Tuesday Reads: Can The News Get Any Worse? Probably.Posted: December 9, 2014 Filed under: Barack Obama, Foreign Affairs, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: "I Can't Breathe", abortion, BET, Colbert Report, Dick Cheney, Eric Garner, George W. Bush, Henri Matisse paintings, LeBron James, NBA, police involved shootings, Racism, Senate torture report 52 Comments
It’s difficult to imagine how the news can get any worse . . . and then it does.
Bloomberg: CIA Torture Report Set for Senate Release Over Bush Objections.
Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) — The Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee are preparing to issue their report on the harsh interrogation tactics the CIA used on terrorism suspects, defying the objections of current and former U.S. officials including former President George W. Bush.
The panel plans to release today a summary of a 6,200-page report concluding that the Central Intelligence Agency used extreme interrogation methods at secret prisons more often than legally authorized and failed to disclose all the activities to lawmakers and other officials.
Despite warnings from opponents of the report’s release, including some Republicans on the panel, that Americans would face retaliation overseas, President Barack Obama supports making the conclusions public, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said yesterday.
“The president believes that, on principle, it’s important to release that report, so that people around the world and people here at home understand exactly what transpired,” he said. Earnest said the administration has taken steps to improve security at U.S. facilities around the world.
Read the arguments for and against releasing the report at the link. A brief summary of the conflict at USA Today: Obama, Bush teams battle over torture report. Of course Dick Cheney felt the need to butt in.
While Obama and aides support release of the report as to way to prevent future abuses, some Bush administration officials call it partisan second-guessing of techniques that proved necessary during the war on terrorism.
“What I keep hearing out there is they portray this as a rogue operation and the agency was way out of bounds and then they lied about it,” former vice president Dick Cheney told The New York Times. “I think that’s all a bunch of hooey. The program was authorized. The agency did not want to proceed without authorization, and it was also reviewed legally by the Justice Department before they undertook the program.” [….]
The dispute between Obama and Bush officials revolves around the legality of the interrogation programs and whether they yielded valuable intelligence as the U.S. raced to block terrorism in the years following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Cheney and other Bush administration officials say the programs yielded actionable intelligence that helped uncover possible terrorist plots.
Congressional Democrats say the report shows that tactics like waterboarding yielded nothing that could not have been obtained by other means.
The two sides agree on one thing: Release of the Senate report, detailing some of the less savory methods used to extract testimony from terrorism suspects, could lead to violent, anti-American protests in some countries.
Reuters has a minor preview on the contents of the report: Sexual threats, other CIA methods detailed in Senate report.
The report, which Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said would be released on Tuesday, describes how al Qaeda operative Abdel Rahman al Nashiri, suspected mastermind of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, was threatened with a buzzing power drill, the sources said. The drill was never actually used on him.
It documents how at least one detainee was sexually threatened with a broomstick, the sources said.
Preparing for a worldwide outcry from the publication of such graphic details, the White House and U.S. intelligence officials said on Monday they had shored up security of U.S. facilities worldwide.
The report, which took years to produce, charts the history of the CIA’s “Rendition, Detention and Interrogation” program, which President George W. Bush authorized after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Bush ended many aspects of the program before leaving office, and President Barack Obama swiftly banned “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which critics say are torture, after his 2009 inauguration.
The Christian Science Monitor asks what I think is an irrelevant question: Did torture yield results? I really don’t care; some things are just wrong period.
The 480-page document reveals the results of Senate investigation into the CIA’s use of torture and other techniques that violate international law against prisoners held on terrorism-related charges. Though many details of the Senate’s findings will remain classified – the document is a summary of a 6,000-page report that is not being released – the report is expected to conclude that the methods used by the CIA to interrogate prisoners during the post-9/11 years were more extreme than previously admitted and produced no intelligence that could not have been acquired through legal means….
The Los Angeles Times writes that the report is expected to say that the CIA used methods of “waterboarding, sleep deprivation, stress positions and other so-called enhanced interrogation techniques more frequently than was legally authorized at then-secret prisons known as ‘black sites.’ ”
The report will also likely state that the intelligence acquired from the use of such techniques was not useful to finding Osama bin Laden or preventing attacks on US interests, and “nearly all the intelligence gleaned through harsh techniques could have been obtained from more traditional intelligence-gathering systems,” the Times adds.
We probably should brace for attacks on President Obama for daring to go on BET and talk about racism and then follow that up by joking around with Stephen Colbert.
BET Exclusive: Obama Talks Race, Racism and How Far America Has to Go. Watch the interview at the link. Joyce Jones highlights the main points:
Barack Obama – not the president, but the man – has a dream: his children will be viewed as individuals and judged not by the color of their skin but based on the content of their character, their behavior and their talents and gifts. Sadly, he observed in an exclusive interview with BET Networks, “misguided attitudes” mean that people of color still have less margin for error, particularly if they are male….
Hours before the interview aired, his critics on the right began lashing out at him for, according to Breitbart News, “playing the race card more overtly than ever before.” Others will say it’s about time he spoke up about the series of police-involved deaths of a disproportionate number of African-American men, which he acknowledged. But he also said that “institutionally” he is required to remain silent during the investigations of those incidents, which would be compromised “if it appeared that I was trying to steer to a particular outcome.”
That doesn’t mean he does not empathize with those who’ve expressed their anger and frustration more publically. The president recalled a meeting he had last week that included several young African-American leaders whose experiences of being stopped or treated suspiciously for no reason reminded him of his own. He also said that as long as the protests remain peaceful, they are necessary.
“I’m going to stay on this,” the President said Monday in an interview with BET, a network that reaches a predominately young African-American audience. “Not only am I going to stay on it … but hopefully the entire society says, ‘Let’s finally try to make some real progress on this.'”
Once criticized for shying away from the topic of race early on in his presidency, Obama has recently taken a more active role in sharing how his personal experiences help him to empathize with all kinds of people affected by the recent protests on racial tensions — from protesters, to victims, to law enforcement officers, to families, and most importantly, to black youth.
In his interview with BET’s “106 & Park,” the President cited a meeting he had with nonviolent protesters Monday — between ages 18-25. For him, he says, listening to young African-Americans describe their own experiences of being stopped for no reason, or being unjustly labeled as suspicious, strikes a personal chord.
“My mind went back to what it was like for me when I was 17, 18, 20,” the President said. “As I told them, not only do I hear the pain and frustration of being subjected to that kind of constant suspicion, part of the reason I got into politics was to figure out how can I bridge some of those gaps and understandings so that the larger country understands this is not just a black problem or a brown problem, this is an American problem.”
The President also made a point to invoke Attorney General Eric Holder’s race and civil rights record, saying, “He’s got a similar set of stories and experiences he can share.”
The Boston Globe on Obama’s Colbert Report appearance:
Obama kicked off the show sitting in for Colbert to perform a regular feature of the program called ‘‘The Word’’ wherein Colbert’s rants are accompanied by snarky messages to the audience.
So when Obama, as Colbert, declared that there are aspects of ‘‘Obamacare’’ that people from both parties actually like, the text aside to the audience read, ‘‘Everything but the Obama.’’
Later, Colbert observed that the economy had been creating more jobs of late.
‘‘You have employed a lot of people — mostly as secretary of defense,’’ Colbert cracked in a reference to Obama recently nominating his fourth top civilian at the Pentagon.
‘‘That’s boosted our numbers a little bit,’’ Obama replied.
Colbert, whose on-screen persona is that of an insufferable conservative scold, accused Obama of exceeding his authority on immigration. ‘‘When did you decide to burn the Constitution and become emperor?’’ he asked. The question was heard as a joke by many in the audience at George Washington University. But to Obama’s critics, the question had a ring of truth.
Obama dropped the comedy and replied, ‘‘Actually, Steve, everything that we have done is scrupulously within the law and has been done by previous Democratic and Republican presidents.’’
Watch part of the episode at the link.
You know how Republicans are constantly claiming that their anti-abortion laws are designed to keep women safe? From Think Progress: Large Study Confirms That Abortion Is Extremely Safe.
