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Nederlog


  December
12, 2014
Crisis: Greenwald, UK Torture?, Shutdown, Snowden, CIA, Torture, Banks, Interrogation
  "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.
“Corrupt, toxic and sociopathic”: Glenn Greenwald 
      unloads on torture, CIA and Washington’s rotten soul

 
2. US hid UK links in torture report at request of British spy
      agencies

 3. 
Government shutdown averted as House passes
      omnibus spending bill

 4. Edward Snowden Comments on the CIA’s Secret Torture
      Report

 5. CIA Crimes Without Punishment
 6.
What’s the Next Step to Stop Torture?
 7.
Funding Bill Passes; Wall Street Wins; "Kind of
      Compromise" Obama Loves

 8. "Verschärfte Vernehmung"
About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday, December 12. It is a crisis log.

There are 8 items with 8 links: Item 1 is a good interview with Glenn Greenwald; item 2 is about the fact that all links to the UK's cooperation in torturing have been classifief; item 3 is about the omnibus spending bill as is item 7: More money for the banks, and bigger political donations by the rich; item 4 is about a recent remark of Snowden; item 5 is about the CIA escaping punishment; item 6 asks what to do to stop torture; and item 8 is a 2007 item on the terms the Gestapo used for torturing: "enhanced interrogation", when translated.

And here goes:

1. “Corrupt, toxic and sociopathic”: Glenn Greenwald unloads on torture, CIA and Washington’s rotten soul

The first item is an article by Elias Isquith on Salon:

This is an interview (by phone) with Glenn Greenwald. It's interesting and well done. You should read all of it. It starts as follows:
It took years until the executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report — which shows not only that the CIA’s torture regime was larger and more vicious than understood, but that the agency repeatedly lied about it to the White House and Congress — was finally released to the public. But it only took hours before President Obama was once again urging the nation to look forward, not back. “Rather than another reason to refight old arguments,” read a White House statement, “I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong — in the past.”
Yes indeed - and this also one of the things that struck me: On the one hand, the U.S. has extremely many prisoners who often get imprisoned for very minor offenses (they also may not have done); on the other hand, the president of the U.S. within hours of a - very partial - report that shows with certainty that many officials of the previous government lied, deceived, broke oaths, and did a lot of torturing - which is a war crime and nearly universally rejected as morally horrible and evil - appears publicly and declares that he does not want to do anything whatsoever, and argues these torturers should be left alone and not even appear in court, because they committed their crimes "in the past", as if that is not true of any crime.

Here is Glenn Greenwald on one thing I did not know - and in what follows in this section all quotes are by Greenwald:
In fact, there were 9,000 documents that the CIA and the White House — together, as part of the executive branch — refused to give to the committee.

So much of it was just grappling over access to information (which is ironic, since this committee is supposed to exercise oversight of the CIA …)

That is: I did not know about 9,000 documents. I did know that the CIA tried to lord it over Congress, and it seems to me that so far they have succeeded in keeping more than 90% of the report that Congress prepared out of the hands of the public, and to be kept secret - which is a major shame.

Then there is this (and I am selecting things I did not know or did not pay much attention to):
Part of what surprised me was how overt and unflinching the report was about essentially accusing people like [former CIA head] Gen. Hayden of being pathological liars.
Well, he indeed is, although unfortunately that doesn't shut him up. But it is good there now is a lot of undeniable evidence that he is a liar.

Then there is this (with a small correction):
The CIA cares about a lot more than just intelligence. They care a lot about private contracts (because so many of their colleagues work at those very lucrative private contracting jobs where a lot of them hope to go when they leave the CIA); they care about militarism and the assertion of force in the world (they run the drone program); they do all kinds of military activities beyond just the gathering of intelligence. But you’re obviously right that the CIA exists beyond democratic accountability — and has for decades.
Yes indeed: There is no democratic accountability for the CIA, and indeed not for any secret service I know of, and that also has been engineered to be so on purpose: There is no democratic need for most of the secrecy, and a secret service, especially one that is spying on the inhabitants of its own country, is firmly anti-democratic.

Then there is this (with one clarification inserted by me):
The American media largely acquiesced to [the torture program], and leading members of both parties more or less just kind of went along with it. And that’s what’s so bothersome about the reaction on Tuesday: Everybody’s noses got rubbed in [the torture program] by this report, so people couldn’t pretend it wasn’t there any longer, they were forced to admit it, but a lot of the outrage and shock is very artificial.
Well... it may be me, but I wasn't much bothered by the reactions on Fox News, for example: I know their job is to deceive or obfuscate, and they do this quite well (for the more stupid half of the population).

