the use of cold in interrogations, with detailed instructions for the "safe temperature range when a detainee is wet or unclothed."

But harsh interrogation techniques continued for four more years.

When the inspector general's report on the Salt Pit death emerged, it focused on decisions made by two CIA officials: an inexperienced officer who had just taken his first overseas assignment to run the prison and the Kabul station chief, who managed CIA activities in Afghanistan. Their identities remain classified.

The report found that the Salt Pit officer displayed poor judgment in leaving the detainee in the cold. But it also indicated the officer made repeated requests to superiors for guidance that were largely ignored, according to two former U.S. intelligence officials.

That raised concerns about both the responsibility of the station chief and the CIA's management in Langley. Similar concerns about CIA management were later aired in the inspector general's review of the CIA's secret interrogation program.

"The agency — especially in the early months of the program — failed to provide adequate staffing, guidance and support to those involved with the detention and interrogation of detainees," the report said.


The inspector general referred the Salt Pit death to prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia. Two federal prosecutors, Paul J. McNulty and Chuck Rosenberg, conducted separate reviews. Each prosecutor concluded he couldn't make a case against any CIA officer involved in the death. Neither would discuss his decision.

The former U.S. official familiar with the case said federal prosecutors could not prove the CIA officer running the Salt Pit had intended to harm the detainee — a point made in a recently released government document that also disclosed Rahman's name.

The current U.S. official insisted that the case was adequately scrutinized. The official also said a CIA accountability review board was held in connection with the death.

The CIA declined to discuss whether the two agency officers cited in the inspector general's report were punished.

But when the case was put before Kyle D. Foggo, the CIA's third-ranking officer at the time, no formal administrative action was taken against the two men, said two former intelligence officials with knowledge of the case.

Foggo was later sent to prison on unrelated fraud charges. He did not respond to a letter sent to him in prison.

The unresolved questions about Rahman's death have led to new scrutiny by the Obama administration. A Justice Department criminal inquiry, led by prosecutor John Durham, is aimed at whether CIA operatives crossed the line in a small number of cases including the Salt Pit death.

But several former senior CIA officials questioned the Kabul station chief's career advancement inside the agency after Rahman died. Now a senior officer, the man was promoted at least three times since leaving Afghanistan in 2003, former officials said.

In contrast, the former officials said, the CIA's Baghdad station chief was demoted in rank after the death of an Iraqi at the Abu Ghraib military-run prison in November 2003.

"What you see across the board, there is no standard that is applied uniformly," said one former CIA officer, Charles Faddis, who recently published "Beyond Repair," a critical assessment of the agency.


Gannon reported from Islamabad. Associated Press writer Robert H. Reid in Kabul and investigative researcher Randy Herschaft in New York contributed to this report.

Click on title above for article w/ clickable links;

The Catholic Church as Victim?

Click on title above to read one mans well-reasoned opinion on those who would paint the catholic church as a victim of the media re: their "pediphile priest" problem.....

Friday, March 26, 2010

U.S. Scores "0" in Human Rights Review / Native Americans

US human rights record reviewed

By Valerie Taliman, Today correspondent

Story Published: Mar 26, 2010

ALBUQUERQUE – The “listening session” held by the U.S. State Department on March 16 at the University of New Mexico Law School drew more than 100 Native leaders, legal scholars and human rights activists, many of whom called on the United States to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Testimony from presenters spanned an array of key issues including rights to self-determination, land, natural resources, sacred sites and religious freedom.

The listening sessions are part of the Universal Periodic Review, conducted every four years by the United Nations Human Rights Council, to examine the United States’ record on legally-binding human rights obligations.

The U.S. has been chastised in the past, and is expected to report on what it has done to implement recommendations made by U.N. human rights bodies.

For example, in 2002, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ruled the U.S. had violated international human rights laws by seizing the property of Western Shoshone elders Carrie and Mary Dann, and “denying their rights to equality before the law, to be free of discrimination, to a fair trial and to property.”

It was the first time an international body formally recognized that the U.S. had violated the rights of Native Americans.

The ruling supported the Danns’ argument that the U.S. government used illegitimate means to gain control of ancestral Shoshone lands. It also questioned the government’s mishandling of millions of acres of land under the U.S. Indian Claims Commission.

The IACHR found that the ICC claims process – which the U.S. contends extinguished the Western Shoshone rights to most of their land in Nevada – was a flawed process that denied the Danns and other Western Shoshones their human rights.

The IACHR recommended that the U.S. government take steps to provide a fair legal process to determine the Danns’ and other Western Shoshone land rights.

Yet at the listening session, Larson Bill, former chairman of the South Fork Band of Te-Moak, said there has been no progress on recommendations to provide a fair legal settlement for the Western Shoshone.

Again in 2008, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination formally criticized the U.S. for not doing more to prevent and punish violence against Native women. Justice Department statistics revealed one in three women will be raped in their lifetimes; 86 percent of the rapes are committed by non-Indian men.

Sacred places vs. development

At an afternoon panel on sacred sites, Zuni Governor Norman Cooeyate talked about his tribe’s historic efforts to protect Zuni Salt Lake, a sacred place for many tribes, from desecration and de-watering.

Cooeyate said they fought for decades to reclaim 5,000 acres of land from the federal government to establish a sanctuary surrounding Zuni Salt Lake in 1985.

But in 1996, without consulting the Zuni or any other tribes, the state of New Mexico issued a permit to Salt River Project, the third-largest public power utility in the nation, to build a coal mine within the sanctuary boundaries of the lake.

The Zuni did not find out about the proposed mine or permit for three years, and were appalled to find the lease had been signed by a former lobbyist for coal companies who worked at the Interior Department.

They also learned that hydrological studies indicated strip-mining coal would use 85 gallons per minute of water from the aquifer that feeds Zuni Salt Lake, reducing the water table to a level that would hinder the lake’s ability to produce their sacred salt.

“The songs, ceremonies, gathering of minerals, plants and medicines are the central and irreplaceable elements of my people’s religion and cultural practices,” Cooeyate said. “The power of these sacred ecosystems cannot be duplicated or replaced. We want the United States to uphold our right to protect our sacred places of prayer.”

Mining indigenous lands

Numerous speakers addressed uranium mining and its devastating effects on Native communities in the Southwest.

Manny Pino, a college professor and longtime activist from Acoma Pueblo, said his people have lived with a 50-year legacy of uranium mining, with five communities on the Acoma and Laguna reservations most heavily affected by cancer and early deaths.

The village of Paguate lies within 1,000 feet of the Jackpile Mine, at one time the nation’s largest open-pit uranium mine that produced 24 million tons of ore by operating 24-hour shifts 365 days per year from 1953 to 1982.

“The Atomic Energy Commission was the primary buyer, so uranium from Jackpile went directly to build America’s weapons of mass destruction,” Pino said.

“Our people have had to endure radioactivity in their backyard and wind blowing waste tailings onto our land, our crops, and our children. Even today, more than 1,000 abandoned mines on Navajo lands have not been reclaimed. This is the kind of environmental racism that we have to live with.”

Pino applauded President Barack Obama’s decision to close Yucca Mountain, the proposed high-level nuclear waste site on Shoshone lands in Nevada, and urged nations to stop producing nuclear waste since there is no safe place to store it on the planet.

Carletta Tilousi, a Havasupai Tribal Council member, said she was representing the remaining 600 members of her tribe who live at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

“We’re fighting to save our sacred Red Butte and our only source of water now that Denison Mines has begun uranium mining on the north rim.”

The Havasupai and Hualapai nations as well as the federal government have called for moratoriums on new mining around the Grand Canyon, but existing claims are exempt on public lands.

That exemption allowed Canadian-owned Denison Mines to begin mining in December 2009, with plans to extract 335 tons of uranium ore per day and haul it more than 300 miles to a mill near Blanding, Utah.

Tilousi said nearly 8,000 new mining claims now threaten northern Arizona, pointing out it would only take one accident to contaminate the Colorado River.

Native inmates’ rights

Lenny Foster, a spiritual advisor and supervisor for the Navajo Nation Corrections Project, spoke of the 30-year struggle to ensure some measure of respect for Native spiritual practices in state and federal prison systems.

“The extreme racism and discrimination toward our spiritual beliefs has made it very difficult for Native inmates to practice and participate in traditional ceremonies,” he said, noting that he has visited 96 state and federal prisons, and counseled more than 2,000 male and female inmates.

He called on the Justice Department to launch an investigation into human rights abuses perpetrated on Native inmates, and to rectify current policies to provide legal protections for the free exercise of religion for incarcerated Indians.

Foster said denial of access to traditional ceremonies is a denial for recovery and spiritual healing.

“The Justice Department has a trust responsibility that encompasses criminal justice, corrections and human rights, including a legal obligation to protect traditional Native spiritual practices.”

Speaking as a private citizen, attorney Donovan Brown said, “There are many federal laws whose intent appears to protect Native American sacred places and religious activities. These laws, however, have been proven useless.”

Brown said Native sons and daughters have served in every branch of the United States military and have unselfishly given their lives on foreign soil fighting for the human rights of other peoples.

“They should not be required to return to their lands only to be denied the inherent and fundamental right of self-determination, to freely determine their own destiny, to pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and to live on and manage their lands free of external interference, encroachment and occupation.”


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Last Hope for US

Thanks to Mustang Sally for Passing this Along;

The Last Hope
by Fred Reed


Washington is out of control. It does as it likes, without restraint. It spends American money and American lives to fight remote wars for which it cannot provide a plausible reason. It determines what our children will be taught, who we can hire and fire, to whom we can sell our houses, whether we can defend ourselves, even what names we can call each other. The feds read our email and track the web sites we visit, make us hop around barefoot in airports at the command of surly unaccountable rentacops. They search us at random in train stations without even a pretense of probable cause. We have no influence over them, no way of resisting.
Except, perhaps, to ignore them.

Washington has learned to insulate itself from interference by the population. Huge impenetrable bureaucracies beyond public control make regulations that amount to laws, spending God knows how much money to do God knows what for the benefit of the interest groups that run the government. These bureaucrats cannot be fired and usually cannot be named. Congress, like the bureaucracies, serves not the United States but the big lobbies. The looters of Wall Street wreck the lives of millions, and get millions in bonuses for doing it instead of the end of a rope.
Further, the federal government simply doesn’t work. It is clogged up, constipated, gridlocked, using antiquated technology to do badly things it ought to do and things it oughtn’t. In large part this is because federal hiring rests on the desires of racist and feminist lobbies instead of suitability for the work to be done. Whole departments – HUD, Education – do much harm and little good. IRS is ruthless, incompetent, and unaccountable, the tax laws burdensome and crafted for the benefit of special interests and of Washington. I can change my address with my bank online in five minutes and know that it has been done; IRS requires a paper form and six to eight weeks to effect the change, and you don’t know whether it has been done. The goons of TSA leer at our daughters with their porno-scanners. The VA can easily take six months to provide a veteran’s records, when it could be done online in five seconds. The Pentagon spends a trillion a year, precious little of which has anything to do with defending America, but can’t defeat a small group of badly outnumbered men armed with rifles and RPGs; the intelligence agencies were unable to warn them of the prospect.

The government doesn’t work. It is broken. It can’t be fixed. It can’t be fixed because only those within it could, and their interest lies in not fixing it.
The only remedy short of armed rebellion is civil disobedience at the level of the states. Clear constitutional justification for refusal to obey Washington lies in the Tenth Amendment:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
A great many states now begin to do a great many things counter to Washington’s wishes. I think it wise to keep resistance within the framework of the Constitution, but the entire question comes down to a blunt truth: No law extends beyond the lawmaker’s power to enforce it. Congress can pass a law against gravitation, but can’t prevent things from falling when released from a height. The federal government made alcohol illegal but, in the face of massive public disregard, couldn’t make it stick.
What happens if, as may happen, California legalizes marijuana – not just for contrived medical purposes, but legalizes it, period? I search in vain for the Marijuana Clause in the Constitution. The feds do not have the manpower to enforce federal laws within California without the help of the police of California. What happens if a state passes a law saying that its citizens cannot be forced to buy health insurance? What can Washington do? It can persecute individuals, but a state, or thirty states, are another thing. The FBI can arrest any one person, but it cannot arrest Wyoming.
Much depends on how sick people really are of the ever-growing thicket of laws, regulation, imposed political correctness, surveillance, and having to live according to the dictates of remote elites with whom they have nothing in common.

At bottom, Washington’s power is economic. The feds rely for control on taxing money from the states and giving some of it back in exchange for obedience. They cannot arrest Wyoming, but they can deny it federal highway funds. This technique provides de facto control over everything from kindergarten to MIT.

Now, if Idaho passes a law (I’m making this up) saying that no restrictions on the ownership of guns will be enforced within the state, Washington might choose discretion over valor and ignore it. Legalizing marijuana, however, or refusing to accept compulsory medical care, would be a direct if not necessarily intentional challenge to the power of the central government. The feds could not afford to let either of these things slide. The danger of the precedent to the grip of the governing classes would be too great. A deadly serious confrontation would ensue.
What could, or would, the federal government do in response to defiance? Send the Marines to occupy Sacramento? Or the FBI to arrest Arnold and the legislature of California?
Or cut off California’s financial water? No bailout for the state’s tottering economy, no more fat subsidies to the universities, and so on?
The question is how ugly might things get. Washington may be able to make the states back down. It may not. The peril for the feds is that it might occur to the states that, while they get their money from Washington, Washington gets its money from the states. The central government depends absolutely on the states, whereas the states would get along swimmingly without the current central government.
How tired are Americans of a dysfunctional, oppressive Washington, unconcerned for its citizens, unaccountable and tending fast toward the totalitarian, that sprawls across the continent like an armed leech of malign intent? That is the question. The first time a populous states says “No,” if such a state ever does, we will get the answer. The United States has been free, prosperous, and reasonably well governed for a long time. It no longer is. Things go downward, within and without.
Nothing lasts, change comes, and things break. We shall see. Give it five years.
March 18, 2010
Fred Reed is author of Nekkid in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well and A Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Be. His latest book is Curmudgeing Through Paradise: Reports from a Fractal Dung Beetle. Visit his blog.
Copyright © 2010 Fred Reed

[W]hether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is
certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had,
or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.
- Lysander Spooner (1808–1887)

Government: The application of whatever force is required
to accomplish a particular objective.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Politicians Party with Leadership PACs

Watchdogs say getaways promote special interests' influence.


Grave Matters Attended Today in Congress


Title: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 45300Portola Avenue in Palm Desert, California, as the "Roy Wilson Post Office".
Sponsor: Rep Bono Mack, Mary [CA-45] (introduced 12/7/2009) Cosponsors (45)
Latest Major Action: 3/4/2010 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Ordered to be Reported by Unanimous Consent.

Title: To enhance citizen access to Government information and services by establishing that Government documents issued to the public must be written clearly, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Braley, Bruce L. [IA-1] (introduced 2/10/2009) Cosponsors (10)
Related Bills: S.574
Latest Major Action: 3/11/2010 Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 248.
House Reports: 111-432

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

American Military Dad Uses Waterboarding to Dicipline His FOUR YEAR OLD Daughter

This is what happens when we as a country refuse to refute the use of waterboarding or any other kind of torture...for any reason.

Click on title above for article about the Waterboarding Dad. We just have to ask ourselves, what kind of a message does "being ok" with torture send to our children, or to the world? What does it say for us as human beings? I shutter to even think of it!

Thanks to GRISTOON for the loan of the "Bush Waterboarding Liberty" pic and for making it enlargeable and suitable for printing. (Click on pic to enlarge)

Waterboarding: Is It Is or Is It Aint Torture?

An impoverished journalists thinks not and finds out different.
Click on title above to see vid

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

a' Gigglin' n' a' Grinnin' Gibbster: Laughter In the Face of Doom

The comedian wannabe that serves as White House press secretary has stooped to an all-time low by publicly attacking the Supreme Court, proving once again that the president needs a more professional and serious spokesman who possesses at least some decorum.

A perpetual jokester at the podium, Robert Gibbs is well known for keeping reporters in stitches during White House press briefings. In fact, he earned accolades for causing more than 600 instances of laughter—a James Brady Briefing Room record—during his first four months as the president’s press secretary.

Obama's comical chief message strategist is also notorious for making inappropriate wise cracks and off-the-wall comments as well as engaging in highly unprofessional public feuds with administration adversaries. He called a Republican senator irrational for blocking an extension of costly unemployment benefits, mocked a vice presidential candidates method for remembering her lines at a recent Tea Party convention and called a congressman who opposes healthcare reform crazy.

Gibbs has also referred to a conservative radio personality (Rush Limbaugh) who has never even held public office as a Republican leader. In fact, when former Vice President Dick Cheney criticized Obama’s policies, Gibbs claimed that “Limbaugh was busy so they trotted out their next most popular member of the Republican cabal.”

Now comes the unprecedented showdown with the U.S. Supreme Court. The war of words stems from the tactless critique that Obama delivered to the high court during his State of the Union address earlier this year. The commander-in-chief criticized the court’s decision allowing corporations and unions to freely spend money to run political ads.

"With all due deference to the separation of powers, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections," Obama lectured the justices as they sat stone-faced—as per protocol—in their black robes.

This week Chief Justice John Roberts, appointed to the court by George W. Bush in 2005, said the scene at Obama’s first State of the Union was “very troubling” and that the annual address has “degenerated into a political pep rally.”

Gibbs fired back from the podium, essentially reiterating what his boss has already said: "What is troubling is that this decision opened the floodgates for corporations and special interests to pour money into elections — drowning out the voices of average Americans."

Then the loyal presidential mouthpiece added something truly comical: "The president has long been committed to reducing the undue influence of special interests and their lobbyists over government.” That line is sure to get plenty of laughs.

Click on title above for original article from Judicial Watch;

Reason Alert

Frum the Reason Foundation, of Course! - March 12, 2010

Insurance Companies Are the Big Winners In Current Health Care Bill

Reason magazine's Jacob Sullum details how the current health care bill helps insurance companies while pretending to fight them: "The individual mandate. What industry wouldn't welcome a law requiring everyone in the country to purchase its product? The insurers' only objection to this edict—which would force young, healthy people who don’t want insurance to subsidize the care of older, sicker people who do—is that the penalties for failing to comply are not severe enough. The employer mandate. Requiring businesses to buy medical coverage for their employees brings the insurers more conscripted customers. It also shores up a perverse system of employer-provided health insurance that insulates consumers from prices, limits their choices, and weakens competition. Subsidies. Allocating taxpayer money to help individuals and small business buy medical coverage makes customers less price-sensitive, allowing insurers to charge more than they otherwise could."
Can States Say "No Thanks" to Health Insurance Mandate?

Taxpayers Know We Can't Afford Health Care

In her Forbes column, Reason Foundation's Shikha Dalmia writes, "The combined unfunded liabilities of Medicare and Social Security--the federal health care and the pension programs for the elderly--are $107 trillion, seven times the current GDP. Meanwhile, Medicaid, the joint federal-state health insurance program, is consuming on average 21% of state budgets, their single biggest ticket item even before ObamaCare dumps another 16 million people into the program, expanding the Medicaid population by 25%. Beyond that, state and local government have promised their employees a trillion dollars more in pension and other benefits than they have funds to deliver. There are not enough taxpayers in the country or creditors in China capable of financing all these promises. Expanding this massive, multifarious entitlement state even more strikes most normal people as sheer lunacy--especially now that it is visibly coming apart at the seams. General Motors and Chrysler--the corporate version of the public welfare state in which unions had negotiated the best wage and pension deals in the free world--have already been forced into a taxpayer-financed bankruptcy. California, America's most European state, is technically bankrupt, thanks to the ubiquitous influence on the state budget of its public unions and its entitlement spending. Meanwhile, the deficits and debt of the so-called European PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain)--the social democracies whose cradle-to-grave welfare policies are the inspiration behind ObamaCare--are on the brink of bankruptcy. Greece, the most vulnerable of the lot, has a deficit of 12.7% of the GDP--not that much higher than America's 10.6 %."

Five Pieces of Fiscal Baloney

Reason magazine's Tim Cavanaugh says there are "five big lies" that the Obama administration loves to tell. According to Cavanaugh they are:
1. Bold government action staved off a Depression, saving or creating 1.5 million jobs.
2. No one wants banks making the kinds of risky loans that got us into this situation in the first place.
3. The economic crisis is a 'subprime crisis.'
4. Ben Bernanke is a heroic leader.
5. The worst is behind us.
Matt Welch on the President’s Habit of Telling Untruths

Public Anger at Government Unions

KCRW radio asks, "How did the labor movement in America sink so low in the public's opinion, as recent polls have indicated? Does labor still stand as the savior of the little guy or is it seen as job security and guaranteed benefits for government workers at taxpayers' expense? Matt Welch of Reason Magazine debates Harold Meyerson of American Prospect, moderated by Steven Ross, Professor of American History at USC." .

Reason Saves Cleveland With Drew Carey Premieres on Monday

Michael McIntyre of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes, "Cleveland's woes -- population loss, failing schools, lack of economic spark -- are no joke to comedian and native son Drew Carey, who advocates for less government, more competition and lower taxes to bring the city back. Carey took time off from his gig as host of TV's 'The Price Is Right' to help produce and star in a series of Web reports detailing Cleveland's woes and a number of proposed fixes that will be launched next week on reason.tv, the Internet arm of the nonpartisan, libertarian-leaning Reason Foundation, on whose board Carey serves. Carey established reason.tv three years ago and has developed a number of short Web documentaries to highlight government's heavy-handedness. Now, the lens turns to his hometown with a six-part series called 'Reason Saves Cleveland.' It comes on the heels of Cleveland's 'most miserable city' ranking by Forbes.com. 'As you know, I'm from Cleveland, Ohio. I love Cleveland, Ohio. I based my whole career on being from Cleveland, Ohio," Carey says in the first installment of the series, for which he's also credited as an executive producer. 'And you also might know that Cleveland, Ohio, is going through some tough times right now. The economy is in trouble, schools are in trouble, and people have been leaving the city in droves for a long, long time.'
Reason Saves Cleveland, Episodes 1 and 2 Debut on Monday, March 15th

New at Reason

Fox Business Video: Adrian Moore Discusses California's High Education Costs

NJ Gov. Chris Christie Creates Privatization Commission

Reason.tv: Pork Party House: Where DC Insiders Go for Tax-Subsidized Fun

Reason.tv: Virginia Postrel on Health Care Reform and the Role of Glamour in Politics

Reason.tv Interview with Advice Goddess Amy Alkon

Philadelphia Needs Competition for Waste Collection

Radley Balko: NYPD Under-Reporting Serious Crimes, Manufacturing Petty Ones

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Reason Foundation, Reason magazine, Reason.tv
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Napolitano's New Book on Government's Lies Will Enrage You

Monday, 15 Mar 2010 11:22 PM

By: Dick Morris

One of the funniest moments in the White House with Bill Clinton came on President's Day in 1995. He arrived late for our private meeting in the East Wing residence and began, as usual, by cataloging the events of his day by way of apology for his tardiness. "A reporter asked me 'Today, on President's Day, if you could ask your hero, John Kennedy, one question, what would it be?'" he began.

Clinton giggled and confided "I wanted to ask: 'How did you do it? Is there some doorway or stairway I don't know about?'" Disappointed, he added "But I couldn't, so I said I'd ask 'What was it like to be president before Americans became alienated from their government?'"

His follow up query, while less amusing, was more relevant.

Ever since the Kennedy assassination, we Americans have experienced shock after shock, each undermining further our faith in the veracity and goodness of our own government.

From the Warren Commission cover-up to the lies we were told during Vietnam to Watergate to Iran-Contra to our cozy relationship with Saddam Hussein before he turned against us to Lewinsky to the election of 2000 to the lack of WMDs in Iraq to the supposed necessity of the stimulus package, we feel that we have been fed one lie after another.

Indeed, the only real unifying element that the red and the blue of our politics have in common is the conviction that our government doesn't tell the truth. For the right, it ratifies the need for less government. To the left, it is the very basis of their aversion to our military and foreign policy.

Now, like the judge he was and the lawyer he is, Andrew Napolitano, the Fox News judicial analyst, lays out his bill of particulars, enumerating seventeen governmental lies in his book entitled "Lies The Government Told You."

For some, he reaches back into history as when he exposes how the authors of the Declaration of Independence who penned and adopted the phrase "All men are created equal" were slave owners. For others, he reaches into what seems to be our future when he exposes the lie that "we are a free market economy" and it's concomitant that "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you."

In between, he tells us how the government can take our house anytime it wants, how unelected judges make laws, and how the presumption of innocence in criminal trials is a charade.

He debunks each lie with pungent examples from history and from today's headlines.

But the very recitation of the lies itself indicates an optimism about our democracy. For it is only if we feel we can expect truth that prevarication seems odious. Only that which surprises us makes us angry. And, as Judge Napolitano's very effort in writing the book indicates, we are still, fortunately, surprised when Washington lies to us.

The judge has rendered a great service in laying out the fabrications and explaining how the ideals they represent fall short in practice. His book will make you mad, but also better informed and, therefore, a much better voter and citizen.

Purchase Lies The Government Told You By Judge Andrew P. Napolitano At Amazon.com - Go Here!

© Dick Morris & Eileen McGann


Monday, March 15, 2010

French bread spiked with LSD in CIA experiment

A 50-year mystery over the 'cursed bread' of Pont-Saint-Esprit, which left residents suffering hallucinations, has been solved after a writer discovered the US had spiked the bread with LSD as part of an experiment.

Henry Samuel in Paris
Published: 7:00AM GMT 11 Mar 2010

An American investigative journalist has uncovered evidence suggesting the CIA peppered local food with the hallucinogenic drug LSD
In 1951, a quiet, picturesque village in southern France was suddenly and mysteriously struck down with mass insanity and hallucinations. At least five people died, dozens were interned in asylums and hundreds afflicted.

For decades it was assumed that the local bread had been unwittingly poisoned with a psychedelic mould. Now, however, an American investigative journalist has uncovered evidence suggesting the CIA peppered local food with the hallucinogenic drug LSD as part of a mind control experiment at the height of the Cold War.

The mystery of Le Pain Maudit (Cursed Bread) still haunts the inhabitants of Pont-Saint-Esprit, in the Gard, southeast France.

On August 16, 1951, the inhabitants were suddenly racked with frightful hallucinations of terrifying beasts and fire.

One man tried to drown himself, screaming that his belly was being eaten by snakes. An 11-year-old tried to strangle his grandmother. Another man shouted: "I am a plane", before jumping out of a second-floor window, breaking his legs. He then got up and carried on for 50 yards. Another saw his heart escaping through his feet and begged a doctor to put it back. Many were taken to the local asylum in strait jackets.

Time magazine wrote at the time: "Among the stricken, delirium rose: patients thrashed wildly on their beds, screaming that red flowers were blossoming from their bodies, that their heads had turned to molten lead."

Eventually, it was determined that the best-known local baker had unwittingly contaminated his flour with ergot, a hallucinogenic mould that infects rye grain. Another theory was the bread had been poisoned with organic mercury.

However, H P Albarelli Jr., an investigative journalist, claims the outbreak resulted from a covert experiment directed by the CIA and the US Army's top-secret Special Operations Division (SOD) at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

The scientists who produced both alternative explanations, he writes, worked for the Swiss-based Sandoz Pharmaceutical Company, which was then secretly supplying both the Army and CIA with LSD.

Mr Albarelli came across CIA documents while investigating the suspicious suicide of Frank Olson, a biochemist working for the SOD who fell from a 13th floor window two years after the Cursed Bread incident. One note transcribes a conversation between a CIA agent and a Sandoz official who mentions the "secret of Pont-Saint-Esprit" and explains that it was not "at all" caused by mould but by diethylamide, the D in LSD.

While compiling his book, A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments, Mr Albarelli spoke to former colleagues of Mr Olson, two of whom told him that the Pont-Saint-Esprit incident was part of a mind control experiment run by the CIA and US army.

After the Korean War the Americans launched a vast research programme into the mental manipulation of prisoners and enemy troops.

Scientists at Fort Detrick told him that agents had sprayed LSD into the air and also contaminated "local foot products".

Mr Albarelli said the real "smoking gun" was a White House document sent to members of the Rockefeller Commission formed in 1975 to investigate CIA abuses. It contained the names of a number of French nationals who had been secretly employed by the CIA and made direct reference to the "Pont St. Esprit incident." In its quest to research LSD as an offensive weapon, Mr Albarelli claims, the US army also drugged over 5,700 unwitting American servicemen between 1953 and 1965.

None of his sources would indicate whether the French secret services were aware of the alleged operation. According to US news reports, French intelligence chiefs have demanded the CIA explain itself following the book's revelations. French intelligence officially denies this.

Locals in Pont-Saint-Esprit still want to know why they were hit by such apocalyptic scenes. "At the time people brought up the theory of an experiment aimed at controlling a popular revolt," said Charles Granjoh, 71.

"I almost kicked the bucket," he told the weekly French magazine Les Inrockuptibles. "I'd like to know why."

Click on title above for original article;

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Tonton Macoutes: The Central Nervous System of Haiti’s Reign of Terror

Friday 12 March 2010

by: David Aponte | Council on Hemispheric Affairs

A Malediction on Haitian Society

Few countries in the hemisphere have suffered through such an extensive run of unqualified repressive regimes and military dictatorships as Haiti. The nearly thirty years of harsh rule under François “Papa Doc” Duvalier, and his son, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier that ended in 1986, are likely the most infamous epoch in the painful history of this small French-Creole nation that occupies the western third of the Caribbean island of La Hispaniola. Certainly, the main tool for the maintenance of the regime’s grasp on the population through much of this period was the “Tonton Macoutes,” renamed in 1971 as the Milice de Voluntaires de la Sécurité Nationale —MVSN (Volunteers for National Security). Although this organization no longer formally exists, its legacy of paramilitary violence and sheer brutality still contorts Haitian modern political and economic cultures.

The Birth of Terror

In 1959, only two years after becoming president, “Papa Doc” created a paramilitary force that would report only to him and would be fully empowered to use unremitting violence to maintain the new administration’s authority to summarily dispose of its enemies. This marked the birth of one of the most brutal paramilitary organizations in the hemisphere and was justified by the leader’s profound paranoia towards the threat posed by the regular armed forces. Haiti’s military began to steadily lose a great deal of authority with the consolidation of the François Duvalier regime, which it would not recover until 1986, when the pressure coming from senior military officers played a major role in the fall of Jean-Claude. A spate of coups followed, with military figures occupying the vacancy left by “Baby Doc.”

The Haitians nicknamed this warlord-led goon squad the “Tonton Macoutes,” after the Creole translation of a common myth, about an “uncle” (Tonton) who kidnaps and punishes obstreperous kids by snaring them in a gunnysack (Macoute) and carrying them off to be consumed at breakfast. Consequently, these torturers, kidnapers and extortionists were feared not only by children, but also by the country’s general population, as well as by opposition members and business men not willing to make enforced pay-offs to the authorities. The militia consisted mostly of illiterate fanatics that were converted into ruthless zombie-like gunmen. Their straw hats, blue denim shirts, dark glasses and machetes remain indelibly etched in the minds of millions of Haitians.

Ever since its establishment, this brutal organization had free rein to act unreservedly, disregarding any ethical or civil rights of the citizenry that might interfere with its indiscriminate violence. They were not accountable to any state branch, court or elected body, but rather only to their leader, “Papa Doc.”

The Second Most Feared Man in Haiti

The dictator’s hold on power was guaranteed by the secret police’s terror campaign, and usually, the head of the “Macoutes,” was considered to be extremely close to the dictator. This was especially true under President François Duvalier. Luckner Cambronne was a particularly fierce head of the “Tonton Macoutes” throughout the 1960’s and the beginning of the 1970’s, for two reasons: first, because he was considered perhaps the most powerful and influential man in Haiti during the transition from “Papa” to “Baby Doc,” and second, because of his unique brand of cruelty that enabled him to become very rich and earned him the nickname “Vampire of the Caribbean.”

As a result of his close relationship with “Papa Doc,” Luckner climbed rapidly up Haiti’s power structure and he became the chief plotter of the extortions carried out by his henchmen. Later, he profited by supplying corpses and blood to universities and hospitals in the United States. His brutality was manifest whenever there was a shortage of what he considered raw material (corpses). In that case, he did not hesitate to kill innocent people to facilitate the growth of his “industry.”

In 1971, following an altercation with the Duvalier family regarding his role in post-“Papa Doc” Haiti, Luckner fled to Miami. Nevertheless, he remained an ardent supporter of the Haitian regime until his death in October of 2006. He stated once in the British newspaper The Independent that a “good Duvalierist is prepared to kill his children (for Duvalier) and expects his children to kill their parents for him.” This sentiment displays the rationale of the “Tonton Macoutes,” a goon squad, which was fiercely loyal to but one family and not in any way in the service of the nation or its people. Even though there are some MSVN leaders that were never formally identified in the recent history of Haiti, such as Roger Lafontant, they all are clear examples of the power that the organization and its leaders had and continue to possess to one degree or another, in contemporary Haiti.

Mysticism and Reality

A key characteristic of the structure of the MSVN was that some of the most important members of the “Tonton Macoutes” were vodou leaders, with this belief system currently practiced by roughly half of the country’s population. This religious affiliation gave the “Macoutes” a sense of unearthly authority in the eyes of the public, which allowed them to perform horrific acts without any form of retribution from the Haitian population at large. What this means is that “the ‘Tontons Macoutes’ were part of a conscious strategy to identify spiritual forces and nationalism with loyalty to Duvalier, and to instill fear in [his] opponents.” From their methods to their choice of clothes, vodou always played an important role in their actions.

However, despite the religious nature of vodou, the facts as well as the numbers speak for themselves. These merciless killers murdered over 60,000 Haitians and many more were forced to flee their homes. Consequently, Haiti suffered an unparalleled and crippling brain drain that robbed the small country of many of its most educated citizens.

The militia created a sense of fear through continuous threats against the public as well as frequent random executions. The “Tonton Macoutes” often stoned and burned people alive, regularly following such rites by hanging bodies of their victims in the street as a warning to the population at large. The diversity of the victims was also a measure of the “Macoutes’” cruelty. They could range from a woman in the poorest of neighborhoods who had the temerity to support an opposing politician, all the way to an accommodating foreign diplomat or even a business man who refused to “donate” money for public works (the public works being the pockets of corrupt officials and even the dictator himself).

The Role of the US

For decades, the situation in Haiti kept deteriorating without any calls for international intervention. Although the United States was a preeminently active and interested participant in the development of Haiti’s political culture, it failed to speak out against such atrocities—not even during human rights-focused administrations such as Jimmy Carter’s—as a result of Cold War logic. Washington was certainly far more interested in supporting a pro-American tyrant whose purported task was to stop the spread of communism in the region, rather than protecting the Haitian people by supporting a healthy democracy and a responsible authority in Port-au-Prince. Butch Ashton, a business man who made his fortune during the Duvalier dictatorship by establishing corporations such as Citrus (a fruit exporter) and the Toyota dealership in the country’s capital, vehemently claims that the Tonton Macoute militia was trained by the U.S. Marine Corps and that the highest levels of the American government were complicit in this arrangement.

The U.S. has been an active supporter, albeit from the shadows, even years after the “Tonton Macoute” reign of violence officially was over. The Human Rights Watch reported on Haiti in 2004 and stated, “The United States, notably, showed little enthusiasm for the prosecution of past abuses. Indeed, it even impeded accountability by removing to the U.S. thousands of documents from military and paramilitary headquarters, allowing notorious abusers to flee Haiti, and repeatedly giving safe haven to paramilitary leaders.”

The “Tonton Macoutes”: Legacy and Transformation

The darkness of the “Tonton Macoutes” era may have seemed to subside upon the official dismemberment of the organization, which occurred after “Baby Doc” fled Haiti for France in 1986. However, massacres led by paramilitary groups spawned by the Macoutes continued during the following decade. After 1991, when Aristide was illegally forced to leave the presidency, the vestiges of the MVSN became known as “attachés,” or savage groups of vigilantes attached to government security forces, or crooked political organizations which had the ability to use force against its foes. Consequently, a number of small paramilitary bodies were organized to work with these mafias as “stability” keepers. A good number of these new bodies were being formed by former “Macoutes.” Many of these militias remained nostalgic for the good old days of Duvalierism, with some even attempting to ignite their own reign of terror.

