Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Barack Obama’s Silly DOA Anti-Austerity Budget

In Barack Obama's world, there are those who do "spectacularly well"—meaning those who exploit their circumstances and other people to become fabulously wealthy, and there are those who are working hard to be those people. Yet, Obama wonders why in such a world, where the most heinous humans, soulless monsters of greed and hatred of poor people, are counted as doing "spectacularly well", there is not more general compassion. This from a man who regularly murders children and other innocent people with drone strikes.
In his weekend address to the nation, Barack Obama asked a question:
“Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well?”
Obviously, yes, “we” will—“we” have been doing it since the beginning after all. And what does “spectacular” even mean if everybody or most people can do it?

Well, that’s just one of the problems with Barack Obama. A lot of the time, he just doesn’t make much sense, even if his proposals are not wholly misguided.

So, why is now the time to call for passing a $4 trillion budget, one that demands at least some increases in social spending for poor and working class people? Shouldn't Obama have pushed for big spending to help most Americans all along?

Of course a lot of conservatives will tell you that Obama has been doing just that, which is why Americans dumped Democrats in the fall election. And they will tell you that when Democrats controlled Congress the first two years of Obama’s administration, the huge, communistic, entitlements to poor people nearly wrecked rich people and corporations (the “job creators”).

And these same conservatives will also tell you science is the work of Satan.

But the truth is the little bit of spending Obama got through his first couple of years mainly helped rich people and corporations expand their wealth and domination over America. Poor people, working people, got a few crumbs to make the most dire economic crisis since the Great Depression seem slightly less horrible.

And what about the much-beloved “middle class” the Democrats have pledged themselves to? The dirty little secret about them is that they don’t really exist any longer. The “middle” isn’t that, but should correctly be classified as the lower wealthy class. Even talking heads on television, people making millions of dollars every year, claim that they are “middle class”. Clearly, the meaning of key words has changed.

Meanwhile, rich people, banks, corporations all said the same thing to Barack Obama—hey thanks for the bailouts, the cash incentives and tax breaks (to hire people that, you know, we didn’t do), and especially thanks for driving American labor to the brink of ruin and insanity.

Because that last bit of the Great Recession—caused by massive sustained unemployment and the corporate reaction to it of reshaping "jobs" as a privilege Americans had to work for free to (possibly) earn, turned American workers into Chinese-style slaves. It also increased the profits the rich were getting from running their businesses. After all, as any Confederate slaveowner could have told you—and as many of their descendants in the Republican Party ARE telling us today—“free” is the best price to pay for labor.

So, now, Obama tells us:

“I want to work with Congress to replace mindless austerity with smart investments that strengthen America.”

So, how did the “mindless austerity” come into effect? Oh you know, through that across-the-board budget cuts that happened when Congress refused to work with Obama and the Democrats to avoid them. Those cuts, called “Sequester” budget reductions, were initially put into place to force the Democrats and the Republicans to work out some kind of “Grand Bargain”, which basically means throwing current Americans under the bus to save a mythical future America half a century from now.

As Paul Krugman recently said, and has been saying, this kind of economics, designed to bolster the wealth of an elite minority of current Americans by making the majority of Americans, who deserve assistance (in a civilized country anyway) even more than rich people, pay the cost of saving Americans in 2065, is heinous and stupid:
“Even where the long-term [debt] issues are real, it’s truly strange that they have so often taken center stage in recent years. We are, after all, still living through the aftermath of a once-in-three-generations financial crisis. America seems, finally, to be recovering — but Bowles-Simpsonism had its greatest influence precisely when the United States economy was still mired in a deep slump. Europe has hardly recovered at all, and there’s overwhelming evidence that austerity policies are the main reason for that ongoing disaster. So why the urge to change the subject to structural reform? The answer, I’d suggest, is intellectual laziness and lack of moral courage.”
Nevertheless, one cannot look at the Obama budget proposal and not think about how great it would have been if he had been making $4 trillion budget proposals, and getting them approved by Congress, all along. Or hey—maybe bigger budget proposals than that.

