Nine Republicans Tell Holder "Don't Go There" on Torture

Now viewed as obstructionists at best and bald-faced liars on healthcare reform at worst, the Republican leadership seems to have decided it cannot take the additional hit of Bush regime horrors coming out at this moment, and have taken the highly unusual step of writing to Attorney General Eric Holder warning him to call off his dogs.  The nine Republican senators, Kit Bond (Mo.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Richard Burr (N.C.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.) Jeff Sessions (Ala.), John Cornyn (Texas) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa), are worried that however the scope of the prosecution is limited, all roads lead to Cheney.  According to Roll Call:

many have speculated that top officials in the George W. Bush administration, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, might ultimately end up as the targets of any special Justice Department investigation.

The 9 senators use the same argument Cheney has been peddling furiously as the most visible ex-VP in history, that harsh tactics used on alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed:

"produced information that was absolutely vital to apprehending other al Qaeda terrorists and preventing additional attack on the United States, including the West Coast plot seeking to destroy the Library Tower in Los Angeles."

But now they've got a problem, because the administration made the exact same claim about another detainee, Abu Zabaydah, and the FBI agent who actually interrogated Zabaydah recently broke his 7 year silence in an op-ed to the New York Times to say that was a lie:

Defenders of these techniques have claimed that they got Abu Zubaydah to give up information leading to the capture of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a top aide to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and Mr. Padilla. This is false. The information that led to Mr. Shibh's capture came primarily from a different terrorist operative who was interviewed using traditional methods. As for Mr. Padilla, the dates just don't add up: the harsh techniques were approved in the memo of August 2002, Mr. Padilla had been arrested that May.

Lie about one thing, lie about another.  The administration's credibility on the "actionable intelligence" claim is eroding fast.

Special Agent Ali Soufan goes further:

"Under traditional interrogation methods, [Abu Zabaydah] provided us with important actionable intelligence...This experience fit what I had found throughout my counterterrorism career: traditional interrogation techniques are successful in identifying operatives, uncovering plots and saving lives."

I guess it's time to sit these 9 senators across a table from FBI Director Robert Mueller, appointed by George W. Bush himself, who said once and then recently re-affirmed that "to [his] knowledge"torture didn't prevent a single attack, and former CIA Director William Colby, who said torture is "ineffective.".  While we're at it bring on Milton Bearden, a 30 year intelligence man, who said that claims that the Bush administration's so-called enhanced interrogation techniques saved American lives are likely false:

"They dredge up the slapstick plot of the Liberty Seven or the strange Lyman Faris plot which included a blowtorch," Bearden said. "But when asked for something more substantive, the [Bush administration] retreated behind the screen of protecting sources and methods. We are told to trust them."

Bearden makes the excellent point that such touching concern for CIA sources didn't show itself with Valerie Plame, whose previous job at Brewster-Jennings was supposed to be deep cover right up to the moment either Scooter Libby or Dick Armitage splashed her name and employment all over the front page of the New York Times.  On Cheney's orders, it would take a Herculean suspension of disbelief not to conclude.

We now have a fairly good alternative explanation of what motivated the administration's penchant for torture, and not mere waterboarding, either.  It was the crayon that "connected the dots" for the official myth for public consumption.

Binyam Muhamed was 16 when he hung up by straps, beaten and had his genitals mutilated with a scalpel to make him confess to a 'dirty bomb' plot, very similar to that previously alleged of Jose Padilla.  So dangerous was he that he was released in 2009 and sent back to the UK.

Muhamed, who denies any terrorist connections says:

One time I asked a guard: "What's the point of this? I've got nothing I can say to them. I've told them everything I possibly could."

"As far as I know, it's just to degrade you. So when you leave here, you'll have these scars and you'll never forget. So you'll always fear doing anything but what the US wants."

Muhamed found out he was to be a "dot connector":

When I got to Morocco they said some big people in al-Qaida were talking about me. They talked about Jose Padilla and they said I was going to testify against him and big people. They named Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, Abu Zubaidah and Ibn Sheikh al-Libi...It was hard to pin down the exact story because what they wanted changed from Morocco to when later I was in the Dark Bagram and again in Guantánamo Bay.

They told me that I must plead guilty. I'd have to say I was an al-Qaida operations man, an ideas man. I kept insisting that I had only been in Afghanistan a short while. "We don't care," was all they'd say.

Muhamed says:

Later, when a US airplane picked me up the following January, a female MP took pictures. She was one of the few Americans who ever showed me any sympathy. When she saw the injuries I had she gasped. They treated me and took more photos when I was in Kabul. Someone told me this was "to show Washington it's healing".

I guess if I were a Republican obstructionist I'd need this stuff on my Fearless Leader for the past eight years coming out like I need a hole in the head.  We now know the waterboarding was the light stuff.  We're talking about "peroneal strikes" ("pulpifies" the kneecaps,) and:

-- Slamming A Prisoner's Head Into Concrete Walls. A towel is wrapped around a prisoner's neck and is then used to propel the prisoner head first into a concrete wall. This torture was so fraught with risk of serious injury to or death of a prisoner that the CIA kept a doctor on hand at all times to guard against death or crippling injury.


-- "Palestinian hangings," where they were hung by the arms with their feet on a drum through which electric shocks were applied to their feet; the shocks would cause the feet to "dance."

And let's not forget clear evidence of the detention, torture, and rape of children, with Americans present.

Once more, laddies, into the breach.  Call Holder.  Demand a Special Prosecutor.

Call the Office of the Attorney General, "Appoint a Special Prosecutor" at (202) 353-1555 and 202-514-2001
 Then email the Justice Department.  Holder's fax:  202-307-6777

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Ultimate Fighting Championship Taught Me Conservatives Are Right

(Please note: This originally posted on and will be cross-posted on openleft too.)

"All warfare is based on deception.  Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near." - SunTzu The Art of War

So those of you who read this site regularly probably know that I like to spout off at length about the linguistics of our political culture.  But there are times when actions truly do speak much, much louder than words.  Let me begin at the beginning.

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Obama Creating Bush-Style Healthcare, Stockholm Syndrome?

So let me get this straight.  Obama is going to mandate people (disproportionately young and healthy) buy private insurance from the very companies that have been raising premiums, copays and out of pocket expenses every year?

He has cut a deal with drug companies not to negotiate drug prices (see Medicare part D)...

Does he really think the GOPers are going to support him no matter what he does?  

Sometimes I think Obama has Stockholm syndrome. yndrome

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in abducted hostages, in which the hostage shows signs of loyalty to the hostage-taker, regardless of the danger or risk in which they have been placed.

 He will not get a single republican vote in the house and may get two votes from the Maine Senators in the senate...

No Democrat with a brain should support a final bill that mandates we fork over high priced premiums to the same folks that got us in this mess without a public option.

Obama campaigned for two years on a public option.   That and NOT having mandates was the key difference in his health plan compared to Hillary.  Not only will this piss off many many young people under 40 but there will be no drop in premiums.  This is not only bad policy but a political loser as well. We all know that once the public option is dropped Freedom Works, the GOP and all the others will move on and jump on "mandating" healthy young people buy insurance as infringing on individual liberty to protect private health insurance companies..

I can't believe people like Bernie Sanders or Feingold will go for this steaming pile.  Krugman has been right way too often...
The stimulus was watered down and included one-third tax cuts yet no GOP credit nor mainstream media attention was given to this.


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Scholars, Writers, Artists, Advocates Urge AG Holder to Appoint Prosecutor on Torture, Other Crimes

Nationally Renowned Scholars, Writers, Artists, and Advocates Urge Attorney General Holder to Uphold the Rule of Law and Appoint Prosecutor to Investigate Allegations of Torture and Other Serious Crimes

SALT LAKE CITY - Several prominent Americans, including authors, artists, legal experts, and renowned voices of conscience, today transmitted a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urging the appointment of a prosecutor to investigate allegations of torture and other violations of human rights and civil liberties committed by former government officials and others. The signatories to the letter are:

*    Daniel Ellsberg (former Marine commander, former assistant to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, defense specialist, responsible for disclosure of the Pentagon Papers)
*    Bruce Fein (specialist in constitutional and international law, former Associate Deputy US Attorney General (during Reagan administration))
*    Andy Jacobs (represented Indiana's 10th and 11th Congressional Districts, 1965-1973 and 1975-1997, Korean War veteran)
*    Paul Rogat Loeb (author Soul of a Citizen - Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time)
*    Graham Nash (singer-songwriter (The Hollies; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young))
*    Terry Tempest Williams (naturalist, author of several books, including Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place; An Unspoken Hunger; The Open Space of Democracy)
*    Bill McKibben (environmentalist, international organizer, founder of Step It Up, author of several books, including The End of Nature; Deep Economy: the Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future)
*    John Nichols (Washington correspondent for The Nation, author of The Genius of Impeachment: The Founder's Cure for Royalism)
*    Robert Feuer (attorney, 2008 candidate for Massachusetts First Congressional District)
*    Jeremy Pikser (screenwriter, co-wrote Bulworth; wrote The Lemon Sisters and War, Inc.)
*    Rocky Anderson (lawyer, civil and human rights specialist, former Salt Lake City Mayor; Founder and Executive Director, High Road for Human Rights)
*    Mimi Kennedy (author, activist, and television and screen actress, co-star, "Dharma & Greg," recently starring in In the Loop)
*    Naomi Wolf (author of seven books, including The Beauty Myth, The End of America, and Give Me Liberty)
*    Robert C. Fellmeth (Price Professor of Public Interest Law, University of San Diego Law School)
*    David Swanson (activist, author, Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union)  
*    Ralph Nader (lawyer, consumer advocate, author of several books, including Unsafe at Any Speed, The Menace of Atomic Energy, Who's Poisoning America?, Good Works, No Contest, The Good Fight)

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Obama Is A Fox, Not a Hedgehog 24.html

John Dean writes a scholarly analysis, based on Philip Tetlock's book Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?

Philip E. Tetlock (now a professor at the School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley) interviewed and re-interviewed 284 men and women with advanced degrees and professional training in law, political science, economics, business, journalism, public policy, and international relations to judge their skill in predicting future political events. Over two decades, he asked and tested responses to basic questions such as: Who will win the presidential election and by how much? Will the GDP increase, decrease, or stay the same? Will defense spending rise, fall, or stay the same? Which nations will likely develop weapons of mass destruction? Where will we go to war? Is the growth on NASDAQ a bubble and if so, when will it pop? What nations will ratify the Kyoto Protocol to regulate carbon emissions?

Dean explains how why he classifies recent Presidents.

....This bit is happy news for all of us:

Tetlock reported his findings in Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? As one of his peers, Paul Sniderman, pointed out in reviewing his friend's book, its sober findings might obscure its importance because Tetlock found that "[c]himps do nearly as well as experts in forecasting the future; and experts do no better in their area of expertise than dilettantes."
..... more 24.html

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