Dianne Feinstein Plans Torture Coverup

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    Bob Fertik
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In January, Dianne Feinstein replaced Jay Rockefeller as chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. And her first act as chair will be to coverup the Bush System of Torture. Joby Warrick of the Pentagon Post is the CIA's embedded spokesliar:

The officials described the planned inquiry as a "study" and stressed that it would not yield recommendations for possible legal proceedings.

Why not? Because the new CIA Director, Leon Panetta, wants to protect the torturers:

"I would not support, obviously, an investigation or a prosecution of those individuals" involved in the interrogation program, he said. "They did their job, they did it pursuant to the guidance that was provided them, whether you agreed or disagreed with it.

We can debate whether lower-level CIA torturers who "just followed orders" should be prosecuted. The United States emphatically rejected that defense for Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg. The fact that Dick Cheney's neo-Nazi lawyer, David Addington, instructed John Yoo to write flagrantly lawless (and hence criminal) memos "legalizing" torture does not change the moral and legal responsibility of CIA officials to refuse to follow orders to torture.

But there is no debate whether those who gave the orders to torture should be prosecuted. And that starts at the very top with George Bush, Dick Cheney, David Addington, John Yoo, Donald Rumsfeld, and top officials at the CIA and the Pentagon who implemented and managed the torture regime.

That's what a plurality of Americans want. That's what the Convention Against Torture requires. And that's why Attorney General Eric Holder must appoint a Special Prosecutor now.

Update 1: The key to the coverup will be to acknowledge the limited use of waterboarding and other "harsh interrogation tactics" while blacking out the 34-45 documented cases of detainee murder. It's a familiar spy trick called the "limited hangout."

Victor Marchetti wrote: "A 'limited hangout' is spy jargon for a favorite and frequently used gimmick of the clandestine professionals. When their veil of secrecy is shredded and they can no longer rely on a phony cover story to misinform the public, they resort to admitting - sometimes even volunteering - some of the truth while still managing to withhold the key and damaging facts in the case. The public, however, is usually so intrigued by the new information that it never thinks to pursue the matter further.

Joby Warrick's article is a textbook example of a "limited hangout," which is exactly what we expect from the torture-loving Pentagon Post.

In early January, Warrick (along with Michael Abramowitz and Walter Pincus, a good guy who should know better) warned President-elect Obama not to mess with the CIA:

Obama actions will also be watched closely by the career officials at the CIA, who want to see how supportive the new president and his team will be. Former CIA officials note that all the agency's actions were authorized by Bush with legal opinions and concurrence by senior White House officials and Congress. "The Obama people can run against the Bush guys all they want, but they shouldn't run down the CIA," said one retired agency official.

I wonder if they pinned Warwick's article to a Godfather-style horse's head in Obama's bed.

Update 2: Once upon a time, the newspaper formerly known as the Washington Post exposed Richard Nixon's "modified limited hangout," as all Watergate fans remember. But then-publisher Katherine Graham killed that newspaper and went to CIA headquarters to read its epitaph.

We live in a dirty and dangerous world...There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows.

Don't you love the "democracy flourishes" part? It's like Barbara Bush says - the American people shouldn't worry our beautiful minds on ugly things like brutal acts of torture committed in our name.

Update 3: The Pentagon Post doesn't just love torture and disastrous imperial conquests. It also loves global warming, as the dynamic duo of Eric Boehlert and Jamison Foser brilliantly document. If the Post had to rely on newspaper income it would follow the Rocky Mountain News into oblivion. Sadly, it stays in business by exploiting teenagers who are trying to get into college.

Update 4: Marcy Wheeler explains how Feinstein is sabotaging fellow Democrat Pat Leahy's "Truth Commission":

understand the turf battle going on. Pat Leahy will have an investigation regardless of what DiFi says--and he's going to start it now. So DiFi issues a vaguely formulated leak saying that she's going to cover the CIA's role in torture. And, voila! Now the CIA and DiFi can try to circumscribe Leahy's investigation. And of course, by doing an investigation that starts with the premise that it is "not designed to determine whether CIA officials broke laws," even while admitting that CIA officers may have gone beyond the "instructions issued in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks," it ensures no accountability even for those who went beyond Cheney's torture regime. And, finally, absolutely no current plans to make public the results, either through public hearings or by releaing a report.

Marcy wants Feinstein to publish her report, but that will only complete the "limited hangout" coverup; we need Eric Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor.

Update 5: Meteor Blades made a similar point two days ago about Sen. Leahy's proposed "Truth Commission" before Feinstein's coverup was leaked:

A more narrowly focused Torture Commission will have to do. Of course, it could be the perfect venue for a whitewash, something ultimately amounting to what Nixon counsel John Ehrlichman called a "modified limited hang-out". But when the last major government commission undertook its work, the blogosphere was in its infancy. Now it is hard to imagine that any investigation would not be monitored by torturecommission.com, .org, .net, and all other manner of highly motivated and qualified watchers shadowing the investigation’s every move. Public oversight of the overseers, imperfect no doubt, but more attentive than ever before.


Pentagon Defies Obama on Guantanamo

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Michael Haas

The Pentagon has again tried to whitewash its war crimes. On February 21, Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, delivered an 85-page report to President Barack Obama on conditions at Guantánamo. The document responded to a presidential executive order of January 22 requesting compliance with the Geneva Conventions and a report on whether conditions at the prison are in accord with international law. The Walsh Report insults President Obama, the American people, and prisoners who remain victims of ongoing war crimes.

According to Section 6 of Obama's executive order of January 22, "No individual currently detained at Guantánamo shall be held in the custody or under the effective control of any officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government, or at a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States, except in conformity with all applicable laws governing the conditions of such confinement, including Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. The Secretary of Defense shall immediately undertake a review of the conditions of detention at Guantánamo to ensure full compliance with this directive. Such review shall be completed within 30 days and any necessary corrections shall be implemented immediately thereafter."

Although the Walsh Report makes some recommendations for improvement in conditions regarding more time for social and religious interaction between prisoners, the findings are not only incomplete but defiant of President Obama's executive order by failing to correct the following war crimes, based on the Geneva Conventions and other international agreements:

• Prisoners are now being force-fed in violation of medical ethics.
• In preparation for force-feedings, prisoners are strapped to chairs for hours. Close confinement is a war crime.
• Prisoners have complained that both the force-feeding and the bondage are tantamount to torture.
• The Walsh Report, which justifies force-feedings as preserving human life, serves blatantly as an impermissible justification for torture. There is no acceptable form of torture.
• No one engaging in force-feedings or chair bondage has been arrested pending trial.
• The Walsh Report is silent about the required compensation for past victims of torture.
• After force-feedings, prisoners have complained of repeated beatings. Reprisal punishments, repeated punishments, and corporal punishments are war crimes.
• Binyam Mohammed, who is in a very weakened condition, was not been repatriated until after the report was submitted. It took British pressure to release him.
• At least two children who entered Guantánamo in 2002 also have not been repatriated.
• Prisoners wear three kinds of colored garments in different compounds, representing different levels of privileges. No such discrimination is allowed.
• Some prisoners have been indefinitely left in cold, windowless cells.
• Camp 7 remains off limits to nonmilitary personnel, notably their lawyers.

The above situation means that there are further war crimes under both the Geneva Conventions and the Torture Convention:

• Commanding officers have failed to ensure that subordinates understand Geneva Convention requirements. Indeed, the Walsh Report is itself a war crime.
• Commanders have failed to prevent or stop subordinates from mistreating and torturing prisoners.
• In other words, commanding officers have become complicit in torture by failing to stop force-feedings and chair bondage.

Clearly, the Pentagon is counting on the ignorance of the public regarding which practices are war crimes. Meanwhile, several attorneys who are defending the prisoners have disputed the findings of the Walsh Report.

In addition, there is an apparent loophole in Obama’s executive order. Whereas the first sentence of Obama’s executive order refers to any “facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States,” the second sentence authorizes a report on conditions at Guantánamo. The Pentagon, in other words, is required to follow the Geneva Conventions at American-run prisons in Afghanistan, but there is no report on conditions at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, where the Obama administration is opposing habeas corpus petitions.

Anticipating that the military of any country might not correct mistreatment of prisoners, the Third Geneva Convention has some safeguards. By ignoring these safeguards, additional war crimes are being committed:

• Many prisoners are being held despite a decision to release them because the United States has failed to request assistance from appropriate humanitarian agencies, such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
• The United States has failed to set up the required neutral Central Prisoner of War Agency to keep track of prisoners.

The Pentagon, which has demonstrated lack of credibility in such reports before, is now on record of approving at least twenty well-established war crimes. The fox has again reported on the conditions in his chicken coop and has found everything to his satisfaction.

Political scientist Michael Haas is the author of the recent book "George W. Bush, War Criminal? The Bush Administration's Liability for 269 War Crimes." He lives in the Hollywood Hills and can be reached at (323) 656-5873 or mikehaas@aol.com. For further information, see www.USwarcrimes.com.

thank you mike

  • Bob Fertik's picture
    Bob Fertik
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for your outstanding and urgent report.