After analyzing data from nearly 55,000 women who received abortion care under California’s Medicaid program, researchers at UC San Francisco concluded that hardly any of them had serious complications within six weeks of their procedure. Just 126 cases necessitated follow-up care for surgery, a blood transfusion, or other conditions that require hospital admission.
Other studies, including data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have also confirmed abortion’s safety. We already had some evidence, for instance, that giving birth is about 14 times riskierthan having an abortion. But the new UCSF study goes a bit further than previous research by tracking the complete data on all of the health care used by women who have received abortions. Since many women have to travel long distances to end a pregnancy, the UCSF researchers also examined women’s follow-up care at facilities closer to where they live….
Despite the mounting evidence in this area, the notion that abortion may be dangerous for women is a pervasive assumption that hasbolstered the passage of dozens of state laws tightening restrictions on clinics and doctors. In a press release announcing their findings, the study authors indicated that they hope the new study “will contribute to the national debate over abortion safety.”
“Abortion is very safe as currently performed, which calls into question the need for additional regulations that purportedly aim to improve safety,” said Ushma Upadhyay, an assistant professor at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a leading research program based at UCSF.
Of course scientific studies won’t move right wing extremists, who do not believe in science in the first place.
Yesterday I was relieved to see many women writers pushing back against the UVA rape story backlash and asking readers to remember that “Jackie” is a real person with real emotions, and the kinds of memory failures she may have evidenced are comment in human beings. I’m running out of space, so I’ll just provide some links to some of the articles I found.
From Buzzfeed, Annie Clark writes: There Are Too Many Jackies.
Clark and her friend Andrea Pino were students at UC Chapel Hill when they were sexually assaulted. Together they filed a complaint with the Department of Education under Title IX. Their work is what triggered the Obama administration to take a stronger position on sexual assaults on college campuses.
Read about it in Vogue, Campus Sexual Assault: Annie E. Clark and Andrea Pino Are Fighting Back—And Shaping the National Debate. Clark and Pino started an organization called End Rape on Campus (EROC).
More important articles:
Roxanne Gay, Our Stories.
TPM, UVA Rape Victim’s Roommate Says Her Story Is Not A ‘Hoax’.
Buzzfeed, How Police And Hospitals Shut Down Rape Victims.
Jessica Valenti, Who is Jackie? Rolling Stone’s rape story is about a person – and I believe her.
Amanda Marcotte, UVA controversy allows woman-haters to get really, really ugly.
Maya Dusenbery, On Rolling Stone, lessons from fact-checking, and the limits of journalism.
Caroline Fairchild, Why the media obsession with Rolling Stone’s UVA rape story is all wrong.
Finally, some NBA players have begun wearing “I Can’t Breathe T-Shirts.”
From ESPN, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving address reasons for ‘I can’t breathe’ shirts.
NEW YORK — As he stood amid 70 or so media members inside a cramped Cavaliers locker room Monday night, LeBron James explained the significance of the powerful words that stretched across his torso during pregame warmups.
“If it feels important to me then I respond,” said James, who wore a black t-shirt with the words “I CAN’T BREATHE” prior to the start of his team’s game against the Nets at the Barclays Center. “If it doesn’t, I don’t. There are a lot of issues I have not talked about. For me, it is about knowledge and about a gut feeling that hits home for you. You feel it, and go about it.” [….]
…the story of the night was the activism of a number of NBA players. Before the game, the Cavaliers’ James, Kyrie Irving and the Nets’ Deron Williams and Kevin Garnett among others all wore the same black t-shirts. They are the latest professional athletes to make a personal statement on the death of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old Staten Island man who was killed on July 17 after he was wrestled to the ground and choked to death by police officers arresting him for selling untaxed cigarettes. Last week a Staten Island grand jury decided not to bring charges in the police-involved death. That decision has prompted protests around the country, as protesters have mobilized around Garner’s last words: “I can’t breathe.” A video recording of the arrest has been viewed by millions.
Unbeknownst to the players, protesters swarmed Atlantic Avenue outside the Barclays Center during the game, holding a “die-in” to protest the Garner ruling. The hashtag #RoyalShutdown was used by activists on Twitter as a rallying point.
That’s all I have. What stories are you following today? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and enjoy your Tuesday.