Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for July 2014

David Frum totally jumps to conclusions, stating as fact what he hopes might be true

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Written by LeisureGuy

31 July 2014 at 8:31 pm

Posted in Mideast Conflict

The storm against the CIA is picking up steam—and no wonder

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Read this NY Times report by Mark Mazzatti and Carl Hulse:

An internal investigation by the C.I.A. has found that its officers penetrated a computer network used by the Senate Intelligence Committee in preparing its damning report on the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program.

The report by the agency’s inspector general also found that C.I.A. officers read the emails of the Senate investigators and sent a criminal referral to the Justice Department based on false information, according to a summary of findings made public on Thursday. According to one official with knowledge of the report’s conclusions, the investigation also discovered that the officers created a false online identity to gain access on more than one occasion to computers used by the committee staff.

Continue reading. And later in the story:

Anger among lawmakers grew throughout the day. Leaving a nearly three-hour briefing about the report in a Senate conference room, members of both parties called for the C.I.A. officers to be held accountable, and some said they had lost confidence in Mr. Brennan’s leadership. “This is a serious situation and there are serious violations,” said Mr. Chambliss, generally a staunch ally of the intelligence community. He called for the C.I.A. employees to be “dealt with very harshly.”

Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado and another member of the Intelligence Committee, demanded Mr. Brennan’s resignation. “The C.I.A. unconstitutionally spied on Congress by hacking into the Senate Intelligence Committee computers,” he said in a written statement. “This grave misconduct not only is illegal but it violates the U.S. Constitution’s requirement of separation of powers.

“These offenses, along with other errors in judgment by some at the C.I.A., demonstrate a tremendous failure of leadership, and there must be consequences,” he added.

Committee Democrats have spent more than five years working on a report about the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program during the Bush administration, which employed brutal interrogation methods like waterboarding. Parts of that report, which concluded that the techniques yielded little valuable information and that C.I.A. officials consistently misled the White House and Congress about the efficacy of the techniques, are expected to be made public some time this month.

The question remains: What, if anything, will Obama do about it? Will he support Congress and the Constitution and set the CIA straight? Or (more likely) will he classify as Top Secret everything that touches on this, refuse to release the report without lots of redactions, and protect the CIA? Here’s a hint, from later in the report:

The White House publicly defended Mr. Brennan on Thursday, saying he had taken “responsible steps” to address the behavior of C.I.A. employees, which he said included suggesting an investigation, accepting its results and appointing an accountability board.

Asked whether the results of the investigation presented a credibility issue for Mr. Brennan, Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said, “Not at all.”

Crediting Mr. Brennan with playing an “instrumental role” in helping the United States government destroy Al Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mr. Earnest said, “He is somebody who has a very difficult job, who does that job extraordinarily well.”

Other than lying repeatedly, of course.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 July 2014 at 8:11 pm

And what have we learned yet again: Never ever trust the CIA

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Dan Froomkin writes at The Intercept:

I don’t want to understate how seriously wrong it is that the CIA searched Senate computers. Our constitutional order is seriously out of whack when the executive branch acts with that kind of impunity — to its overseers, no less.

But given everything else that’s been going on lately, the single biggest — and arguably most constructive — thing to focus on is how outrageously CIA Director John Brennan lied to everyone about it.

“As far as the allegations of the CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth,” Brennan told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell in March. “We wouldn’t do that. I mean, that’s just beyond the, you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we do.”

Earlier, he had castigated “some members of the Senate” for making “spurious allegations about CIA actions that are wholly unsupported by the facts.” He called for an end to “outbursts that do a disservice to the important relationship that needs to be maintained between intelligence officials and Congressional overseers.”

And what compelled Senate intelligence committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein to make a dramatic floor speech in the first place, bringing everything out in the open, was that Brennan had responded to her initial concerns not by acknowledging the CIA’s misconduct — but by firing back with an allegation of criminal activity by her own staff.

Not coincidentally, the document the CIA was hunting for, that Senate staffers were accused of purloining, and that Brennan was now lying about, was a big deal precisely because it exposed more lies.

Known as the Panetta Review (evidently prepared for Leon Panetta, who served as CIA director from 2009 to 2011), it became relevant last year, when the CIA started pushing back against many of the scathing conclusions in the several-thousand page “Torture Report” the Senate staffers had finished up in December 2012.

Even as the CIA was officially rebutting key parts of the committee’s report, the staffers realized they had an internal CIA review that corroborated them. In other words, it was proof that the CIA was now lying.

So what’s in the Torture Report?  . . .

Continue reading.

And of course Obama will continue to support John Brennan, and Brennan will keep his job. Obama will even put with direct insubordination (Michelle Leonhardt), so supporting Brennan will be no problem, especially given that Obama nominated him over the objections from the Left.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 July 2014 at 6:38 pm

The White House Tries, Fails to Explain Why Marijuana Should Remain Illegal

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Philip Boffey writes in the NY Times:

No sooner had the Times published its opening editorials advocating legalization of marijuana than the White House fired back with an unconvincing response on its website. It argued that marijuana should remain illegal because of public health problems “associated” (always a slippery word) with increased marijuana use.

Careful readers will immediately see the White House statement for what it is: A pro forma response to a perceived public relations crisis, not a full-fledged review of all the scientific evidence, pro and con. The White House is actually required by law to oppose all efforts to legalize a banned drug.

Besides, it is hypocritical for the White House, whose chefs brew beer for the president, to oppose legalizing marijuana, which poses far less risk to consumers and society than does alcohol. Two recipes for the White House brew are posted on its website under the headline “Ale to the Chief.”

The White House lumped its public health argument under four main headings. Before addressing them individually, we should note that there was an enormous upsurge in marijuana use in the 1970s. So far as we know, no one has claimed that it produced calamitous health or societal harm in subsequent decades. The main metric that soared was arrests for possession of marijuana.

Here are our responses to the four main public health contentions made by the White House.

The first — that marijuana use affects the developing brain — is a concern for all parents of teenagers. That’s why we recommended regulations to keep marijuana out of the hands of young people. The White House cites a study by Australian researchers, published in 2012 in the journal Brain, which found that heavy cannabis use starting while young impairs connections between nerve fibers in the adult brain. It also cites a study which purports to show that heavy use by teenagers can lead to a big decline in intelligence in adult years. That study has been criticized as flawed by a Norwegian researcher who believes that socio-economic factors explain most of the apparent loss of IQ and that the true effect of marijuana could be zero. And remember: no responsible advocate of legalization is urging that marijuana be made available to teenagers.

The second contention — that marijuana use by school age children leads to lower grades — is based on studies where marijuana use is “associated with” lower grades but there is scant evidence that it caused the low grades. In fact the survey cited by the White House cautions that “These associations do not prove causation. Further research is needed to determine whether low grades lead to alcohol and other drug use, alcohol and other drug use leads to low grades, or some other factors lead to both of these problems.”

Parents who deem marijuana responsible for apathy and lack of motivation in their teenagers should be aware that other factors may be in play. The Institute of Medicine, in its 1999 report, noted that when heavy marijuana users drop out of school, work or social activities the drug is often blamed, but it found no convincing data demonstrating a causal relationship between marijuana smoking and those behavioral characteristics.

The third contention — that marijuana is addictive — . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 July 2014 at 6:17 pm

Interesting meme migration

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Once the meme is established, it can appear (and be used in) many contexts: for example, look at this Madison Avenue/Terrorism mashup meme.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 July 2014 at 4:32 pm

Posted in Mideast Conflict

Countries are starting to adopt more vigorous on-line surveillance

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I assume they’re learning from NSA: Universal surveillance of all your citizens is a meme that appeals to governments of many countries, not just the freedom-loving (ironic) US.

At any rate, as Twitter grows, Twitter requests grow: read this article.

And once those governments start to want data, they are going to get it. Why? Because the US claims it can get data that Microsoft stored overseas—data that is not in the US. But the US thinks it can get it—so when some iffy ally wants down that’s stored in the US, the precedent is there. Of course, we’ll also be demanding that the drone attacks they’re launching toward their citizens who fled their country to live in the US—citizens that the other government views as terrorists.

Take an example: Cuba and Venezuela view Luis Posada Carriles as a terrorist—in part because he deliberately blew up a civilian airliner in flight. I think even the US might view that as an act of terrorism—but apparently not, because old Luis was living the life of Riley all during the Bush Administration, and well into the Obama Administration.

Now that the US has established the precedent, what if a drone came over Florida and fired a Hellfire missile, taking out Carriles and everyone else in the apartment building—the “human shields”—who become collateral damage, and perhaps (as the US does when one of its missiles kills civilian bystanders) pay a few thousand dollars a head. And of course both Cuba and Venezuela would deny it (as the US denied its own drone attacks in Yemen for years), so it would be altogether awkward. It looks so different when it goes the other way, doesn’t it?

Written by LeisureGuy

31 July 2014 at 4:27 pm

Just got a filling

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It was on the cutting edge of an incisor—very small and mostly preventive of future trouble. But man! are tolerances tight on teeth. The filling was just a little tiny bit high, but I could really feel it.

I have a good dentist: I made impressions on some kind of paper, and she ground gently away until the fit was perfect. I had not realized that the tolerances were so tight.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 July 2014 at 3:19 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health, Medical

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