Will the White House still stonewall a torture investigation?

Sometimes the truth cannot be bottled up. Sometimes events gets so way out hand that the inevitable cannot be stopped. Right now an investigation into torture is no longer an "if" but a "when" and after today it seems sooner rather than later.

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McGovern Blows Lid Off Reid's Torture Plan: Rudman the "Fixer"

CIA whistleblower and savvy political observer Ray McGovern has revealed the bipartisan game-plan to have the "torture thing fixed" by this time, next year, meaning, no accountability, if Harry Reid gets his way.  In Consortium News McGovern writes:

So here's the plan. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, looking toward reelection in 2010, calculates that the last thing he needs is a bonafide investigation that would make him vulnerable to Cheneyesque charges of being weak in the "war" on terrorism. These days, if you take a hard line against torture, you can be made to appear soft on terrorism.  Worse still, other prominent Democrats like Sen. Jay Rockefeller and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were given intelligence briefings on interrogation, warrantless eavesdropping, and God knows what else....So, Senate team managers Reid and Rockefeller have gone to their bench for an ace utility infielder - quintessential practitioner of "thorough" investigations, Warren Rudman.

McGovern reminds us that Rudman has been "wildly successful in covering up past national security crimes," and that he earned his wings in by working hand in glove with then-Rep. Dick Cheney to limit the scope of the Iran-Contra investigation. Rudman was "the good cop to Cheney's bad."


While Hamilton and Rudman laid most of the blame on Oliver North and other low-level "men of zeal," Cheney led the rear-guard Republican defense, insisting that the Reagan administration had committed no crimes and instead blaming Democrats in Congress for daring to pass laws interfering with the President's powers.

The episode ended with Cheney's "minority report" which laid the foundation for George W. Bush's views on expansive presidential powers.

The next job for hatchetman Rudman was to bury all evidence that challenged the Pentagon's conclusion that Gulf War illnesses were not caused by multiple toxic exposures, in the first major investigation of Gulf War illness.  McGovern says:

Rudman succeeded in sparing the Pentagon embarrassment, but at the price of denying over 200,000 Gulf War veterans the medical care they needed to cope with a wide array of neurological and other maladies. The result was to delay for over a decade medical research, treatment and disability benefits for Gulf War veterans.

If all goes as our distinguished Senators expect, says Ray, "the torture thing will be fixed by this time next year..."

Former Bush official Col. Lawrence Wilkerson's revelation that Bush knew most of those he had at Gitmo were in the wrong place at the wrong time when caught by bounty-hunters, puts a very different sheen on Bush's claim that he was "protecting America" by employing torture.  


    largely unreported is that several in the U.S. leadership became aware of the reality that many of the detainees were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released.  But to have admitted this reality would have been a black mark on their leadership...Better to claim that everyone there was a hardcore terrorist, was of enduring intelligence value, and would return to jihad if released.

19-year-old Murat Kurnaz disappeared into the House of Horrors That Bush Built even though according to 60 Minutes:


there seemed to be ample evidence that Kurnaz was an innocent man with no connection to terrorism. The FBI thought so, U.S. intelligence thought so, and German intelligence agreed. But once he was picked up, Kurnaz found himself in a prison system that required no evidence and answered to no one.

Kurnaz says shocked him with electricity, and that he was hoisted up on chains suspended by his arms from the ceiling of an aircraft hangar for five days.


"Every five or six hours they came and pulled me back down. And the doctor came to watch if I can still survive to not. He looked into my eyes. He checked my heart. And when he said okay, then they pulled me back up,"

Other documented, sadistic practices:

   · Peroneal Strikes. Peroneal strikes are a specific form of savage beating, consisting of blows to the soft tissue and nerves just above the knee. The falsely accused prisoner beaten to death at Bagram had been given so many peroneal strikes that a coroner testified that his leg tissue had `"basically been pulpified.'"

   · Slamming A Prisoner's Head Into Concrete Walls. In this torture 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.

   · Additional "Stress Positions" And Electric Shocks. "Palestinian hangings," 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."

Former prosecutor and tireless accountability activist Elizabeth De La Vega warns us against jumping the gun in appointing a special prosecutor too soon, before a cohesive and irrefutable public narrative of the criminal activity is developed and an opportunity is given for victims to be heard in an open forum.  She fears the appointment of an SP before open commissions with subpoena powers do their work will result in congresscritters clamming up with "no comment during an ongoing official investigation" gambit.

The narrative must indeed be focused, and public.  Investigative commissions must have a narrow title like "Commission on the Torture and Detention of the Innocent," otherwise the defenders of torture will shift the debate onto ground they like, that of the non-existent "ticking-bomb" scenario.  And it must be public, broadcast on CSPAN full-blast.

It was all done in your name, for the world to see.  Only our loud shouts that this cannot stand has forced the politicians to address it this far.  Only continuous calls will tell the world that this is our leaders.  This is not the American people.

Please circulate and forward this post to your congressmember and to the White House.
LINK TO CONGRESS EMAILS.   LINK TO EMAIL WHITE HOUSE.

Former Air Force Interrogator Mathew Alexander

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Tortured Wrong Guys, Didn't Prevent Attacks, and Oh Yes, Helped Al Qaeda

May 28th is Rally Against War Crimes Day. Everyone call your congressman and 2 senators on this day, say "investigate torture."Facebook page.

With Bush FBI Director Robert Mueller confirming that we heard him right, that he didn't "believe" torture had disrupted any attacks, the last of the moral ambiguity hanging over the torture issue is being removed.  Mueller directly contradicts what Dick Cheney has repeated many times, that "enhanced interrogation methods" worked. It turns out that regular tortures included slamming prisoners' heads into walls, sodomy with instruments, electric shocks to the genitals, and the host of tortures we are not even aware of conducted by allies like Egypt during extraordinary rendition. They "did work, they kept us safe for seven years" Cheney told Fox News Sunday.  In one case documented in a report by General Anthony Taguba, a prisoner was forced to drink urine.  Taguba concludes that the tortures were a result of:


[a] permissive environment created by implicit and explicit authorizations by senior US officials to "take the gloves off"...

Former Air Force interrogator Matthew Alexander told MSNBC that, in the course of his interrogations in Iraq, he found repeatedly that claims that the Americans torture were Al Qaeda's number one recruiting tool, and the reason most Iraqis joined the resistance (YouTube link below.) 

This, combined with former Bush official Col. Lawrence Wilkerson's revelation that Bush knew most of those he had at Gitmo were in the wrong place at the wrong time when caught by bounty-hunters, puts a very different sheen on Bush's claim that he was "protecting America." 


    largely unreported is that several in the U.S. leadership became aware of the reality that many of the detainees were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released.

      But to have admitted this reality would have been a black mark on their leadership from virtually day one of the so-called Global War on Terror and these leaders already had black marks enough: the dead in a field in Pennsylvania, in the ashes of the Pentagon, and in the ruins of the World Trade Towers. They were not about to admit to their further errors at Guantanamo Bay. Better to claim that everyone there was a hardcore terrorist, was of enduring intelligence value, and would return to jihad if released.

Individual detail of the innocent being tortured are emerging randomly.  These should be the focus of any commissions.  Damage control is being attempted by, for example, cleverly placing the spotlight on stories like Khalid Shiek Mohammed being waterboarded 180-something times.  Take a man firmly convicted in the public mind (who knows what the truth is anymore?) as one of those closest to the 9/11 attacks, then make the debate over how right it is to torture him.  Getting less coverage is the story of Dilawar, the 22-year-old taxi-driver who made the mistake of driving past Baghram AFB a few days after a rocket attack with three paying fares.  The New York Times revealed:


"In February, an American military official disclosed that the Afghan guerrilla commander whose men had arrested Mr. Dilawar and his passengers had himself been detained. The commander, Jan Baz Khan, was suspected of attacking Camp Salerno himself and then turning over innocent "suspects" to the Americans in a ploy to win their trust, the military official said.

One form of torture used on Dilawar was the peroneal Strikes. Peroneal strikes are a specific form of beating, consisting of blows to the soft tissue and nerves just above the knee. Dilalwar was beaten to death at Bagram had been given so many peroneal strikes that a coroner testified that his leg tissue had `"basically been pulpified.'"

Orders from the top bring out sadists at the bottom.  Dilawar, was 5'9", 122 pounds.  Dysblog quoting the Times report tells us:


one guard noticed, for instance, that the bruise on his leg was "the size of a fist." Why would guards torture a man they considered innocent? At first it was all in fun: M.P.'s would drop by to give him common peroneal strikes just to hear him scream, "Allah! Allah! Allah!" This was done to him perhaps 100 times, according to one of his tormentors, Specialist Corey E. Jones: "My first reaction was that he was crying out to his god... Everybody heard him cry out and thought it was funny."

19-year-old Murat Kurnaz disappeared into the House of Horrors That Bush Built even though according to 60 Minutes:


there seemed to be ample evidence that Kurnaz was an innocent man with no connection to terrorism. The FBI thought so, U.S. intelligence thought so, and German intelligence agreed. But once he was picked up, Kurnaz found himself in a prison system that required no evidence and answered to no one.

Kurnaz says his captors shocked him with electricity, and that he was hoisted up on chains suspended by his arms from the ceiling of an aircraft hangar for five days.


"Every five or six hours they came and pulled me back down. And the doctor came to watch if I can still survive to not. He looked into my eyes. He checked my heart. And when he said okay, then they pulled me back up,"

Former prosecutor and tireless accountability activist Elizabeth De La Vega warns us against jumping the gun in appointing a special prosecutor too soon, before a cohesive and irrefutable public narrative of the criminal activity is developed and an opportunity is given for victims to be heard in an open forum.  She fears the appointment of an SP before open commissions with subpoena powers do their work will result in congresscritters clamming up with "no comment during an ongoing official investigation" gambit.

The narrative must indeed be focused, and public.  Sen. Pat Leahy's commission must have a narrow title like "Commission on the Torture and Detention of the Innocent," otherwise the defenders of torture will shift the debate onto ground they like, that of the non-existent "ticking-bomb" scenario.  And it must be public, broadcast on CSPAN full-blast, rather than letting them pull a "Conyers" which is to have hearings guaranteed to go nowhere because they let no one in the media know that they are taking place. It must demand an accounting for the full range of tortures which make even waterboarding appear relatively mild, such as:

• Hanging By The Arms. A highly excruciating "stress position" torture used on many prisoners, sometimes every day for two to three months, usually on tiptoe.

• Slamming A Prisoner’s Head Into Concrete Walls. In this torture 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.

• Additional "Stress Positions" And Electric Shocks. "Palestinian hangings," 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."

Making the truly awful even worse is that it was all done in your name.  Only the loud shouts that this cannot stand has forced the politicians to address it this far.  They can do whatever they want in their own names, but sure as hell not in mine.

Please circulate and forward this post to your congressmember and to the White House.
LINK TO CONGRESS EMAILS.   LINK TO EMAIL WHITE HOUSE.

Former Air Force Interrogator Mathew Alexander

May 28th is Rally Against War Crimes Day. Everyone call your congressman and 2 senators on this day, say "investigate torture." Capitol switchboard, 24/7 (voicemail after hours): (202) 224-3121 Facebook page.

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TORTURE INVESTIGATION

TORTURE INVESTIGATION

Although I have said that prosecution of those responsible for instituting a policy of torture would be good, I'm really not that sure. What I do favor is a full investigation by congressional committee or commission.

We need this for two main reasons. Exposing the truth and renouncing the actions helps to restore our moral standing in the world. Acknowledging mistakes is worthwhile and is good preventative medicine for the future. Secondly, the truth will perhaps reduce the spread of the constant right wing claims that are contrary to the truth.

Chances are that the investigation will expose improper demands by Cheney and Bush that the Department of Justice approve the methods they wished to use. These two, and probably others, may well be guilty of war crimes and crimes unde U.S. laws. And DOJ investigation may well lead to the same conclusion and implicate those lawyers who succumbed to political pressure.

However, I do not favor prosecution and would hope that prosecutorial discretion and congressional forbearance will prevail. The reasons may be a bit flimsy, such as the tnen 9-11 fervor or the current economic travails, but the alternative of a years of trials with a former president and vice president in the dock is unthinkable.

Let the congressional investigation conclude with a Resolution of Condemnation and then we all move on.

homer   www.altara.blogspot.com

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Obama releases torture memos, vows 'never again'

Update:Extraordinary NYT editorial The Torturers’ Manifesto

Excellent, that's why we elected Obama, and it's nice to read the newspaper of record, the New York Times, use the word torture in its news reports.

Good, says Glenn Greenwald: Obama releases torture memos

Few redactions in the Bush-era documents, the president passes a major test

Bad, Bush, Cheney, Yoo, Gonzales, Addington, Feith, Haynes, and Bybee and the whole rotten bunch ought to get the ax before anyone. Says Alex Koppelman: Administration takes one step forward, one back

The DOJ will release disputed memos about torture, but CIA officials won't be prosecuted for waterboarding.

Never again, Obama says below; he has set the record straight, what more can we ask?

Perhaps more facts. And just maybe retributive justice vis a vis exposure won't do anyone any good. Why do we want? Drop acid on these guys' eyes? This isn't Iran.

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