Friday, December 19, 2014
necropolitics: the flower of american womanhood (wait for it, wait for it..., she'll be ID'd before long)
newyorker | As NBC recounts, this egregious chapter was apparently only the first in a long tale, in which the same C.I.A. official became a driving force in the use of waterboarding and other sadistic interrogation techniques that were later described by President Obama as “torture.” She personally partook in the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of the 9/11 attacks, at a black site in Poland. According to the Senate report, she sent a bubbly cable back to C.I.A. headquarters in 2003, anticipating the pain they planned to inflict on K.S.M. in an attempt to get him to confirm a report from another detainee, about a plot to use African-American Muslims training in Afghanistan for future terrorist attacks. “i love the Black American Muslim at AQ camps in Afghanuistan (sic). … Mukie (K.S.M.) is going to be hatin’ life on this one,” she wrote, according to the report. But, as NBC notes, she misconstrued the intelligence gathered from the other detainee. Somehow, the C.I.A. mistakenly believed that African-American Muslim terrorists were already in the United States. The intelligence officials evidently pressed K.S.M. so hard to confirm this, under such physical duress, that he eventually did, even though it was false—leading U.S. officials on a wild-goose chase for black Muslim Al Qaeda operatives in Montana. According to the report, the same woman oversaw the extraction of this false lead, as well as the months-long rendition and gruesome interrogation of another detainee whose detention was a case of mistaken identity. Later, in 2007, she accompanied then C.I.A. director Michael Hayden to brief Congress, where she insisted forcefully that the torture program had been a tremendous and indispensable success.
Posted by CNu at 12/19/2014 10:20:00 AM
necropolitics: subjectivity and the material destruction of human bodies and populations as the sovereign political project
theatlantic | On December 5, 1969, President Richard Nixon appointed Stephen Hess to the position of National Chairman of the White House Conference for Children and Youth. Hess's task was to "listen well to the voices of young Americans -- in the universities, on the farms, the assembly lines, the street corners," in the hopes of uncovering their opinions on America's domestic and international affairs. After two years of intensive planning, Hess and 1,486 delegates from across the country met in Estes Park, Colorado, and, from April 18 to 22, 1971, discussed ten areas that most concerned the youth of America. These issues included, not surprisingly, the draft and the war in Vietnam, the economy and employment, education, the environment, poverty, and, most notably for Points readers, drugs.
The task force on drugs, composed of eight youths and four adults, forcefully argued for addressing the root causes of drug abuse, advocating therapy for addicts rather than incarceration or punishment. "We acknowledge that drug abuse is largely a symptom of the individual's inability to cope with his immediate personal environment," they conceded. "However, it must be understood that deep societal ills increase the individual's sense of personal alienation. Specifically, our society has permitted the perpetuation of the Indochina War, of institutional and personal racism, of the pollution of our environment, and of the urban crises.... If the administration is sincere in its concern with drug abuse, it must deal aggressively with the root causes as well as implement the recommendations contained herein."
At this point, it might have been easier if Nixon had just told his Conference delegates that they couldn't have their "root causes" cake (even with its concessionary 'individual inability to cope' icing) and eat it too: There was only so much federal funding to go around. Just three months after the Youth Conference met, Nixon launched a drug war that framed drug users not as alienated youths whose addiction was caused by inhabiting a fundamentally inequitable society, but as criminals attacking the moral fiber of the nation, people who deserved only incarceration and punishment.
USA Today | The attorneys general of Nebraska and Oklahoma sued Colorado in the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday, arguing state-legalized marijuana from Colorado is improperly spilling across state lines.
The suit invokes the federal government's right to regulate both drugs and interstate commerce, and says Colorado's decision to legalize marijuana has been "particularly burdensome" to police agencies on the other side of the state line. In June, USA TODAY highlighted the flow of marijuana from Colorado into small towns across Nebraska: felony drug arrests in Chappell, Neb., just 7 miles north of the Colorado border have skyrocketed 400% in three years. "In passing and enforcing Amendment 64, the state of Colorado has created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system enacted by the United States Congress. Marijuana flows from this gap into neighboring states, undermining plaintiff states' own marijuana bans, draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice systems," says the lawsuit. "The Constitution and the federal anti-drug laws do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local pro-drug policies and licensed distribution schemes throughout the country which conflict with federal laws."
"Coloradans overwhelmingly voted in favor of legalizing marijuana. In so doing, we've chosen the licensed and regulated marijuana businesses over violent criminal organizations. Colorado has created a comprehensive and robust regulatory program for the sale of marijuana in Colorado," Mike Elliot of Colorado's Marijuana Industry Group said in a statement. "And the data is overwhelmingly showing that Colorado has enhanced public safety, the economy, and the freedom of its citizens. If Nebraska and Oklahoma succeed, they will put the violent criminal organizations back in charge."
Mason Tvert of the national Marijuana Policy Project was more blunt: "These guys are on the wrong side of history."
necropolitics: project to study whether theories of “learned helplessness” derived from experiments on dogs might work on human enemies
thenation | Human experimentation was a core feature of the CIA’s torture program. The experimental nature of the interrogation and detention techniques is clearly evident in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s executive summary of its investigative report, despite redactions (insisted upon by the CIA) to obfuscate the locations of these laboratories of cruel science and the identities of perpetrators.
At the helm of this human experimentation project were two psychologists hired by the CIA, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. They designed interrogation and detention protocols that they and others applied to people imprisoned in the agency’s secret “black sites.”
In its response to the Senate report, the CIA justified its decision to hire the duo: “We believe their expertise was so unique that we would have been derelict had we not sought them out when it became clear that CIA would be heading into the uncharted territory of the program.” Mitchell and Jessen’s qualifications did not include interrogation experience, specialized knowledge about Al Qaeda or relevant cultural or linguistic knowledge. What they had was Air Force experience in studying the effects of torture on American prisoners of war, as well as a curiosity about whether theories of “learned helplessness” derived from experiments on dogs might work on human enemies.
To implement those theories, Mitchell and Jessen oversaw or personally engaged in techniques intended to produce “debility, disorientation and dread.” Their “theory” had a particular means-ends relationship that is not well understood, as Mitchell testily explained in an interview on Vice News: “The point of the bad cop is to get the bad guy to talk to the good cop.” In other words, “enhanced interrogation techniques” (the Bush administration’s euphemism for torture) do not themselves produce useful information; rather, they produce the condition of total submission that will facilitate extraction of actionable intelligence.
Mitchell, like former CIA Director Michael Hayden and others who have defended the torture program, argues that a fundamental error in the Senate report is the elision of means (waterboarding, “rectal rehydration,” weeks or months of nakedness in total darkness and isolation, and other techniques intended to break prisoners) and ends—manufactured compliance, which, the defenders claim, enabled the collection of abundant intelligence that kept Americans safe. (That claim is amply and authoritatively contradicted in the report.)
theatlantic | Justice Elena Kagan, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, wrote separately to attempt to limit the effect of the decision. It’s not a question of whether he actually knew the law, but of whether the law was really clear to everybody, she wrote. “If the statute is genuinely ambiguous, such that overturning the officer’s judgment requires hard interpretive work, then the officer has made a reasonable mistake,” she wrote. “But if not, not.” All very well, but I can’t help concluding that Heien makes it easier for police to find a reason to stop anyone they think looks suspicious. And we as a society are learning some very hard lessons about what can go wrong with police stops. Roberts’s opinion takes not the slightest notice of the events of the past year. The world he describes is a kind of happy valley were police are polite, citizens know their rights, consent to search is always freely given, and only evildoers feel dread when they see a blue light in the rear-view mirror. “[R]easonable men make mistakes of law,” as well as of fact, he says.
If only we all lived in the Chief’s empire of reason, and drove on his celestial streets! Those of us in the sublunary world, however, traverse streets where fear, not reason, is often the currency. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in a solo dissent, protested that the decision “means further eroding the Fourth Amendment’s protection of civil liberties in a context where that protection has already been worn down.” She pointed out that “[g]iving officers license to effect seizures so long as they can attach to their reasonable view of the facts some reasonable legal interpretation (or misinterpretation) that suggests a law has been violated significantly expands [their] authority.” And setting out a standard that permits stops based on “reasonable” errors but not on “unreasonable ones,” she argued, further confuses the world of criminal procedure. Even a citizen who knows the law and conforms to it may be subject to police seizure of the officer “reasonably” misunderstands that same law. The Court’s new standard, she wrote, “will prove murky in application.”
necropolitics: honest men can differ over the course of action that was taken, but this was about trying to help the country...,
rcp | In a secret CIA prison in Thailand, codenamed Detention Site Green, Abu Zubaydah sat shackled to a chair, naked except for a hood over his head. The windowless cell was painted white and illuminated by four halogen lights.
The terrorist said to have ranked third in al-Qaeda had been captured in Pakistan five months earlier, in March 2002. He had endured relentless questioning, but this day would be different: an American former military psychologist working as a CIA contractor and identified last week by the pseudonym Grayson Swigert would run the interrogation.
For the first time, Swigert had been authorised to use up to 11 “enhanced interrogation techniques”. According to critics of the Orwellian-sounding “EIT programme”, the US was entering the torture business.
The CIA officers interrogating Abu Zubaydah were directed by Swigert and a fellow PhD in psychology, given the name Hammond Dunbar, to place a rolled towel around his neck. They removed his hood, grabbed his face and forced him to watch a coffin being brought into the cell. He was slapped and slammed against a wall.
Six hours later, Swigert decreed that “waterboarding” would begin. Abu Zubaydah was held down as water was poured on to a cloth over his face, simulating drowning.
According to CIA records, Abu Zubaydah vomited and had “involuntary spasms of the torso and extremities”. He was to be waterboarded at least 83 times over the next 17 days. On one occasion, he “became completely unresponsive with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth”.
An incendiary 525-page report summary released by Democrats on the Senate select committee on intelligence last week portrayed Swigert as the architect of a regime of torture. It depicted Swigert and Dunbar as profiteers who had duped the CIA into paying their company $81m (£51m).
“Neither psychologist had any experience as an interrogator, nor did either have specialised knowledge of al-Qaeda, a background in counterterrorism, or any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise,” the report stated.
Speaking at his home outside Tampa, Florida, James Mitchell, 62, a veteran of US air force special forces and a former instructor at its Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) school, acknowledged that he was Swigert. He blasted the report, which has been bitterly criticised by the CIA and branded by Republicans as a partisan “hit job”. Dunbar was identified as a one-time Mormon bishop from Idaho called Bruce Jessen.
“It’s like being caught up in a Kafka novel,” said Mitchell. “They’re just interested in burning down the CIA and smearing the names and reputations of people who died protecting this country.”
Thursday, December 18, 2014
ucsc | Power structures at the city level are different from the national power structure. They are not junior editions of the national corporate community.
That's because local power structures are land-based growth coalitions. They seek to intensify land use. They are opposed by the neighborhoods they invade or pollute, and by environmentalists.
To the shock and dismay of land-based elites, the workers who poured into the cities between 1870 and 1920 challenged elite rule through Democratic Party machines and the Socialist Party. So the growth elites created a "good government" ideology and a set of "reforms" that literally changed the nature of local governments and took them out of the reach of the upstarts.
The theory presented here explains all the key case studies of the past, including the most important ones, such as Atlanta and San Francisco, and the one that had the most impact, political scientist Robert A. Dahl's study of New Haven, which turns out to be wrong on almost every key point.
The city-level pluralists (who have now morphed into public-choice theorists in some cases) have an inadequate theory of city power because they rely on classical free-market economics, ignore the fact that growth does not benefit everyone in the city, and downplay or ignore the genuine conflicts that exist between growth elites and neighborhoods. There is little or no concern with power in their theory.
Marxist theory fails at the local level because it does not take its own distinction between "exchange value" and "use value" seriously, focuses almost entirely on finance and industrial capital, treats neighborhood as a residual category (merely a place to reproduce the working class), and interprets every conflict as a "class conflict" even though the primary battle in cities is between land-based growth coalitions trying to increase "rents" and neighborhoods that are trying to defend their use values.
anthrobiopolitics | The politics of death, termed ‘necropolitics’, is examined here through the work of several scholars, each of whom is interested in differently understanding the forms that death takes under biopower. Specifically, these works delve deeper into the question which asks, if biopolitics is about making live, then how do we explain the presence of so much death today? In the present neoliberal era of terror and insecurity, it seems that what we may be witnessing is a new, unprecedented form of biopolitical governmentality in which necropower, or the technologies of control through which life is strategically subjugated to the power of death (Mbembe 2003), operates significantly with and alongside technologies of discipline, and the power to make live, for an increasingly authoritarian politics which governs through economic, rather than social terms (Giroux 2006). In what follows, I review four pieces of scholarship that deal variously with death as a field of [bio]power, and attempt to highlight the differing conceptualizations of necropower they each focus upon. I ultimately conclude that, in reading these pieces together, we are drawn to the task of considering the powerful and generative ubiquity of “bare life” as a fundamental aspect of biopolitics in the contemporary neoliberal era of normalized insecurity and terror.
According to Achille Mbembe, “To exercise sovereignty is to exercise control over mortality and to define life as the deployment and manifestation of power” (2003:12). In his 2003 article, “Necropolitics”, Mbembe theorizes the enactment of sovereignty in cases where “the generalized instrumentalization of human existence and the material destruction of human bodies and populations” is the central project of power, rather than autonomy (p.14). Significantly, he takes up the philosophical project of conceptualizing the relationship between subjectivity and death as the roots of political sovereignty, and the particular form sovereign power’s enactment has taken through the historical process of linking together notions of modernity and terror. That is, taking seriously Schmitt and Agamben’s notion of sovereignty as the state of exception, we see through Mbembe’s work how Taussig’s wedding of reason and violence becomes extended and reformulated in the colonial contexts of late-modern forms of occupation, where endless states of terror are used to justify the “concatenation of multiple powers: disciplinary, biopolitical, and necropolitical” (p.29), for which military presence and regularized warfare increasingly leads to totalizing forms of domination over human lives within a given space, and one that is endlessly shifting.
wikipedia | The War on Drugs has incarcerated disproportionately high numbers of African-Americans. However, the damage has compounded beyond individuals and their families to affect African-American communities as a whole.
African-American children are over-represented in juvenile hall and family court cases, and as a result, they are removed from their families in droves, and placed in the federal system. This is due to two reasons.
First, the high incarceration rate has not ignored families: mothers and fathers are incarcerated as well. This leads to a lack of a parental (mother or father incarcerated) figure to provide a good role model and stabilize a household. The impacts on their children are severe. African-American youths are becoming highly involved in gangs in order to generate income for their families lacking a primary breadwinner; with the War on Drugs having made the drug trade lucrative, it is a far more profitable for them to work for a dangerous drug gang than at a safe entry-level job. The second-hand consequences of this are African-American youths dropping out of school, being tried for drug-related crime, and acquiring AIDS at disparate levels.
Second, the high incarceration rate has led to the juvenile justice system and family courts to use race as a negative heuristic in trials, leading to a reinforcing effect: as more African-Americans are incarcerated, the more the heuristic is enforced in the eyes of the courts. This contributes to yet higher imprisonment rates among African-American children, and tearing apart already damaged families.
The high imprisonment rate has also led the police to target African-American communities at disparately high levels of surveillance, invading privacy rights of individuals without probable cause, and ultimately breeding a distrust for police among African American communities. High numbers of African American arrests and charges of possession show that although the majority of drug users in the United States are white, African Americans are the largest group being targeted as the root of the problem. A distrust of the police in African American communities seems like a logical feeling. Harboring these emotions can lead to a lack of will to contact the police in case of an emergency by members of African American communities, ultimately leaving many people unprotected. Disproportionate arrests in African American communities for drug-related offenses has not only spread fear but also perpetuated a deep distrust for government and what some call racist drug enforcement policy.
The War on Drugs also plays a negative role in the lives of women of color. In 1997, of women in state prisons for drug-related crimes, forty-four percent were Hispanic, thirty-nine percent were black, and twenty-three percent were white, quite different from the racial make up shown in percentages of the United States as a whole. Statistics in England, Wales, and Canada are similar. Women of color who are implicated in drug crimes are “generally poor, uneducated, and unskilled; have impaired mental and physical health; are victims of physical and sexual abuse and mental cruelty; are single mothers with children; lack familial support; often have no prior convictions; and are convicted for a small quantity of drugs”.
Additionally, these women typically have an economic attachment to, or fear of, male drug traffickers, creating a power paradigm that sometimes forces their involvement in drug-related crimes. Though there are programs to help them, women of color are usually unable to take advantage of social welfare institutions in America due to regulations. For example, women’s access to methadone, which suppresses cravings for drugs such as heroin, is restricted by state clinics that set appointment times for women to receive their treatment. If they miss their appointment, (which is likely: drug-addicted women may not have access to transportation and lead chaotic lives), they are denied medical care critical to their recovery. Additionally, while women of color are offered jobs as a form of government support, these jobs often do not have childcare, rendering the job impractical for mothers, who cannot leave their children at home alone.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
shameproject | Author of The Bell Curve; Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute
Charles Murray is one of the most influential right-wing ideological architects of the post-Reagan era. His career began in a secret Pentagon counterinsurgency operation in rural Thailand during the Vietnam War, a program whose stated purpose included applying counter-insurgency strategies learned in rural Thailand on America's own restive inner cities and minority populations. By the late 1970s, Charles Murray was drawing up plans for the US Justice Department that called for massively increasing incarceration rates. In the 1980s, backed by an unprecedented marketing campaign, Murray suddenly emerged as the nation's most powerful advocate for abolishing welfare programs for single mothers. Since then, Murray revived discredited racist eugenics theories "proving" that blacks and Latinos are genetically inferior to whites, and today argues that the lower classes are inferior to the upper classes due to breeding differences.
socialistworker | THE GRAND jury decisions not to indict Darren Wilson or Daniel Pantaleo in the murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner has rightly sparked a nationwide discussion around the state of police violence against Black and Brown men and women in the U.S., as well as the systemic racism that runs through U.S. institutions.
A new vein to the mainstream discussion of police violence emerged recently during a press conference with Garner's widow, which pointed out how police brutality and mass incarceration are also issues of reproductive justice.
In a press conference on December 3, Esaw Garner, referring to the police officer who murdered her husband, said, "He's still feeding his kids, when my husband is six feet under, and I'm looking for a way to feed my kids now."
The concept of reproductive justice, as coined by the women of color-led organization SisterSong, is defined as follows:
The reproductive justice framework--the right to have children, not have children, and to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments--is based on the human right to make personal decisions about one's life, and the obligation of government and society to ensure that the conditions are suitable for implementing one's decisions is important for women of color.
In a nation where the police, security guards or self-appointed vigilantes murder another Black man every 28 hours, Black families live in constant fear that their sons, fathers, husbands, partners and brothers will be the latest victim.
It is essential that we, as reproductive justice activists are present to make the argument that it is not enough to have the right to have children or terminate a pregnancy, but that true reproductive justice means being able to parent without fear your child will be murdered for playing with a toy gun in a public park or for going to the store to buy Skittles.
thesmokingun | The grand jury witness who testified that she saw Michael Brown pummel a cop before charging at him “like a football player, head down,” is a troubled, bipolar Missouri woman with a criminal past who has a history of making racist remarks and once insinuated herself into another high-profile St. Louis criminal case with claims that police eventually dismissed as a “complete fabrication,” The Smoking Gun has learned.
In interviews with police, FBI agents, and federal and state prosecutors--as well as during two separate appearances before the grand jury that ultimately declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson--the purported eyewitness delivered a preposterous and perjurious account of the fatal encounter in Ferguson.
Referred to only as “Witness 40” in grand jury material, the woman concocted a story that is now baked into the narrative of the Ferguson grand jury, a panel before which she had no business appearing.
While the “hands-up” account of Dorian Johnson is often cited by those who demanded Wilson’s indictment, “Witness 40”’s testimony about seeing Brown batter Wilson and then rush the cop like a defensive end has repeatedly been pointed to by Wilson supporters as directly corroborative of the officer’s version of the August 9 confrontation. The “Witness 40” testimony, as Fox News sees it, is proof that the 18-year-old Brown’s killing was justified, and that the Ferguson grand jury got it right.
However, unlike Johnson, “Witness 40”--a 45-year-old St. Louis resident named Sandra McElroy--was nowhere near Canfield Drive on the Saturday afternoon Brown was shot to death.
Though prosecutors have sought to cloak the identity of grand jury witnesses, a TSG investigation has identified McElroy as “Witness 40.” A careful analysis of information contained in the unredacted portions of “Witness 40”’s grand jury testimony helped reporters identify McElroy and then conclusively match up details of her life with those of “Witness 40.”
TSG examined criminal, civil, matrimonial, and bankruptcy court records, as well as online postings and comments to unmask McElroy as “Witness 40,” the fabulist whose grand jury testimony and law enforcement interviews are deserving of multi-count perjury indictments.
Since the identities of grand jurors--as well as details of their deliberations--remain secret, there is no way of knowing what impact McElroy’s testimony had on members of the panel, which subsequently declined to vote indictments against Wilson. That decision touched off looting and arson in Ferguson, about 30 miles from the apartment the divorced McElroy shares with her three daughters.
* * *
Sandra McElroy did not provide police with a contemporaneous account of the Brown-Wilson confrontation, which she claimed to have watched unfold in front of her as she stood on a nearby sidewalk smoking a cigarette.
Instead, McElroy (seen at left) waited four weeks after the shooting to contact cops. By the time she gave St. Louis police a statement on September 11, a general outline of Wilson’s version of the shooting had already appeared in the press. McElroy’s account of the confrontation dovetailed with Wilson’s reported recollection of the incident.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Debate in Virginia Ratifying Convention
16 June 1788Elliot 3:447--48, 451--52
Patrick Henry: . . . Congress, from their general powers, may fully go into business of human legislation. They may legislate, in criminal cases, from treason to the lowest offence--petty larceny. They may define crimes and prescribe punishments. In the definition of crimes, I trust they will be directed by what wise representatives ought to be governed by. But when we come to punishments, no latitude ought to be left, nor dependence put on the virtue of representatives.
What says our [Virginia] bill of rights?--"that excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." Are you not, therefore, now calling on those gentlemen who are to compose Congress, to . . . define punishments without this control? Will they find sentiments there similar to this bill of rights? You let them loose; you do more--you depart from the genius of your country. . . .
What says our [Virginia] bill of rights?--"that excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." Are you not, therefore, now calling on those gentlemen who are to compose Congress, to . . . define punishments without this control? Will they find sentiments there similar to this bill of rights? You let them loose; you do more--you depart from the genius of your country. . . .
In this business of legislation, your members of Congress will loose the restriction of not imposing excessive fines, demanding excessive bail, and inflicting cruel and unusual punishments. These are prohibited by your declaration of rights. What has distinguished our ancestors?--That they would not admit of tortures, or cruel and barbarous punishment.
But Congress may introduce the practice of the civil law, in preference to that of the common law. They may introduce the practice of France, Spain, and Germany--of torturing, to extort a confession of the crime. They will say that they might as well draw examples from those countries as from Great Britain, and they will tell you that there is such a necessity of strengthening the arm of government, that they must have a criminal equity, and extort confession by torture, in order to punish with still more relentless severity.
We are then lost and undone.
We are then lost and undone.
Posted by Dale Asberry at 12/16/2014 12:39:00 PM
sbnation | Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins took the field Sunday in a shirt reading "Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford III" in a gesture to bring light to officer-involved shootings in Ohio that have happened in the last three months. Now Cleveland Police Patrolman Union President Jeff Follmer is demanding an apology from the Browns for Hawkins' actions on Sunday.
guardian | The mother of a 12-year-old Ohio boy fatally shot by police who believed he was carrying a gun said on Monday he was never given a chance to follow officers’ orders.
Samaria Rice said in an interview with the Associated Press offices in New York that her son, Tamir Rice, was shot before he could comply with police who pulled up next to him on a Cleveland playground. A rookie officer fired within 2 seconds.
Tamir had an airsoft gun, which shoots nonlethal plastic pellets.
Rice said she wants the officer charged with murder and she called on authorities to make sure young officers don’t “ignore the training.”
Police say officers were responding to a call 22 November about someone possibly carrying a gun. They say Tamir didn’t respond to commands to raise his hands before officer Timothy Loehmann fired his weapon. The officers also meant to stop the patrol car farther from Tamir but the vehicle slid on the grass, the Cleveland police union has said.
Rice said she found out later that Tamir was handed the fake weapon by a girl at the playground. She said police put Tamir’s 14-year-old sister in handcuffs as she rushed to help her mortally wounded brother that day.
Rice’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, said that the two officers could have defused the situation – by talking to the boy from a distance instead of pulling up next to him on the grass and firing.
An internal Cleveland police investigation is underway and the results will be turned over to the local prosecutor, who will present them to a grand jury. The fatal encounter was caught on surveillance video.
slate | The death of Tamir Rice, a black 12-year-old boy who was shot by a white police officer in Cleveland on Nov. 22, has been ruled a homicide. Medical examiner Thomas P. Gilson wrote in an autopsy report released on Friday that the cause of death was a “gunshot wound of the torso with injuries of major vessel, intestines and pelvis.”
From the Washington Post:
Officers had responded to a 911 call reporting a person pointing a gun—which turned out to be a toy pistol missing its orange safety cap. Video footage of the shooting shows Officer Timothy Loehmann, 26, shooting Tamir within seconds of arriving on the scene.
Rice died on Nov. 23, after being rushed to MetroHealth Medical Center. His family has filed a wrongful death suit. Loehmann struggled with firearms qualification training two years ago—a 2012 memo states that his handgun performance was “dismal.” He resigned from his previous police job after a superior recommended he be fired.
It took four minutes for Rice to receive medical attention, and when he did, it was not from Loehmann or his partner: A nearby FBI agent gave him mouth-to-mouth, according to Cleveland.com
Monday, December 15, 2014
thenation | A central player in the Bush-Cheney’s torture program is Jose A. Rodriguez, who, according to The New York Times, was then the head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center during the worst of the barbarity—the rectal hummus flushes, drills, dogs, broken limbs, sexual humiliation and assault, sleep deprivation, intense heat, intense cold, blood thinners, beatings and deaths from exposure. When agents in the field began sending e-mails to voice dismay, Rodriguez told them to shut up: “Strongly urge that any speculative language as to the legality of given activities or, more precisely, judgment calls as to their legality vis-à-vis operational guidelines for this activity agreed upon and vetted at the most senior levels of the agency, be refrained from in written traffic (email or cable traffic).” “Such language is not helpful,” he said. Rodriguez was involved in an earlier scandal regarding Bush-Cheney torture, fingered for destroying “videotapes recording the interrogations of top al Qaeda operatives.”
Rodriguez was born in Puerto Rico and joined the CIA in 1976. Nineteen seventy-six was a key year in the evolution of the national security state—the high point of congressional efforts to rein in the imperial presidency (Gerald Ford was forced to sign his “no assassinations of foreign leaders’ pledge that year) and the start of the New Right’s efforts to build a workaround those regulations (i.e., Iran/Contra). Rodriguez spent most of his career in Latin America, bridging the Cold War and the war on drugs. His background is sketchy—there’s not too much public information on what he was doing where in Latin America and his autobiography is vague. According to the The Wall Street Journal, Rodriguez “is a product of what one former agency colleague called ‘the rough and tumble’ Latin American division, which was responsible for thwarting Russian aggression in that part of the world. That strategy eventually evolved into the Iran/Contra scandal.” The Latin American Division was thick into Iran/Contra, and Rodriguez was involved in Panama when Noriega was in charge, that is, at the height of the scandal. He was in Mexico in 1990, where he served as CIA station chief at the beginning of that country’s descent into narco-NAFTA madness.
After 9/11, he was tapped by the CIA to manage its torture program—even though he didn’t speak Arabic and had no experience in the Middle East. He apparently had other talents. Mark Mazzetti in the Times writes that he “won praise while in the job for an aggressive strategy to capture, detain and interrogate leaders of Al Qaeda.” Rodriguez’s promotion to a top slot in Washington’s torture program is a pretty stark example of Latin America’s serving as “empire’s workshop.” Elsewhere, I’ve given an overview of the torture techniques the United States helped work out in Latin America during the Cold War (as have others, including Patrice McSherry here). These included waterboarding, a technique called, in Spanish, “el submarino.” (After a 1992 investigation, the Pentagon destroyed copies of the seven infamous torture instruction manuals it had used to train Latin American allies; Marcy Wheeler, though, writes that Dick Cheney and his legal counsel, David Addington “saved the only known copies” for their personal files).
More recently, though, with the return of the Latin American left to political power, the region has refused to participate in Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld’s global torture archipelago, that is, its extraordinary rendition program, which implicated every region of the globe, even peace-loving Scandinavia, except South America.
As for Rodriguez, after he retired from the CIA he went private, walking through that “revolving door” that connects Langley to any one of those Virginia-based private security companies (Blackwater apparently recruited him, but he chose another firm). In any case, he is back in the public eye, writing one op-ed after another defending torture. “I know it worked,” he insists, contrary to critics who say that forced rectal flushing garnered no serviceable intelligence. He’s joined other former CIA officials to set up a webpage to push back on criticism: CIASavedLives.com.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
theatlantic | So why not punish them now?
If CIA officers did abhorrent things that even their waterboarding colleagues managed to avoid, exceeding the orders and legal strictures they were given, why haven't they been prosecuted for torture as a duly ratified treaty compels the U.S. to do? Why hasn't Brennan ever remedied the failure to hold those men accountable? Why has he allowed people even he regards as criminals to remain at the CIA?
The reason is that he does not believe the rule of law should apply to the CIA.
Dick Cheney, Michael Hayden, and Brennan make a big show of invoking the legal cover given by John Yoo and others, as if they respect the rule of law. But beneath the posturing, they oppose jailing CIA officers no matter what, perhaps because those officers know things that could put them in prison. Among torturers, there can be only one code: Stop Snitchin'. Do you think that I exaggerate?
As The Week notes, the only person in jail over CIA torture is a man who tried to expose it.
In the end, Andrew Sullivan comes close to the mark. "There is no organization in the US government that exercises the kind of power the CIA does–over the presidency, Congress, and the media," he writes. "It is unimaginable that any other agency in government could commit war crimes, torture innocents, murder people, wreck this country’s moral standing… and yet escape any consequences... There is no other government agency that launches elaborate public relations campaigns to discredit and undermine its Senate oversight committee. There is no other organization whose head can tell blatant lies about spying on its overseers and receive the president’s wholehearted support. There is no other agency where you can murder someone already in your captivity and get away with it."
The head of the CIA can go on national television, acknowledge that some CIA officers tortured using "abhorrent" tactics, admit that those tactics went beyond their orders and the law, note that they were never held accountable... and then do nothing more. This is a man President Obama still wants to head the intelligence agency, perhaps because while Brennan may not know "where all the bodies are buried," he knows where they were droned to death on sometimes illegal Obama orders.
Lawlessness begets lawlessness begets lawlessness.
NYTimes | The last time George Tenet was asked about torture on television, he sounded defiant and jabbed his finger in the air. The year was 2007, and Mr. Tenet, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was promoting his memoir when a question about waterboarding came up while he was being interviewed on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
“You know, the image that’s been portrayed is we sat around the campfire and said, ‘Oh boy, now we go get to torture people,’ ” Mr. Tenet said, growing angry as the newsman Scott Pelley challenged him on how the agency interrogated terrorism suspects. “We don’t torture people. Let me say that again to you, we don’t torture people. O.K.?”
This week the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a long-awaited report detailing the gruesome interrogation techniques employed by the C.I.A. on Mr. Tenet’s watch as well as the false claims the agency made about their effectiveness. But Mr. Tenet, now a managing director of a secretive New York investment bank, has been nowhere in public view, leaving it to one of his successors — Michael V. Hayden, who was much less involved with the brutal interrogation program — to serve as the C.I.A.’s most vocal defender.
While Mr. Hayden has been all over television this week, Mr. Tenet has responded only in writing. But they are working in concert; their disparate approaches are part of an orchestrated campaign by the two former directors — and a third, Porter J. Goss — to defend the agency they all worked for by attacking the report’s credibility.
Other former Bush administration officials — notably former Vice President Dick Cheney — have also defended the C.I.A., but Mr. Hayden, who served as C.I.A. director from 2006 to 2009 and whose folksy manner makes for lively quotes, has emerged as their smoothest — and most willing — spokesman.
“He’s always been a great communicator, he has a way of turning a phrase, he’s very energetic and willing to engage and we’re lucky to have him on our team,” said Bill Harlow, a former C.I.A. official who is acting as the spokesman for Mr. Tenet and helping coordinate the response effort. “When it comes to TV it’s hard to match him.”
current director of wrecked'em operations not about to discard $billions/generations of agency best practices...,
fp | “I look back at the record and I see that this is a workforce that was trying to do the right thing,” Brennan said. But still, “I cannot say with certainty whether or not individuals acted with complete honesty,” he said about some officers who may have misled Congress and other U.S. officials.
Brennan criticized the Senate committee for not interviewing CIA officials who ran the interrogation program when it functioned and instead relying only on memos and documents to compile the report.
Pressed by a reporter to answer if a future American president could turn to the now discredited techniques, Brennan said the CIA was out of the business of detentions.
“What happens in the future? The Army Field Manual is the established basis for interrogation,” Brennan said, referring to the September 2006 Army manual titled “Human Intelligence Collector Operations,” which prohibits “acts of physical or mental torture” meted out to captured prisoners.
“We, the CIA are not in the detention program, we are not contemplating at all getting back into detention program, using any of those EITs. I defer to policymakers in [the] future,” Brennan said.
In 2009 when Obama ordered the closing of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, the agency gave up its formal role in interrogations. Obama also ordered the creation of the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group also known as HIG, which includes experts from several U.S. intelligence agencies but is overseen by the National Security Council.
In some areas, Brennan went further in acknowledging CIA missteps than he has before, particularly when it comes to letting specific CIA officers involved in the program off the hook. “We fell short when it came to holding some officers accountable for their mistakes,” he said.
The Senate report noted multiple instances where CIA leadership refused to punish officers who severely abused detainees, even when that behavior was specifically called out. “On two occasions in which the CIA inspector general identified wrongdoing, accountability recommendations were overruled by senior CIA leadership. In one instance, involving the death of a CIA detainee,” reads the report.
democracynow | AMY GOODMAN: Right, but also on prisoners, were there experiments?
ALFRED McCOY: There were some in prisons in the United States and also the Drug Treatment Center in Lexington, Kentucky. The Federal Drug Treatment Center in Lexington, Kentucky, had this. All of this research, all this very elaborate research —
AMY GOODMAN: On unwitting Americans?
ALFRED McCOY: Unwitting Americans, produced nothing, okay? What they found time and time again is that electroshock didn’t work, and sodium pentathol didn’t work, LSD certainly didn’t work. You scramble the brain. You got unreliable information. But what did work was the combination of these two rather boring, rather mundane behavioral techniques: sensory disorientation and self-inflicted pain.
And in 1963, the C.I.A. codified these results in the so-called KUBARK Counterintelligence Manual. If you just type the word "KUBARK" into Google, you will get the manual, an actual copy of it, on your computer screen, and you can read the techniques [ Read the report. But if you do, read the footnotes, because that’s where the behavioral research is. Now, this produced a distinctively American form of torture, the first real revolution in the cruel science of pain in centuries, psychological torture, and it’s the one that’s with us today, and it’s proved to be a very resilient, quite adaptable, and an enormously destructive paradigm.
Let’s make one thing clear. Americans refer to this often times in common parlance as "torture light." Psychological to torture, people who are involved in treatment tell us it’s far more destructive, does far more lasting damage to the human psyche than does physical torture. As Senator McCain said, himself, last year when he was debating his torture prohibition, faced with a choice between being beaten and psychologically tortured, I’d rather be beaten. Okay? It does far more lasting damage. It is far crueler than physical torture. This is something that we don’t realize in this country.
Now, another thing we see is those photographs is the psychological techniques, but the initial research basically developed techniques for attacking universal human sensory receptors: sight, sound, heat, cold, sense of time. That’s why all of the detainees describe being put in dark rooms, being subjected to strobe lights, loud music, okay? That’s sensory deprivation or sensory assault. Okay, that was sort of the phase one of the C.I.A. research. But the paradigm has proved to be quite adaptable.
Now, one of the things that Donald Rumsfeld did, right at the start of the war of terror, in late 2002, he appointed General Geoffrey Miller to be chief at Guantanamo, alright, because the previous commanders at Guantanamo were too soft on the detainees, and General Miller turned Guantanamo into a de facto behavioral research laboratory, a kind of torture research laboratory. And under General Miller at Guantanamo, they perfected the C.I.A. torture paradigm. They added two key techniques. They went beyond the universal sensory receptors of the original research. They added to it an attack on cultural sensitivity, particularly Arab male sensitivity to issues of gender and sexual identity.
And then they went further still. Under General Miller, they created these things called "Biscuit" teams, behavioral science consultation teams, and they actually had qualified military psychologists participating in the ongoing interrogation, and these psychologists would identify individual phobias, like fear of dark or attachment to mother, and by the time we’re done, by 2003, under General Miller, Guantanamo had perfected the C.I.A. paradigm, and it had a three-fold total assault on the human psyche: sensory receptors, self-inflicted pain, cultural sensitivity, and individual fears and phobia.
AMY GOODMAN: And then they sent General Miller to, quote, "Gitmo-ize" Abu Ghraib. Professor McCoy, we’re going to break for a minute, and then we’ll come back. Professor Alfred McCoy, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His latest book is called A Question of Torture: C.I.A. Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror.
AMY GOODMAN: We are talking to Alfred McCoy, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, author of a number of books. The Politics of Heroin: C.I.A. Complicity in the Global Drug Trade almost had him killed. Afterwards, the C.I.A. tried to have the book squelched, but ultimately it was published. Then A Question of Torture: C.I.A. Interrogation from the Cold War to the War On Terror is his latest book, and we’re talking about the history of torture. Continue with what you were saying, talking about the Biscuit teams, the use of psychologists in Guantanamo, and then Geoffrey Miller, going from Guantanamo to, quote, "Gitmo-ize" Abu Ghraib.
ALFRED McCOY: In mid-2003, when the Iraqi resistance erupted, the United States found it had no intelligence assets; it had no way to contain the insurgency, and they — the U.S. military was in a state of panic. And at that moment, they began sweeping across Iraq, rounding up thousands of Iraqi suspects, putting many of them in Abu Ghraib prison. At that point, in late August 2003, General Miller was sent from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib, and he brought his techniques with him. He brought a CD, and he brought a manual of his techniques. He gave them to the M.P. officers, the Military Intelligence officers and to General Ricardo Sanchez, the U.S. Commander in Iraq.
In September of 2003, General Sanchez issued orders, detailed orders, for expanded interrogation techniques beyond those allowed in the U.S. Army Field Manual 3452, and if you look at those techniques, what he’s ordering, in essence, is a combination of self-inflicted pain, stress positions and sensory disorientation, and if you look at the 1963 C.I.A. KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation Manual, you look at the 1983 C.I.A. Interrogation Training Manual that they used in Honduras for training Honduran officers in torture and interrogation, and then twenty years later, you look at General Sanchez’s 2003 orders, there’s a striking continuity across this forty-year span, in both the general principles, this total assault on the existential platforms of human identity and existence, okay? And the specific techniques, the way of achieving that, through the attack on these sensory receptors.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
the integral role of sadistic medical libertines in preserving sham respectability and collective not-seeism...,
theatlantic | The role of doctors in torture during the War on Terror has been pretty well excavated on the Defense Department side, but the CIA [has some exemptions] from Freedom of Information Act requests, so that’s remained hidden. Essentially the doctors and psychologists were built in to the entire torture system. They weren’t simply bystanders who were called in to respond when the system went off the rails. Some doctors apparently protested this. But they kept their protests inside [the CIA], they never went outside, which they should have done when they saw these types of abuses.
In general, doctors in torture have a couple roles. Number one, they design methods of torture that do not leave scars. For example, the so-called “rectal feeding” which is actually a medieval technique in which the intestines are inflated with a viscous material to cause intestinal pain. The docs are also involved in making sure that the prisoners who weren’t supposed to die didn’t die. The third thing doctors do is they falsify medical records and death certificates to conceal the injuries of torture. [Ed.: Miles has written on this in the context of Abu Ghraib.]
Doctors play a critical role in torture in regimes that don’t want to leave scars, and that includes the United States.
Beck: Why would people use medical knowledge and expertise learned to heal people for the opposite purpose?
Miles: It’s pretty interesting, I’m writing a book on just that question. The docs who get involved in this, number one, are careerists. They get involved for rank and career, and the regimes never coerce them, or extremely rarely coerce them. Instead what happens is the regimes treat them as some kind of elite.
WaPo | One of the things that the CIA did, as exposed in the report, has been getting a fair amount of rotation in news reports about the report. Let the New York Times take it away:
In exhaustive detail, the report gives a macabre accounting of some of the grisliest techniques that the C.I.A. used to torture and imprison terrorism suspects. Detainees were deprived of sleep for as long as a week, and were sometimes told that they would be killed while in American custody. With the approval of the C.I.A.’s medical staff, some prisoners were subjected to medically unnecessary “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration” — a technique that the C.I.A.’s chief of interrogations described as a way to exert “total control over the detainee.”
Seems like a strong material for a question to put before the ex-CIA director. So Tapper opened a discussion of “unauthorized” procedures, and cited rectal dehydration as an example. Away they went:
Hayden: No, stop! That was a medical procedure. That was done because of detainee health — that the people responsible there for the health of these detainees saw that they were becoming dehydrated. They had limited options in which to go do this. It was intravenous with needles, which would be dangerous with a non-cooperative detainee; it was through the nasal passages –
Tapper: Pureeing hummus and pine nuts and –
Hayden: Jake, I’m not a doctor and neither are you, but what I am told is this is one of the ways that the body is rehydrated; these were medical procedures. To give you a sense …
Tapper: You’re really defending rectal rehydration?
Hayden: What I’m defending is history. To give you a sense as to how this report was put together — this activity, which was done five times and each time for the health of the detainee, not part of the interrogation program, not designed to soften him up for any questioning.
not-seeism gone wild: why ken even try to pretend obama took a page from wrecked'em's patriot playbook?
theatlantic | Former Vice President Dick Cheney, the de-facto leader of the national-security team that failed to stop the most successful terrorist attack in U.S. history, is taking to the airwaves to defend the Bush Administration's subsequent torture of prisoners.
His Fox News interview rewards close scrutiny.
Early on, interviewer Bret Baier says, "The Feinstein report suggests that President Bush was not fully briefed on the program and deliberately kept in the dark by the CIA."
Dick Cheney denies this.
"Not true," he says. "Read his book. He talks about it extensively in his memoirs. He was, in fact, an integral part of he program. He had to approve it before we went forward .... We did discuss the techniques. There was no effort on our part to keep him from that." Cheney goes on to declare that "the men and women of the CIA did exactly what we wanted to have them do in terms of taking on this program."
Got that? Bush was fully briefed, and the CIA did exactly what Bush and Cheney asked. But attentive viewers would notice that Cheney subsequently contradicts himself.
Later in the interview, Baier notes a particularly depraved tactic. "At one point, this report describes interrogators pureeing food of one detainee and then serving it in his anus," he says, "something the agency called 'rectal rehydration.' I mean, is that torture?" (More to the point, did Bush and Cheney know about that? Is it "exactly" what they asked the CIA to do?) "I don't know anything about that specific instance," Cheney said. "I can't speak to that. I guess the question is, what are you prepared to do to get the truth about future attacks against the United States. Now, that was not one of the authorized or approved techniques. There were 12 of them, as I recall. They were all techniques we used in training on our own people."
So suddenly the White House wasn't fully briefed and the CIA went beyond what was authorized, using tactics that weren't "exactly what we wanted to have them do," and that Cheney implies he can't speak to and has never known about before.
Perhaps Cheney did know about "rectal rehydration," but is too ashamed or fearful of prosecution to admit it now. Explicitly defending the anal rape of prisoners is a bit much even for him. Or perhaps he really is just hearing about the tactic.
Either way, he story doesn't hold together. He can't have it both ways. Either the CIA hid depraved, unapproved tactics, or Cheney was perfectly okay with subjecting prisoners to anal rape. Perhaps Chuck Todd can ask him about this glaring discrepancy Sunday on Meet the Press. Until then, there is reason to suspect that, whatever Cheney knew, he doesn't have a moral problem with the anal rape of prisoners, a conclusion I draw from a succinct exchange later in the interview: