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Archive for April 3rd, 2010

Late Late Night FDL: Club Poodle

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 3rd, 2010 4:49 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: Club Poodle
Featuring new videos by Fool’s Gold and Jason Collett.

Early Show: Fool’s Gold “Nadine”
Late Show: Jason Collett “Love Is A Dirty Word”

What’s on your mind tonight?


‘Left, Right & Center’: A Nation Divided

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 3rd, 2010 4:48 am by HL

‘Left, Right & Center’: A Nation Divided
Why is America so deeply polarized, politically speaking? This week’s episode of “Left, Right & Center” finds Robert Scheer and Tony Blankley discussing the partisan divisions in the country and agreeing at least on the point that those rifts have never been this deep. But why is there so much anger?

Left, Right & Center

Why is America so deeply polarized, politically speaking? This week’s episode of “Left, Right & Center” finds Robert Scheer and Tony Blankley discussing the partisan divisions in the country and agreeing at least on the point that those rifts have never been this deep. But why is there so much anger?

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California A.G. Says ACORN Workers Didn’t Violate Law in ‘Pimp’ Tapes
After reviewing the infamous video footage taken of right-wing activists James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles purportedly posing as pimp and prostitute, respectively, and talking to employees of the now-disbanded organization ACORN, California Attorney General Jerry Brown has concluded that “the evidence does not show that the ACORN employees in California violated state criminal laws in connection with their conversations” with O’Keefe and Giles. What’s more, Brown’s office has posted the activists’ unedited video from California on the attorney general’s website.  —KA The Brad Blog: Brown’s statement in the announcement is highly critical of Rightwing activists James O’Keefe III and Hannah Giles, who posed as a prostitute and her law school boyfriend in the videos posted on Rightwing media mogul Andrew Breitbart’s “Big Government” website last year and played extensively on Fox News, as well as other non-partisan media outlets. “The evidence illustrates that things are not always as partisan zealots portray them through highly selective editing of reality,” says Brown in the statement. “Sometimes a fuller truth is found on the cutting room floor.” His report notes that the office’s “investigation has involved attorneys from all three legal divisions – Criminal Law, Public Rights, and Civil Law – as well as Special Agents from the Department’s Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence” and included a review of “the unedited recordings made by O’Keefe and Giles.” Read more

Jerry Brown

After reviewing the infamous video footage taken of right-wing activists James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles purportedly posing as pimp and prostitute, respectively, and talking to employees of the now-disbanded organization ACORN, California Attorney General Jerry Brown has concluded that “the evidence does not show that the ACORN employees in California violated state criminal laws in connection with their conversations” with O’Keefe and Giles. What’s more, Brown’s office has posted the activists’ unedited video from California on the attorney general’s website.? —KA

The Brad Blog:

Brown’s statement in the announcement is highly critical of Rightwing activists James O’Keefe III and Hannah Giles, who posed as a prostitute and her law school boyfriend in the videos posted on Rightwing media mogul Andrew Breitbart’s “Big Government” website last year and played extensively on Fox News, as well as other non-partisan media outlets.

“The evidence illustrates that things are not always as partisan zealots portray them through highly selective editing of reality,” says Brown in the statement. “Sometimes a fuller truth is found on the cutting room floor.”

His report notes that the office’s “investigation has involved attorneys from all three legal divisions – Criminal Law, Public Rights, and Civil Law – as well as Special Agents from the Department’s Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence” and included a review of “the unedited recordings made by O’Keefe and Giles.”

Read more

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Daphne Eviatar: Court Ruling Highlights Need for New State Secrets Law

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 3rd, 2010 4:47 am by HL

Daphne Eviatar: Court Ruling Highlights Need for New State Secrets Law
On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping of an Islamic charity and its lawyers during the Bush administration had violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Obama Census Choice: African-American
WASHINGTON — He may be the world’s foremost mixed-race leader, but when it came to the official government head count, President Barack Obama gave only…

Chris Weigant: Obama Poll Watch — March, 2010
Some of you may be wondering at this moment: “Hey, Chris, where’s the Friday Talking Points?” Since Congress is off on vacation this week, and…

Number Of Long-Term Unemployed Continues To Rise, Sets Another All-Time High
While the increase in jobs over the past month provides hope that the economy’s nascent recovery will continue to blossom, one troubling trend in Friday’s…


Thiessen’s Disaster — Wash. Post columnist’s anti-Obama book filled with falsehoods

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 3rd, 2010 4:46 am by HL

Thiessen’s Disaster — Wash. Post columnist’s anti-Obama book filled with falsehoods

In his book, Courting Disaster, Washington Post’s Marc Thiessen relies on numerous falsehoods to make his case that “America is in greater danger” than it had been during the Bush administration because of President Obama’s anti-terrorism policies. Thiessen’s falsehoods repeatedly overstate the effectiveness of Bush administration’s interrogation and detention policies and downplay the abuses that took place.

Thiessen’s claim: There were no terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since 9-11

Thiessen falsely claimed that there had been no terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since 9-11. In Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack, Thiessen falsely claimed that no terrorist attacks occurred on U.S. soil since 9-11 during President Bush’s term in office. On page 376, Thiessen writes: “When President Bush left office, America marked 2,688 days without another terrorist attack on its soil. It was an achievement few thought possible in the days after September 11, 2001.”

Reality: There have been terrorist attacks on U.S. soil

2001 anthrax attacks. A March 2004 State Department report on “Significant Terrorist Incidents, 1961-2003” quotes then-Attorney General John Ashcroft saying of the letters containing anthrax mailed to various targets: “When people send anthrax through the mail to hurt people and invoke terror, it’s a terrorist act.” Five people were killed as a result of those letters in the autumn of 2001.

2002 attack against El Al ticket counter at LAX. In July 2002, Hesham Mohamed Hadayet opened fire at an El Al Airlines ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport killing two people and wounding four others before being shot dead. A 2004 Justice Department report stated that Hadayet’s case had been “officially designated as an act of international terrorism.”

2002 DC-area sniper. The state of Virginia indicted Washington, D.C.-area sniper John Allen Muhammad — along with his accomplice, a minor at the time — on terrorism charges for one of the murders he committed during a three-week shooting spree across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Muhammad was convicted, sentenced to death, and subsequently executed for the crime.

2006 UNC SUV attack. In March 2006, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill graduate Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar drove an SUV into an area of campus, striking nine pedestrians. According to reports, Taheri-azar said he acted because he wanted to “avenge the deaths or murders of Muslims around the world.” Taheri-azar also reportedly stated in a letter: “I was aiming to follow in the footsteps of one of my role models, Mohammad Atta, one of the 9/11/01 hijackers, who obtained a doctorate degree.”

Thiessen’s claim: Since CIA began interrogating terrorists, there have been no successful Al Qaeda attacks on U.S. interests abroad

Thiessen falsely claimed that there have been no Al Qaeda attacks on the United States’ interests abroad since 9-11. On page 102, Thiessen writes:

Here is statistical data that is indisputable: In the decade before the CIA began interrogating captured terrorists, al Qaeda launched repeated attacks against America: the first World Trade Center bombing, the bombing of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the attack on the USS Cole, and ultimately the attacks of September 11, 2001. In the eight years since the CIA began interrogating captured terrorists, al Qaeda has not succeeded in launching one single attack on the homeland or American interests abroad. [p. 102]

Reality: There were several post-9-11 terrorist attacks on U.S. interests

Al Qaeda blamed for attack on U.S. consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. According to the BBC, in 2004, gunmen “used explosives to break through the fortified entrance” to the U.S. consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and killed “five non-U.S. staff” of the consulate. CNN reported that “[a] Saudi group linked to al Qaeda claimed responsibility” for the attack and that a “U.S. State Department official told CNN that al Qaeda was suspected in the attack.”

Al Qaeda blamed for attack on U.S. embassy in Yemen. From a September 18, 2008, Washington Post article:

Attackers used vehicle bombs, rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons to mount a coordinated assault on the U.S. Embassy here Wednesday, leaving 10 guards and -civilians dead outside the main gate but failing to breach the walled compound. No Americans were killed.

Yemeni officials and experts on al-Qaeda said an aggressive new generation of the group’s leaders in Yemen was responsible for the assault, the deadliest attack on a U.S. target in this country since the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.

[…]

“The attack on the U.S. Embassy was retaliation by al-Qaeda for the measures taken by the government to fight the terrorists,” said Foreign Minister Abou Bakr al-Qurbi, according to a statement.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in Washington that the multiphased attack bore “all the hallmarks” of al-Qaeda.

Al Qaeda blamed for attack on Westerners’ housing compounds in Riyadh. The U.S. State Department’s “Significant Terrorist Incidents 1961-2003: A Brief Chronology” states:

Truck Bomb Attacks in Saudi Arabia, May 12, 2003: Suicide bombers attacked three residential compounds for foreign workers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The 34 dead included 9 attackers, 7 other Saudis, 9 U.S. citizens, and one citizen each from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Philippines. Another American died on June 1. It was the first major attack on U.S. targets in Saudi Arabia since the end of the war in Iraq. Saudi authorities arrested 11 al-Qaida suspects on May 28.

Al Qaeda affiliate reportedly struck Marriott hotel in Jakarta. The USA Today reported that then-undersecretary of Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence Stuart Levey said that a May 2003 attack on a Marriott hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, was “financed by smuggling $30,000 in cash for each attack from al-Qaeda to allied terrorists in Asia.” Discussing the bombing in Jakarta and other attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney also tied the attack by Jemaah Islamiyah to Al Qaeda:

In one sense from Bali and Jakarta on one end, to Madrid on the other. They’ve had attacks across that spectra of geography in the last couple of years. It is a group — while the al Qaeda is at the center, al Qaeda in Arabic means “the base,” and it’s a — there’s a loose affiliation. It’s not a rigid hierarchy.

You’ll find for example, in various locations around the world there will be organizations like — say in, Indonesia, the Jemaah Islamiyah, JI it’s called for short. They’ve been responsible for the attacks on Bali that killed a couple of hundred Australians here at a tourist area a couple of years ago, blowing up the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta. Most recently they set off a truck bomb outside the Australian Embassy. JI is a branch of an extremist view of Islam that’s sort of home-grown. They’ve got their own local issues they’re concerned about, but they now have a relationship with al Qaeda. A senior guy in Indonesia named Hambali went to the training camps in Afghanistan that they ran back in the ’90s, subsequently received funding from al Qaeda, went back then to Indonesia, and was behind some of the major attacks there. So you’ve got this sort of home-grown, but nonetheless affiliated, extremist operation going now in Indonesia. You’ll find the same thing if you go to Morocco, where they had the attack in Casablanca; in Turkey, Istanbul, and so forth.

Thiessen’s claim: Due to interrogation of Zubaydah, CIA learned KSM’s code name, which led to his capture

From Courting Disaster:

Initially, Zubaydah offered up some nominal information that he thought we already knew, in order to give the impression he was cooperating. Some of this nominal information turned out to be extremely important. For example, Zubaydah indentified [sic] Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, and revealed that his code name was “Muktar.” This revelation allowed CIA officials to comb through previously collected intelligence on both names and connect the dots — opening up new leads that allowed the agency to pursue and eventually capture KSM. [pp. 82-3]

Reality: 9/11 Commission found that CIA knew KSM’s code name before September 11

9/11 Commission: CIA Bin Laden unit discovered KSM’s code name in August 2001. Thiessen’s claim that the U.S. learned KSM’s code name from Zubaydah’s interrogation — what Thiessen calls a “revelation — echoes a claim made by former President Bush in a 2006 speech. Contrary to these claims, the 9/11 Commission found that the CIA learned of the code name in August 2001, before the September 11 attacks and before Zubaydah was captured. From Chapter 8 of the 9-11 Commission report:

The final piece of the puzzle arrived at the CIA’s Bin Ladin unit on August 28 in a cable reporting that KSM’s nickname was Mukhtar. No one made the connection to the reports about Mukhtar that had been circulated in the spring. This connection might also have underscored concern about the June reporting that KSM was recruiting terrorists to travel, including to the United States.

Thiessen’s claim: Interrogation of KSM led to thwarting of Heathrow airport plot

From Courting Disaster:

KSM’s questioning, and that of other captured terrorists, produces more than 6,000 intelligence reports, which are shared across the intelligence community, as well as with our allies across the world.

In one of these reports, KSM describes in detail the revisions he made to his failed 1994-1995 plan known as the “Bojinka plot” — formulated with his nephew Ramzi Yousef — to blow up a dozen airplanes carrying some 4,000 passengers over the Pacific Ocean.

Years later, an observant CIA officer notices that the activities of a cell being followed by British authorities appears to match KSM’s description of his plans for a Bojinka-style attack. He shares this information with British authorities. At first they are skeptical but soon they acknowledge that this is in fact what the cell is planning. Intelligence from terrorists at Guantanamo Bay provides further insight into the cell’s plans for the use of liquid explosives.

In an operation that involves unprecedented intelligence cooperation between our countries, British officials proceed to unravel the plot. On the night of August 9, 2006 — just over a month before the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks — they launch a series of raids in a northeast London suburb that leads to the arrest of two dozen al Qaeda terrorist suspects. They find a USB thumb drive in the pocket of one of the me with security details for Heathrow airport, and information on seven trans-Atlantic flights that were scheduled to take off within hours of each other:

[…]

And still fewer realize that the terrorists’ true intentions in this plot were uncovered thanks to critical information obtained through the interrogation of the man who conceived it: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

This is only one of the many attacks stopped with the help of the CIA interrogation program established by the Bush administration in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. [pp.7-8]

Reality: Former head of Scotland Yard’s anti-terror branch reportedly calls Thiessen’s account “completely and utterly wrong”

Head of Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorism branch in 2006 reportedly said: “Thiessen’s “version of events is simply not recognized by those” involved in investigating 2006 Heathrow plot. In a March 29 New Yorker article reported that an uncooperative detainee froze to death at a CIA-run prison in Afghanistan code named the Salt Pit after a CIA case officer ordered the detainee stripped and left on a concrete floor overnight without blankets. On March 29, the Associated Press identified the detainee as Gul Rahman. The AP also reported that on the night Rahman died, the temperature dipped to 36 degrees. From the Washington Post article:

The largest CIA prison in Afghanistan was code-named the Salt Pit. It was also the CIA’s substation and was first housed in an old brick factory outside Kabul. In November 2002, an inexperienced CIA case officer allegedly ordered guards to strip naked an uncooperative young detainee, chain him to the concrete floor and leave him there overnight without blankets. He froze to death, according to four U.S. government officials. The CIA officer has not been charged in the death.

The Salt Pit was protected by surveillance cameras and tough Afghan guards, but the road leading to it was not safe to travel and the jail was eventually moved inside Bagram Air Base. It has since been relocated off the base.

AP: Inspector General report found that Salt Pit officer’s request for guidance were “largely ignored” by superiors. From the March 29 AP article:

At CIA headquarters, the agency’s inspector general learned about the Salt Pit death and the existence of the agency’s secret interrogation program. The inspector, John Helgerson, began an investigation into the death as well as a special review of the program.

[…]

When the inspector general’s report on the Salt Pit death emerged, it focused on decisions made by two CIA officials: an inexperienced officer who had just taken his first overseas assignment to run the prison and the Kabul station chief, who managed CIA activities in Afghanistan. Their identities remain classified.

The report found that the Salt Pit officer displayed poor judgment in leaving the detainee in the cold. But it also indicated the officer made repeated requests to superiors for guidance that were largely ignored, according to two former U.S. intelligence officials.

Jane Mayer: Thiessen “downplays the C.I.A.’s brutality to the point of falsification” by not reporting on prisoner who froze to death. From Mayer’s New Yorker article responding to Thiessen’s book:

“Courting Disaster” downplays the C.I.A.’s brutality under the Bush Administration to the point of falsification. Thiessen argues that “the C.I.A. interrogation program did not inflict torture by any reasonable standard,” and that there was “only one single case” in which “inhumane” techniques were used. That case, he writes, involved the detainee Abd al-Rahim Nashiri, whom a C.I.A. interrogator threatened with a handgun to the head, and with an electric drill. He claims that no detainee “deaths in custody took place in the C.I.A. interrogation program,” failing to mention the case of a detainee who was left to freeze to death at a C.I.A.-run prison in Afghanistan.

Thiessen’s claim: Gitmo status tribunals set up “[t]o ensure we continued to hold only those who needed to be detained”

From Courting Disaster:

To ensure we continued to hold only those who needed to be detained, in 2004 the Defense Department established a formal process at Guantanamo to review, again, the status of each detainee held on the island. They created what were called Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs), which held hearings to review the evidence against each detainee held at Guantanamo. [p.315]

Reality: Status tribunals set up to respond to SCOTUS case that Bush administration lost

Supreme Court: Bush administration stated that CSRT procedures “were designed to comply with the due process requirements identified” in prior Supreme Court case. From the majority opinion in the 2008 case Boumediene v. Bush:

After Hamdi [v. Rumsfeld], the Deputy Secretary of Defense established Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) to determine whether individuals detained at Guantanamo were “enemy combatants,” as the Department defines that term. See App. to Pet. for Cert. in No. 06-1195, p. 81a. A later memorandum established procedures to implement the CSRTs. See App. to Pet. for Cert. in No. 06-1196, p. 147. The Government maintains these procedures were designed to comply with the due process requirements identified by the plurality in Hamdi. See Brief for Respondents 10.

Army Reserve Lt. Col. who had served on CSRT panel: “CSRT process was not structured to yield reliable determinations” as to whether detainees were being properly held as enemy combatants. In July 2007 written testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Army Reserve Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham said that he had served for several months in the Army office responsible for conducting CSRTs and had been on one CSRT panel. He stated (via Nexis):

In short, the CSRT process was not structured to yield reliable determinations as to whether the detainees held in Guantanamo were properly detained as enemy combatants. Rather, the Executive put in place a process to legitimize, without substantial corroborated evidence or any meaningful independent review, earlier determinations that were not the product of a thoughtful, deliberative process directed to the ascertainment of truth. The process ensured that panels would rubber-stamp decisions already made rather than applying independent judgment as to whether those decisions were correct. Under the guise of implementing the Supreme Court’s decision in Rasul, the CSRT process completely frustrated it. In my opinion, it is time for Congress to restore the judicial mechanism – habeas corpus – that will both honor our commitment to justice and keep America secure.

Thiessen’s claim: if waterboarding is torture, then use of waterboarding in training of U.S. troops must be torture

From Courting Disaster:

It is an established fact that waterboarding has been used on tens of thousands of American service members during SERE [Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape] training. According to the Department of Justice, waterboarding was used on 26,829 trainees from 1992 through 2001 in Air Force SERE training alone. To this day, the Navy continues to use waterboarding as a part of its SERE training.

If waterboarding met the standard of torture under U.S. law, this training would be illegal. There is no “training exception” in the law. (It would be illegal, for example, for our military to pull off fingernails of our troops or prod them with electronic shocks just short of electrocution as part of their training.) So if waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was torture, then waterboarding American servicemen undergoing military survival training would be torture as well. [p. 163]

Reality: Bush administration, SERE trainers debunk claim that training is comparable to interrogation

Bush administration DOJ official: Training being waterboarded is “obviously in a very different situation from detainees undergoing interrogation.” According to a May 2005 Office of Legal Counsel memo by Steven G. Bradbury, the Bush administration’s principal deputy assistant attorney general at the time, individuals undergoing waterboarding as part of the U.S. military’s SERE training are “obviously in a very different situation from detainees undergoing interrogation; SERE trainees know it is part of a training program, not a real-life interrogation regime, they presumably know it will last only a short time, and they presumably have assurances that they will not be significantly harmed by the training.” The memo further states that the waterboard technique was used “quite sparingly” in SERE training — “at most two times on a trainee for at most 40 seconds each time” — whereas the CIA used the tactic at least 83 times on Abu Zubaydah in August 2002 and 183 times on Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in March 2003.

Email from SERE psychologist, when compared to training, when interrogating detainees, the “risk with real detainees is increased exponentially.” From a 2008 Senate Armed Services Committee report that has testified that waterboarding was used on three detainees, and thus, the CIA Inspector General has found that, for two of the three detainees the CIA has acknowledged waterboarding, the CIA went beyond the limits described by the DOJ.

Thiessen’s claim: It’s “demonstrably false” that CIA interrogation practices led to Abu Ghraib

Thiessen writes that the claim CIA interrogation practices led to Abu Ghraib is “demonstrably false.” On page 71, Thiessen writes of critics of CIA interrogations:

They charge that the CIA program was part of a wider policy of abuse that began at CIA black sites and spread to Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq — and led directly to the abuses at Abu Ghraib. And they charge that coercive interrogations are immoral and unnecessary — and that in thaw war on terror we can remain safe while avoiding the difficult choices that create tensions between our values and our security.

As we will see, all of these charges are demonstrably false.

Thiessen suggests that the government reviews found that interrogation practices did not lead to Abu Ghraib. Thiessen writes: “What happened in those photos [at Abu Ghraib] had nothing to do with CIA interrogations, military interrogations, or interrogations of any sort. None of the pictured abuses at Abu Ghraib, in the words of one official investigation ‘bear any resemblance to approved policies at any level in any theater.’ ” [p.39]

Reality: Bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee report tied CIA practices to Abu Ghraib

Seven chapters after first discussing government reports on Abu Ghraib, Thiessen acknowledges that a bipartisan report by the Senate Armed Services Committee tied the CIA interrogation program to the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Six chapters after declaring that it is “demonstrably false” that the CIA interrogation program led to Abu Ghraib, Thiessen acknowledges that a governmental review did find a connection between approved CIA and military interrogations and Abu Ghraib. He attacks the bipartisan report by saying that only two of the Republican members on the Armed Services panel — Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham — supported its conclusions, while another six opposed it. He compares the significance of the support from McCain to Sen. Joe Lieberman’s support for the surge. However, at the time of the surge, Lieberman had left the Democratic Party and become an independent. Lieberman later supported McCain in his 2008 presidential race against Obama. From Courting Disaster:

[T]here is one report [critics] invariably cite. It was issued not by an independent commission, or military inspectors, or former secretaries of defense, but by a left-wing politician, Senator Carl Levin, the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The critics inevitably refer to it as “bi-partisan” because it was signed by the Committee’s top Republican, and by Republicans Senator Lindsey Grahm, both vocal critics of U.S. interrogation policy. To call this report bi-partisan is akin to saying that Congressional support for the surge in Iraq was bi-partisan because Joe Lieberman backed it. But in fact, after the Levin report was released, six Republican members of the Armed Services Committee issued a joint statement in which they explicitly rejected Levin’s allegations that systematic abuse took place. [p.293]

Mayer also notes that detainee in famous Abu Ghraib photo was being questioned by the CIA at the time of his death. From Mayer’s article:

Referring to the Abu Ghraib scandal, Thiessen writes that “what happened in those photos had nothing to do with C.I.A. interrogations, military interrogations, or interrogations of any sort.” The statement is hard to square with the infamous photograph of Manadel al-Jamadi; his body was placed on ice after he died of asphyxiation during a C.I.A. interrogation at the prison. The homicide became so notorious that the C.I.A.’s inspector general, John Helgerson, forwarded the case to the Justice Department for potential criminal prosecution. Thiessen simply ignores the incident.

Thiessen’s claim: It’s “demonstrably false” that Guantanamo became a recruiting tool for Al Qaeda 

Thiessen says Obama statement that “Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause” is demonstrably false From Courting Disaster:

Obama claims that by eliminating enhanced interrogations and closing Guantanamo, he is actually making America safer. In his view, both the CIA program and Guantanamo have driven the Muslim street into the enemy’s camp and helped al Qaeda recruit new terrorists. As Obama put it in his speech at the National Archives, enhanced interrogation techniques “served as a recruitment tool for terrorists, and increase the will of our enemies to fight us.” Moreover, he said, “There is no question that Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is American’s strongest currency in the world … [I]nstead of serving as a tool to counter terrorism, Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause.”

This is demonstrably false. First, the terrorists were successfully recruiting suicide operatives long before the CIA interrogation program existed or there were any terrorists held at Guantanamo. There was no Guantanamo and no CIA interrogation program when terrorists first tried to bring down the World Trade Center in 1993. There was no Guantanamo and no CIA interrogation program when they blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. There was no Guantanamo and no CIA interrogation program when they attacked the USS Cole. And there was no Guantanamo and no CIA interrogation program on September 11, 2001. The terrorists found other excuses to recruit the operatives for these attacks. Evil always finds an excuse.

In the movie Batman: The Dark Knight, whenever the Joker is about to kill one of his victims, he points to the scars that form his hideous smile and tells the story of how he got his disfiguring wounds. Each time it is a different story. The first time he says they were carved into his face by an abusive father. The next time, he claims he did it to himself after criminals disfigured his wife. But when he says to Batman, “Do you know how I got these scars?” Batman says, “No, but I know how you got these,” and pushes him off the side of a building. Batman is not interested in the villain’s made-up excuses. We shouldn’t be, either.

Paul Rester, the director of the Joint Intelligence Group at Guantanamo, told me the idea that terrorist interrogations had aided terrorist recruitment is absurd. “Interesting logic,” Rester says. “I am curious as to what possessed Abu Nidal to shove Leon Klinghoffer off of the Achille Lauro….I reject the theorem out of hand, because I know these [people], I’ve lived with these people and they know me. The ones who do know me, unfortunately, I wish they didn’t….We talk, the way you and I are talking….More often than not, [they cite] America’s support for Israel; America’s occupation of the Holy Land; America’s occupation of Saudi Arabia; you can move the issue anywhere you want to, and they are going to have an excuse. It’s irrelevant.”

Add to this litany the invasion of Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq, Danish newspaper cartoons, Guantanamo, and CIA interrogations. With the latter two gone, it will soon be Obama’s Predator strikes, or the troop surge in Afghanistan, or the indefinite detention of terrorists in U.S. Supermax prisons. And if all else fails, the old terrorist standby — the existence of Israel — will take center stage again (as it has in recent al Qaeda videos). Like the Joker, the terrorists will keep coming up with different stories to justify their cruelty. And if they did not have these excuses, they would come up with new ones. [Pages 369-70]

Reality: Numerous experts have stated that Guantanamo serves as a recruiting tool

Director of National Intelligence Blair: Guantanamo “is a rallying cry for terrorist recruitment and harmful to national security.” From Dennis Blair’s written January 22, 2009, concluded in a September 2008 study that “the United States has been damaged by Guantánamo beyond any immediate security benefits. Our enemies have achieved a propaganda windfall that enables recruitment to violence, while our friends have found it more difficult to cooperate with us.”

McClatchy newspapers investigation: “Guantanamo often produces more terrorists.” A June 17, 2008, McClatchy Newspapers article reported, “A McClatchy investigation found that instead of confining terrorists, Guantanamo often produced more of them by rounding up common criminals, conscripts, low-level foot soldiers and men with no allegiance to radical Islam — thus inspiring a deep hatred of the United States in them — and then housing them in cells next to radical Islamists.” McClatchy further reported:

In interviews, former U.S. Defense Department officials acknowledged the problem, but none of them would speak about it openly because of its implications: U.S. officials mistakenly sent a lot of men who weren’t hardened terrorists to Guantanamo, but by the time they were released, some of them had become just that.

Requests for comment from senior Defense Department officials went unanswered. The Pentagon official in charge of detainee affairs, Sandra Hodgkinson, declined interview requests even after she was given a list of questions.

However, dozens of former detainees, many of whom were reluctant to talk for fear of being branded as spies by the militants, described a network — at times fragmented, and at times startling in its sophistication — that allowed Islamist radicals to gain power inside Guantanamo:

Militants recruited new detainees by offering to help them memorize the Quran and study Arabic. They conducted the lessons, infused with firebrand theology, between the mesh walls of cells, from the other side of a fence during exercise time or, in lower-security blocks, during group meetings.

Taliban and al Qaida leaders appointed cellblock leaders. When there was a problem with the guards, such as allegations of Quran abuse or rough searches of detainees, these “local” leaders reported up their chains of command whether the men in their block had fought back with hunger strikes or by throwing cups of urine and feces at guards. The senior leaders then decided whether to call for large-scale hunger strikes or other protests.

Al Qaida and Taliban leaders at Guantanamo issued rulings that governed detainees’ behavior. Shaking hands with female guards was haram — forbidden — men should pray five times a day and talking with American soldiers should be kept to a minimum.

The recruiting and organizing don’t end at Guantanamo. After detainees are released, they’re visited by militants who try to cement the relationships formed in prison.

Gen. Petraeus: U.S. military is “beat around the head and shoulders” with images from Guantanamo. An Associated Press article reporting on a commencement speech General David Petraeus gave at a Georgia college stated:

Army Gen. David Petraeus said the U.S. military is “beat around the head and shoulders” with images of detainees held in Guantanamo, the facility in Cuba President Barack Obama has vowed to close. He said closing Guantanamo and ensuring detainees are dealt with by an appropriate judicial system would bolster the nation’s war effort in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I do believe very strongly that we should live our values,” he said. “Generations of soldiers have fought to defend those values, and we should not shrink from living them, from operationalizing them, on the battlefield.”

Secretary Gates: “I’d like to close” Guantanamo, which “has become symbolic … for many around the world.” In 2007, when he was a member of the Bush administration, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates discussed Guantanamo during a press conference and said that he and President Bush would like to close the detention facility:

SEC. GATES: Well, I think that I’ve actually spoken to this before. I think that Guantanamo has become symbolic, whether we like it or not, for many around the world. The president has said he’d like to close the detainee facility there. I’d like to close the facility there. The problem is that we have a certain number of the detainees there who often by their own confessions are people who if released would come back to attack the United States. There are others that we would like to turn back to their home countries, but their home countries don’t want them.


New Ensign Details: ‘If You Want John Ensign To Work With You, You Have Got To Hire Doug Hampton’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 3rd, 2010 4:45 am by HL

New Ensign Details: ‘If You Want John Ensign To Work With You, You Have Got To Hire Doug Hampton’
More details have emerged about the actions of Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) in the aftermath of his 2008 affair with a top aide’s wife — already the subject of a heated federal probe.


Idaho GOP Gov Hopeful: I’m OK With Militias Showing ‘A Little Force’ (VIDEO)
A longshot Republican gubernatorial candidate in Idaho says in a new interview that he has no problem with militias showing “a little force behind the scenes.”

Extremist Group Presses Govs To Step Down — Seeking ‘Final Remedy To Enslavement’
In the latest flareup of extremist anti-government activity, the FBI is investigating a fringe group that says it wants to “restore America” by peacefully dismantling the government.



If Not For Crazy, They Wouldn’t Have A Party At All

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 3rd, 2010 4:43 am by HL

If Not For Crazy, They Wouldn’t Have A Party At All


Quote of the Day

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 3rd, 2010 4:42 am by HL

Quote of the Day
“I see Fidel Castro likes Obamacare, and we don’t. Doesn’t that tell you something?”

— Sarah Palin, quoted by Time magazine.


Why Are Pedophilia-Hiding, Child-Abusing Church Fathers Allowed to Write Laws About Women’s Bodies?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 3rd, 2010 4:41 am by HL

Why Are Pedophilia-Hiding, Child-Abusing Church Fathers Allowed to Write Laws About Women’s Bodies?
The moral authority granted the Catholic Church in the secular world is the most repellent aspect of the current crisis.

The moral authority granted the Catholic Church in the secular world is the most repellent aspect of the current crisis.

Is Israel About to Trigger a New Middle East War?
Ramping up the rhetoric of war in a volatile region can lead to a misstep and once the dogs of war are off their leash, it will be hard to bring them to heel.

Ramping up the rhetoric of war in a volatile region can lead to a misstep and once the dogs of war are off their leash, it will be hard to bring them to heel.

Weekly Diaspora: The Game Plan for Immigration Reform
Links to the week’s best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium.

Links to the week's best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium.

Intelligence Agencies Allegedly Going to Extremes to Suppress Video Confirming Pentagon Massacre Cover-up
Disturbing allegations have surfaced around WikiLeaks’ promise to release a video April 5 at the National Press Club confirming a war-time massacre.

Disturbing allegations have surfaced around WikiLeaks' promise to release a video April 5 at the National Press Club confirming a war-time massacre.


Communications Corruption at the White House

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 3rd, 2010 4:39 am by HL

Communications Corruption at the White House
The communications team at the White House has an extremely difficult job — and I admire how hard Ben Rhodes, Bill Burton, Tommy Vietor, and of course Robert Gibbs and others work to connect the President’s policy direction with a…


White HouseRobert GibbsPresident of the United StatesPresidentBarack Obama

Fraud on the Street
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced Monday it had begun an inquiry into two dozen financial companies to determine whether they followed accounting practices similar to those recently disclosed in an investigation of Lehman Brothers. Where on earth has the…


Lehman BrothersUS Securities and Exchanges CommissionWall StreetBusinessAccountancy


Republicans try to claim that March?s job growth was ?mostly? from the Census.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 3rd, 2010 4:39 am by HL

Republicans try to claim that March?s job growth was ?mostly? from the Census.
According to new data from the Labor Department, “employment in the U.S. increased in March by the most in three years,” signaling that the “economic recover will be sustained.” The RNC immediately responded by releasing a briefing that claims that the job growth occured “mostly” due to hiring Census workers: But March Job Growth Is “Disappointment” […]

According to new data from the Labor Department, “employment in the U.S. increased in March by the most in three years,” signaling that the “economic recover will be sustained.” The RNC immediately responded by releasing a briefing that claims that the job growth occured “mostly” due to hiring Census workers:

But March Job Growth Is “Disappointment” Because Job Gains Mostly From Census. “CalculatedRisk reports that even if Friday’s employment report shows a gain of 200,000 jobs in March, as expected, it might be viewed as a disappointment: ‘The March report will be distorted by two factors: 1) any bounce back from the snow storms, and 2) the decennial Census hiring that picked up sharply in March. … Also the Census will add something like 100,000 workers to the March report …” (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov, Accessed 4/2/10; Ben White and Eamon Javers, Politico’s “Morning Money,” 3/30/10)

The RNC’s claim bears little relation to reality. Of the 162,000 jobs added to the economy last month, 123,000 were in the private sector. Joel Naroff, the president of Naroff Economic Advisors, wrote in a note to clients that “the federal government didn’t hire nearly as many Census workers as thought. It was the private sector that stepped up to the plate.” In fact, the Census Bureau hired only 48,000 workers. Speaker Pelosi’s office put out a chart using Bureau of Labor Statistics data that illustrates the job gains:

america

Fox Business? Stuart Varney Shoots Down Former Bush Labor Secretary Elaine Chao?s Negative Jobs Report Spin
Earlier today, the Labor Department released its employment report for March 2010, which found that “employment in the U.S. increased in March by the most in three years.” In the report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also revised its January total from -26,000 to +14,000, and February’s from -36,000 to -14,000. President Obama called the report […]

Earlier today, the Labor Department released its employment report for March 2010, which found that “employment in the U.S. increased in March by the most in three years.” In the report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also revised its January total from
-26,000 to +14,000, and February’s from -36,000 to -14,000. President Obama called the report “encouraging” while his economic adviser Christina Romer said it “shows continued signs of gradual labor market healing.” Paul Krugman described the job numbers as meaning that “the patient is in stable condition.”

As ThinkProgress noted earlier today, conservatives have sought to rain on Obama’s parade, falsely claiming that the numbers are a “disappointment” because they were “mostly” due to hiring Census workers. On Fox Business today, former Bush labor secretary Elaine Chao attempted to spin the numbers negatively. But host Stuart Varney, who has been cynical about the administration’s economic policies, wouldn’t buy her spin, telling her that “this is not a blip up on a one month basis, there is a trend”:

VARNEY: I’m sure you’ve heard what I’ve just been saying, that we have indeed reached a turn, this is my judgment, a turn from job destruction towards very limited job creation. Would you agree with that?

CHAO: Unfortunately, I don’t. I think this is still a very mixed report and this is only one month. So, we need to see a trend, not just, you know, an uptick perhaps in one month. The unemployment rate stayed steady even though there were jobs created primarily because the labor participation rate is still very low. And…

VARNEY: You know, Ms. Chao, I’ve got to interupt for just a second, I’m sorry, I hate to interrupt.

CHAO: Sure.

VARNEY: But look, we did create jobs in November of last year. And we’ve just had a revision in the January and February numbers for this year, showing a net job gain in those months and we’ve also gained jobs in March. This is not a blip up on a one month basis, there is a trend. Four of the last five months we have seen job creation. Now, I know it’s very slow and it’s not enough. We got that.

CHAO: Yes.

VARNEY: But it is an uptrend. It is a job creation trend.

Chao did not argue with Varney’s pushback. Watch it:

Earlier today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a chart demonstrating Varney’s point that the economy is moving from job destruction towards job creation:

america

Dartmouth economic professor Andrew Samwick wrote today that March’s employment report shows “what the labor market looks like when it starts to bottom out and slowly recover — overall job growth turns small and positive, cyclically sensitive sectors like temporary help services grow more rapidly than most, and it is tough to make progress against the unemployment rate because the number of job seekers may go up in tandem with total employment.”