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Nederlog


  December
10, 2014
Crisis: The U.S. Senate's Torture Report : 10 views
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton















Prev- crisis -Next
Sections
Introduction

 1.
Landmark report on CIA torture brands program as
      ineffective and brutal

 
2. Stop believing the lies: America tortured more than
      'some folks' – and covered it up

 3. 
Civil Rights Groups Call for Prosecution of Torture
      Architects

 4. Live Coverage of the Senate Torture Report
 5. CIA torture report: Europe must come clean about its
      own complicity

 6.
Don’t Expect Supreme Court Action on the Senate’s
      Torture Report

 7.
Torture Report Exposes Sadism and Lies
 8. Senate CIA Torture Report Details 'Ruthless' Brutality of
      Bush Era

 9. Timeline: The Tortured History of the Senate’s Torture
      Report

10. IT DIDN'T WORK + FULL REPORT:
About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, December 10. It is a crisis log.

But this is not a normal crisis log: The Torture Report - as it is widely called - made by the U.S. Senate has been published, or rather, to be more precise, around 500 of its pages, of over 6000, have been published. At least, that is what the papers say, and I believe them - even though the governmental pdf that I downloaded twice now, completely unsuccessfully, is 41 MBs of total and complete blackness. (This never happened before, also, but OK: I merely register. Later: I have downloaded a good version now, of 64 MB, at the third try.)

Apart from that somewhat strange glitch, I gathered around 10 articles on the Torture Report alone, and these will be presented in the present crisis file, that for that reason also has a decent title (for usually I have so many subjects I can only name them by keywords).

So this file is just about the torture report. I thought at first that I also might make a later crisis file with four other crisis items I found today, but since I am quite tired now, and must do some other things, and none of these items is of crucial importance, I will come back tomorrow.

And here goes - and I start with a motto I have earlier used, because it is very apt:
"Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits but according to who does them, and there is almost no outrage - torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonments without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians, which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by 'our' side." (The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, vol 3, p. 419, written in May 1945.)
In case you doubt: This is totalitarianism - Our Side Is Always Right, No Matter What. You can see it at Fox News and most other sites of the mainstream media: For them all that matters are "American lives". (And yes... I agree these are important, but so are non-American lives, also if they live by other ideals.)

1. Landmark report on CIA torture brands program as ineffective and brutal 

The first item is an article by Spencer Ackerman, Dominic Rushe and Julian Borger on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The full extent of the CIA’s interrogation and detention programmes launched in the wake of the September 11 terror attack was laid bare in a milestone report by the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday that concluded the agency’s use of torture was brutal and ineffective – and that the CIA repeatedly lied about its usefulness.

The report represented the most scathing congressional indictment of the Central Intelligence Agency in nearly four decades. It found that torture “regularly resulted in fabricated information,” said committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, in a statement summarizing the findings. She called the torture programme “a stain on our values and on our history”.

“During the brutal interrogations, the CIA was often unaware the information was fabricated.” She told the Senate the torture program was “morally, legally and administratively misguided” and “far more brutal than people were led to believe”.

The report reveals that use of torture in secret prisons run by the CIA across the world was even more extreme than previously exposed, and included “rectal rehydration” and “rectal feeding”, sleep deprivation lasting almost a week and threats to the families of the detainees.

Yes... except that "The full extent of the CIA’s interrogation and detention programmes" cannot have been "laid bare" if only a redacted 500 pages from over 6000 pages have been published. This should have been at least mentioned here, instead of speaking as if the over 6000 pages have been published (though yes, it is mentioned, but about halfway in the article).

There is also this:

The findings prompted a call from a UN special human rights rapporteur for prosecutions of those in the CIA and the Bush administration responsible for the torture programme.

Responding to the report, Barack Obama said the US owed a “profound debt” to the CIA but accepted that some of its techniques were “contrary to our values”.

The "UN special human rights rapporteur" clearly is quite right, while I can only understand Obama as thanking the CIA for their torturing, even though this may have been, sometimes of course, “contrary to our values” - but we must look forward and not backward, and long live the CIA.

But OK, he also said (!!) that the next 1 1/2 years will be without torture:

"(..) I will continue to use my authority as president to make sure we never resort to those methods again.”

By the way: O)bama said already in January 2009 that he wanted "to look forward and not backward", so you must keep in mind that saying is one thing, and doing quite another. About half way into the article there is this:

The Senate committee published nearly 500 pages of its investigation into the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme during the Bush administration’s “war on terror”. The full report is over 10 times longer, but the declassified section is dense with detail and declassified communications between the officials involved.

To my mind, this reads as if the CIA, that was to be investigated by the Senate, has won over 9/10ths of its case and its demands, though I agree it would have been even better, from their point of view, not to have published anything.

There is also this, on the motives of two American psychologists:

Contractor psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen played a critical role in establishing the torture program in 2002. In the report, both Mitchell and Jessen are identified by the pseudonyms Swigert and Dunbar. A company they formed to contract their services to the CIA was worth more than $180m, and by the time of the contract’s 2009 cancellation, they had received $81m in payouts.

That is: "Torture? Torture? Who wouldn't torture to his hearts' content for $81 million dollars?! Eh?!" - or at least, that is how I read it, or alternatively thus: "How I Became A Multi-Millionaire As An American Psychologist."

2. Stop believing the lies: America tortured more than 'some folks' – and covered it up

The next item is an article by Trevor Timm (the director of the Freedom Of The Press Foundation):

This starts as follows:

It wasn’t that bad, we’ve been told, over and over again, for more than a decade. “We only waterboarded three people” goes the line American officials have been force-feeding the world for years. “We tortured some folks,” Barack Obama admitted recently, still downplaying war crimes committed in America’s name. But we now know those statements do not even begin to do justice to the horrific activities carried out by the CIA for years – atrocities that now have been exposed by the US Senate’s historic report on the CIA’s torture program, finally released on Tuesday after years of delay.

There are stories in the CIA torture report of “rectal rehydration as a means of behavior control”, threats to murder and “threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee” – or cut a mother’s throat. There are details about detainees with broken bones forced to stand for days on end, detainees blindfolded, dragged down hallways while they were beaten. There were even torture sessions that ended in death. The list goes on and on, and on and on.

But beyond all the the depravity, perhaps the most shocking part of this exposed history is the action of US officials who knew these horrors were unfolding – and covered them up.

Yes, quite so. As for the third paragraph: See George Orwell's statement, that I started with. This continues as follows:

For years, as the 480-page executive summary of the report documents in meticulous detail, these officials lied to the Senate, the Justice Department, the White House, to the American public and to the world. They prevented CIA officers involved from being disciplined. They investigated and marginalized those who were investigating them. They happily leaked classified information to journalists – much of it false – without worry of consequence.

There is also this:

This highlights the mistake of the Senate committee, in a way. Instead of focusing on the illegal nature of the torture, Senator Dianne Feinstein’s investigators worked to document torture’s ineffectiveness. The debate, now, is whether torture worked. It clearly didn’t. But the debate should be: Why the hell aren’t these torturous liars in jail?

Worse still, the CIA has still largely succeeded in stripping the landmark report of anything that could lead to accountability. The agents who were not only protected from discipline for their actions but were promoted now have their names completely redacted. So, too, are the names of the dozens of countries that helped the CIA carry out its torture regime.
This is a good and sensible reaction, and should be read in full.
3. Civil Rights Groups Call for Prosecution of Torture Architects

The next item is an article by Murtaza Hussain on The Intercept:

This starts as follows, under a photography of Michael Hayden, one of the grossest liars and deceivers:

In the wake of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s landmark report on the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program, civil rights organizations are calling for those responsible to face immediate legal accountability. The 600-page executive summary of the report released today documents in excruciating detail episodes of sexual torture, beatings, and other forms of physical and mental abuse committed against detainees.

While partially redacted, the report is nonetheless the most detailed official accounting to date of how the CIA conducted its post-9/11 detention operations.

“Even though we previously knew many details about the torture program, the brutality this landmark report documents is breathtaking,” the ACLU’s Hina Shamsi told The Intercept. “The release of this report is a call to action for the Justice Department, Congress, and the White House. We cannot make a clean break from this nation’s history of state-sanctioned torture without accountability for the terrible human rights violations committed in our name.”

Yes, though these atrocities - long lied about, still not accessible to the public for 9/10ths - not only were committed in the name of the American people, but also financed with their tax money.

But OK - there is a considerable amount more in the article, also on the actual techniques of torture that were used.

4. Live Coverage of the Senate Torture Report

The next item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

One of the worst myths official Washington and its establishment media have told itself about the torture debate is that the controversy is limited to three cases of waterboarding at Guantánamo and a handful of bad Republican actors. In fact, a wide array of torture techniques were approved at the highest levels of the U.S. Government and then systematically employed in lawless US prisons around the world - at Bagram (including during the Obama presidency), CIA black sites, even to US citizens on US soil. So systematic was the torture regime that a 2008 Senate report concluded that the criminal abuses at Abu Ghraib were the direct result of the torture mentality imposed by official Washington.

