Monday, May 12, 2008

Extreme Interrogations -- Revelations Gaining Momentum

By Carol Gee

The more we learn about what happens to those whom our government takes into custody as threats to our national security, I increasingly have the urge to wash my hands more frequently. This news will set the tone to which I refer.

Senator Kit Bond is floating something that would tell the government, what it could not do in the way of torture. Headlined, "GOP Senator Floats Compromise Torture Measure," it was written by Paul Kiel - May 8, 2008. He includes this AP quote:

Rather than prescribe what the intelligence agency is allowed to do in an interrogation, Bond wants to write into law only what the CIA cannot do: force detainees to be naked, perform sexual acts, or pose in a sexual manner; have hoods or sacks placed over their heads or duct tape over their eyes; be beaten, shocked, or burned; threatened with military dogs; exposed to extreme heat or cold; subjected to mock executions; deprived of food, water, or medical care; or waterboarded.

Fellow "handwashers" -- I am doing a little Round-up of "Torture Stories" for your reading pleasure today. I must give grateful credit to my unflagging sources in the Blogosphere, others willing to feel uncomfortable with the material contained in many of the current national security stories coming out: "mcjoan" at DailyKos, Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker, "emptywheel" at Firedoglake, Ryan Singel at Wired: Threat Level, and Glenn Greenwald at If I am away from the story for a few days, I can always count on one or more of these dedicated bloggers to keep their hands in.

"CNN, the Pentagon's "military analyst" program and Gitmo," is the title of a Glenn Greenwald post at on May 9. Greenwald's source was a NYT-forced release of thousands of pages of Pentagon communications regarding the analysts program. Adding another twist to this messy scandal now coming out more fully, his comprehensive piece details how the true situation at the Guantanamo detention facility was white-washed during a Pentagon sponsored trip for the analysts to Cuba in 2005. Related to my recent "Tortured Thinking" posts Part I and Part II, I quote one of the key tidbits:

Demonstrating how controlled by the Pentagon were these "analysts," Shepperd's email to "help" was forwarded to top Rumsfeld aide Larry Di Rita, who replied (7470): "OK, but let's get him briefed on Khatani so he doesn't go too far on that one" -- referring to the so-called 20th hijacker Mohammed al-Khatani, whose Guantanamo interrogation had been particularly brutal, as he "was stripped naked, isolated, given intravenous fluids and forced to urinate on himself, and exercised to exhaustion during interrogations that lasted 18 to 20 hours a day for 48 of 54 days."

"The FBI's Hands Off Approach to Torture," was also written by TPM Muckracker's Paul Kiel - April 24, 2008. FBI Director Mueller appears to have been unable to have a hand in derailing the torture programs propelled by the DOD and DOJ attorneys' sullied legal opinions.To quote the key passage:

. . . what the FBI's reaction to the CIA's use of waterboarding and other forms of torture in 2002 had been: keep FBI agents out of trouble. But when House Democrats pressed as to why the FBI hadn't investigated the abuses, Mueller said his hands were tied. The CIA and the Defense Department had the green light. "There has to be a legal basis for us to investigate, and generally that legal basis is given to us by the Department of Justice."

Taken in hand by the TSA? The following information might be useful to you before your next airport terminal interrogation. Headlined, "Court: Government Must Reveal Watch-List Status to Constantly Detained Americans," by Ryan Singel, April 24, 2008, you should be able now to find out your watch list status. To quote from the opening of the story:

Eight Americans of south Asian and Middle Eastern descent who were repeatedly detained at the border for questioning will be able to learn if they are actually on the government's terrorist watch list, a federal court in Illinois ruled last week, marking the first time that citizens have been able to learn whether they have been added to a sprawling and error-prone list used for screening at borders and traffic stops.

The government invoked the powerful state secrets privilege in the case, arguing that letting the plaintiffs know if they are or aren't on the list would harm national security since that could alert them to the fact they have been under government scrutiny.

. . . The Terrorist Screening Center, which runs the list, says it has been pruning the list and removing errant entries, even as the list grows by an estimated 20,000 names a month. While the TSC says the majority of the names on the list are foreigners, most of the people compared against the list are Americans, who are checked against the list when they are stopped for a traffic violation, enter or leave the country or fly domestically.

The hand writing is on the wall -- Republican Senator Kit Bond thinks a list of "not-do's" is the answer to preventing torture. Knowing this group of interrogators with seemingly limitless inventiveness, however, they might just handily circumvent the list with any number of "other measures." If Guantanamo is closed there is no telling what secret locations might be the destiny of the detainees. And it seems that the Mainstream Media will continue to rely on their "military analysts" to keep us informed. Most people will never know how many of these retired military hands are dirty with conflicts of interest because the MSM will not even report that scandal. But at least, pretty soon we should all be able to find out if we are suspected terrorists or not.

Excuse me; I'm going to wash my hands now.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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