All over the world, and especially in Europe, the economics of austerity has failed. Even in the USA, where the economy has come back big time for wealthy people, the deep, structural and moral damage done to most Americans through savage budget cutting has been a mortal wound for millions of Americans. They have lost careers, homes, futures, and their families in the vast, GOP-style recovery.

Why did Barack Obama allow that to happen? Because for most of his presidency he preached at people that compromise was king of American politics, that “maturity” is reaching across the aisle to make a deal with the other side.

The problem was Barack Obama started out the negotiations by giving away the house (he had already lost the House) to people whose number one goal was to compromise with him when Hell froze over. The American people stood no chance with that kind of cowardly, hatefully stupid leadership in both parties, but Obama had the obligation to stand up to the Republicans, to protect the people, and he failed to do so.

What Obama should have done was to call upon the American people to descend on Washington DC—in the tens of millions—to demand their legislators do the work for the people, and not just for the ruling class. But, again, Obama failed to do this, as his ability to inspire action on the part of Americans began and ended at the voting booth on the two election days he won the Presidency. Why did Obama so often kowtow to the demands of Wall Street, corporations, and the rich ruling class? At this point we have to admit that a big reason he failed to stand up for the American people is because Obama is also the ruling class.

And so when Obama offers up this $4 trillion budget, one that stands no chance of being passed by Republicans, it is both a reminder of what the GOP is willing to do to Americans, as well as a reminder of what Barack Obama has utterly failed to do for Americans.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Getting Over The Pie

We need to get over tribes just like we need to get over gods. We need to get serious about humanity as a common experience. And that means taking the rap for EVERYBODY just like taking credit for everybody.

In other words, if you feel some pride that humanity can reach out to the stars, that we can understand the Universe in a deep way, that we can reach into the body and do amazing things to save lives, that we can feed more people than ever before, that we are the smartest and most wonderful monkeys on the planet—then you have to take the downside too.

In other words, the feeling you should have about the Holocaust ought to be PERSONAL shame, that your species is that fucked up. The same with Islamic State. It isn't just Muslims who should have a personal problem or sense of failure about the behavior of those maniacs. Everyone, every thinking person, should have a shared sense of failure that our world (with humans in it) is that incredibly vile.

Don't just join hands to sing Kumbaya. Join hands to sing—"God, we suck".

And then try to move on, together. In order to facilitate that, we have a lot of talking to do, about the most basic things, like where we should be moving on towards—together.

I would suggest one small step for humanity in the right direction is to get over satire. Authorities need to be pelted with pies in the face, every day. And killing people for it is insane. Pretty simple.

On the other hand, knowing you are offending hundreds of millions of people with your pie is maybe not the brightest way to make your satire effective in the sense of illustrating the problem with the authority, instead of you.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Islamic Sword Is Far Mightier Than Stupid Internet Pens

The same people who are morally outraged when anybody says anything mean about one of the usual list of approved victims are up in—well, pens really—about Muslims taking mortal offense at the constant satirical abuse spewed their way by the French publication Charlie Hebdo. Tonight all over the vain and throughly idiotic internet people are tweeting "Je suis Charlie" to show their solidarity with the idea that there is some kind of valuable right to express hatred towards others (especially Muslims). Indeed in the USA, this right is enshrined in the First Amendment, a freedom that has never meant anything to the extent that free speech might inspire (unmet by overwhelming state violence) any meaningful pushback by the proles against their ruling-class overlords.
So, for that matter, is the Chinese sword, or the Russian sword, or the American sword.

We all know this is true. It is why we have armies made up of killers, and not writers.

All the satirical cartoons in the world cannot stop a bullet or its consequences. Just last year we commemorated the start of World War I, which began or anyway was given an opportunity to begin by one man firing one pistol. While that man, Gavrilo Princip, did not personally start World War I, his two pistol shots gave the opportunity to an entire continent of maniacs, who were just itching to go off to glorious war.

No pen saved them from their folly.

On the other hand, many pens extolled the heroism and justness of their various insane causes—all backed by God and his Will of course. What killed the 20 million victims of World War I were the bullets, the explosive shells, the bombs, the poison gas, and the terrible diseases and deprivation that accompany war—especially that horrible war.

It is time for Westerners to come to grips—serious, realistic grips, with the fact that their silly little ideology about freedom has run its course. It is madness to think in today’s world you can say anything you want about anybody and that nothing is going to happen to you.

This is particularly true the more visible and popular is your writing. But it is even true for regular civilians. The more eyes on your ideas, whether they are terrorists, or just employers who may not like what you write, the more likely you will mortally offend somebody, who will then act upon that provocation to cause you the same (or actually even worse) harm they feel you have caused them.

Is it right and just that this should happen?

Well, that’s the interesting question. In the West, if certain classes or groups of people (e.g., ethnic minorities, gays and lesbians, women) say something offends them, many people these days rush in to say the offense and the offender should be banned from everything—the internet, their jobs, any future whatsoever.

And yet, many of these very same torchbearing ninnies are today tweeting “Je suis Charlie”, like the tweet is some kind of public stand for the freedom of speech or something, instead of what it is actually is—another stupid sloganeering masturbation by the herd of heinous group-thinkers.

All that will stop the maniacs of the world from perpetrating their mania is their deaths (which the world considers too barbaric a remedy) or your submission to their wills. And for most people, and especially for most corporations (like Sony), submission and compliance are far less expensive and disruptive than standing up for freedoms that pretty much everyone now considers “quaint”, as the Bushies said. And that raises another point—which maniacs are we talking about? Because they are all around us, and often are us.

This is the twilight of freedom. Most people don’t want to die for it. And they especially don’t want to die for somebody else's freedom. There are simply too many fun things to do while under the protective custody of Big Brother.

So, with respect to taking any truly risky political stand, what the mass well understands is that wisdom is to shut the fuck up, mind your own business, and just let the psychopaths do theirs. And yeah, I mean their psychopaths, and your own.

It’s not just the American way. It’s the only way in the world at all to be a little safer than the free fools.

And whether or not that’s a true assessment of the facts and any obligations regarding them, it’s surely the default working premise for living life (as opposed to stupidly sacrificing oneself for anachronistic rights) in the 21st century.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

In Another War Of Colonial Aggression, USA Water-tortured Filipinos

At first glance, you might think these troops are coming to the aid of the person on the ground, until you notice the troops holding down the victim, and the pleasure exhibited by the US soldier on the left. Calling water torture the "water cure" was a way of pointing out that the United States had a real Philippines problem (the Filipinos didn't want to be conquered and lorded over by Americans, either), which, among other horrors inflicted by US troops against countless victims, the "water cure" aided, by breaking the will of the Filipino insurgency.
It was over a century ago now, when the military forces of the United States of America engaged those of Spain, in a war for colonial possessions, that pretty much no American knows (much less recalls) happened.

But it was in that war that Cuba gained a kind of freedom—to be economically exploited and militarily bullied by the USA—until the Communist revolution would establish Casto’s rule. And it was in that war that Teddy Roosevelt obtained fame as a hero for a battle (San Juan Hill), mostly led by black troops he wasn’t commanding. The hero meme would help lift Roosevelt to the vice-presidency of the United States in 1900. The next year, after President Mckinley was assassinated, Roosevelt became President of the United States.

And—it was in that war that the USA took over the Philippines (named for King Phillip II of Spain). 

After America entered the war against Spain (in jingoistic thrall to the false notion Spain had blown up the US battleship The Maine) and in so doing became natural allies (of a sort) with the Cuban and Filipino revolutionaries, the USA made all kinds of promises or hints of them to all kinds of people America wished to temporarily use to win the war. 

That said, the USA had not exactly promised the Filipinos that once Spain was defeated, the Philippines would be set free from colonial exploitation. In fact, the American idea for post-war Philippines was not very different than George W. Bush’s idea for post-Saddam Iraq, a century later:
“[T]he mission of the United States [in the Philippines] is one of benevolent assimilation substituting the mild sway of justice and right for arbitrary rule.”
In other words, the USA was offering or actually forcing a trade to the Filipino people, eliminating the evil Spanish arbitrary colonial exploitation for the good American “mildly swaying” colonial exploitation.

The only problem was that the Filipino people were not interested in American mildly-swaying colonialism. Or any colonialism. They wanted real freedom. So they sized up the Americans as being just as bad as the Spanish and declared war on the American colonial occupation. 

American responded by enforcing its agreement—with Spain!—to replace Spanish rule in the Philippines with American rule.

The Philippines War was relatively short (especially by Afghanistan War measures), and so extremely brutal that it deeply divided Americans, for the short time Americans paid attention to it, on the questions of America’s role and conduct in the world. It wasn’t just a question of whether or not the USA should even be a colonial power. That was happening, regardless of what the American people wanted, and they were fine with it so long as they believed the people they were colonizing were getting freedom!?—or anyway a better deal.

But, in addition, Americans wanted to believe that when their brand of colonial conquerers went forth to slaughter and lord it over the colonized, they would being honor to the USA—unlike all those bad and inferior brands of European colonizers. 

Unfortunately, in the Philippines War, the natural beast of the American character was given full expression. In fact, so bad did things become in that war, that Americans took to regularly torturing and murdering any Filipinos who were or who just might be an insurgent.

Here is a description of American military behavior in the Philippines, from a letter published in The Philadelphia Ledger, on November 11, 1901:
 “The present war is no bloodless, fake, opera bouffe engagement. Our men have been relentless, have killed to exterminate men, women, and children, prisoners and captives, active insurgents and suspected people, from lads of ten up, an idea prevailing that the Filipino was little better than a dog, a noisome reptile in some instances, whose best disposition was the rubbish heap. Our soldiers have pumped salt water into men "to make them talk," have taken prisoners of people who had held up their hands and peacefully surrendered, and, an hour later, without an atom of evidence to show that they were even insurrectos, stood them up on a bridge, and shot them down one by one to drop into the water below and float down as examples to those who found their bullet-loaded corpses.”
You may note in that the line about pumping salt water into men to obtain—well, whatever the torturers wanted really. In fact, the favorite form of torture employed by American troops was something sardonically referred to as “the water cure”. Here is a description of this practice, as detailed in testimony given before a 1901 Senate Committee investigating torture by US personnel in the Philippines:
“The presidente [‘native town officer’ captured by American troops] was tied and placed on his back under a water tank holding probably one hundred gallons. The faucet was opened and a stream of water was forced down or allowed to run down his throat. His throat was held so he could not prevent swallowing the water, so that he had to allow the water to run into his stomach. He was directly under the faucet with his mouth held wide ope. When he was filled with water, it was forced out of him by pressing a foot on his stomach or else with the hands. This continued from five to fifteen minutes.”
We are told “This unhappy man was taken down and asked more questions. He again refused to answer and then was treated again.”

After 15 minutes of that kind of torture, the “unhappy man” had nothing to say? Or knew nothing to say?

The description continues:
“One of the men of Eighteenth Infantry went to his saddle and took a syringe [not with a needle, but a tube] from the saddle bag, and another man was sent for a can of water holding about five gallons. Then a syringe was inserted one end in the water and the other end in his mouth. This time he was not bound but he was held by four or five men and the water was forced into his mouth from the can, through the syringe. The syringe did not seem to have the desired effect and the doctor ordered a second one. The man got a second syringe and that was inserted in his nose. Then the doctor ordered some salt and a handful of salt was procured and thrown into the water. Two syringes were then in operation. The interpreter stood over him in the meantime asking for this second information that was desired. Finally he gave in and gave the information.”
Then we are told: “On the strength of this confession a town of 12,000 inhabitants was burned down.”

Note above there is mention of “the doctor”. Yes, a Dr. Lyon, a contract doctor working for the United States Army was conducting the torture, just like these guys, contract psychologists working for the US military, were the architects and operators of the USA’s global torture regime during Bush’s war on Muslims.

As you can see, the Philippines War “water cure” sounds like a form of waterboarding. 

In fact, one of the CIA apologist talking points this week, has been to denounce the “moral equivalency” of claiming that waterboarding is anything like the water torture used, for example, by the Japanese Empire in WWII against American troops.

Here is Dick Cheney employing that talking point this Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press:
“It's a really cheap shot, Chuck, to even try to draw a parallel between the Japanese who were prosecuted for war crimes after World War II and what we did with waterboarding three individuals—all of whom were guilty and participated in the 9/11 attacks.”
Just a note on that before we continue, but the United States employed waterboarding torture on an unknown number of torture victims. While the CIA claims only three hi-value detainees were waterboarded, CIA’s credibility on many questions is pretty much non-existent. Note the “value” of the detainees, as alleged by CIA, was not even credible.

Further, as this article explains:
“One question raised related to waterboarding, and how many detainees were subjected to it. Although the CIA has said technique was only used on three detainees, the committee found a photograph during their investigation that showed a waterboard and buckets of water at a detention site where the CIA claims it never used the technique.”
Again, in terms of the moral equivalence talking point (i.e. the one regarding comparing modern CIA torture with Japanese WWII torture), this idea is filled out in more detail in a book published in 2010, by Marc Thiessen, whose title tells you a lot: Courting Disaster, How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama is Inviting the Next Attack.

Thiessen argues that it is a “dishonest comparison” to view Imperial Japanese water torture as equivalent to American waterboarding:
“A careful examination of Japanese interrogation practices shows that the Japanese practiced a form of water torture called “pumping” in which they filled the victim’s stomach with water until his intestines and internal organs expanded painfully. Once the victim passed out from the pain, [the Japanese torturers] would press on the stomach to make him vomit up the water, reviving him—and then start the process all over again.”
A little later Thiessen tells us what another book on tortures, Torture and Democracy, has to say about “even more gruesome details of water torture as practiced by the Japanese”:
“Interrogators used hoses and teakettles to funnel water down the throat.”
You may recall above, American torturers in the Philippines War did exactly the same thing—using two separate “syringes” or hoses to funnel water down the throat, one hose through the mouth and one hose through the nose, of their victim.

As you can see, the description of the allegedly much worse Japanese Imperial water torture and the American “water cure” torture of Filipinos, which occurred 40 years earlier, are pretty much identical.

Now, you may say—well, waterboarding isn't like that—they aren't pouring water down people's throats. But the point is they don't have to. The purpose of all water tortures, including waterboarding, is to torture with great pain and great dread of death, chiefly from drowning. Waterboarding has often been called "simulated drowning", but of course that isn't really the case, as it is instead slow drowning.

In 1901, talking about American water tortures of the Filipinos, this description of the intended effect on victims sounds pretty familiar:
"The suffering was...that of a man who is drowning, but cannot drown."
Of course, that isn't quite true—people certainly did drown, or were driven so close to it they died from the accumulated abuse of the torture inflicted.

The people who would parse the pain or the definition of torture, in order to excuse the CIA from its gross criminality in the Terror Wars, are overlooking—for many because they do not know it—the grand tradition of American water torture of helpless, and in many cases entirely innocent, human beings.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Proof Americans Are Psychopathic Monsters—Majority Says CIA Torture Justified

Americans have thrown away their principles of justice and civil liberty for all people of the world—not just Americans—and have become a torch-bearing mob, seeking monsters. In the process, they have become what they seek, what they perhaps always really were. This is the failure of the American experiment. The capitalists and the militarists have bent the USA and the American people to war, terror, and a love of evil for so long the nation has permanently lost its soul.
Or maybe it is just proof that, as asshole Professor Gruber said, Americans are just that stupid.

Could be both, that Americans are especially stupid monsters.

One thing is clear, a number of recent polls show that a majority of Americans, and a large majority of Republicans, say that CIA torture of prisoners and scores of innocent kidnap victims was justified—yes, that’s right.

A new Pew Poll on the question of whether CIA torture was justified shows 51% of all respondents saying torture is OK with them. The percentage of Republicans is much higher, at 75%, and 73% of Republicans said torturing people (including innocent people) helped stopped terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, a plurality in the Pew Poll said they thought releasing the Senate CIA Torture Report was the "wrong decision".

In a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, the approval of torture is even stronger, with the total of Americans saying torture was justified coming in at 59%, a strong majority of Americans. The WaPo/ABC News poll suggests most of those people understand that "harsh tactics" or any other euphemism the CIA and its apologists are using is equivalent to "torture". There is no confusion about this. There is simply the consistent and resistant (to facts) belief amongst most Americans that CIA torture stopped terrorist attacks and saved American lives.

So, does that mean that the torture apologists have won the debate in the past week? Does it mean Dick Cheney’s argument that, so long as it is in the interest of achieving the “objective”, torturing innocent people is OK has won the day?

Have the American people gone that mad? Or were they always that mad, and Cheney simply demagogued to what he understood to be the manipulable madness of the crowd?

We cannot expect Americans to be experts in international law, and Constitutional questions of habeas corpus and restrictions against “cruel and unusual punishments”, as those limits might apply to alleged enemies taken to foreign torture chambers by the CIA.

But we can reasonably ask what in the American soul has gone so awry that most US citizens are OK with the vast, criminal, behavior of their government. If 9/11 has so frightened people that they will surrender everything of the decent side of American values to monstrous war criminals, then one has to seriously question whether those decent, admirable, values, were ever worth more than the parchment or paper they were written on.

We really know the answer to that already however. For, if petty criminals gunned down by the police elicit outraged protests that power is being wielded unjustly in the USA, why wouldn’t we see similar or greater protests against US national policies that have harmed so many thousands of people all over the world?

One answer might be that, for all the deaths and terrible injuries and great costs endured (and perpetrated) by Americans in the Terror Wars, they don’t add up to much against the yearly firearm killings and woundings and huge economic injustices Americans inflict on one another. The USA is a violent, actually quite psychopathic, land. Perhaps it has become more so since 9/11, but this is merely an enhancement of the natural, brutal, American character.

So, in answer to a question I asked above, the worst thing about Dick Cheney’s chilling defense of CIA torture of innocent people was not that he was so far out of step with the American mainstream. It was that Cheney was actually expressing what most Americans believe to be true.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cheney: No Problem With Torturing Innocent People “So Long As We Achieve Our Objective”

Former US Vice-President Dick Cheney made one of the most extraordinary appearances in the history of American news programs on Sunday. Cheney, attacking the premises and conclusions of the Senate's CIA Torture Report, argued that torture only applied to what bad people do to Americans, not what bad Americans do to innocent people in the world. Cheney believed, and apparently still believes, that anything the USA perpetrated in its war of bloodthirsty, vengefully criminal behavior, was justified by what happened on 9/11. The world Cheney's brain occupies is little different than a dank, dark level of Hell incarnate. The fact Cheney was for a long time a step away from being in control of the biggest nuclear arsenal in the world is just one more terror joke in the endless comedy of America's decline and fall.
So far in the weeklong debate on the Senate’s CIA Torture Report, the following has to be the most revealing—perhaps no longer shocking (considering its source)—confession to so far occur. Asked on NBC’s Meet the Press program yesterday if he had any problem with the fact the USA had detained and tortured so many people eventually assessed as innocent, Cheney replied:
“I have no problem [with torturing innocent people] as long as we achieve our objective. And our objective is to get the guys who did 9/11 and it is to avoid another attack against the United States.”
Cheney’s repeated defense of this view, that it is legal to proceed in this manner, is based on an absurd redefinition of torture that Bush regime legal counsels engineered to free up US military forces to commit massive numbers of war crimes.

Cheney in fact demanded that only one real definition of torture existed, the measure established, he asserted, by al-Qaeda on September 11, 2001. Unless, in other words, the United States unjustly attacked and tortured and killed thousands of innocent people, it could not be rightly accused of torture. The fact the United States has committed just those atrocities repeatedly in its endless wars on Muslims was of no pertinence to Dick Cheney.

Instead the former Vice President complained about the numbers of Gitmo detainees who were released by the United States and who then “returned to the battlefield”, in other words to fight against the USA in the Terror Wars. One might raise the possibility that after being kidnapped and tortured by the USA, that fact alone might have helped recruit the innocent and the unaligned to Qaeda’s cause.

In addition to the expected ridiculous—but also horrifying—performance by Dick Cheney, there was the almost worse performance by Chuck Todd, NBC’s new (and extraordinarily witless) chief softball pitcher at Meet the Press. This interview with Cheney was Todd’s big chance to confront the old torturer and war criminal and demand that he stop pretending his asinine ignorance is the same thing as facts.

But Todd failed to do this. And it was glaringly obvious that Todd was either afraid of Cheney, or he had been told by his superiors to avoid any confrontations—in other words any act of journalism.

For example, at one point Cheney was asked if waterboarding (which he plainly said was not torture) was done to Americans by ISIS (Islamic State), would ISIS waterboarders get a pass also on accusations of torture using that method?

Cheney responded:
“[An American's] not likely to be waterboarded, he's likely to have his head cut off. It's not a close call.”
Later, once again emphasizing this point—mainly since Todd was too cowardly or too ignorant to challenge it—Cheney was more explicit:
“Waterboarding, the way we did it, was, in fact, not torture. Now when you're dealing with terrorists, the likes of Al Qaeda or the ISIS, I haven't seen them waterboard anybody.”
Todd once again said nothing to object to this.

Yet, what Cheney said about ISIS not waterboarding people was factually wrong. And it was wrong in a way that helps to illustrate the problem with Cheney’s whole idea of the efficacy of torture-American-style. Not only does it not work to achieve the objectives it is aiming at through the commission of war crimes, but it inspires its victims, and Muslims who are outraged at their treatment by the USA, to adopt those same methods to obtain vengeance against Americans.

So, for example, you can read here about how ISIS does in fact waterboard people, including American captives it would also eventually behead. And of course, mimicking the standard detainee uniform in Gitmo, Islamic State forced American and other Western captives to wear that same style of orange jumpsuit.

Raising this to Cheney, pointing out he was wrong on the facts, and wrong to ignore the implications of the facts, would have been the correct thing to do.

But Chuck Todd did no correct things in his interview with Dick Cheney. He turned the interview over to Cheney, who ran away with it, making some of the most ignorant, most ridiculous, and most heinous comments any interview subject has ever uttered on Meet the Press.

And throughout the whole thing, Chuck Todd sought in every way to abandon any role as a journalist, or an advocate for the people, and instead he smiled, and nodded, and affirmed the evil pouring out of Cheney’s war criminal mouth.

It was disgusting to watch. It was also highly instructive to watch.

The corporate news is meaningless drivel. Chuck Todd is the very nadir of the decline of American journalism, which looked at 9/11, and especially the utterly evil Iraq War, as the biggest moneymaking, audience-making, opportunity imaginable. They embedded themselves in the ass of the enemy—which is to say the Bush regime and its generals and its warmongering criminal leadership—and they have never found their way out of that dark pus-hole to this day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

CIA Torture Report Reveals Agency Gone Mad

The man whom CIA used to justify its torture program, Abu Zubaydah, was waterboarded 83 times, and otherwise repeatedly, utterly illegally, brutalized by the United States government and its paid agents. In the end, like crazed priests of the Spanish Inquisition, CIA announced the torture was a "success" because it had proven Zubaydah didn't know anything worth torturing him for. To this date, the USA has never charged Abu Zubaydah with a crime. Nor has George W. Bush, who tortured Abu Zubaydah and numerous others, been charged with a crime.
In order to understand the depth of the moral and strategic degradation of the CIA that took place under the Bush regime's torture program, one has only to examine the CIA Torture Report's analysis of the Agency's processing of Abu Zubaydah.

