2:00PM Water Cooler 12/10/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Torture Report

VICE interviews torture shrink James Mitchell [VICE]. Background on Mitchell [Boing Boing]. Apparently $81 million is enough to buy a pleasant retirement in Florida as opposed, to, say, a compound in Uruguay under an assumed identity. Good jobs at good wages!

Whoever’s handling torturer George “Slam Dunk” Tenet’s PR needs to tell him to lose the sunglasses (pic); they make him look like he’s running a Banana Republic [Reuters]. Oh, wait…

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, says it’s “crystal clear” that the United States, which ratified the U.N. Convention Against Torture in 1994, must prosecute those who authorized and carried out torture [HuffPo]. Other international law experts agree [New York Times].

Human Rights Watch: “Obama’s refusal to enforce this unequivocal prohibition means that torture effectively remains a policy option rather than a criminal offense” [Reuters]. Mission accomplished!

Rockefeller and Levin: DOJ should consider prosecutions [Bloomberg]. Of course, I remember very well the swelling tide of “progressive” calls for impeaching Bush over warrantess surveillance when the Democrats were out of office, which promptly died as soon as the Democrats took office, and Pelosi took impeachment off the table. So some sort of tangible proof, some skin in the game, that they’re not running the same play again, a decade later, would be welcome.

Op-Ed: “Prosecute torturers. It’s the law” [Los Angeles Times].

Op-Ed: “It is hard to believe that anything will be done now” [New York Times].

ACLU, Center for Constitutional RIghts, Reprieve call for “legal accountability” [The Intercept]. Torturers are “still being feted on book tours and talk shows.”

Shocker: DOJ says no to prosecutions [HuffPo].

“Instead of prosecuting torturers, Obama prosecuted the guy who revealed the program” [Vox]. That’s not a bug. It’s a feature.

Feds, in the person of Preet Bharara, move to shut down New York Times FOIA suit over CIA destruction of torture videotapes [PDF]. Note the subtext of evidence destruction on this timeline [New York Times].

CIA itself admits: “CIA needs to develop the structure, expertise, and methodologies required to more objectively and systematically evaluate the effectiveness of our covert actions” [Council on Foreign Relations]. So, we “tortured some folks” and blew some faraway brown people to pink mist with drone strikes just for the hell of it?

Aleksander Kwasniewski, Poland’s President at the time of the CIA’s black sites there, admits for the first time the black sites existed, says he didn’t know torture went on there, calls for torturers to be prosecuted [International Herald-Tribune].

American “support” for torture heavily dependent on questions used in polls [WaPo].

Froomkin does a close read of the report [First Look]. Well worth a read, like everything Froomkin writes. My favorite fact nugget:

Bush and others frequently said that information gained by waterboarding led to the disruption of a plot by U.S. citizen Jose Padilla in Chicago that involved blowing up apartment buildings in the United States and possibly “using a ‘dirty bomb’ in the U.S.

But the Senate report discloses that that Padilla and his associate, Binyam Mohammed, conceived what the CIA called the “Dirty Bomb Plot” after reading a satirical magazine article, “How to Make Your Own H-Bomb,” that instructed would-be bomb makers to enrich uranium by putting liquid uranium hexafluoride in a bucket, attaching a six-foot rope to the bucket handle, and swinging “the rope (and attached bucket) around your head as fast as possible… for about 45 minutes.”

According to the Senate report, that’s exactly how Padilla was planning to build the “dirty bomb.”

Well, so much for the Padilla scare story. I only hope these lunatics haven’t gone into full Gaslight mode again, to “prove” how much we need them.


Is Steve Israel stupid, or evil? [Capital New York]. Now, there’s a strong case that Israel is evil — you don’t bat zero for the season without a plan — but I’ve got to say, today I’m with stupid. Israel to the DCCC’s biggest donors:

[ISRAEL:] Two months before the election I picked up on a mega-trend—a historic, acute and powerful anxiety among middle-class voters” Israel told the crowd, according to a person in the room.

Two months?! Two months?!?!

Jean Shaheen (D-NH) joins Warren in anti-Weiss fight [Talking Points Memo]. Hmm. New Hampshire.