The most feared paramilitary group during the 1990’s emerged as a political presence just as sadistic as the MVSN: the “Revolutionary Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti—FRAPH,” which Toronto Star’s crack journalist Linda Diebel described as modern-Macoutes and not as the political party they claimed to be. The reporter declared that the FRAPH, under goon figure Emmanuel Constant, was even worse than the Duvalierist militia because it was no longer subordinate to one absolute authority. The FRAPH also cooperated with the regular army to persecute Aristide’s followers; this made them even more dangerous than the “Tonton Macoutes”, because in the old days the militia and the legal armed forces were more rivals than allies. This paramilitary group also extended its influence far outside La Hispaniola to diasporas throughout the world, “Fraph also had a presence abroad, with offices in New York, Miami, Montreal and other cities with large Haitian exile communities.”

These ghosts from the past still torment Haitian and U.S. policy: last year a group of civic activists accused the Obama administration of turning a blind-eye to the criminal activity being practiced against Aristide backers and supporters of his Fanmi Lavalas party. The group that was trying to prevent the participation of Haiti’s most popular party in the 2010 elections through the use of indiscriminate violence and political pressure was led by a former paramilitary leader convicted in the U.S. for drug trafficking and money laundering, Guy Philippe.

There a long history of paramilitary violence in Haiti that seems all but unstoppable, regardless of whatever government may be in charge. As Professor Robert Maguire observed in 2002, “the unabated power struggle among the country’s politicians has been joined by a renewal of the kind of paramilitary violence that the vast majority of Haitians hoped had ended with the disbandment of the Haitian Armed Forces in 1995.” But there are some other issues that feed the existence of the paramilitary phenomenon: these factors include drug trafficking, rampant poverty, demoralized police forces, and the primacy of the interests of the elite. All of these factors explain why the remnants of the “Tonton Macoutes” are still a very important part of Haiti’s political and social heritage, even as they and their descendents continue to fragment into small groups with different interests, maintaining their penchant for violence and chaos.


America "A-OK" w/ Torture

What Torture Is, Why It's Illegal and Not "Poor Judgment"
Saturday 13 March 2010

by: Andy Worthington, t r u t h o u t | News Analysis

It's now over three weeks since veteran Justice Department (DOJ) lawyer David Margolis dashed the hopes of those seeking accountability for the Bush administration's torturers, but this is a story of such profound importance that it must not be allowed to slip away.

Margolis decided that an internal report into the conduct of John Yoo and Jay S. Bybee, who wrote the notorious memos in August 2002, which attempted to redefine torture so that it could be used by the CIA, was mistaken in concluding that both men were guilty of "professional misconduct," and should be referred to their bar associations for disciplinary action.

Instead, Margolis concluded, in a memo that shredded four years of investigative work by the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), the DOJ's ethics watchdog, that Yoo and Bybee had merely exercised "poor judgment." As lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), which is charged with providing objective legal advice to the executive branch on all constitutional questions, Yoo and Bybee attempted to redefine torture as the infliction of physical pain "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death," or the infliction of mental pain which "result[s] in significant psychological harm of significant duration e.g. lasting for months or even years."

Yoo, notoriously, had lifted his description of the physical effects of torture from a Medicare benefits statute and other health care provisions in a deliberate attempt to circumvent the UN Convention Against Torture, signed by President Reagan in 1988 and incorporated into US federal law, in which torture is defined as:

any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person ...

Obsessed with finding ways in which "severe pain" could be defined so that the CIA could torture detainees and get away with it, Yoo drew on some truly revolting examples of physical torture, citing a particularly brutal case, Mehinovic v. Vuckovic, in which, during the Bosnian war, a Serb soldier named Nikola Vuckovic had tortured his Bosnian neighbor, Kemal Mehinovic, with savage and sadistic brutality. Yoo dismissed the possibility that other torture techniques - waterboarding, for example, which is a form of controlled drowning, and prolonged sleep deprivation - might cause "significant psychological harm of significant duration," or physical pain rising to a level that a judge might regard as torture.

In both of his definitions, however, Yoo was clearly mistaken. No detailed studies have yet emerged regarding the prolonged psychological effects of the torture program approved by Yoo and Bybee, largely because lawyers for the "high-value detainees" in Guantánamo have been prevented - first under Bush, and now under Obama - from revealing anything publicly about their clients.

However, lawyers for Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who was charged in the Bush administration's military commissions, made a good show of demonstrating that bin al-Shibh is schizophrenic and on serious medication, when they argued throughout 2008 that he was not fit to stand trial, and I have seen no evidence to suggest that bin al-Shibh was in a similar state before his four years in secret CIA prisons.

An even more pertinent example is Abu Zubaydah, a supposed high-value detainee, held in secret CIA prisons for four and a half years, for whom the torture program was originally developed. Zubaydah's case may well be the most shocking in Guantánamo, because, although he was subjected to physical violence and prolonged sleep deprivation, was confined in a small box and was waterboarded 83 times, the CIA eventually concluded that he was not, as George W. Bush claimed after his capture, "al-Qaeda's chief of operations," but was, instead, a "kind of travel agent" for recruits traveling to Afghanistan for military training, who was not a member of al-Qaeda at all.

Zubaydah was clearly mentally unstable before his capture and torture, as the result of a head wound sustained in Afghanistan in 1992, but as one of his lawyers, Joe Margulies, explained in an article in the Los Angeles Times last April, his subsequent treatment in US custody has caused a profound deterioration in his mental health that would certainly constitute "significant psychological harm of significant duration." Margolis wrote:

No one can pass unscathed through an ordeal like this. Abu Zubaydah paid with his mind. Partly as a result of injuries he suffered while he was fighting the communists in Afghanistan, partly as a result of how those injuries were exacerbated by the CIA and partly as a result of his extended isolation, Abu Zubaydah's mental grasp is slipping away. Today, he suffers blinding headaches and has permanent brain damage. He has an excruciating sensitivity to sounds, hearing what others do not. The slightest noise drives him nearly insane. In the last two years alone, he has experienced about 200 seizures.

Moreover, when it came to defining physical torture, the OPR report's authors noted that, as so often in the memos, Yoo had ignored relevant case history. The key passage in the report deals with the US courts' decisions regarding the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA). Yoo had drawn on Mehinovic for his description of physical torture "of an especially cruel and even sadistic nature," and, as the authors noted, he also argued that only 'acts of an extreme nature' that were 'well over the line of what constitutes torture' have been alleged in TVPA cases."

The authors continued:

Thus, the memorandum asserted, "there are no cases that analyze what the lowest boundary of what constitutes torture."[sic]

That assertion was misleading. In fact, conduct far less extreme than that described in Mehinovic v. Vuckovic was held to constitute torture in one of the TVPA cases cited in the appendix to the Bybee memo. That case, Daliberti v. Republic of Iraq, 146 F. Supp. 2d 146 (D.D.C. 2001), held that imprisonment for five days under extremely bad conditions, while being threatened with bodily harm, interrogated and held at gunpoint, constituted torture with respect to one claimant.

A close inspection of Daliberti (which dealt with US personnel seized by Iraqi forces between 1992 and 1995) is revealing, as the DC District Court held, "Such direct attacks on a person and the described deprivation of basic human necessities are more than enough to meet the definition of 'torture' in the Torture Victim Protection Act." The judges based their ruling on the following:

David Daliberti and William Barloon allege that they were "blindfolded, interrogated and subjected to physical, mental and verbal abuse" while in captivity. They allege that during their arrests one of the agents of the defendant threatened them with a gun, allegedly causing David Daliberti "serious mental anguish, pain and suffering." During their imprisonment in Abu Ghraib prison, Daliberti and Barloon were "not provided adequate or proper medical treatment for serious medical conditions which became life threatening." The alleged torture of Kenneth Beaty involved holding him in confinement for eleven days "with no water, no toilet and no bed." Similarly, Chad Hall allegedly was held for a period of at least four days "with no lights, no window, no water, no toilet and no proper bed." Plaintiffs further proffer that Hall was "stripped naked, blindfolded and threatened with electrocution by placing wires on his testicles ... in an effort to coerce a confession from him."

Yoo and his apologists will undoubtedly quibble yet again. There is the threat of electrocution, a threat made with a gun and deprivation of water, in one case for 11 days, none of which feature in the OLC's memos. However, outside of the specific torture program approved by the OLC, numerous prisoners who were held at Bagram before being transported to Guantánamo have stated that they were actually subjected to electric shocks while hooded (rather than being threatened with electrocution), and that being threatened at gunpoint was a regular occurrence.

Moreover, it has also been stated that the withholding of medication was used with Abu Zubaydah after his capture, when he was severely wounded, and it should also be noted that numerous ex-prisoners have stated that, in Guantánamo, it was routine for medical treatment to be withheld unless prisoners cooperated with their interrogators.

Most of all, however, a comparison between Daliberti and the OLC memos reveals the extent to which the techniques approved by Yoo resulted in "severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental," which clearly exceeded that endured by David Daliberti and his fellow Americans in Iraq.

First of all, there is waterboarding, an ancient torture technique that has long been recognized as torture by the United States. As Eric Holder noted during his confirmation hearing in January 2009, "We prosecuted our own soldiers for using it in Vietnam." With this in mind, it ought to be inconceivable that anyone could argue that waterboarding Abu Zubaydah 83 times and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times could be anything less than torture.

In addition, the prolonged isolation, prolonged sleep deprivation, nudity, hooding, shackling in painful positions, cramped confinement, physical abuse, dousing in cold water, beatings and threats endured by the CIA's high-value detainees (as revealed in the leaked International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) report based on interviews with the 14 men transferred to Guantánamo from secret CIA prisons in September 2006) completes a picture that surely "shocks the conscience" more than the torture described in Daliberti, especially as those held were subjected to these techniques for far longer periods.

Should any further doubts remain about the definition of torture - and how it was implemented in the "War on Terror" - these should have been dispelled in January 2009, when, shortly before President Bush left office, Susan Crawford, the retired military judge who was the Convening Authority for the Military Commissions at Guantánamo (responsible for deciding who should be charged) granted the most extraordinary interview to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post.

Crawford told Woodward that the reason she had not pressed charges against Mohammed al-Qahtani, a Saudi who was initially put forward for a trial by Military Commission, along with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and three other men, was because he was tortured in Guantánamo.
"We tortured Qahtani," she said. "His treatment met the legal definition of torture."

"The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent," Crawford explained. "You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge," and to conclude that it was torture.

As I explained in an article at the time:

Al-Qahtani's treatment was severe, of course. As Time magazine revealed in an interrogation log that was made available in 2005, he was interrogated for 20 hours a day over a 50-day period in late 2002 and early 2003, when he was also subjected to extreme sexual humiliation, threatened by a dog, strip-searched and made to stand naked, and made to bark like a dog and growl at pictures of terrorists. On one occasion he was subjected to a "fake rendition," in which he was tranquilized, flown off the island, revived, flown back to Guantánamo, and told that he was in a country that allowed torture.

In addition, as I explained in my book The Guantánamo Files:

The sessions were so intense that the interrogators worried that the cumulative lack of sleep and constant interrogation posed a risk to his health. Medical staff checked his health frequently - sometimes as often as three times a day - and on one occasion, in early December, the punishing routine was suspended for a day when, as a result of refusing to drink, he became seriously dehydrated and his heart rate dropped to 35 beats a minute. While a doctor came to see him in the booth, however, loud music was played to prevent him from sleeping.

The techniques used on al-Qahtani were approved by defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, but the impetus came from the torture memos written and authorized by Yoo and Bybee. Moreover, although Crawford was not so principled when it came to considering the treatment to which the high-value detainees had been subjected in CIA custody - on the basis, presumably, that such information would be easier to conceal in a Military Commission than al-Qahtani's well-publicized ordeal - it is clear from the ICRC report on the high-value detainees that their treatment also "met the legal definition of torture." In addition, it seems probable that the treatment of the 80 other prisoners held in secret CIA prisons, the treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan, before their arrival in Guantánamo and the treatment of over 100 prisoners in Guantánamo, who were subjected to versions of the "enhanced interrogation techniques" used on al-Qahtani would also constitute torture.

For these reasons, David Margolis' whitewash of Yoo and Bybee cannot be the final word. In his memo to Attorney General Eric Holder, dismissing the report's conclusions, Margolis tried to claim that it was important to remember that Yoo and Bybee were working in extraordinary circumstances, striving to prevent another major terrorist attack. In an early version of the report, OPR head Mary Patrice Brown dismissed this argument, asserting, "Situations of great stress, danger and fear do not relieve department attorneys of their duty to provide thorough, objective and candid legal advice, even if that advice is not what the client wants to hear."

This is correct, but another authoritative source also explains why there are no excuses for twisting the law out of all shape in an attempt to justify torture. As the UN Convention Against Torture stipulates (Article 2.2), "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

The UN Convention also stipulates (Article 4. 1) that signatories to the Convention "shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law" and requires each state, when torture has been exposed, to "submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution" (Article 7.1). As with Article 2.2, there are no excuses for not taking action, and that includes political expediency, or, as Barack Obama described it, "a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards."

I have left part of the commnets visable in this post just to give you an idea of what most people are saying. It appears as if people (Real Americans) are wising up, speaking up, and are sick of it all (the direction our country is going, which, me thinks, is right


This forum is moderated by software. Please allow up to 15 minutes for your comments to go live and avoid posting the same comment multiple times.

Forget it. You're beating a
Sat, 03/13/2010 - 16:50 — mysterioso (not verified)
Forget it. You're beating a dead horse.

There may not be a detailed
Sat, 03/13/2010 - 17:11 — mg (not verified)
There may not be a detailed study of the effects of the "enhanced interrogation techniques", but for some in the military to scrap it's waterboarding training because it had the psychological effect of a nuclear bomb on a person's resolve is certainly telling. This was before, or at least about the same time as the infamous memos were drafted. Margolis' determination seems wrong.

Pointless exercise-this
Sat, 03/13/2010 - 17:18 — Anonymous (not verified)
Pointless exercise-this administration has bought into all the evil of its' bush roots and will not let go.

Difference? N o difference. just repeated bait and switch to try and keep us on board.

"Forget it. You're beating a
Sat, 03/13/2010 - 17:31 — inL.A (not verified)
"Forget it. You're beating a dead horse."

Until it's found out that an American was treated in the same manner.

Dead Horse or whatever, the
Sat, 03/13/2010 - 17:32 — Anonymous (not verified)
Dead Horse or whatever, the fact that we even have to discuss torture shows that our government is clearly out of control.That so much torture went on and no one is yet held accountable could indeed lead to a conclusion that WE are the "bad guys" on the planet-
a violent regime with zero moral high ground to stand on... George Washinton is rolling in his grave...

