Tags: Adolphus Busch IV, Adolphus Busch IV NRA, Background Checks, Busch Nra, David Keene, gun control, Gun Control Vote, Gun Violence, National Rifle Association, nra, NRA Busch, Obama Senate Gun Defeat, Politics News, roger hollander, Senate Gun Bill, video
add a comment
Roger’s note: this article makes it crystal clear that it is the arms and munition manufacturers who are behind the sleazebag LaPierre and the blood-tainted US Senators who enable the massacres we now witness on a regular basis.
WASHINGTON — Adolphus Busch IV, heir to the Busch family brewing fortune, resigned his lifetime membership in the National Rifle Association on Thursday, writing in a letter to NRA President David Keene, “I fail to see how the NRA can disregard the overwhelming will of its members who see background checks as reasonable.”
The resignation, first reported by KSDK, came a day after the Senate rejected a series of amendments to a gun control bill, including a bipartisan deal to expand background checks for gun sales. The NRA had vigorously opposed all those measures.
“The NRA I see today has undermined the values upon which it was established,” wrote Busch. “Your current strategic focus clearly places priority on the needs of gun and ammunition manufacturers while disregarding the opinions of your 4 million individual members.”
Reached for comment on Busch’s resignation, NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told The Huffington Post, “We disagree with his characterization, but we wish him all the best.”
Busch joined the pro-gun organization in 1975 and has spoken before of his love of hunting. But the NRA has moved in a direction that Busch would not follow. “One only has to look at the makeup of the 75-member board of directors, dominated by manufacturing interests, to confirm my point. The NRA appears to have evolved into the lobby for gun and ammunition manufacturers rather than gun owners,” he wrote.
Busch told Keene, “It disturbs me greatly to see this rigid new direction of the NRA.” He singled out the gun lobby’s reversal of its 1999 position in favor of universal background checks, as well as its opposition to an assault weapons ban and a ban on high-capacity magazines. “I am simply unable to comprehend how assault weapons and large capacity magazines have a role in your vision,” he wrote.
“Was it not the NRA position to support background checks when Mr. LaPierre himself stated in 1999 that NRA saw checks as ‘reasonable’?” Busch wrote, referring to NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre’s testimony at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in the wake of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting.
At that time, LaPierre said the NRA believed that universal background checks were a “reasonable” choice. The group even took out ads in major newspapers that read, “We believe it’s reasonable to provide for instant background checks at gun shows, just like gun stores and pawn shops.”
One week after that hearing, LaPierre rolled out the same argument that he would use 14 years later to attack President Barack Obama’s gun safety proposals — namely, that until the government prosecutes more background check violations, there is no point in expanding them.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated incorrectly that Adolphus Busch IV had resigned his membership on the NRA board. Busch was not a member of the board.
Contraception Mandate Clarified To Accommodate Religious Groups, Obama Administration Announces February 1, 2013Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Health, Religion, Women.
Tags: Birth Control Mandate, catholic church, Contraception Mandate, Contraception Mandate Accommodation, Contraception Mandate Changes, Contraception Rule Accommodation, kathleen sebelius, Obama Birth Control, Obama Birth Control Mandate, Obama Contraception Mandate, Obama Contraception Mandate Accommodation, obama cop out, Politics News, religious bigotry, roger hollander
add a comment
Roger’s note: This makes my blood boil. In his monumental work, “The God Delusion,” Richard Dawkins questions the way we tip toe around the prerogatives of the religious minded. The notion of religious freedom means the right to worship (or NOT worship) as you please. Religious freedom does not mean that one can hide behind his religious belief to opt out of legal and social obligations, in this case, the obligation to provide health benefits to women. Remember that it was not that long ago the freeing the slaves was “morally objectionable” to established religion in the South. Once again Obama is copping out to a powerful institution, in this case the Roman Catholic Bigoted Church. Would that he would pay more attention to those of us who find torture, aggressive warfare that targets civilians, indefinite detention, destruction of the environment, destruction of our public education system, etc. etc. “morally objective” on human grounds.
Posted: 02/01/2013 11:40 am EST | Updated: 02/01/2013 12:27 pm EST
Faced with nearly 50 lawsuits by employers with religious objections, the Obama administration announced on Friday new details of the contraception coverage rule that clarify which employers will be exempt from having to cover contraception costs for their employees.
The new rules announced on Friday eliminate some confusion over which organizations qualify for the exemption by requiring employers with religious objections to self-certify that they are non-profits with religion as a core part of their mission. Religiously affiliated organizations that choose to insure themselves would instruct their “third-party administrator” to provide coverage through separate individual health insurance policies so that they do not have to pay for services to which they morally object.
“Today, the administration is taking the next step in providing women across the nation with coverage of recommended preventive care at no cost, while respecting religious concerns,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “We will continue to work with faith-based organizations, women’s organizations, insurers and others to achieve these goals.”