Howard Dean endorses Hillary Clinton on Supreme Court picks, economy [Politico]. Shows “nervousness” among allies of Clinton of a “liberal uprising” [WaPo]. Well, they’ll have to take a scalp. Will Weiss’s scalp be big enough? But HoHo: If Clinton understands “the institutional imperatives” of the Supreme Court, is that really a unique selling proposition?

Democracy for America, founded by Dean, moves to support MoveOn in Warren draft effort [The Hill]. I guess the Obama for America crowd is too busy amassing Presidential Library loot to get involved in the mundane details of electoral politics….

Warren: “Third, and maybe you can help me understand this argument, people say opposition to Weiss is unreasonable because, wait for it, he likes poetry” [Talking Points Memo]. Impressive. That’s weapons-grade snark. When are we going to see some bankers, in orange jumpsuits, doing the perp walk on national TV?

Biden: “I honest to God haven’t made up my mind” [The Hill]; decision to come by spring or summer.

“War and Wall Street” are the two notes all Democratic populist insurgents strike: Sanders, Schweitzer, Webb. Warren strikes only the second [Reason]. “[T]his is the person MoveOn and Democracy for America are making a vehicle for their dreams of insurgency: a senator who never talks about empire.”

Budget deal guts McCain-Feingold spending limits for “national parties” to fund conventions, at request of RNC and DCN [WaPo]. Two parties, one system. I’m not sure, for example, if the Greens are considered a “national party.” Certainly they run everything on a shoestring, including their luxury skybox-less conventions.


Investec, the FTSE 250 banking and asset management, appropriates “I can’t breathe” to complain about regulation [Businessweek]. Classy move!

Ferguson residents point out Ferguson Commission doesn’t have anyone from Ferguson on it [St Louis NPR].

Ferguson businesses crowd-source for rebuilding [International Business Times].

More grand jury records released, but still not the Dorian Johnson transcript [USA Today].

Coverage of East Bay protests on Garner [San Francisco Chronicle].

Hong Kong

Admirality occupiers given 9:00AM Thursday deadline to leave [Hong Wrong].

Scholarism leaders advocate “linked hands” peaceful protest [Wall Street Journal].

Class Warfare

Budget deal allows “would for the first time allow the benefits of current retirees to be severely cut” [WaPo]. Wait. I thought a contract was a contract. Any word on this from Warren?


How Obama turned the State Department into Tammany Hall [Bloomberg]. Not just 35% “political appointees” as ambassadors, but throughout State via exceptions to hiring rules. Note that this can’t happen without Clinton and Kerry’s knowledge and consent.

Banker who uploaded Grand Caymans data to Wikileaks collapses at trial [Bloomberg].

Court raises bar for insider trading on appeal, throwing out Preet Bharara convictions [Business Week]. Wow. Even the pissant stuff gets harder.

Campaign contributions in the 2014 Senate race by industry. Handy chart [WaPo]. Two parties, one system. The money looks pretty evenly spread, to me.

America the Petrostate

Shell subcontractor pleads guilty to eight felonies in arctic drilling [Greenpeace].

News of the Wired

  • Dark days for liberal interventionist “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine; it doens’t work [WaPo].
  • Half of Americans don’t want their sons to play football [Bloomberg]. And 62% > $100K.
  • Man says police officer threatened to kill his dogs [FOX4KC]. A law professor, hence the coverage, and his continued presence on the face of the earth, alive.
  • Trope watch: Watermelons [The Atlantic].

    Free black people grew, ate, and sold watermelons, and in doing so made the fruit a symbol of their freedom. Southern whites, threatened by blacks’ newfound freedom, responded by making the fruit a symbol of black people’s perceived uncleanliness, laziness, childishness, and unwanted public presence.

  • Trope watch: Thugs [Gawker].
  • Obama writes his first line of code: “moveForward(100);” [HuffPo]. And I know the second: “dontLookBack();“.

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (craazy):


Yes, the flowers are there, under the earth!

Talk amongst yourselves!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. James Levy

    So, we “tortured some folks” and blew some faraway brown people to pink mist with drone strikes just for the hell of it?

    From what I can tell from just listening to people, the answer is “Hell, yeah.”

