SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: The vice president is suggesting that there was good information obtained, and I'd like the committee to get that information. Let's have both sides of the story here. I mean, one of the reasons these techniques have survived for about 500 years is apparently they work.
ALI SOUFAN: Because, sir, there's a lot of people who don't know how to interrogate, and it's easier to hit somebody than outsmart them.
"The CIA says it cannot comply with the request from former Vice President Dick Cheney, who wants CIA documents declassified and released that he says would show the successful application of harsh interrogation methods."
“Nothing I have seen — including the two documents to which former Vice President Cheney has repeatedly referred — indicates that the torture techniques…were necessary.” Now, in a letter to the National Archives, CIA Information and Privacy Coordinator Delores M. Nelson, “rejected Cheney’s request because the documents he has requested are involved in a Freedom of Information Act court battle.”
After 9/11, the Bush admin was desperate to make sure another attack wasn't in the offing and to prevent any such attack if it were.
The GOP's survival is going to depend on them casting the Cheney-ites as a criminal conspiracy that hijacked the party and the national security apparatus of the United States for their own purposes.
There's also testimony coming out saying that waterboarding was used heavily to create a link between Iraq and Al-Qaida.
Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
– Convention Against Torture, Article 1.1
When I asked the CIA what dates was I briefed, they gave me four dates, two in April, two in September of ‘02,” Graham said. “On three of the four occasions, when I consulted my schedule and my notes, it was clear that no briefing took place on that date, and the CIA eventually concurred in that. So their record keeping is a little bit suspect.
"Today, May 14, 2009, Rep. John Boehner criticized Speaker Pelosi's press conference by saying, 'it's hard for me to imagine that our intelligence area would ever mislead a member of Congress.' Yet in 2007, Rep. Boehner criticized our nation's intelligence community by saying, 'either I don't have confidence in what they told me several months ago or I don't have confidence in what they're telling me today.' Once again, rather than finding the truth, Rep. Boehner is playing politics."
In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.
“While hardly alone in the entertainment universe of television and movies in portraying torture, shows like ‘24’ and later ABC's ‘Lost’ were sought out by the human rights activists because of their popularity, both here and around the world. Even in Iraq, such series can sometimes substitute for or trump military training, and transmit a dark message to soldiers.
‘Everyone wanted to be a Hollywood interrogator,’ said Tony Lagouranis, a former U.S. Army interrogator at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq who spoke to the creative teams from ‘24’ and ‘Lost.’ ‘That's all people did in Iraq was watch DVDs of television shows and movies. What we learned in military schools didn't apply anymore.’
At the infamous Iraqi prison for nearly all of 2004, Lagouranis soon left the military and went to the media to detail the torture, largely ineffective, that was inflicted upon the inmates. He said that his actions -- sleep deprivation, hypothermia, dietary manipulations and use of dogs, all illegal according to American and international law -- were relatively mild compared with what else was being practiced.
‘It's an ugly thing,’ said Lagouranis. ‘You don't get neat, tidy answers like you do on television.’
The Hollywood meeting, a spirited back-and-forth discussion with its moments of defensiveness by most accounts, lasted a couple of hours and was followed by an Italian lunch. For the ‘24’ team, the afternoon served as a rare opportunity for it to debrief real-world interrogators, but it also stirred up television's age-old tension between entertainment and social responsibility.
‘The meeting was an eye-opener,’ said ‘24’ executive producer Howard Gordon. ‘We hadn't really thought a lot about torture as anything more than a dramatic device.’
As a result, Gordon has been filmed for a Humans Rights First video about torture that is expected to be used next fall at West Point and perhaps other military organizations as well. Executive producers from ‘Lost’ also agreed to be in the video, which was shot last month.
Human Rights First, a nonprofit group with an annual budget of about $7 million, plans to continue pushing the point. They are in talks with the Writers Guild of America to bring in its team of former interrogators to discuss real-world experiences with Hollywood writers.”
“This past November, U.S. Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, the dean of the United States Military Academy at West Point, flew to Southern California to meet with the creative team behind ‘24.’ Finnegan, who was accompanied by three of the most experienced military and F.B.I. interrogators in the country, arrived on the set as the crew was filming. At first, Finnegan—wearing an immaculate Army uniform, his chest covered in ribbons and medals—aroused confusion: he was taken for an actor and was asked by someone what time his ‘call’ was.
In fact, Finnegan and the others had come to voice their concern that the show’s central political premise—that the letter of American law must be sacrificed for the country’s security—was having a toxic effect. In their view, the show promoted unethical and illegal behavior and had adversely affected the training and performance of real American soldiers. ‘I’d like them to stop,’ Finnegan said of the show’s producers. ‘They should do a show where torture backfires.’”
The officially stated policy of the United States in 1998 was to replace the regime in Iraq.
“Tony Lagouranis, a former Army interrogator in the war in Iraq. He told the show’s staff that DVDs of shows such as ‘24’ circulate widely among soldiers stationed in Iraq. Lagouranis said to me, ‘People watch the shows, and then walk into the interrogation booths and do the same things they’ve just seen.’... ‘In Iraq, I never saw pain produce intelligence,’ Lagouranis told me. ‘I worked with someone who used waterboarding’—an interrogation method involving the repeated near-drowning of a suspect. ‘I used severe hypothermia, dogs, and sleep deprivation. I saw suspects after soldiers had gone into their homes and broken their bones, or made them sit on a Humvee’s hot exhaust pipes until they got third-degree burns. Nothing happened.’ Some people, he said, ‘gave confessions. But they just told us what we already knew. It never opened up a stream of new information.’ If anything, he said, ‘physical pain can strengthen the resolve to clam up.’
Last December, the Intelligence Science Board, an advisory panel to the U.S. intelligence community, released a report declaring that ‘most observers, even those within professional circles, have unfortunately been influenced by the media’s colorful (and artificial) view of interrogation as almost always involving hostility.”
“In a tense interview on Fox News today, host Shep Smith repeatedly pressed Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) if waterboarding is torture. Hoekstra initially dodged, saying, ‘I don’t know if it’s torture or not.’ ‘I’d like an answer, sir,’ Smith responded. Asked a fourth time, Hoekstra finally said he believes that interrogations used in the ‘immediate aftermath’ of 2002 — which included waterboarding — were ‘consistent’ with the law:SMITH: And waterboarding is or is not torture?
HOEKSTRA: There is a wide range of waterboarding. I’m telling you, that I know waterboarding was used, Shep. I’m not mincing words. I’m saying that I believe the techniques used in 2002, in 2003, which included waterboarding in a specific format that I’m aware of how they used it, that I believe that was consistent with U.S. law.Watch it: video | 02:41.
Of course, waterboarding has for decades violated domestic and international law.”
SMITH: And waterboarding is or is not torture?
HOEKSTRA: There is a wide range of waterboarding. I’m telling you, that I know waterboarding was used, Shep. I’m not mincing words. I’m saying that I believe the techniques used in 2002, in 2003, which included waterboarding in a specific format that I’m aware of how they used it, that I believe that was consistent with U.S. law.
"In testimony that could bolster Speaker Nancy Pelosi's claim that the CIA misled her during briefings on detainee interrogations, former Senator Bob Graham insisted on Thursday that he too was kept in the dark about the use of waterboarding, and called the agency's records on these briefings "suspect."
In an interview with the Huffington Post, the former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman said that approximately a month ago, the CIA provided him with false information about how many times and when he was briefed on enhanced interrogations....[more]."
"Likewise, what I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002--well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion--its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa'ida."
It is because of the claim that torture protected the US that the many Americans who still nod their heads when they hear Dick Cheney's claims about the necessity for "tough, mean, dirty, nasty" tactics in the war on terror respond to its revelation not by instantly condemning it but instead by asking further questions. For example: Was it necessary? And: Did it work? To these questions the last president and vice-president, who "kept the country safe" for "seven-plus years," respond "yes," and "yes." And though as time passes the numbers of those insisting on asking those questions, and willing to accept those answers, no doubt falls, it remains significant, and would likely grow substantially after another successful attack.
,,, the chair of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, and its ranking member, Senator Christopher Bond of Missouri, have announced their own investigation into "how the CIA created, operated, and maintained its detention and interrogation program" and—what is crucial—their intention to make "an evaluation of intelligence information gained through the use of enhanced and standard interrogation techniques."
That is the central, unanswered question: What was gained? We know already a good deal about what was lost. ... Torture has undermined the United States' reputation for respecting and following the law and thus has crippled its political influence. By torturing, the United States has wounded itself and helped its enemies in what is in the end an inherently political war—a war, that is, in which the critical target to be conquered is the allegiances and attitudes of young Muslims. ...
This is the only way we can begin to come to a true consensus about torture. By all accounts, it is likely that the intelligence harvest that can be attributed directly to the "alternative set of procedures" is meager. But whatever information might have been gained, it must be assessed and then judged against the great costs, legal, moral, political, incurred in producing it. Torture's harvest, whatever it may truly be, is very unlikely to have outweighed those costs.
... The issue [of torture] could not be more important, for it cuts to the basic question of who we are as Americans, and whether our laws and ideals truly guide us in our actions or serve, instead, as a kind of national decoration to be discarded in times of danger. The only way to confront the political power of the issue, and prevent the reappearance of the practice itself, is to take a hard look at the true "empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years," and speak out, clearly and credibly, about what that story really tells.
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