Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bush erasing access to history

The Bush Administration has been secretly reclassifying thousands of documents in a clandestine Review Process away from scrutiny. This administration is covering its tracks and erasing history. Can you spell Fascism?

read it

In a seven-year-old secret program at the National Archives, intelligence agencies have been removing from public access thousands of historical documents that were available for years. Because the reclassification program is itself shrouded in secrecy - governed by a still-classified memorandum that prohibits the National Archives even from saying which agencies are involved - it continued virtually without outside notice until December 2005.

Now if a history professor, a writer, or a citizen is in possession of information formerly declassified but now considered secret—they can be arrested and convicted.

The most secret administration in US history... with most of its advisors having served for Nixon and during the Iran-Contra scandals.... now they are covering up history.

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................ for now!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Torture Followup

In mid-2003, when the Iraqi resistance erupted, the United States found it had no intelligence assets; it had no way to contain the insurgency, and they -- the U.S. military was in a state of panic. And at that moment, they began sweeping across Iraq, rounding up thousands of Iraqi suspects, putting many of them in Abu Ghraib
prison. At that point, in late August 2003, General Miller was sent from Guantanamo to "Gitmo-ize" Abu Ghraib. He brought his techniques with him, the manual of his techniques. He gave them to the M.P. officers, the Military Intelligence officers and to General Ricardo Sanchez, the U.S. Commander in Iraq.

In September of 2003, General Sanchez issued orders, detailed orders, for expanded interrogation techniques beyond those allowed in the U.S. Army Field Manual 3452. He orders in essence, a combination of self-inflicted pain, stress positions, sensory disorientation, cultural attacks and the use of BISCUIT teams with psychologists.

And it was Rumsfeld in the margins of a memo he wrote, "I stand at my desk eight hours a day." he has a specially made podium desk,"How come we're limiting these stress techniques to four hours?"An with that... our Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld opened the door to the hideous torture images we again see today.

Of course he is not liable and as his ministers of propaganda all say "The bad apples have been brought to justice.... America should not be subjected to seeing these aggredious images... they only serve to stir discontent." But in April 2004 when the photos first went public CBS news and the Times wrote this was the work of creeps, just abuse by a few people on the night shift. “Recycled hillbillies from Cumberland, Maryland.” In other words, we could blame these bad apples. But these photos clearly show all the textbook trademarked and newly revised C.I.A. psychological interrogation techniques: self-inflicted pain, sensory disorientation,and cultural psyche attacks.

You might be interested to know only seven low-ranking soldiers have been charged and found guilty of these acts. Lindy Englund and Charles Grainer will serve less than ten years in prison for their roles in this scandal. The latest release of photos show thousands of examples of abuse and torture.... not just a few bad apples.

And just last week, while American peace activist Teresa Grady and four others, known as the St. Patricks Four, were sentenced to four months in prison each for spilling their own human blood at a military recruiting station in upstate New York to protest
the Iraq war, a military jury in Colorado decided not to jail an Army interrogator even though he was found guilty of negligent homicide in the torturing and killing of an Iraqi detainee.

Today's news reported that a judge has thrown out the case against Maher Arar, the Canadian-Syrian who was arrested while on lay-over at JFK airport. Who became our first case of known "extraordinary rendition" a man who was secretly flown to Syria, kept in an under-ground “grave-like” cell, subject to sensory disorientation for almost a year. Clearly,this administration is laying the groundwork for a system that operates above the law and without regulation. From torture to invasion of privacy. Now that the highest court in the land has been seeded with justices that have proven records against civil rights in favor or corporate or government rule, we can expect to see many more such abuses to human rights.

"Torture is an extraordinarily dangerous thing. There's an absolute ban on torture for a very good reason. Torture taps into the deepest recesses, unexplored recesses of human consciousness, where creation and destruction coexist, where the infinite human capacity for kindness and infinite human capacity for cruelty coexist, and it has a powerful perverse appeal, and once it starts, both the perpetrators and the powerful who order them, let it spread, and it spreads out of control."—Alfred McCoy

When the Bush administration gave those orders for, basically, techniques tantamount to torture at the start of the war on terror, one could only hope it was their intention that these be limited to top al-Qaeda suspects. But within months, we were torturing hundreds of Afghanis at Bagram near Kabul, and a few months later in 2003, through these techniques, we were torturing literally thousands of Iraqis. And you can see in those photos, beyond the details of the techniques that have been described, you can see how once it starts, it becomes this Dantesque Hell, this kind of play-palace of the darkest recesses of human consciousness.