In fact, Zubaydah, and what US intelligence operatives claimed he knew, formed the basis for the White House conspiring with the CIA to break US law and proceed to employ torture as a tool of interrogation. These torture methods (including waterboarding), eventually called EITs, "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques", included torturing people to death—if not as an object, then as an acceptable risk the CIA was willing to apply to their victims.

The eventual program of torture that was chosen was crafted after the SERE program, which had been used to prepare US military personnel for the experience of surviving being captured and tortured by enemy forces that "did not adhere to the Geneva Convention". The SERE program itself was based upon North Vietnamese torture and interrogation techniques, which were noted by the CIA to have never been intended to produce "actionable intelligence" from captured American personnel (who usually possessed little of it), but only "confessions for propaganda purposes."

We should understand that the primary argument the CIA used to justify breaking the law, and which was used to obtain the White House's OK for doing so, was the claim that Zubaydah possessed information, which if it was not tortured out of him as quickly as possible, would threaten the lives of "innumerable innocent men, women and children within the United States and abroad."

The CIA was well aware that its interrogators would be violating the law. And they initially considered asking the US Attorney General for:
"a formal declination of prosecution, in advance, for any employees of the United States, as well as any other personnel acting on behalf of the United States, who may employ methods in the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah that otherwise might subject those individuals to prosecution."
The CIA Torture Report says "there are no records to indicate [a letter making this case to AG John Ashcroft] was provided to the attorney general", though it was "was circulated internally at the CIA."

Eventually, after Bush's war lawyers, including John Yoo, argued that CIA personnel would not be breaking the torture laws so long as they didn't intend to seriously harm their victims, AG Ashcroft signed off on the EITs. The tortures began on Zubaydah.

By the time the CIA had completed its initial round of torture sessions, Zubaydah was a broken man, one who not surprisingly would have happily confessed to pretty much anything.

And what did the CIA conclude about Zubaydah? That, in spite of what they had claimed about him being an inportant, in-the-know, Qaeda guy, who had to be tortured to get actionable intelligence that would save countless American lives:
"CIA records indicate that Abu Zubaydah never provided the information for which the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques were justified and approved: information on the next terrorist attack and operatives in the United States. Furthermore, as compared to the period prior to August 2002, the quantity and type of intelligence produced by Abu Zubaydah remained largely unchanged during and after the August 2002 use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques. Nonetheless,CIA Headquarters informed the National Security Council that the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques used against Abu Zubaydah were effective and were 'producing meaningful results.' "
What "meaningful results"?

Oh, this:
"The [CIA] interrogation team later deemed the use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques a success, not because it resulted in critical threat information, but because it provided further evidence that Abu Zubaydah had not been withholding...information from the interrogators."
Yes, that's right. In the CIA's estimation, torturing Zubaydah, almost to death, was the right thing to do because it proved he was not actually in possession of any critical, actionable intelligence.

Nevertheless, in 2003, George W. Bush's team would claim that Zubaydah had provided smoking gun confirmation that al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's Iraq had some kind of working relationship, that helped to make Bush's case that invading Iraq was necessary. Of course, the alleged link Zubaydah had provided turned out to have been false. In fact, eventually the US Government would confess that it had tortured a man, Zubaydah, that was not even in al-Qaeda.

And thousands of people would die or be horribly maimed as a consequence of the massive CIA, Bush White House conspiracy to torture actionable propaganda—not intelligence—out of its victims.

As the NY Times noted today, most of the charges that could have been brought against perpetrators of the Bush torture regime, will never be brought now, because Obama decided not to pursue them, and the statute of limitations has expired on most of them. And, on the ones still potentially chargeable, nobody believes Obama will risk any political damage by pursuing justice in this matter.