who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
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
3. Government shutdown averted as House passes
omnibus spending bill
4. Edward Snowden Comments on the
CIA’s Secret Torture
5. CIA Crimes Without Punishment
6. What’s the Next Step to
Bill Passes; Wall Street Wins; "Kind of
Compromise" Obama Loves
8. "Verschärfte Vernehmung"
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:
toxic and sociopathic”: Glenn Greenwald unloads on torture, CIA and
Washington’s rotten soul
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
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
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.
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
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 …)
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
item is an article by Rowena Mason and Ian Cobain:
This starts as follows:
I did not know this, but
my reaction is: "Of course!", and indeed also to more news about the
lies of David Cameron.
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.
There is a considerable amount more under the last dotted link.
3. Government shutdown averted as House
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
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
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
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
item is an article by Joe Conason on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
Well...yes and no. Here
are some of my difficulties with the first three paragraphs:
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
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
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
the main point is that you should not torture. Period.
Especially not as "a democratic country" with the biggest army in the
There is a considerable amount more under the last dotted link.
the Next Step to Stop Torture?
item is an article by Ray McGovern
(<- Wikipedia) on ConsortiumNews:
This starts as follows:
Tenet was lying, no less
than five times, and indeed that was then known already.
“I want you to listen to
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?
Here is one question McGovern raises:
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:
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
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
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.
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:
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 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.
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
Bill Passes; Wall Street Wins; "Kind of Compromise" Obama Loves
item is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
I say. I agree with Mrs
Pelosi, though indeed she could have said the same, with
similar fairness and appropriateness, in 2009.
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
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."
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.
and last item today is an article in the Daily Dish from May 29, 2007:
In case you wonder
"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
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
Note this is from 2007...
 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
if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my
More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn
It is more
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
from is quite pertinent.)
(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: