Monday, April 20, 2009

Where’s the fresh air? (Or Whatever Happened to that Transparency Obama Promised?)

Spring has finally arrived, so I walked out the other day and drew in a lungful of air and almost immediately gagged on a foul stench. What can it be, this foul stench that lingers in the air in this country, as spring attempts to bring fresh hope for renewal and wash everything clean with its infamous showers?

Well, what do you know? Here’s the culprit:

“The Obama administration is leaning toward keeping secret some graphic details of tactics allowed in Central Intelligence Agency interrogations, despite a push by some top officials to make the information public...”

The foul stench that lingers over this country is the combined odor of fear, contempt for the law, elitist arrogance, iron-fisted authoritarianism, and complete lack of respect for justice which has resulted in our government creating policies to kidnap, torture, illegally spy on, and violate the privacy of its own citizens and citizens of other countries both here in the U.S. and abroad. Obama denounced these policies during his campaign and has instituted policies that supposedly revoke these policies, but when it comes to justice for those that whose rights were violated, well, he would just like them to forgive and move on.

We are now hearing fresh information straight from those Top Secret Memos that Obama has been so reluctant to release (despite his pledge for transparency in government). Aside from waterboarding and the other disgusting methods of torture that were encouraged by the previous administration, there’s this:

"…head smashing…a technique in which a prisoner's head could be struck against a wall as long as the head was being held and the force of the blow was controlled by the interrogator, according to people familiar with the memos.”

If you are a citizen of this country, you owe it to yourself to seek out these memos and read through them carefully at least once. These are the things that were done in your name. [I will be writing a separate blog on what is contained in these memos in the near future as my stomach stops churning and I am able to think about what they contain without retching.] And think about the fact that these documents still contain redactions (who knows what those parts say) and that these are but four of the many memos that were written during this time. Also consider that these may possibly hold the most harmless information, since Obama did finally end up releasing them and has not released others as requested.

And what possible excuse could Obama have for stating that he would “not prosecute” those “good” men and women in the CIA who were just following orders? First of all, it is not his job to decide who will be prosecuted and who will not. And if he orders the Justice Department to look the other way when there is clear evidence of criminal behavior, not only is he politicizing the Justice Department as much as the Bush Administration did, but he is obstructing justice. Secondly, how “good” were these people who followed such heinous orders? Germans were punished after World War II for similar crimes and it was established that “just following orders” was not a valid defense.

What I would like to know is how many in the intelligence community disobeyed orders, took a stand for logic and decency, quit rather than compromise their morals? Let’s have those folks step up and tell their stories. Maybe we will find that more people than we ever imagined tried to do the right thing. Maybe those people should get a promotion or their jobs back and others eager to condemn and torture should be allowed to leave “the agency.”

“…Top CIA officials and "some in the White House...argue that disclosing such secrets will undermine the agency's credibility with foreign intelligence services."

Maybe they should have thought about that before they decided to act like a bunch of henchmen to a two-bit dictator. Their credibility was shot before any of this became public. The credibility of the government and the people and the whole country is shot to hell in the international community, as it should be. Let’s not keep trying to avoid the consequences of our stupid actions, let’s learn from them. (There’s a revolutionary idea!)

People familiar with the matter said some senior intelligence advisers to the president raised fears that releasing the two most sensitive memos could cause the Obama administration to be alienated from the CIA's rank and file, as happened during the Bush administration when Porter Goss, who was unpopular among CIA officers, headed the agency.

At what other job do the patients run the asylum? If they are ashamed of what they have done, own up to it. If they feel it is mischaracterized, defend it. But you work for WE THE PEOPLE, folks, no matter how important you think you are. You don’t get to decide whether you will cooperate with the boss or not. If you don’t feel that you can follow the leader, get out. Just try to pull that petulant crap at the next job you get, I dare you. Do your job or quit; we aren’t putting up with your primadonna crap.

Mr. Holder and Justice lawyers, along with Mr. Craig, have argued aggressively for releasing operational details…[they argue] the agency shouldn't be in a position of defending practices the new administration has disavowed…[and] releasing the documents would help fulfill the president's promise of greater transparency.

Ah, YEAH. That’s what WE’VE been saying. And these are lawyers making these arguments, but Obama isn’t going to listen to them? Who makes a better argument than a lawyer?

Intelligence officials also believe that making the techniques public would give al Qaeda a propaganda tool just as the administration is stepping up its fight against the terrorist group in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

What a weak argument. Almost anything we do is a propaganda tool. Our government would know about propaganda tools. So F*#@ing what?

Some former administration officials have also argued that releasing all the memos could help terrorists train to endure the most extreme interrogation techniques.

That’s ridiculous for two reasons: (1) they had already been training to endure some of the milder “enhanced techniques” and (2) the more extreme forms of torture have supposedly been discontinued by the Obama Administration. So, that point is moot, and they damn well know it.

Making those details public, one official said, would make CIA officials disinclined to take any risks in the future.

Thank God. Maybe they should not have taken those risks in the first place. Maybe the people who decided that those risks were worth losing our national soul over should be LONG gone and never able to come back, if they aren’t already. They obviously showed a lack of good judgment on this issue.

The very definition of evil:

The role of medical professionals in torture at Guantanamo includes rape utilizing instrumentality.

If you can stomach it, check out the Human Rights project, specifically Brandon Neely’s account of activities at Guantanamo Bay:

Today’s news from the NY Times is that waterboarding was used on Khalid Sheik Mohammed 183 times and that Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times. “A former CIA officer had told news media he had been subjected to only 35 seconds underwater before talking.” And that liar's name is??

Also from today’s NY Times; it appears as though the initial questioning of Zubaydah was successful WITHOUT the “enhanced techniques” and that CIA operatives DID NOT believe he had any further useful information, but “officials” at CIA Headquarters were hot for trying out their new “techniques,” insisting that Zubaydah was more important in Al Queda than he ever actually was and that he “must” have more information.

“You get a ton of information, but headquarters says, ‘There must be more,’ ” recalled one intelligence officer who was involved in the case. As described in the footnote to the memo, the use of repeated waterboarding against Abu Zubaydah was ordered “at the direction of C.I.A. headquarters,” and officials were dispatched from headquarters “to watch the last waterboard session.”
I want names, dammit. Who felt the need to go and watch?? Sick bastards.

Also in the same article, “He pleaded for his life,” the official said. “But he gave up no new information. He had no more information to give.” If he was pleading for his life, he obviously felt his life was in jeopardy, which would meet one of the guidelines set forth for torture.

Support John Conyers, who made this statement today (from the NY Times):

“If our leaders are found to have violated the strict laws against torture, either by ordering these techniques without proper legal authority or by knowingly crafting legal fictions to justify torture, they should be criminally prosecuted,” Mr. Conyers said in a written statement.

If you are like me and you want REAL fresh air, and not just air that has been scented to appear fresh, DEMAND JUSTICE!

Sign the Democracy for America petition, sign the ACLU petition, contact Senator Patrick Leahy and/or Senator John Conyers, seek out others who agree that accountability is necessary and band together. We can force our government to do the right thing here. All it takes is a large group of angry and loud people who refuse to take “no” for an answer.

Who’s with me????

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1 comment:

Tango daddy said...

I am with you KS I am just not as loud and I do believe we are heading the new guy in the direction he needs to go. he is being driven by opinions and yours is oh so right on. And may my own voice become as loud and well spoken as yours!!!