American torture was not confined to a handful of aberrational cases or techniques, nor was it the work of rogue CIA agents. It was an officially sanctioned, worldwide regime of torture that had the acquiescence, if not explicit approval, of the top members of both political parties in Congress. It was motivated by far more than interrogation. The evidence for all of this is conclusive and overwhelming. And the American media bears much of the blame, as they refused for years even to use the word “torture” to describe any of this (even as they called these same techniques “torture” when used by American adversaries), a shameful and cowardly abdication that continues literally to this day in many of the most influential outlets.

There is this on what in fact has been released to the public (and this is the most precise statement on it that I've read - and the version I, at last, succeeded in downloading is 499 pages in all, including Feinstein's foreword):
The Senate Intelligence Committee today will release part of its “torture report.” The report is the by-product of four years of work (2009-2013) and is 6,000 pages long. Only the Executive Summary, roughly 600 pages, will be released today. Even some of that is redacted: the names of CIA agents participating in the torture, countries which agreed to allow CIA black sites, and other details. For months, top Democrats on the Committee warred with the Obama White House due to the latter’s attempts to redact far more vital information than even stalwart CIA ally Dianne Feinstein thought necessary.
There is rather a lot more, all quite justified (in my eyes) and this piece ends as follows (only to be continued with quite a lot underneath it, as it says):
The Intercept will have comprehensive coverage of the report throughout the day. We’ll have full annotations of the report; graphical guides to the key parts; reporting in Washington from Dan Froomkin, who has been covering the report for months, and other reporters; and I’ll be live-blogging key parts of the report and other fallout in this space all day, appearing, in reverse chronological order, underneath these initial observations.
These "initial observations" are quite interesting as well: I strongly recommend you read all of this (if interested - and yes, a considerable amount is pretty horrible).

Also, as an interim fact: I did get a working copy - the third time - of the (I quote) "Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detentiom and Interrogation Program", which is what it is called, and the version I have is 499 - redacted - pages in all.

And no, I have not read this yet, and will have no time to do so today. I will try to do so the coming week.

5. CIA torture report: Europe must come clean about its own complicity

The next item is an article by Natalie Nougayréde (who presently works for the Guardian but was editor of Le Monde):
This starts as follows:

As the world awaited the US Senate report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme under the George W Bush administration, there was very little introspection in Europe. As if European countries had nothing to do with what went on in the hunt for al-Qaida in the years after 9/11. In fact, many of America’s European allies were deeply involved in the CIA programme. And they have managed to stay very quiet about it. Could this change now?

Under President Bush the CIA used a web of European airports and bases for its extraordinary rendition flights, secretly transferring terror suspects across borders for interrogation. Some European states helped the CIA to carry out kidnappings. Others hosted CIA “black sites” – in effect, torture chambers – on their territory. The 600-page redacted summary of the 6,000-page report, published on Tuesday by the Senate intelligence committee, will no doubt be scrutinised to see what it may reveal of the continent’s involvement in these abuses.

In 2007 a special investigator for the Council of Europe, Dick Marty, concluded that there was “enough evidence to state” that American secret prisons existed in Poland and Romania. He added that the “illegal deportation of suspects by CIA kidnapping teams in Europe” amounted to “a massive and systematic violation of human rights”.

But very little has happened. In fact:
To this day the exact scale of European complicity remains unknown. This is because of the secrecy maintained for years by the US and its partner governments. Washington has never confirmed the location of secret CIA prisons, nor named the governments that cooperated, and nor indeed does the material just published. A decade on, there is still no public comprehensive account.
Indeed. There is a lot more under the last dotted link, including the names of quite a few - at least 17 - European countries that cooperated, secretively of course, with the CIA.

6. Don’t Expect Supreme Court Action on the Senate’s Torture Report

The next item is an article by Bill Blum on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

Now that the Senate has released an executive summary of its report on the use of torture by the CIA during the George W. Bush-era war on terror, litigation is sure to follow to probe the legality of the techniques the agency deployed in secret interrogation sites around the world. The techniques, which were used against 119 detainees according to the summary, included repeated waterboarding, death threats, prolonged sleep deprivation and medically unnecessary rectal feeding as a “way to exert total control” over terror suspects.

Sooner rather than later, the anticipated litigation will land in the lap of the nine justices who sit on the Supreme Court, as issues of critical national importance invariably do. How the high court will rule, however, remains a disturbingly open question.

As always, the best—though by no means certain—predictor of how the court will respond is its recent record on the subjects of enhanced interrogation and human rights violations generally.
Next there are a considerable number of cases that have been put to the Supreme Court (that not always agrees to treat such cases as has been put forward to it) that I leave to your interests.

It ends as follows, quite justifiedly:

It is impossible to predict with certainty how the Supreme Court will react when new torture and human rights cases are brought before it in the wake of the Senate’s torture report. Still, we can reliably bank on two guideposts: first, that the court will go to extraordinary lengths, citing technicalities such as standing and venue and perhaps statutes of limitations, to avoid ruling on the merits of future cases, as it has done time and again in the recent past.

Second, and most important, the court’s dominant Republican majority is unlikely to shed its extremely partisan predispositions and loyalties. The majority, now firmly entrenched and far more intransigent under the direction of Roberts than the panel was under Rehnquist, has transformed American law and jurisprudence into a distorted form of “politics by other means.” Don’t expect that transformation to change any time soon, torture notwithstanding.

Yes, indeed.

7. Torture Report Exposes Sadism and Lies
 
The next item is an article by Melvin A. Goodman on ConsortiumNews:
This has the following summary:
The stunning Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture and other sadistic treatment meted out to “war on terror” detainees has shredded the credibility of CIA apologists who claimed the “enhance interrogations” were carefully calibrated and humane, as ex-CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman explains.
It starts as follows:

CIA Director John Brennan, having failed to block the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture and abuse, is now abetting the efforts of former CIA directors and deputy directors to rebut the report’s conclusions that the interrogation techniques amounted to sadism and that senior CIA officials lied to the White House, the Congress, and the Department of Justice about the effectiveness of the enhanced interrogation program.

Former CIA directors George Tenet and Michael Hayden and deputy directors John McLaughlin and Steve Kappes, who were guilty of past deceit on sensitive issues, have threatened to make documents available to undermine the findings of the Senate committee. The senior operations officer who ran the CIA’s torture and abuse program, Jose Rodriquez, has been permitted to write a book and a long essay in the Washington Post that argue the interrogation techniques were legal and effective. Their charges are completely spurious and their credibility is non-existent.

There is a lot more under the last dotted link, especially about (former) high-ranking CIA officials (who all lied and deceived).

8. Senate CIA Torture Report Details 'Ruthless' Brutality of Bush Era

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This has the following summary:
Senate Intelligence Committee's report says CIA abuse violated 'U.S. law, treaty obligations, and our values.' Journalists, experts and human rights advocates say that torture program under the Bush administration was systematically orchestrated by top officials.
It starts as follows:

The executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA torture was released on Tuesday morning. As the document itself (pdf) was posted online, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Chairperson of the committee, took to the Senate floor and to lay out the case made within the 500+ page report. Watch video of Feinstein's  remarks here.

What the report shows, according to its introduction, is that the abuse performed by the CIA and documented by the investigation was found to be in direct "violation of U.S. law, treaty obligations, and our values."

According to Feinstein, the four key findings of the report include:

1. The CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” were not effective.
2. The CIA provided extensive inaccurate information about the operation of the program and its effectiveness to policymakers and the public.
3. The CIA’s management of the program was inadequate and deeply flawed.
4. The CIA program was far more brutal than the CIA represented to policymakers and the American public.

Common Dreams posted updates following the release of the report, focusing on reactions and critical analysis from informed voices

And indeed it does, and is well worth looking into, for there is a lot more.

Incidentally, not in criticism of Jon Queally: "
the four key findings of the report", according to Feinstein, are a bit misleading, for they concentrate on the fact - which seems to be one - that torture didn't work, much rather than on the fact that torture is gravely immoral and quite forbidden, also in law.

9. Timeline: The Tortured History of the Senate’s Torture Report

The next item is an article by Kara Brandeisky and Sisi Wei on ProPublica:

This is precisely what it says, and is quite good. Here is the first item on the timeline:

Jan. 11, 2009

President-elect Barack Obama tells George Stephanopoulos he's not interested in a broad investigation of Bush-era intelligence programs, saying, "We need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards."

And this the last one:

Dec. 9, 2014

The Senate Intelligence Committee releases the executive summary of the report. It concludes the CIA mislead the public, Congress, and the White House both about the severity of treatment and about effectiveness of torture.

There are quite a few "in between" items that are interesting.

10. IT DIDN'T WORK + FULL REPORT:

The next and final item is a list of items by many on The Huffington Post, in its style:

Note this is in fact a link to the U.S. edition of today's Huffington Post: Tomorrow this will be different.

But today's frontpage of The Huffington Post opens with some 26 articles dedicated to various aspects of the report.

I will leave them to your interest - and personally I do not like The Huffington Post very much, but that may be just me. (But no: it is not a "FULL REPORT", for example, though this also is ambiguous.)
---------------------------------
Notes
[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, that the governors do not rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)


About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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