A Torture Story Without a Hero or an Ending
by Karen J. Greenberg and Tom Engelhardt, April 28, 2014
Originally posted at TomDispatch.
In mid-April, Abu Ghraib was closed down. It was a grim end for the Iraqi prison where the Bush administration gave autocrat Saddam Hussein a run for his money. The Iraqi government feared it might be overrun by an al-Qaeda offshoot that calls itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. By then, the city of Fallujah for which American troops had fought two bitter, pitched battles back in 2004 had been in the hands of those black-flag-flying insurgents for months. Needless to say, the American project in Iraq, begun so gloriously – remember Iraqi exiles assuring Vice President Cheney that the invaders would be greeted with “sweets and flowers” – was truly in ruins. By then, hundreds of thousands had died in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, the insurgencies that followed, and the grimmest of sectarian civil wars. And the temperature was rising anew in that divided land, where only the Kurdish north was relatively peaceful. Iraq was once again threatening to fracture, with suicide bombers and car bombs daily occurrences, especially in Shiite areas of the country, and the body count rising rapidly.
The legacy of America’s Iraq is essentially an oil-producing wreck of a state with another autocrat in power, a Shiite government allied to Iran in Baghdad, and a Sunni population in revolt. That, in short, is the upshot of Washington’s multi-trillion-dollar war. It might be worth a painting by George W. Bush. Or maybe the former president should reserve his next round of oils not for the world leaders he met (and Googled), but for those iconic photos from the prison that might have closed in Iraq, but will never close in the American mind. From the torture troves of Abu Ghraib, there are so many scenes that the former president could focus on in his days of tranquil retirement.
Those photos from hell were, at the time, so run-of-the-mill for the new American Iraq (“as common as cornflakes”) that they were used as screen-savers by U.S. military guards at that prison. The images then returned to the United States as computer “wallpaper” before making it onto “60 Minutes II” and into our collective brains. They revealed to this country for the first time that, post-9/11, Washington had taken a cue from the Marquis de Sade and any other set of sadists you cared to invoke. Of course, the photos and the systematic torture and abuse that went with them at Abu Ghraib were quickly blamed on the usual “few bad apples” and “some hillbilly kids out of control.”
As it happened, those photos that first entered public consciousness 10 years ago this week exposed a genuine American nightmare that led right to the top in Washington and has never ended. Included in the debacle were Justice Department lawyers who, at the bidding of the highest officials in the land, redefined torture in remarkable ways. They made it clear, for instance, that the only person who could affirm whether torture had actually taken place was the torturer himself. (If he didn’t think he had tortured, he hadn’t, or so the reasoning then went.)
No one has followed this endlessly grim tale more assiduously than TomDispatch regular Karen Greenberg, the chronicler of the creation of the prison at Guantanamo Bay and the editor of The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib. Today, she explores the shameful tale of why, a decade later, the Abu Ghraib affair remains without an end. ~ Tom \
The Road From Abu Ghraib
By Karen J. Greenberg
It’s mind-boggling. Torture is still up for grabs in America. No one questions anymore whether the CIA waterboarded one individual 83 times or another 186 times. The basic facts are no longer in dispute either by those who champion torture or those who, like myself, despise the very idea of it. No one questions whether some individuals died being tortured in American custody. (They did.) No one questions that it was a national policy devised by those at the very highest levels of government. (It was.) But many, it seems, still believe that the torture policy, politely renamed in its heyday “the enhanced interrogation program,” was a good thing for the country.
Now, the nation awaits the newest chapter in the torture debate without having any idea whether it will close the book on American torture or open a path of pain and shame into the distant future. No one yet knows whether we will be allowed to awake from the nightmarish and unacceptable world of illegality and obfuscation into which torture and the network of offshore prisons, or “black sites,” plunged us all.
by Lucy Steigerwald
April 24, 2014
On April 15, seven police officers in Peoria, Illinois raided the home of Jon Daniel and his roommates. They took various electronics, and kept several residents of the house cuffed for hours. The reason for this raid? Any good student of the current state of American policing might have guesses – was it drug trafficking? Immigration issues? Terrorism?
No. Nothing as disturbingly expected as all that. This particular raid was over a parody Twitter account made by Jon Daniel that mocked Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, portraying him as a Rob Ford-esque party animal and user of recreational substances. Though Daniel eventually marked the account as fake, and then Twitter suspended the damn thing anyway, that wasn’t enough for Ardis, who filed a complaint with the police department. And three different judges signed off on the search warrant that permitted seizing electronics, computer equipment, and mysteriously, “cocaine, heroin, [or] drug paraphernalia.”
Police came in, searched, seized, and interrogated for hours, then, unfortunately arrested Daniel’s roommate Jakob Elliot for felony pot possession. Daniel, the criminal mastermind behind the fake mayor, had “impersonating a public official” dangling over his head for a time, but Illinois state attorney Jerry Brady on Wednesday declined to press charges. Perhaps the cascade of mocking and outrage suddenly directed at Peoria helped that decision. It might just be that impersonating has to be in person according his reading of the Illinois statute.
(This is also good news for the makers of the multiple fake Jim Ardis accounts that took to Twitter in the last week. Not all of them are clearly marked parody either!)
The war on drugs was militarized under Ronald Reagan – but now the war on terror is an additional excuse, and the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security are additional sources of funding.
Written by AE911Truth Staff
Sunday, 13 April 2014
WTC Tower construction showing core column
To believe the official conspiracy theory regarding the destruction of the three World Trade Center high-rise buildings requires an Olympian leap of faith. It asks us to accept impossible coincidences, to assume the laws of physics don’t always apply, and to ignore common sense. Being one of 9/11’s least likely hypotheses, it requires that we emotionally moor ourselves to its tenets, because an intellectual examination or inquiry would quickly reveal dots that don’t connect. Fortunately, a much more cogent theory exists. It suggests that controlled demolition, not fire, was the cause of the collapse of WTC Buildings 1,2, and 7.
But this theory, although supported by overwhelming scientific forensic evidence, eyewitness testimony, and visual documentation, is nevertheless rejected by official conspiracy theorists. On the grounds that it presumes impossibly high logistical hurdles for the perpetrators, the official conspiracy theorists argue that a plan of such magnitude would have been impossible to carry out. How was security breached? How were necessary cables and other equipment moved into the buildings unseen, and how did a demolition team gain access to structural members? To investigators and degreed professionals who have studied the evidence, these questions are elementary. What follows is a simple, yet compelling, visual and scientific narrative, which explains how the controlled destruction of World Trade Center Towers 1,2, and 7 was accomplished.
April 24, 2014
President Obama, who is in Japan today, has announced that the U.S. defense treaty with Japan applies to the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. Japan and China are in dispute over who has sovereignty over the largely uninhabited island chain in the East China Sea, but Obama’s statement, simultaneously meant to reassure Tokyo and threaten Beijing, made clear that the U.S. will go to war against China if the territorial dispute erupts into conflict.
Ankit Panda at The Diplomat:
In an interview ahead of his trip with Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun, Obama said that the United States regards the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands as falling under the purview of the U.S.-Japan security treaty and that the United States would oppose any attempt to undermine Japan’s control of the islands. “The policy of the United States is clear—the Senkaku Islands are administered by Japan and therefore fall within the scope of Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. And we oppose any unilateral attempts to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands,” Obama stated in the Yomiuri Shimbun.
The statement naturally drew protest from the Chinese foreign ministry. ”The so-called US-Japan alliance is a bilateral arrangement from the Cold War and ought not to harm China’s territorial sovereignty and reasonable rights,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang noted. The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands are disputed by China and Japan, both of whom regard the entirety of the islands and their surrounding waters as their sovereign territory. In 2012, Japan purchased some of the islands from a private owner, effectively nationalizing them. Since then, the dispute has been a major feature of relations between China and Japan.
Throughout a range of U.S. foreign policy issues, references to Chamberlain’s 1938 appeasement to Hitler at Munich are ubiquitous. Wherever the U.S. chooses diplomacy or neutrality over threats and military action, you have hawks screaming “Munich!” in an attempt to argue that “weakness” invites world war.
