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Nederlog


  December
11, 2014
Crisis: CIA*3, Rusbridger, Bahrain, Austerity, Obama, Spying, Terry Jones
  "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.
What happens after the torture report? How the CIA's
      victims can still get justice

 
2. Alan Rusbridger to stand down as Guardian
      editor-in-chief

 3.
For CIA, Truth about Torture Was an Existential Threat
 4. ‘A lot of These Gomers Didn’t Know Shit’: Former CIA
      Officer on Torture Report

 5. Sending troops to protect dictators threatens all of us
 6.
Once you have been poor, you always fear it. Austerity
      will only create more hungry children

 7.
Obama: America "Exceptional" So We Don't Prosecute
      Torturers

 8. Congress Just Passed Legislation Ramping Up Mass
      Surveillance to Super-Steroid Levels

9. 
Inside Terry Jones's War on the War on Terror
About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, December 11. It is a crisis log.

There are 9 items with 10 dotted links: Item 1, item 3 and item 4 are about the CIA (various aspects); item 2 about Alan Rusbridger, who will step down as chief editor of The Guardian; item 5 is about Bahrain; item 6 about austerity (as a reason to pay the poor less and the rich more); item 7 about why bank managers and CIA officials are never punished (except if whistleblowing); item 8 is about how Congress betrayed the American people once again; and item 9 is about a nearly ten year old interview with Terry Jones (of Monty Python) that I liked.

And here goes:

1. What happens after the torture report? How the CIA's victims can still get justice  

The first item is an article by Trevor Timm on The Guardian:

This has the following subtitle:

The cowardly Obama administration wants America’s ‘brutal’ history to become just that. But torture is a war crime. Let’s investigate the architects. Let’s make sure this kind of rampant criminality never happens again

I agree with the beginning and indeed torture is a war crime. But while I also agree that it should never happen again, that seems a pipe-dream to me.

But OK - this starts as follows:

Everyone expected the Senate’s CIA torture report to be shocking. But I’m not sure anyone – except maybe the torturers and the tortured – was really prepared for the depravity and sheer lack of humanity laid out in the 580 pages released on Tuesday morning in Washington. It is, in many ways and in the starkness of all those footnotes, the most disturbing scandal in recent American history.

The amount of different crimes committed by the CIA and documented by Senator Dianne Feinstein’s committee is truly extraordinary. Not only does the report detail the systematic torture of dozens of detainees – which included sexual assault, rape and homicide – but the amount of times the CIA allegedly obstructed justice, committed perjury and made false statements is hard to even count. The breaking of laws almost catches up with the breaking of bones, minds and bodies.

Trevor Timm also asks:

Where do we go from here?

And remarks, rightly, I think:

For the cowardly Obama administration, the CIA scandal can’t end fast enough. The Guardian’s Dan Roberts reports that the White House thinks it’s “inappropriate” to comment on the report’s conclusions. The New York Times’ Peter Baker says the administration won’t even “take sides” on whether torture works (....)
Instead, Obama spent Tuesday praising CIA employees as “patriots” to whom “we owe a profound debt of gratitude” for protecting the country after 9/11.

There's also this:

The Justice Department already shamefully declined to prosecute CIA officers once and claims that the statute of limitations is now up. But as the ACLU’s Hina Shamsi wrote at the New York Times:

Prosecution is still possible despite the passage of time because there is no statute of limitations for the crime of torture when it risks or results in serious injury or death, or for the war crime of torture.

In fact:
(...) the report’s “real impact could be felt in courtrooms across the globe in the months and years to come”.
But in any case:

Whatever the avenue to justice, the battle will be uphill. As the Washington Post reported Tuesday night, the CIA has failed and failed and failed again over the decades, but they have as much power as ever:

Indeed, the CIA is in many ways at a position of unmatched power. Its budgets have been swollen by billions of dollars in counterterrorism expenditures. Its workforce has surged. Its overseas presence has expanded. And its arsenal now includes systems, including a fleet of armed drones, that would have made prior generations of CIA leaders gasp.

Yes, indeed.

2.  Alan Rusbridger to stand down as Guardian editor-in-chief

The next item is an article by Jane Martinson on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Alan Rusbridger is to stand down as editor-in-chief of the Guardian after 20 years, leaving the news organisation to become the chair of its ultimate owner, the Scott Trust.

He will stand down next summer after his successor is appointed and will replace Liz Forgan in 2016 at the end of her term as the chair of the trust, the body that safeguards the title’s editorial future and independence.

I say. I also think it is a great pity, for he did his job very well, since he made what I think is presently definitely the best paper in the world (and no, I certainly don't agree with quite a few things they say), at least to the extent of my - rather extensive - knowledge (I read 7 languages easily), and he also got inspired by George Orwell, which I like.