There is this:
And so much of this [program] was about dehumanization. It had nothing to do with interrogation; it was about exploitation and control. It was about the assertion of power.

And that’s what makes it so evil. Detainees are, by definition, helpless; they’re captive. So to completely brutalize them and remove their humanity is really worse than anything you could do to someone physically, including killing them. It’s basically like being dead while alive.

I agree to the first paragraph: Very much was "exploitation and control. It was about the assertion of power", but I disagree with this phrase: "to completely brutalize them and remove their humanity is really worse than anything you could do to someone physically, including killing them": No, I don't think so.

My reason to disagree is quite personal: My father and grandfather were locked up as political prisoners in German concentration camps. My grandfather was murdered, but my father survived, indeed more than 3 years, 9 months and 15 days, even though at one point he weighed 37 kilos. Had he not survived, I would not have existed. And while my life was poor and I got an enormous amount of completely undeserved vile discrimination, meeted out to me by narko-nazis who were the (great-)grandsons of the vilest Nazi-collaborators there were in Holland, I'd rather have life than not have it.

Here is Glenn Greenwald on president Obama (quite justified, in my opinion):
That’s what made what President Obama did [by not prosecuting torturers] so disgraceful and why he does bear a very significant part of the culpability and why this will be a huge, dark mar on his legacy. It’s so predictable that if you prevent not just criminal prosecutions but even civil liability or international investigation for America’s torturers — which is exactly what he did; he not only blocked criminal investigations but used the state secrets privilege to prevent civil liability, and then bullied and coerced other countries in Europe not to investigate — the message that’ll be sent is that [torture] is not actually a crime (...)
Yes indeed - or indeed that the president of the United States does not prosecute the bankmanagers who stole billions, and does not prosecute high officials who ordered torture, but proudly has anyone who is poor and has no power prosecuted by his DoJ.

That is the extremely corrupt message I get. Here is the last bit of Greenwald:
At some point, this blame-shifting has to stop. It should become apparent just how deeply corrupt, toxic and sociopathic the Washington political and media class is. I mean, it would be one thing if this was some isolated aberration, but this is a reflection of what the United States government in so many different ways around the world for a long time — but certainly since the war on terror, when it was intensified.
Well... I agree that "the Washington political and media class is" "deeply corrupt, toxic and sociopathic" but I do not think this will change much without major changes in the U.S.: As far as I know - that is: in my experience - this has been so since the early 1960ies, when the war in Vietnam started, and indeed has grown worse and worse ever since, with a mere 8 year partial pause (Ford and Carter).

2. US hid UK links in torture report at request of British spy agencies 

The next item is an article by Rowena Mason and Ian Cobain:

This starts as follows:

References to Britain’s intelligence agencies were deleted at their request from the damning US report on the CIA’s use of torture after 9/11, it has emerged.

A spokesman for David Cameron acknowledged the UK had been granted deletions in advance of the publication, contrasting with earlier assertions by No 10. Downing Street said any redactions were only requested on “national security” grounds and contained nothing to suggest UK agencies had participated in torture or rendition.

However, the admission will fuel suspicions that the report – while heavily critical of the CIA – was effectively sanitised to conceal the way in which close allies of the US became involved in the global kidnap and torture programme that was mounted after the al-Qaida attacks.

I did not know this, but my reaction is: "Of course!", and indeed also to more news about the lies of David Cameron.

There is a considerable amount more under the last dotted link.
3. Government shutdown averted as House passes omnibus spending bill

The next item is an article by Dan Roberts on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Republicans formed an unlikely alliance with the White House in a late-night scramble to pass a $1.1tn federal budget over the objections of House Democrats, who claim it has been hijacked by Wall Street lobbyists and campaign finance interests.

As to the hijacking, which indeed happened, there is this:

Many Democrats are furious that the 1,600-page omnibus bill included two unrelated concessions to financial interest groups: a tenfold increase in campaign limits for donations to political parties and candidates, and a reversal of the Dodd-Frank banking reforms that will allow public bailouts of banks taking risky derivatives bets.

Both are measures that increase the power of the rich. Also see item 7.

4. Edward Snowden Comments on the CIA’s Secret Torture Report

The next item is a - very brief - article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This indeed is very brief, but it quotes Snowden, who said this to an Amnesty International meeting in Paris:
“If we can run a rendition, a kidnapping, a detention program, a torture program, keep it secret for years, and then when it is revealed, hold no one to account, what does this mean for the future direction of our society?” NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden said after the U.S. Senate’s release of the CIA torture report.
Well... I see that "a rendition, a kidnapping, a detention program, a torture program" are each and all very good evidence for the rise and practice of corporate fascism, indeed especially when combined with secrecy, many lies,
and a refusal to do anything against individuals known to have cooperated with
renditioning, kidnapping, detention, and torturing people.

But as I said... possibly my perceptions are a bit sharpened by having a father, a mother and a grandfather who all were in the communist resistance against Nazism, that cost my grandfather's life and kept my father locked up for nearly four years.

5. CIA Crimes Without Punishment

The next item is an article by Joe Conason on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:

With the release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the use of torture by the CIA after 9/11, the final defense of the indefensible by its perpetrators, advocates and publicists is falling apart before our eyes.

Not only did “enhanced interrogation,” the Nazi euphemism adopted by the Bush-Cheney administration, include methods outlawed and prosecuted by our country for more than a century, such as waterboarding—and not only did those “activities,” as Dick Cheney called them, violate American law, the Constitution, the Geneva Conventions and the conventions on torture—but also we now know with great certainty that the CIA executed this secret program with horrific incompetence and that it produced nothing of significant value.

Indeed, the SSCI report concludes—contrary to the boasting of Cheney and many others—that torture was proved “not an effective means of gathering intelligence,” let alone saving millions of Americans from jihadi plots, and actually “complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions.” The overseers of the torture program, themselves of dubious competence, were unable even to assess the impact or effectiveness of their orders.

Well...yes and no. Here are some of my difficulties with the first three paragraphs:

As to the first paragraph: I have not seen Fox News fall "apart before" my "eyes". Instead, they defended torturing people ("folks" says the president). As to the second paragraph: Would it have been any better if the CIA had done its work competently, and produced things of
"significant value" by torturing people ("folks", says the president)? I think not. As to the third paragraph: I think the main point is not that "torture was proved “not an effective means of gathering intelligence”": the main point is that you should not torture. Period. Especially not as "a democratic country" with the biggest army in the world.

There is a considerable amount more under the last dotted link.

6. What’s the Next Step to Stop Torture?

The next item is an article by Ray McGovern (<- Wikipedia) on ConsortiumNews:
This starts as follows:

“I want you to listen to me,” said George Tenet lunging forward from his chair, his index finger outstretched and pointed menacingly at CBS’ Scott Pelley, “We don’t torture people; we don’t torture people; we don’t torture people; we don’t torture people; we don’t torture people!”

Appearing on “60 Minutes” on April 29, 2007, to hawk his memoir At the Center of the Storm, former CIA Director Tenet was imperiously definitive on the issue of CIA and torture. Could he have thought that repeating his denial five times, with the appropriate theatrics, would compel credulity? Is this the kind of assertion over reality that worked at CIA Headquarters during his disastrous tenure?

Tenet was lying, no less than five times, and indeed that was then known already.
Here is one question McGovern raises:
One remaining question now is whether egg on Tenet’s face will be allowed to suffice as his only punishment, or whether he and his deputy-in-crime John McLaughlin will end up in prison where they, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and several other senior officials properly belong.
Well... I agree these folks (presidential term) "properly belong" in prison, but I do not see who is going to put them there - but then, I do not think Ray McGovern sees so either.

Then there is this:

Thus, it was very much in character for Cheney, on Monday, to protest press reports about torture being a “rogue operation” by the CIA, calling that “all a bunch of hooey” and saying: “The program was authorized. The agency did not want to proceed without authorization, and it was also reviewed legally by the Justice Department before they undertook the program.”

Yet, the trouble with Cheney’s defense is that one can no more “authorize” torture than rape or slavery. Torture inhabits that same moral category, which ethicists label intrinsic evil, always wrong – whether it “works” or not.

In other words, torture is not wrong because there are U.S. laws and a UN Convention prohibiting it. It’s the other way around. The legal prohibitions were put in place because it is – or used to be, at least – widely recognized that humans simply must not do such things to other humans. For instance, after World War II, Japanese commanders were tried for war crimes because they used waterboarding on captured U.S. soldiers.

I agree, but Cheney and Obama do not: To their mind having some government lawyer write a few lines of exoneration and sign it is sufficient "authorization" that they are "legally justified", indeed also as regards torture and to claim that what they did was "legally authorized". (Which in fact is utter baloney: A lawyer's opinion that is not tested in a public court is a mere personal opinion.)

This is quite puny and quite false, I agree, but this is also how it works, which indeed is evidence of corruption.

Here is the ending of the article:

As Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, once put it during a Senate hearing on torture — with an apparently unintentional hat-tip to the Inquisition — “One of the reasons these techniques have been used for about 500 years is that they work.” Well, they work if what you want is a false confirmation of your false assumption.

The question now is what does the United States do next.

Yes indeed - and the article gives good illustration of how this works, and also how this false information did get used (by Bush and Powell).

As to the final question: My guess is that things continue as they have done before, if perhaps a little more circumspectly and even more secretly.
 

7. Funding Bill Passes; Wall Street Wins; "Kind of Compromise" Obama Loves 

The next item is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a controversial spending bill late on Thursday night with a final vote of 219 to 206.

139 Democrats opposed the bill because, as the Huffington Post reports, they "were bitterly opposed to two attached riders that would whittle away at campaign finance rules and roll back provisions in the Dodd Frank Wall Street reform act designed to curb the risky trading at the heart of the 2008 financial crisis."

The additional 'Nay' votes came from 67 Republicans whose opposition centered around their objection to funding contained in the bill that would go towards immigration reform measures recently put forth by the Obama administration.

In a statement opposing the bill ahead of the final vote, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, condemned the contents of the rider that will lift the regulations on derivatives trading, saying "This is ransom, this is blackmail. We don't get a bill unless Wall Street gets its taxpayer-funded coverage."

Pelosi said the amendment in question, which was literally written by lobbyists with Citigroup (see below), brings back financial services regulation "back to the same old Republican formula: privatize the gain, nationalize the risk.  You succeed, it's in your pocket.  You fail, the taxpayer pays the bill.  It’s just not right."

I say. I agree with Mrs Pelosi, though indeed she could have said the same, with similar fairness and appropriateness, in 2009.

Anyway... there is considerably more under the last dotted link, but the main content is as stated: The U.S. continues favoring the banks with taxpayer money and also continues favoring the rich: they can give ten times as much to politics.

8. "Verschärfte Vernehmung"

The next and last item today is an article in the Daily Dish from May 29, 2007:

In case you wonder what "Verschärfte Vernehmung" might mean: It is a German term introduced by the secret service of the Nazis, the Gestapo (a name that abbreviates "Secret State Police"), that translates quite literally as "enhanced interrogation":

The phrase "Verschärfte Vernehmung" is German for "enhanced interrogation". Other translations include "intensified interrogation" or "sharpened interrogation". It's a phrase that appears to have been concocted in 1937, to describe a form of torture that would leave no marks, and hence save the embarrassment pre-war Nazi officials were experiencing as their wounded torture victims ended up in court. The methods, as you can see above, are indistinguishable from those described as "enhanced interrogation techniques" by the president. As you can see from the Gestapo memo, moreover, the Nazis were adamant that their "enhanced interrogation techniques" would be carefully restricted and controlled, monitored by an elite professional staff, of the kind recommended by Charles Krauthammer, and strictly reserved for certain categories of prisoner. At least, that was the original plan.

Also: the use of hypothermia, authorized by Bush and Rumsfeld, was initially forbidden. 'Waterboarding" was forbidden too, unlike that authorized by Bush.
There is a lot more under the last dotted link, that is quite interesting (though some parts are translated by Google) and it ends like so:
Critics will no doubt say I am accusing the Bush administration of being Hitler. I'm not. There is no comparison between the political system in Germany in 1937 and the U.S. in 2007. What I am reporting is a simple empirical fact: the interrogation methods approved and defended by this president are not new. Many have been used in the past. The very phrase used by the president to describe torture-that-isn't-somehow-torture - "enhanced interrogation techniques" - is a term originally coined by the Nazis. The techniques are indistinguishable. The methods were clearly understood in 1948 as war-crimes. The punishment for them was death. 
Note this is from 2007...
---------------------------------
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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