Benghazigate exposed. Today State Dept. contradicts administration account of Libya attack. Who’s in charge of our foreign policy? 6:02 AM – 10 Oct 12
Fancy that, Representative Vicky Hartzler (r) mindlessly parroting republican talking points for political purposes. And there was a really big oopsie at the “hearing” that anyone without a partisan political agenda could have easily foreseen.
When House Republicans called a hearing in the middle of their long recess, you knew it would be something big, and indeed it was: They accidentally blew the CIA’s cover.
The purpose of Wednesday’s hearing of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee was to examine security lapses that led to the killing in Benghazi last month of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three others. But in doing so, the lawmakers reminded us why “congressional intelligence” is an oxymoron….
….The Republican lawmakers, in their outbursts, alternated between scolding the State Department officials for hiding behind classified material and blaming them for disclosing information that should have been classified. But the lawmakers created the situation by ordering a public hearing on a matter that belonged behind closed doors.
Republicans were aiming to embarrass the Obama administration over State Department security lapses. But they inadvertently caused a different picture to emerge than the one that has been publicly known: that the victims may have been let down not by the State Department but by the CIA. If the CIA was playing such a major role in these events, which was the unmistakable impression left by Wednesday’s hearing, having a televised probe of the matter was absurd.
The chairman, attempting to close his can of worms, finally suggested that “the entire committee have a classified briefing as to any and all other assets that were not drawn upon but could have been drawn upon” in Benghazi.
Good idea. Too bad he didn’t think of that before putting the CIA on C-SPAN.
Accidentally? That’s charitable. A republican clown show, indeed.
WikiLeaks on Monday began releasing a trove of 5 million emails from the Texas-based intelligence firm Stratfor. The emails were allegedly stolen by the elusive hacker group known as Anonymous in a penetration of the Stratfor website last December.
Stratfor, a “subscription-based provider of geopolitical analysis” has numerous Fortune 500 corporations as clients, in addition to various governmental organizations around the world.
WikiLeaks shared some of the more provocative stories contained within the email cache, including details about a proposed Stratfor spin-off intended to make financial investments based on pertinent intelligence the firm had gathered.
From Wikileaks website:
“The emails show that in 2009 then-Goldman Sachs Managing Director Shea Morenz and Stratfor CEO George Friedman hatched an idea to “utilise the intelligence” it was pulling in from its insider network to start up a captive strategic investment fund. CEO George Friedman explained in a confidential August 2011 document, marked DO NOT SHARE OR DISCUSS : “What StratCap will do is use our Stratfor’s intelligence and analysis to trade in a range of geopolitical instruments, particularly government bonds, currencies and the like”.
The emails show that in 2011 Goldman Sach’s Morenz invested “substantially” more than $4 million and joined Stratfor’s board of directors. Throughout 2011, a complex offshore share structure extending as far as South Africa was erected, designed to make StratCap appear to be legally independent. But, confidentially, Friedman told StratFor staff : “Do not think of StratCap as an outside organisation. It will be integral… It will be useful to you if, for the sake of convenience, you think of it as another aspect of Stratfor and Shea as another executive in Stratfor… we are already working on mock portfolios and trades”. StratCap is due to launch in 2012.”
FOX News website reported:
“The emails show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods,” the (WikiLeaks) website reads. It cites a Dec. 6, 2011, email from CEO George Friedman to Stratfor analyst Reva Bhalla, on how to exploit an Israeli intelligence informant providing information on the medical condition of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
“[Y]ou have to take control of him. Control means financial, sexual or psychological control … This is intended to start our conversation on your next phase,” the email reportedly reads.”
A statement published on Stratfor’s Facebook page about the WikiLeaks release called the action “deplorable, unfortunate – and illegal – breach of privacy.”
Stratfor further advised,
“Some of the emails may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic. We will not validate either. Nor will we explain the thinking that went into them. Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to questioning about them.”
The mass release of stolen private property, namely, Stratfor’s 5 million emails, might be crossing the line. Releasing documents, like the widely reported WikiLeaks U.S. State Department communiqués, makes up a basic pillar in the “open-source government” concept-that is, sunshine as the best disinfectant to address institutionalized secrecy and corruption.