Then again, he did the job for twenty years (as did his predecessor) and he is around 60 so this was more or less to be expected.
3. For CIA, Truth about Torture Was an Existential Threat

The next item is an article by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

For the CIA officials involved in torture, one thing was clear from the very beginning: The only way they would be forgiven for what they did was if they could show it had saved lives.

It was the heart of their rationale. It was vital to public acceptance. It was how they would avoid prosecution.

The executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s grindingly exhaustive torture report released Tuesday indelibly captures CIA officials  turning their back on human decency,  and it all starts with a “novel” legal defense floated in November 2001 by CIA lawyers – and arguably prompted by their White House masters, lurking offstage  –  that the “CIA could argue that the torture was necessary to prevent imminent, significant, physical harm to persons, where there is no other available means to prevent the harm.”

Note that this last justification is obvious sick propaganda, simply because torture is a war crime: What they planned to do (which didn't work i.a. because torture did not "prevent imminent, significant, physical harm to persons") was to start a - quite sick and degenerate - media offensive that their torture "enhanced interrogation techniques" were good because they did good. Again, torture is a war crime, quite independently of the question whether it works.

There is also this:

Senate investigators, who had access to millions of pages of original CIA cables and other source material, used most of the 499 pages in Tuesday’s release documenting example after example of CIA officials doing gruesome things, then telling convenient falsehoods to each other, to their bosses, to the White House, to anyone who questioned them, and to Congress – all to prove to everyone that torture worked.

In fact, torture did not work, and since this was already quite well-known, whereas each of those involved did know that torture is a war crime, it seems the most plausible explanation is that those who tortured did torture because they liked torturing people, and especially those of other faiths and skin colors. Too cynical? I think not, but I grant another reason is that torturing people was very well-paid: The two American psychologists who started much of it - messrs. James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, blessed be their names - by the end of 2009 had received $ 81 million.

There is a lot more in the article, that deserves full reading (though it will not make you happier, unless you like torturing people, that is). Also, I should remark that the title is not fully born out: I do myself not think that the truth about torture ever was "an existential threat" to the CIA, if only because the Republican's are strong and presidemt Obama regards the torturers, quite thankfully also, as "true patriots", whose crimes need no prosecution "because they were done in the past". (Yes, he really said so.)

4. ‘A lot of These Gomers Didn’t Know Shit’: Former CIA Officer on Torture Report

The next item is an article by Ken Silverstein on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

The whole question of torture could have been avoided if the military had “just killed all these guys when they were captured on the battlefield,” when no one would have noticed, a former senior CIA officer told me over lunch today.

(...)

In his view, torture is worse than killing people, because it doesn’t work, which was obvious before the release of the Senate report and further confirmed by it. A person being tortured will tell you anything you want to hear, even if it’s all lies, and a lot of the victims had to lie because they didn’t have valuable information to begin with.

Precisely (apart from killing them when captured). I agree, but I also remark that there still is a use for torture - which is a war crime - that indeed also works

It is an excellent way of keeping a civil population under control, namely if they know that anyone who gets arrested does run the serious risk of being tortured (regardless of any information).

The former senior CIA officer continues:
“It doesn’t matter what tactics you use, you’re not going to get information if people don’t know anything and most of these Gomers didn’t know shit,” he said. “Who in the leadership was stupid enough to think they would? Why would these guys have detailed knowledge about plans and targeting? Even if they were hard-core jihadis who took part in operations, that doesn’t mean they would have knowledge of upcoming attacks.”
Again I quite agree - and I very much doubt that "the leadership was stupid enough to think they would". It seems much more plausible to me that "the leadership" wanted a radical shake-up of procedures, that would enable them
and those they commanded to do anything they pleased. And this mostly worked.

Here is the last bid (skipping some):
At the same time, he said Senate Democrats are being totally disingenuous about their own role in tacitly condoning torture. They gave Bush a blank check when it was politically convenient and now they’re pretending to be shocked about what happened: “I’m familiar with congressional oversight and there’s no way people on the intelligence committees and in the leadership didn’t generally know what was going on. There’s no conceivable circumstances under which they wouldn’t have known. It’s like that scene from Casablanca, they had no idea. They’re lying.”
Again, I agree.

5. Sending troops to protect dictators threatens all of us

The next item is an article by Seumas Milne on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
We may have known the outline of the global US kidnapping and torture programme for a few years. But even the heavily censored summary of the US senate torture report turns the stomach in its litany of criminal barbarity unleashed by the CIA on real and imagined US enemies.
Yes, indeed (and torture is a war crime). And there is this:

There is of course nothing exceptional about states that preach human rights and democracy, but practise the opposite when it suits them. For all the senate’s helpful redactions, Britain has been up to its neck in the CIA’s savagery, colluding in kidnapping and torture from Bagram to Guantánamo while dishing out abuses of its own in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So you’d hardly think this reminder of the horrors unleashed in the name of the war on terror was the time for Britain to announce its first permanent military base in the Middle East for four decades. The presence of western troops and support for dictatorial Arab regimes were, after all, the original reasons given by al-Qaida for its jihad against the west.

There is a considerable amount more, most of which is about the new permanent military base Britain is to open in Bahrain. I'll leave that to your interests, except for the last paragraph:
But with its new commitment to station troops in Bahrain, we can have no doubt where the British government stands: behind autocracy and “enduring interests”. Just as the refusal to hold previous US governments to account for terror and torture laid the ground for what happened after 9/11, the failure of parliament even to debate the decision to garrison the Gulf is an ominous one. Britain’s new base isn’t in the interests of either the people of Britain, Bahrain or the Middle East as a whole – it’s a danger and affront to us all.
6. Once you have been poor, you always fear it. Austerity will only create more hungry children

The next item is an article by Suzanne Moore on The Guardian:
This contains the following:
When people talk about their high-powered, high-stress jobs, I often wonder if they even know what stress is. To not have when others have is not just a material lack; it is to live with your children in constant anxiety.

So, for the festive season, we hear a lot about food banks. They are necessary, but they also function as the most tangible symbol of the cognitive dissonance that passes for political discourse. We live in the sixth-richest country in the world, yet the poorest among us have to live on handouts from charities. The choice that this represents is seen as a fact of life – like all inequality these days. Some choose to be rich and some choose to be poor.
The two main reasons for this sad fact - that "in the sixth-richest country in the world, yet the poorest among us have to live on handouts from charities" - are that most ordinary people these days believe the propaganda of the advertise- ments (they also read many more advertisements than other stuff, like books) and that Labour has utterly sold out, and turned, since Blair, into a Tory-lite party.

As to the last point, there is this:
All of this should mean it is easy to challenge the Tories. But the anti-cuts agenda is always seen as shrill and adolescent, with austerity the only appropriate activity for consenting adults to be engaged in. We have mostly not given our consent on the big issues, though. How far do we want to shrink the state? Ed Balls has talked of “the destruction of the consensus” about what kind of country this is. It is now the kind of country where charities feed hungry children and the only people who talk about moral responsibility are clergymen. Labour are still way too reticent here, basically agreeing to the same cuts over a longer period.
I am a bit more radical: Labour betrayed its socialist background; it betrayed the unions; it turned to the Third Way (which is evident lying and posturing); and now is little different from Tory-lite. I am sorry to say so, and I am not even a socialist, but England without a strong, mostly socialist Labour party, is lost to the greed, the falsity, the inanities, the lies, and the deceptions of the Tories, who only work for the rich.

Here is the last but one paragraph:

This disconnection is absolutely ideological and is the fundamental goal of the austerity experiment. It has sanctioned cruelty aimed specifically at disabled people, women and children. This is done in the name of competence, but the fact remains that the welfare system is propping up a low-wage economy.
Yes. And since I am disabled, which is no fun in Holland, I'd like to say I am these days proud not to have to be English, for a man in my position might
easily be driven to suicide if I were English.

7. Obama: America "Exceptional" So We Don't Prosecute Torturers
 
The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

In his first official remarks following Tuesday's release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the torture program conducted by the CIA during the presidency of George W. Bush, President Barack Obama on Tuesday night indicated that the abuses detailed in the report conducted in the name of the American people—described as "horrific," "ruthless" and "much more brutal than previously thought"—should not be followed by further inquiries or prosecutions as many have long urged.

In his remarks, Obama acknowledged that "no nation is perfect," but argued that "one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better."

Backed by his interpretation of "American Exceptionalism," Obama suggested that the release of the report—which his administration fought tirelessly to restrict—was all that was necessary in order for the nation to move forward.

"Rather than another reason to refight old arguments," Obama continued, "I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong—in the past."

This is always Obama's argument: The very criminal major thefts of his friends in banks and the very criminal tortures done by his friends in the CIA should not be prosecuted at all "because they happened in the past" (where else can they have happened?!), whereas the hardly criminal acts of poor blacks and pot-smoking whites must be prosecuted and punished with years of imprisonment.

But this is a good article, that deserves full reading. Here is its end:

As Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, wrote in the immediate wake of the report's release: "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?"

As the ACLU's Shamsi points out, "The crime of torture has no statute of limitations when torture risks or results in serious injury or death, and the U.S. government has the obligation under international law to investigate any credible evidence that torture has been committed. If there's sufficient evidence of criminal conduct—and it's hard to see how there isn't—the offenders should be prosecuted. In our system, no one should be above the law, yet only a handful of mainly low-level personnel have been criminally prosecuted for abuse."

Precisely.

8. Congress Just Passed Legislation Ramping Up Mass Surveillance to Super-Steroid Levels

The next item is an article by Washington's Blog on his site:

This starts as follows (colors in the original)

Fascist Power Grab Wipes out 4th Amendment

Remember how Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to mass surveillance, and how the government promised to rein in spying on Americans?

Yeah, that never happened

Instead, Congress snuck a provision into the Intelligence Authorization Act which will ramp up spying on us normal, average, innocent Americans.

Congressman Justin Amash explains:

When I learned that the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2015 was being rushed to the floor for a vote—with little debate and only a voice vote expected (i.e., simply declared “passed” with almost nobody in the room)—I asked my legislative staff to quickly review the bill for unusual language. What they discovered is one of the most egregious sections of law I’ve encountered during my time as a representative: It grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American.

On Wednesday afternoon, I went to the House floor to demand a roll call vote on the bill so that everyone’s vote would have to be recorded. I also sent the letter below to every representative.

With more time to spread the word, we would have stopped this bill, which passed 325-100. Thanks to the 99 other representatives—44 Republicans and 55 Democrats—who voted to protect our rights and uphold the Constitution. And thanks to my incredibly talented staff.

It ends as follows:

The House subsequently passed H.R. 4681.

Top NSA officials previously said that we’ve got a “police state” … J. Edgar Hoover (or the Stasi) “on super steroids“.

Now what do we call it?

9. Inside Terry Jones's War on the War on Terror

The next and last item today is an article by Jeff Fleischer on Mother Jones - in fact from February 2, 2005:
It is here now basically for three reasons: First, I like Monthy Python (and Terry Jones was a member). Second, I was wondering recently about whoever else said similar things to what I said, which started in my case in the second half of 2004, when I got a second site, because the first was and is run in Holland in an awful way (that I can neither change nor influence). Third, I got this from the Wkipedia article on Terry Jones, and the reason to put it up here and now are a few things he says, that - to my mind - still are as true now as they were nearly ten years ago. Here is Terry Jones:
I think, for myself, it was when you saw Blair going along with Bush’s agenda in invading Iraq. You saw two million people taking the streets of London to protest against this and say “don’t do it,” and Blair just goes ahead. He prepares this dodgy dossier, which is full of manipulated intelligence in order to persuade people that it’s a reasonable thing to invade Iraq. And yet by doing that action, instead of making us safer from terror attacks, he’s actually putting us on the front line. So I think we feel exposed and we feel vulnerable because of these actions that our leaders are taking with total disregard for the safety of their own people.
(...)
But for Blair, what does Blair get out of it? It’s just mind-blowing that he puts his entire country on the line for terrorist attacks for no good reason. It’s gobsmacking (laughs).
As far as I know, Tony Blair currently is worth 60 million pounds, so he did get quite a lot from it. But OK - it also is nearly ten years later.

There's more on Blair:

And yet, you look at Tony Blair and he’s still saying exactly the same stuff, “It’s the right thing to do. We got rid of Saddam Hussein, that’s what we meant to do.” But even that, the whole thing about Saddam Hussein being a threat to our nation. Weapons of mass destruction. What would he have done with them? Was he going to bomb England? I mean, if he bombed England or if he’d bombed America, Iraq would’ve been wiped off the face of the earth. Why should he want to do that?
Yes, precisely - and Saddam Hussein did not have "weapons of mass destruction". And there is this on the inaugural address of Bush Jr:
I did actually start doing one on his latest inaugural address, because what amazes me about it is he’s basically just declared war on the rest of the world. But nobody seemed to really notice. He said it in a very nice way, so maybe they missed what he was talking about. Basically, he said that America can take out any government it doesn’t like and do whatever it likes. It’s stunning. It’s people’s reaction to it that’s been extraordinary to me, that nobody’s taken notice of what he’s actually saying.

Yes, indeed. Or perhaps it is not so much that "nobody’s taken notice of what he’s actually saying": it is that those who are capable of intelligent responses - always a minority, if we are talking about politics or religion - simply are blocked from appearing on television, with a few exceptions, often at late hours.

Anyway - there are more good things under the last dotted link, and here is also a link to something Terry Jones published on January 26, 2003:

It is a spoof, but a quite adequate one. 
---------------------------------
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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