Wednesday Reads: 2014 Going Out With A BangPosted: December 10, 2014
I really don’t have anything to add to the picture on the left. That is pretty much how things seem to be going lately. Each day another bomb drops, and many of us sit here wondering will it stop? Will there be a moment when some decent shred of humanity will shine through the toxic stew of torture, police brutality, racism, sexism and all the rest of it…
Here are your links for this morning, many reactions to the CIA torture reports will come as no surprise.
I guess John McCain is the one GOP dude who we would expect had some words to say on the matter: McCain on Torture: A Stain on our National Honor, Produces Misleading Info | Informed Comment
“As the Senate Intelligence Committee’s CIA torture report roiled Capitol Hill Tuesday, Sen. John McCain framed the argument as one of moral clarity, all the while bumping up against his party leaders.
“I rise in support of the release, the long-delayed release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s summarized, unclassified review of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques that were employed by the previous administration to extract information from captured terrorists,” the Arizona Republican said on the Senate floor. “I believe the American people have a right, indeed responsibility, to know what was done in their name, how these practices did or did not serve our interests, and how they comported with our most important values.”
McCain, who spent five-and-a-half years in a North Vietnamese prison during the Vietnam War and endured unspeakable torture, is virtually unassailable on the issue. His comments put him back in the maverick role, at least in relation to the chamber’s internal politics, that has long defined his congressional career.”
In another link from Juan Cole’s blog: Psychologists, who Took mn. to Advise, Practice Torture, betrayed the Profession | Informed Comment
During the War on Terror, the CIA’s operations subjected hundreds of suspected terrorists to harsh interrogation techniques, which were often criticised as constituting torture. Now, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the operation has made it clearer than ever that the CIA used many forms of “enhanced interrogation” to elicit information – very harsh methods indeed that simply did not yield the intended results.
As a leaked State Department memo put it, the report “tells a story of which no American is proud”.
This is a matter of outrage for everyone, but as psychologists, we have a particular obligation to speak out. Many of the approaches the CIA used were developed by our discipline, and by individuals who will have known about the codes of conduct by which US psychologists are bound – which include beneficence and non-maleficence, and respect for rights, dignity and integrity.
It is profoundly disturbing to see that the CIA’s techniques included deprivation of basic needs (warmth, food, water), humiliation, threats and the repeated use of waterboarding.
Ironically, many of the methods adopted were based on psychologists’ previous work directed at training members of the military, intended to assist them in avoiding talking to interrogators should they be captured and tortured. This work was apparently reverse-engineered for use on terrorist suspects.
Fox News…well, you know:
After reading reports about how the CIA inadvertently killed someone during an interrogation and subjected others to repeated waterboardings, “rectal feedings,” and threats to rape and kill their family members, did you get the feeling that sometimes the United States is less than awesome? That’s exactly what the Obama administration wanted! This afternoon in the alternate reality that is Fox News, the hosts of Outnumbered explained that the report was only released to distract Americans from real problems, like the IRS scandal and Benghazi.
“The Bush administration did what the American public wanted, and that was do whatever it takes to keep us safe,” declared the particularly incensed Andrea Tantaros. “The United States of America is awesome, we are awesome,” she continued. “We’ve closed the book on [torture], and we’ve stopped doing it. And the reason they want to have this discussion is not to show how awesome we are. This administration wants to have this discussion to show us how we’re not awesome” — mainly because they “don’t like this country” and “want us to look bad.”
Fox then returned to its regularly scheduled programming.
If you thought you heard it all from Bill O’Reilly, think again. Tonight he said that torture was a “morally acceptable” thing to do.
Meanwhile, across the pond: New Statesman | “Torture is always wrong”: David Cameron responds to the CIA report
David Cameron has responded to the alarming US report by Democrat senators on CIA interrogation activities in the wake of 9/11. Commenting on the shocking revelations about “brutal” techniques employed by the CIA on terrorism suspects, the Prime Minister said:
Let us be clear – torture is wrong, torture is always wrong.
For those of us who want to see a safer more secure world who want to see this extremism defeated, we won’t succeed if we lose our moral authority.
Now obviously after 9/11 there were things that happened that were wrong and we should be clear about the fact that they were wrong.
Clearly anticipating any questions emerging from this story that could drag Britain into the controversy, Cameron was keen to emphasise that he believes Britain has “dealt with” its position in relation torture policy. The United Kingdom appears on the list of countries that “facilitated CIA torture”.
Cameron referred to the Intelligence and Security Committee looking into questions raised by the Gibson Inquiry into the treatment of detainees post-9/11, and added that he has, “issued guidance to all of our agents and others working around the world about how they have to handle themselves”.
The report itself has stunned the world following its release yesterday. It suggests America’s spies repeatedly lied to Congress and its foreign allies in an effort to cover up the scale and brutal nature of a secret global programme of torture.
Of course the UN has it’s own response: CIA torture: Calls to prosecute US officials involved in ‘brutal’ interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects – The Independent
The UN has called for the prosecution of those behind a ‘criminal conspiracy’ at the CIA that led to the ‘brutal’ torture of detainees.
Ben Emmerson, United Nations’ special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, said those responsible for planning, sanctioning or carrying out crimes including waterboarding should not escape justice – even senior officials from George W Bush’s administration.
“It is now time to take action,” he said in a statement from Geneva. “The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy … must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes.
“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorised at a high level within the US Government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability.”
Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth also said that the CIA’s actions were criminal “and can never be justified”.
“The report shows the repeated claims that harsh measures were needed to protect Americans are utter fiction.
“Unless this important truth-telling process leads to prosecution of officials, torture will remain a ‘policy option’ for future presidents.”
Now, over at Al Jazeera, they have an article that interviews surviviors:
Survivors of alleged CIA torture and rendition programs praised the release of a damning, if heavily redacted Senate account of the agency’s “brutal” and “ineffective” practices but noted it was only a first step toward accountability — and it certainly wasn’t an apology.
“Publishing this shows the other side, that human rights apply to everyone,” said Abdelhakim Balhadj, a Libyan political dissident who the U.S. rendered back to Libya in 2004, where he was allegedly tortured over a six-year period without being charged with a crime. “The U.S. denied us our human rights. We wanted the American people to recognize this.”
After years of delay, the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released a 499-page executive summary of a more than 6,000-word report, which remains classified. It detailed a litany of apparently illegal methods employed by CIA officers to extract information from detainees — death threats, beatings, sleep deprivation, forced rectal feeding and other psychological torment — much of which had long since been leaked.
Significantly, the summary noted that so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques were “brutal and far worse than the CIA represented” and they were not nearly as useful in obtaining information vital to national security as the agency had previously said.
Though ex-detainees like Belhadj welcomed those findings, he was disappointed that his name had not been mentioned specifically. In a phone call from his home in Libya, Belhadj, now a prominent politician and military leader in Libya, told of how he and his pregnant wife Fatima were picked up by U.S. authorities as they were trying to leave China, where they had been living until 2004, to seek political asylum in the U.K.
As well as the ex-CIA dudes…who have there side of the story: Ex-CIA officials say torture report is one-sided, flawed | Reuters
A group of former top-ranking CIA officials disputed a U.S. Senate committee’s finding that the agency’s interrogation techniques produced no valuable intelligence, saying such work had saved thousands of lives.
Former CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden, along with three ex-deputy directors, wrote in an op-ed article published on Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal that the Senate Intelligence Committee report also was wrong in saying the agency had been deceptive about its work following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
The rest of the links for today’s post are in dump format, and they are not pleasant. In fact they are much of the same kind of news we have been seeing the past few weeks.
The usual story with the usual players. The men in this case were in a stolen car…that said…read the rest at the link.
As the American people continue to debate about — and organize over — the lack of consequences for the police who killed Eric Garner and Michael Brown, some commentators (like yours truly) have urged national Democrats to be more directly and unapologetically supportive of their African-American supporters and the #blacklivesmatter movement in general. But while it’s much too soon to tell whether Hillary Clinton or other similarly well-known Democrats will heed the call, it’s clear that one Democratic congressman, Minnesota’s Keith Ellison, is listening. “The fact is, people have to demand [a] sense of justice: people in the streets are going to make the system more responsive,” he said recently on MSNBC.
In a scathing editorial in the Hollywood Reporter, Chris Rock has confronted some issues that though obvious, are being blatantly ignored. He quite rightly points out that Hollywood is an exclusive, white industry that is terrible at giving opportunities to black and Latino people other than as the janitor. You only have to open your eyes to see this, but nobody, whether it be studio executives, producers, directors, other actors or critics, has been proactive in changing things. It’s OK to say it – Hollywood doesn’t care about black people.
Residents of Harrison try to fight off their reputation as the small town with the most hate groups in America
Thomas Robb lives 15 miles from downtown Harrison, Arkansas, past churches with signs speaking of God’s righteousness, a goat farm and a slew of rusted trailer homes. His home is a collection of nondescript white cottages that includes an office and a meeting place for the Christian Revival Center, where he serves as pastor. The buildings stretch across several acres — but don’t call the property a compound.
“It’s my home, not a compound,” Robb says, correcting a reporter with a smile. “The word ‘compound’ has such a negative connotation.”
Robb and his wife moved to the area 43 years ago from Tucson, Arizona: “You could see the handwriting on the wall of Arizona being a dumping ground for illegal aliens.” The stronger morals of people in Arkansas, he says, made the state a more attractive home for his Thomas Robb Ministries and the Christian Revival Center, which espouse a white-supremacist, “Christian-identity” theology. For the last 25 years, he’s also been the national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the group founded by prominent Klan leader and former Louisiana politician David Duke. In that role, Robb has attempted to advance the white-nationalist movement by portraying the Klan, in the words of one journalist, as more “gentle, upbeat and friendly” — an approach that’s sometimes frowned upon by other Klan members for being too mainstream.
In Georgia, there was an execution last night: Injustice in Robert Wayne Holsey’s Case – NYTimes.com
Even by the abysmal standards of lawyering that defendants in capital trials regularly endure, Robert Wayne Holsey’s case stands out.
In 1997, Mr. Holsey was convicted and sentenced to death for killing a Georgia sheriff’s deputy named Will Robinson, who had pulled him over for robbing a convenience store. Despite evidence that Mr. Holsey was intellectually disabled — which should have barred him from execution under the United States Supreme Court’s earlier rulings — his lawyer neglected to make that argument at trial. Mr. Holsey was executed on Tuesday evening after the Supreme Court declined to stay his execution.
The evidence of Mr. Holsey’s mental deficits included an I.Q. test score of 70 when he was 15. In school, his intellectual functioning did not move past a fourth-grade level. But under Georgia law, a defendant is required to prove his intellectual disability beyond a reasonable doubt — the strictest standard in the country and one unmoored from scientific reality.
A Palestinian minister has died after clashes with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank. The circumstances of Ziad Abu Ein’s death have yet to be officially confirmed, but sources told Al Jazeera that it occurred after he inhaled large amounts of tear gas and was struck by security forces.
Abu Ein, who was head of the Anti-Wall and Settlement Commission, died in Ramallah Hospital on Wednesday following a protest against the separation barrier near the village of Turmusayya, northeast of Ramallah.
The 55-year-old is thought to have been hit in the chest by Israeli soldiers at the demonstration, according to an Israeli journalist and a Reuters photographer who were at the scene. Other witnesses said he was headbutted and then collapsed.
Activists said they were planting olive trees by the illegal settlement of Adei Ad when the soldiers attacked them and fired large amounts of tear gas at the group.
Pictures of Abu Ein, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, knocked out and on the ground quickly circulated on social media sites.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas quickly condemned the death of Abu Ein, calling it a “barbaric act that cannot be tolerated.” He also said “all necessary steps” will be taken after an investigation into Abu Ein’s death is carried out.
More on the olive trees, and the significance here:
Obama had a tough interview: Jorge Ramos Challenges President Obama On Immigration In Testy Interview – BuzzFeed News
Hey, this is a surprise: Police officer buys eggs for woman caught shoplifting to feed her family in Tarrant | AL.com
A woman caught shoplifting eggs in Tarrant Saturday didn’t leave with handcuffs and a court date. Thanks to a Tarrant police officer, she left with food for her family.
Officer William Stacy was called to the Dollar General on Pinson Valley Parkway when employees caught the woman trying to steal a dozen eggs, Tarrant Police Chief Dennis Reno said.
The woman had her young children in the car. She told Officer Stacy that she was only stealing because she was trying to feed her children.
Stacy talked with Dollar General, and they said they wouldn’t prosecute. So Stacy made an offer.
“He said, ‘If I give you these eggs, will you promise that you won’t shoplift anymore?'” Reno said. “He knew that she was telling the truth and that’s the reason he went in and bought the eggs.”
Stacy bought the eggs and gave them to her, Reno said. The woman then asked if she could give him a hug.
Sorry if I am cynical…but…
“Police officers do this all the time. Of course, these are the kind of stories that never get told,” Reno said. “Every police officer in Jefferson County has done this at one point in time.”
Reno said this is one way police deal with issues — not every incident ends with someone being hauled off to jail.
No, they don’t get hauled off to jail, they get hauled off to the morgue.
Video of hug at link. It just is…I don’t know. Maybe y’all have a better way of putting it into words than I do?
Sounds a little like staged bullshit to me.
But again, I am a cynical bitch.
I mean, when you have a Sgt with the Tarrant Police Department police stealing evidence and selling it to other cops:
According to Tarrant Police Chief Dennis Reno, former Tarrant Police Officer, Sgt. Charles Higgins, has turned himself in to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
The Tarrant Police Department is asking a suspected criminal to turn himself in. But this criminal isn’t like the others.
“He was an extraordinary officer,” Police Chief Dennis Reno said.
That’s because Charles Kevin Higgins used to be a Sgt. with the department.
“Myself and every officer here feels betrayed,” Reno said.
Reno says a while back his department noticed items missing out of the evidence room, which is what Sgt. Higgins was in charge of. Higgins was confronted and was told an investigation would be happening.
“Rather than face an investigation, Sgt. Higgins rendered his resignation at that time,” Reno said.
Further investigation would show much more missing from the evidence room than anticipated.
Nine handguns were missing. Reno says Higgins told people he needed money. He sold six of them to citizens. But four of them were sold to closer friends.
“He sold them to some of his fellow police officers here at the station,” Reno said.
The serial numbers on the guns sold to the officers matched the numbers of those missing from the evidence room. Reno believes Higgins made nearly $3,500 on the guns. Reno says the officers who bought the firearms thought they were part of Higgins’s personal collection, as Reno says Higgins is a gun collector.
Reno says he could not comment whether more items were taken from the evidence room.
Or the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office being investigated for racial discrimination: JeffCo Sheriff’s hiring, firing practices under scrutiny for racial discrimiation
A federal judge wants to know what Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale is doing to deal with racial discrimination.
During a status hearing over the county’s consent degree involving hiring and firing practices, U.S District Judge Lynwood Smith said he will now be focusing on the sheriff’s office.
The county’s hiring and firing is currently under the supervision of court appointed receiver Ronald Sims.
During Thursday’s court hearing, plaintiffs in the case said it came to their attention that Sheriff Hale does not have an affirmative action officer to oversee any racial complaints or violations of discrimination law.
Jefferson County has affirmative action officers in place but the question now is whether Sheriff Hale, who is already facing a tight budget, hire another person for the job or use the county’s personnel.
Jefferson County commissioner David Carrington says it’s a matter that has to be studied.
“It would be a little cumbersome for the county’s AA officer to get involved with the sheriff’s office. We have a lot of issues we need to deal with. If the judge says it’s our responsibility we will accept it and go forward,” Carrington said.
Judge Smith told Sheriff Hale’s attorney in court to get more engaged and to research what the sheriff has done to deal with racial discrimination going back to 1982, when the original consent decree was signed by Hale’s predecessor Mel Bailey.
A federal judge, who last year installed a manager to oversee all Jefferson County personnel decisions to prevent discrimination against blacks and women, has now turned his focus onto the county sheriff’s office.
At a hearing this morning U.S. District Court Judge Lynwood Smith asked an attorney for Sheriff Mike Hale to determine what that office has done – or hasn’t – to ensure that it doesn’t discriminate against blacks or women in hiring, firing and promotions since a consent decree was signed by county officials 32 years ago.
Smith said he believes “it is past time to focus on the sheriff… He (the sheriff) is under the same duties and obligations as the county commission.”
The 1982 consent decree was issued as part of lawsuits that contended the county and the City of Birmingham had discriminated against blacks and women. County officials, including former Sheriff Mel Bailey, signed the decree. Birmingham and the Jefferson County Personnel Board were ultimately released from their decrees.
About seven years ago plaintiffs in the lawsuits asked the judge to find the county in contempt for not abiding by the terms of its consent decree. After a lengthy process the judge last year found the county was in contempt and put in place a receiver, Ron Sims, over the county’s human resources department.
At today’s status conference Smith holds once a month to check on the county’s compliance, an attorney for the plaintiff’s, Rowan Wilson, told the judge about an issue that came up.
Wilson said that Sims two months ago had appointed an affirmative action officer to review personnel complaints. Recently sheriff’s employees had come to the new officer with issues, which brought up the question as to whether the sheriff had an affirmative action officer, he said.
As part of the consent decree the county was to have an affirmative action officer, but didn’t, Wilson said. The issue came up during testimony in the contempt hearings.
Take a look at the comments….interesting to say the least.
This sounds a lot like Banjoville.
But seriously…to go back to the quote from Reno, the chief at Tarrant PD:
“Police officers do this all the time. Of course, these are the kind of stories that never get told,” Reno said. “Every police officer in Jefferson County has done this at one point in time.”
Oh yeah, I bet they do that act of kindness all the time….
That is it for me, y’all have a good day. So? What are you reading about?