That’s why it’s necessary to maintain a no-torture policy. There is no such thing as a little bit of torture. The whole myth of scientific surgical torture, that torture advocates, academic advocates in this country came up with, that's impossible. That cannot operate. It will inevitably spread.

But, one of the problems of talking about this topic in the US, is that we've been conditioned to regard all of this as “torture light,”— not really torture. And we're the only country in the world that does that. The U.N. Anti-Torture Convention defines torture as the infliction of severe psychological or physical pain. The U.N. convention in 1994 banning torture gave equal weight to psychological and physical techniques. But we alone, as a society, somehow exempt all of the psychological techniques.

The reasons date back to the way we ratified the U.N. convention in the first place, and who did the drafting.Back in the early 1990s, when the US was emerging from the Cold War, we began a process of disarming ourselves and getting beyond all of these cold war techniques, trying to sort of bring ourselves in line with rest of the international community. When President Clinton sent the U.N. Anti-Torture Convention to the U.S. Congress for ratification in 1994, he included four detailed paragraphs of reservations that had, in fact, been drafted by the Reagan administration, and when he adopted them without so much as changing a semicolon. He basically outlawed only physical torture. The reservations were carefully written by then Department of Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, to avoid one word —in the 26 printed pages. The word, "mental" was exempted allowing psychological torture.

Now, another problem for the United States, as well, was when the U.S. Army, again under the watchful eyes of Dick Cheney, re-wrote the Army Field Manual in 1992, with the intention of strictly observing the letter and the spirit of the U.N. Anti-Torture Convention and other similar treaties.

So what happened is that when the Defense Department gave orders for extreme techniques, when General Sanchez gave orders for his techniques beyond the Army Field Manual, what that meant is when the soldiers like Grainer, were actually investigated, they had committed crimes under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. They were prosecuted, and sent to jail. No ties up the ladder... except to Cheney?

Most Americans think that it's over, that in last year, December 2005, the U.S. Congress passed the McCain Torture Ban (Detainee Treatment Act), barring all inhumane or cruel treatment. Written, at least the first draft, by Sen John McCain who endured torture while a POW in Korea. Most people think that’s it, that it’s over, right?

In reality, the Bush administration fought that amendment tooth and nail; they fought it with loopholes. Vice President Dick Cheney went to Senator McCain and asked for a specific exemption for the C.I.A. McCain refused. The National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, went to McCain and asked for certain kinds of exemptions for the C.I.A. Again, he refused. So they started amending it introducing loopholes.

The Bush ordered torture right at the start of the War On Terror... President Bush said right on September 11, 2001, when he addressed the nation saying, “I don't care what the international lawyers say. We’re going to kick some ass.” Those were his words, and then it was up to his legal advisors in the White House and the Justice Department to translate his otherwise unlawful orders into legal directives, and they did it by crafting three very controversial legal principles.

, the President, as Commander-in-Chief, could override laws and treaties. —The Unitary Executive Theory.

Two, plausible defenses for C.I.A. interrogators who engage in torture. There were two, first they played around with the word "severe," that torture is the infliction of severe pain. That's when Jay Bybee, who was Assistant Attorney General, wrote that memo in which he said, “’severe’ means equivalent to organ failure,” in other words, right up to the point of death. The other, was that they came up with the idea of intentionality. If a C.I.A. interrogator tortured, but the aim was information, not pain, then he could say that he was not guilty.

The third principle, which was crafted by John Yoo, was Guantanamo is not part of the United States; it is exempt from the writ of U.S. courts.

Now, in the process of passing the McCain torture prohibition, the White House has cleverly twisted the legislation to re-establish these three key principles. In his signing statement on December 30, President Bush said “I reserve the right, as Commander-in-Chief and as head of the unitary executive, to do what I need to do
to defend America.”

The next thing that happened is that McCain, as a compromise, inserted into the legislation a provision that if a C.I.A. operative engages in inhumane treatment or torture but believes that he or she was following a lawful order, then that's a defense. So they got the second principle, defense for C.I.A. torturers.

The third principle was – is that the White House had Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina amend McCain’s amendment by inserting language into it, saying that for the purposes of this act, the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay is not on U.S. territory,

and last month -- the Bush administration has gone to federal courts and said, “Drop all of your habeas corpus suits from Guantanamo.” There are 160 of them. They've gone to the Supreme Court and said, “Drop your Guantanamo case.”

They have, in fact, used that law to quash legal oversight of their actions.Just like that shown by Canadian Citizen, Maher Arar, wrongfully imprisoned for a year in a secret Syrian torture prison, subjected to textbook C.I.A. counterintelligence techniques, and now, powerless to do anything about it.

Welcome to the new United States of America.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

CIA Torture Techniques

What lies behind the shocking images of torture at Abu Ghraib? Lets look at the history of the CIA and torture techniques. The International Committee of the Red Cross, Amnesty International and other human rights groups say the recently released images of abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib show a clear violation of international humanitarian law. The U.S. made a pledge against torture when Congress ratified the UN Convention Against Torture in 1994 - but it was ratified with reservations that exempted the CIA’s psychological torture method.

A new expose gives an account of the CIA’s secret efforts to develop new forms of torture spanning fifty years. It reveals how the CIA perfected its methods, distributing them across the world from Vietnam to Iran to Central America, uncovering the roots of the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo torture scandals. The book, written by UW-Madison history professor, Alfred McCoy is titled "A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War on Terror." He also authored “The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade.”

If you look at the most famous of photographs from Abu Ghraib, of the Iraqi standing on the box, arms extended with a hood over his head and the fake electrical wires from his arms, you can see the entire 50-year history of C.I.A. torture. It's very simple. He's hooded for sensory disorientation, and his arms are extended for self-inflicted pain.

And those are the two very simple fundamental C.I.A. techniques, developed at enormous cost. From 1950 to 1962, the C.I.A. ran a massive research project, a veritable Manhattan Project of the mind, resulting in the creation of the 1963 C.I.A. Counterintelligence Manual called Kubark. Spending over $1 billion a year they tried to crack the code of human consciousness, from both mass-persuasion and the use of coercion in individual interrogation. And what they discovered -- they tried LSD, they tried mescaline, they tried all kinds of drugs, they tried electroshock, truth serum, sodium pentathol. None of it worked.

What worked was very simple behavioral findings, outsourced to our leading universities -- Harvard, Princeton, Yale and McGill. The first breakthrough came at McGill. Dr. Donald O. Hebb of McGill University, a brilliant psychologist, had a contract from the Canadian Defense Research Board, which was a partner with the C.I.A. in this research, and he found that he could induce a state of psychosis in an individual within 48 hours. It didn't take electroshock, truth serum, beating or pain.

All he did was have student volunteers sit in a cubicle with goggles, gloves and headphones, earmuffs, so that they were cut off from their senses, and within 48 hours, denied sensory stimulation, they would suffer, first hallucinations, then ultimately a breakdown. And if you look at many of those photographs, what do they show? They show people with bags over their heads. If you look at the photographs of the Guantanamo detainees even today, they look exactly like those student volunteers in Dr. Hebb’s original cubicle.

The second major C.I.A. breakthrough came in New York City at Cornell University Medical Center, where two eminent neurologists under contract from the C.I.A. studied Soviet K.G.B. torture techniques, and they found that the most effective K.G.B. technique was self-inflicted pain. You simply make somebody stand for a day or two. And as they stand -- okay, you're not beating them, they have no resentment -- you tell them, “You're doing this to yourself. Cooperate with us, and you can sit down.” And so, as they stand, what happens is the fluids flow down to the legs, the legs swell, lesions form, they erupt, they separate, hallucinations start, and the kidneys shut down.

The C.I.A. incorporated this at the Technical Services Division. Most of the in-house research involved drugs and all of the LSD experiments that we heard about for years, but ultimately those gave a negative result. All the drugs didn’t work. They caused disorientation and hallucinations, the information gleened through interrogation couldn't be trusted. But, what did work was this: Sensory Disorientation and Self-Inflicted Pain.

And in 1963, the C.I.A. codified these results in the so-called KUBARK Counterintelligence Manual. If you just type the word “KUBARK” into Google, you will get the manual, an actual copy of it, on your computer screen, and you can read the techniques. Read the report. But also read the footnotes, because that's where the behavioral research is. These findings produced a distinctively American form of torture, the first real revolution in the cruel science of pain in centuries, psychological torture, and it's the one that's with us today, and it's proved to be a very resilient, quite adaptable, and an enormously destructive paradigm. Let’s make one thing clear. Americans refer to this often times in common parlance as “torture light.” Psychological Torture, people who are involved in treatment tell us it’s far more destructive, does far more lasting damage to the human psyche than does physical torture. As Senator McCain said, himself, last year when he was debating his torture prohibition, faced with a choice between being beaten and psychologically tortured, I'd rather be beaten. Okay? It does far more lasting damage. It is far crueler than physical torture. This is something that we don't realize in this country. Now, another thing we see is those photographs is the psychological techniques, but the initial research basically developed techniques for attacking universal human sensory receptors: sight, sound, heat, cold, sense of time. That's why all of the detainees describe being put in dark rooms, being subjected to strobe lights, loud music, okay? That’s sensory deprivation or sensory assault. Okay, that was sort of the phase one of the C.I.A. research. But the paradigm has proved to be quite adaptable.

One of the things that Donald Rumsfeld did, right at the start of the war of terror, in late 2002, was to appoint General Geoffrey Miller to be chief at Guantanamo because the previous commanders were too soft on the detainees. General Miller turned Guantanamo into a de facto behavioral research laboratory, a kind of torture research laboratory. And under General Miller at Guantanamo, they perfected the C.I.A. torture paradigm. They added two key techniques. They went beyond the universal sensory receptors of the original research. They added to it an attack on cultural sensitivity, particularly Arab male sensitivity to issues of gender and sexual identity.

And then they went further still. Under General Miller, they created these things called “Biscuit” teams, behavioral science consultation teams, and they actually had qualified military psychologists participating in the ongoing interrogation, and these psychologists would identify individual phobias, like fear of dark or attachment to mother, and by the time we're done, by 2003, under General Miller, Guantanamo had perfected the C.I.A. paradigm, and it had a three-fold total assault on the human psyche: sensory receptors, self-inflicted pain, cultural sensitivity, and individual fears and phobia.

Now armed with these techniques, andthe Bush "Unitary Exuective Theory" the administration will be able to renegotiate the interpretation the Geneva Convention. Showing they will not physically harm prisoners... but will attain their objectives through much crueler methods, PsyOps.

Black Friday!

U.S. Judge Dismisses Maher Arar Lawsuit

A U.S. federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Canadian citizen against the U.S. government for detaining him and sending him to Syria where he was jailed and tortured. Maher Arar was the first person to mount a civil suit challenging the U.S. government policy known as extraordinary rendition. In October 2002, he was detained at JFK airport while on a stopover in New York. He was then jailed and secretly deported to Syria. He was held for almost a year without charge in an underground cell not much larger than a grave. Charges were never filed against him. The federal judge, David Trager, said he could not interfere in the case because it involves crucial national security and foreign relations issues. In Canada, Arar called the decision "very disappointing [and] emotionally very hard to digest." Barbara Olshansky of the Center for Constitutional Rights said the law group would still try to proceed with the case. She said "How can this Administration argue before a Federal Court Judge that its practice of outsourcing for interrogation under torture constitutes a state secret? This is a dark day indeed."

Senate Republicans Block Investigation Into NSA Spying

This update on http://beta.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifthe controversy over President Bush's warrant-less domestic spying program - on Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans have blocked a proposed investigation into the operation. On Thursday, Republican Senator Pat Roberts, chair of the Intelligence Committee said, his panel decided not to conduct an investigation. Roberts said he reached an agreement with the White House to consider legislation and provide more information to Congress on the eavesdropping program. The ranking Democrat on the committee -- Sen. John Rockefeller -- said "Today, the Senate Intelligence Committee once again abdicated its responsibility to oversee the intelligence activities of the United States."

Abu Ghraib abuse far more pervasive than ever revealed!

Lyndi England wasn't the only one torturing prisioners as she claimed. 546 pictures of dead prisoners, 660 pornographic photos, 93 videos of abuse and 1,325 images of torture...

Bush tries to sneak the sale of six major US seaportsto the Arabs!
UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT.... the arabs! Sold to United Arab Emerites for a paultry $6.8 Billion?

I thought this land was our land.... did anyone get to vote on this sale???