Archive for the ‘Bush Administration’ Category
Juan Cole posts at Informed Comment:
Bombings killed at least 95 people on Monday in Iraq, with 10 car bombs going off in the capital of Baghdad alone. Two car bombs were detonated in the southern Shiite port city of Basra, and the mostly Sunni city of Samarra north of the capital was also attacked. Most of the violence seems to have been aimed at Shiites.
The Sunni-Shiite violence is a legacy of the way George W. Bush and the Neoconservatives governed Iraq in 2003-2008. They deliberately installed the Shiites in power, in an exclusivist sort of way. I remember Neoconservative strategist Marc Gerecht Reuel talking about the goal of putting the Shiites in power. His colleague James Woolsey, a former CIA head, upbraided me at a conference for pointing out that some Iraqi Shiite groups are closely tied to the ayatollahs in Iran. I read somewhere that the Neoconservatives were convinced that unlike the Sunni Iraqis under Saddam Hussein, who sympathized with the Palestinians, the Shiite Iraqis as a functional minority would sympathize with Israel’s Jews. The Neocons were real cut-ups, with all kinds of fancy theories unconnected to reality.
The Americans played strong favorites for years. They avoided having a truth and reconciliation process. They castigated the Sunni Arabs, many of whom had had ties to the Baath Party (r. 1968-2003), as little short of Nazis, and encouraged the Shiites to fire thousands of them from government employment. At the same time the Americans closed down state factories and created massive unemployment. A ‘Debaathification Commission’ fired thousands of Sunni schoolteachers and brought in Shiite cronies instead.
Whereas in South Africa the truth and reconciliation commission sought truth over punishment, in Iraq the ascendant Shiites marginalized and victimized Sunnis with ties to the old Baath (or even just ties to Sunnis who had ties to . . .)
Those Sunnis who formed cells to engage in bombings and sniping to get the Americans back out, bequeathed a legacy of such cells, which remain active, now aimed at preventing the Shiite establishment that inherited Iraq from enjoying its ascendancy.
In all of Iraqi history from the Sumerians until 2003 there had never been a suicide bombing in that country. The technique was adopted to fight Bush’s occupation, having been pioneered by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.
And now, having screwed up Iraq royally over years, Americans can’t be bothered to even report on events there in more than a sentence on their television news. . .
Continue reading. Those in the Bush Administration guilty for creating the conditions for these atrocities will never face any accountability for their actions.
George W. Bush famously explained the reasons why terrorist act: They hate our freedoms. An alternative motivation becomes available with the explicit written explanation by one of the Boston bombers. Ray McGovern at ConsortiumNews.org:
Quick, somebody tell CIA Director John Brennan about the handwriting on the inside wall of the boat in which Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was hiding before Boston-area police riddled it and him with bullets. Tell Brennan that Tsarnaev’s note is in plain English and that it needs neither translation nor interpretation in solving the mystery: “why do they hate us?”
And, if Brennan will listen, remind him of when his high school teachers, the Irish Christian Brothers, taught him the meaning of “handwriting on the wall” in the Book of Daniel and why it became an idiom for predetermined, imminent doom.
CBS senior correspondent John Miller, who before joining CBS served in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, broke the handwritten-note story Thursday onCBS This Morning. He described what Dzhokhar Tsarnaev scribbled on the side of the boat as he lay bleeding “from multiple gunshot wounds” in the boat. Here, according to Miller’s sources, is what Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s note said:“The [Boston] bombings were in retribution for the U.S. crimes in places like Iraq and Afghanistan [and] that the victims of the Boston bombing were collateral damage, in the same way innocent victims have been collateral damage in U.S. wars around the world. Summing up, that when you attack one Muslim you attack all Muslims.”
My experience with now-CBS-This-Morning’s Charlie Rose is that he does listen closely. Thus, I believe it is to his credit that he seemed determined, with his follow-up question, to drive home what I think is by far the most important point:
Co-anchor Charlie Rose: “Does it [the note] answer questions about motives?”
Miller: “Well it does … there it is in black and white – literally.”
Co-anchor Norah O’Donnell: “But they still believe he was self-radicalized and not part of a larger group, right?”
Miller: “That’s right. …”
Note to CIA Director Brennan
If you didn’t understand much about such motives three years ago, after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to down an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, here’s a chance to learn. I actually felt embarrassed for you when you – then-White House counter-terrorism adviser – were asked on Jan. 7, 2010, two weeks after the almost-catastrophe over Detroit, to explain why people want to kill Americans. I’m sure you remember; it turned out to be Helen Thomas’s swan song.
It took the questioning of the then-89-year old veteran correspondent Thomas to show how little you were willing to share (or how little you knew) about what leads terrorists to do what they do. As her catatonic White House press colleagues took their customary dictation, Thomas posed an adult query that spotlighted the futility of government plans to counter terrorism with more high-tech gizmos and intrusions on the liberties and privacy of the traveling public.
She asked why Abdulmutallab did what he did: “And what is the motivation? We never hear what you find out on why.” It was a highly revealing dialogue; this is how it went. Remember?
You: “Al-Qaeda is an organization that is dedicated to murder and wanton slaughter of innocents. … They attract individuals like Mr. Abdulmutallab and use them for these types of attacks. He was motivated by a sense of religious sort of drive. Unfortunately, al-Qaeda has perverted Islam, and has corrupted the concept of Islam, so that he’s (sic) able to attract these individuals. But al-Qaeda has the agenda of destruction and death.”
Thomas: “And you’re saying it’s because of religion?”
You: “I’m saying it’s because of an al-Qaeda organization that used the banner of religion in a very perverse and corrupt way.”
You: “I think this is a — long issue, but al-Qaeda is just determined to carry out attacks here against the homeland.”
Thomas: “But you haven’t explained why.”
Actually, there is a ton of information explaining why people try, for example, to explode bombs in Times Square, in airliners over Detroit, in remote CIA outposts in Afghanistan just to kill Americans, even when it means killing themselves. [See, for example, Consortiumnews.com’s “Answering Helen Thomas on Why.”]
It was painful to watch you suggest on Jan. 7, 2010, that, apparently in some mysterious way, some folks are hard-wired at birth for the “wanton slaughter of innocents,” and your contention that – in the case of Abdulmutallab – al-Qaeda/Persian Gulf was able to jump-start that privileged 23-year old Nigerian, inculcate in him the acquired characteristics of a terrorist, and persuade him to do the bidding of al-Qaeda/Persian Gulf.
Your words were a real stretch as to how the well-heeled Abdulmutallab, without apparent prior terrorist affiliations, was suddenly transformed into an international terrorist ready to die while killing innocents.
Perhaps no one told you that . . .
Andrew O’Hehir points out the depth of Obama’s responsibility for Guantánamo:
Once upon a time, in the long-ago days of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, we may have had the worst and most abusive presidential administration in the history of the United States, but at least there was some moral clarity. You were on their side or you weren’t; you either bought into the idea that the “war on terror” was a special set of circumstances that required an immense expansion of executive power and the indefinite suspension of constitutional norms, or you didn’t. Nothing quite symbolized that division like the military detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. It was a locked-down and secretive facility in a country that didn’t want us there, where hooded and manacled men – in theory, the most violent and dangerous anti-American militants on the planet – were kept under mysterious conditions, denied the rights we routinely accord to suspected murderers and rapists, and subjected to interrogations we didn’t want to know about.
But as details about the conditions of detainment at Guantánamo began to leak, the place began to look not just abusive and nightmarish but also bureaucratic and buffoonish. Many of those who were being held captive in those egregious circumstances were low-level foot-soldiers, or even bystanders, who’d been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes there was a quality of grim farce about the whole thing, as in Michael Winterbottom’s 2006 film “The Road to Guantánamo,” which tells the true story of a group of British men captured while on their way to a wedding in Pakistan. The men languished in Gitmo for many months, even after it was clear they had no significant connections to al-Qaida or the Taliban. Indeed, of the 779 individuals who have been imprisoned there at one time or another since 2002, more than 600 have been released without ever being charged with anything, still less convicted.
Well, thank goodness for Barack Obama, right? Even if he hasn’t quite managed to get the place closed down, as he loudly and repeatedly promised he would, at least he got all those innocent or insignificant people released! Except that’s not how it happened. The vast majority of the detainee releases – 530 or so – occurred under Bush. Under Bush’s successor, Guantánamo Bay has become something that’s arguably even more disgraceful than a symbol of hyper-patriotic right-wing zealotry. It’s become forgotten, abandoned and swept under the rug. No one goes in and no one comes out. If the remaining 166 detainees at Guantánamo were originally swept up in a paranoid imperial overreach, that reaction was at least somewhat understandable. Today they are prisoners of political paralysis and political cowardice, which are inexcusable.
So it is that Obama, more than four years after signing an executive order to shut down the Guantánamo prison, found himself a few days ago mumbling defensively to the White House press corps that it might be time to “re-engage with Congress” on the issue. “It is not a surprise to me that we’ve got problems in Guantánamo,” he added. Well, it freakin’ well shouldn’t be, Mr. President. From the moment Obama became a presidential candidate in 2007, he campaigned vigorously against Guantánamo as a pillar of the flawed and failed Bush-Cheney war policy. He won the election and signed that executive order in his third day on the job, and then – once it became clear that House Republicans would be delighted to use the issue to depict him as a crypto-Muslim, terrorist-coddling pantywaist – let the whole thing drop. The rest of us, I’m afraid, mostly assumed that the right guy was in office and the right thing would be done eventually, and moved on.
