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Archive for January 11th, 2010

Reid Carefully

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 11th, 2010 5:47 am by HL

Reid Carefully

By Mr. Fish

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Robert Kuttner: The Case Against Bernanke

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 11th, 2010 5:46 am by HL

Robert Kuttner: The Case Against Bernanke
I have argued that Democratic legislators ought to hold their noses and vote for a badly flawed health bill. To kill the bill would hand a huge victory to the Republican right. But the Bernanke re-nomination is another story. It is not a signature, make-or-break initiative of the administration. Bernanke’s defeat would be a repudiation of President Obama’s close alliance with Wall Street — but it would be extremely salutary for him and for us. It might even get the president’s attention for the proposition that his presidency and America’s economic future depend on an entirely different strategy of economic recovery.

Jack Schimmelman: Americans Dream
When I was 5 years old, living in the Bronx, New York, I had my favorite candy store. One day I was standing at the…

Howard Schweber: Perry v Schwarzenegger Begins Tomorrow!
Tomorrow (Monday, January 11), is the beginning of the trial in the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the highly publicized case challenging the constitutionality of…

Supreme Court Could Slash Campaign Finance Laws
WASHINGTON — Possibly coming soon to your TV screen: election-season Super Bowl-style ads promoting congressional and presidential candidates, paid for by some of the nation’s…

Caroline Myss: From the Audacity of Hope to Hopelessness
Exactly who is in charge of policy decisions in this nation — the administration or a single would-be terrorist bomber?


Monica Crowley revives dubious claim that waterboarding KSM resulted in “actionable intelligence”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 11th, 2010 5:45 am by HL

Monica Crowley revives dubious claim that waterboarding KSM resulted in “actionable intelligence”

On the January 10 edition of The McLaughin Group, Monica Crowley revived the dubious claim that “[w]aterboarding extracted a lot of very critical, actionable intelligence from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed,” echoing the oft-repeated conservative claims that 2004 CIA documents prove enhanced interrogation techniques were effective and that the Bush administration’s interrogation of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) resulted in the thwarting of an attack in Los Angeles. In fact, a 2004 CIA inspector general’s (IG) report of the CIA’s interrogation program stated that “[t]he effectiveness of particular interrogation techniques in eliciting information that might not otherwise have been obtained cannot be easily measured”; KSM reportedly said he “gave a lot of false information … in order to make the ill-treatment stop”; and the Bush administration said the L.A. attack was thwarted in February 2002 — more than a year before KSM was captured.

Crowley: “Waterboarding extracted a lot of very critical, actionable intelligence from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed”

Echoing previous falsehoods, Crowley asserted waterboarding resulted in “actionable intelligence” from KSM. Crowley revived previously debunked claims about the use of enhanced interrogations on the January 10 edition of the syndicated The McLaughin Group:

CROWLEY: Waterboarding extracted a lot of very critical, actionable intelligence from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

ELEANOR CLIFT (Newsweek contributing editor): That’s not true.

CROWLEY: That is true.

CIA IG report repeatedly describes difficulties in assessing effectiveness of particular techniques

IG report: “The effectiveness of particular interrogation techniques in eliciting information that might not otherwise have been obtained cannot be so easily measured.” From the “conclusions” section of the 2004 CIA IG report on “Counterterrorism Detention and Interrogation Activities”:

The Agency’s detention and interrogation of terrorists has provided intelligence that has enabled the identification and apprehension of other terrorists and warned of terrorist plots planned for the United States and around the world. The CTC Detention and Interrogation Program has resulted in the issuance of thousands of individual intelligence reports and analytic products supporting the counterterrorism efforts of U.S. policymakers and military commanders. The effectiveness of particular interrogation techniques in eliciting information that might not otherwise have been obtained cannot be so easily measured.

IG report: “[T]here is limited data on which to assess [EITs’] individual effectiveness.” From the IG report:

Inasmuch as EITs have been used only since August 2002, and they have not all been used with every high value detainee, there is limited data on which to assess their individual effectiveness. This Review indentified concerns about the use of the waterboard, specifically whether the risks of its use were justified by the results, whether it has been unnecessarily used in some instances, and whether the fact that it is being applied in a manner different from its use in SERE training brings into question the continued applicability of the DoJ opinion to its use. Although the waterboard is the most intrusive of the EITs, the fact that precautions have been taken to provide on-site medical oversight in the use of all EITs is evidence that their use poses risks.

IG report details reasons why “[m]easuring the overall effectiveness of EITs is challenging.” From the IG report:

Determining the effectiveness of each EIT is important in facilitating Agency management’s decision as to which techniques should be used and for how long. Measuring the overall effectiveness of EITs is challenging for a number of reasons including: (1) the Agency cannot determine with any certainty the totality of the intelligence the detainee actually possesses; (2) each detainee has different fears of and tolerance for EITs; (3) the application of the same EITs by different interrogators may have different results; and [REDACTED]

IG report: “Some participants” in CIA program judge that assessments that “detainees are withholding information are not always supported by an objective evaluation.” From the IG report:

Agency officers report that reliance on analytical assessments that were unsupported by credible intelligence may have resulted in the application of EITs without justification. Some participants in the Program, particularly field interrogators, judge that CTC assessments to the effect that detainees are withholding information are not always supported by an objective evaluation of available information and the evaluation of the interrogators but are too heavily based, instead, on presumptions of what the individual might or should know.

Separate CIA reports on the intelligence detainees provided do not discuss the effectiveness of interrogation techniques. As The New York Times noted, the partially declassified CIA memos on “Khalid Shaykh Muhammad: Preeminent Source on Al-Qa’ida” and “Detainee Reporting Pivotal for the War Against Al-Qa’ida,” do not contain reference “to any specific interrogation methods and do not assess their effectiveness.”

KSM reportedly claimed he “gave a lot of false information” when subjected to EITs “in order to make the ill-treatment stop”

Washington Post: KSM said he “gave a lot of false information … in order to make the ill-treatment stop.” From an August 29 Washington Post article:

Mohammed, in statements to the International Committee of the Red Cross, said some of the information he provided was untrue.

“During the harshest period of my interrogation I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear in order to make the ill-treatment stop. I later told interrogators that their methods were stupid and counterproductive. I’m sure that the false information I was forced to invent in order to make the ill-treatment stop wasted a lot of their time,” he said.

Numerous media outlets have noted that CIA reports do not prove that enhanced interrogation techniques were effective

Salon’s Greenwald: It is “patently clear” that CIA reports don’t back claims about effectiveness of EITs. From Glenn Greenwald’s August 29 blog post on Salon.com:

That the released documents provide no support for Cheney’s claims was so patently clear that many news articles contained unusually definitive statements reporting that to be so. The New York Times reported that the documents Cheney claimed proved his case “do not refer to any specific interrogation methods and do not assess their effectiveness.” ABC News noted that “the visible portions of the heavily redacted reports do not indicate whether such information was obtained as a result of controversial interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding.” TPM’s Zachary Roth documented that “nowhere do they suggest that that information was gleaned through torture,” while The Washington Independent‘s Spencer Ackerman detailed that, if anything, the documents prove “that non-abusive techniques actually helped elicit some of the most important information the documents cite in defending the value of the CIA’s interrogations.” [emphasis in original; Greenwald, 8/29/09]

ABC says reports “do not indicate whether such information was obtained as a result of controversial interrogation techniques.” ABCNews.com reported that the CIA had released two memos that “former Vice President Dick Cheney requested earlier this year in an attempt to prove his assertion that using enhanced interrogation techniques on terror detainees saved U.S. lives.” The article added that the “documents back up the Bush administration’s claims that intelligence gleaned from captured terror suspects had thwarted terrorist attacks, but the visible portions of the heavily redacted reports do not indicate whether such information was obtained as a result of controversial interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding.” [ABCNews.com, 8/25/09]

Newsweek: The “newly declassified material does not convincingly demonstrate” that EITs “produced … useful information.” Newsweek reported that the CIA reports show that “the CIA’s interrogations of suspected terrorists provided U.S. authorities with precious inside information about Al Qaeda’s leadership, structure, personnel, and operations.” However, the article added that “the newly declassified material does not convincingly demonstrate” that “the agency’s use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ — including sleep deprivation, stress positions, violent physical contact, and waterboarding” was what “produced this useful information. In fact, though two of the newly released CIA reports offer examples of the kind of details that detainees surrendered, the reports do not say what information came as a result of harsh interrogation methods and what came from conventional questioning.” Newsweek also reported that “based on this evidence, it is impossible to tell whether waterboarding and other brutal methods really were more effective than nonviolent techniques in extracting credible, useful information from Abu Zubaydah or other detainees.” [Newsweek, 8/25/09]

Los Angeles Times: Documents offer “little to support the argument that harsh or abusive methods played a key role.” The Los Angeles Times reported that the CIA documents “are at best inconclusive” as to the EITs effectiveness and offer “little to support the argument that harsh or abusive methods played a key role.” [Los Angeles Times, 8/26/09]

Bush admin. said L.A. attack was thwarted in February 2002 — more than year before KSM was captured

As Slate.com’s Timothy Noah has noted, the claim that the interrogation of Mohammed thwarted an attack on the Library Tower in Los Angeles conflicts with the chronology of events put forth on multiple occasions by the Bush administration. Indeed, the Bush administration said that the Library Tower attack was thwarted in February 2002 — more than a year before Mohammed was captured in March 2003.

Noah explained:

What clinches the falsity of Thiessen’s claim, however (and that of the memo he cites, and that of an unnamed Central Intelligence Agency spokesman who today seconded Thessen’s argument), is chronology. In a White House press briefing, Bush’s counterterrorism chief, Frances Fragos Townsend, told reporters that the cell leader was arrested in February 2002, and “at that point, the other members of the cell” (later arrested) “believed that the West Coast plot has been canceled, was not going forward” [italics mine]. A subsequent fact sheet released by the Bush White House states, “In 2002, we broke up [italics mine] a plot by KSM to hijack an airplane and fly it into the tallest building on the West Coast.” These two statements make clear that however far the plot to attack the Library Tower ever got — an unnamed senior FBI official would later tell the Los Angeles Times that Bush’s characterization of it as a “disrupted plot” was “ludicrous” — that plot was foiled in 2002. But Sheikh Mohammed wasn’t captured until March 2003.

How could Sheikh Mohammed’s water-boarded confession have prevented the Library Tower attack if the Bush administration “broke up” that attack during the previous year? It couldn’t, of course. Conceivably the Bush administration, or at least parts of the Bush administration, didn’t realize until Sheikh Mohammed confessed under torture that it had already broken up a plot to blow up the Library Tower about which it knew nothing. Stranger things have happened. But the plot was already a dead letter. If foiling the Library Tower plot was the reason to water-board Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, then that water-boarding was more than cruel and unjust. It was a waste of water.

Indeed, in the White House press briefing Noah cited, Townsend specifically noted that Mohammed was not captured until well after the individuals planning the Library Tower attacks concluded they had been “canceled”:

TOWNSEND: Khalid Shaykh Muhammad was the individual who led this effort. He initiated the planning for the West Coast plot after September 11th, in October of 2001. KSM, working with Hambali in Asia, recruited the members of the cell. There was a total of four members of the cell. When they — KSM, himself, trained the leader of the cell in late 2001 or early 2002 in the shoe bomb technique. You all will recall that there was the arrest of the shoe bomber, Richard Reid, in December of 2001, and he was instructing the cell leader on the use of the same technique.

After the cell — the additional members of the cell, in addition to the leader, were recruited, they all went — the cell leader and the three other operatives went to Afghanistan where they met with bin Laden and swore biat — that is an oath of loyalty to him — before returning to Asia, where they continued to work under Hambali.

The cell leader was arrested in February of 2002, and as we begin — at that point, the other members of the cell believed that the West Coast plot has been canceled, was not going forward. You’ll recall that KSM was then arrested in April of 2003 — or was it March — I’m sorry, March of 2003.

In addition to the senior FBI official that Noah mentioned, several other American counterterrorism officials also reportedly expressed doubts that the Library Tower plot ever advanced beyond the initial planning stages and ever posed a serious threat, as Media Matters for America documented in February 2006.


NY Fed: Geithner Wasn’t Involved In AIG Disclosures Issues

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 11th, 2010 5:44 am by HL

NY Fed: Geithner Wasn’t Involved In AIG Disclosures Issues
The New York Fed says Tim Geithner wasn’t involved in the New York Fed’s late 2008 effort to press AIG to avoid disclosing information about its bailout funds.

Oops: Times Corrects Itself — Again — On Faulty Gitmo-Terror Headline
The New York Times repeats an error it made, and corrected, last spring on Guantanamo “recidivism” numbers.

Frank Supports Hearings On Fed-AIG Emails
Rep. Barney Frank said he supports hearings on whether the New York Fed, under Tim Geithner, improperly pressed AIG not to disclose key details about its massive federal bailout.


Anti-American Influences in Our Media, Part One

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 11th, 2010 5:40 am by HL

Anti-American Influences in Our Media, Part One


Blacker Than Obama

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 11th, 2010 5:39 am by HL

Blacker Than Obama
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich sits for an interview with Esquire magazine and outdoes himself in a comparison to President Obama.

Said Blagojevich: “It’s such a cynical business, and most of the people in the business are full of shit and phonies, but I was real, man — and am real. This guy, he was catapulted in on hope and change, what we hope the guy is. What the fuck? Everything he’s saying’s on the teleprompter. I’m blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived. I saw it all growing up.”

Blagojevich even claims David Axelrod called the day after Sen. John Kerry lost the election in 2004 to convince him to make a White House bid:

“You need to think about running for president in 2008. A new face from the Midwest to challenge Hillary Clinton. He used to work for me. He had Obama in his stable already — he’s a consultant, so he’s just gathering potential talents. That’s what these guys do — it’s all about picking winners.”


Can They Do That? How You Get Screwed at Work

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 11th, 2010 5:38 am by HL

Can They Do That? How You Get Screwed at Work
A new book shows the power corporations wield over their employees has gone too far. It’s time to take action.

A new book shows the power corporations wield over their employees has gone too far. It's time to take action.

Wall Street’s Plot to Wreck America Must Be Revealed
We know little about the financial WMDs that destroyed our economy. This week’s Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission hearings must shed light on what happened in the meltdown.

We know little about the financial WMDs that destroyed our economy. This week's Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission hearings must shed light on what happened in the meltdown.

Mercenaries, Robot Planes and the CIA Produce Lethal Mix for Secret Afghan War
In Afghanistan, a militarized mix of CIA operatives and ex-military mercenaries as well as native recruits and robot aircraft is fighting a war in the shadows.

In Afghanistan, a militarized mix of CIA operatives and ex-military mercenaries as well as native recruits and robot aircraft is fighting a war in the shadows.


(Nuclear) War, What Is It Good For?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 11th, 2010 5:37 am by HL

(Nuclear) War, What Is It Good For?
When the question of building a new generation of nuclear weapons came up at a fundraiser for Al Franken in mid-2007, his former Saturday Night Live colleague Jane Curtin quipped, “but we never used the old ones,” reacting as if…


United StatesSaturday Night LiveAl FrankenJane CurtinNuclear weapon

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Nod, nod. Wink, wink.
I have been reading Adam LeBor’s absorbing, chilling book about Bernard Madoff’s fraud, The Believers: How America Fell For Bernard Madoff’s $65 billion Investment Scam, published a few months ago in the UK, but not yet in the US. The…


Bernard MadoffFraudWall StreetAdam LeBorBusiness


Liz Cheney Airs Hypocritical Attack Ad On Obama For Waiting ?100 Hours? To Respond To Terror Plot

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 11th, 2010 5:36 am by HL

Liz Cheney Airs Hypocritical Attack Ad On Obama For Waiting ?100 Hours? To Respond To Terror Plot
In their eagerness to place blame on President Obama for the attempted Christmas Day terrorist attack, Republicans have argued that the president waited too long to talk publicly about the matter. Karl Rove began the assault by complaining that Obama waited “72 hours before” addressing the American public. RNC Chairman Michael Steele and former NYC […]

In their eagerness to place blame on President Obama for the attempted Christmas Day terrorist attack, Republicans have argued that the president waited too long to talk publicly about the matter. Karl Rove began the assault by complaining that Obama waited “72 hours before” addressing the American public. RNC Chairman Michael Steele and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani have piled on with a similar criticism.

Liz Cheney’s neoconservative political attack organization, Keep America Safe, is out with a new ad titled “100 hours.” Replete with images of Obama golfing, the ad — which imitates the TV show 24 — ends with the question, “How long did it take you to realize the system failed?”:

Of course, while Obama wasn’t speaking publicly about the terrorist incident, he was directing an immediate federal response.

Moreover, as Huffington Post’s Sam Stein documented, President Bush didn’t utter a single word about shoe bomber Richard Reid’s terrorist attack for six days, whereupon he simply said that he was “grateful for the flight attendant’s response, as I’m sure the passengers on that airplane.”

On ABC’s This Week, host George Stephanopoulos confronted Cheney about her hypocritical attack. “As many Democrats and others have pointed out, President Bush waited I think six days before doing much about Richard Reid, the shoe bomber,” he noted. Cheney evaded the question entirely, pretending not to hear it. “The point of that ad,” she said, “was this notion that you cannot win a war if you’re treating it as sort of an inconvenient sidelight.” Watch it:


McCain strategist: Palin thought candidacy was mapped by God

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 11th, 2010 5:35 am by HL

McCain strategist: Palin thought candidacy was mapped by God


Brown seen as gaining on Coakley in race for Kennedy Senate seat
Massachusetts isn’t the likeliest backdrop for Republicans to begin their long climb back to a Senate majority. Democrats control both of the state’s U.S. Senate seats, the governorship, all 10 House seats and wide majorities in the state legislature.

‘Hillary effect’ cited for increase in female ambassadors to U.S.
In the gated Oman Embassy off Massachusetts Avenue, Washington’s first female ambassador from an Arab country, Hunaina Sultan Al-Mughairy, sat at her desk looking over a speech aimed at erasing misconceptions about her Muslim nation.