The so-called “contraception mandate,” which went into effect on Aug. 1, 2012, requires most employers to cover birth control for their female employees at no additional cost. Houses of worship are exempt from the rule, and religiously affiliated organizations that are not churches, such as schools and hospitals, are allowed to opt out of directly paying for contraception coverage. The cost of coverage, in those cases, would be shifted to the insurer.
The accommodation for religious organizations did not satisfy all of them. As of Friday, there have been 48 lawsuits filed in federal court challenging the contraception mandate. Some for-profit companies that are not religiously affiliated, including the Christian-owned Hobby Lobby, sued the administration on the grounds that they are being denied their religious freedom by having to cover services to which they morally object. Judges have granted nine of those companies temporary relief from the rule as they pursue their claims in court.
Some non-profit religious organizations that self-insure, such as Catholic schools and dioceses, also filed lawsuits against the mandate, arguing that the accommodation does not apply to them because there is no third-party insurer to absorb the cost of coverage. The courts have largely dismissed those cases because non-profits with religious objections were given a one-year grace period to comply with the birth control coverage rule.
Reproductive rights advocates said on Friday that they are still pleased with the details of the contraception rule. “We look forward to examining and commenting on the proposed rule and helping ensure that, when it is implemented, the women who are affected will have simple and seamless access to contraceptive coverage without co-pays or added costs,” said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families. “It’s time for opponents of women’s reproductive choice to stop politicizing women’s health.”
The U.S. Catholic Church, one of the primary foes of the contraception mandate, remained mum on the changes.
“We welcome the opportunity to study the proposed regulations closely. We look forward to issuing a more detailed statement later,” said Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The New York archdiocese is one of many dioceses that have sued the administration over the changes.
Tags: gun control, gun laws, Gun Restrictions, Gun Violence, guns, Mass Shootings, nra, Politics News, roger hollander, second amendment
add a comment
Roger’s note: here is another example of money (capital) trumping general public interest. It is in the interest of virtually everyone to have severe restrictions on guns. It is in the interest of the arm manufacturers and their lapdog NRA to promote the sale of firearms, which requires limits on government regulation. Huge sums of money go into organizing “spontaneous” popular demonstrations, as reported below. Who is there to finance the general interest? In a rare move, the Vatican has come down on the side of public interest. It is true that at times the public demand is so strong, that it will in fact limit the impact of corporate money. But these are the exceptions to the rule.
By WILL WEISSERT 01/19/13 11:21 PM ET EST
AUSTIN, Texas — Thousands of gun advocates gathered peacefully Saturday at state capitals around the U.S. to rally against stricter limits on firearms, with demonstrators carrying rifles and pistols in some places while those elsewhere settled for waving hand-scrawled signs or screaming themselves hoarse.
The size of crowds at each location varied – from dozens of people in South Dakota to 2,000 in New York. Large crowds also turned out in Connecticut, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington state. Some demonstrators in Olympia, Wash., Phoenix, Salem, Ore., and Salt Lake City came with holstered handguns or rifles on their backs. At the Kentucky Capitol in Frankfort, attendees gave a special round of applause for “the ladies that are packin’.”
Activists promoted the “Guns Across America” rallies primarily through social media. They were being held just after President Barack Obama unveiled a sweeping package of federal gun-control proposals.
The crowd swelled to more than 800 amid balmy temperatures on the steps of the pink-hued Capitol in Austin, where speakers took the microphone under a giant Texas flag with “Independent” stamped across it. Homemade placards read “An Armed Society is a Polite Society,” “The Second Amendment Comes from God” and “Hey King O., I’m keeping my guns and my religion.”
“The thing that so angers me, and I think so angers you, is that this president is using children as a human shield to advance a very liberal agenda that will do nothing to protect them,” said state Rep. Steve Toth, referencing last month’s elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn.
Toth, a first-term Republican lawmaker from The Woodlands outside Houston, has introduced legislation banning within Texas any future federal limits on assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, though such a measure would violate the U.S. Constitution.
Rallies at statehouses nationwide were organized by Eric Reed, an airline captain from the Houston area who in November started a group called “More Gun Control (equals) More Crime.” Its Facebook page has been “liked” by more than 17,000 people.
Texas law has some restrictions on where concealed handgun license-holders can carry firearms, but they are allowed at most places, including the Capitol. But Reed said rally-goers shouldn’t expose their weapons: “I don’t want anyone to get arrested.”
A man who identified himself only as “Texas Mob Father” carried a camouflaged assault rifle strapped to his back during the Austin rally, but he was believed to be the only one to display a gun. Radio personality Alan LaFrance told the crowd he brought a Glock 19, but he kept it out of sight.
At the New York state Capitol in Albany, about 2,000 people turned out for a chilly rally, where they chanted “We the People,” “USA,” and “Freedom.” Many carried American flags and “Don’t Tread On Me” banners. The event took place four days after Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the nation’s toughest assault weapon and magazine restrictions.
Republican Assemblyman Steven McLaughlin said the new law was “abuse of power” by the governor. Some in the crowd carried “Impeach Cuomo” signs. Protester Robert Candea called the restrictions “an outrage against humanity.”
About 1,500 people showed up in Olympia, Wash. Former NFL tight end Clint Didier, who unsuccessfully ran for the GOP Senate nomination in the 2010 election, urged the crowd to prepare “for the worst possible predicament” by stocking up on food, guns, ammunition, communication devices and medicines, The Olympian newspaper reported.
In Connecticut, where task forces created by the Legislature and Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy are considering changes to gun laws, police said about 1,000 people showed up on the Capitol grounds. One demonstrator at the rally in Maine, Joe Getchell of Pittsfield, said every law-abiding citizen has a right to bear arms.
In Minnesota, where more than 500 people showed up at the Capitol in St. Paul, Republican state Rep. Tony Cornish said he would push to allow teachers to carry guns in school without a principal or superintendent’s approval and to allow 21-year-olds to carry guns on college campuses.
Capitol rallies also took place in Colorado, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin, among other states.
Back in Texas, Houston resident Robert Thompson attended the rally with his wife and children, ages 12, 5 and 4. Many in the family wore T-shirts reading: “The Second Amendment Protects the First.”
“What we are facing now is an assault weapons ban, but if they do this, what will do they do next?” Thompson asked.
William Lawson drove more than four hours from Wichita Falls and held up a sign reading “Modern Musket” over the image of an assault rifle and the words, “An American Tradition since 1776.”
“I’m not some wild-eyed person who wants to fight in the streets,” Lawson said. “This is a country of laws. But I want to protect our Constitution.”
Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson conceded that the Second Amendment sometimes leads to killings, but he told the crowd that the First Amendment can be just as dangerous. Patterson said news coverage of those responsible for mass shootings can spark copy-cat shootings.
“All of us here, together, are right about our liberty,” Patterson said. “And we will not back down.”
Associated Press writers Bob Christie in Phoenix, Ian Pickus in Albany, N.Y., Emery P. Dalesio, Raleigh, N.C., and Debbi Morello in Hartford, Conn., contributed to this report.
Hillary Clinton: Drug Legalization Won’t End The Drug War November 30, 2012Posted by rogerhollander in Uncategorized.
Tags: central america, Central America Drug War, decriminalize marijuana, drug war, Foreign Policy Magazine, hillary clinton, Hillary Clinton Drug War, Hillary Clinton Marijuana, Latin America, marijuana, marijuana legalization, Politics News, roger hollander, Washington Marijuana Legalization
add a comment
Posted: 11/30/2012 11:03 am EST Updated: 11/30/2012 11:32 am EST
Hillary Clinton is not convinced domestic drug legalization would end the cartel violence ravaging Central America.
As Politico reports, during a forum hosted by Foreign Policy magazine on Thursday, the Costa Rican ambassador to the U.S. asked the U.S. secretary of state whether she believed the drug war was winnable.
“I respect those in the region who believe strongly that [U.S. legalization] would end the problem,” Clinton said, as reported by Politico. “I am not convinced of that, speaking personally.”
“We are formulating our own response to the votes of two of our states as you know — what that means for the federal system, the federal laws and law enforcement,” she said.
Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.
Earlier this month, Raymond Yans, the head of the U.N.’s drug watchdog agency, criticized the U.S. for sending “a wrong message abroad” with its passage of the landmark legalization in Colorado and Washington, and urged the U.S. to challenge both states.
He said he hoped Attorney General Eric Holder “will take all the necessary measures” to ensure that marijuana use remains illegal in the U.
Clarence Thomas Should Be Investigated For Nondisclosure, Democratic Lawmakers Say September 30, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice.
Tags: clarence thomas, Clarence Thomas Department Of Justice, Clarence Thomas Disclosure Forms, Clarence Thomas Finances, Clarence Thomas Investigated, Clarence Thomas Investigation, Disclosure Forms, House Rules Committee, Louise Slaughter, Politics News, supreme court, Supreme Court Disclosure Forms, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
add a comment
firstname.lastname@example.org, Sept. 29, 2011
WASHINGTON — Democratic lawmakers on Thursday called for a federal investigation into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ failure to report hundreds of thousands of dollars on annual financial disclosure forms.
Led by House Rules Committee ranking member Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), 20 House Democrats sent a letter to the Judicial Conference of the United States — the entity that frames guidelines for the administration of federal courts — requesting that the conference refer the matter of Thomas’ non-compliance with the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to the Department of Justice.
The letter outlines how, throughout his 20-year tenure on the Supreme Court, Thomas routinely checked a box titled “none” on his annual financial disclosure forms, indicating that his wife had received no income. But in reality, the letter states, she earned nearly $700,000 from the Heritage Foundation from 2003 to 2007 alone.
Slaughter called it “absurd” to suggest that Thomas may not have known how to fill out the forms.
“It is reasonable, in every sense of the word, to believe that a member of the highest court in the land should know how to properly disclose almost $700,000 worth of income,” Slaughter said in a statement. “To not be able to do so is suspicious, and according to law, requires further investigation. To accept Justice Thomas’s explanation without doing the required due diligence would be irresponsible.”
The letter also cites a June report in The New York Times indicating Thomas may have regularly benefited from the use of a private yacht and airplane owned by real estate magnate Harlan Crowe and failed to disclose the travel as a gift or travel reimbursement.
Current law requires the Judicial Conference to refer to the Attorney General any judge the conference “has reasonable cause to believe has willfully failed to file a report or has willfully falsified or willfully failed to file information required to be reported.”
Slaughter’s press statement also notes that the Heritage Foundation was a prominent opponent of the Affordable Care Act, an issue the Supreme Court is expected to rule on by next summer.
“The Attorney General would be the appropriate person to investigate the issue of non-disclosure, and that is why my colleagues and I are making this request today,” Slaughter said. “I cannot determine guilt or innocence, but I can request that the government do our due diligence in investigating a situation that strikes me, and many other members of Congress, as suspicious.”
Other members of Congress on the letter include Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Mike Honda (D-Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Pete Stark (D-Calif.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), John Olver (D-Mass.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Bob Filner (D-Calif.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.).
Guatemala Experiments: Syphilis Infections, Other Shocking Details Revealed About U.S. Medical Experiments August 30, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Foreign Policy, Guatemala, Health, Latin America.
Tags: Bioethics, guatemala, Guatemala Experiments, Medical Experiments Guatemala, Politics News, roger hollander, Us Experiments, Us Experiments 1940s, Us Experiments Guatemala, Us Medical Experiments, Us Penicillin Experiments
1 comment so far
Roger’s note: I was recently telling friends about my first consciousness of Latin America when students in Lima, Peru attacked then Vice President Nixon’s motorcade back in the mid 1950s. It might then have prompted the question that we hear today: why do they hate us? United States foreign policy towards Latin America has not changed in substance since the declaration of the Monroe Doctrine. Until the modern era of mostly “democratically” elected governments, the US openly supported dictators in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Panama, Nicaragua, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti (stop me when you get bored) — some of the dictators were virtually put into power by US subterfuge or intervention. In the modern era the US supports the most repressive and dictatorial “democracies” (Colombia, Mexico, Honduras) and is at odds with the most progressive (Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela); and as recently as two years ago the US clandestinely organized the overthrow of th democratically elected president of Honduras. So when I say to you, read the following article and know why they hate us, please don’t tell me that was then, this is now.
By MIKE STOBBE, www.huffingtonpost.com, 29 August 2011
ATLANTA — A presidential panel on Monday disclosed shocking new details of U.S. medical experiments done in Guatemala in the 1940s, including a decision to re-infect a dying woman in a syphilis study.
The Guatemala experiments are already considered one of the darker episodes of medical research in U.S. history, but panel members say the new information indicates that the researchers were unusually unethical, even when placed into the historical context of a different era.
“The researchers put their own medical advancement first and human decency a far second,” said Anita Allen, a member of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.
From 1946-48, the U.S. Public Health Service and the Pan American Sanitary Bureau worked with several Guatemalan government agencies to do medical research – paid for by the U.S. government – that involved deliberately exposing people to sexually transmitted diseases.
The researchers apparently were trying to see if penicillin, then relatively new, could prevent infections in the 1,300 people exposed to syphilis, gonorrhea or chancroid. Those infected included soldiers, prostitutes, prisoners and mental patients with syphilis.
The commission revealed Monday that only about 700 of those infected received some sort of treatment. Also, 83 people died, although it’s not clear if the deaths were directly due to the experiments.
The research came up with no useful medical information, according to some experts. It was hidden for decades but came to light last year, after a Wellesley College medical historian discovered records among the papers of Dr. John Cutler, who led the experiments.
President Barack Obama called Guatemala’s president, Alvaro Colom, to apologize. He also ordered his bioethics commission to review the Guatemala experiments. That work is nearly done. Though the final report is not due until next month, commission members discussed some of the findings at a meeting Monday in Washington.
They revealed that some of the experiments were more shocking than was previously known.
For example, seven women with epilepsy, who were housed at Guatemala’s Asilo de Alienados (Home for the Insane), were injected with syphilis below the back of the skull, a risky procedure. The researchers thought the new infection might somehow help cure epilepsy. The women each got bacterial meningitis, probably as a result of the unsterile injections, but were treated.
Perhaps the most disturbing details involved a female syphilis patient with an undisclosed terminal illness. The researchers, curious to see the impact of an additional infection, infected her with gonorrhea in her eyes and elsewhere. Six months later she died.
Dr. Amy Gutmann, head of the commission, described the case as “chillingly egregious.”
During that time, other researchers were also using people as human guinea pigs, in some cases infecting them with illnesses. Studies weren’t as regulated then, and the planning-on-the-fly feel of Cutler’s work was not unique, some experts have noted.
But panel members concluded that the Guatemala research was bad even by the standards of the time. They compared the work to a 1943 experiment by Cutler and others in which prison inmates were infected with gonorrhea in Terre Haute, Ind. The inmates were volunteers who were told what was involved in the study and gave their consent. The Guatemalan participants – or many of them – received no such explanations and did not give informed consent, the commission said.
The commission is working on a second report examining federally funded international studies to make sure current research is being done ethically. That report is expected at the end of the year.
Meanwhile, the Guatemalan government has vowed to do its own investigation into the Cutler study. A spokesman for Vice President Rafael Espada said the report should be done by November.
Associated Press writer Sonia Perez in Guatemala City contributed to this report.
Donald Rumsfeld Torture Lawsuit Can Proceed, Judge Says August 4, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Uncategorized.
Tags: donald rumsfeld, Donald Rumsfeld Torture, Donald Rumsfeld Torture Lawsuit, Espionage, Iraq, Iraq war, military contractors, Military Contractors Iraq, Politics News, roger hollalnder, torture, u.s. military
add a comment
Tags: al-Qaeda, bin Laden, cia, Colin Powell, dan froomkin, detainees, Dick Cheney, donald rumsfeld, George W. Bush, Glenn Carle, Guantanamo, interrogation, john yoo, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, ksm, larry wilkerson, Liz Cheney, matthew alexander, Politics News, roger hollander, Steven Kleinman, torture, Torture Debate, torture memos, war on terror, waterboarding
add a comment
Dan Froomkin, www.huffingtonpost.com, May 6, 2011
Torture apologists are reaching precisely the wrong conclusion from the back-story of the hunt for Osama bin Laden, say experienced interrogators and intelligence professionals.
Defenders of the Bush administration’s interrogation policies have claimed vindication from reports that bin Laden was tracked down in small part due to information received from brutalized detainees some six to eight years ago.
But that sequence of events — even if true — doesn’t demonstrate the effectiveness of torture, these experts say. Rather, it indicates bin Laden could have been caught much earlier had those detainees been interrogated properly.
“I think that without a doubt, torture and enhanced interrogation techniques slowed down the hunt for bin Laden,” said an Air Force interrogator who goes by the pseudonym Matthew Alexander and located Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, in 2006.
It now appears likely that several detainees had information about a key al Qaeda courier — information that might have led authorities directly to bin Laden years ago. But subjected to physical and psychological brutality, “they gave us the bare minimum amount of information they could get away with to get the pain to stop, or to mislead us,” Alexander told The Huffington Post.
“We know that they didn’t give us everything, because they didn’t provide the real name, or the location, or somebody else who would know that information,” he said.
In a 2006 study by the National Defense Intelligence College, trained interrogators found that traditional, rapport-based interviewing approaches are extremely effective with even the most hardened detainees, whereas coercion consistently builds resistance and resentment.
“Had we handled some of these sources from the beginning, I would like to think that there’s a good chance that we would have gotten this information or other information,” said Steven Kleinman, a longtime military intelligence officerwho has extensively researched, practiced and taught interrogation techniques.
“By making a detainee less likely to provide information, and making the information he does provide harder to evaluate, they hindered what we needed to accomplish,” said Glenn L. Carle, a retired CIA officer who oversaw the interrogation of a high-level detainee in 2002.
But the discovery and killing of bin Laden was enough for defenders of the Bush administration to declare that their policies had been vindicated.
Liz Cheney, daughter of the former vice president, quickly issued a statement declaring that she was “grateful to the men and women of America’s intelligence services who, through their interrogation of high-value detainees, developed the information that apparently led us to bin Laden.”
John Yoo, the lead author of the “Torture Memos,” wrote in the Wall Street Journal that bin Laden’s death “vindicates the Bush administration, whose intelligence architecture marked the path to bin Laden’s door.”
Former Bush secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld declared that “the information that came from those individuals was critically important.”
The Obama White House pushed back against that conclusion this week.
“The bottom line is this: If we had some kind of smoking-gun intelligence from waterboarding in 2003, we would have taken out Osama bin Laden in 2003,” Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council, told The New York Times.
Chronological detailsof the hunt for bin Laden remain murky, but piecing together various statements from administration and intelligence officials, it appears the first step may have been the CIA learning the nickname of an al Qaeda courier — Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti — from several detainees picked up after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Then, in 2003, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), the 9/11 mastermind, was captured, beaten, slammed into walls, shackled in stress positions and made to feel like he was drowning 183 times in a month. When asked about al-Kuwaiti, however, KSM denied that the he had anything to do with al Qaeda.
In 2004, officials detained a man named Hassan Ghul and brought him to one of the CIA’s black sites, where he identified al-Kuwaiti as a key courier.
A third detainee, Abu Faraj al-Libi, was arrested in 2005 and under CIA interrogation apparently denied knowing al-Kuwaiti at all.
Once the courier’s real name was established — about four years ago, and by other means — intelligence analysts stayed on the lookout for him. After he was picked up on a monitored phone call last year, he ultimately led authorities to bin Laden.
The link between the Bush-era interrogation regime and bin Laden’s killing, then, appears tenuous — especially since two of the three detainees in question apparently provided deceptive information about the courier even after being interrogated under durress.
“It simply strains credulity to suggest that a piece of information that may or may not have been gathered eight years ago somehow directly led to a successful mission on Sunday. That’s just not the case,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
But for Alexander, Kleinman and others, the key takeaway is not just that the torture didn’t work, but that it was actually counterproductive.
“The question is: What else did KSM have?” Alexander asked. And he’s pretty sure he knows the answer: KSM knew the courier’s real name, “or he knew who else knew his real name, or he knew how to find him — and he didn’t give any of that information,” Alexander said.
Alexander’s book, “Kill or Capture,” chronicles how the non-coercive interrogation of a dedicated al Qaeda member led to Zarqawi’s capture.
“I’m 100 percent confident that a good interrogator would have gotten additional leads” from KSM, Alexander said.
“Interrogation is all about getting access to someone’s uncorrupted memory,” explained Kleinman, who as an Air Force reserve colonel in Iraq in 2003 famously tried, but failed, to stop the rampant, systemic abuse of detainees there. “And you can’t get access to someone’s uncorrupted memory by applying psychological, physical or emotional force.”
Quite to the contrary, coercion is known to harden resistance. “It makes an individual hate you and find any way in their mind to fight back,” and it inhibits their recall, Kleinman said. Far preferable, he said, is a “more thoughtful, culturally-enlightened, science-based approach.”
“I never saw enhanced interrogation techniques work in Iraq; I never saw even harsh techniques work in Iraq,” Alexander said. “In every case I saw them slow us down, and they were always counterproductive to trying to get people to cooperate.”
Carle, who was not a trained interrogator, said he came to recognize that interrogation was a lot like something he did know how to do: manage intelligence assets in the field.
“Perverse and imbalanced as the relationship is between interrogator and detainee, it’s nonetheless a human relationship, and building upon that, manipulating the person, dealing straight with the person, simply coming to understand the person and vice versa, one can move forward,” he told reporters on a conference call Thursday.
Carle’s upcoming book, “The Interrogator,” chronicles his growing doubts about his orders from his superiors.
“The methods that I was urged to embrace, I found first-hand — putting aside the moral and legal issues, which we really cannot put aside — from a practical and a tactical and a strategic sense and a moral and legal one, the methods are counterproductive,” he said.
“They do not work,” he added. “They cause retrograde motion from what you’re seeking to accomplish. They increase resentment, not cooperation. They increase the difficulty in assessing what information you do hear is valid. They increase the likelihood that you will be given disinformation and have opposition from the person that you’re interrogating, across the board.”
Carle said the detainee he worked with regressed when coerced. “All it did was increase resentment and misery,” he said.
Larry Wilkerson, chief of staff under former secretary of state Colin Powell, said, “I’d be naive if I said it never worked,” referring to enhanced interrogation techniques.
“Of course, occasionally it works, Wilkerson said. “But most of the time, what torture is useful for is confessions. It’s not good for getting actionable intelligence.”
Experts agree that torture is particularly good at one thing: eliciting false confessions.
Bush-era interrogation techniques, were modeled after methods used by Chinese Communists to extract confessions from captured U.S. servicemen that they could then use for propaganda during the Korean War.
“Somehow our government decided that … these were effective means of obtaining information,” Carle said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
At a hearing in Guantanamo, several years after being waterboarded, KSM described how he would lie — specifically about bin Laden’s whereabouts — just to make the torture stop. “I make up stories,” Mohammed said. “Where is he? I don’t know. Then, he torture me,” KSM said of an interrogator. “Then I said, ‘Yes, he is in this area.’”
There are many other reasons to be skeptical of the argument that torture can lead to actionable intelligence, and specifically that enhanced interrogation led investigators to bin Laden.
And though its defenders are now trying to talk up the significance of the earlier intelligence, around the time of al-Libi’s interrogation, the CIA was not stepping up the hunt for bin Laden. Instead, it was closing down the unit that had been dedicated to hunting bin Laden and his top lieutenants.
This new scenario hardly supports a defense of torture on the grounds that it’s appropriate in “ticking time bomb” scenarios, Alexander said. “Show me an interrogator who says that eight years is a good result.”
The interrogation experts also noted the significant role Yoo, Rumsfeld and former Vice President Cheney each played in opening the door to controversial interrogation practices.
Wilkerson has long argued that there is ample evidence showing that “the Office of the Vice President bears responsibility for creating an environment conducive to the acts of torture and murder committed by U.S. forces in the war on terror.”
Yoo wrote several memos that explicitly sanctioned measures that many have deemed constitute torture, and the memo from Rumsfeld authorizing the use of stress positions, hooding and dogs was widely seen as a sign to the troops that the “gloves could come off.”
“These guys are trying to save their reputations, for one thing,” Alexander said. “They have, from the beginning, been trying to prevent an investigation into war crimes.”
“They don’t want to talk about the long term consequences that cost the lives of Americans,” Alexander added. The way the U.S. treated its prisoners “was al-Qaeda’s number-one recruiting tool and brought in thousands of foreign fighters who killed American soldiers,” Alexander said. “And who want to live with that on their conscience?”
From Bush himself on down, the defenders of his interrogation regime have long insisted that it never amounted to torture. But waterboarding, the single most controversial aspect of Bush’s interrogation regime, has been an archetypal form of torture dating back to the Spanish Inquisition. It involves strapping someone to a board and simulating drowning them. The U.S. government has historically considered it a war crime.
One can quibble over the proper term for some of the other tactics employed with official sanction, including forced nudity, isolation, bombardment with noise and light, deprivation of food, forced standing, repeated beatings, applications of cold water, the use of dogs, slamming prisoners into walls, shackling them in stress positions and keeping them awake for as long as 180 hours. But they comprise violations of human dignity, as codified by the United Nations — and championed by the U.S. government — ever since World War II.
Many have argued that whether torture works or not is irrelevant — that it is flatly illegal, immoral, and contrary to core American principles — and that even if it were effective, it would still be anathema.
But that torture is unparalleled in its ability to obtain intelligence is the central argument of its defenders. To concede that torture doesn’t work — as Alexander, Kleinman and Carle, among others, say — would be to forfeit the whole game. It would be admitting that cruelty was both the means and the end.
And so the debate goes on.
This article has been updated to include more information on waterboarding and historical background on other interrogation techniques.
* * * * * *Dan Froomkin is senior Washington correspondent for The Huffington Post. You can send him an email, bookmark his page, subscribe to his RSS feed, follow him on Twitter, friend him on Facebook, and/or become a fan and get email alerts when he writes.
Tags: bailout, banking committee, barney frank, chris dodd, Citibank, Economic Crisis, financial crisis, foreclosures, Goldman Sachs, homeowners, Martha Coakley, massachusetts, massachusetts attorney general, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Politics News, roger hollander, rule of law, ryan grim, Subprime Mortgage Crisis, subprime mortgages, ubs, unfair loans
add a comment
(Roger’s note: read this then tell me why the Bailout funds could not be used to help homeowners pay subprime mortgages so that the Attorney General could pursue criminal charges against Goldman Sachs for the sake of justice and future deterrence; instead of letting Goldman Sachs get away with breaking the law with impunity and buy their way out with the taxpayers dollars. I am guessing that the Massachusetts AG is taking her cue from Barack Obama and his AG, Eric Holder, who would rather “reconcile” and “look forward” rather than comply with their oaths of office to defend and uphold the U.S. Constitution.)
Ryan Grim, www.huffingtonpost.com, May 12, 2009
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley won a victory against the Goldman Sachs Group Monday, forcing the financial firm to cut a $10 million check to the state and pony up $50 million to help around 700 homeowners pay subprime mortgages.
“Goldman Sachs is pleased to have resolved this matter,” says Michael DuVally, a Goldman spokesman, declining to comment further.
They were also pleased, no doubt, by the terms in the settlement that allowed Goldman to avoid admitting any wrongdoing. Letting Goldman off excuses what could have been criminal behavior, but it also brings relief to hundreds of homeowners and offers a roadmap to some sort of law-enforcement-driven solution where lawmakers have come up short.
Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said he wouldn’t “second guess” Coakley’s decision to settle short of criminal convictions. “I don’t know what other avenues she had available, but I will say this: Getting significant relief for 700 people is very important, both for them and for the economy. Now, that’s a legitimate consideration in getting it done more quickly than waiting for a couple years to go through the criminal procedure,” he tells the Huffington Post.
Rep. Bill Delahunt was a Massachusetts District Attorney for 23 years. He said balancing immediate justice for victims with bringing the white-collar criminals to justice can be difficult.
“You almost have to judge those on an ad hoc basis. There’s no formula,” he says in general, adding that he didn’t know enough about Coakley’s investigation to comment on her specific course of action.
“Clearly, there’s a preference to pursue them criminally because I think that creates deterrence,” he says. “You know, it’s difficult to deter a kid who’s going to rob a 7-11 store for 25 bucks but for people who are purportedly educated, or at least sophisticated, who defraud others, they’re more susceptible to being deterred.”
But the most sophisticated they are, the more they can drag out a prosecution. By the time they’re found guilty, half the victims may be out on the street, their homes foreclosed.
“It’s not always a perfect world and you can’t always secure the perfect justice,” says Delahunt. “It would appear that our attorney general did some good work that resulted in a very significant sum of money for redress by their behavior.”
Frank agrees. “I can’t tell exactly what the considerations were, but I’m inclined to think the value of getting immediate relief for 700 people and saving their homes, yeah, I’d trade off a little for that,” he says.
Goldman Sachs was not accused of originating the subprime loans in question, but rather investigated for facilitating the process by buying them and bundling them into securities without regard to whether the borrowers would be able to pay them back — or whether the borrowers or originators had followed reasonable lending practices or filed the appropriate paperwork.
“We will continue to investigate the deceptive marketing of unfair loans and the companies that facilitated the sale of those loans to consumers in the Commonwealth,” Coakley said in a statement. (Coakley’s press office did not return a call.)
The state attorney general’s office has previously pulled in more than $75 million from settlements with UBS, Morgan Stanley, Citibank, and Merrill Lynch, all related to the financial crisis.
But the U.S. attorney general would have a hard time making a similar case nationally. Coakely relied on stricter rules on subprime lenders who make “unfair” loans under state law.
Congressional Democrats hope to give the federal government the power some states now have. Last week, the House passed anti-predatory lending legislation that Coakley helped Frank’s committee draft.
“What we do in our bill is to go beyond any set of state laws,” says Frank, citing a requirement that five percent of the loan portfolio be kept by the company that originates the loan. Having that amount of skin in the game, he hopes, will persuade a lender to take a loan seriously.
The bill is now, like much else, stalled in the Senate.
Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) says that subprime lending reform is a lesser priority because the credit freeze has inadvertently dried up the business.
“That’s true right now but we cannot count on that being true forever,” says Frank. “You couldn’t count on getting a non-predatory loan a little while ago and it is true that the freeze has helped some. That’s true in some other areas as well. There aren’t a lot of credit default swaps being written.”
But, says Frank, the financial industry won’t have forgotten how to write a bad loan once the market thaws.
“It is important to get laws on the books, because this de facto moratorium isn’t going to last forever,” he says.
Ryan Grim is the author of the forthcoming book This Is Your Country On Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America
Tags: Abu Ghraib, aclu, addington, Alberto Gonzales, bagram, Bybee Memo, david addington, geneva conventions, government officials, Guantanamo, Guantanamo torture, howard rodman, International law, jay bybee, john yoo, John Yoo Memo, npr, Obama, office of legal counsel, olc, Politics News, rizzo, roger hollander, ruling class, sadism, steven bradbury, sylvia poggioli, torture, torture memo, War Crimes, william haynes
add a comment
Howard A. Rodman
www.huffingtonpost.com, April 17, 2009
President Obama did something which should be commonplace but which, in this terrible time, is now thought of as optional for high officials, which is to say, he obeyed the law. The law in this case required him, in response to an ACLU lawsuit, to disclose the Torture Memos, prepared by the Office of Legal Counsel under the Bush administration. (It is a sad testimony that doing as the law requires is, in our political climate, an act of bravery.)
The Torture Memos show an attention to the detail of pain reminiscent of The 120 Days of Sodom. They reveal that at the highest level we were a government of sadists, supported by a covey of lawyers (Yoo, Bybee, Addington, Bradbury, Rizzo, Gonzales–look at their faces, look at them) who felt their job was to come up with legal justifications for that sadism.
Yet even while the memos provide incontrovertible evidence of war crimes, President Obama ‘split the difference’ by stating that the torturers would not be held accountable for their actions. He said,
“This is a time for reflection, not retribution… nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.”
Isn’t “laying blame for the past” exactly what our justice system was designed to do? Isn’t that the basis of every criminal case in every criminal court in the nation?
The idea that criminal acts must, indeed should, go unpunished, if–and only if–they are committed by the ruling class or government officials, is at the heart of what’s wrong with our republic. It is as appallingly true with respect to the looting of the economy as it is with respect to the war crimes these memos disclose. (Note to NPR: if Sylvia Poggioli were kidnapped off the streets of Rome, put in a coffin-sized container, deprived of sleep for eleven consecutive nights, had her head slammed against a wall, were made to feel as if she were drowning, would you say that she had been subjected to “harsh interrogation techniques”? Or might you use the word torture?)