Thursday, March 31, 2011

Clinton To Congress: Obama Would Ignore Your War Resolutions


Update: Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), who asked Clinton about the War Powers Act during a classified briefing, said Clinton and the administration are sidestepping the measure's provisions giving Congress the ability to put a 60-day time limit on any military action.

"They are not committed to following the important part of the War Powers Act," he told TPM in a phone interview. "She said they are certainly willing to send reports [to us] and if they issue a press release, they'll send that to us too."

The White House would forge ahead with military action in Libya even if Congress passed a resolution constraining the mission, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a classified briefing to House members Wednesday afternoon.

Clinton was responding to a question from Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) about the administration's response to any effort by Congress to exercise its war powers, according to a senior Republican lawmaker who attended the briefing.

The answer surprised many in the room because Clinton plainly admitted the administration would ignore any and all attempts by Congress to shackle President Obama's power as commander in chief to make military and wartime decisions. In doing so, he would follow a long line of Presidents who have ignored the act since its passage, deeming it an unconstitutional encroachment on executive power.

Other than that, the lawmaker said he learned nothing new during the classified briefing by Clinton, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A cross-section of Democrats and Republicans are opposed to President Obama's decision to authorize air strikes in Libya without seeking a resolution of approval or a declaration of war from Congress. Lawmakers ranging from Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) to Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, have groused about not being consulted before Obama took military action.

The War Powers Act of 1973, passed in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, puts limits on the ability of the President to send American troops into combat areas without congressional approval. Under the act, the President can only send combat troops into battle or into areas where ''imminent'' hostilities are likely, for 60 days without either a declaration of war by Congress or a specific congressional mandate.

The President can extend the time the troops are in the combat area for 30 extra days, without Congressional approval, for a total of 90 days. After that, is unchartered territory. The act does not specifically say what Congress could do if the President turns a blind eye to Congress and refuses to have his role as commander-in-chief constrained, as Presidents have routinely done.

The only options Congress would have at that point is to cut off funding for future military operations and override what would likely be a presidential veto of any such measure.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has asked his caucus to postpone any Libya resolutions until after they receive a classified briefing Wednesday evening. Afterward, Reid said, all bets are off and Democrats can offer any type of war powers resolution they want.

"I've told my caucus, 'Come loaded with all your questions; ask questions in this classified setting. And then if in fact you want to do more legislatively, you're entitled to do it,'" Reid told reporters Tuesday. "The War Powers Act we believe is valid, is very clear, setting forth timelines."

Reid said he read sections of the War Powers Act to his caucus at a lunchtime policy meeting Tuesday.

NASA Study Acknowledges Solar Cycle, Not Man, Responsible for Past Warming

Daily Tech

Report indicates
Past studies have shown that sunspot numbers
correspond to warming or cooling trends. The
twentieth century has featured heightened activity,
indicating a warming trend.  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

solar cycle has been impacting Earth since the Industrial Revolution
Some researchers believe that the

/article12804.htm" title="Experimental Link Found Between Sun and Climate">solar cycle influences global climate changes.  They attribute recent warming trends to cyclic variation.  Skeptics, though, argue that there's little hard evidence of a solar hand in recent climate changes.

Now, a new research report from a surprising source may help to lay this skepticism to rest.  A study from
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland looking at climate data over the past century has concluded that solar variation has made a significant impact on the Earth's climate.  The report concludes that evidence for climate changes based on solar radiation can be traced back as far as the Industrial Revolution.
Solar activity has shown a major spike
in the twentieth century, corresponding
to global warming. This cyclic variation
was acknowledged by a recent NASA study,
which reviewed a great deal of past
climate data.  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Past research has shown that the sun goes through eleven year cycles.  At the cycle's peak, solar activity occurring near sunspots is particularly intense, basking the Earth in solar heat.  According to Robert Cahalan, a climatologist at the Goddard Space Flight Center, "Right now, we are in between major ice ages, in a period that has been called the Holocene."

Thomas Woods, solar scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder concludes, "The fluctuations in the solar cycle impacts Earth's global temperature by about 0.1 degree Celsius, slightly hotter during solar maximum and cooler during solar minimum.  The sun is currently at its minimum, and the next solar maximum is expected in 2012."

According to the study, during periods of solar quiet, 1,361 watts per square meter of solar energy reaches Earth's outermost atmosphere.  Periods of more intense activity brought 1.4 watts per square meter (0.1 percent) more energy.

While the NASA study acknowledged the sun's influence on warming and cooling patterns, it then went badly off the tracks.  Ignoring its own evidence, it returned to an argument that man had replaced the sun as the cause current warming patterns.  Like many studies, this conclusion was based less on hard data and more on questionable correlations and inaccurate modeling techniques.

The inconvertible fact, here is that even NASA's own study acknowledges that solar variation has caused climate change in the past.  And even the study's members, mostly ardent supports of AGW theory, acknowledge that the sun may play a significant role in future climate changes.

FOX News Has Lost 21% Of Its Audience This Year

Business Insider

Fox News has the top 12 most-watched shows so far this year.

Which is perhaps not totally surprising since this marks the network's ninth straight year as the number one channel in cable.

That is not to say it's all rainbows and unicorns. (Or cupcakes and caliphates.) All of Fox's top shows posted double digit losses year over year.

Glenn Beck suffered the biggest drop, losing 30% of his audience compared to the first quarter last year. But he wasn't alone. Top ranking O'Reilly lost 14% of his audience, Sean Hannity, up a spot from 2010, lost 19%, and Bret Baier, who pushed Beck out of the top three, lost 13%.

Greta Van Susteren, who has been bleeding viewers to Anderson Cooper this month, is down 22.86%.

All in all Fox News actually lost 21% of its primetime audience during the quarter.

Compare this to CNN which is up 28% in primetime and MSNBC which is up 9% (Rachel Maddow increased by 16.65% and Anderson Cooper by 18%) and then take into consideration all the breaking news there's been since Christmas, and one might begin to draw the conclusion that people are beginning to turn elsewhere for news news coverage.

Another explanation, of course, is that this time period last year was dominated by the health care debate and for much of that period Fox operated as an extension of the opposition. Now that the nation's focus is international it's harder to figure out an angle where Obama is bad and...nuclear meltdowns and Qadaffi are good.

Editor's note, sources better, but not listed in the article:

CIA Sends Operatives to Libya

Egypt extends olive branch to Iran; seeks to normalize ties

International Business Times

Nabil Al-Arabi
Egypt extends olive branch to Iran; seeks to normalize ties Egypt’s new foreign minister Nabil Al-Arabi has said that his country also would like to turn over a new leaf with respect to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

"Iran is a state in the region, and we have had long-term historical ties with it over the different periods," al-Arabi told a press conference. "We will turn over a new leaf with all states, including Iran."

Al-Arabi cautioned that restoring diplomatic ties will depend on the Iranian side.

Iranian’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has welcomed Egypt’s statements and said that better relations would improve security in the Middle East. He added that he hopes there will be "an expansion of relations" between Cairo and Tehran.

Salehi also indicated that "despite the ups and downs, the historical ties between the two countries have been sustained."

Iran and Egypt have not had formal diplomatic relations since the 1979 Iranian Revolution when the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was given exile in Cairo by his friend Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.

A year before that, Iran ended diplomatic ties with Egypt when Sadat signed the Camp David peace treaty with Israel.