But if there are no areas in the economy where private property and information is protected, then this precedent could usher in a new era of unbridled corporate warfare and espionage.
However, if there are significant illegalities uncovered, then the act of exposing private information to prevent a greater and continuing harm would justify WikiLeaks actions. In essence, this has been an ongoing criticism of WikiLeaks’ strategy-that a shotgun approach to releasing huge troves of secret or proprietary material is overreaching and potentially damages innocent actors in the process.
WikiLeaks would most likely assert that they have conducted copious amounts of due diligence in this regard and contend that the corporations or the governments that they choose to publish information about are in such a state of widespread corruption that there cannot be any “innocent” involvement with or within these institutions.
After Todd Akin’s recent diatribe – the one in which he trashed the CIA along with the rest of the “big government” bogeymen that worry him so much – we chided his fellow Republicans, including Kit Bond, for their inconsistency. Bond, if you remember, had gone ballistic when Nancy Pelosi asserted that the CIA had lied to the Congress, but seemed content to hold his peace about Rep. Akin’s remarks.
Now it seems that perhaps Senator Bond might have learned something that led him to decide, however belatedly, that discretion really is the better part of valor. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, has confirmed five instances in which the CIA lied to Congress since 2001, including the situation cited by Pelosi. Schakowsky is pretty unequivocal about what she expects from the Republicans who ganged up on Pelosi earlier:
Schakowsky was asked on MSNBC whether Republicans now owed Pelosi an apology. “I certainly think they do,” she said.
Will Senator Bond be big enough to step up and offer a public apology? I don’t know about you, but I’m not holding my breath.
Remember when Republicans got all worked up when Nancy Pelosi pointed out that the CIA might not have been totally on the up-and-up with Congress? Why, Media Matters asks, aren’t they equally up in arms when their own Todd Akin belittles, in Kit Bond’s words, our “terror fighters”?
Akin, tone-deaf as usual, is more than willing to sacrifice the CIA if he can get a dig in at “big government.” He drags out all of the conservative whipping boys; although it is perhaps surprising that he is so willing to lump the CIA together with such standard, right-wing bugaboos as the Department of Education. But that’s our boy Todd – always out on the edge of the fringe.
Unfortunately for Mr. Akin’s credibility, he neglects to mention that almost all of the agencies he decries have served their functions pretty well over the years, and when they have failed, it is often due to failures elswehere in the government. For instance, many agencies owe their current decimated state to changes effected during the heyday of George Bush and his Republican congress, which included the very compliant Mr. Akin. One thing is sure: government won’t work if those who are charged with making it work won’t do the job.
Seems Kit Bond, in his best huffing and puffing style, has thrown a noisy little tantrum and resigned from the Senate Intelligence Committee panel charged with reviewing CIA Interrogation policies. He claims that the appointment of a federal prosecutor by Attorney General Eric Holder might bias the hearings and lead to a general unwillingness on the part of CIA officers to be forthcoming about their possible, past misdeeds:
“Had Mr. Holder honored the pledge made by the President to look forward, not backwards, we would still be active participants in the Committee’s review,” the ranking Republican on the intelligence panel, Sen. Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, said in a statement. “What current or former CIA employee would be willing to gamble his freedom by answering the Committee’s questions? Indeed, forcing these terror fighters to make this choice is neither fair nor just.”
Bond’s resignation doesn’t seem to bother panel chair, Dianne Feinstein, who has indicated that the panel will complete its task with or without bipartisan contributions. Perhaps one reason for her equanimity might be relief that she won’t have to deal with the overt bias that Bond himself displays when he speaks about the temerity of the DOJ in investigating individuals whom he salutes as “terror fighters.”
Bond might just be worried, good Republican soldier that he is, that when faced with hard evidence about what the CIA actually did, he could find himself in a very hard place. He himself might be forced to condemn his beloved terror fighters. Can’t somebody please explain to the senator that there is a word for governments that allow secret intelligence agencies to run amok, and that word is “dictatorship”?