Another attempt to test the
Sat, 03/13/2010 - 17:41 — Anonymous (not verified)
Another attempt to test the waters. Another way to eventually be legal as "they" decide to torture Americans as the bankrupt government goes thru its death throes. Allowing an American to be classified an "enemy combatant" was only the beginning of the 4th Reich. Will Americans stand up for American Way?

Let Yoo and Bybee be
Sat, 03/13/2010 - 18:07 — Anonymous (not verified)
Let Yoo and Bybee be subjected to water boarding, threatenings at gun point, and all the things they don't consider to be "torture" and then we will see if they alter their original definition of what torture is.

My fellow Americans, welcome
Sat, 03/13/2010 - 18:34 — BillyDoc (not verified)
My fellow Americans, welcome to the true and undisputed Axis of Evil. The Great Satan. Our homeland.

I don't know about you, but I'm not at all proud of this. I spent years of my life in government and military service, thinking at the time that I was serving my country. There is no way I would do it again. Not even close. This IS the Great Satan and the Axis of Evil, this bastion of Christian Values. My only hope now is that it collapses quickly, for humanity's sake.

the government of the United
Sat, 03/13/2010 - 18:43 — Anonymous (not verified)
the government of the United States. all three branches, no longer care about our history, our long held values, the rule of law, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights.

All they care about is the law of the jungle, who survives and who dies.

It is like that T-shirt that came out a few years ago-"He who has the most toys when he dies, wins."

And if in the process of winning, torture must be used, according to their standards, they will find a rationalization for using it, just as they have done, no matter how their arguments stretch credulity, no matter how they violate our laws, treaties or history. If they think it will help them win, then it is fair game and a legitimate response.

Saints preserve us, as no one else will.

Obama is W-lite and like W
Sat, 03/13/2010 - 19:03 — Anonymous (not verified)
Obama is W-lite and like W he deserves to be impeached!

Who would ever have thought
Sat, 03/13/2010 - 19:09 — boB0 (not verified)
Who would ever have thought it. Once called the leader of the free world we are now Nazi Germany, or perhaps even worse. Maybe we are now Stalinist Soviet Union or The Peoples Repub under Mao. So this is how the average non Nazi, German citizen must have felt as Hitler took over power.

It is Obama who is
Sat, 03/13/2010 - 19:14 — No We Won't (not verified)
It is Obama who is responsible for this cover-up or whitewashing of W/Cheney torture/warcrimes. And it is Obama who clearly now deserves to be IMPEACHED.

Sat, 03/13/2010 - 19:28 — ultimus gimp (not verified)
ACTUALLY IT'S HE WHO dies with the most toys- is dead

So right, Andy
Sat, 03/13/2010 - 19:29 — S. Wolf Britain (not verified)
So right, Andy Worthington!!!!! You put it so succinctly and thoroughly that there is absolutely no (further) excuse(s) for not completely recognizing that all of the very points, and most important points, you made are totally accurate.

This article and the pointed facts it proves entirely true, beyond any reasonable doubt(s) whatsoever, also pointedly prove that there is absolutely no (further) excuse(s) for not holding all those involved in ordering and/or justifying the obvious torture completely accountable to the fullest extent of the law; and that there are absolutely no doubts whatsoever that ALL OF THEM are war criminals and MUST BE prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned for the rest of their natural lives for their heinous orders, justifications and very serious criminal violations of law that they very clearly perpetrated.

Thank you for making this patently and absolutely clear beyond any reasonable or logical doubt(s), excuse(s), justification(s) or rationalization(s) whatsoever.

A tractor trailer seriously
Sat, 03/13/2010 - 19:53 — On Topic (not verified)
A tractor trailer seriously injured Senate majority leader's wife, injuring his daughter also, by rear-ending her car. A rear-ending tractor trailer injured Judi Bari weeks before a car bomb nearly killed her, leaving her permanently crippled. FBI was covicted years later; gov't paid millions to her surviving daughters. President Johnson appointed former liberal Chief Justice Earl Warren to head a Commission that found Oswald to be President Kennedy's lone assassin, contrary to much evidence produced and later found to be factual. Many believe that Warren knew his family would have a fatal accident if he found otherwise. The Senate leader's intention to oppose further war funding became known when his wife's car was rear-ended.

"We hold these truths to be
Sat, 03/13/2010 - 19:55 — Anonymous (not verified)
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

...And "...Prudence, indeed,
Sat, 03/13/2010 - 20:58 — S. Wolf Britain (not verified)
...And "...Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, IT IS THEIR DUTY, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security..."!

U.S. Declaration of Independence, 1776; LAW, AND/OR PART OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, under the Constitution of the United States, THE SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND, through the Supremacy Clause of that same Constitution! [Emphasis and/or clarification(s) added by me.]


Our government's embrace of
Sat, 03/13/2010 - 21:22 — Anonymous (not verified)
Our government's embrace of torture during the dark Bush years and the failure under Obama to aggressively demand accountability and redress is the most profound signal, among the many, of our nation's decline and descent.
..'out damned spot..'

...And I inadvertently left
Sat, 03/13/2010 - 21:26 — S. Wolf Britain (not verified)

en dot wikipedia dot
Sat, 03/13/2010 - 21:49 — S. Wolf Britain (not verified)
en dot wikipedia dot org/wiki/Declaration_of_Independence_(United_States)

While the nation is defining
Sun, 03/14/2010 - 00:21 — Anonymous (not verified)
While the nation is defining torture let us not forget to include the new "means and methods" of torture not being discussed such as brain and body implanted and embedded devices. The ability for remotely torture as defined by the U.S. right now can be done without any regulation at this time by advertisers. There is no excuse for AT&T being allowed to sell one on one time with embedded scientists, which came out during the hearings. What about the privacy and intellectual property and suffering of these scientists from AT&T's criminal behavior? Perhaps that is why there are so many dead or incarcerated ones. It was all about stealing technology for profit. This too, happened under the Cheney Presidency.

Advertisers like Ogilvy, a front for Mossad, have the rights to interact with people who have embedded devices without regulation. There was a hearing about it on Capital Hill last year. This interaction can include a total occupation of a person's time, sleeplessness until death, and even overriding corrections to the heart muscle to put a person into cardiac arrest.

Don't forget all the scientists and other innocent persons, including intelligence officers who were killed during the Bush Administration without the President's knowledge.

The real problem is what happened to the data, who has it, what are "they" doing with it and how can it be corrected.

We need Autolaw to safeguard ourselves.

There is no need whatsoever for any tortuous interrogations for any reason, when a persons mind can be read to obtain needed information.

i'm emailing for sick children

Let's face it. The effect
Sun, 03/14/2010 - 00:30 — Anonymous (not verified)
Let's face it. The effect of sustained illegal mistreatment of prisoners, made very public, has gone a long way towards redefining the Taliban - at least in their own minds - as freedom fighters.

Do you honestly think a
Sun, 03/14/2010 - 00:50 — goddamnathiest (not verified)
Do you honestly think a government lawyer would ever try and hold other government lawyers accountable for their actions?
Let these two stand trial at the Hague and then see what happens.
No government employee will ever be held accountable for their actions. But a junior enlisted soldier will and be sent to prison.
Where some still sit and rot for lesser acts.

You can't have a war on
Sun, 03/14/2010 - 01:10 — Anonymous (not verified)
You can't have a war on terror - semantically this is ludicrous. War IS terror & the USA are promoting, executing, aiding and abetting more wars than any other nation on the planet. So who are the terrorists?

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