Psychologists end collaboration with “national security” interrogations


So, why is Gitmo an exception?

The American Psychological Association…overwhelmingly approved a new ban on any involvement by psychologists in national security interrogations conducted by the United States government, even noncoercive interrogations now conducted by the Obama administration…

The vote followed an emotional debate in which several members said the ban was needed to restore the organization’s reputation after a scathing independent investigation ordered by the association’s board.

That investigation, conducted by David Hoffman, a Chicago lawyer, found that some officers of the association and other prominent psychologists colluded with government officials during the Bush administration to make sure that association policies did not prevent psychologists from involvement in the harsh interrogation programs conducted by the C.I.A. and the Pentagon.

The ban was approved by the association’s council by a vote of 156 to 1. Seven council members abstained, while one was recused…

The final vote was met by a standing ovation by many of the council members, as well as the large crowd of observers, which included anti-torture activists and psychology graduate students who had come to the meeting to support the ban. Some wore T-shirts proclaiming “First, Do No Harm,” a reference to the physicians’ Hippocratic oath.

RTFA for all the gory details. I think it stands as mute testimony for the sentiment solidly rooted in many Americans that war criminals like George W Bush and Dick Cheney should stand trial for their crimes.

Members of the APA have been expelled for their role in torture. I think that body would support their prosecution. I hope so, anyway.

Psychologists are also still assigned at the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where they oversee “voluntary” interrogations of detainees.

US refuses to aid Poland investigation of CIA secret prisons


Having no hearts, they put their hands over their wallets

The US is hampering Poland’s investigation into a secret CIA prison by snubbing repeated requests for vital documents, including a Senate report detailing CIA prison locations and practices…

Published in December, the summary of the report by the Senate’s intelligence committee was redacted and did not mention Poland by name, but other facts in it pointed to the country and a secret CIA prison operating there from 2002 to 2003, where terror suspects were submitted to harsh treatment [they mean torture].

Piotr Kosmaty, spokesman for the Appeals Prosecutor’s Office in Krakow that is doing the investigation, said Poland immediately asked US justice authorities for a full version of the document, but has had no response. Previous requests for documents and questioning of the alleged victims – now held in Guantánamo Bay –were ignored, he said, and at one point the US authorities said that providing materials would be against US national interests…

The European Court of Human Rights ruled last year that Poland violated the rights of terror suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri by allowing the CIA to imprison them and by failing to stop the “torture and inhuman or degrading treatment” of the inmates.

The court ordered Poland to pay compensation to the two men. Warsaw said it would abide by the ruling.

The US report prompted Polish leaders at the time, Aleksander Kwasniewski and Leszek Miller, to admit – after years of denials – that they authorised a prison, but not torture.

The world waits for Bush and Cheney to be tried for their war crimes – including illegal detention and torture.

CIA admits hacking Senate computers – a criminal violation of Constitution

An internal CIA investigation confirmed allegations that agency personnel improperly intruded into a protected database used by Senate Intelligence Committee staff to compile a scathing report on the agency’s detention and interrogation program, prompting bipartisan outrage and at least two calls for spy chief John Brennan to resign…

The rare display of bipartisan fury followed a three-hour private briefing by Inspector General David Buckley. His investigation revealed that five CIA employees, two lawyers and three information technology specialists improperly accessed or “caused access” to a database that only committee staff were permitted to use…

In other conclusions, Buckley found that CIA security officers conducted keyword searches of the emails of staffers of the committee’s Democratic majority _ and reviewed some of them _ and that the three CIA information technology specialists showed “a lack of candor” in interviews with Buckley’s office.

The inspector general’s summary did not say who may have ordered the intrusion or when senior CIA officials learned of it.

He didn’t confirm or deny White House knowledge of the crime.

Following the briefing, some senators struggled to maintain their composure over what they saw as a violation of the constitutional separation of powers between an executive branch agency and its congressional overseers…

The findings confirmed charges by the committee chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that the CIA intruded into the database that by agreement was to be used by her staffers compiling the report on the harsh interrogation methods used by the agency on suspected terrorists held in secret overseas prisons under the George W. Bush administration.

The findings also contradicted Brennan’s denials of Feinstein’s allegations, prompting two panel members, Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., to demand that the spy chief resign

Otherwise – Just fire the bum!!

RTFA for beaucoup details. Lots of anger expressed by members of Congress who normally haven’t the backbone to challenge any example of intelligence community corruption. It’s amazing how upset government creeps can become when they’re treated like the rest of us ordinary citizens.

Like many of his peers, like the present and former residents of the White House, Brennan lied to Congress and to the American people. Will Congress or Obama have the integrity to demand criminal charges be forthcoming from the DOJ and Attorney-General Holder? Hmmm. How likely does that seem to you?

Judge stands by order demanding release of CIA torture records

A military judge has rejected the US government’s attempts to keep accounts of the CIA’s torture of a detainee secret, setting up a fateful choice for the Obama administration in staunching the fallout from its predecessor’s brutal interrogations.

In a currently-sealed 24 June ruling at Guantánamo Bay – described to the Guardian – Judge James Pohl upheld his April order demanding the government produce details of the detentions and interrogations of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri during his years in CIA custody. The Miami Herald also reported on the ruling, citing three sources who had seen it.

Among those details are the locations of the “black site” secret prisons in which Nashiri was held until his September 2006 transfer to Guantánamo; the names and communications of CIA personnel there; training and other procedures for guards and interrogators; and discussions of the application of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques”…

Pohl’s orders represent a watershed in disclosure for the commissions. Lawyers for Guantánamo detainees charged with war crimes have long criticised their lack of access to CIA detentions files, which they say prevents them from fully defending their clients, several of whom are known to have been abused in custody…

The options available to the government, should it continue its challenge to keep Nashiri’s interrogations secret, have now contracted substantially…

Pohl’s order does not necessarily mean that the public will gain greater insight into the CIA’s infamous post-9/11 interrogations. Only lawyers for Nashiri will get to view the CIA records.

Additionally, there is confusion over whether the CIA will in fact comply with the order, as the military commissions have never before ordered the agency to do anything. While the agency has fought hard to limit the Senate’s purview of its detainee torture – to the point where its operatives crossed a technical firewall that the Senate considers an act of spying on it – flouting a judge’s order would be a flagrant and visible act of defiance.

There’s a bit of blather over redaction and the Senate talking about doing this or that. I’m not convinced we have any elected officials with enough backbone to release documentary evidence of the torture we all know was committed in our name by the Republican administration from 2000-2008.

Frankly, I’m still of the opinion that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld – and any leading bureaucrats in our spy agencies who authorized the use of torture on detainees – be put on trial for war crimes. We would ask for no less if our citizens were subject to the same injustice.

Generals made money on the side from the Iraq war!

More than 1,200 people are under investigation for a US military recruitment fraud during the Iraq war, officials say.

Two generals and dozens of colonels are implicated in the alleged scheme, in which referral fees were illegally collected for recruiting soldiers.

The fraud is said to have already cost the US government at least $29m (£17.7m) and may top $100m in total…

The National Guard programme – established in 2005 and later expanded to the Army and Army Reserve – paid soldiers, civilians and retirees $2,000 to $7,500 to recruit friends and family…

According to investigators, numerous schemes were used to defraud under the programme, which saw the Army pay out more than $300m for 130,000 recruits during the Iraq war.

High school principals and guidance counsellors were said to have accepted money for recruiting students who they knew were already planning to join the US military.

Other recruiters illegally accepted bonuses after forcing subordinates to register as recruiting assistants, before substituting their own bank account information.

More than 700 recruiters and 200 military officers are under investigation, and several former recruiters and soldiers have been indicted on federal charges.

“Clearly, we’re talking about one of the largest criminal investigations in the history of the Army,” financial oversight subcommittee chair Senator Claire McCaskill told USA Today.

“This is discouraging and depressing,” she added. “[It] is just a mess from top to bottom.”

It is kind of silly to expect more honesty from our military than we ever got from Congress or the Bush White House. Lying for profit was an established part of daily business – whether we look at Dick Cheney and Halliburton Industries or National Guard officers and the “recruits” they sent to Iraq. Only the size of the fraud is different.

And we actually arrest generals.

Bradley Manning’s mom urges him to ‘never give up hope’

The mother of Bradley Manning, the US army private who is this week expected to be handed a long jail sentence for his role in the WikiLeaks dump of US state secrets, has said she believes she may never see him again.

Speaking before Wednesday’s sentencing of the 25-year-old who was found guilty of espionage, theft and computer fraud, Susan Manning urged her son to “never give up hope“.

Susan Manning, who lives in Pembrokeshire in Wales, has health problems and has not seen her son since 2011. In a rare statement in the Mail on Sunday, she said: “I know I may never see you again but I know you will be free one day. I pray it is soon. I love you Bradley and I always will…”

Susan Manning reportedly could not bring herself to watch TV or listen to the radio to hear last week’s verdict but waited for her sister, Sharon Staples, to tell her by phone.

Staples told the paper the family is now “praying for leniency” and described her sister’s shock at seeing Manning on her last visit to see him locked up in the US marine base in Quantico in February 2011.

“He was sitting on the other side of a glass partition and when I walked in I heard the sound of the chains round his hands and feet before I saw him,” Staples said. “Most of the time they sat in silence but held each others’ gaze. She didn’t get to hug him but was able to tell him she loved him.”

Afterwards, according to Staples, she said: “You wouldn’t treat a bloody animal like they’re treating Bradley.”

Like in the Land of Liberty and Justice. Well, in our prisons, anyway.

We live in a nation that offers leniency and pardons to economic gangsters who steal billions, politicians responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands. Mail me a penny postcard when we send George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to spend the rest of their lives in a prison in Iraq.

Bush’s Iraq War is officially over — guess who got the oil?

sinochem

Since the American-led invasion of 2003, Iraq has become one of the world’s top oil producers, and China is now its biggest customer.

China already buys nearly half the oil that Iraq produces, nearly 1.5 million barrels a day, and is angling for an even bigger share, bidding for a stake now owned by Exxon Mobil in one of Iraq’s largest oil fields…

Before the invasion, Iraq’s oil industry was sputtering, largely walled off from world markets by international sanctions against the government of Saddam Hussein, so his overthrow always carried the promise of renewed access to the country’s immense reserves. Chinese state-owned companies seized the opportunity, pouring more than $2 billion a year and hundreds of workers into Iraq, and just as important, showing a willingness to play by the new Iraqi government’s rules and to accept lower profits to win contracts.

“We lost out,” said Michael Makovsky, a former Defense Department official in the Bush administration who worked on Iraq oil policy. “The Chinese had nothing to do with the war, but from an economic standpoint they are benefiting from it, and our Fifth Fleet and air forces are helping to assure their supply…”

Notably, what the Chinese are not doing is complaining. Unlike the executives of Western oil giants like Exxon Mobil, the Chinese happily accept the strict terms of Iraq’s oil contracts, which yield only minimal profits. China is more interested in energy to fuel its economy than profits to enrich its oil giants…

The Iraqi government needs the investment, and oil remains at the heart of its political and economic future. Currently OPEC’s second largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia, the Iraqi government depends on oil revenues to finance its military and social programs. Iraq estimates that its oil fields, pipelines and refineries need $30 billion in annual investments to reach production targets that will make it one of the world’s premier energy powers for decades to come…

But the kind of investment that is necessary has required contracting the services of foreign oil companies that are not always enthusiastic about Iraq’s nationalistic, tightfisted terms or the unstable security situation that can put employees in danger. Some like Statoil of Norway have left or curtailed their operations.

But the Chinese, frequently as partners with other European companies like BP and Turkish Petroleum, have filled the vacuum. And they have been happy to focus on oil without interfering in other local issues. “The Chinese are very simple people,” said an Iraqi Oil Ministry official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not have permission to speak to the news media. “They are practical people. They don’t have anything to do with politics or religion. They just work and eat and sleep.”

Just as the Chinese arriving in Iran speak Farsi with an Iranian accent, the managers of China’s enterprises in Iraq speak Arabic with an Iraqi accent. Getting along with commercial partners isn’t as difficult as Congress tries to make it. If you watch the world news on a Chinese channel like CCTV9 you’re as likely to hear American-accented English as a British [or actually Hong Kong] accent. It all depends on the focus.

The Chinese decided long ago their commercial policies didn’t have to depend on politics. Good, bad or indifferent as your own analysis may be – China’s business partners appreciate the difference. That’s been pretty much maintained as policy by private/shareholder-owned enterprise as state-owned. Even though state-owned business is now the minority of Chinese commerce.

But, I have to think Dick Cheney didn’t plan it this way. 🙂