This 6-page white paper, published August 31, 2009, after the new release of the May 2004 CIA Inspector General’s report, shows that the extent to which American doctors and psychologists violated human rights and betrayed the ethical standards of their professions by designing, implementing, and legitimizing a worldwide torture program is worse than previously known.
A team of PHR doctors authored the white paper, which details how the CIA relied on medical expertise to rationalize and carry out abusive and unlawful interrogations. It also refers to aggregate collection of data on detainees’ reaction to interrogation methods. Physicians for Human Rights is concerned that this data collection and analysis may amount to human experimentation and calls for more investigation on this point. If confirmed, the development of a research protocol to assess and refine the use of the waterboard or other techniques would likely constitute a new, previously unknown category of ethical violations committed by CIA physicians and psychologists.
…In essence, the lawyers were asked if the techniques constituted torture and they replied to the CIA that they only did so if the CIA Office of Medical Services (OMS) informed them that the techniques reached the defined standard of pain. The OMS health professionals obligingly passed on through CIA channels their opinion that the pain was not in fact severe
In an egregious example of this circular process, one OLC memo concludes that waterboarding is not torture because “however frightening the experience may be, OMS personnel have informed us that the waterboard technique is not physically painful.” Scores of similar references to OMS medical judgments about pain and the safeguarding effects of medical monitoring appear throughout the memos. Although OMS did express some concern about some techniques, those objections were limited. Without the cooperation of health professionals in making these assessments, the OLC memos could not have reached the conclusions they did and could not have so easily justified torture…
Except they aren’t saying that. What is it about“…In the end, you and the Committee will have to determine whether this information is an accurate summary of what actually happened…” that Sarah Steelman doesn’t quite understand?
Oh that’s right, that’s always way too much to ask of right wingnut political hacks.
A January 17 New York Times editorial noted that Attorney General designate Eric Holder testified at his nomination hearings that when it came to overhauling the nation’s interrogation rules for both the military and the CIA, the Army Field Manual represented “a good start.” The editorial noted the vagueness of Holder’s statement. Left unsaid was the question, if the AFM is only a “good start,” what comes next?
The Times editorial writer never bothered to mention the fact that three years earlier, a different New York Times article (12/14/2005) introduced a new controversy regarding the rewrite of the Army Field Manual. The rewrite was inspired by a proposal by Senator John McCain to limit U.S. military and CIA interrogation methods to those in the Army Field Manual. (McCain would later allow an exception for the CIA.)
According to the Times article, a new set of classified procedures proposed for the manual was “was pushing the limits on legal interrogation.” Anonymous military sources called the procedures “a back-door effort” to undermine McCain’s efforts at the time to change U.S. abusive interrogation techniques, and stop the torture.
A Forgotten Controversy
Over the next six months or so, a number of articles in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the L.A. Times described the course of the controversy. By mid-June 2006, the NYT was reporting that, under pressure from unnamed senior generals and members of Congress (including McCain, and Senators Warner and Graham), the Pentagon was rethinking its plan to have a classified annex to the AFM, which would include a different set of interrogation rules for “unlawful combatants,” like the detainees at Guantanamo. Included in the discussion about these classified procedures were, reportedly, members of the State Department and various human rights organizations.
According to an article in the L.A. Times, this latest fight over the classified procedures went back at least to mid-May 2006. The manual itself had been written at the U.S. Army Intelligence Center at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona, roughly a year earlier, and then sent to the Pentagon for further evalution. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s right-hand man, Stephen Cambone, was put in charge of its final draft. According the L.A. Times article, members of Congress were “keen to avoid a public fight with the Pentagon.” The announcement that the controversial and still unknown procedures might not be included in the manual was seen as a success by human rights groups.
Yet the proverbial chickens never hatched, and by early September 2006 the new Army Field Manual was finally released. The section on special interrogation procedures for “unlawful combatants” was included as a special appendix (Appendix M), and published in unclassified format. According to a L.A. Times story on September 8, Cambone was crowing that the new Army Field Manual instructions would give interrogators “what they need to do the job.” The article noted:
The new manual includes one restricted technique that will only be used on so-called unlawful combatants – such as Al Qaeda suspects – not traditional prisoners of war.
That technique, called “separation,” involves segregating a detainee from other prisoners. Military officials said separation was not the equivalent of solitary confinement and was consistent with Geneva Convention protections.
As for the proposed secrecy surrounding the new techniques, the Pentagon had decided it couldn’t keep them secret forever. Senator Warner was also on record as against any classified annex to the manual.
Not long ago, I wrote about what was included in Appendix M, which purports to introduce the single technique of “separation.” In fact, the Appendix M includes instructions regarding solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, and, in combination with other procedures included in the Army Field Manual, amounted to a re-introduction of the psychological torture techniques practiced at Guantanamo, and taught by Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape, or SERE psychologists and other personnel at the Cuban base and elsewhere.
The rewrite of the Army Field Manual included other seemingly minor changes. It introduced dubious procedures, such as the “False Flag” technique, wherein interrogators could pretend they were from another country. It also redefined the meaning of “Fear Up,” a procedure meant to exploit a prisoner’s existing fears under imprisonment. Now, interrogators could create “new” fears. The AFM rewrite was a masterpiece of subterfuge and double talk, which could only have been issued from the offices of Rumsfeld and Cambone.
One would think this turnaround of the Pentagon’s position regarding a removal of these controversial procedures would have been a matter of some note. But there was no protest from Congress, no mention of the past controversy in the press, and only vague comments at first and then acceptance by human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Only Physicians for Human Rights protested the inclusion of the techniques listed in Appendix M. For the rest… silence.
DoD Rolls Out the New Model
On September 6, 2006, a news briefing was held by the Department of Defense, as part of the unveiling of the new Army Field Manual, in conjunction with the then-new Defense Department Directive for Detainee Programs (DoD Directive 2310.01E). Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs Cully Stimson and Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence (G-2) Lt. Gen. John Kimmons were the DoD presenters.
Much of the belief that the AFM provides an improvement over previous policies of the Department of Defense is likely due to a confusion between the two documents introduced that summer of 2006, the new Detainee Program Directive and the new Army Field Manual.
DoD Directive 2310.10E made a number of changes in regards to detainee operations and management. It made clear that “All persons subject to this Directive shall observe the requirements of the law of war, and shall apply, without regard to a detainee’s legal status, at a minimum the standards articulated in Common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949…” The same type of language appears in the text of the Army Field Manual itself.
During the press briefing on September 6, and a different one
the next day for the foreign press, reporters were not so easily fooled.
One unnamed reporter at the DoD briefing challenged Lt. Gen. Kimmons on the “single standard” issue:
Q General, why was the decision made to keep these categories — the separate categories of detainees? You have traditional prisoners of war and then the unlawful enemy combatants. Why not treat all detainees under U.S. military custody the exact same way?
Kimmons’s answer quickly veered into unacceptable territory, and Stimson had to jump in to clarify, as this excerpt demonstrates (emphasis added):
GEN. KIMMONS: Well, actually, the distinction is in Geneva through the Geneva Convention, which describes the criteria that prisoner — that lawful combatants, such as enemy prisoners of war — which attributes they possess — wearing a uniform, fighting for a government, bearing your arms openly and so on and so forth. And it’s all spelled out fairly precisely inside Geneva.
Geneva also makes clear that traditional, unlawful combatants such as in the — 50 years ago, we would have talked about spies and saboteurs, but also now applies to this new category of unlawful — or new type of unlawful combatant, terrorists, al Qaeda, Taliban.
They clearly don’t meet the criteria for prisoner of war status, lawful combatant status, and so they’re not entitled to the — therefore to the extra protections and privileges which Geneva affords.
But Stimson’s clarification was not very helpful. In fact, if a prisoner is judged not a “lawful combatant”, then he or she immediately becomes covered by Geneva IV, the “Civilian Convention,” which protects anyone “who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever find themselves” held prisoner. According to the International Red Cross Commentary on the Geneva Conventions:
Every person in enemy hands must have some status under international law: he is either a prisoner of war and, as such, covered by the Third [POW] Convention, [or] a civilian covered by the Fourth Convention…. There is no intermediate status; nobody in enemy hands can fall outside the law.
Separation and Sensory Deprivation
One questioner took on the topic of the “Separation” technique. Wasn’t it the same as solitary confinement, and wasn’t solitary confinement “banned by Common Article 3 in the affront to human dignity, other provisions? “Are you confident,” a reporter asked, “that separation is permitted under Common Article 3?”
The Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs responded by denying that separation amounted to solitary confinement, even though the AFM describes the technique as, among other things “physical separation” “limited to 30 days of initial duration.” Extensions for such physical separation must be reviewed and approved the General Officer or Flag Officer who initially approved the original “separation.”
Kimmons’ reply was even more disingenuous:
We have always segregated enemy combatants on the battlefield at the point of capture and beyond, to keep them silent, segregate the officers from the enlisted, the men from the women, and so forth. That’s traditional; it goes back to World War II and beyond.
So, is “separation” a matter of segregating prisoners, or what? In the Army Field Manual itself, one gets that same kind of double talk. At first it is presented thus:
The purpose of separation is to deny the detainee the opportunity to communicate with other detainees in order to keep him from learning counter-resistance techniques or gathering new information to support a cover story; decreasing the detainee’s resistance to interrogation.
This description sounds a lot like segregation for security purposes, although there is that phrase “decreasing the detainee’s resistance.” A page or so later, however, we find the following (emphasis added):
The use of separation should not be confused with the detainee-handling techniques approved in Appendix D [Guide for Handling Detainees]. Specifically, the use of segregation during prisoner handling (Search, Silence, Segregate, Speed, Safeguard, and Tag [5 S’s and a T]) should not be confused with the use of separation as a restricted interrogation technique.
Furthermore, we learn that “separation” requires an interrogation plan, and medical and legal review, as well, of course, as “physical separation.” If this is not solitary confinement for the purposes of breaking a prisoner down for interrogation, then the English language has lost all purpose in explaining things.
Another line of questioning took on the AFM’s contention that it banned sensory deprivation. The entire exchange at the September 6 hearing is worth reproducing here. It represents, among other things, the most thorough line of inquiry I have seen by any reporter in quite some time. The following quote contains added emphases.
Q General, as an expert in interrogations, do you believe that sensory deprivation was abusive, or did it ever prove to be helpful in interrogation?
GEN. KIMMONS: Sensory deprivation is abusive and it’s prohibited in this Field Manual, and it’s absolutely counterproductive, in my understanding of what we have used productively. Sensory deprivation, just to be clear — and we define it in the Field Manual, but basically, it comes down to the almost complete deprivation of all sensory stimuli, light, noise, and so forth, and to the point where it can have an adverse mental, psychological effect on a — disorienting effect on a detainee.
Q So could there be deprivation of light alone for extended periods of time, as opposed to complete sensory deprivation?
GEN. KIMMONS: I think the total loss of an external stimulus, such as deprivation of light, would not fit what we have described here as — for example, if you’re hinting about separation, separation does not involve the darkness or lack of that type of sensory stimulation.
Q That wasn’t the question, though. Would sensory — would the deprivation of light alone be permitted under the current manual, as opposed — because you described sensory deprivation as total deprivation —
GEN. KIMMONS: That’s correction.
Q — of all senses. So deprivation of light alone for extended periods would be permitted?
GEN. KIMMONS: I don’t think the Field Manual explicitly addresses it.
It does not make it prohibited. And it would have to be weighed in the context of the overall environment. If it was at nighttime during sleep hours, then it would make personal sense to turn the lights off.
Q You know what I’m talking about. I’m trying to get at — because you said specifically total sensory deprivation — so deprivation of any one sense might be permitted. Like light, for example. They could be kept in the dark for extended periods of time beyond the usual nighttime hours.
This is really too specific and challenging for the DoD briefers, and they turn on their double-talk machine:
MR. STIMSON: Jim, questions like this are good questions to ask. And what’s important to remember is that interrogation plans are put together for a reason so that not just one person can decide what he or she wants to do and then run off and do it. They’re vetted. It’s laid
out how they’re vetted. General Kimmons could go into that in exhaustive detail. Typically, there would be a JAG, as I understand it, General Kimmons —
GEN. KIMMONS: That’s correct.
MR. STIMSON: — that would have to review that. It goes up through various chains of command. And so, you know, types of questions like this would have to be asked and then vetted through that process.
Burying the Story
With all the hard questioning by the press, you’d think the issues would have been aired in the media in the days and weeks following the introduction of the Army Field Manual. As should be evident by now, that’s not what happened.
Here’s how the L.A. Times covered it (9/6/06), getting the story exactly backwards (emphasis added):
Bowing to critics of its tough interrogation policies, the Pentagon is issuing a new Army field manual that provides Geneva Convention protections for all detainees and eliminates a secret list of interrogation tactics.
The manual, set for release today, also reverses an earlier decision to maintain two interrogation standards – one for traditional prisoners of war and another for “unlawful combatants” captured during a conflict but not affiliated with a nation’s military force.
There is no mention of Appendix M or any controversy over techniques. Jumana Musa, an “advocacy director for Amnesty International, is quoted as noting, “”If the new field manual embraces the Geneva Convention, it is an important return to the rule of law.'”
The 9/7/06 article in the Washington Post was, if anything, even more laudatory of the new AFM:
Pentagon officials yesterday repudiated the harsh interrogation tactics adopted since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, specifically forbidding U.S. troops from using forced nudity, hooding, military dogs and waterboarding to elicit information from detainees captured in ongoing wars.
The Defense Department simultaneously embraced international humane treatment standards for all detainees in U.S. military custody, the first time there has been a uniform standard for both enemy prisoners of war and the so-called unlawful combatants linked to al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist organizations.
The article falsely claims the AFM bans manipulation of sleep patterns. Regarding any controversy, the article explains:
Three expanded techniques — good cop, bad cop; pretending to be an official from another country; and detention in a separate cell from others — are allowed but require approval from senior officers. Officials originally considered keeping those three techniques classified but decided to make them public for the sake of full transparency.
The Post article also briefly mentions the generally positive response of human rights groups:
“This is the Pentagon coming full circle,” said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. “This is very strong guidance.”
As for the human rights organizations, Amnesty International later essentially signed off on the AFM. In an article from the Winter 2007 issue of Amnesty International Magazine, Jumana Musa, quoted in the L.A. Times article above, had this to say about the new AFM:
AIUSA also worked with U.S. representatives and senators to introduce legislation to create a single, transparent standard for interrogations and to limit the CIA to approved interrogation techniques outlined in the Army Field Manual.
In a telephone interview for this article, Mr. Malinowski said he supported using the Army Field Manual as a replacement for the CIA “enhanced interrogation techniques,” and described the question of abuse in Appendix M as not entirely clear. The language in Appendix M was “ambiguous,” and open to criticism due to a “lack of clarity.” He maintained, however, that using the current Army Field Manual as a model was merely a beginning, and that a new overhaul of interrogation techniques was on the agenda.
A call made to Amnesty International’s press contact regarding this issue, and an e-mail sent to Jumana Musa, were both unreturned.
Two conclusions can be drawn from the above examination of the “selling” of the Army Field Manual to the American public in the late summer of 2006 and beyond. One is that reporters on the beat were very aware of the origins and implications of the issues surrounding Geneva and the AFM, and the controversies surrounding the use of isolation and other techniques under the rubric of “Separation.” The extremely muted or non-existent discussion in the mainstream press of these issues after the AFM was introduced means that a decision to suppress these issues was made at an editorial level, and were not the result of laziness or dilatory reporting on behalf of reporters.
Secondly, the role of some human rights organizations in promoting the new Army Field Manual — in particular, the actions of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch — are curious, to say the least. Press reports and the interview with Malinowski show that inclusion of certain human rights organizations in the vetting of the AFM started at the very beginning. We may not be able to find out what went on in the editorial offices of the nation’s top newspapers, but we should know more about the discussions within the human rights organizations on how they advised, or were fooled, by talks with Bush administration and Pentagon personnel.
Meanwhile, other human rights organizations, such as the Nobel Prize-winning Physicians for Human Rights, have criticized the language and techniques described in Appendix M of the Army Field Manual, and called for rescission of the offending text. In a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in May 2007, Leonard S. Rubenstein, Executive Director of PHR, and retired Brigadier General Stephen N. Xenakis, MD, former Commanding General of the Southeast Regional U.S. Army Medical Command, wrote:
The new Army Field Manual on human intelligence gathering… explicitly prohibits several SERE-based techniques, yet Appendix M of the manual explicitly permits what amounts to isolation, along with sleep and sensory deprivation. The manual is silent on a number of other SERE-based methods, creating ambiguity and doubt over their place in interrogation doctrine….
PHR, therefore, respectfully urges you to take the following actions:
1. Fully implement the OIG’s recommendation to “preclude the use of Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape physical and psychological coercion techniques” in all interrogations. (Id, pp. 29-30.) This includes rescission of Appendix M of the new Army Field Manual and specific prohibition, by name, of each of the known SERE-based methods and their equivalents.
It seems likely that the Army Field Manual, whether by executive order (most likely) or by legislation, will become the new “single standard” for U.S. interrogation. Press reports hint that the Obama administration may yet allow a loophole for CIA interrogators. I don’t know how that will sit with the many military lawyers and officers who have been instrumental in opposing Bush/Rumsfeld’s torture policies from the beginning. I’m th
inking of people like Alberto Mora and Antonio Taguba, or the new nominee for DoD General Counsel, Jeh Charles Johnson, who apparently intends to seriously change the policies set by his predecessor, Jim Haynes.
In any case, the full history and controversy behind torture and U.S. interrogation policy deserves a full airing. What happened, for instance, between June and September 2006, allowing for Pentagon acceptance of the Appendix M abusive procedures? When it comes to the implementation of a host of torture and cruel, inhumane interrogation techniques by the U.S. government, both an investigation and prosecutions are needed.
It will be a challenge for our society to bring out the full story, while also bringing to justice those individuals who broke both domestic law and international treaty. We will need both investigations and prosecutions in order settle scores with the past, to understand where we stand now, and what we need to change to move forward.
President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder must appoint a Special Prosecutor to conduct a formal investigation without political considerations and prosecute any and all government officials who have participated in War Crimes.
“After much thought and a careful review of the record, I voted today to confirm the nomination of Representative Porter Goss to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (DCI). But I do have some serious concerns – especially about the impact of this nomination on intelligence reform and his record of partisanship in Congress.
I believe the President should have the prerogative to appoint who he wants to be the DCI, or for any other senior position, subject only to the requirement that the person be qualified for the job. As a former CIA officer, a former Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and a former Army intelligence officer, I think he is certainly qualified. If he is confirmed, I would hope that he demonstrates the necessary independence required of the DCI. But there are still some open questions, which gave me some hesitancy in supporting the nomination…
How’s that “qualification” thing working out for you Senator Feinstein?:
…The New York Daily News reported Sunday that a “little known White House advisory board” pushed President Bush to dump Mr. Goss as CIA head. The president’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board was reportedly alarmed by the investigation of a spreading corruption scandal that had already looked into the actions of the CIA’s number three official and its executive director, Kyle Dustin (Dusty) Foggo, and may have indirectly touched on Goss himself…
…Panetta’s selection was met with criticism on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who this week begins her tenure as the first female head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she was not consulted on the choice and indicated she might oppose it.
“I was not informed about the selection of Leon Panetta to be the CIA director,” Feinstein said. “My position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time….”
Yeah, that Congressional oversight and “advice and consent” is kicking into overdrive after lying dormant for eight years.
…We cannot simply suspend these beliefs in the name of national security. Those who support torture may believe that we can abuse captives in certain select circumstances and still be true to our values. But that is a false compromise. We either believe in the dignity of the individual, the rule of law, and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, or we don’t. There is no middle ground.
We cannot and we must not use torture under any circumstances. We are better than that.
Yes, those responsible and those who enabled this are supposed to be held accountable: