Posts filed under ‘Middle East’
Banksy’s Christmas card:
Where can I get a box?
For the last few hours I’ve been sitting at my computer reading the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s report on the CIA’s interrogation program and various tweets and short articles about what people are finding. This is an early, SMDH finding:
The CIA contractors who helped develop and operate the “enhanced interrogation techniques” that the agency used on terror suspects, including waterboarding, were paid more than $80 million, according to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA’s interrogation program released Tuesday.
The contract was for more than $180 million, but the contractors had only received $81 million when their contract was terminated in 2009.
Although the committee did not identify the contractors, NBC News has previously identified them as Mitchell, Jessen & Associates, a Spokane, Washington, company run by two psychologists, Dr. John “Bruce” Jessen and Dr. James Mitchell, who had both previously worked with the U.S. Air Force.
The report states that when they were hired the two did not have “specialized knowledge of al Qaeda, a background in counterterrorism or any relevant cultural or linguistic experience.”
These are apparently some of the so-called “interrogation techniques” Messrs. Jessen and Mitchell devised:
At least five CIA detainees were subjected to ‘rectal rehydration’ or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity,” according to the summary. “The CIA placed detainees in ice water ‘baths.’ The CIA led several detainees to believe they would never be allowed to leave CIA custody alive, suggesting to one detainee that he would only leave in a coffin-shaped box. One interrogator told another detainee that he would never go to court, because ‘we can never let the world know what I have done to you.’ CIA officers also threatened at least three detainees with harm to their families — to include threats to harm the children of a detainee, threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee, and a threat to ‘cut [a detainee’s] mother’s throat.'”
ViceNews will soon release a video interview with Mitchell. Here’s the trailer:
Today is a tragic day for the United States and, for that matter, the world. On the evening of 9/11 I remember being afraid the Bush administration would go off half cocked and do things we would come to regret and sure enough, here we are. They went insane with fear and rage, and I’m only talking about torture (not to mention Gitmo, Iraq, the NSA, the Department of Homeland Security, all the people who have been killed or displaced and our poor soldiers dead or now suffering from PTSD, etc).
Our national honor is in shambles.
More as details of the report come in.
OMG, if this is the level of information swirling around inside the White House we’re in big trouble:
Excerpt from a September 10, 2014 “Background Conference Call on the President’s Address to the Nation:”
ISIL has been I think a galvanizing threat around the Sunni partners in the region. They view it as an existential threat to them. Saudi Arabia has an extensive border with Syria. The Jordanians are experiencing a destabilizing impact of over a million refugees from the Syrian conflict, and are profoundly concerned that ISIL, who has stated that their ambitions are not confined to Iraq and Syria, but rather to expand to the broader region.
Um, ah, actually no, it doesn’t:
You probably heard that House Republicans brought Dick Cheney in for a meeting yesterday so he — yes, he, most recently of blundered Iraq war fame — could strategize with them on the next go round in that miserable disaster. They were more than happy to listen, according to Rep. Peter King (R-NY), “because most of us think we did the right thing in Iraq.” Really? Does that mean “most” of them still believe al Qaeda was there (it wasn’t) and Saddam Hussein had WMD (he didn’t)?
Holy cow. Is this really happening?
Today Cheney gave a speech at the ultra-conservative American Enterprise Institute and railed at Obama to do whatever it takes “to win,” even though he and Bush weren’t able to do that themselves. What gall.
Anyway, what in the world are Republicans thinking bringing back this monster as an adviser? The guy left office with a 13% approval rating and my sense is he’s still widely despised. All I can think of is this is what happens when a bunch of people — as in House Republicans — live in Faux News/Limbaugh land.
Here’s my Tweet of the Day
Stopping ISIS? Way harder than it sounds, i.e., what the hell are we getting ourselves into:
Even limited success for this new effort, analysts say, hinges on an unenviable to-do list for the Obama administration: foster cozier relations with Iran, gamble on the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels, strong-arm Iraq’s Shiite Muslim leaders into power-sharing with the Sunni Muslim minority, and persuade Sunni-ruled nations in the Persian Gulf region not to undermine the whole effort by striking out on their own.
Piece of cake, right? Gawd.
And how about answers to at least some of these questions:
What do you [Obama] expect the response of ISIS to be, given especially that these killings that have gotten so much attention have been couched by the group as revenge for military action we’ve already taken? Why shouldn’t we expect more of the same if we do more of the same?
Have we considered whether part of the group’s purpose is to provoke more U.S. intervention, and therefore show themselves as the group standing up to the U.S.? Would we not indeed be playing into their hands by doing so?
Given that Matthew Olsen, the outgoing director of the NCTC [National Counterterrorism Center] made a statement the other day that we do not face the prospect of attacks by this group against the homeland, why are we focusing as much attention as we are against this one group? They’ve done certain dramatic things that have gotten our attention, and the press’s attention, but what exactly are the U.S.’s interests at stake?
Given that this group’s advances in Syria and Iraq have had a great deal to do with the larger sectarian conflict in those countries… how do we intervene without effectively taking sides in a sectarian conflict in which the United States has no interest? Why should we favor Shiites or Sunnis? Because that’s exactly how it will be seen. Have you considered the downside of being seen as taking sides in a sectarian conflict, in terms of the enemies that you make?
With particular regard to the question of intervening in Syria: What exactly would be our broader political objective? Do we still believe that [Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad] must go? And if we do, how do we square this with an intervention against ISIS, given that the regime and ISIS are the two most powerful interests in the Syrian civil war?
How effective would air strikes be against a group most of whose strength is closely intermingled with civilian populations? It does not consist of large military formations out in the desert. How do you do something effective militarily without causing casualties among innocent civilians?