But decisions made in the name of political expediency have a tendency to come back and bite you in the ass. (If Machiavelli never said that, he should have.) As theEconomist put it this week, , , ,
Ray McGovern writes at ConsortiumNews.com:
There have been nine congressional hearings on the Benghazi controversy – with more to come – but almost no one in Congress dares put the spotlight on the unfolding scandal surrounding the Guantanamo Bay prison where most of the remaining 166 inmates have opted to “escape” from indefinite detention via the only way open to them – starving themselves to death.
One exception to the congressional cowardice is Rep. Jim Moran, D-Virginia, who sponsored a highly instructive panel discussion on the prison at Guantanamo last Friday. Why simply a “briefing,” rather than a formal House hearing? Simple. Not one of the majority Republicans who currently chair committees in the House and have the power to call hearings wants Americans to hear the details of this blight on the nation’s conscience.
To be completely fair, the reigning reluctance seems, actually, to be a bipartisan affair. Moran is one of the few Democrats possessed of a conscience and enough moral courage to let the American people know what is being done in their name. For other lawmakers, it is a mite too risky.Folksy folks like Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, a member of the Armed Services Committee which is supposed to exercise oversight of the lethal operations carried out by the Joint Special Operations Command, make no bones about the dilemma they prefer to duck when it comes to letting detainees die at Guantanamo or letting the president blow up suspected terrorists via drone strikes.
Here’s Graham quoted in Esquire magazine last summer on why Congress has engaged in so little oversight of the lethal drone program: “Who wants to be the congressman or senator holding the hearing as to whether the president should be aggressively going after terrorists? Nobody. And that’s why Congress has been AWOL in this whole area.” The same thinking applies to showing any mercy for the people held at Guantanamo.
It seems to me that Guantanamo is a three-fold scandal: (1) the abomination of the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment given those prisoners; (2) the reality that most of those remaining were cleared for release more than three years ago; and (3) the fact that Moran’s was the very first congressionally sponsored public “briefing” of its kind – more than 11 years late.
While there has been endless attention paid to how the Benghazi talking points were drafted for use on Sunday talk shows last September, the American people have been spared high-profile testimony about how 86 of the remaining 166 prisoners at Guantanamo were cleared for release more than three years ago following a year-long investigation of their cases by an interagency task force of officials at the Departments of Justice, Defense, State, and Homeland Security.
How might Americans feel if they knew that most of these 86 are now on a prolonged hunger strike and that many are being force-fed against their will, a notoriously painful, degrading and even illegal practice. Two weeks ago, 40 additional military medical personnel were sent to Guantanamo to assist with the force-feedings.
The American Medical Association has condemned such force-feedings as a violation of “core ethical values of the medical profession.” The United Nations has condemned the practice as torture and a breach of international law.
Friday’s unusual “briefing” sprang from an initiative by a group of concerned citizens mostly from Moran’s district in northern Virginia. On April 30, Kristine Huskey led a small group of us to meet with Moran, one of the very few members of Congress to speak out against the obscenity called Guantanamo. We put our shoulders to the wheel (and enlisted the willing shoulders of many other pro-justice people) and brought about the briefing in nine days.
C-Span filmed the entire hour and a half. You will not be at all bored if you tune in. And that goes in spades if the lack of interest by the corporate media has left you wondering how it came about that America is fast losing its soul. You can find the video under the title, “Panel Holds Discussion on Guantanamo Detainees,” May 10, 10:00-11:30 in Rayburn B-354. Participants included: . .
The AP is beside itself with indignation that the DoJ got a bunch of their phone records—from a perfectly legal procedure using the Patriot Act. Oddly, they never had a problem with this sort of thing when it was happening to the public. I recall Jane Harman, when she was on the House Intelligence Committee, being furious that the Patriot Act was used to eavesdrop on her, although she had voted in favor the act—presuming, I imagine, that it would only be used on the common people, not on luminaries such as herself. I suppose some of the anger was because she was caught committing a crime.
Kevin Drum has a very good comment on this at Mother Jones:
The government has been obtaining phone records like this for over a decade now, and it’s been keeping their requests secret that entire time. Until now, the press has showed only sporadic interest in this. But not anymore. I expect media interest in terror-related pen register warrants to show a healthy spike this week.
That could be a good thing. It’s just too bad that it took monitoring of journalists to get journalists fired up about this.
Timothy also has a good column in the Washington Post:
On Monday the Associated Press reported that the Justice Department “secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press.” But here’s what’s really scary: The Justice Department’s actions are likely perfectly legal.
U.S. law allows the government to engage in this type of surveillance—on media organizations or anyone else—without meaningful judicial oversight.The key here is a legal principle known as the “third party doctrine,” which says that users don’t have Fourth Amendment rights protecting information they voluntarily turn over to someone else. Courts have said that when you dial a phone number, you are voluntarily providing information to your phone company, which is then free to share it with the government.
This all dates back to a 1979 Supreme Court decision. Police had asked the phone company for information about the numbers dialed from a robbery suspect’s phone. The suspect objected, pointing to a famous 1967 ruling holding that the Fourth Amendment requires a warrant to record the audio of a phone call. He argued that the same principle ought to apply when the government records information about the numbers a suspect dials.
The Supreme Court rejected this argument. “We doubt that people in general entertain any actual expectation of privacy in the numbers they dial,” Justice Harry Blackmun wrote for the court. He pointed out that telephone customers are used to seeing numbers they’ve dialed on their monthly telephone bill.
Blackmun’s reasoning may have turned on the fact that automatic dialing was a relatively new development in 1979. Previously, telephone users had to tell a human operator which number they wished to reach, making it plausible to regard the phone company as an active participant in the phone-dialing process, but a mere passive conduit in transmitting the phone call itself.
Technological progress has rendered this distinction increasingly dubious. For example, . . .
Peter Van Buren has a good post at Tom Dispatch. Here it is with a preface by Tom:
Indefinite detention of the innocent and guilty alike, without any hope of charges, trial, or release: this is now the American way. Most Americans, however, may not care to take that in, not even when the indefinitely detained go on a hunger strike. That act has certainly gotten Washington’s and the media’s collective attention. After all, could there be anything more extreme than striking against your own body to make a point? Suicide by strike? It’s the ultimate statement of protest and despair. Certainly, the strikers have succeeded in pushing Guantanamo out of the netherworld of non-news and onto front pages, into presidential news conferences, and to the top of the TV newscasts. That, in a word, is extraordinary. But what exactly do those prisoners, many now being force-fed, want to highlight? Here’s one thing: despite the promise he made on entering the Oval office, President Obama has obviously not made much of an effort to close the prison, which, as he said recently, “hurts us, in terms of our international standing… [and] is a recruitment tool for extremists.”
If Congress has been thoroughly recalcitrant when it comes to closing Guantanamo, the president’s idea of what shutting down that prison meant proved curious indeed. His plan involved transferring many of the prisoners from Cuba, that crown jewel of the offshore Bermuda Triangle of injustice that the Bush administration set up in January 2002, to a super-max-style prison in Illinois (“Gitmo North”). That would mean, of course, transferring indefinite detention from the offshore world of extraordinary rendition, black sites, and torture directly into the heart of the American justice system. Obama himself has indicated that at least 50 of the prisoners can, in his view, never be released or tried (in part because confessions were tortured out of some of them). They would be kept in what he, in the past, politely termed “prolonged detention.”
Here’s a second thing the strikers undoubtedly wanted to highlight and it’s even harder to take in: Guantanamo now holds 86 prisoners (out of the 166 caged there) who have been carefully vetted by the U.S. military, the FBI, the CIA, and so on, and found to have done nothing for which they could be charged or should be imprisoned. All 86 have been cleared for release — years late, often after brutal interrogation experiences sometimes involving torture. The problem: there is nowhere to release them to, especially since the majority of them are Yemenis and President Obama has imposed a moratorium on transferring any prisoner to Yemen.
Then there are the prisoners who may indeed have done something criminal in regard to the U.S., but had confessions tortured out of them which won’t hold up in court. They are among the ones who will never be brought to trial, but never cleared for release either. In other words, indefinite detention, something anathema to the American justice system, will for the conceivable future be us. The fact that relatively few Americans seem fazed by this should be startling. No charges, no trials, but never getting out of prison: that would once have been associated with the practices of a totalitarian state.
We know one thing: no one, not George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, or other top officials involved in setting up such a global system of injustice, sweeping up the innocent with the guilty, and subjecting them to horrors without end (including now force-feeding) will ever be brought to justice in an American court, nor will anyone involved in the system of rendition, torture, or abuse. In the Obama years, while indefinite detention remained a grim American reality, the government, as TomDispatch regular and former State Department officer Peter Van Buren himself experienced, honed other methods for punishing those it was unhappy with, especially whistleblowers of all sorts.
One of those methods might be called “indefinite suspension.” Instead of not being charged, you are charged repeatedly and dragged endlessly — your life in a state of suspension — through various bureaucratic judicial processes, the actual courts, and endless appeals thereof, so that even if sooner or later you come out the other side exonerated, you will still have been punished for your “crimes.” Let Peter Van Buren explain this mockery of “justice.” Tom
Seven Years, Untold Dollars to Silence One Man
By Peter Van Buren
What do words mean in a post-9/11 world? Apart from the now clichéd Orwellian twists that turn brutal torture into mere enhanced interrogation, the devil is in the details. Robert MacLean is a former air marshal fired for an act of whistleblowing. He has continued to fight over seven long years for what once would have passed as simple justice: getting his job back. His is an all-too-twenty-first-century story of the extraordinary lengths to which the U.S. government is willing to go to thwart whistleblowers.
First, the government retroactively classified a previously unclassified text message to justify firing MacLean. Then it invoked arcane civil service procedures, including an “interlocutory appeal” to thwart him and, in the process, enjoyed the approval of various courts and bureaucratic boards apparently willing to stamp as “legal” anything the government could make up in its own interest.
And yet here’s the miracle at the heart of this tale: MacLean refused to quit, when ordinary mortals would have thrown in the towel. Now, with a recent semi-victory, he may not only have given himself a shot at getting his old job back, but also create a precedent for future federal whistleblowers. In the post-9/11 world, people like Robert MacLean show us how deep the Washington rabbit hole really goes.
The Whistle Is Blown
MacLean joined the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) in 2001 after stints with the Air Force and the Border Patrol. In July 2003, all marshals received a briefing about a possible hijacking plot. Soon after, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), which oversees FAMS, sent an unencrypted, open-air text message to the cell phones of the marshals cancelling several months of missions for cost-cutting reasons. MacLean became concerned that cancelling missions during a hijacking alert might create a dangerous situation for the flying public. He complained to his supervisor and to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, but each responded that nothing could be done.
It was then that he decided to blow the whistle, hoping that public pressure might force the TSA to reinstate the marshals’ flights. So MacLean talked to a reporter, who broadcast a story criticizing the TSA’s decision and, after 11 members of Congress joined in the criticism, it reversed itself. At this point, MacLean had not been identified as the source of the leak and so carried on with his job.
A year later, he appeared on TV in disguise, criticizing the TSA dress code and its special boarding policies, which he believed allowed marshals to be easily identified by other passengers. This time, the TSA recognized his voice and began an investigation that revealed he had also released the 2003 text message. He was fired in April 2006. Although the agency had not labeled that message as “sensitive security information” (SSI) when it was sent in 2003, in August 2006, months after MacLean’s firing, it issued a retroactive order stating that the text’s content was indeed SSI.
A Whistleblower’s Catch-22
That disclosing the contents of an unclassified message could get someone fired for disclosing classified information is the sort of topsy-turvy situation which could only exist in the post-9/11 world of the American national security state.
Marcy Wheeler asks excellent question: “Why is Obama withholding secret torture report from Americans?”
Good question. Of course, Obama is obsessively secretive (“open and transparent” be damned), as is shown by his record-setting vendetta against whistleblowers—in some cases, gratuitously vindictive and vicious.
Marcy Wheeler asked the question in Salon, by writing:
Much of what you’ve been told (or seen in movies) about George W. Bush’s supposedly effective torture program is false and overhyped. At least, that’s one of the conclusions of the 6,000-page review of the program the Senate Intelligence Committee completed last year.
Yet, right now, President Obama is preventing you from learning any of this, by keeping the report classified.
Before the end of the Bush Administration, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)—then the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee—started investigating the torture program. When Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) took over as Chair of the Committee in 2009, she intensified the investigation and negotiated with the CIA to get access to its files. After almost four more years of work and reviewing 6 million pages of documents, the Committee voted out the report in December on a mostly party line vote.
As you may recall from the debate around the film “Zero Dark Thirty debate,” Senators Feinstein, Carl Levin (D-MI), and John McCain (R-AZ) have said the report shows thattorture didn’t produce the intelligence that led us to finding Osama bin Laden. According to reports, it shows that torture didn’t produce much useful information. While discussing the report, Jay Rockefeller described the torture program this way:
[T]he people who ran it were ignorant of the topic, [it was] executed by personnel without relevant experience, managed incompetently by senior officials who did not pay attention to crucial details, and corrupted by personnel and pecuniary conflicts of interest. It was sold to the policymakers and lawyers of the White House, the Department of Justice, and Congress, with grossly-inflated claims of professionalism and effectiveness, so-called lives saved.
In short, the report rebuts claims that torture worked—and specifically the claim made by torture boosters from Dick Cheney to former Counterterrorism Center head Jose Rodriguez that it helped to find Osama bin Laden.
Accounts of the reports’ findings are not limited to whether torture worked. According to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), the it shows “the CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information about its interrogation program to the White House, the Justice Department, and Congress.”
The finding that the CIA lied about its covert activities to everyone tasked with overseeing them ought to raise concerns going forward, whether or not the CIA ever conducts an interrogation again, because it suggests our intelligence oversight system is broken. Yet the report remains classified and torture boosters keep making expansive claims that, Senate Democrats insist, the report rebuts. While Senator Feinstein has always made clear that CIA is not the only agency that will decide whether to release the report, that’s where the focus has been.
Originally, the CIA was due to respond to the report on February 15. John Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA in February—and his failure to review the report before the confirmation process—provided an excuse to delay that date.
The delay to allow Brennan to read the report has been extended indefinitely. When Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) asked Brennan when the report would be released on April 11, Brennan did not answer; instead, he assured Schakowsky he would thoroughly report to Senators Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) “things that I might think that the — the committee may have — the committee’s report might not accurately represent.” Recently, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) claimed, “Director Brennan and his staff have shown little to no interest in engaging collaboratively and constructively with the Committee on a path forward on the Committee’s Study.”
Rather than when the report would be reviewed, then, Brennan’s stalling has shifted the discussion to what CIA—the same Agency accused of misrepresenting torture to Congress and others—will demand gets changed, and now a lack of engagement on the report generally. And the focus on whether or not Brennan would agree to the torture report’s release really just distracts from the person who really gets to decide whether to release the report or not: the President.
As Vice President Joe Biden hinted last weekend —when agreeing with John McCain the report should be released—this is an issue being debated in the White House, not just Langley. “The internal debate that goes on in the Congress and in the White House is, do we go back and do we expose it? Do we lay out who was responsible and how we got to where we are?”
It may well be, for all the evidence the report apparently presents about CIA providing inaccurate information about the program even to the White House, that the White House is shielding the institutions of the White House and the Presidency.
Consider, for example, how the Bush White House unusually intervened to keep the torture program secret. According to a court document submitted by then CIA Director Leon Panetta in 2009, his predecessor at CIA, George Tenet, wasn’t the person who made the torture program a “Special Access Program” with sharply limited access, which is how it would normally work. Unnamed officials in the National Security Council did:
Officials at the National Security Council, (NSC) determined that in light of the extraordinary circumstances affecting the vital interests of the United States and the sensitivity of the activities contemplated in the CIA terrorist detention and interrogation program, it was essential to limit access to the information in the program. NSC officials established a special access program governing access to information relating to the CIA terrorist detention and interrogation program.
The Bush-era Executive Order governing classification and the current one both require Presidential authorization for someone besides one of several Agency heads—in the case of the torture program, Tenet—to make a special access program. Thus, as the Federation of American Scientist’s Steven Aftergood notes, “if the NSC established a special access program, as Panetta said, then it must have been authorized by the President himself. In effect, the President established the special access program.” The former Director of the office that oversees classified information, Bill Leonard, agrees. “If it wasn’t one of those [Agency heads] who established the SAP in question, there would have to be an authorization from the President authorizing that official to establish a SAP.”
While the CIA appears to be the entity stalling on the torture report, according to Panetta, the White House ultimately created and owns the program.
It’s not just Bush’s NSC that has taken extraordinary measures to keep the torture program secret. While Barack Obama’s Administration has already permitted the declassification of a great deal of information on the torture program, in fall 2009 Obama went to the almost unprecedented step of having his National Security Advisor—at the time, retired General Jim Jones—submit a declaration in the American Civil Liberties Union’s Freedom of Information lawsuit seeking release of documents pertaining to the torture program. It did so to hide the role of the White House in torture.
The judge in the suit, Alvin Hellerstein, believed that a short phrase describing “the source of CIA’s authority” to conduct torture had been incorrectly redacted by the Administration. Jones’ declaration, which remains sealed and unrecorded on the docket, apparently argued that phrase couldn’t be released. . .
Continue reading. Obama is a serious problem with nice edges.
Not by a long shot. Jonathan Alter blogs at The Washington Monthly:
The dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum was more than an opportunity for the five living U.S. presidents to compare notes on what Stefan Lorant called “the glorious burden” of the office.
It also was the beginning of Bush’s campaign for rehabilitation. As Bill Clinton said at the ceremony, all presidential libraries are attempts “to rewrite history.”
Bush’s ultimate goal — already hawked by his former political adviser Karl Rove — is to become another Harry S. Truman, a regular-guy commander-in-chief whose stock rose sharply about 20 years after he left office.
The superficial comparisons are intriguing. Vice President Truman only became president because Franklin D. Roosevelt died in office in 1945. The failed haberdasher and product of the Kansas City political machine was unlikely to make it to the top on his own. He was a plain-spoken, unpretentious man who cared enough about racial injustice that he desegregated the armed forces.
Bush became president because he was born on third base, to paraphrase Texas Governor Ann Richards’s quip about his father, and because of the Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore in 2000; an unexceptional man who drank heavily until he was 40 probably wouldn’t have made it on his own. He’s a blunt, compassionate conservative who, as Jimmy Carter pointed out at the dedication, saw the ravages of AIDS in Africa and elsewhere and did something about it. (Bush also appointed two black secretaries of state.)
Like >Iraq in Bush’s era, the Korean War was hugely unpopular when Truman left office in 1953, and his decision to drop two atomic bombs on Japan was at least as controversial as Bush’s support for torture.
Still, you don’t have to be Arthur Schlesinger Jr. to know that the differences between Bush and Truman are much greater than the similarities. With Korea, Truman was responding to communist aggression, not hyping unconfirmed stories about weapons of mass destruction.
While Truman’s “Marshall Plan” (named for his secretary of state, George C. Marshall) produced spectacular results in postwar Europe, Bush apparently didn’t even have a plan for postwar Iraq.
His decision to . . .
It’s a brief post, and well worth reading.
And consider the opinion you would form about the United States. Joe Nocera writes in the NY Times:
Fadhel Hussein Saleh Hentif is one of about 100 detainees on a hunger strike in the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He was captured in 2001 by Pakistanis after crossing the border from Afghanistan, and, by 2002, he was in the American naval detention facility. He was 20 years old. He has been there since.
Although the Americans contend that Hentif left his home in Yemen to become an Al Qaeda jihadist, he has always insisted that he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. A devout Muslim, he says he went to Afghanistan to do charitable work to honor the memory of his father — and that he then left Afghanistan for Pakistan because, as one of his lawyers, Robert Palmer, put it to me recently, “the place was a mess.”
Like most Guantánamo detainees, Hentif spent years in solitary confinement. He was subjected to “alternative interrogation techniques” as it was euphemistically called. He watched the Bush administration release more than 500 of the 779 detainees who have passed through Guantánamo. He learned about lawyers arguing in court that the detainees had the legal right to a habeas corpus hearing — that is, to try to prove that they were not enemy combatants and had been detained illegally.
And, in 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that they did have that right. That same year, a presidential candidate headed toward the White House, Barack Obama, promised to close Guantánamo. That never happened, though President Obama continued the Bush policy of releasing detainees who were not deemed a threat to the United States.
Hentif, in fact, was among those set to be released. In late 2009, he was hours away from flying home to Yemen when a man on a flight to Detroit tried to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear. Because the man had purportedly been trained by an Al Qaeda affiliate with bases in Yemen, Congress demanded that the administration stop releasing all Yemen detainees. Obama complied.
And so it went: Hentif had a habeas corpus hearing in 2010, but, by then, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit had made a mockery of the Supreme Court’s ruling, establishing evidentiary presumptions that made it impossible for a detainee to win a habeas ruling. (The Supreme Court has declined to hear further cases.) Sure enough, the judge ruled against him in 2012, despite concluding, among other things, that Hentif had never been to an Al Qaeda training camp, as the government alleged.
Meanwhile, along with 55 other Yemen detainees, he has been placed on a “cleared” list compiled by a commission composed of national security officials, meaning he could be transferred out of Guantánamo. But Congress, led by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, both Republicans, quickly passed laws that put impossible conditions on their release. Shamefully, President Obama signed those bills.
Is there any wonder that Hentif — and the other detainees — are on a hunger strike? “It is a total expression of despair and hopelessness,” said Brent Rushforth, who also represents him. . .
Continue reading. There’s more. For example:
On April 13, Hentif was returning from morning prayers when the raid began. He was pushed up against a fence and shot with rubber bullets at such close range that five of them penetrated the skin. He was handcuffed and taken to the clinic. Now back in solitary confinement, he is worried that one of his wounds is becoming infected. Given their concerns about hunger strikers, the military medical staff haven’t been able to pay him much attention.
Keep in mind that this is a man who, so far as we can tell, did nothing wrong. In other words, a man exactly like you. Keep that in mind if they come for you.
Alex Seitz-Wald reminds us in Salon that Bush’s presidency was quite bad:
Every dog goes to heaven and every former president should get a shot at repairing his legacy, especially when it’s as tattered as George W. Bush’s. With the opening of his presidential library and museum this week, observers from former Bush officials to mainstream outlets were taking a fresh, rosy look at the Bush legacy. Some offered dopey and facially ridiculous cheerleading, while others offered more compelling suggestions to return to the Bush era with an open mind. After all, other presidents left office in a cloud only to be redeemed by history years later.
So, is this week making you feel a bit nostalgic for the Bush era? Don’t. It’s been almost half a decade since the 43rd president left office, and he’s looking as bad as ever. Of course, that won’t stop a small circle of admirers (many of whom used to be on his payroll) from trying, so here’s your guide to taking on the five biggest specious pro-Bush talking points put forward this week:
1) Bush kept us safe: The biggest myth of the Bush presidency, by far, is that the president kept the country safe. As Charles Krauthammer wrote this week in the Washington Post in a typical example: “It’s important to note that he did not just keep us safe. He created the entire anti-terror infrastructure that continues to keep us safe … Which is why there was not one successful terror bombing on U.S. soil from 9/11 until last week.”
Just no. First of all, why does 9/11 not count? It’s not like the U.S. government was completely unaware of the threat from al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden until 9/11. After all, bin Laden had already helped orchestrate the U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania that killed hundreds in 1998, and Bill Clinton launched cruise missiles into Sudan and Afghanistan to try to kill bin Laden three years before 9/11. And then there’s that CIA briefing that warned Bush: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” — 36 days before Sept. 11. Bush’s response to the briefer giving him the news? To say, “All right. You’ve covered your ass, now.” Then he went fishing. Literally.
As for the claim that there were no terror attacks on U.S. soil after 9/11 under Bush — also bogus. Conor Friedersdorf writes:
Bush’s tenure included anthrax attacks that killed five people (more than died in the Boston marathon bombing) and that injured between 22 and 68 people. Bush was president when Hesham Mohamed Hadayet killed two and wounded four at an LAX ticket counter; when the Beltway snipers killed 10 people; when Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar injured six driving his SUV into a crowd; and when Naveed Afzal Haq killed one woman and shot five others in Seattle.
Also, there was the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, just before the 2000 election, which should have brought an extra warning about the al-Qaida threat, and later on, bombings in London, Madrid, and Jordan. Meanwhile, thanks to the wars there, much of the attention from international terror went to Iraq and Afghanistan, where al-Qaida and sympathetic groups found it easier to kill American soldiers than to attack Americans on U.S. soil.
2) Bush was fiscally responsible: Here’s Republican strategist Ed Gillespie, writing in the National Review this week, “Over Mr. Bush’s tenure, our national debt averaged 38 percent of GDP, a result of holding average annual deficits to 2 percent of GDP, and federal spending remained below 20 percent of GDP in six of his eight years in office. (Only one other president in the past 40 years was able to reach such a low level, and for fewer years).” Jennifer Rubin added in the Washington Post: “He is responsible for one of the most popular and fiscally sober entitlement plans, Medicare Part D.”
Former Bush White House Chief of Staff Andy Card even had the chutzpah to claim that President Bush “probably has the best track record of any modern president in terms of fiscal discipline.”
The only way to make that claim is to be willfully dishonest, as the numbers are cut and dried. Notice that Gillespie cites the average debt over the course of the eight years, instead of the progression. Here’s another way of looking at Bush’s fiscal legacy: When he entered office, the U.S. government was running a surplus (and was projected to do so for the next several decades) and when Bush left office, the government was running its biggest deficit since World War II.
Part of this can be attributed to the collapse in tax revenue during the Great Recession, and even if we don’t blame Bush for letting Wall Street collapse the economy, you can certainly blame him for ruining the fiscal bulwark built up under the Clinton years with massive tax cuts that mostly benefited the rich and two hugely expensive wars. Here’s a chart from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities about what’s driving the debt:
As for Medicare Part D, which helps seniors pay for prescription drugs, while the cost of the program is less than was originally projected, it’s still higher than it should be. The savings came from lower drug spending overall, but while overall spending is 35 percent lower than expected, Medicare Part D spending was only 22 percent below expectations. And drug costs are still higher under Medicare Part D than they should be.
And during most of this time, there was no reason for the debt to explode; the economy was doing pretty well (unless you were poor). Much of the debt raised under Bush was purely elective. Even Republicans say this all the time. “Many of us, myself included, got into politics because we were appalled at the Bush record on spending,” South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney told the Hill.
3) Iraq wasn’t so bad: . . .
Abdulsalam Al-Hela does not understand why he and other Guantanamo prisoners reside in a perpetual state of legal limbo.
“Can it really be true that US, with all its power, all over the world, can’t solve the problems of 100 men?” he asked his attorney, David Remes, during a meeting in early March.
“Yes,” Remes told the Yemeni prisoner. “It’s true.”
No one knows what to do with these living artifacts of a post-9/11 world.
Some are waiting to stand trial for war crimes. Others – more than half – have been cleared by the US government to be returned to their homelands or other countries. All watch the days, weeks, months and years slip by without resolution, regardless of status.
Al-Hela, who has been detained without charge or trial for nearly a decade, and has been stamped and unstamped with the label of al-Qaeda operative over the years, has not eaten since February 6.
He is gaunt and weak like dozens of other Guantanamo detainees who are participating in a protracted hunger strike that is approaching three months. Al-Hela, who walks with the aid of an aluminum cane, has lost more than 30 pounds in the past 10 weeks.
This is not the first time prisoners have refused sustenance to protest conditions at Gitmo, but it is the longest and most pervasive, according to human rights lawyers like Remes, who have sounded the alarm as their clients visibly deteriorated – mentally and physically – with each visit.
Remes and other defense attorneys have given Truthout access to unclassified notes they’ve taken while meeting with their Gitmo clients.
Hunger strikes historically have represented the only means of control the men are able to exercise over their daily lives. And there is something about this one that signals a new level of desperation and resolve.
Some have vowed to strike “to the death.” Countless others have tried to hasten the process with suicide attempts.
What Hunger Strike?
In early March, when journalists began to ask questions about a reported hunger strike involving about 130 of 166 prisoners at Guantanamo, US Defense Department officials disputed the assertions.
“There is not a mass hunger strike amongst the detainees at GTMO,” Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a Pentagon spokesman, told Truthout March 4.
“Some detainees have attempted to coordinate a hunger strike and have refused meal deliveries, but the overwhelming majority of detainees are not participating,” he said, placing the number of strikers at a half a dozen, “which is about what we have averaged for the past year.”
A “very limited few detainees” have engaged in sporadic hunger strikes for several years, he added. And the Gitmo prisoners “peacefully protest” from time to time about “a host of issues ranging from availability of particular brands of breakfast cereal to enforcement of long-established camp rules.”
But too many gaunt prisoners were telling their lawyers a different story, and the unclassified notes of client meetings and phone calls, along with information Truthout elicited in interviews conducted with officials at Guantanamo and the US Defense Department, point to new developments and old frustrations that precipitated the current crisis.
Changing of the Guard
Last summer, a new guard force arrived at Guantanamo. The Navy personnel who has previously patrolled the cellblocks were replaced by soldiers returning from tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Prisoners complained to their lawyers bitterly and often about being “tormented” and “provoked” by the guards. Attorney Carlos Warner, who represents Kuwaiti detainee Fayiz al-Kandari, noted on March 20 that his client complained not only of guards “provoking” the prisoners, but threatening to kill them – a claim that Pentagon and Guantanamo officials have vehemently denied in all cases.
On January 2, an unprecedented shooting incident ratcheted up tensions at the $744,000 soccer field that the Joint Task Force-Guantanamo built for compliant prisoners who reside at the communal living quarters known as Camp 6.
Guantanamo spokesman Capt. Robert Durand told Truthout the incident occurred after a detainee attempted to climb the fence in the Camp 6 outdoor recreation yard, and “a small crowd of detainees began throwing rocks at the guard tower.
“After repeated warnings were ignored, the guard force was forced to employ appropriate crowd dispersal measures,” such as firing “nonlethal” rounds, one of which hit an Afghan Taliban prisoner in the throat.
But a Yemeni prisoner, Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman, and others told a different story. He said it wasn’t the prisoners who provoked the guard force, but a guard who overreacted.
Uthman, who is one of 13 Guantanamo prisoners represented by Remes, told the Washington DC-based lawyer, that prisoners were playing soccer when another prisoner attempted to enter the recreation area. A guard in one of the two towers positioned in the field said, “No.”
“Detainee started shaking door (very common),” Uthman said, according to Remes’ March 7 notes. “Guard in tower pointed rifle at him. Brothers in yard started shouting. Guard swung around with his rifle and started shooting at them – just one bullet, which hit a detainee in the throat.”
On March 5, two days before Remes spoke with Uthman, another client, Yasein Ismael, told him the prisoners were “surprised when a guard in a tower pointed a gun at detainees and shot into the group.” . . .
Continue reading. Remember the Stanford prison experiment with students playing roles of “guards” and “prisoners” and how quickly it devolved into barbaric behavior? We get a chance to display that on the international stage now.
Christie Thompson reports in ProPublica:
Among the news that ended up being buried in the events last week: A nonpartisan think tank, the Constitution Project, released a scathing, 577-page report on the U.S.’s treatment, and torture, of detainees in the aftermath of 9/11. The investigation began in 2009, after Obama opposed creating a “truth commission.”
With a Senate investigation of detainee treatment still classified, the report from the bipartisan task force is the most comprehensive public review to date. The 11-member panel interviewed more than 100 former military officials, detainees and policymakers.
Among their findings: There is no compelling security reason to keep classified details about the CIA’s now-shuttered black prisons. The task force hopes their report will spur more government transparency on the treatment of detainees, starting with the release of the Senate investigation.
Here’s a rundown of previous claims skewered by the report:
Claim No. 1: The U.S. didn’t use torture.
“Perhaps the most important or notable finding of this panel is that it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture,” the report concludes. The task force says that despite overwhelming evidence of torture, both government officials and many in the media have continued to present the issue as a two-sided debate.
The task force measured confirmed reports on detainee treatment against several international and domestic legal definitions of torture. The U.S.’s tactics unequivocally amount to torture, they found, under definitions the U.S. itself has used to accuse other countries of the same crime.
Former UN ambassador John Bolton rejected the task force’s findings, telling the Associated Press the report is “completely divorced from reality.” Bolton said a team of lawyers scrutinized the policies to ensure interrogation never crossed the line.
Claim No. 2: When torture happened, it was because of a few low-level “bad apples.”
The report details how the decisions to use “enhanced interrogation” techniques were not rogue entry-level soldiers, but rather came from decisions made at the top of the administration. As a former Marine general told the task force, “Any degree of ‘flexibility’ about torture at the top drops down the chain of command like a stone —the rare exception fast becoming the rule.”
Claim No. 3: Only three terror suspects were waterboarded by the CIA.
The task force’s findings support and elaborate on a Human Rights Watch report, which detailed how the CIA tortured at least two Libyans with water and abused several others to “win favor with el-Gaddafi’s regime,” the task force found.
The testimonies of the two Libyans undermine the Bush administration’s repeated claims that the CIA only waterboarded against three people.
Claim No. 4: Torture definitely worked. . .
Continue reading. It is important information.
Juan Cole has an intriguing post:
It is a well-known syndrome in alcoholic and/or abusive families that the child runs to the abusive parent, and makes excuses for him or her. In fact thereare a whole set of syndromes afflicting the poor adults who lived through that horror as children.
The fawning interviews attending the opening of the George W. Bush presidential library, for the least bookish of all our presidents, struck me as having a lot of resemblance to those syndromes. America has a problem holding its high elected officials to account. A republic as the founding generation envisaged it is a collective of equals. We have no king, no one who is above the law. Some of us serve the public through elective office for a while. If we do it honorably we get thanks. If we do it dishonorably, we should be tried for our crimes or at the very least suffer opprobrium in polite society. The emergence of the imperial presidency in the twentieth century and until now is an affront to those republican values, a descent into empire and monarchy and lack of accountability. For ex-presidents everything is forgiven over time. We named the airport in our national capital for a man who sold weapons stolen from Pentagon warehouses to Ayatollah Khomeini at at time the latter was on a terror watch list, and used the black money thus gained to support right wing death squads in Central America. We let a war criminal pronounce himself comfortable with his crimes against humanity.
1. Adult constituents of abusive ex-presidents lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth. They have to constantly make excuses for the criminal behavior of their ex-president. For instance, it is often alleged that all international intelligence agencies agreed with the Bush administration that Iraq had ‘weapons mass destruction.’ But the French did not, and the Germans had serious questions. It is not true, just a lie that we are forced to tell in order to protect an war-addicted president. Likewise, they often maintain that WMD actually was found in Iraq (wrong) or that it was moved to Syria (not true) or that Saddam Hussein was tied to al-Qaeda (false). Or they may downplay the number of Iraqis killed as a result of the illegal US invasion. Or they may say that waterboarding and stress positions are not torture and that ‘the US does not torture.’
2. Adult constituents of abusive ex-presidents are super responsible or super irresponsible.
Some supporters of a criminal ex-president become controlling and need everything to be in order all the time, suffering from anxiety and perfectionism. They have a compulsion to bust unions to prevent strikes, and to send troops to places like Iran and Syria, to put them in order, or to insist on enormous military budgets several times larger than any other country in the world.
Others become highly irresponsible party animals, insisting that the rich be exempted from taxes, opposing all gun control, arguing for further deregulation of banks, spoiling the environment, abusing minorities, and becoming addicted to Fox Cable News.
3. Adult constituents of abusive ex-presidents are supremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved.
They are used to dealing with a habitual offender. They take care of him, and are told ‘it wasn’t his fault’ or ‘he didn’t really mean it.’ They have such lowered expectations for their politicians that they will vote for the Tea Party or Michelle Bachmann. They often end up in an unhealthy relationship with another abusive politician.
4. Adult constituents of abusive ex-presidents have difficulty completing political projects. . .
Charlie Savage reports in the NY Times:
In the early afternoon quiet, guards in camouflage fatigues walked the two-tiered cellblocks of Camp Six, where the most cooperative of the 166 terrorism suspects held in the military prison here are housed. From a darkened control room, other guards watched banks of surveillance monitors showing prisoners in white clothing — pacing, sleeping or reading — in their cells.
But the relative calm on display to visiting reporters last week was deceiving. Days earlier, guards had raided Camp Six and locked down protesting prisoners who had blocked security cameras, forbidding them to congregate in a communal area. A hunger strike is now in its third month, with 93 prisoners considered to be participating — more than half the inmates and twice the number before the raid.
“They are not done yet, and they will not be done until there is more than one death,” said a Muslim adviser to the military, identified as “Zak” for security reasons, who fears there may be suicides. Only one thing, he predicted, will satisfy the detainees: if someone is allowed to leave.
The spark for the protest is disputed. Detainees, through their lawyers, say that when guards conducted a search of their cells on Feb. 6, they handled their Korans in a disrespectful way. Prison officials dispute that.
But both military officials and lawyers for the detainees agree about the underlying cause of the turmoil: a growing sense among many prisoners, some of whom have been held without trial for more than 11 years, that they will never go home.
While President Obama made closing the prison a top priority when he entered the White House, he put that effort on the back burner in the face of Congressional opposition to his plan to move the detainees to a Supermax facility inside the United States.
The prisoners “had great optimism that Guantánamo would be closed,” Gen. John F. Kelly, who oversees the prison as head of the United States Southern Command, recently told Congress. “They were devastated when the president backed off — at least their perception — of closing the facility.”
That disappointment was heightened by Mr. Obama’s decision in January 2011 to sign legislation to restrict the transfers of prisoners. More than half the inmates were designated three years ago for transfer to another country if security conditions could be met, but the transfers dried up. And early this year, the Obama administration reassigned, without replacing, the diplomat who had negotiated the transfers.
“President Obama has publicly and privately abandoned his promise to close Guantánamo,” said Carlos Warner, a lawyer who represents one of 17 hunger strikers being kept alive by force-feeding through nasal tubes. “His tragic political decision has caused the men to lose all hope. Thus, many innocent men have chosen death over a life of unjust indefinite detention.”
In interviews with nearly three dozen current and former administration, military and Congressional officials, lawyers for the detainees, and outside policy specialists, a clear consensus emerged on the result of the impasse over Guantánamo’s future: It has become a place where no new prisoners arrive and no one can leave, and it makes little sense.
“The situation is not sustainable,” said Kenneth Wainstein, the top national security official at the Justice Department in the Bush administration. “There are strong, principled arguments on both sides, but all of us across the spectrum have to acknowledge that this is far from an ideal situation and we need an exit strategy.”
Administration defenders blame Congress — especially Republicans who used Mr. Obama’s effort to close the prison as political ammunition — for the quagmire. Still, even if Mr. Obama had sent the inmates to a domestic prison, the problems raised by the perpetual imprisonment of detainees deemed risky but untriable would persist. . .
Robert Parry’s article was of interest to me mainly because of the earlier warning:
The distrust between U.S. and Russian intelligence services has become an issue in the Boston Marathon bombing case, but that history dates back to shortly after the Cold War ended when Russia supplied evidence to a major U.S. national security investigation and later learned that the material had been unceremoniously discarded.
In that 1992-1993 investigation, Rep. Lee Hamilton, then the incoming chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, asked his counterpart in the Russian Duma, Sergei V. Stepashin, for any evidence that Moscow might have about allegations that Republicans secretly collaborated with Iran in 1980 to delay the release of 52 U.S. hostages and thus torpedo President Jimmy Carter’s reelection bid.
The matter, known as the October Surprise case, was extremely sensitive at the time of Hamilton’s request on Oct. 21, 1992, because the clandestine meetings between Republicans and Iranians in 1980 allegedly involved Americans who, in 1992, included the sitting president, George H.W. Bush, and the sitting CIA director, Robert Gates.But Russia seemed willing to cooperate, especially after Bush lost his own reelection bid in November 1992. So, just one year after the Soviet Union collapsed, the Supreme Soviet’s Committee on Defense and Security Issues prepared a summary of internal Soviet-era intelligence files and sent the report to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on Jan. 11, 1993, for delivery to Hamilton.
The Russian Report, matter-of-factly, identified Bush, Gates and William Casey (who in 1980 was Ronald Reagan’s campaign director and later became CIA director) as having participated in a meeting with Iranians in Paris in October 1980 at which the Republicans promised Iran military assistance if Iran kept the hostages until after the U.S. presidential election.
“William Casey, in 1980, met three times with representatives of the Iranian leadership,” the six-page report stated. “The meetings took place in Madrid and Paris.”
At the Paris meeting in October 1980, “R[obert] Gates, at that time a staffer of the National Security Council in the administration of Jimmy Carter, and former CIA director George Bush also took part. … In Madrid and Paris, the representatives of Ronald Reagan and the Iranian leadership discussed the question of possibly delaying the release of 52 hostages from the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Teheran.”
The Russian Report also described President Carter’s parallel offers to Iran to get the hostages freed before the Nov. 4, 1980, election. One key meeting occurred in Athens in July 1980 with Pentagon representatives agreeing “in principle” to deliver “a significant quantity of spare parts for F-4 and F-5 aircraft and also M-60 tanks … via Turkey,” according to the Russian Report.
In return, Iranians “discussed a possible step-by-step normalization of Iranian-American relations [and] the provision of support for President Carter in the election campaign via the release of American hostages,” the report said.
The Russian Report observed that both the Reagan campaign and the Carter administration “started with the proposition that [Iran's leader] Imam [Ruhollah] Khomeini, having announced a policy of ‘neither the West nor the East,’ and cursing the ‘American devil,’ imperialism and Zionism, was forced to acquire American weapons, spares and military supplies by any and all possible means.”
The Republicans simply won the bidding war. However, the legal difference between the rival efforts was that President Carter had the constitutional authority to conduct negotiations with foreign powers. The Republican campaign did not.
Tracing the Weapon Flow
The Russian Report also described how the Reagan administration fulfilled its debt to Iran. “After the victory of R. Reagan in the election, in early 1981, a secret agreement was reached in London in accord with which Iran released the American hostages, and the U.S. continued to supply arms, spares and military supplies for the Iranian army,” the report said.
The deliveries were carried out by Israel, often through private arms dealers, the report said. Spares for F-14 fighters and other military equipment went to Iran from Israel in March-April 1981 and the arms pipeline stayed open into the mid-1980s, the report said.
“Through the Israeli conduit, Iran in 1983 bought surface-to-surface missiles of the ‘Lance’ class plus artillery of a total value of $135 million,” the report said. “In July 1983, a group of specialists from the firm, Lockheed, went to Iran on English passports to repair the navigation systems and other electronic components on American-produced planes.”
In other words, according to the Russian Report (and other evidence from U.S. and Israeli officials), the Reagan administration sanctioned U.S. weapons shipments to Iran before the Iran-Contra deals, which also moved through Israel in 1985-1986.
In early 1993, when the Russian Report arrived at the U.S. Embassy, it was still under the control of the Bush administration. So, the report was translated and topped with a dismissive preamble, questioning the quality of the Russian information and noting that the Russian government had not responded to a request for more details.
The embassy’s preamble speculated that Moscow’s report might be “based largely on material that has previously appeared in the Western media,” though that supposition was not supported by any evidence. The classified cable containing the translation of the Russian Report was then forwarded to the House October Surprise Task Force, which Hamilton was chairing. [For the text of the Russian report, click here. To view the U.S. Embassy cable that contains the Russian report, click here.]
The Report’s Odd Journey
Though the Russian Report corroborated sworn testimony of a Republican-Iranian deal that the task force had already heard, the report arrived after the task force had decided – in the wake of Bush’s loss to Bill Clinton – to simply say there was “no credible evidence” to prove that Bush and other Republicans had struck a deal with Iran in 1980.
Indeed, the task force’s dismissive findings had already been sent to the printer and some reporters were being briefed on the negative conclusions when the Russian Report arrived. Then, instead of disclosing the contrary Russian information, Hamilton’s task force just went ahead with a press conference to clear Bush, Gates, Casey, Reagan and other Republicans of a political dirty trick that bordered on treason.
The task force’s chief counsel, Lawrence Barcella, then stuck the Russian Report into a plain cardboard box along with other boxes of non-published material from the investigation. The boxes were subsequently moved to some auxiliary office space located in the Rayburn House Office Building’s parking garage and there the boxes were dumped on the floor of an abandoned Ladies Room.
In December 1994, after congressional elections that ended the long-time Democratic control of the House, I gained permission to examine the unpublished files and was led to the boxes in the Ladies Room. I was told that I could only copy a dozen pages and that I would be under the supervision of a congressional staffer.
However, given the chaos of a party changeover in the House and the fact that it was just before Christmas, I was pretty much left alone with the boxes. When I opened them, I discovered that they contained a number of classified documents, including the U.S. Embassy cable with the Russian Report. . .
As the Senate holds its first-ever public hearing on drones and targeted killings, we turn the second part of our interview with Jeremy Scahill, author of the new book, “Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield.” Scahill charts the expanding covert wars operated by the CIA and JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command, in countries from Somalia to Pakistan. “I called it ‘Dirty Wars’ because, particularly in this administration, in the Obama administration, I think a lot of people are being led to believe that there is such a thing as a clean war,” Scahill says. He goes on to discuss secret operations in Africa, the targeting of U.S. citizens in Yemen and the key role WikiLeaks played in researching the book. He also reveals imprisoned whistleblower Bradley Manning once tipped him off to a story about the private security company Blackwater. Scahill is the national security correspondent for The Nation magazine and longtime Democracy Now! correspondent. For the past several years, Scahill has been working on the “Dirty Wars” film and book project, which was published on Tuesday. The film, directed by Rick Rowley, will be released in theaters in June. Click here to watch Part 1 of this interview.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: ”License to Kill,” the Bob Dylan song performed by the late Richie Havens. He died Monday at the age of 72. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Nermeen Shaikh.
We turn now to Jeremy Scahill, the national security correspondent for The Nation magazine and longtimeDemocracy Now! correspondent. For the past several years, Jeremy has been working on a book and film project called Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield. The book came out on Tuesday. The film, which is directed by Rick Rowley, will be released in theaters in June. The book follows Jeremy to Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen and beyond as he chases down the hidden truth behind America’s expanding covert wars operated by the CIA and JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command. We turn now to part two of Amy Goodman’s interview with Jeremy. She began by asking him about the title of his book.
JEREMY SCAHILL: I called it Dirty Wars because, you know, particularly in this administration, in the Obama administration, I think a lot of people are being led to believe that there’s—there is a such thing as a clean war and that the drone and what’s called targeted killing—I mean, I use that term myself, but it’s actually not—if you think about it, it’s actually not a very appropriate term for what’s going on, because it’s—as we know, these strikes are anything but targeted, in many cases, and we don’t know the—we don’t even know the identities of many of the people that we’re killing in intentional strikes. So, I called it Dirty Wars because there is no such thing as a clean war, and drone warfare is not clean, but also as a sort of allusion to how we’ve returned to the kind of 1980s way of waging war, where the U.S. was involved in all these dirty wars in Central and Latin America, in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and beyond. And we’re using—you know, we’re in a world right now where the U.S. is using proxies, that effectively are death squads, in Somalia to hunt down people that the U.S. has determined are enemies. We’re using mercenaries. President Obama continues to use mercenary forces in various wars, declared and undeclared, around the world. You also have the aiding of dictatorships and other, you know, right-wing governments around the world and propping them up. It’s very similar to what Reagan and company were doing in Central America.
And you have an increasingly paramilitarized CIA. You know, the CIA served a major paramilitary function for many decades at the beginning, from the 1950s through the 1970s. And then, because of the scandals of assassinations and the Church Committee hearings and the House Committee on Political Assassinations, you had a generation of CIA people that came up sort of feeling like, “Wow, covert action—we should be careful about getting into this business.” After 9/11, the CIA has been on a constant sort of curve back to paramilitarization. So you have the CIA functioning as a paramilitary organization, and JSOC has become very, very powerful.
And so, to me, the concept of The War Is a Battlefield actually is not something I thought up; it’s a doctrine, actually, a military doctrine called “Operational Preparation of the Battlespace,” which views the world as a battlefield. And what it says is that if there are countries where you predict, where the military predicts that conflicts are likely or that war is a possibility, you can forward deploy troops to those countries to prepare the battlefield. And under both Bush and Obama, the world has been declared the battlefield. You know, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force that was passed after 9/11 is technically the law that President Obama and his administration point to when they say they have a right to drone strike in Yemen, because these people are connected to the 9/11 attacks. But in reality, one of the enduring legacies of the Obama presidency is going to be that he solidified this Cheneyesque view of the U.S. government, which says that when it comes to foreign policy, that the executive branch is effectively a dictatorship and that Congress only has a minimal role to play in oversight. I mean, Cheney didn’t want Congress to have any role in it. Obama’s administration plays this game with Congress: Certain people can go into the padded room and look at this one document, but, oh, not this other document, and you’re not allowed to bring in a utensil to write with, and you can’t ever tell anyone what you said. That’s congressional oversight on our assassination program. But they have doubled down on this all-powerful executive branch perspective. And that’s why we see this stuff expanding.
AMY GOODMAN: What about this kill list and the elevation of John Brennan, who worked with President Obama in the Oval Office? And how much do you understand about what does take place around defining who will die—
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: —and who will live?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, I mean, you know, we now know that there’s these things that are called Terror Tuesdays, where they look at rosters of potential targets and present them to the president. And the president, my understanding, is very, very involved with plucking names off and deciding who stays on. And, you know, you have a working group that is—that’s essentially focused around the clock on figuring out who to kill next around the world. And what’s—what I think is really both disturbing and interesting is that there are multiple—I know that there are at least three separate sets of kill lists. There’s the kill list that the CIA has, and then there’s the Joint Special Operations Command, and then there’s another National Security Council list that contains certain high-value individuals that the U.S. wants taken out. And so, in a country like Yemen, you have both the CIA and JSOC conducting operations. In Pakistan, that’s been true for a very long time. In Somalia, JSOC has conducted operations on the ground, the CIA has done drone strikes, and JSOC has also come in by helicopter and launched missiles at people.
AMY GOODMAN: Of course, JSOC is extolled because of the killing of Osama bin Laden. It was, what, SEAL Team 6. And where did they get SEAL Team 6, that name?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right, and Disney tried to trademark the name SEAL Team 6 after the killing of Osama bin Laden, and then they lost that battle.
I mean, really, the story of JSOC is in many ways the story of Admiral William McRaven, who I think is one of most powerful military figures in—certainly in modern U.S. history. But McRaven was an original member of SEAL Team 6, which, you know, now is known as the Naval Warfare Development Group, DEVGRU, for short, D-E-V-G-R-U. He was an original member of SEAL Team 6, and at the time there were, I think, only two SEAL teams, but they decided to call it SEAL Team 6 as sort of to throw the Russians off, so that—it was Cold War politics. . .
Chris Hedges posts an article at TruthDig on another step in the movement of the US toward a closed, authoritarian society that loves secrecy and dislikes nonconforming citizens:
Lynne Stewart, in the vindictive and hysterical world of the war on terror, is one of its martyrs. A 73-year-old lawyer who spent her life defending the poor, the marginalized and the despised, including blind cleric Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, she fell afoul of the state apparatus because she dared to demand justice rather than acquiesce to state sponsored witch hunts. And now, with stage 4 cancer that has metastasized, spreading to her lymph nodes, shoulder, bones and lungs, creating a grave threat to her life, she sits in a prison cell at the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, where she is serving a 10-year sentence. Stewart’s family is pleading with the state for “compassionate release” and numerous international human rights campaigners, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have signed a petition calling for her to be freed on medical grounds. It is not only a crime in the U.S. to be poor, to be a Muslim, to openly condemn the crimes committed in our name in the Muslim world, but to defend those who do. And the near total collapse of our judicial system, wrecked in the name of national security and “the war on terror,” is encapsulated in the saga of this courageous attorney—now disbarred because of her conviction.
“I hope that my imprisonment sends the wake up call that the government is prepared to imprison lawyers who do not conduct legal representation in a manner the government has ordained,” she told me when I reached her through email in prison. “My career of 30 plus years has always been client centered. My clients and I decided on the best legal course, without the interference of the government. Ethics require that the defense lawyer DEFEND, get the client off. We have no obligation to obey [the] ‘rules’ government lays down.
“I believe that since 9/11 the government has pursued Muslims with an ever heavier hand,” she wrote, all messages to her and from her being vetted by prison authorities. “However, cases such as the Sheikh’s in 1995 amply demonstrate that Muslims had been targeted even earlier as the new ENEMY—always suspect, always guilty. After 9/11, we discovered that the government prosecutors were ordered to try and get Osama Bin Laden into EVERY Muslim prosecution inducing in American Juries a Pavlovian response. Is it as bad as lynching and the Scottsboro Boys and the Pursuit of Black Panthers? Not as of yet, but getting close and of course the incipient racism that that colors—pun?—every action in the U.S. is ever present in these prosecutions.”
Stewart, as a young librarian in Harlem, got an early taste of the insidious forms of overt and covert racism that work to keep most people of color impoverished and trapped in their internal colonies or our prison complex. She went on to get her law degree and begin battling in the courts on behalf of those around her for whom justice was usually denied. By 1995, along with former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Abdeen Jabara, she was the lead trial counsel for the sheik, who was convicted in September of that year. He received life in prison plus 65 years, a sentence Stewart called “outlandish.” The cleric, in poor health, is serving a life sentence in the medical wing of the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina. Stewart continued to see the sheik in jail after the sentence. Three years later the government severely curtailed his ability to communicate with the outside world, even through his lawyers, under special administrative measures or SAMs.
In 2000, during a visit with the sheik, he asked Stewart to release a statement from him to the press. The Clinton administration did not prosecute her for the press release, but the Bush administration in April 2002, the mood of the country altered by the attacks of 9/11, decided to go after her. Attorney General John Ashcroft came to New York in April 2002 to announce that the Justice Department had indicted Stewart, a paralegal and the interpreter on grounds of materially aiding a terrorist organization. That night he went on “Late Show with David Letterman” to tell the nation of the indictment and the Bush administration’s vaunted “war on terror.” . . .
Continue reading. Meanwhile, Rep. Peter King (R – NY) regularly brags about his support—moral and material—for terrorists, including the IRA and MEK. No problem with that.
A very interesting book review by Tom Englehardt:
Chalmers Johnson’s book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire was published in March 2000 — and just about no one noticed. Until then, blowback had been an obscure term of CIA tradecraft, which Johnson defined as “the unintended consequences of policies that were kept secret from the American people.” In his prologue, the former consultant to the CIA and eminent scholar of both Mao Zedong’s peasant revolution and modern Japan labeled his Cold War self a “spear-carrier for empire.”
After the Soviet Union disappeared in 1991, he was surprised to discover that the essential global structure of that other Cold War colossus, the American superpower, with its vast panoply of military bases, remained obdurately in place as if nothing whatsoever had happened. Almost a decade later, when the Evil Empire was barely a memory, Johnson surveyed the planet and found “an informal American empire” of immense reach and power. He also became convinced that, in its global operations, Washington was laying the groundwork “all around the world… for future forms of blowback.”
Johnson noted “portents of a twenty-first century crisis” in the form of, among other things, “terrorist attacks on American installations and embassies.” In the first chapter of Blowback, he focused in particular on a “former protégé of the United States” by the name of Osama bin Laden and on the Afghan War against the Soviets from which he and an organization called al-Qaeda had emerged. It had been a war in which Washington backed to the hilt, and the CIA funded and armed, the most extreme Islamic fundamentalists, paving the way years later for the Taliban to take over Afghanistan.
Talk about unintended consequences! The purpose of that war had been to give the Soviet Union a Vietnam-style bloody nose, which it more than did. All of this laid the foundation for… well, in 1999 when Johnson was writing, no one knew what. But he, at least, had an inkling, which on September 12, 2001, made his book look prophetic indeed. He emphasized one other phenomenon: Americans, he believed, had “freed ourselves of… any genuine consciousness of how we might look to others on this globe.”
With Blowback, he aimed to rectify that, to paint a portrait of how that informal empire and its historically unprecedented garrisoning of the world looked to others, and so explain why animosity and blowback were building globally. After September 11, 2001, his book leaped to the center of the 9/11 display tables in bookstores nationwide and became a bestseller, while “blowback” and that phrase “unintended consequences” made their way into our everyday language.
Chalmers Johnson was, you might say, our first blowback scholar. Now, more than a decade later, we have a book from our first blowback reporter. His name is Jeremy Scahill. In 2007, he, too, produced a surprise bestseller, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. It caught the mood of a moment in which the Bush administration, in service to its foreign wars, was working manically to “privatize” national security and the U.S. military by hiring rent-a-spies, rent-a-guns, and rent-a-corporations for its proliferating wars.
In the ensuing years, it was as if Scahill had taken Johnson’s observation to heart — that we Americans can’t see our world as it is. And little wonder, since so much of the American way of war has plunged into the shadows. As two administrations in Washington arrogated ever greater war-making and national security powers, they began to develop a new, off-the-books, undeclared style of war-making. In the process, they transformed an increasingly militarized CIA, a hush-hush crew called the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), and a shiny new “perfect weapon” and high-tech fantasy object, the drone, into the president’s own privatized military.
In these years, war and the path to it were becoming the private business and property of the White House and the national security state — and no one else. Little of this, of course, was a secret to those on the receiving end. It was only Americans who were not supposed to know much about what was being done in their name. As a result, there was a secret history of twenty-first-century American war crying out to be written. Now, we have it in the form of Scahill’s latest book, Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield.
Scahill has tracked, in particular, the rise of JSOC. In Iraq, it grew into a kind of Murder Inc., “an executive assassination wing,” as Seymour Hersh once put it, operating out of Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. It next turned its hunter/killer methods on Afghanistan and then on the planet, as the special operations forces themselves grew into an expansive secret military cocooned inside the U.S. military. In those years, Scahill started following the footsteps of special ops types into the field, while mainlining into sources in their community as well as other parts of the American military and intelligence world.
In his new book, he dramatically . . .
Coleen Rowley has an interesting article suggesting that the Boston bomb was another example of blowback from Neocon operations (cf. CIA support of Afghans fighting Russia: Charlie Wilson’s war and all that).
I almost choked on my coffee listening to neoconservative Rudy Giuliani pompously claim on national TV that he was surprised about any Chechens being responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings because he’s never seen any indication that Chechen extremists harbored animosity toward the U.S.; Guiliani thought they were only focused on Russia.
Giuliani knows full well how the Chechen “terrorists” proved useful to the U.S. in keeping pressure on the Russians, much as the Afghan mujahedeen were used in the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan from 1980 to 1989. In fact, many neocons signed up as Chechnya’s “friends,” including former CIA Director James Woolsey.
For instance, see this 2004 article in the UK Guardian, entitled, “The Chechens’ American friends: The Washington neocons’ commitment to the war on terror evaporates in Chechnya, whose cause they have made their own.”Author John Laughland wrote: “the leading group which pleads the Chechen cause is the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya (ACPC). The list of the self-styled ‘distinguished Americans’ who are its members is a roll call of the most prominent neoconservatives who so enthusiastically support the ‘war on terror.’
“They include Richard Perle, the notorious Pentagon adviser; Elliott Abrams of Iran-Contra fame; Kenneth Adelman, the former US ambassador to the UN who egged on the invasion of Iraq by predicting it would be ‘a cakewalk’; Midge Decter, biographer of Donald Rumsfeld and a director of the rightwing Heritage Foundation; Frank Gaffney of the militarist Centre for Security Policy; Bruce Jackson, former US military intelligence officer and one-time vice-president of Lockheed Martin, now president of the US Committee on Nato; Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute, a former admirer of Italian fascism and now a leading proponent of regime change in Iran; and R. James Woolsey, the former CIA director who is one of the leading cheerleaders behind George Bush’s plans to re-model the Muslim world along pro-US lines.”
The ACPC later sanitized “Chechnya” to “Caucasus” so it’s rebranded itself as the “American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus.”
Of course, Giuliani also just happens to be one of several neocons and corrupt politicians who took hundreds of thousands of dollars from MEK sources when that Iranian group was listed by the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). The money paid for these American politicians to lobby (illegally under the Patriot Act) U.S. officials to get MEK off the FTO list.
Down the Rabbit Hole
Alice in Wonderland is an understatement if you understand the full reality of what’s going on. But if you can handle going down the rabbit hole even further, check out prominent former New York Times journalist (and author of The Commission book) Phil Shenon’s discovery of the incredible “Terrible Missed Chance” a couple of years ago.
Shenon’s discovery involved key information that the FBI and the entire “intelligence” community mishandled and covered up, not only before 9/11 but for a decade afterward. And it also related to the exact point of my 2002 “whistleblower memo” that led to the post 9/11 DOJ-Inspector General investigation about FBI failures and also partially helped launch the 9/11 Commission investigation.
But still the full truth did not come out, even after Shenon’s blockbuster discovery in 2011 of the April 2001 memo linking the main Chechen leader Ibn al Khattab to Osama bin Laden. The buried April 2001 memo had been addressed to FBI Director Louis Freeh (another illegal recipient of MEK money, by the way!) and also to eight of the FBI’s top counter-terrorism officials.
Similar memos must have been widely shared with all U.S. intelligence in April 2001. Within days of terrorist suspect Zaccarias Moussaoui’s arrest in Minnesota on Aug. 16, 2001, French intelligence confirmed that Moussaoui had been fighting under and recruiting for Ibn al-Khattab, raising concerns about Moussaoui’s flight training.
Yet FBI Headquarters officials balked at allowing a search of his laptop and other property, still refusing to recognize that: 1) the Chechen separatists were themselves a “terrorist group” for purposes of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s (FISA) legal requirement of acting “on behalf of a foreign power” and 2) that Moussaoui’s link to Ibn al Khattab inherently then linked him to bin Laden’s well-recognized Al Qaeda group for purposes of FISA (the point in my memo).
This all occurred during the same time that CIA Director George Tenet and other counter-terrorism officials — and don’t forget that Tenet was apprised of the information about Moussaoui’s arrest around Aug. 24, 2001 — told us their “hair was on fire” over the prospect of a major terrorist attack and “the system was blinking red.”
The post 9/11 investigations launched as a result of my 2002 “whistleblower memo” did conclude that a major mistake, which could have prevented or reduced 9/11, was the lack of recognition of al Khattab’s Chechen fighters as a “terrorist group” for purposes of FISA.
As far as I know, the several top FBI officials, who were the named recipients of the April 2001 intelligence memo entitled “Bin Laden/Ibn Khattab Threat Reporting” establishing how the two leaders were “heavily entwined,” brushed it off by mostly denying they had read the April 2001 memo (which explains why the memo had to be covered up as they attempted to cover up other embarrassing info).
There are other theories, of course, as to why U.S. officials could not understand or grasp this “terrorist link.” These involve . . .