    Michael Ladeen said “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business,” and went on (to quote Wikipedia) to be a paid “consultant to the United States National Security Council, the United States Department of State, and the United States Department of Defense. He held the Freedom Scholar chair at the American Enterprise Institute where he was a scholar for twenty years and now holds the similarly named chair at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.” So showing a depraved indifference to human life and the laws we sent Germans to the gallows for breaking after WWII is not only mainstream, it is highly lucrative.

    Our elites have taken Ehrlichman’s testimony (“if the President does it, it can’t be illegal”) and have adopted it for the US imperial state as a whole. If “we” do it, it isn’t illegal, immoral, or a sign of our depravity. If the Russians, Palestinians, Iranians, or anyone else does the same things, it magically transmutes into all three.

    BTW, any mention in the report of the 5 men held in custody at Bagram that the US Air Force coroner declared homicides? I can’t bring myself to read the thing and find out if they bothered with specifics like that.

    1. Jim Haygood

      “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.”

      That’s right. Because every time we try it with a medium-sized crappy country … we lose.

  2. TheraP

    All those who aided, abetted, authorized, wrote tortured legal logic, designed and supervised torture, or prevented the turning over of war criminals to the World Court in The Hague must be arrested and sent off to be tried for their crimes – knowing that they will have the legal representation and humane treatment which they Denied to their victims.

    How can we expect the police to restrain themselves from executing citizens on our streets when the U.S. itself harbors war criminals it enabled?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe in the 1940s they could escape to Argentina or Brazil and kept a low profile.

      But not today, I don’t believe.

  3. dearieme

    “Investec, the FTSE 250 banking and asset management, appropriates “I can’t breathe” to complain about regulation [Businessweek]. Classy move!”

    Maybe their South African origin is showing.

  4. Ulysses

    Interesting comment from “Marmelade” on the Gawker “Thug” piece linked above:

    “In fact we’ve gone mad domestically and internationally at one and the same time, for fundamentally the same reason, with much the same result. The people who imagine America’s streets to be hellholes of dangerous non-whiteness where an embattled policeman’s only hope is to shoot first, ask questions later, are the same people who cling to the fantasy of the smirking (and, naturally, dark-skinned) terrorist who knows where The Bomb is hidden, and you only have two minutes to torture it out of him or all the innocents will die so torture is good.”

    9/11 was definitely the Reichstag burning moment for the authoritarian friendly segment of the U.S. population!

  5. Andrew Watts

    RE: CIA Torture Report (Part 8)

    (Note: The further I progress into the report the easier it is getting to read. That’s probably a good thing because maybe I’ll actually sleep tonight. Today my responses will be a combination of replies I owe to people from yesterday’s post and random observations I am making while reading it.)

    The original sin of the founding fathers of US intelligence hasn’t ever been extinguished. I believe that this is a direct result of Congress suppressing information during the Warren Commission hearings. CIA Director Richard Helms escaped jail time by deliberately threatening members of Congress with the revelation that he would publicly name whoever else was involved with the illegal activities of the Directorate of Operations. It’s probably unnecessary to say, but Congress folded in the face of these threats and Helms got away with a slap on the wrist. With prominent officials of the Bush Administration and CIA now claiming that they duly informed other individuals of the executive branch as well as Congress it appears that history is repeating itself.

    Is this a stratagem to avoid indictments or prison sentences? It would be entirely consistent with the previous actions of the executive branch. The truth of the matter has slowly leaked out over the years in any case and as Angleton has said this lack of accountability has turned everything to shit. Will Congress repeat the same mistake? I sincerely hope not.

    Congress must not be allowed to let history repeat itself. Otherwise there will be no redemption for the United States. By repeating the mistakes of the past they will be paving the road for more injustice down the road. This is the route they’re most likely to travel and I’ve never been more fearful about the future of this country.

    1. fresno dan


      “Korwin-Mikke said the leader of a nation only knows what his subordinates tell him”

      You know, I just read somewhere, just the other day, where some other country also had leaders who didn’t know all the bad things their underlings were up to….
      Was if Uruguay….no, no. Uganda???? no, no….Oh United….Arab Emigrates? Nah…
      Well, whatever country it was, we really shouldn’t expect the people who lead a country to actually know what is going on – can you even imagine what that would lead to!??!

      1. Andrew Watts

        “can you even imagine what that would lead to!??!”

        The total absence of plausible deniability? Probably the ridiculous situation we have right now.

    2. Paul Tioxon

      You need look no further than the Church Committee of the US Senate which revealed that despite the fervent desire of Richard M. Nixon to set up his own police state apparatus, the National Security Establishment had already set up much more than he wanted to at the time. Look up The Huston Plan which Nixon signed into law which enabled the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, Military Intelligence, along with other agencies to spy on American citizens, open their mail, review their tax returns, listen to their phone calls, track their movements and set up detention centers for the mass arrest of a list of dissidents upon the declaration of a national emergency. Nixon backed off of the Huston Plan at Hoovers objections, mainly due to his unwillingness to share all of the activity which he alone wanted to control with other agencies with the direction of the president and his full approval. Of course, all of these groups were already doing what Nixon wanted, but independently of his directives and one another.


    1. psychohistorian

      We are about to be “feared” into giving public backed financial cover for Wall St derivatives.

      It worked in 2008 and I expect it to work now, what has changed?

  6. Jim Haygood

    From Obama’s official statement:

    ‘Rather than another reason to refight old arguments, I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong—in the past.’



    Refight old arguments? Until yesterday, much of this information was classified, so it couldn’t be argued except with speculative assumptions. Twenty-four hours later, it’s ‘old news.’

    If only Hermann Göring had thought to offer the ‘Obama defense’ at Nuremberg: ‘Rather than refight old arguments, I hope that today’s hearing can help us leave these allegations where they belong — in the past.’

    But it’s anachronistic to project our flexible, post-modern democratic sensibilities onto the past, when people tended to be rather literal-minded about the rule of law and such. Fortunately, former professors of constitutional law are the best equipped to guide us past such hobgoblins of little minds.

    1. grayslady

      In a Real News Network interview, Marcy Wheeler says that Obama has been relying on Bush era memos related to the torture program for his drone program, so he can’t encourage prosecutions and further investigations without putting himself in the crosshairs. I wouldn’t count on Obama doing jack squat other than uttering a few meaningless platitudes.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      After more than a century of funding brain research, I think the people can be expected to digest and accept that exhortation to remain seated (on the couch), calm and sedated.

      “Revolution? Man, you need to take a pill to relax yourself. Be happy.”

    3. Doug Terpstra

      Right. How can we RE-fight arguments that have never been made in the first place? Isn’t that what investigations, prosecutions and trials are expressly for? Otherwise, why not simply suspend the rule of law? Abolish the [Ministry] of Justice? Why have a court system or trials if we’re just rehashing “old arguments”? This man is a lawyer? What a blithering idiot! He is actively aiding and abetting international crime, on this issue and a host of others as well.

    4. fresno dan

      Every crime is in the past….
      If only we had that Tom Cruse “future crime” minority report movie crime fighting capability.
      Than all these people who committed crimes in the past wouldn’t get away with them…
      Nah, wouldn’t work because somebody at the DoJ would write a memo saying that we don’t follow certain (i.e., any) laws…when we don’t wanna….

      C’mon, lets just stop the charade…..the government just does what it wants when it wants. The only time that isn’t true is when an elaborate theatrical production is put on to make you think the government is occasionally restrained. Kinda like the democrats pretending they are against the CIA….because REALLY, they had no idea of what was going on…No one is prosecuted, no one is convicted, no one is identified, no one is fired.
      We’re sheep and we’re stampeding to the abattoir…

  7. Andrew Watts

    RE: CIA Torture Report (Part 9)

    The big lie being propagated by the Obama administration, the media, and the US intelligence community is that these war crimes were perpetrated as a result of trauma in the post-9/11 years. Although this fits the narrative that is being woven by the report I still have my doubts. This is based upon what I’ve read and elaborated about the Warren Commission, the founding fathers of US intelligence, and especially the career of James Angleton. The spectre of J. Edgar Hoover was successfully exorcised from the national spirit through the efforts of Congress. It has clearly not successful at suppressing the dark side of the CIA which the actions of Angleton clearly overshadows to this day. On the other hand the NSA is a different matter entirely.

    The convergence of SIGINT and the computer tech industry in an atmosphere of ambiguity is something that I’m relatively comfortable with compared to this. The mass surveillance programs of the NSA are something I understood on a technical and personal level having largely grown up in the subculture which fostered it in part. The only thing missing was a higher level of oversight over the programs which directly affected the citizenry, a legislative and judicial branch which was both serious in it’s responsibilities and taken seriously by the intelligence community, and finally the implementation of FISA court reforms which the Warren Commission was unable to enact at the time of the court’s conception.

    By knowing that this report is only the beginning, only the surface level of what’s been done by the CIA, I cannot easily comprehend the events that are deliberately being suppressed and I wonder what else could be lurking behind this summary. This situation is pure insanity and even crazier considering that many people thought the truth would never see the light of day… and still do.

    1. DJG

      The big lie being perpetrated is that the CIA is a rogue agency, spending gazillions of dollars unsupervised. Dick Cheney proudly announced that the behavior was authorized. So that means prosecuting people in the CIA and in the government–Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations. That’s why Obama is getting all panicky, incoherent, and whiny, which is what he does when he has a crisis on his hands, especially one of his own making. He’s probably on the horn to Rahm by the hour. The solution: special prosecutors. indictments. letting them squeal on each other till the big boys get taken. This is how Sam Ervin and John Sirica handled Watergate, if I recall.

      1. Andrew Watts

        One of the things that I learned from the man who taught me to think about these matters is that the first thing you do when you’re analyzing a situation is to eliminate what you want to be true. It’s easy for the political class to say to itself “The CIA is a rogue intelligence agency!” instead of asking the question “How have we failed?”.

        I’ve been watching as many videos as I can find of Obama on the internet (including his appearance on the Colbert Report) and I have to say the man looks absolutely haunted. It’s as if the job of being president is a waking nightmare for him. Needless to say, I’m not a fan of Obama but sympathizing with him was the last thing I expected or wanted to feel.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Given what we now know, even from the executive summary, “crazier than a sh*thouse rat” seems to go for all of them. I’m not sure that knowing, from the full report, that they are “crazier than a [insert name of absolutely humongous rodent here]” adds all that much in terms of knowing what we need to do.

      (On the other hand, I would imagine foreign governments and intelligence agencies know far more than the American people….)

      1. Andrew Watts

        “I’m not sure that knowing, from the full report, that they are “crazier than a [insert name of absolutely humongous rodent here]” adds all that much in terms of knowing what we need to do.”

        If we want to make a full account of what’s happened we need to know how far it’s actually gone on. Congress failed to get it right the first time around with the Warren Commission’s failure to continue digging into the activities of the CIA. It was a half-measure that failed our country.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          True. Not quite the argument I’m making, but true. It’s like we need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission from 9/11 onward. Give ’em all pardons, like the ACLU says, in advance, just so we can find out what was done….

          1. Andrew Watts

            I think giving immunity in advance is foolish. Whoever was indicted wouldn’t have any incentive not to lie or cooperate in a cover up. I don’t know if that’s grounds for mass indictments or threatening to send Bush and Co. off to the Hague.

            I actually think I’d prefer Cheney or somebody else to start naming names instead of vague talk about who and what institutions were informed in advance or in the process of the torturing of prisoners. But I don’t have a clue what we’d start doing with everybody once we got a clear picture of how far this actually goes.

          2. Doug Terpstra

            Truth and reconciliation didn’t work out so well in South Africa after all, according to Naomi Klein. Today it’s as close as one can get to a neo-feudal neoliberal hell, the most unequal society on earth, with a Gini coefficient between .63 and .70 according to Wikipedia. Without accountability, there’s little deterrent or real reform. I’d advocate a “Truth and Retribution Commission”.

              1. Doug Terpstra

                Perhaps. It could have been worse, but IMO, Mandela was co-opted to be a cosmetic palliative much like Obama to preempt real change (note his sainthood by the establishment). If truth doesn’t yield genuine structural change, it’s purely academic. Faith without works is dead. Truth without consequences is like a diagnosis without treatment, leaving the tumor ro mestastasize. If any of the thieves, torturers, and murderers are not purged and sequestered (or executed), they will inevitably relentlessly re-infect the system.

                1. RWood

                  To raze: to scrape off, to demolish
                  1) ‘You and what army?’
                  2) And if 1, then what?
                  3) Well, maybe just one…
                  4) whatamidoinhere?

  8. Will

    I love the line of code. As any coder knows, that line only ‘calls’ another function, but the name of that the function and the body, or content – what the function actually accomplishes in the computer – may have nothing to do with the title. So that one ‘call’ moveForward(100); could lead to functions looking like either of these:
    void moveForward(int) {
    void moveForward(int) {
    So yeah, just like his words, one must ask what his code accomplished behind the scenes…

  9. Jim Haygood

    From Bloomberg:

    Traders are almost certain that Venezuela will teeter into default as bonds plunge to a 16-year low and the cost of default protection soars to a record.

    The upfront cost of five-year credit-default swaps jumped to 59.42 percent, pushing the implied probability of default over that time span to 93 percent, the highest in the world.

    “It’s a perfect storm,” Ray Zucaro, who helps oversee about $450 million at SW Asset Management LLC, said in a telephone interview from Miami. “The bus is going downhill and it doesn’t have breaks [sic] now.”



    Nope, Venezuela’s not getting any ‘breaks.’ Even if crude has hit bottom, Venezuela’s model was still broken back when crude was at $100. Crude at $60 simply advances the reset date, when the bolivar must be turned loose to float at its true value, at about 5 percent of the wholly fictitious official exchange rate.

  10. L.M. Dorsey

    “[C]e «centre de tri» n’était pas seulement un lieu de tortures pour les Algériens, mais une école de perversion pour les jeunes Frainçais.” Henri Alleg, La Question (1958)

    A school of perversion for the young, with whom — and is it not just? — we will now have to live.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Anthony Harwood, writing in British newspaper The Mirror, 15 May 2004:

      Disgraced US soldier Lynndie England was filmed having sex in front of Iraqi prisoners, it was claimed last night.

      Depraved pictures of the reservist in a series of sex acts with different colleagues have been handed to senators in America. One said: “She was having sex with numerous partners. It appeared to be consensual. Almost everyone was naked all the time.”

      Senator Norm Coleman added: “It was pretty disgusting, not what you’d expect from Americans. There was lots of sexual stuff, not of the Iraqis, but of our troops.”



      ‘Not what you’d expect from Americans’?

      Obviously Senator Coleman didn’t get out much.

  11. Andrew Watts

    RE: CIA Torture Report (Part 10)

    A previous comment I made awhile back on Naked Capitalism that was inspired by Reinhold Niebuhr. Lambert, please forgive the re-post of it.

    “It would be a mistake to ascribe all the injustice that has been inflicted to a simple-minded explanation of evilness. While it provides the necessary morale to combat injustice, this attitude paves the road for the creation of more injustice further down the line. When an individual or a group is blind to their own capacity for injustice they rationalize any evils that they commit in the course of their righteous cause. To commit evil one must believe himself to be good.”

    It’s important that people try to be open minded about this. In fact it’s even more necessary when the people who are culpable attempt to brush off the brutality that was inflicted based upon their decisions. As impossible as that may seem in the face of the CIA torture report, It’s too easy to get self-righteous which is neither productive nor constructive. That doesn’t mean we should accept anything that’s happened by the way.

    1. fresno dan

      That’s a very good point.
      “To commit evil one must believe himself to be good.”
      Think of the inquisition, slavery as God’s will, – I dunno – did Genghis Khan say that conquest was Mongol manifest destiny?

      Humans seem able to take a wrong committed against themselves, and use that to rationalize the most appalling behavior out of all proportion to the wrong…

    2. psychohistorian

      Thank you for your commenting about the torture report.

      It will be interesting to see how America resolves the glaring hypocrisy it is being forced to confront. You have the report on one hand and Fox “news” telling us America is awesome on the other.

      If none at the top are held responsible the slope to the bottom will get steeper and the pace towards it faster.

      The only concern I have now is that these folks are shown by this report to be clearly crazy enough to take the world down before being made responsible for their actions. We can only hope that there are enough sane adults in the chain of command to see that nuclear winter does not happen, even if threatened so.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Like ordinary Third Reich Germans taken to see die Konzentrationslager, all Americans should go and see those torture sites.

    3. steviefinn

      One of the things that surprised the psychologists who interviewed the prisoners at Nuremburg was the fact that many of them especially the camp commanders were good family men & to all appearances normal – who acted as though their job was just another day at the office. The Stanford experiment was a good illustration of how ordinary people can act if given total power over others – even if they are of the same group, never mind if they are classed as unter-mensch, of a different race, colour or perceived as a threat:


      1. steviefinn

        The Stanford experiment is featured on this video – ” The 5 steps to tyranny ”

        At least you guys have been allowed a glimpse of the truth, us Brits were also involved but there is unlikely to be an inquiry even though Cameron with a straight face declared that he condemned torture.

        BTW – A brilliant collection of comments.


    4. L.M. Dorsey

      To commit evil one must believe himself to be good.
      Alas, no. All men may desire the good, as Plato claims, but what they do — as you say — is an entirely different matter. For evil to be done simply requires evil to be done.

      1. hunkerdown

        I see what you did there with the passive voice, and I’m not buying it. “Mistakes were made…”

  12. Bill Frank

    i am not a religious person but I do believe in the concept of Karma. With that in mind, I truly fear for the people of this nation because we will receive the payback for all the evil deeds sanctioned by our “leaders.”

    1. tyaresun

      Karma is already working, all the violence by our militarized police inside USA is payback for training these same folks to commit violence in far off countries. The same applies to financial crimes, we first trained these criminals in the fine art of regulatory capture in far off countries, and they are now using the lessons at home.

      1. cwaltz

        What’s this “we” stuff? I’m pretty sure most of the people here have been vocally opposed to the violence and the exploitation that we’ve seen utilized overseas.

    2. different clue

      But the leaders will get off scot-free and some of them with multimillion dollar retirements. Where’s the karma in that? What karma for Bush? Pelosi? Obama? etc.?

  13. myshkin

    Liberation – Abena Busia – 199?

    We are all mothers.
    and we have that fire within us.,
    of powerful women
    whose spirits are so angry
    we can laugh beauty into life
    and still make you taste
    the salt tears of our knowledge-
    For we are not tortured
    we have seen beyond your lies and disguises,
    and we have mastered speech
    And know
    we have also seen ourselves
    We have stripped ourselves raw
    and naked piece by piece until our flesh lies flayed
    with blood on our own hands
    What terrible thing can you do to us
    which we have not done to ourselves?
    What can you tell us
    which we didn’t deceive ourselves with
    a long time ago?
    You cannot know how long we cried
    until we laughed
    over the broken pieces of our dreams.
    shattered us into such fragments
    we had to unearth ourselves piece by piece,
    to recover with our own hands such unexpected relics
    even we wondered
    how we could hold such treasure.
    Yes, we have conceived
    to forge our mutilated hopes
    into substance of visions
    beyond your imaginings
    to declare the pain if our deliverance
    So do not even ask,
    do not ask what it is we are labouring with this time.
    Dreamers remember their dreams
    when we are disturbed-
    And you shall not escape
    what we will make
    of the broken pieces of our lives.

  14. anonymous123

    Re: Berkeley protests, I also recommend http://www.berkeleyside.com. They are our local blog and have had their one full-time reporter on the ground at the protests since Saturday. Theirs has been the most extensive coverage I’ve seen.

    It’s only 2:30pm here and the news helicopters are already out and circling downtown. I can see them just sitting there in the air….very strange for it to be so early. They’ve been nonstop after dark every night until the wee hours of the morning, since Saturday.

  15. hunkerdown

    Bob Cringely on executive ego and the Sony Pictures hack. “[T]herein lies the basic problem that IT can no longer stand up to executive management’s need for Twitter.” A comment by “schadenfreude” [sic] reminds us this *was* the conglomerate that implanted their very own rootkit onto several million PCs as punishment for buying their content, so perhaps this is the threefold law at work.

  16. Andrew Watts

    RE: CIA Torture Report (Part 11 ~ The End?)

    It appears that the FBI has remained untouched by the madness that has afflicted the CIA. The FBI interrogations of some of the very same prisoners did not involve torture nor were they even aware of some of the “intelligence” the CIA was extracting from them under duress. There is also this curious incident from the report.

    “On April 24, 2003, PBI Director Robert Mueller began seeking direct PBI access to KSM in order to better understand CIA reporting indicating threats to U.S. cities. Despite personal commitments from DCI Tenet to Director Mueller that access would be forthcoming, the CIA’s CTC successfully formulated a CIA position whereby the FBI would not be provided access to KSM until his anticipated transfer to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Neither the CIA nor the FBI knew at the time that the transfer would not occur until September 2006.” -Pg 119 (pdf)

    Can we trust that the FBI is devoid of any guilt? The answer appears to be yes. The FBI didn’t meet the high value prisoner they wanted until, and this is according to the report, most of the enhanced interrogations were officially ended in late 2006. This was due in no small part to unauthorized media disclosures. We are free to speculate who the neo-Deep Throat was.

    “In April 2006, *redacted* informed CIA officers that press stories on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program led the *redacted* government to prohibit redacted from providing “information that could lead to the rendition or detention of al-Qa’ida or other terrorists to U.S. Government custody for interrogation, including CIA and the Department of Defense.” -Pg 179 (pdf)


    “After publication of the Washington Post article, *redacted* Country X demanded the closure of DETENTION SITE BLACK within *REDACTED* (A.Watts: “Oh c’mon!”) hours. The CIA transferred the *REDACTED* remaining CIA detainees out of the facility shortly thereafter.” -Pg. 179-180 (pdf)

    According to the Washington Post, DETENTION SITE BLACK is Romania. Now we’re beginning to see the events that led to the widespread persecution of whistle blowers. It was all to cover up the torture of prisoners. Not only that it appears the CIA (and possibly the DNI? the Bush Administration?) was trying to keep it going.

    “Meanwhile, the pressures on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program brought about by the Washington Post prompted die CIA to consider new options among what it called the “[d]windling pool *redacted* partners willing to host CIA Blacksites.” -Pg. 180

    Okay. I think that’s enough for today!

    1. Andrew Watts

      Oops. Somehow that got messed up. haha!

      ““On April 24, 2003, PBI Director Robert Mueller began seeking direct PBI access to KSM in order to better understand CIA reporting indicating threats to U.S. cities. Despite personal commitments from DCI Tenet to Director Mueller that access would be forthcoming, the CIA’s CTC successfully formulated a CIA position whereby the FBI would not be provided access to KSM until his anticipated transfer to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Neither the CIA nor the FBI knew at the time that the transfer would not occur until September 2006.” -Pg 119 (pdf)”

      PBI = FBI

    2. TheraP

      Your comment jogged my memory. Some years back I wrote a blog related to an FBI agent’s successful interrogation of one prisoner, prior to the CIA taking over (more like, completely fouling up) his “interrogation” – which led me to conclude that the CIA contractors not only designed torture but did it via human experimentation – which is also a war crime. Here’s the link, with quotes, and some links to the agent’s actual testimony as well as Marcy Wheeler’s blogging on the testimony at that time. If not all the links are in my blog, it will give you somewhere to start and some reasons to conclude that, yes, the FBI was more professional in doing interrogations and that they refused to participate once the CIA went off the rails with these psychologist interrogators. (I accidentally just misspelled “interrogators” and the spell-check corrected it. BUT the misspelling is actually a more accurate term for what occurred: in-errogators. I had to add the dash to subvert the spell-check.)

      Here’s the link to that old blog: http://therapysblog-fromtpm.blogspot.com/2010/09/human-experimentation-is-war-crime.html

      1. TheraP

        Just wanted to add that there is a useful discussion below the blog with further info and some useful links.

  17. Jay M

    Is there some terrible irony in setting up one of our torture sites “behind” the former “Iron Curtain”, but also in the former demesne of Nicolae Ceausescu, whose Securitate was one of the most brutal in the world (Wikipedia). Did they just have to dust off the torture chambers and advertise on the Bucharest Craigslist for help, “experience required, discreet”?

  18. Jeff W


    The “Other international experts agree” link for the NY Times goes to an (apparently unrelated) article “Spending deal would allow wealthy donors to dramatically increase giving to national parties” in the Washington Post.

  19. charger

    Re: torture report- the only emotion I have to this news is righteous anger. White-hot, unrelenting anger. As a millennial, it serves as a vivid reminder of how the previous generation has permanently altered our future. We won’t have a Warren or Percora commission to assist normal citizens with discovering the truth. To borrow a phrase, no one will be held accountable, this is now policy. God help us all. This has been your minute of despair. Now back to your regular scheduled program.

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