By Pepe Escobar
April 24, 2014
Asia Times Online.com
Let’s start with a flashback to February 1992 – only two months after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. First draft of the US government’s Defense Planning Guidance. It was later toned down, but it still formed the basis for the exceptionalist dementia incarnated by the Project for the New American Century; and also reappeared in full glory in Dr Zbig “Let’s Rule Eurasia” Brzezinski’s 1997 magnum opus The Grand Chessboard.
It’s all there, raw, rough and ready:
Our first objective is to prevent the reemergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed by the Soviet Union. This … requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union, and Southwest Asia.
That’s all one needs to know about the Obama administration’s “pivoting to Asia”, as well as the pivoting to Iran (“if we’re not going to war”, as US Secretary of State John Kerry let it slip) and the pivoting to Cold War 2.0, as in using Ukraine as a “new Vietnam” remix next door to Russia. And that’s also the crucial context for Obama’s Pax Americana Spring collection currently unrolling in selected Asian catwalks (Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Philippines).
Obama’s Asia tour started this week in full regalia at the famed Jiro restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo, ingesting hopefully non-Fukushima radiated nigiri sushi (disclosure: I was there way back in 1998, when sushi master Jiro Ono was far from a celebrity and the sushi was far from atomic). Obama’s host, hardcore nationalist/militarist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, obviously picked up the bill. But the real bill comes later, as in Japan bowing to strict US demands – on trade, investment, corporate law and intellectual property rights – embedded in the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is code for American Big Business finally cracking open the heavily protected Japanese market.
Abe is a tough customer. His rhetoric is heavy on “escaping the post-war regime”, as in re-weaponizing Japan and not playing second fiddle militarily to Washington in Asia anymore. The Pentagon obviously has other ideas. Post-sushi at Jiro, what matters for Obama is to force Tokyo to bend over not only on TPP but also on keeping the weaponizing subordinated to the larger US agenda.
Beijing, predictably, sees all that for what it really is, as expressed in this Xinhua op-ed; the actions of an “anachronistic”, “sclerotic” and “myopic” superpower that needs to “shake off its historical and philosophical shackles”.
by Jacob G. Hornberger
April 22, 2014
The latest issue of Time magazine, one of the very models of the mainstream press, says it all: “NATO’s Back in Business, Thanks to Russia’s Threat to Ukraine.” The basic theme of the article is that we should be thankful that NATO didn’t go out of business when the Cold War ended. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the article suggests, proves that keeping NATO in existence was a wise decision.
What a crock.
When the Cold War ended in 1989, it caught a lot of people flatfooted, especially the three main branches of the national-security state (NSS) apparatus: the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA. The Soviet Union’s unilateral decision to release control over Eastern Europe and the Balkan countries was the last thing that the NSS expected. After some 50 years of ever-increasing budgets, power, and influence, the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA naturally assumed that this process was going to continue forever.
It wasn’t until after World War II that the national-security state apparatus became a part of America’s governmental system. The justification? To wage a “Cold War” against the Soviet Union, which had been America’s World War II partner and ally. Unless we adopt this totalitarian-like apparatus, the argument went, the United States would fall to the communists, who were supposedly everywhere, including under everyone’s bed.
Thanks to the national-security state, America became a nation that very much resembled the totalitarian nation that it was opposing in the Cold War: militarism, empire, foreign military bases, enormous standing army, military industrial complex, regime change operations, assassinations, torture, foreign interventions, containment, indefinite detention without trial, MKULTRA, NATO, and more. Despite the fact that this apparatus fundamentally altered America’s governmental system and the American way of life, it was adopted without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment.
April 10, 2014
The Destruction of WTC7 on 9/11
For many years the destruction of World Trade Center Building 7 (WTC7), a 47-storey skyscraper that came down on the afternoon of 9/11 in a manner highly suggestive of a controlled demolition, was regarded as a mystery. This fact is well documented in David Ray Griffin’s book, “The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7” (Olive Branch Press, 2010). The building was not hit by a plane. While a government investigation of this event was in process, many independent researchers concluded that WTC7 had been brought down by explosives in a controlled demolition.
After a number of false starts, the official explanation of this event, developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), attributed the “collapse” to small office fires. These fires allegedly led to the thermal expansion of beams that moved a girder off its seat and to the structural failure of a key supporting column. This theory has been vigorously challenged by independent researchers, most recently by those affiliated with Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth. The discovery of a significant error, and the omission by NIST in its reports of key structural features of the building, recently led noted attorney, William F. Pepper to write a letter to Todd J. Zinser, Office of the Inspector General (OIG), U.S. Department of Commerce to seek resolution.
William F. Pepper
The conclusion by independent scientists and engineers that WTC7’s destruction was a controlled demolition is supported by a large amount of physical, eyewitness, and other evidence. Most notably, the sudden onset of collapse was followed by a period in which the building fell over 100 feet in free fall. This was shown by Scientists’ member David S. Chandler and presented during the public comment period, forcing the government scientists to back down on their claim that no physical laws were violated by their theory. For more information on WTC7 and controlled demolition, see Evidence for WTC7 Ignored or Unexplained By NIST on this site and the article Freefall and Building 7 on 9/11 by David Chandler.
NIST’s Theory for WTC7
NIST’s theory for WTC 7, as set forth in the NIST report NCSTAR 1-9, is that a critical girder (A2001) was moved off its seats by thermally expanding beams. This girder supported the 13th floor in the northeast corner of the building between exterior column 44 and corner core column 79. According to NIST, this girder failure led to the collapse of eight floors in the area supported by the girder down to the 5th floor, leaving column 79 laterally unsupported for nine stories. As a consequence column 79 buckled, leading to a collapse that progressed from north to south on the interior east side, followed by an east to west collapse of the interior and the subsequent buckling of the now laterally-unsupported exterior columns.
by Victor Gilinsky, Roger J. Mattson
Last month the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP), the nation’s highest classification authority, released a number of top-level government memoranda that shed additional light on the so-called NUMEC affair, “the story that won’t go away—the possibility that in the 1960s, Israel stole bomb-grade uranium from a US nuclear fuel-processing plant.”
The evidence available for our 2010 Bulletin article persuaded us that Israel did steal uranium from the Apollo, Pennsylvania, plant of the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC). We urged the US government to declassify CIA and FBI documents to settle the matter. In releasing the current batch—the release being largely due to the persistent appeals of researcher Grant Smith—the government has been careful to excise from all the released documents the CIA’s reasons for fingering Israel. Despite this, the documents are significantly revealing. For one thing, the excisions themselves are a backhanded admission of the persuasiveness of the CIA’s evidence. (Why these excisions are legally justified is not apparent—after nearly 50 years, the “sources and methods” issues have long ago dissipated.)
While we still don’t know exactly what the CIA told high government officials, we do know from the released memoranda that top officials thought the CIA’s case was a strong one. Also, as described in our earlier article, one of us was present at the CIA’s February 1976 briefing of a small group at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). At that session Carl Duckett, then-CIA deputy director for science and technology, told the NRC group the CIA believed the missing highly enriched uranium ended up in Israel.
The newly released documents also expose government efforts, notably during the Carter administration, to keep the NUMEC story under wraps, an ironic twist in view of Jimmy Carter’s identification with opposition to nuclear proliferation.
By Kurtis Hagen
According to the website PatriotsQuestion911.com, hundreds of professors have publicly questioned the official story of September 11, 2001. (Disclosure: I’m on that list.) Also, two thousand architects and engineers have signed a petition calling for a new investigation into the destruction of the Twin Towers and Building 7.
Further, David Ray Griffin, a very accomplished scholar, has written ten books challenging the official 9/11 account. His books, full of extensive and rigorous argumentation and clear presentation of evidence, have been endorsed by a long list of significant people, including Howard Zinn.
In addition, Peter Dale Scott’s Road to 9/11, published by the University of California Press, is a meticulously documented analysis of the “deep state” aspect of 9/11. And, technical scientific papers challenging key elements of the
official story have appeared in peer-reviewed scientific journals. (For a list of select academic articles see: