When Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2004, he was asked whether he "ordered or approved the use of sleep deprivation, intimidation by guard dogs, excessive noise, and inducing fear as an interrogation method for a prisoner in Abu Ghraib prison." Sanchez, who was head of the Pentagon’s Combined Joint Task Force-7 in Iraq, swore the answer was no. Under oath, he told the Senators he "never approved any of those measures to be used."
But a document the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) obtained from the Pentagon flat out contradicts Sanchez’s testimony. It’s a memorandum entitled "CJTF-7 Interrogation and Counter-Resistance Policy," dated September 14, 2003. In it, Sanchez approved several methods designed for "significantly increasing the fear level in a detainee." These included "sleep management"; "yelling, loud music, and light control: used to create fear, disorient detainee, and prolong capture shock"; and "presence of military working dogs: exploits Arab fear of dogs."
Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, may himself have committed perjury in his Congressional testimony. According to a March 6 article in The New York Times, Gonzales submitted written testimony that said: "The policy of the United States is not to transfer individuals to countries where we believe they likely will be tortured, whether those individuals are being transferred from inside or outside the United States." He added that he was "not aware of anyone in the executive branch authorizing any transfer of a detainee in violation of that policy."
"That’s a clear, absolute lie," says Michael Ratner, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. "The Administration has a policy of sending people to countries where there is a likelihood that they will be tortured."
The New York Times article backs up Ratner’s claim. It says "a classified directive signed by President Bush within days of the September 11 attacks" gave the CIA broad authority to transfer suspected terrorists to foreign countries for interrogations. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International estimate that the United States has transferred between 100 and 150 detainees to countries notorious for torture.
ACLU FOI releases Justice Department memos on interrogations
The 2004 inspector general's report says that in an effort to get the men to talk, U.S. interrogators threatened a captured al Qaeda operative with a power drill and threatened to kill another top captive's children. That 2004 report was released as a result of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Interrogators staged mock executions -- which are banned by the U.N. Convention Against Torture -- to try to frighten detainees into talking, the report says. In one instance, a gun was fired in a room next to the one in which a suspect was being questioned so he would think another prisoner was being killed.
The report also outlines the use of multiple interrogation methods on suspected terrorists, including threats, "blowing cigar smoke, employing certain stress positions, the use of a stiff brush on a detainee, and stepping on a detainee's ankle shackles."
That this was Administration policy is clear from comments Vice President Dick Cheney made on Meet the Press.
"We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will," Cheney told Tim Russert. "We’ve got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we’re going to be successful. That’s the world these folks operate in, and so it’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective."
Amnesty International USA, however, believes that Bush, by his own involvement in formulating policy on torture, has committed war crimes. "It’s the memos, the meetings, the public statements," says Alistair Hodgett, media director of Amnesty International USA.
There is "evidence that senior members of the U.S. Administration, including President Bush and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, have authorized human rights violations, including ‘disappearances and torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment,’ " Amnesty states in "Guantánamo and Beyond."
The first solid piece of evidence against Bush is his September 17, 2001, "Memorandum of Notification" that unleashed the CIA. According to Bob Woodward’s book Bush at War, that memo "authorized the CIA to operate freely and fully in Afghanistan with its own paramilitary teams" and to go after Al Qaeda "on a worldwide scale, using lethal covert action to keep the role of the United States hidden."
Two days before at Camp David, then-CIA Director George Tenet had outlined some of the additional powers he wanted, Woodward writes. These included the power to " ‘buy’ key intelligence services. . . . Several intelligence services were listed: Egypt, Jordan, Algeria. Acting as surrogates for the United States, these services could triple or quadruple the CIA’s resources." According to Woodward, Tenet was upfront with Bush about the risks entailed: "It would put the United States in league with questionable intelligence services, some of them with dreadful human rights records.
Some had reputations for ruthlessness and using torture to obtain confessions. Tenet acknowledged that these were not people you were likely to be sitting next to in church on Sunday. Look, I don’t control these guys all the time, he said. Bush said he understood the risks."
Bush told an ABC News reporter that he approved meetings of the NSC’s Principals Committee to discuss specific interrogation techniques the CIA could use against detainees. The Principals Committee included Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft as well as Cheney and Rice.
Cheney was speaking to students at American University in Washington, D.C. when he said he had no regrets about the U.S. use of enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding on terrorism suspects.
"If I could do it all over again, I would," Cheney said.
According to Cheney, the enhanced interrogation methods he used during the Bush Administration do not fall under the parameters set in the 1949 United Nations Geneva Convention, which bars cruel, inhumane or degrading punishment – but does not apply to the terrorists who were considered “unlawful combatants,” the Eagle Online reported.
"Some people called it torture. It wasn’t torture," “The accusations are not true,” Cheney told AU's television station ATV.
Cheney said he was unmoved by his many critics. ''If you want to be loved, go be a movie star,'' he said.
Cheney pushes senators for exemption to CIA torture ban
Nov. 2005, then Vice President Dick Cheney made an unusual personal appeal to Republican senators to allow CIA exemptions to a proposed ban on the torture of terror suspects in U.S. custody, according to participants in a closed-door session.
He said the administration needed an exemption from any legislation banning "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment in case the president decided one was necessary to prevent a terrorist attack.
Cheney interview Washington Times Dec. 2008
Cheney acknowledged the unusually powerful role he played as vice president on everything from the war in Iraq to helping approve interrogation methods.
In an interview with the Washington Times, Cheney stridently defended the Bush administration’s torture policies, saying, “I feel very good about what we did. I think it was the right thing to do.” He added emphatically that he would “do exactly the same thing again.”
2008, Cheney also defended waterboarding in a speech to conservative Republicans in Washington. He said it was effective in obtaining information from terrorism suspects.
“It’s a good thing we had them in custody, and it’s a good thing we found out what they knew," he said.
Dec. 2008, "On the question of so-called torture, we don't do torture," Cheney told ABC News. "We never have. It's not something that this administration subscribes to.
"I think those who allege that we've been involved in torture, or that somehow we violated the Constitution or laws with the terrorist surveillance program, simply don't know what they're talking about."
Cheney was also asked whether he authorized the tactics used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
"I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the agency in effect came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn't do," Cheney said. "And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it."
“I find it a little bit disturbing” that “they didn’t put out the memos that showed the success of the effort,” Mr. Cheney said on Fox News. “There are reports that show specifically what we gained as a result of this activity.” ”Pressure Grows to Investigate Interrogations,” April 20, 2009,
The Washington Post reports that the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded the “CIA misled the government and the public of its brutal interrogation program for years.” The Senate report says the CIA concealed details of the severity of its methods, overstated the plots of some prisoners, and that the agency took credit for critical intelligence that detainees had willingly surrendered over to U.S. officials.
“The CIA described [its program] repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives,” said one U.S. official briefed on the report. “Was that actually true? The answer is no.”
A former top aide to Colin Powell recently revealed that a Libyan prisoner was brutalized by Egyptian intelligence agents, at the behest of the Bush White House, until he talked about a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda. (That man, who later recanted those statements, which he said had been made under torture, has supposedly killed himself in a prison cell in his homeland, so he is no longer around to offer any inconvenient testimony.)
Rocky Mountain News asked Cheney in a Jan. 9, 2004, interview if he stood by his claims that Saddam's regime had maintained a "relationship" with al Qaida, raising the danger that Iraq might give the group chemical, biological or nuclear weapons to attack the U.S. "Absolutely. Absolutely," Cheney replied. He went on to predict that when all of the Saddam regime's records were examined, there would be "ample evidence confirming the link."
"The (al Qaida-Iraq) links go back," he said. "We know for example from interrogating detainees in Guantanamo that al Qaida sent individuals to Baghdad to be trained in C.W. and B.W. technology, chemical and biological weapons technology. These are all matters that are there for anybody who wants to look at it."
No evidence of such training or of any operational links between Iraq and al Qaida has ever been found.
Now we learn that those methods, long banned as torture in our own laws and treaties, had been employed for a very different and deeply nefarious purpose: to justify the dubious invasion of Iraq by falsely connecting Saddam Hussein's regime to Al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks.
Anyone who advocates torture shouldn’t be met only with moral condemnation, but also contemptuous jeers for being such a naive dupe.
The vice president is out there advocating torture. He's the one who has made himself the vice president of torture," said Former CIA chief Stansfield Turner a retired Navy admiral who headed the intelligence agency from 1977 to 1981.
So President Obama is giving back some of Dick Cheney's torture-porn pictures.
There are over 2,000 unpublished photographs depicting about 400 cases of US military personnel torturing Iraqis and Afghans at seven military prisons. The Bush administration, and now Obama, have blocked publication of these images.
General Strike to end Corruption (GS) broke the news – because the US press is in a drugged stupor — that the photos Obama is refusing to release of detainee abuse depict, among other tortures, Cheney personally waterboarding al-Nashiri, Mohammed and fellow al Qaeda captive Abu Zubayda.
In acting to suppress the images and protect the torturers, Obama has made himself an accomplice in these crimes.
For seven years I have remained silent about the false claims magnifying the effectiveness of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding. I have spoken only in closed government hearings, as these matters were classified. But the release of four Justice Department memos on interrogations allows me to shed light on the story, and on some of the lessons to be learned.
One of the most striking parts of the memos is the false premises on which they are based. The first, dated August 2002, grants authorization to use harsh interrogation techniques on a high-ranking terrorist, Abu Zubaydah, on the grounds that previous methods hadn’t been working. The next three memos cite the successes of those methods as a justification for their continued use.
It is inaccurate, however, to say that Abu Zubaydah had been uncooperative. Along with another F.B.I. agent, and with several C.I.A. officers present, I questioned him from March to June 2002, before the harsh techniques were introduced later in August. Under traditional interrogation methods, he provided us with important actionable intelligence.
Should C.I.A. officials be prosecuted for their role in harsh interrogation techniques. That would be a mistake. Almost all the agency officials I worked with on these issues were good people who felt as I did about the use of enhanced techniques: it is un-American, ineffective and harmful to our national security.
Ali Soufan was an F.B.I. supervisory special agent from 1997 to 2005.
It is no small thing for our leadership to blatantly disregard the rules of warfare our country has agreed to follow. If they will justify torture on the enemy it is only a matter of time before they use the same justification to use it on our own citizens. It is a very small step from renaming a prisoner of war an enemy combatant to calling you an enemy of the state because someone thinks we have information on subversive or criminal activities.
It is not about sympathy for terrorists, it is about standards of conduct. How can our leadership sentence the guards at Abu Ghraib to prison for humiliating inmates while they are involved in much worse abuses? We are supposed to set the standard of freedom in this world, this type of behavior is beneath American standards of conduct and must not be excused.
There is a legal definition of torture. You can't make it up or change it as you go along. To put it briefly torture is the infliction of severe physical or mental pain or suffering, the threat of imminent death, or the threat of those things happening to another person. (Please notice the word "severe.") A person can drown during waterboarding. It is not just a physical discomfort.
It is hard to imagine anything more disturbing than the use of torture by the U.S. government in seeking to justify an aggressive and unjustified war, which has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.
Constitutional legal scholar Jonathan Turley, said that he believes that Bush didn't pardon his torture officials, for reasons that have little to do with the torture memos:
Bush is calling their bluff. He knows that the Democratic leadership will not allow criminal investigations or indictments.
Bush is clearing the way for Democrats to repair the president’s torture legacy. Bush will be “able to say there’s nothing stopping indictments or prosecutions but a Democratic Congress and a Democratic White House didn’t think there was any basis for it,” Turley said.
The US government feels free to treat everyone like terrorists, violating our 4th amendment rights at airport checkpoints. The NSA violates the Fourth Amendment every day too.
Here's the relevant text of the amendment:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
Reports corroborate Snowden's claims:
- Former spy Mike Frost told 60 minutes about a secret government surveillance network called Echelon, in which all electronic communications are captured and analyzed for key words by super computers.
- In April 2012 Wired's James Bamford — author of the book "The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America" — reported how the U.S. government hired two secretive Israeli companies to wiretap AT&T.
- AT&T engineer Mark Klein discovered the "secret room" at AT&T central office in San Francisco, through which the NSA actively "vacuumed up Internet and phone-call data from ordinary Americans with the cooperation of AT&T" through the wiretapping rooms, emphasizing that "much of the data sent through AT&T to the NSA was purely domestic."
- NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake corroborated Klein's assertions, testifying that the NSA is using Israeli-made hardware to "seize and save all personal electronic communications."
- William Binney — one of the best mathematicians and code breakers in NSA history — has been very vocal since building the original program that crunched that data to identify, in real time, networks of connections between individuals based on their electronic communications.
We can no longer in good conscience trust the politicians to police themselves. Link to this article from forums and blogs. Mention it with links in your comments on blogs.
There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury and the cartridge box.
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