More recently, Iran has been blamed by Egypt for using Syria and Hezbollah to expand its influence in the Arab world.

Iran’s President Nabil Al-Arabi viewed former president Hosni Mubarak as too closely allied with the U.S. and Israel.

Asked about Hezbollah, al-Arabi responded: "Hezbollah is part of Lebanon's composition, and we see this as an internal matter… If any party wishes to have ties with Egypt there will be nothing preventing us from talking, but we will not become involved in internal matters."

In 2010, Egyptian security forces arrested dozens of men connected to Hezbollah and convicted them of planning a terrorist campaign in Egypt. Twenty-six of the defendants were sentenced to very long prison terms.

Al-Arabi is widely known to be anti-Israel and has suggested the Jewish nation be tried for genocide.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

UN chief: Israel's occupation is 'morally, politically unsustainable'


Ban Ki-moon pushes Israel and the Palestinian Authority toward a "two-state solution"

Ban Ki-moon
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Israel Wednesday to halt settlement building in the West Bank and put a stop to all forms of violence and incitement, the UN News Center reported.

Speaking in Uruguay at the UN Latin American and Caribbean Meeting in support of Middle East peace Ban said it was a "crucial time" for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

“Time is of the essence in realizing the two-State solution, " Ban said, "the occupation that started in 1967 is morally and politically unsustainable, and must end. The Palestinians have a legitimate right to the establishment of an independent and viable State of their own."

“The target dates for reaching an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on permanent status issues and completing the Palestinian Authority’s two-year State-building program are fast-approaching. Yet, the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations remain at a worrying standstill. We must intensify efforts to break the deadlock,” he added.

Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians hit a standstill in September after Israel resumed building in the West Bank following a moratorium on settlement building.

The secretary general continued, saying “actions that prejudge the outcome of the process must stop,” referring to Israel's continued settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem , demolition of Palestinian homes and other forms of violence and incitement.

Ban then commended the Palestinian Authority for its efforts, the UN News center report said, praising the PA's efforts to establish state institutions, enforce security in the West Bank and receive international funding and recognition of its statehood goals.

The UN chief chastised Israel, the report said, calling on the government to take the necessary steps to improve economic and security conditions for Palestinians by removing obstacles to freedom of movement, stopping military operations and enhancing the PA's scope of influence in the West Bank.

Ban also implored Israel to further ease its blockade in Gaza, the report said, which has been under Hamas control since 2007. Israel has refused to negotiate with Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel's destruction and is responsible for numerous attacks perpetrated against Israel and its civilians.

In recent weeks, Hamas and the more moderate West Bank-based Fatah have been engaging in preliminary talks, with the possibility of unification in the future. Israel has made it clear that in the event that Fatah and Hamas join forces, Israel will not be open to negotiations, and Fatah must choose its ally.

Ban reportedly condemned the recent escalation in rocket fire from Gaza to Israel, calling on both sides to prevent civilian casualties and act in conformity with international law, reiterating his “strong condemnation” of the recent bombing in Jerusalem, in which a 59-year-old British tourist was killed and over 30 wounded.

He stressed that "Israel has the right to live in peace and security within internationally recognized and secure borders." According to the report the secretary general then said that both Palestinians and Israelis are entitled to Jerusalem as its capital, with "arrangements for holy sites acceptable for all."

The UN chief also said there "must be a just and agreed solution to the prolonged plight of the Palestinian refugees," an issue that has been highly disputed in past peace negotiations.

The two-day meeting in Uruguay will discuss settlement expansion, Jerusalem and the recent recognition of Palestinian statehood by governments in the region, including Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, the report said.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

'Worse Than Chernobyl': When the Fukushima Meltdown Hits Groundwater

Common Dreams

Fukushima is going to dwarf Chenobyl. The Japanese government has had a level 7 nuclear disaster going for almost a week but won’t admit it.

The disaster is occurring the opposite way than Chernobyl, which exploded and stopped the reaction. At Fukushima, the reactions are getting worse. I suspect three nuclear piles are in meltdown and we will probably get some of it.

If reactor 3 is in meltdown,  the concrete under the containment looks like lava. But Fukushima is not far off the water table. When that molten mass of self-sustaining nuclear material gets to the water table it won’t simply cool down. It will explode – not a nuclear explosion, but probably enough to involve the rest of the reactors and fuel rods at the facility.

Pouring concrete on a critical reactor makes no sense – it will simply explode and release more radioactive particulate matter. The concrete will melt and the problem will get worse. Chernobyl was different – a critical reactor exploded and stopped the reaction. At Fukushima, the reactor cores are still melting down. The ONLY way to stop that is to detonate a ~10 kiloton fission device inside each reactor containment vessel and hope to vaporize the cores. That’s probably a bad solution.

A nuclear meltdown is a self-sustaining reaction. Nothing can stop it except stopping the reaction. And that would require a nuclear weapon. In fact, it would require one in each containment vessel to merely stop what is going on now. But it will be messy.

Fukushima was waiting to happen because of the placement of the emergency generators. If they had not all failed at once by being inundated by a tsunami, Fukushima would not have happened as it did – although it WOULD still have been a nuclear disaster. Every containment in the world is built to withstand a Magnitude 6.9 earthquake; the Japanese chose to ignore the fact that a similar earthquake had hit that same general area in 1896.

Anyway, here is the information that the US doesn’t seem to want released. And here is a chart that might help with perspective.

Making matters worse is the MOX in reactor 3. MOX is the street name for ‘mixed oxide fuel‘ which uses ~9% plutonium along with a uranium compound to fuel reactors. This is why it can be used.
The problem is that you don’t want to play with this stuff. A nuclear reactor means bring fissile material to a point at which it is hot enough to boil water (in a light-water reactor) and not enough to melt and go supercritical (China syndrome or a Chernobyl incident). You simply cannot let it get away from you because if it does, you can’t stop it.

The Japanese are still talking about days or weeks to clean this up. That’s not true. They cannot clean it up. And no one will live in that area again for dozens or maybe hundreds of years.

Israel threatens unilateral steps if UN recognizes Palestinian state


Foreign Ministry instructs envoys in 30 countries to send 'diplomatic protest' to host nations over plan for September vote in General Assembly.

By Barak Ravid

Israel informed the 15 members of the United Nations Security Council last week, as well as several other prominent European Union countries, that if the Palestinian Authority persists in its efforts to gain recognition in September as a state within the 1967 borders, Israel would respond with a series of unilateral steps of its own.

Senior Foreign Ministry officials said the ministry's director general, Rafael Barak, sent a classified cable last week to more than 30 Israeli embassies, directing them to lodge a diplomatic protest at the highest possible level in response to the Palestinian efforts to gain international recognition for statehood at the UN General Assembly session in September.

The Israeli diplomatic corps conveyed the message that support for international recognition, particularly by most of the members of the European Union, encouraged the Palestinians to forgo negotiations with Israel and to move more quickly toward recognition at the UN of Palestinian statehood. Israeli diplomats stressed that such a move violates the Oslo Accords and will not lead to a Palestinian state even if the General Assembly grants recognition, but could lead to violence on the ground.

European diplomats have confirmed to Haaretz that such a message was conveyed several days ago. One diplomat said his country did not receive a serious response when asked what unilateral steps Israel might take. Another diplomat, from a European country, said in light of the current deadlock in negotiations, international recognition of Palestinian statehood appeared unavoidable in September.

Foreign Ministry sources said no decision has been taken at this stage over a possible Israeli response to UN recognition of Palestinian statehood, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not held any major discussion of such a response on a formal level among his cabinet colleagues. Ideas have been floated on the right wing of the political spectrum in recent weeks, suggesting, for example, that Israel might apply Israeli law to the West Bank or annex major settlement blocs to Israel.

September is expected to be pivotal for several reasons. Last September, U.S. President Barack Obama told the General Assembly that he wished to see a Palestinian state become a member of the UN within a year. In addition, Israel and the Palestinians had agreed that the talks they undertook last September 2 in Washington would last for about a year. Thirdly, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's program of establishing institutions for a future Palestinian state is due to be wrapped up this coming September.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met on Sunday in Ramallah with former Knesset member Yossi Beilin and told him that the Palestinian Authority would not engage in further negotiations with Israel after September. Senior Palestinian sources added, however, that if negotiations are resumed before September and make progress, the Palestinians would be prepared to defer efforts to gain UN recognition of statehood.

Abbas told Beilin that it would be possible to engage in three months of talks in an effort to achieve progress before September, but Netanyahu would have to suspend construction in the West Bank settlements during that period. The PA leader added that the Palestinians would not renew violence against Israel, but hinted at his possible resignation or the breakup of the PA, telling Beilin that there is no October 2011 on his schedule.

There are currently no contacts between representatives of Netanyahu and Abbas's advisers, and Netanyahu appears to have backtracked on his intention to deliver a major policy speech to jump-start the peace process.

Monday, March 28, 2011

No UN mandate to attack Gaddafi forces: Russia

By Steve Gutterman

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Monday attacks on forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi amounted to intervention in a civil war and were not backed by the
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
U.N. resolution authorising no-fly zones.

In the latest Russian criticism of military action by the Western-led coalition, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the resolution passed by the U.N. Security Council on March 17 had the sole aim of protecting Libyan civilians.

"And yet there are reports -- and nobody denies them -- of coalition strikes on columns of Gaddafi's forces, reports about support for actions by the armed insurgents," Lavrov said. "There are clear contradictions here."

"We consider that intervention by the coalition in what is essentially an internal civil war is not sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council resolution," Lavrov said when asked about Libya at a news conference with the Kyrgyz foreign minister.

Russia has veto power as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council but chose not to block the resolution, which authorised "all necessary measures to enforce compliance" with no-fly zones.

However, Russian leaders have expressed concern that the resolution gave coalition forces too much leeway and the intervention was causing civilian deaths. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin compared the resolution to "medieval calls for crusades".

Lavrov did not say whether Russia would make any effort to restrict operations by the coalition, which is now led by NATO.

In Paris, a French Foreign Ministry spokesman said "the coalition of participating countries is strictly complying with the terms" of the resolution and the U.N. secretary-general was regularly informed of the measures being taken.

Lavrov's remarks, hours before U.S. President Barack Obama was expected to define the mission's purpose and scope in an address, suggested Russia could step up criticism if the coalition took steps Moscow believed went further beyond its mandate.

In Libya, rebels emboldened by Western-led air strikes against Gaddafi's forces pushed west along the Mediterranean coast to retake a series of towns.

Obama's administration has praised Russia for allowing the resolution to go through but has clashed with the Kremlin over the subject of civilian casualties.

In Moscow last week, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said some Russians seemed to take what he termed Gaddafi's "lies" about civilian casualties at face value.

Lavrov reiterated Russia's concern about reports of civilian casualties, which he said had not yet been confirmed, and indicated Russia wanted U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special envoy Abdelilah Al-Khatib to look into them.

Lavrov said Russia's concerns about the broad authority granted to foreign powers enforcing the no-fly zone were among the reasons it abstained in the Security Council vote.

Corporate Media Model Complains about the Cost of Covering Major News Events

The Wrap

From Japan to Libya, disasters and political upheavel around the globe are wreaking havoc on the already-skeletal budgets of cable and broadcast news organizations.

“We've already had a year's worth of breaking news coverage, and it's not even the end of March,” David Verdi, NBC News VP of worldwide newsgathering, told TheWrap.

News organizations may have already spent their annual budgets for covering foreign events and still have nine months to go, one veteran cable news executive told TheWrap.

"If Saudi Arabia goes up in flames, all bets are off," the executive said.

That's because each far-flung top story comes with an astronomical price tag.

NBC spent $1.5 million on its first day covering the Japanese tsunami, according to one knowledgeable individual. That’s roughly the total amount it spent reporting on earthquake ravaged Haiti over a period of several months.

But that’s hardly the only international disaster crying out for coverage.

In the Middle East, networks are spending on the level of $2 million to cover each fresh political upheaval, according to an individual with knowledge of those budgets.

“The first day of a catastrophe the costs spike -- you have to fly your crew and your anchors in, and broadcasting equipment. That's a million-dollar hit right there,” Verdi told TheWrap.

Cable news organizations, which are dedicating many more hours to coverage of the earthquake in Japan and Middle East uprisings than their broadcast counterparts, are racking up bills that are significantly higher.

Broadcasters are mum about the numbers of reporters and crew members they are deploying to the far flung locales, but former ABC News producer Stuart Schwartz estimates that at least 20 people from each network have been sent to cover the various foreign catastrophes.

Full Story

Radiation detected in US rainwater

Traces of radioactive iodine linked to quake-hit Japan's nuclear power plant have been found in rainwater samples taken last week in Massachusetts, US.

The low level of radioiodine-131detected in Massachusetts rainwater samples is comparable to the amounts found in California, Washington and Pennsylvania.

However, public health officials say the pollution poses no threat to drinking supplies, Reuters reported on Monday.

"The drinking water supply in Massachusetts is unaffected by this short-term, slight elevation in radiation," said Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach.

"We will carefully monitor the drinking water as we exercise an abundance of caution," he added.

Health officials also say they have found no detectable radiation in air samples examined in Massachusetts.

On March 11, an 8.9-magnitude earthquake, off the northeast coast of Japan's main island, unleashed a 23-foot (7-meter) tsunami and was followed by more than 50 aftershocks for hours.

The quake set off the nuclear problems by knocking out power to cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The incident caused nuclear meltdown and radiation leaks at the facility.

On Saturday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials announced that leaks have been detected at units 1, 2 and 3 of the reactor and there no timeline in sight to stop the leakage.

Japan's nuclear safety agency said on Sunday that radioactive iodine in the waters off the quake-hit site rose to 1,850 times the usual level.

Japan has ordered a halt in shipment of a range of farm products, as radiation was detected in vegetables from Fukushima Prefecture.

Japan has announced that nearly 28,000 people have died or are feared dead as a result of the disastrous quake and tsunami.

The quake is now considered Japan's deadliest natural disaster since the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, which claimed the lives of more than 142,000 people.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Top Bush-era GITMO and Abu Ghraib psychologist is WH's newest appointment

Jeff Greenwald

One of the most intense scandals the field of psychology has faced over the last

decade is the involvement of several of its members in enabling Bush's worldwide torture regime.  Numerous health professionals worked for the U.S. government to help understand how best to mentally degrade and break down detainees. At the center of that controversy was -- and is -- Dr. Larry James.  James, a retired Army colonel, was the Chief Psychologist at Guantanamo in 2003, at the height of the abuses at that camp, and then served in the same position at Abu Ghraib during 2004. 

Today, Dr. James circulated an excited email announcing, "with great pride," that he has now been selected to serve on the "White House Task Force entitled Enhancing the Psychological Well-Being of The Military Family."  In his new position, he will be meeting at the White House with Michelle Obama and other White House officials on Tuesday.

For his work at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, Dr. James was the subject of two formal ethics complaints in the two states where he is licensed to practice: Louisiana and Ohio.  Those complaints -- 50 pages long and full of detailed and well-documented allegations -- were filed by the International Human Rights Clinic of Harvard Law School's Human Rights Program, on behalf of veterans, mental health professionals and others.  The complaints detailed how James "was the senior psychologist of the Guantánamo BSCT, a small but influential group of mental health professionals whose job it was to advise on and participate in the interrogations, and to help create an environment designed to break down prisoners."  Specifically:

During his tenure at the prison, boys and men were threatened with rape and death for themselves and their family members; sexually, culturally, and religiously humiliated; forced naked; deprived of sleep; subjected to sensory deprivation, over-stimulation, and extreme isolation; short-shackled into stress positions for hours; and physically assaulted.

The evidence indicates that abuse of this kind was systemic, that BSCT health professionals played an integral role in its planning and practice. . . .

Writing in 2009, Law Professor Bill Quigley and Deborah Popowski, a Fellow at the Harvard Law School Human Rights Program, described James' role in this particularly notorious incident:

In 2003, Louisiana psychologist and retired Col. Larry James watched behind a one-way mirror in a US prison camp while an interrogator and three prison guards wrestled a screaming, near-naked man on the floor.

The prisoner had been forced into pink women's panties, lipstick and a wig; the men then pinned the prisoner to the floor in an effort "to outfit him with the matching pink nightgown." As he recounts in his memoir, "Fixing Hell," Dr. James initially chose not to respond. He "opened [his] thermos, poured a cup of coffee, and watched the episode play out, hoping it would take a better turn and not wanting to interfere without good reason ..."

Although he claims to eventually find "good reason" to intervene, the Army colonel never reported the incident or even so much as reprimanded men who had engaged in activities that constituted war crimes.

James treated numerous detainees who were abused, degraded, and tortured, yet never took any steps to stop or even report these incidents.  Last year, Steven Reisner -- senior faculty member and supervisor at the International Trauma Studies Program, who also teaches at New York University Medical School and Columbia University -- told Democracy Now: "there is a lot of evidence that has been made public showing that the torture programs in the CIA and at Guantánamo, the Department of Defense, were created and overseen by health professionals, particularly psychologists" and that psychologists were at these facilities "to use their professional expertise to break down the detainees." James, argued Dr. Reisner, was directly implicated because:

Larry James was the chief BSCT starting in January 2003. And when you read the standard operating procedures for mental health, for how to -- behavior protocols for detainees during the time that Larry James was the chief psychologist, you find institutionalized abuse and torture -- isolation for thirty days at a time with absolutely no contact, prohibition of the International Committee of the Red Cross to see these detainees, no access even to religious articles, to the Qur’an, unless they cooperate with interrogations, not to mention frequent interrogation.

For his part, Dr. James claims he attempted to protect the detainees under his care from abuse and psychological injury.  Meanwhile, the Louisiana psychology board refused to review the merits of the complaint against James on the grounds that the alleged acts were too old (outside the statute of limitations), while the Ohio board issued a three-sentence, cursory letter which decreed, without any explanation whatsoever, that "it has been determined that we are unable to proceed to formal action in this matter."  So while the charges against him have not been formally sustained by either board, neither have they been evaluated or rejected by any apparent consideration of the merits. Judicial review of the Ohio board's decision is still possible (a Louisiana federal court ruled it lacked jurisdiction to review the board's Statute of Limitations findings).

Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, James should not be deemed guilty in the absence of a formal adjudication.  But the White House's conduct in selecting him is nonetheless baffling, at best.  Of all the psychologists to choose from, why would they possibly choose to honor and elevate the former chief psychologist of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib at the height of the Bush abuses?  More disturbing still, among those most damaged by detainee abuse are the service members forced to participate in it; why would the White House possibly want to put on a task force about the health of military families someone, such as Dr. James, who at the very least is directly associated with policies that so profoundly harmed numerous members of the military and their families?

This isn't exactly a powerful Task Force, but what this appointment does is have the White House -- yet again -- signal that it does not really take very seriously the Bush torture regime.  On appearance grounds alone, the Obama administration should not be embracing and legitimizing the Bush-era Chief Psychologist of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.  Is there really nobody in the White House who was able to come to that realization on their own, or is this part of some twisted "reaching out" effort to show that they view bygones as bygones when it comes to the war crimes our leaders committed and whom the Obama administration continues to protect?  Whatever the explanation, the symbolism here is as ugly as the mindset underlying it.

The NEW RememberBuilding7 Television Ad

Friday, March 25, 2011

Amidst Growing World Doubts About 9/11, Career Army Officer Takes Bush Administration Officials to Court April 5th Represented by the Center for 9/11 Justice

Herold Online

Center for 9/11 Justice

NEW YORK, March 23, 2011 --

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A December 2010 poll conducted by the prestigious Emnid Institute, and reported in the German magazine "Welt der Wunder," revealed that 89.5% of German respondents do not believe the official story of 9/11.

The issue is heating up in America as well, and will soon be heard in court.

Top Secret Military Specialist April Gallop saw disturbing things up close that have not been reported in the media.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, she was ordered by her supervisor to go directly to work at the Pentagon, before dropping off her ten-week-old son Elisha at day care.

Amazingly, the infant was given immediate security clearance upon arrival.

The instant Gallop turned on her computer an enormous explosion blew her out of her chair, knocking her momentarily unconscious.

Escaping through the hole reportedly made by Flight 77, she saw no signs of an aircraft – no seats, luggage, metal, or human remains. Her watch (and other clocks nearby) had stopped at 9:30-9:31 a.m., seven minutes before the Pentagon was allegedly struck at 9:38 a.m.

The 9/11 Commission reported that "by no later than 9:18 a.m., FAA centers in Indianapolis, Cleveland, and Washington were aware that Flight 77 was missing and that two aircraft had struck the World Trade Center."

Why then were there no anti-aircraft defenses, Gallop asks, or alarm warnings inside the Pentagon?

Gallop was briefed by officials not to tell her story in public; she also received an email from a Fox News reporter who had been told by the Pentagon not to interview her.

Gallop now believes that officials within the Bush Administration conspired to destroy the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and WTC 7 – the third building brought down at 5:20 p.m. that day – with pre-placed explosives detonated after the planes hit.

On April 5th, 2011, at 11 a.m., at the Federal Courthouse at 141 Church Street in New Haven, Connecticut, the case of Gallop v. Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Myers will be heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

Gallop's case relies on virtually all forms of evidence admissible in court, but significantly, on published scientific evidence that residues of these explosives were found in the rubble after the attacks. In its totality the proffered case establishes that the government hypothesis – that the buildings collapsed due to fire in combination with the airplane impacts – is scientifically untenable.

In addition, Ms. Gallop will, through photographic and other physical evidence, as well as the testimony of a multitude of military and civilian survivors, demonstrate the impossibility of her having lived through the attack on the Pentagon if it had taken place as the government and the defendants claim.

German Federal Judge, Deiter Dieseroth, stated in December 2009 that:

"No independent court has applied legal procedures to review the available evidence on who was responsible for the attacks."

Also, that "it is not acceptable for a constitutional declare war, bomb a foreign country, and place it under military occupation," without first identifying suspects.

Dieseroth also said the U.S. "was under burden of proof" that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the attacks, yet the FBI admits it has no evidence presentable in court to back this up.

The stakes in this case are epic, including the possibility of an overwhelming transformation of the world's understanding of history, not to mention American citizens' relationship with their government.

Media contact: William Veale,, 510-845-5675, 925-212-3678

SOURCE Center for 9/11 Justice

US-led warplanes drop depleted uranium on Libyan civilians

Aletho News via INN

“[Depleted uranium tipped missiles] fit the description of a dirty bomb in every way… I would say that it is the perfect weapon for killing lots of people.” – Marion Falk, chemical physicist (retd), Lawrence Livermore Lab, California, USA

In the first 24 hours of the Libyan attack, US B-2s dropped forty-five 2,000-pound bombs. These massive bombs, along with the Cruise missiles launched from British and French planes and ships, all contained depleted uranium (DU) warheads.

DU is the waste product from the process of enriching uranium ore. It is used in nuclear weapons and reactors. Because it is a very heavy substance, 1.7 times denser than lead, it is highly valued by the military for its ability to punch through armored vehicles and buildings. When a weapon made with a DU tip strikes a solid object like the side of a tank, it goes straight through it, then erupts in a burning cloud of vapor. The vapor settles as dust, which is not only poisonous, but also radioactive.

An impacting DU missile burns at 10,000 degrees C. When it strikes a target, 30% fragments into shrapnel. The remaining 70% vaporises into three highly-toxic oxides, including uranium oxide. This black dust remains suspended in the air and, according to wind and weather, can travel over great distances. If you think Iraq and Libya are far away, remember that radiation from Chernobyl reached Wales.

Particles less than 5 microns in diameter are easily inhaled and may remain in the lungs or other organs for years. Internalized DU can cause kidney damage, cancers of the lung and bone, skin disorders, neurocognitive disorders, chromosome damage, immune deficiency syndromes and rare kidney and bowel diseases. Pregnant women exposed to DU may give birth to infants with genetic defects. Once the dust has vaporised, don’t expect the problem to go away soon. As an alpha particle emitter, DU has a half life of 4.5 billion years.

In the ‘shock and awe’ attack on Iraq, more than 1,500 bombs and missiles were dropped on Baghdad alone. Seymour Hersh has claimed that the US Third Marine Aircraft Wing alone dropped more than “five hundred thousand tons of ordnance”. All of it DU-tipped.

Al Jazeera reported that invading US forces fired two hundred tons of radioactive material into buildings, homes, streets and gardens of Baghdad. A reporter from the Christian Science Monitor took a Geiger counter to parts of the city that had been subjected to heavy shelling by US troops. He found radiation levels 1,000 to 1,900 times higher than normal in residential areas. With its population of 26 million, the US dropped a one-ton bomb for every 52 Iraqi citizens or 40 pounds of explosives per person.

William Hague has said that we are in Libya ” to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas”.You don’t have to look far for who and what are being ‘protected’.

In that first 24 hours the ‘Allies’ ‘expended’ £100 million on DU-tipped ordnance. The European Union’s arms control report said member states issued licences in 2009 for the sale of £293.2 million worth of weapons and weapons systems to Libya. Britain issued arms firms licences for the sale of £21.7 million worth of weaponry to Libya and were also paid by Colonel Gadaffi to send the SAS to train his 32nd Brigade.

For the next 4.5 billion years, I’ll bet that William Hague will not be holidaying in North Africa.

Indiana Prosecutor Suggested Fake Attack on Wisconsin Governor


INDIANAPOLIS -- An Indiana prosecutor said one of his deputies resigned Thursday

after admitting he sent an email to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker suggesting the Republican fake an attack on himself to discredit the public employee unions protesting his plan to strip them of nearly all collective bargaining rights.

Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper said Carlos Lam resigned in a phone call about 5 a.m. Thursday after acknowledging that he sent the Feb. 19 email to Walker suggesting "the situation in WI presents a good opportunity for what's called a 'false flag' operation."

"If you could employ an associate who pretends to be sympathetic to the unions' cause to physically attack you (or even use a firearm against you), you could discredit the public unions," Lam wrote in the email, which was obtained by The Associated Press.

Cooper said Lam initially denied sending the email and said someone had hacked into his email account. But Lam later acknowledged he had written the message, and resigned hours before the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism reported the contents publicly Thursday.

"He wanted to come clean, I guess, and said he is the one who sent that email," Cooper told the Daily Journal newspaper in Franklin, south of Indianapolis.

A message left by the AP at a telephone listing for Lam was not immediately returned Thursday.

Lam's email was sent amid daily protests at the Wisconsin Capitol against Walker's plan to take away public employees' rights to collectively bargain for anything except wages no higher than inflation.

"We cannot have the public unions hold the taxpayer hostage with their outrageous demands," said the email, which urged Walker to "stay strong."

Lam is the second Indiana prosecutor to lose his job over volatile comments about the Wisconsin protests. Jeffrey Cox, a deputy attorney general, was fired last month after tweeting that police should use live ammunition against labor protesters.

Wisconsin Republicans eventually used a procedural maneuver to pass the collective bargaining measure without Democrats who had fled to block a vote and Walker has signed it in to law. But a judge has issued a temporary restraining order to block the law from taking effect while courts consider a lawsuit alleging the Republicans' move violated the state's open meetings law and constitution.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blackwater/Xe Terrorist Cells Conducting False Flag Terrorist Attacks in Pakistan

Redacted News

Rock Creek Free Press/WMR has learned from a deep background source that Xe Services, the company formerly known as Blackwater, has been conducting false flag terrorist attacks in Pakistan that are later blamed on the entity called "Pakistani Taliban."

Only recently did the US State Department designate the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban, a terrorist group. The group is said by the State Department to be an off-shoot of the Afghan Taliban, which had links to "Al Qaeda" before the 9/11 attacks on the United States. TTP's leader is Hakimullah Mehsud, said to be 30-years old and operating from Pakistan's remote tribal region with an accomplice named Wali Ur Rehman. In essence, this new team of Mehsud and Rehman appears to be the designated replacement for Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri as the new leaders of the so-called "Global Jihad" against the West.

However, it is Blackwater/Xe cells operating in Karachi, Peshawar, Islamabad and other cities and towns that have, according to our source who witnessed the U.S.-led false flag terrorist operations in Pakistan. Bombings of civilians is the favored false flag event for the Blackwater/Xe team and are being carried out under the orders of the CIA.

However, the source is now under threat from the FBI and CIA for revealing the nature of the false flag operations in Pakistan. If the source does not agree to cooperate with the CIA and FBI, with an offer of a salary, the threat of false criminal charges being brought for aiding and abetting terrorism looms over the source.

The Blackwater/Xe involvement in terrorist attacks in Pakistan have been confirmed by the former head of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), General Hamid Gul, according to another source familiar with the current Xe covert operations. In addition,  Pakistani ex-Army Chief of Staff, General Mirza Aslam Beg, reportedly claimed that while serving as president, General Pervez Musharraf approved Blackwater carrying out terrorist operations in Pakistan. Blackwater/Xe has been accused of smuggling weapons and munitions into Pakistan.

Earlier this year WMR reported that "intelligence sources in Asia and Europe are reporting that the CIA contractor firm XE Services, formerly Blackwater, has been carrying out 'false flag' terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, Somalia, the Sinkiang region of China, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq, in some cases with the assistance of Israeli Mossad and Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) personnel . . . A number of terrorist bombings in Pakistan have been blamed by Pakistani Islamic leaders on Blackwater, Mossad, and RAW. Blackwater has been accused of hiring young Pakistanis in Peshawar to carry out false flag bombings that are later blamed on the Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. One such bombing took place during the Ashura procession in Karachi last month. The terrorist attacks allegedly are carried out by a secret Blackwater-XE/CIA/Joint Special Operations Command forward operating base in Karachi.

The XE Services component was formerly known as Blackwater Select, yet another subsidiary in a byzantine network of shell and linked companies run by Blackwater/Xe on behalf of the CIA and the Pentagon. On December 3, 2009, the Pakistani newspaper Nawa-i-Waqtreported: 'Vast land near the Tarbela dam has also been given to the Americans where they have established bases for their army and air forces. There, the Indian RAW [Research and Analysis Wing] and Israeli Mossad are working in collaboration with the CIA to carry out extremist activities in Pakistan.'"
The bombing of a CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan last December was blamed on the TTP but may have actually involved the covert Blackwater/Xe/CIA program to stage false flag attacks and something went drastically wrong with the operation that resulted in the deaths of seven CIA personnel, including the Khost station chief. The TTP was also linked to the failed Times Square "bombing" last May.

Responsibility for the recent bomb attack of a pro-Palestine Shi'a rally in Quetta that killed 54 people was claimed by the Pakistan Taliban, but it was actually carried out by one of the Blackwater/Xe covert cells in the country, acting in concert with the CIA, Israeli Mossad, and Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). The ultimate goal is to destabilize Pakistan to the point where it has no choice but to allow the Western powers to secure its nuclear weapons and remove them from the country in a manner similar to the procurement by the West of South Africa's nuclear weapons prior to the stepping down of the white minority government in the early 1990s.

WMR has been informed that any American, whether or not he or she holds a security clearance, is subject to U.S. national security prohibitions from discussing the U.S.- sponsored terrorist attacks in Pakistan. In one case, a threat was made against an individual who personally witnessed the Blackwater/Xe/CIA terrorist operations but is now threatened, along with family members.

The Failure to Stand Up to Evil Leads to Insanity, Poverty and the Loss of All Our Rights

Washington's Blog

Preface: I am using the word "evil" in its secular sense in this essay, as in a horrible, destructive act ... religion is beyond the scope of this essay.

When someone fails to stand up to a heinous act, that leads to a whole chain of events.

It Enables More Destructive Acts

Initially, by failing to stand up to the bad act, we are enabling the person who committed it to do bigger and worse things in the future.

Army psychiatrist and Christian philosopher M. Scott Peck wrote extensively on evil in People of the Lie (since Peck was a psychiatrist and an empirical researcher, his investigation of the dynamics of those who commit heinous acts and the subsequent attempts to cover them up is very interesting, even for atheists who will disregard all religious overtones). As Peck wrote:
It is necessary that we first draw the distinction between evil and ordinary sin. It is not their sins per se that characterize evil people...The central defect of the evil is not the sin but the refusal to acknowledge it.
And a longer passage:
We lie only when we are attempting to cover up something we know to be illicit. Some rudimentary form of conscience must precede the act of lying. There is no need to hide unless we first feel that something needs to be hidden. We come now to a sort of paradox. Evil people feel themselves to be perfect. At the same time, however, they have an unacknowledged sense of their own evil nature. Indeed, it is this very sense from which they are frantically trying to flee. The essential component of evil is not the absence of a sense of sin or imperfection but the unwillingness to tolerate that sense. At once and the same time, the evil are aware of their evil and desperately trying to avoid the awareness. Rather than blissfully lacking a sense of morality like the psychopath, they are continually engaged in sweeping the evidence of their evil under the rug of their own consciousness (or attempting to redefine their evil as good). The problem is not a defect of conscience, but the effort to deny the conscience its due. We become evil by attempting to hide from ourselves. The wickedness of the evil is not committed directly, but indirectly as a part of this cover-up process. Evil originates not in the absence of guilt but in the effort to escape it. Since they will do almost anything to avoid the particular pain that comes from self-examination, under ordinary circumstances, the evil are the last people who would ever come to psychotherapy. The evil hate the light – the light of goodness that shows them up, the light of scrutiny that exposes them, the light of the truth that penetrates their deception.
So when people fail to stand up to the heinous acts of a bad person, they are empowering that person's cover up, the very core of their propensity to do further bad acts in the future.
It Destroys Our Ability to Think Rationally
Moreover, failure to stand up to the bad act requires people to rationalize their failure to act, which in turn ends up literally warping their thinking process.
As I've repeatedly pointed out, people will go to extreme lengths to rationalize their failure to recognize bad actions by those in power:
Sociologists from four major research institutions investigated why so many Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, years after it became obvious that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

The researchers found, as described in an article in the journal Sociological Inquiry (and re-printed by Newsweek):
  • Many Americans felt an urgent need to seek justification for a war already in progress
  • Rather than search rationally for information that either confirms or disconfirms a particular belief, people actually seek out information that confirms what they already believe.
  • "For the most part people completely ignore contrary information."
  • "The study demonstrates voters' ability to develop elaborate rationalizations based on faulty information"
  • People get deeply attached to their beliefs, and form emotional attachments that get wrapped up in their personal identity and sense of morality, irrespective of the facts of the matter.
  • "We refer to this as 'inferred justification, because for these voters, the sheer fact that we were engaged in war led to a post-hoc search for a justification for that war.
  • "People were basically making up justifications for the fact that we were at war"
  • "They wanted to believe in the link [between 9/11 and Iraq] because it helped them make sense of a current reality. So voters' ability to develop elaborate rationalizations based on faulty information, whether we think that is good or bad for democratic practice, does at least demonstrate an impressive form of creativity.
An article ... in Alternet discussing the Sociological Inquiry article helps us to understand that the key to people's active participation in searching for excuses for actions by the big boys is fear:
Subjects were presented during one-on-one interviews with a newspaper clip of this Bush quote: "This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al-Qaeda."
The Sept. 11 Commission, too, found no such link, the subjects were told.
"Well, I bet they say that the commission didn't have any proof of it," one subject responded, "but I guess we still can have our opinions and feel that way even though they say that."

Reasoned another: "Saddam, I can't judge if he did what he's being accused of, but if Bush thinks he did it, then he did it."

Others declined to engage the information at all. Most curious to the researchers were the respondents who reasoned that Saddam must have been connected to Sept. 11, because why else would the Bush Administration have gone to war in Iraq?

The desire to believe this was more powerful, according to the researchers, than any active campaign to plant the idea.

Such a campaign did exist in the run-up to the war...

He won't credit [politicians spouting misinformation] alone for the phenomenon, though.

"That kind of puts the idea out there, but what people then do with the idea ... " he said. "Our argument is that people aren't just empty vessels. You don't just sort of open up their brains and dump false information in and they regurgitate it. They're actually active processing cognitive agents"...
The alternate explanation raises queasy questions for the rest of society.

"I think we'd all like to believe that when people come across disconfirming evidence, what they tend to do is to update their opinions," said Andrew Perrin, an associate professor at UNC and another author of the study...

"The implications for how democracy works are quite profound, there's no question in my mind about that," Perrin said. "What it means is that we have to think about the emotional states in which citizens find themselves that then lead them to reason and deliberate in particular ways."

Evidence suggests people are more likely to pay attention to facts within certain emotional states and social situations. Some may never change their minds. For others, policy-makers could better identify those states, for example minimizing the fear that often clouds a person's ability to assess facts ...
The Alternet article links to a must-read interview with psychology professor Sheldon Solomon, who explains:
A large body of evidence shows that momentarily [raising fear of death], typically by asking people to think about themselves dying, intensifies people's strivings to protect and bolster aspects of their worldviews, and to bolster their self-esteem. The most common finding is that [fear of death] increases positive reactions to those who share cherished aspects of one's cultural worldview, and negative reactions toward those who violate cherished cultural values or are merely different.
Investors - as with politicians or Americans in general - believe that "when [they] come across disconfirming evidence . . . . they tend to ... update their opinions", but in reality, they cling to the beliefs they formed during certain heightened emotional states, such as fear.
And once people form a belief, it can be almost impossible to get them to change their beliefs ... even if confronted with contradictory information.
As NPR noted last July:
New research suggests that misinformed people rarely change their minds when presented with the facts — and often become even more attached to their beliefs.

A new body of research out of the University of Michigan suggests ... that we base our opinions on beliefs and when presented with contradictory facts, we adhere to our original belief even more strongly.
The phenomenon is called backfire, and it plays an especially important role in how we shape and solidify our beliefs on immigration, the president's place of birth, welfare and other highly partisan issues.
It's threatening to us to admit that things we believe are wrong. And all of us, liberals and conservatives, you know, have some beliefs that aren't true, and when we find that out, you know, it's threatening to our beliefs and ourselves.
This isn't a question of education, necessarily, or sophistication. It's really about, it's really about preserving that belief that we initially held.
Torture as a Quintessential Evil of the Last Decade
A good example of this dynamic is with torture.

Americans were first told by our government that we were not torturing anyone. Then, the government admitted it did a "little" waterboarding, but said that's not torture, and that it was necessary to prevent more Al Qaeda attacks.

The truth, however, is that top experts in interrogation say that:
  • Torture has been used throughout history - not to gain information - but as a form of intimidation, to terrorize people into obedience. In other words, at its core, torture is a form of terrorism.
More importantly, the specific type of torture which was used the the U.S. in Iraq and Guantanamo was tailor-made to extract false confessions.
As I previously pointed out:
Senator Levin revealed that the the U.S. used torture techniques aimed at extracting false confessions.
McClatchy subsequently filled in some of the details:
Former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration...
For most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there."It was during this period that CIA interrogators waterboarded two alleged top al Qaida detainees repeatedly — Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August 2002 and Khalid Sheik Muhammed 183 times in March 2003 — according to a newly released Justice Department document...

When people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people to push harder," he continued."Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn't any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam . . .

A former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army investigators in 2006 that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were under "pressure" to produce evidence of ties between al Qaida and Iraq.

"While we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al Qaida and Iraq," Burney told staff of the Army Inspector General. "The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . . . there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results."

"I think it's obvious that the administration was scrambling then to try to find a connection, a link (between al Qaida and Iraq)," [Senator] Levin said in a conference call with reporters. "They made out links where they didn't exist."
Levin recalled Cheney's assertions that a senior Iraqi intelligence officer had met Mohammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, in the Czech Republic capital of Prague just months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The FBI and CIA found that no such meeting occurred.
In other words, top Bush administration officials not only knowingly lied about a non-existent connection between Al Qaida and Iraq, but they pushed and insisted that interrogators use special torture methods aimed at extracting false confessions to attempt to create such a false linkage. See also this and this.

Paul Krugman eloquently summarized the truth about the type of torture used:
Let’s say this slowly: the Bush administration wanted to use 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. So it tortured people to make them confess to the nonexistent link.
There’s a word for this: it’s evil.
Indeed, one of the two senior instructors from the Air Force team which taught U.S. servicemen how to resist torture by foreign governments when used to extract false confessions has blown the whistle on the true purpose behind the U.S. torture program.
As Truth Out reported yesterday:
Jessen's notes were provided to Truthout by retired Air Force Capt. Michael Kearns, a "master" SERE instructor and decorated veteran who has previously held high-ranking positions within the Air Force Headquarters Staff and Department of Defense (DoD).
Kearns and his boss, Roger Aldrich, the head of the Air Force Intelligence's Special Survial Training Program (SSTP), based out of Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington, hired Jessen in May 1989. Kearns, who was head of operations at SSTP and trained thousands of service members, said Jessen was brought into the program due to an increase in the number of new SERE courses being taught and "the fact that it required psychological expertise on hand in a full-time basis."
Jessen, then the chief of Psychology Service at the US Air Force Survival School, immediately started to work directly with Kearns on "a new course for special mission units (SMUs), which had as its goal individual resistance to terrorist exploitation."
The course, known as SV-91, was developed for the Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) branch of the US Air Force Intelligence Agency, which acted as the Executive Agent Action Office for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Jessen's notes formed the basis for one part of SV-91, "Psychological Aspects of Detention."
Kearns was one of only two officers within DoD qualified to teach all three SERE-related courses within SSTP on a worldwide basis, according to a copy of a 1989 letter written Aldrich, who nominated him officer of the year.
The Jessen notes clearly state the totality of what was being reverse-engineered - not just 'enhanced interrogation techniques,' but an entire program of exploitation of prisoners using torture as a central pillar," he said. "What I think is important to note, as an ex-SERE Resistance to Interrogation instructor, is the focus of Jessen's instruction. It is exploitation, not specifically interrogation. And this is not a picayune issue, because if one were to 'reverse-engineer' a course on resistance to exploitation then what one would get is a plan to exploit prisoners, not interrogate them. The CIA/DoD torture program appears to have the same goals as the terrorist organizations or enemy governments for which SV-91 and other SERE courses were created to defend against: the full exploitation of the prisoner in his intelligence, propaganda, or other needs held by the detaining power, such as the recruitment of informers and double agents. Those aspects of the US detainee program have not generally been discussed as part of the torture story in the American press."
Jessen wrote that cooperation is the "end goal" of the detainer, who wants the detainee "to see that [the detainer] has 'total' control of you because you are completely dependent on him, and thus you must comply with his wishes. Therefore, it is absolutely inevitable that you must cooperate with him in some way (propaganda, special favors, confession, etc.)."
Kearns said, based on what he has read in declassified government documents and news reports about the role SERE played in the Bush administration's torture program, Jessen clearly "reverse-engineered" his lesson plan and used resistance methods to abuse "war on terror" detainees.
So we have the two main Air Force insiders concerning the genesis of the torture program confirming - with original notes - that the whole purpose of the torture program was to extract false confessions.
They Got the False Confessions They Wanted
The Miami Herald ran a story entitled "Alleged 9/11 mastermind: `I make up stories'", noting:
Accused al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed complained that interrogators tortured lies out of him...

''I make up stories,'' Mohammed said ...

In broken English, he described an interrogation in which he was asked the location of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

''Where is he? I don't know,'' Mohammed said. 'Then he torture me. Then I said, 'Yes, he is in this area or this is al Qaeda which I don't know him.' I said no, they torture me.''
This is not new. It has already been documented that Mohammed confessed to crimes which he could not have committed, and that he said that he gave the interrogators a lot of false information - telling them what he thought they wanted to hear - in an attempt to stop the torture.

Indeed, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told the Red Cross:
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 the 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 and led to several false red-alerts being placed in the U.S.
And see this Washington Post report.

Dick Cheney claimed that waterboarding Khalid Shaikh Mohammed stopped a terror attack on L.A., but as the Chicago Tribune notes:
The Bush administration claimed that the waterboarding of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed helped foil a planned 2002 attack on Los Angeles -- forgetting that he wasn't captured until 2003.
(see this confirmation from the BBC: "Khalid Sheikh Mohammed ... was captured in Pakistan in 2003").
And as I pointed out last year:
[A]ccording to NBC news:
  • Much of the 9/11 Commission Report was based upon the testimony of people who were tortured
  • At least four of the people whose interrogation figured in the 9/11 Commission Report have claimed that they told interrogators information as a way to stop being "tortured."
  • One of the Commission's main sources of information was tortured until he agreed to sign a confession that he was NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO READ
  • The 9/11 Commission itself doubted the accuracy of the torture confessions, and yet kept their doubts to themselves

Remember, as discussed above, the torture techniques used by the Bush administration to try to link Iraq and 9/11 were specifically geared towards creating false confessions (they were techniques created by the communists to be used in show trials).
The above-linked NBC news report quotes a couple of legal experts to this effect:
Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, says he is "shocked" that the Commission never asked about extreme interrogation measures.

"If you’re sitting at the 9/11 Commission, with all the high-powered lawyers on the Commission and on the staff, first you ask what happened rather than guess," said Ratner, whose center represents detainees at Guantanamo. "Most people look at the 9/11 Commission Report as a trusted historical document. If their conclusions were supported by information gained from torture, therefore their conclusions are suspect."...
Karen Greenberg, director of the Center for Law and Security at New York University’s School of Law, put it this way: "[I]t should have relied on sources not tainted. It calls into question how we were willing to use these interrogations to construct the narrative."
I also pointed out:
The official 9/11 Commission Report states:
Chapters 5 and 7 rely heavily on information obtained from captured al Qaeda members. A number of these "detainees" have firsthand knowledge of the 9/11 plot. Assessing the truth of statements by these witnesses-sworn enemies of the United States-is challenging. Our access to them has been limited to the review of intelligence reports based on communications received from the locations where the actual interrogations take place. We submitted questions for use in the interrogations, but had no control over whether, when, or how questions of particular interest would be asked. Nor were we allowed to talk to the interrogators so that we could better judge the credibility of the detainees and clarify ambiguities in the reporting.
In other words, the 9/11 Commissioners were not allowed to speak with the detainees, or even their interrogators. Instead, they got their information third-hand.
The Commission didn't really trust the interrogation testimony. For example, one of the primary architects of the 9/11 Commission Report, Ernest May, said in May 2005:
We never had full confidence in the interrogation reports as historical sources.
As I noted last May:
Newsweek is running an essay by [New York Times investigative reporter] Philip Shenon saying [that the 9/11 Commission Report was unreliable because most of the information was based on the statements of tortured detainees]:
The commission appears to have ignored obvious clues throughout 2003 and 2004 that its account of the 9/11 plot and Al Qaeda's history relied heavily on information obtained from detainees who had been subjected to torture, or something not far from it.

The panel raised no public protest over the CIA's interrogation methods, even though news reports at the time suggested how brutal those methods were. In fact, the commission demanded that the CIA carry out new rounds of interrogations in 2004 to get answers to its questions.

That has troubling implications for the credibility of the commission's final report. In intelligence circles, testimony obtained through torture is typically discredited; research shows that people will say anything under threat of intense physical pain.

And yet it is a distinct possibility that Al Qaeda suspects who were the exclusive source of information for long passages of the commission's report may have been subjected to "enhanced" interrogation techniques, or at least threatened with them, because of the 9/11 Commission....

Information from CIA interrogations of two of the three—KSM and Abu Zubaydah—is cited throughout two key chapters of the panel's report focusing on the planning and execution of the attacks and on the history of Al Qaeda.

Footnotes in the panel's report indicate when information was obtained from detainees interrogated by the CIA. An analysis by NBC News found that more than a quarter of the report's footnotes—441 of some 1,700—referred to detainees who were subjected to the CIA's "enhanced" interrogation program, including the trio who were waterboarded.

Commission members note that they repeatedly pressed the Bush White House and CIA for direct access to the detainees, but the administration refused. So the commission forwarded questions to the CIA, whose interrogators posed them on the panel's behalf.
The commission's report gave no hint that harsh interrogation methods were used in gathering information, stating that the panel had "no control" over how the CIA did its job; the authors also said they had attempted to corroborate the information "with documents and statements of others."

But how could the commission corroborate information known only to a handful of people in a shadowy terrorist network, most of whom were either dead or still at large?

Former senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a Democrat on the commission, told me last year he had long feared that the investigation depended too heavily on the accounts of Al Qaeda detainees who were physically coerced into talking. ...

Kerrey said it might take "a permanent 9/11 commission" to end the remaining mysteries of September 11.
This essay will not go too far down the rabbit hole of 9/11.

The point is that the government used a specific set of torture techniques created to extract false confessions which would support a rationale for the Iraq war and the war on terror and which would allow a superficial reading of September 11th itself.

If we fail to stand up to this act of evil - the use of torture to obtain false confessions - we are not only complicit, but we will also eventually drive ourselves crazy in trying to rationalize what was done in our name.

It Disempowers Us and Leads to the Loss of All of Our Rights

As Yves Smith writes today about the Truth Out article:
This revelation raises troubling questions about how programs like this relate to the coarsening of American society. Some readers will no doubt argue that trying to connect the dots between programs designed for use in combat settings and broad social trends is overreaching. Yet look at the themes Jessen stresses: control, dependency, compliance and cooperation. To use one pet example, why are people so apathetic in the wake of widespread abuses by banks, first the extortions that took place during the bailouts, and now the continued flouting of the law in mortgage servicing and foreclosures?
Although there was no single architect like Jessen for the various elements of our current economic paradigm, they do seem to work to weaken, and perhaps in some cases, to break the will of ordinary citizens to stand up to their tormentors large and small. A policy preference for higher levels of unemployment (to keep inflation down and workers in their place) have reduced many if not most individuals’ sense of control of their own destiny and increased their sense of dependence. When job tenures are short and replacement work at the same level of pay can be hard to get, that alone produces a good deal of the sought-after state, compliance.
Add to that an information apparatus which allows employers to see minor transgressions like late payment and misdemeanors such as getting arrested at protests, and you have effective mechanisms for social control. And there are those who look at the abuse of Bradley Manning, which would have seemed inconceivable fifteen years ago, and wonder who else might be deemed to be enough of a threat to merit similar mistreatment.

In other words, the failure to stand up to a heinous act not only destroys our ability to think, but also makes it less likely we will stand up to future bad acts ... thus disempowering us.

That is the road to poverty, and a complete loss of all of our rights ...