Help end wealth's control of our democracy. Our weapons are democracy, information, and the INITIATIVE
fight corporate Media Liars
Home  Website    Corruption Updates    Database    Archives    Link Clusters    Why    Help    Contact  RSS FEED

Corruption Disasters




budget crisis






china's poison trade

china's us backed police state


Our Lost Rights

Illegal war

illegal Searches



US attorney

Big Oil runs govt

money buys laws

corporate media


Our Dictators

saudi arabia




Bush&congress must be Impeached and replaced

Impeach bush II


Serious threats to our rights

reporter subpoenaed for exposing bush CIA crimes, nyt, 2-1-08

Harmon's "Homegrown Terror" resolution is an extreme threat to our rights, 4-19-07


American Political Corruption affects the Whole World

Earth From Space

Top of Page

our corruption has changed how nature appears

in front of us,

It's Me! Carson Range

and behind us

Behind Me, Carson Range


As an individual, an individual human, you are designed to reflect.

The reality you reflect defines the center and extent of your life.

recent pages: 166 165  164 163 162 161 160 159 158 157  156  155  154   153  152 

Make Real Political Change. Join the NextRevolution.Org

create community based on honest democracy

first posting: thursday, Feb 17, 2009


first posted: February 17, 2009, Draft edition

Previous Page: Page 182       All Archives       Next page: Page 183



Contact Us:

1) The Articles linked below were Abstracted from the sources cited. After the abstract there's analysis and commentary, links to related articles, and a link to the database with suggested search terms.

IRLI Successfully Defends Border Residents Right to Protect Themselves Against Illegal Aliens

Last update: 7:55 p.m. EST Feb. 17, 2009
TUCSON, Ariz. and WASHINGTON, Feb 17, 2009 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- In a major setback for the illegal alien advocacy network's strategy of legal intimidation, a federal jury in Tucson has rejected nearly all of the substantive claims brought by illegal alien advocacy group Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) against Arizona rancher Roger Barnett. Earlier, on February 10, federal district judge John M. Roll threw out related conspiracy complaints against his wife Barbara and his brother Donald Barnett, and dismissed the claims brought by ten illegal aliens who did not testify in court.
The Barnetts, who operate the Cross Rail Ranch near the Mexican border, were alleged to have violated the civil rights of 20 illegal aliens whom they detained as the illegal entrants crossed their property in 2004. The Barnetts were represented by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), including Arizona attorneys John Kaufmann, David Hardy, and Sharma Hammond. IRLI is the legal defense and education arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
Jurors awarded four female plaintiffs small punitive damages for emotional distress they claim to have suffered. However, a 2006 Arizona constitutional amendment bars awards of punitive damages to illegal aliens. Barnett's attorneys have already objected that the jury was given legally flawed instructions on this claim.
"For years, MALDEF and other illegal alien advocacy groups have threatened local governments and individual citizens with lawsuits to intimidate them from protecting their communities and property," said Michael Hethmon, IRLI co-counsel for Roger and Barbara. "But the Barnett family are Americans who refused to be intimidated. IRLI is honored to have been able to help these honest citizens defend their right to protect their homes and safety."
When dismissing the conspiracy claims, the court explained that illegal aliens have no constitutionally protected right to travel in the U.S. and that people, like the Barnetts, who live in close proximity to the border can make a reasonable assumption that large groups of people they encounter hiding or trespassing are doing so with the aid of smugglers, a federal felony for which a citizens arrest is authorized under Arizona law.
John Kaufmann, the lead trial attorney for Roger Barnett, systematically dismantled MALDEF's core contention that the plaintiffs were detained because of their ethnicity. The jury became aware that the poor and uneducated plaintiffs were being used by the Mexican government in a crude attempt to discourage border enforcement efforts.
In rejecting the claim that the Barnetts violated the plaintiffs' civil rights, the jury not only dismissed MALDEF's cynical decision to play the race card, but also provided the family members the opportunity to seek full recovery of attorneys fees.
"Smuggling of illegal aliens is a felony. Citizens who live along the border, like citizens anywhere in the country, have a right to act in such instances," stated David Hardy, a noted legal scholar and counsel for the Barnetts. "The vindication of the Barnetts should clear the way for other Americans to act responsibly without fear of specious and politically motivated lawsuits."
"It is regrettable that the Barnett family has been put through a legal ordeal for merely defending their homes," continued Hethmon. "What is more regrettable is that these conditions are allowed to persist and citizens along the border are faced with growing violence and property damage. IRLI remains committed to defending American citizens who have become the targets of such malicious and politically motivated lawsuits."
Trial photos of damages by illegal entrants to the Barnett ranch are posted at
SOURCE Immigration Reform Law Institute


Top of Page

What's Really Going on Here??


Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., June, 2008

Top of Page



The Corruption Database

Does this tick you off? Make you happy? Want to do something about it? You can speak your mind, or join us to curb bribery at our political reform site:

Blog it

("blog it" opens a blog text box on NextRevolution.Org. Soon, it will drag over the article link and title, and be linkable from here. Anyone a PHP expert?)



All Archives

Top of Page

2) The Article linked below was Abstracted from the source cited.

Las Vegas Running Out of Water Means Dimming Los Angeles Lights

2-26-09, bloomberg, By John Lippert and Jim Efstathiou Jr.


Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) -- On a cloudless December day in the Nevada desert, workers in white hard hats descend into a 30- foot-wide shaft next to Lake Mead.

As they’ve been doing since June, they’ll blast and dig straight down into the limestone surrounding the reservoir that supplies 90 percent of Las Vegas’s water. In September, when they hit 600 feet, they’ll turn and burrow for 3 miles, laying a new pipe as they go.

The crew is in a hurry. They’re battling the worst 10-year drought in recorded history along the Colorado River, which feeds the 110-mile-long reservoir. Since 1999, Lake Mead has dropped about 1 percent a year. By 2012, the lake’s surface could fall below the existing pipe that delivers 40 percent of the city’s water.

As Las Vegas’s economy worsens, the workers are also racing against a recession that threatens the ability to sell $500 million in bonds so they can complete the job.

Patricia Mulroy, manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, is the general in this region’s war to stem a water emergency that’s playing out worldwide. It’s the biggest battle of her 31-year career.

‘We’ve Tried Everything’

“We’ve tried everything,” says Mulroy, 56, who made no secret of her desire to become secretary of the U.S. Interior Department before President Barack Obama picked U.S. Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado in December.

“The way you look at water has to fundamentally change,” adds Mulroy, who, after 20 years of running the authority, said in January she’s ready to start thinking about looking for a new job, declining to say where.

Across the planet, people like Mulroy are struggling to solve the next global crisis.

From 2500 B.C., when King Urlama of Lagash diverted water in the Tigris and Euphrates Valley in a border dispute with nearby Umma, to 1924, when Owens Valley, California, farmers blew up part of the aqueduct that served a parched Los Angeles, societies have bargained, fought and rearranged geographies to get the water they need.

Mulroy started her push with conservation. She’s paying homeowners $1.50 a square foot (0.09 square meter) to replace lawns with gravel and asking golf courses to dig up turf. That helped cut Las Vegas’s water use by 19.4 percent in the seven years ended in 2008, even as the metropolitan area added 482,000 people, bringing the total to 2 million. It wasn’t enough.

Paul Bunyan

So she’s planning a $3.5 billion, 327-mile (525-kilometer) underground pipeline to tap aquifers beneath cattle-raising valleys northeast of the city. She’s even suggested refashioning the plumbing of the entire continent, Paul Bunyan style, by diverting floodwaters from the Mississippi River west toward the Rocky Mountains.

If Mulroy’s ideas are extreme, one reason is that the planet’s most essential resource doesn’t work like other commodities.

There’s no global marketplace for water. Deals for property, wells and water rights, such as the ones Mulroy must negotiate to build the pipeline, are done piecemeal. As the world grows needier, neither governments nor companies nor investors have figured out an effective and sustainable response.

“We have 19th-century ways of utilizing water and 21st- century needs,” says Brad Udall, director of Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Unyielding Pressure

Water upheavals are intensifying because the population is growing fastest in places where fresh water is either scarce or polluted. Dry areas are becoming drier and wet areas wetter as the oceans and atmosphere warm. Economic roadblocks, such as the global credit crunch and its effects on Mulroy’s attempts to sell bonds, multiply during a recession.

Yet local governments that control water face unyielding pressure from constituents to keep the price low, regardless of cost. Agricultural interests, commercial developers and the housing industry clash over dwindling supplies. Companies, burdened by slowing profits, will be forced to move from dry areas such as the American Southwest, Udall says.

“Water is going to be more important than oil in the next 20 years,” says Dipak Jain, dean of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, who studies why corporations locate where they do.

No Cheap Water

Even before the now decade-long drought began punishing Las Vegas, people used more than 75 percent of the water in northern Africa and western Asia that they could get their hands on in 2000, according to the United Nations.

In 2002, 8 percent of the world suffered chronic shortages. By 2050, 40 percent of the projected world population, or about 4 billion people, will lack adequate water as entire regions turn dry, the UN predicts.

“We can no longer assume that cheap water is available,” says Peter Gleick, editor of The World’s Water 2008-2009 (Island Press, 2009). “We have to start living within our means.”

Over the Sierra Mountains from Las Vegas, Shasta Lake, California’s biggest reservoir, is less than a third full because melting snow that fed it for six decades is dwindling. A winter as dry as the previous two may mean rationing for 18 million people in Southern California this year, says Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District.

Across the Pacific Ocean, wildfires fueled by a 10-year drought and fanned by 60-mile-per-hour winds around Melbourne killed more than 200 people in February.

Developing Giants

In Asia, developing giants are battling pollution as their populations grow. China, home to 21 percent of the world’s people last year, has just 7 percent of the water. Nine in 10 Chinese-city groundwater systems are fouled by industrial toxins, pesticides and human waste, says Maude Barlow, the first senior adviser on water to the UN and author of “Blue Covenant” (New Press, 2007).

In India, with 1.2 billion people, three-quarters of the surface water is contaminated, that country’s government said in September.

In the Mideast, where the Dead Sea is dropping 3 feet (1 meter) a year, Israel, Jordan and Syria are diverting water upstream from the Jordan River. That’s adding another source of discord to an already volatile region.

‘Gambling, Gluttony and Girls’

“There’s a growing risk of conflict over water shared by nations, ethnic groups or economic interests,” Gleick says.

Las Vegas, an adult-entertainment haven carved into the Mojave Desert, may not draw much sympathy as a poster child for water emergencies.

For decades, new residents imported their cravings for lawns, sprinklers, pools and golf courses to a region that receives 4 inches (10 centimeters) of rain a year, about 1/10 of what Chicago enjoys. Casinos and hotels with water slides and river rides sucked up limited groundwater.

Until the real estate meltdown, Nevada was the fastest- growing U.S. market, with a 33 percent surge in new homes from 2000 to ‘07.

Now the city is getting a dose of reality, says Cecil Garland, a rancher in neighboring Utah who opposes Mulroy’s groundwater pipeline.

“Las Vegas is a place of gambling, gluttony and girls,” Garland, 83, says.

He says there’s no extra water along the proposed route, which travels through valleys green with 3-foot-tall shrubs called greasewood. If pumping kills the greasewood, dust storms that plague his town of Callao would soar 5,000 feet into the sky, he says.

‘Driest Areas’

“We live in one of the driest areas of the driest part of the U.S.,” Garland says. “How in the world can anybody with reason or common sense think they can pump water in the amount they’re talking about and leave the integrity of the valley in place?”

Mulroy says Nevada’s resorts use 3 percent of the state’s water compared with 90 percent going for farms and ranches.

For the past two decades, Mulroy, a lifelong government employee whose business attire tends toward pantsuits with the collar of her blouses pointed up behind her neck, has wrestled with the competing truths that dog all water managers: There’s only so much to go around, somebody has already claimed most of it, and citizens and companies keep demanding more.

“People view water as a human right and expect it to be virtually free,” says Michael LoCascio at Boston-based Lux Research Inc., which analyzes water issues. “Governments respond to that, and you end up with inefficiency.”

Without price-setting markets, water that cost 33 cents a cubic meter for the first 15 cubic meters delivered to homes in Memphis, Tennessee, in June 2007 was $3.01 in Atlanta and 57 cents in Las Vegas.

That’s cheap compared with Copenhagen, where the same amount that month was $7.71 per cubic meter, Gleick says.

Human Survival

Robert Glennon, a University of Arizona law professor, says governments must provide enough water for human survival. Beyond that, only freely functioning markets can allot it to people who need it most, he says.

Fast-growing cities should buy from farmers who use water on marginal land, says Glennon, author of “Unquenchable” (Island Press, 2009). That would cut inefficiency caused by irrigating deserts, such as those around Las Vegas, to raise alfalfa or beef, he says.

Worldwide, about 60 percent of fresh water goes to irrigate crops through flooding, losing 70 percent of the moisture to evaporation, Lux Research says.

Rudimentary Markets

The rudiments of water markets are cropping up across the American West.

In 2005, after 19 years of negotiations, Los Angeles’s Metropolitan Water District signed a 35-year “dry year option” with the Palo Verde Irrigation District south of Las Vegas in California. Los Angeles pays 7,000 farmers to leave land fallow during droughts and ship their water to city residents. The city gives a one-time payment of $3,170 an acre (0.4 hectare) to farmers who sign up and then $630 per year for every acre not farmed.

Companies and investors that see moneymaking opportunities in strategies to quench the world’s thirst may draw lessons from corporations that have tried.

In October, General Electric Co. named the third head of its water unit in three years. GE had paid $3.8 billion to buy several treatment and filtration companies, including Watertown, Massachusetts-based Ionics Inc., which makes reverse-osmosis membranes for purifying salt water.

Big Deals

Last year, GE opened a $250 million desalination plant, Africa’s largest, with state-owned Algerian Energy Co. GE had hoped to profit from its newly acquired water technologies with the backing of its General Electric Capital Corp. financing arm, says Jeffrey Fulgham, chief marketing officer for the Trevose, Pennsylvania-based unit. Instead, GE wound up footing a lot of the building work for the plant, he says.

“At the end of these big hardware deals, there isn’t much profit,” says Fulgham, who adds that GE now focuses on water technology and avoids construction.

Pure Cycle Corp., which buys and transports water for housing developments near Denver, seemed to have scored a windfall. Starting in 1976, it paid $110 million for water rights valued at $4 billion last year, Chief Executive Officer Mark Harding says. Yet shares in the Thornton, Colorado, company tumbled by 47 percent during the six months ended on Feb. 25. to trade at $3.25 apiece.

The real estate slowdown convinced investors that profits from water rights may be years away, Harding says.

Just financing water for municipal use is getting harder in the global recession.

$8.3 Billion

The southern Nevada authority is about halfway through a 30-year, $8.3 billion construction campaign. Last year, 57 percent of the money for it came from a $6,310 fee to hook up new homes. The Las Vegas real estate slump is so severe that total hookup collections dropped to $61.5 million last year from $188.4 million in 2006. Mulroy says the authority actually lost money on hookups in January because of refunds to developers who abandoned construction projects.

As a result, reserves in the construction fund dropped 6 percent in the first six weeks of 2009, to $480 million. Without those reserves, Mulroy says, she couldn’t assure investors the authority would be able to repay the $500 million in bonds she plans to start selling by early fall to complete the Lake Mead project. The authority had $3.9 billion in liabilities on June 30.

‘Rub Two Sticks Together’

The authority also gets money from water deliveries, property taxes and fees from federal land sales. If she has to protect the reserves, Mulroy says, she’ll raise water rates, which total about $21 a month for a single-family home.

She’s asked fellow Nevadan Harry Reid, the U.S. Senate majority leader, for a federal guarantee on the bonds. Reid is exploring how to help big municipal water systems, including Mulroy’s, get easier access to credit, spokesman Jon Summers says.

In February, Mulroy presented such a dire description of the authority’s finances to the Nevada legislature that Jerry Claborn, chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, told her, “You’ll have to do like you did years ago: rub two sticks together.”

Mulroy said afterward she wanted to quash any notion that cash-strapped legislators could appropriate her reserves for some other purpose.

To Richard Bunker, who hired her as an administrative assistant when he managed Clark County, Nevada, in 1978, Mulroy’s hardball tactics are a delight.

“She walks into a room with guys who’ve been on the river 50 and 60 years and they just cringe,” he says with a smile.

‘Pay Me Enough’

One thing Mulroy has ruled out, even in the economic meltdown, is using water as an excuse to limit Las Vegas’s growth.

“During the next 50 years, this country’s population is expected to explode by another 140 million,” she says, citing U.S. Census projections. “I always ask, ‘Where do you want the people to go?’”

Mulroy also opposes the idea of privatizing water, or giving investors power to set prices.

“You’d be telling people, ‘Pay me enough or I withhold it,’” she says, her voice rising, in the cafeteria of Clark County’s terra cotta-colored municipal headquarters. “It’s like you’re telling me I can live.”

Mulroy’s unflagging commitment to keeping Las Vegas green and growing gets the blessing of casino owner Stephen Wynn.

“Pat is the best public servant I’ve met in my 40 years on the Strip,” says Wynn, who credits her with teaching him to save money by using treated groundwater for the lagoons surrounding the artificial volcano at the Mirage hotel, now owned by MGM Mirage.

Lake Mead

Finding the water for casinos is one reason crews are working around the clock at Lake Mead.

In 2002 alone, lack of rainfall lowered the deep-blue waters by 24.6 feet, leaving white bathtub-ring-like marks on the brown cliffs and stranding docks half a mile from shore.

Today, the lake is 1,112 feet above sea level. Should it fall to 1,075 feet, the federal government would cut the water to seven states that depend on the Colorado River, according to an agreement they all signed in 2007. If that happens, the states would likely renegotiate a 1922 pact that divided up the river’s water rights in the first place, Mulroy says. Mexico’s allocation under a 1944 treaty could also change.

If the drought persists and more water is diverted from the Colorado, the lake could drop to 1,050 feet. That would prevent water from flowing into the intake pipe and cut 40 percent of Las Vegas’s supply -- the disaster Mulroy is trying to head off. Hoover Dam, completed in 1935 to regulate the river and form Lake Mead, wouldn’t be able to produce electricity for the 750,000 people it supplies in Los Angeles.

No More Water

At 1,000 feet, the remaining intakes and the rest of the Lake Mead water would go. Because of climate change and population growth, chances of this are as great as 50 percent by 2026, the University of Colorado’s Udall says.

When Mulroy, a daughter of a civilian employee of the U.S. Air Force, arrived in Las Vegas in 1974, the city had yet to be consumed by a water quest. Until the 1940s, parts of downtown had freely flowing springs.

Mulroy, a native of Germany, studied German literature; got her master’s degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and went to work for Bunker at Clark County. A Mormon bishop, he later ran the state’s Gaming Control Board and the Nevada Resort Association.


Bunker supported her promotion to administrator for the county justice court, which was storing records in shoeboxes when she took over. In 1989, he backed her as general manager of the Las Vegas Valley Water District, which the state legislature had formed four decades earlier. Mulroy helped create the seven- community Southern Nevada Water Authority two years later.

“Absent her being here, I don’t know where we’d be,” Bunker says.

Around the time Mulroy became water czar, Wynn unleashed the era of Wall Street-financed megaresorts with his 30-story Mirage. He tinted the hotel’s windows with real gold.

Mulroy raced to boost water deliveries throughout the city by as much as 20 percent a year. With Bunker’s help, she started planning the pipeline to tap melting snow under Wheeler Peak, Nevada’s second-highest mountain.

The pipeline’s planned path runs northeast out of Las Vegas, enters Lincoln County and passes through the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, where, in December, gold leaves of cottonwoods shimmer and migratory birds swoop onto lakes fed by artesian springs. Farther north, hilltops are dotted with abandoned mining towns and bands of wild horses.

‘Already Spoken For’

As Mulroy marched north to secure land and permits, she ran headfirst into what Gleick says is a fundamental truth about water across the U.S. and other parts of the world.

“Nearly every drop is already spoken for, often more than once,” he says.

Determined to get what she required, Mulroy went into horse-trading mode.

“You need a large amount of money and some very powerful people to make water projects happen,” says Greg James, a California water rights attorney and a consultant for pipeline opponents.

She struck a deal with Harvey Whittemore, then Nevada’s top gambling lobbyist. Members of Whittemore’s law firm include Rory Reid, Harry Reid’s son. The younger Reid later served as the water authority’s vice chairman, from 2003 to ‘08.

120,000 New Homes

Whittemore, 56, is also a developer who’s planning a new suburb called Coyote Springs, 55 miles north of the Las Vegas Strip. Even with the real estate crash, Coyote Springs will have 120,000 homes and a dozen golf courses when it’s finished in four or five decades, he says.

Whittemore’s land included one of the most productive wells ever drilled in southern Nevada. He sold 9,000 acre-feet of groundwater that he wasn’t using to Mulroy for $30.1 million. (One acre-foot equals about 326,000 gallons, or 1,240 kiloliters, enough for two average U.S. homes for a year.) That led to what Mulroy describes as a partnership in which Whittemore will help pay for the pipeline and use it to ship water to Coyote Springs.

In 2003, Mulroy bargained with reluctant officials in neighboring Lincoln County, persuading them to drop opposition to the project by ceding back to them some of the water rights that she held.

In 2006, farther up the route, she learned how tough the water business can be. She paid $22 million for a ranch that had cost $4.5 million six years earlier. The seller, Carson City, Nevada-based Vidler Water Co., a unit of PICO Holdings Inc., based the price on similar purchases Whittemore had made, Vidler President Dorothy Timian-Palmer says.

Fight Over Greasewood

Last year, Mulroy got into a fight over greasewood with Tim Durbin, a hydrologist who’d once been a consultant for her. Durbin disputed Mulroy’s assessment that the pipeline would avoid major damage to the shrub. In his rebuttal, Durbin described a scene that still touches an open wound in the psyche of the American West.

In 1913, William Mulholland built a 223-mile aqueduct from Owens Valley in California’s Sierras to Los Angeles, where he was water superintendent. The aqueduct drained a 40-foot-deep lake, exposing the valley floor and unleashing dust storms that plagued Los Angeles throughout the 20th century. The aqueduct also inspired the 1974 movie “Chinatown.” In 1970, Los Angeles built a second aqueduct.

‘A Model’

Today, the valley’s 75-mile-long expanse looks like it did a millennium ago. The water diverted to Los Angeles makes economic development in the valley impossible.

“Because of groundwater pumping, vegetation was disappearing in the Owens Valley,” says Durbin, who was chief hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey in California and Nevada before becoming a private consultant in 1984. “It’s a model for what one would expect in eastern Nevada.”

Because of such memories, Mulroy hasn’t won many friends among eastern Nevada’s old-timers.

Rancher Dean Baker fears Mulroy’s pipeline would drain the water that’s let him survive in Snake Valley, in the shadow of Wheeler Peak, for more than half a century.

Baker, 69, remembers when people staked uranium claims only to realize their Geiger counters were clicking because of residue from atomic tests outside Las Vegas. He recalls flying solo in a Piper J-3 Cub before he could drive.

Most of all, Baker remembers water. He rose at dawn to deliver it to cattle 50 miles away. He culled his herd and watched greasewood wither during droughts. It took 20 years for him to afford a backhoe with a jackhammer that could break rocks that covered a spring on his ranch.

Legacy of Dust

“Water is the limiting factor in everything we do,” Baker says. “The legacy of this pipeline will be dust.”

Baker says people who want to move to Las Vegas should look instead to Mississippi and Louisiana. “People should go where there’s water,” he says.

Mulroy says her job is to bring water to the people. Last year, she said she thought the proposed pipeline could begin transporting water in 2015. Now, because of the recession, she doesn’t know when she’ll have the money to build it.

She says she’ll wait for the economy to recover to decide -- unless Lake Mead drops even more and forces her to act.

Mulroy’s struggle to get water to a growing desert population wouldn’t have surprised John Wesley Powell, the first known explorer to pass through the entire Grand Canyon 130 miles east of Las Vegas.

“You are piling up a heritage of conflict and litigation over the water rights,” he told the International Irrigation Congress in Los Angeles in 1893. “There is no sufficient water to supply the land.”

‘Little Bubbles’

Four generations later, Mulroy is a veteran of these age- old conflicts. She says the region’s water emergency is becoming more dangerous because of climate change and population growth. The crisis is too big to be solved one river or one continent at a time, she says.

“We’ve managed water in such small, incremental units,” she says. “We won’t be able to survive in our little bubbles.”

Even people who agree with Mulroy’s warning won’t have an easy time acting on it. As she has, they’ll discover the effort it will take to quench the world’s thirst and realize that the time and money to do so -- like water itself -- are running short.

Top of Page

What's Really Going on Here??

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, analysis

Our water, our fish, and our rights are gone

Deadly Heat Normal in New American Summer Weather Pattern


Top of Page


Growth is killing us links

All Water Links

CA Water Links

water essays

salmon/fish links

Plastic Oceans links


All Environment links

The Corruption Database


Does this tick you off? Make you happy? Want to do something about it? You can speak your mind, or join us to curb bribery at our political reform site:

Blog it

("blog it" opens a blog text box on NextRevolution.Org. Soon, it will drag over the article link and title, and be linkable from here. Anyone a PHP expert?)



All Archives

Top of Page

3) The Article linked below was Abstracted from the source cited.

Obama 'ready to drop shield plans for Russian help on Iran'

ria novosti, 3-2-09

MOSCOW, March 2 (RIA Novosti) - Washington has told Moscow that Russian help in resolving Iran's nuclear program would make its missile shield plans for Europe unnecessary, a Russian daily said on Monday, citing White House sources.

U.S. President Barack Obama made the proposal on Iran in a letter to his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, Kommersant said, referring to unidentified U.S. officials.

Iran's controversial nuclear program was cited by the U.S. as one of the reasons behind its plans to deploy a missile base in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic. The missile shield has been strongly opposed by Russia, which views it as a threat to its national security. The dispute has strained relations between the former Cold War rivals, already tense over a host of other differences.

The leaders have exchanged letters and had a telephone conversation since Obama was sworn into office in January, Kommersant said. The first high-level Russia-U.S. meeting will take place later this week, when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meets with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Geneva.

Moscow has not yet responded to the proposal by Obama, the paper said, adding that a decision was unlikely to be made during Lavrov and Clinton's meeting.

The issue is likely to be discussed when Obama and Medvedev meet in London on April 2 on the sidelines of the G20 summit of world leaders to address the financial crisis. Earlier reports said Medvedev had also invited the U.S. leader to visit Russia and the date of Obama's first visit to the largest country in the world could be announced in the British capital.

In an interview on Sunday with Spanish media, Medvedev said he hoped to discuss the issue of missile defense with Obama in London. He also said he hoped the new U.S. administration would display a "more creative approach" to the issue than its predecessors.

"We have received signals from our American colleagues," Medvedev said. "I expect those signals will turn into specific proposals. I hope to discuss the issue, which is extremely important for Europe, with U.S. President Barack Obama."

The United States and other Western nations suspect Tehran of secretly seeking nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is purely aimed at generating electricity. However, unlike his predecessor, George W. Bush, Obama has stated a preference for diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on the NBC television channel on Sunday that the Islamic Republic was not close to building a nuclear bomb. "They're not close to a stockpile, they're not close to a weapon at this point, and so there is some time," Gates said.

Gates also said that while more sanctions should be imposed against Iran, the door should not be closed to diplomacy.


Top of Page

What's Really Going on Here??

Strategic Strobe Light:

The real Contours of the Rise of Russia, and the Demise of the American Corporate Empire

Background and 1st look at the new US diplomatic imperative

(This is a draft essay, Fri 3-6-09: This is still a working draft because of the latest US diplomatic moves with syria, inviting iran to the regional conference, and today showing the initiative towards Russia to move forward with nuclear arms treaties. Don't be fooled by USA smoke. The tatical and strategic situation is clear, and in no way affect the info below. The advantage is still very much on the other side of the net.)

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca.,  March 3-6, 2009

This offer of Obama's not to put missiles on Russia's border in exchange for their helping us to isolate Iran is fucking hilarious, if you think about it.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the US started beating the Russians with political, economic, and military sticks. That worked well for our selfish interests then, but now things have changed. Now the Russian Bear has risen out of the ashes of the Soviet Collapse, and the US empire is tottering, in its turn.

Obama's offer is an insult considering our actions in the Balkans, the Baltic, and the Black Sea regions for the last 17 years.

Presently, the nations in the Balkans, the Black Sea, and the Baltic regions are on the verge of economic and political collapse. And now we've found jesus, and want to be friends with the Russians. Too bad we've been beating them with sticks for last 17 years. The Russians have little incentive to cooperate. Our influence is diminishing in all the regions along their borders where we intruded.

The other problems with our new "friendly" approach is first, that it's way out of character for us, and second, our offer does not fit the "facts on the ground," as we like to say. The operative fact controlling the situations in the post-Soviet states and the Middle-East is that we've acted the role of a predatory Corporate Empire since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Western Interventions

Domestically, after the fall of the Soviet Union, we intervened in the internal affairs of Russia by backing the oliarch's rip-off of the totality of Russia's industrial base and its natural resources. Putin was Russia's responce to the reign of American-style robber barons in Russia.

In the Black Sea Region, we ran a series of American Funded "color revolutions" that pushed Western Backed Regimes into power, right under the soft underbelly of Russia.

Then we put troops into Afganistan, destabilizing both Afghanistan and Pakistan, while spreading our political influence and military presence into the now independent "stans" along Russia's Southern border.

Then we began to move NATO military forces and treaties across the post-Soviet states right up to the Russian border. Finally, to perfectly combine insult with injury, we began the work to install anti-missile systems right on Russia's borders.

Despite Russia's serious responces to our aggressions, we decided to add insult to injury by recognizing Kosovo. Finally, we armed Georgia and encouraged them to settle their dispute with Russia by military means. Shortly thereafter, our Georgian ally invaded Russia's pet breakaway states, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Since the the fall of the Soviet Union we have used concerted political, economic, and military pressure to pull these now floundering post-Soviet States into our sphere of control. Now these regions are suffering terribly from the brutal economic effects of their Western alliance.

And now that our relationships in the post-Soviet states are floundering, our wars failing, and with our economy in full collapse, we are offering Russia worthless concessions from our weakening regional and global position in exchange for abandoning their increasingly advantagous position in Middle-Eastern diplomacy that Russia's relationship with Iran has created.

The American Answer

Our "solution" to the rise of a rapidly rearming Russia, a problem we ourselves created, is to ask them to weaken themselves by ending their deep nuclear, regional, political, and strategic relationship with Iran in exchange for us not acting stupid, and putting missiles on their borders.

We are making this offer at the very moment when Western economic and political relationships with the Balkans, the Baltic, and the Black Sea nations within the sphere of influence of the American Corporate Empire is on the point of complete collapse. The post-Soviet nations are posing a significant threat of defaulting and seriously damaging the European, if not the global banking system. The situation is not much different for the US In the Middle-East.

Iran has risen as the #1 native, independent power in the Middle-East, and is leading the charge to remove American influence from the region. In essence, we are asking Russia to abandon their deep relationship with Iran, just as the balance of power in the Middle-East is shifting away from Western-backed dictatorships and "kings" and "emirs" towards locally-controlled independent nations.

The Real Situation

In the present situation there seem to be a number of things that Russia would want the US to begin unwinding before they even stopped laughing about Obama's lame offer, and made a counter offer. let's consider the relatitive position of Russia and the American Corporate Empire in the Balkans.

The Balkans have not become an independent, neutral area between Europe and Russia, as promised by Bush I. Bush I promised the Soviets a neutral zone in the Balkans and the Black Sea nations to forestall an ugly military responce by the crumbling Soviet Union as their empire imploded. Bush I, and every president since has broken that promise.

Rather than a peaceful, neutral breakup of the Balkans, the US encouraged a free for all that ended up in a series of brutal regional wars that have deeply polarized the region. The Balkans are still deeply unbalanced in the wake of our irresponsibility following the Soviet breakup. Now these unbalances are being pressurized by the economic collapse of the American Corporate Empire.

The American Corporate Empire's economic and political relationship with the Balkans, the Baltic, and the Black Sea nations is on the point of complete collapse, along with their "free-market" economies. Going along with the "liberal" system (that's what Europeans call rule by the rich) has proven to be quite disastrous for the post-Soviet states. Added to that is the fact that a large majority of the people in Czechoslovakia, and 56% in conservative Poland, oppose American missiles in their country.

The Russian Responce I

Russia responded to these encroachments by the West in the post-Soviet states with a tool of the West: Capitalism. Russia forced all of these Westernizing countries to pay market prices for previously subsidized energy. For some reason the Western Capitalist states freaked out when Russia stopped subsidizing the energy costs of the Westen takeover of the post-Soviet states. In any case, Russia already had significant economic leverage through controlling the region's energy supply, and now the American Economic meltdown is enhancing Russia's economic clout in the region. Russia has no incentive whatsoever to save Eastern Europe for Western Capitalism, no matter where we put our missiles.

The Russian Responce II

In the meantime Russia has been working to slowly reestablish and deepen its relationship with Serbia, and further extend Russia's influence across the Balkans and into Europe through energy deals. We could try to  counter this with another offer not to extend our political and military influence into the Balkans, the Black Sea, and the Baltic, but our previous lies may have spoiled that option. Russia can now exercise superior economic, political, and military influence in all of the post-Soviet states than the US.

The American offer not to deploy missiles also conveniently forgets that Russia has already made a "negative" offer to the US. Russia offered not to move mobile nuclear weapons targeted on European capitols up to its Western borders, if the US does not install missile bases on Russia's borders. Russia already countered the US's "negative" offer not to put missles on their borders with a "negative" offer of their own. But the expansion of America's corporate empire up to Russia's border has not gone unanswered. Russia has significantly expanded their efforts to project military and diplomatic power in the post-Soviet states, the Middle-East, and the world.

New Global Balance of Power Rising

Russia is broadly rearming in response to our provocations. Russia has taken up new regional and global relationships and policies in responce to our Empire's widespread aggressions.

Regionally, in the post-Soviet regions and Europe, Russia has suspended compliance with the treaty limiting ground forces in Europe, has deployed new sophisticated missiles in Western Russia targeted on European capitols, and announced a pre-emptive nuclear strike policy to match ours. In their South, Russia has just paid Kyrgyzstan to remove our airbase there that is vital to supplying our failed war in Afghanistan, and has denied NATO allies use of the facilities as well.

In the Middle-East, Russia has provided Iran with a strategic mutual-defense treaty, serious political support, nuclear technology, and their most advanced anti-aircraft weapons. Russia has reestablished a strong diplomatic beach head in the Middle-East through their strong relationship with Iran. Russia will not abandon this position.

Globally, Russia has provocativly restarted strategic nuclear bomber flights and global and regional blue-water naval patrols. Russia has established deep economic relationships with China, based on long-term energy deals that diffused their traditional border conflicts. Russia is arming and equiping Venesuela and is once again supporting Cuba. In other words, Russia has responded very strongly, and very successfully, to the expansion of America's Corporate Empire in their backyard, the Middle-East, and the world.

Now we are experiencing the fun of watching the Empiric Contest beween the declining West and the Newly-Rising Russians once again emerge in the Balkans, the Black Sea, and the Baltics.

Fri 3-6-09: This is still a working draft

Top of Page



The Rise of Russia: Russia will have Black Sea Access, and World Power, alex wierbinski, August 10, 2008

Bush Gives Russia every Reason to ReArm, alex, 3-5-07

Who's to Blame for Russia? wp, 3-12-07


Russia Rejected Western Style Corporate dominated State: What's Next? Putin's Choice, alex, 4-27-07


Balkan Conflict Looms between US and Russia, alex, 7-20-07

Russia-China and the rise of a New World Balance of Power, Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., August 27, 2007


Putin has made his choice, alex, 11-13-07


Russia, the Black Sea, and the American Corporate Empire Russian Bear Awake, al, 8-15-08

Russia will have access to the Black Sea, alex, aug 10, '08


All Russia Links


The Corruption Database

Search terms: Russia, Iran

Does this tick you off? Make you happy? Want to do something about it? You can speak your mind, or join us to curb bribery at our political reform site:

Blog it

("blog it" opens a blog text box on NextRevolution.Org. Soon, it will drag over the article link and title, and be linkable from here. Anyone a PHP expert?)



All Archives

Top of Page

4) The Article linked below was Abstracted from the source cited.

Financial reports show 5 biggest banks face huge loss risk

mcclatchy, 3-9-09


WASHINGTON — America's five largest banks, which already have received $145 billion in taxpayer bailout dollars, still face potentially catastrophic losses from exotic investments if economic conditions substantially worsen, their latest financial reports show.

Citibank, Bank of America, HSBC Bank USA, Wells Fargo Bank and J.P. Morgan Chase reported that their "current" net loss risks from derivatives — insurance-like bets tied to a loan or other underlying asset — surged to $587 billion as of Dec. 31. Buried in end-of-the-year regulatory reports that McClatchy has reviewed, the figures reflect a jump of 49 percent in just 90 days.

The disclosures underscore the challenges that the banks face as they struggle to navigate through a deepening recession in which all types of loan defaults are soaring.

The banks' potentially huge losses, which could be contained if the economy quickly recovers, also shed new light on the hurdles that President Barack Obama's economic team must overcome to save institutions it deems too big to fail.

While the potential loss totals include risks reported by Wachovia Bank, which Wells Fargo agreed to acquire in October, they don't reflect another Pandora's Box: the impact of Bank of America's Jan. 1 acquisition of tottering investment bank Merrill Lynch, a major derivatives dealer.

Federal regulators portray the potential loss figures as worst-case. However, the risks of these off-balance sheet investments, once thought minimal, have risen sharply as the U.S. has fallen into the steepest economic downturn since World War II, and the big banks' share prices have plummeted to unimaginable lows.

With 12.5 million Americans unemployed and consumer spending in a freefall, fears are rising that a spate of corporate bankruptcies could deliver a new, crippling blow to major banks. Because of the trading in derivatives, corporate bankruptcies could cause a chain reaction that deprives the banks of hundreds of billions of dollars in insurance they bought on risky debt or forces them to shell out huge sums to cover debt they guaranteed.

The biggest concerns are the banks' holdings of contracts known as credit-default swaps, which can provide insurance against defaults on loans such as subprime mortgages or guarantee actual payments for borrowers who walk away from their debts.

The banks' credit-default swap holdings, with face values in the trillions of dollars, are "a ticking time bomb, and how bad it gets is going to depend on how bad the economy gets," said Christopher Whalen, a managing director of Institutional Risk Analytics, a company that grades banks on their degree of loss risk from complex investments.

J.P. Morgan is credited with launching the credit-default market and is one of the most sophisticated players. It remains highly profitable, even after acquiring the remains of failed investment banker dealer Bear Stearns, and says it has limited its exposure. The New York-based bank, however, also has received $25 billion in federal bailout money.

Gary Kopff, president of Everest Management and an expert witness in shareholder suits against banks, has scrutinized the big banks' financial reports. He noted that Citibank now lists 60 percent of its $301 billion in potential losses from its wheeling and dealing in derivatives in the highest-risk category, up from 40 percent in early 2007. Citibank is a unit of New York-based Citigroup. In Monday trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Citigroup shares closed at $1.05.

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett, a revered financial guru and America's second wealthiest person after Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, ominously warned that derivatives "are dangerous" in a February letter to his company's shareholders. In it, he confessed that he cost his company hundreds of millions of dollars when he bought a re-insurance company burdened with bad derivatives bets.

These instruments, he wrote, "have made it almost impossible for investors to understand and analyze our largest commercial banks and investment banks . . . When I read the pages of 'disclosure' in (annual reports) of companies that are entangled with these instruments, all I end up knowing is that I don't know what is going on in their portfolios. And then I reach for some aspirin."

Most of the banks declined to comment, but Bank of America spokeswoman Eloise Hale said: "We do not believe our derivative exposure is a threat to the bank's solvency."

While Bank of America advised shareholders that its risks from these instruments are no more $13.5 billion, Wachovia last year similarly said it could overcome major risks. In reporting a $707 million first-quarter loss, Wachovia acknowledged that it faced heavy subprime mortgage risks, but said it was "well positioned" with "strong capital and liquidity." Within months, losses mushroomed and Wachovia submitted to a takeover by Wells Fargo, which soon got $25 billion in federal bailout money.

Trading in credit-default contracts has sparked investor fears because they are bought and sold in a murky, private market that is largely out of the reach of federal regulators. No one, except those holding the instruments, knows who owes what to whom. Not even banks and insurers can accurately calculate their risks.

"I don't trust any numbers on them," said David Wyss, the chief economist for the New York credit-rating agency Standard & Poor's.

The risks of these below-the-radar insurance policies became abundantly clear last September with the collapse of investment banker Lehman Brothers and global insurer American International Group, both major swap dealers. Their insolvencies threatened to zero out the value of billions of dollars in contracts held by banks and others.

Until then, "we assumed everyone makes good on the contracts," said Vincent Reinhart, a former top economist for the Federal Reserve Board.

Lehman's and AIG's failures put in doubt their guarantees on hundred of billions of dollars in contracts and unleashed a global pullback from risk, leading to the current credit crunch.

The government has since committed $182 billion to rescue AIG and, indirectly, investors on the other end of the firm's swap contracts. AIG posted a fourth quarter 2008 loss last week of more than $61 billion, the worst quarterly performance in U.S. corporate history.

The five major banks, which account for more than 95 percent of U.S. banks' trading in this array of complex derivatives, declined to say how much of the AIG bailout money flowed to them to make good on these contracts.

Banking industry officials stress that most of the exotic trades are less risky — such as interest-rate swaps, in which a bank might have tried to limit potential losses by trading the variable rate interest of one loan for the fixed-rate interest of another.

In their annual reports to shareholders, the banks say that parties insuring credit-default swaps or other derivatives are required to post substantial cash collateral.

However, even after subtracting collateralized risks, the banks' collective exposure is "a big, big number" and a matter for concern, said a senior official in a banking regulatory agency, speaking on condition of anonymity because agency policy restricts public comments.

In their reports, the banks said that their net current risks and potential future losses from derivatives surpass $1.2 trillion. The potential near-term losses of $587 billion easily exceed the banks' combined $497 billion in so-called "risk-based capital," the assets they hold in reserve for disaster scenarios.

Four of the banks' reserves already have been augmented by taxpayer bailout money, topped by Citibank — $50 billion — and Bank of America — $45 billion, plus a $100 billion loan guarantee.

The banks' quarterly financial reports show that as of Dec. 31:

_ J.P. Morgan had potential current derivatives losses of $241.2 billion, outstripping its $144 billion in reserves, and future exposure of $299 billion.

_ Citibank had potential current losses of $140.3 billion, exceeding its $108 billion in reserves, and future losses of $161.2 billion.

_ Bank of America reported $80.4 billion in current exposure, below its $122.4 billion reserve, but $218 billion in total exposure.

_ HSBC Bank USA had current potential losses of $62 billion, more than triple its reserves, and potential total exposure of $95 billion.

_ San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, which agreed to take over Charlotte-based Wachovia in October, reported current potential losses totaling nearly $64 billion, below the banks' combined reserves of $104 billion, but total future risks of about $109 billion.

Kopff, the bank shareholders' expert, said that several of the big banks' risks are so large that they are "dead men walking."

The banks' credit-default portfolios have gotten little scrutiny because they're off-the-books entries that are largely unregulated. However, government officials said in late February that federal examiners would review the top 19 banks' swap exposures in the coming weeks as part of "stress tests" to evaluate the institutions' ability to withstand further deterioration in the economy.

Representatives for Citibank, J.P. Morgan and Wells Fargo declined to comment.

Hale, the Bank of America spokeswoman, said that the bank uses swaps as insurance against its loan portfolio — they "gain value when the loans they are hedging lose value."

She said that Bank of America requires thousands of parties that are guarantors on these insurance-like contracts to post "the most secure collateral — cash and U.S. Treasuries, minimizing risk roughly 35 percent." The collateral is adjusted daily.

Bank of America's report of an $80.4 billion exposure doesn't count the collateral and "also assumes the default of each of the thousands of counterparty customers, which isn't likely," Hale said. Counterparties are the investors on the other side of the deal, often other banks or investment banks.

In response to questions from McClatchy, HSBC spokesman Neil Brazil said that the bank closely manages its derivatives contracts "to ensure that credit risks are assessed accurately, approved properly (and) monitored regularly."


Top of Page

What's Really Going on Here??


Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., June, 2008

Top of Page


The Corruption Database

Does this tick you off? Make you happy? Want to do something about it? You can speak your mind, or join us to curb bribery at our political reform site:

Blog it

("blog it" opens a blog text box on NextRevolution.Org. Soon, it will drag over the article link and title, and be linkable from here. Anyone a PHP expert?)


All Archives

Top of Page

5) The Article linked below was Abstracted from the source cited.

O.C. Reps campaign cash tied to embattled lobbyist

oc register, 3-13-09

Virtually every member of Congress- including Orange County’s six House members and California’s two senators – have shared in $40 million that an embattled Washington lobbying firm and its clients have contributed to lawmakers since 1998.

And the biggest O.C. winner in this sweepstakes is Rep. Loretta Sanchez.

The firm is the PMA Group, which is the latest Beltway lobbying firm to reportedly be under investigation by the FBI for violating campaign finance laws. The firm’s bread and butter are getting federal earmarks for its clients.

According to a tally by the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign cash watchdog, Sanchez got $277,118 in contributions from Paul Magliocchetti- the founder of PMA , Magliocchetti family members and PMA clients.

And according to a data base posted by Taxpayers for Common Sense, Sanchez got a $3.2 million defense earmark for a PMA client last year. The earmark was for L-3 Communications, a defense contractor with a plant in Anaheim.

And the location of the place getting the earmark, says Sanchez, is why she went to bat for the money.

“Every one of the defense contractors that I support either has a plant in Orange County and I’ve gone to see the technology,’’ Sanchez said, or it’s a larger company that benefits Southern California. Her support for Boeing’s C-17, built in Long Beach, is an example, she said.

This earmark for L-3 Communication is for a new advanced 3-D locator technology that Sanchez said the Navy is real high on.

“Does PMA represent some of these clients and some of these clients gave me contributions? Yes,’’ Sanchez said. But that doesn’t mean, she said, that she doesn’t turn down earmark requests from PMA clients if they don’t pass muster. She has, she said.

Sanchez is the only O.C. member who got an earmark for a PMA client in last year’s defense bill. She’s also the only O.C. member who sits on the Armed Services Committee.

Sanchez says if it turns out that the campaign contributions she got from Magliocchetti and his family – $83,618 according to CRP, - turn out to be tainted, she would probably give that amount to non-profit organization, something lawmakers commonly do in situations like this.

According to CQPolitics,, it wasn’t just Magiliocchetti who gave this money to Sanchez and other lawmakers. It was his ex wife, current wife, son and daughter-in-law. This is a frequent tactic of people who want to skirt the federal contribution limits. Candidates could only accept $2,300 per election up to the last election. Beginning in January the limit was raised to $2,400. The only way to contribute more is to have more people give.

Here’s how much in campaign contributions O.C. other lawmakers have gotten from PMA and/or its clients since 1998:

Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona. $191,000 ( Calvert was a member of the Armed Services Committee until the last Congress when he moved to Appropriations); Rep. Ed Royce, R-Fullerton, $37,050; Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach; $31,700; Rep. Gary Miller, R-Diamond Bar, and Rep. John Campbell, who has only been in office since 2006, $10,950.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has gotten $244,589 and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., received $46,850 in PMA-related contributions.


Top of Page

What's Really Going on Here??


Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., June, 2008

Top of Page


all california links

budget crisis links

The Corruption Database

Does this tick you off? Make you happy? Want to do something about it? You can speak your mind, or join us to curb bribery at our political reform site:

Blog it

("blog it" opens a blog text box on NextRevolution.Org. Soon, it will drag over the article link and title, and be linkable from here. Anyone a PHP expert?)



All Archives

Top of Page

6) The Article linked below was Abstracted from the source cited.

No need for Musharraf to step down now: Hillary

dawn, 21-31-07


By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON, Dec 30: Leading US presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday rejected the call for President Pervez Musharraf to step down, but said he should fulfil the promises he has made over the years.

“I am not calling for him to step down,” she said in an interview to ABC News.

“I am calling for him, number one to agree with an independent investigation of Benazir Bhutto’s death (and) to hold free and fair elections with independent monitors.”

Ms Clinton said that if President Musharraf were to step down at this point, it may create a difficult situation.

“Who would take his place, how would that ever be worked out?” she asked. “This is not a country which has a history of peaceful successions.”

Instead, Ms Clinton placed the onus on President Musharraf, saying that this was an opportunity for him to “step up and actually fulfil many of the words and promises that he has made to me and to others over the course a number of years.”

Earlier, while addressing an election rally in Iowa, Ms Clinton raised the possibility that the Pakistani establishment may have also been involved in Ms Bhutto’s assassination.

Ms Clinton’s remarks followed Islamabad’s rejection of a call for an independent international investigation of the murder that she and another US presidential candidate John Edwards proposed on Friday.

During a question-and-answer session at an elementary school in Iowa on Saturday afternoon, Ms Clinton offered a detailed prescription for Pakistan’s troubles, suggesting that the US divert aid away from its military to social welfare programs.“I’d like to see more of our aid shifted toward building civil society. I’ve been calling for this. I have legislation that is bi-partisan, Education for All that is particularly aimed,” she said.

And for the second time in as many days, Ms Clinton cast doubt on Islamabad’s contention that the suicide bombing that led to the death of the country’s most popular opposition leader was masterminded by Al Qaeda.

“I call on President Musharraf and the Pakistani government to realize that this is in the interests of Pakistan to understand whether or not it was Al Qaeda or some other offshoot extremist group that is attempting to further destabilize and even overthrow the Pakistani government,” she said, “or whether it came from within, either explicitly or implicitly, the security forces or the military in Pakistan.”

In August, Ms Clinton’s aides accused rival presidential candidate Barack Obama of helping to destabilize the nuclear-armed Pakistan by suggesting he’d deploy US forces in the country to hunt for Osama bin Laden.

On Saturday, however, Ms Clinton also suggested disempowering Pakistan’s “feudal landowning leadership,” who she said were led by President Musharraf, and has protected Al Qaeda to preserve its tenuous grip on power.

In an interview on Friday, Ms Clinton called for an international probe into Ms Bhutto’s assassination, saying “there was no reason to trust the Pakistani government.”

An Interior Ministry spokesman in Islamabad rejected that suggestion, saying, “I think we are capable of handling it.”

Meanwhile, an opinion survey released this weekend show that most Americans believe Ms Clinton is better equipped to deal with the situation confronting a key US ally like Pakistan today.

In her interview to ABC, Ms Clinton was asked if the United States could face the similar situation in Pakistan that it faced in Iran during the Islamic revolution of 1979.

“That is very possible,” she said.


Top of Page

What's Really Going on Here??

clinton history: Servants of Foreign Traitors/American Corporations

Clinton: Pakistani businessman, donor to Dems, returns to U.S. to face charges, lat, May 30, 2007

Hsu fraud supercharged by clinton connection, lat, December 3, 2007

Hillary Clinton

Dem Traitors at it Again: Selling Influence to, and Accepting Bribes From, Foreigners, alex, may 30, 2007

Clinton the Corporate Whore:

At Wal-Mart, Clinton didn't upset any carts, lat, May 19, 2007



The Real Deal:

Democracy threatens US influence in Pakistan, alex, 3-24-08

Top of Page


clinton history: Servants of Foreign Traitors/American Corporations

Hillary Clinton


The Corruption Database

Does this tick you off? Make you happy? Want to do something about it? You can speak your mind, or join us to curb bribery at our political reform site:

Blog it

("blog it" opens a blog text box on NextRevolution.Org. Soon, it will drag over the article link and title, and be linkable from here. Anyone a PHP expert?)


All Archives

Top of Page

7) The Article linked below was Abstracted from the source cited.

Report claims CIA used 'torture'

bbc, 3-16-09

CIA interrogation techniques used on al-Qaeda suspects "constituted torture", according to a leaked report by the international Red Cross.

The findings were based on testimonies by 14 so-called "high-value" detainees who were held in secret CIA prisons.

They were interviewed after being transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2006.

President George W Bush denied torture had happened and President Barack Obama has banned US agents from carrying out such practices.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has an international role in monitoring standards for prisoners and trying to ensure compliance by governments with the Geneva Conventions.

It was denied access to the prisoners until their transfer to Guantanamo Bay.

Among those interviewed by the ICRC was the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who said he was told he would be "brought to the verge of death and back".

The ICRC report was obtained by Mark Danner, a US writer, whose account is in the New York Review of Books.

The report was not intended for publication but, as is the procedure in such cases, was given in confidence to the US government.

"For the first time the words are those of the detainees themselves," Mark Danner says in a podcast attached to his story.

'Breaking point'

The report's table of contents lists the methods the prisoners told the ICRC they had endured.

Taken overall they constitute an attempt to break a prisoner down through sensory deprivation and beatings, none of which is supposed to leave physical damage that can be traced.

The accounts indicate that a combination of methods was used on each prisoner.

The methods listed included: Suffocation by water or waterboarding; prolonged stress standing; beating by use of a collar; confinement in a box; prolonged nudity; sleep deprivation and subjection to noise and cold water; and denial of solid food.

"They never used the word 'torture'... only to 'hard time'," Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is quoted as saying.

"I was never threatened with death, in fact I was told that they would not allow me to die, but that I would be brought to the 'verge of death and back again'."

He said he underwent waterboarding five times: "A cloth would be placed over my face, cold water from a bottle kept in a fridge was then poured onto the cloth by one of the guards so I could not breathe."

He said a clip was put on his finger to monitor his pulse "so they could take me to the breaking point".

'Minimise physical damage'

Another prisoner Abu Zubaydah was apparently the first to be subjected to this "alternative set of procedures".

He said: "I was told... that I was one of the first to receive those interrogation techniques, so no rules applied."

In his case, there was a variation apparently not used subsequently.

and later into a smaller one in which he had to crouch, causing a wound on his leg to start bleeding.

He also had a towel tied round his neck with which his interrogators would slam him against a wall, which had plywood attached to it.

Mr Danner surmised this was to minimise the physical damage caused to him.

With other prisoners this towel became a plastic collar used with the same effect.


President Bush acknowledged that, as he put it, an "alternative set of procedures" had been used on some prisoners but he denied this meant they had been tortured, which is outlawed by an international convention.

"The United States does not torture," President Bush said in September 2006. That was after the techniques described had been used.

The Bush administration developed a legal protection, under which the definition of torture was narrowed to exclude the methods described.

Mr Danner says the ICRC report now presents a "clear contradiction" of that position and that "this contradiction needs to be worked out".

Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the US's Senate Judiciary Committee, has proposed that former officials be given immunity in return for evidence.

Human rights groups want accountability.

President Obama has spoken of "looking forwards". He has also banned the use of the techniques by all US agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which had been given special dispensation by the Bush administration.

The ICRC has said that it regrets the publication of the information attributed to its report.


There has been a counter attack by former Vice President Dick Cheney, who once said that the use of waterboarding had been, for him, a "no-brainer".

He accused President Obama of "making choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack".

Some have questioned the value of the intelligence gained from harsh techniques.

Mr Cheney said: "I think those programmes were absolutely essential to the success we enjoyed of being able to collect the intelligence that let us defeat all further attempts to launch attacks against the United States after 9/11."

Top of Page

What's Really Going on Here??

Bush Traitor against Duty to Constitution and Country, Threat to World, Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., August 7, 2007

The White House directly participated in torture sessions, committee, April 10, 2008

Top of Page



US terror/torture links

US terror/torture analysis


The Corruption Database


Does this tick you off? Make you happy? Want to do something about it? You can speak your mind, or join us to curb bribery at our political reform site:

Blog it

("blog it" opens a blog text box on NextRevolution.Org. Soon, it will drag over the article link and title, and be linkable from here. Anyone a PHP expert?)




All Archives

Top of Page

8) The Article linked below was Abstracted from the source cited.

US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites

New York Review of Books April 9, 2009

ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen "High Value Detainees" in CIA Custody by the International Committee of the Red Cross

43 pp., February 2007

Press release and contact information We need to get to the bottom of what happened—and why—so we make sure it never happens again.[1] —Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee

We need to get to the bottom of what happened—and why—so we make sure it never happens again.[1] —Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee 1.

We think time and elections will cleanse our fallen world but they will not. Since November, George W. Bush and his administration have seemed to be rushing away from us at accelerating speed, a dark comet hurtling toward the ends of the universe. The phrase "War on Terror"—the signal slogan of that administration, so cherished by the man who took pride in proclaiming that he was "a wartime president"—has acquired in its pronouncement a permanent pair of quotation marks, suggesting something questionable, something mildly embarrassing: something past. And yet the decisions that that president made, especially the monumental decisions taken after the attacks of September 11, 2001—decisions about rendition, surveillance, interrogation—lie strewn about us still, unclaimed and unburied, like corpses freshly dead.

How should we begin to talk about this? Perhaps with a story. Stories come to us newborn, announcing their intent: Once upon a time... In the beginning... From such signs we learn how to listen to what will come. Consider: I woke up, naked, strapped to a bed, in a very white room. The room measured approximately 4m x 4m [13 feet by 13 feet]. The room had three solid walls, with the fourth wall consisting of metal bars separating it from a larger room. I am not sure how long I remained in the bed....

A man, unnamed, naked, strapped to a bed, and for the rest, the elemental facts of space and of time, nothing but whiteness.

The storyteller is very much a man of our time. Early on in the "War on Terror," in the spring of 2002, he entered the dark realm of "the disappeared"—and only four and a half years later, when he and thirteen other "high-value detainees" arrived at Guantánamo and told their stories in interviews with representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (reported in the confidential document listed above) did he emerge partly into the light. Indeed, he is a famous man, though his fame has followed a certain path, peculiar to our modern age: jihadist, outlaw, terrorist, "disappeared." An international celebrity whose name, one of them anyway, is instantly recognizable. How many people have their lives described by the president of the United States in a nationally televised speech? Within months of September the 11th, 2001, we captured a man known as Abu Zubaydah. We believe that Zubaydah was a senior terrorist leader and a trusted associate of Osama bin Laden.... Zubaydah was severely wounded during the firefight that brought him into custody—and he survived only because of the medical care arranged by the CIA.[2]

A dramatic story: big news. Wounded in a firefight in Faisalabad, Pakistan, shot in the stomach, groin, and thigh after jumping from a roof in a desperate attempt to escape. Massive bleeding. Rushed to a military hospital in Lahore. A trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins awakened by a late-night telephone call from the director of central intelligence and flown in great secrecy to the other side of the world. The wounded man barely escapes death, slowly stabilizes, is shipped secretly to a military base in Thailand. Thence to another base in Afghanistan. Or was it Afghanistan?

W e don't know, not definitively. For from the moment of his dramatic capture, on March 28, 2002, the man known as Abu Zubaydah slipped from one clandestine world, that of al-Qaeda officials gone to ground in the days after September 11, into another, a "hidden global internment network" intended for secret detention and interrogation and set up by the Central Intelligence Agency under authority granted directly by President George W. Bush in a "memorandum of understanding" signed on September 17, 2001.

This secret system included prisons on military bases around the world, from Thailand and Afghanistan to Morocco, Poland, and Romania—"at various times," reportedly, "sites in eight countries"—into which, at one time or another, more than one hundred prisoners...disappeared.[3] The secret internment network of "black sites" had its own air force and its own distinctive "transfer procedures," which were, according to the writers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) report, "fairly standardised in most cases": The detainee would be photographed, both clothed and naked prior to and again after transfer. A body cavity check (rectal examination) would be carried out and some detainees alleged that a suppository (the type and the effect of such suppositories was unknown by the detainees), was also administered at that moment. The detainee would be made to wear a diaper and dressed in a tracksuit. Earphones would be placed over his ears, through which music would sometimes be played. He would be blindfolded with at least a cloth tied around the head and black goggles. In addition, some detainees alleged that cotton wool was also taped over their eyes prior to the blindfold and goggles being applied.... The detainee would be shackled by [the] hands and feet and transported to the airport by road and loaded onto a plane. He would usually be transported in a reclined sitting position with his hands shackled in front. The journey times...ranged from one hour to over twenty-four to thirty hours. The detainee was not allowed to go to the toilet and if necessary was obliged to urinate and defecate into the diaper.

One works the imagination trying to picture what it was like in this otherworldly place: blackness in place of vision. Silence—or "sometimes" loud music—in place of sounds of life. Shackles, together sometimes with gloves, in place of the chance to reach, touch, feel. One senses metal on wrist and ankle, cotton against eyes, cloth across face, shit and piss against skin. On "some occasions detainees were transported lying flat on the floor of the plane...with their hands cuffed behind their backs," causing them "severe pain and discomfort," as they were moved from one unknown location to another.

For his part, Abu Zubaydah—thirty-one years old, born Zein al-Abedeen Mohammad Hassan, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, though coming of Palestinian stock, from the Gaza Strip— alleged that during one transfer operation the blindfold was tied very tightly resulting in wounds to his nose and ears. He does not know how long the transfer took but, prior to the transfer, he reported being told by his detaining authorities that he would be going on a journey that would last twenty-four to thirty hours.

A long trip then: perhaps to Guantánamo? Or Morocco? Then back, apparently, to Thailand. Or was it Afghanistan? He thinks the latter but can't be sure.... 2.

All classified, compartmentalized, deeply, deeply secret. And yet what is "secret" exactly? In our recent politics, "secret" has become an oddly complex word. From whom was "the secret bombing of Cambodia" secret? Not from the Cambodians, surely. From whom was the existence of these "secret overseas facilities" secret? Not from the terrorists, surely. From Americans, presumably. On the other hand, as early as 2002, anyone interested could read on the front page of one of the country's leading newspapers: US Decries Abuse but Defends Interrogations: "Stress and Duress" Tactics Used on Terrorism Suspects Held in Secret Overseas Facilities Deep inside the forbidden zone at the US-occupied Bagram air base in Afghanistan, around the corner from the detention center and beyond the segregated clandestine military units, sits a cluster of metal shipping containers protected by a triple layer of concertina wire. The containers hold the most valuable prizes in the war on terrorism—captured al Qaeda operatives and Taliban commanders.... "If you don't violate someone's human rights some of the time, you probably aren't doing your job," said one official who has supervised the capture and transfer of accused terrorists. "I don't think we want to be promoting a view of zero tolerance on this. That was the whole problem for a long time with the CIA...."

This lengthy article, by Dana Priest and Barton Gellman, appeared in The Washington Post on December 26, 2002, only months after the capture of Abu Zubaydah. A similarly lengthy report followed a few months later on the front page of The New York Times ("Interrogations: Questioning Terror Suspects in a Dark and Surreal World"). The blithe, aggressive tone of the officials quoted—"We don't kick the [expletive] out of them. We send them to other countries so they can kick the [expletive] out of them"—bespeaks a very different political temper, one in which a prominent writer in a national newsmagazine could headline his weekly column "Time to Think About Torture," noting in his subtitle that in this "new world...survival might well require old techniques that seemed out of the question."[4]

So there are secrets and secrets. And when, on a bright sunny day two years ago, just before the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the President of the United States strode into the East Room of the White House and informed the high officials, dignitaries, and specially invited September 11 survivor families gathered in rows before him that the United States government had created a dark and secret universe to hold and interrogate captured terrorists—or, in the President's words, "an environment where they can be held secretly [and] questioned by experts"—he was not telling a secret but instead converting a known and well-reported fact into an officially confirmed truth: In addition to the terrorists held at Guantánamo, a small number of suspected terrorist leaders and operatives captured during the war have been held and questioned outside the United States, in a separate program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency.... Many specifics of this program, including where these detainees have been held and the details of their confinement, cannot be divulged.... We knew that Abu Zubaydah had more information that could save innocent lives, but he stopped talking.... And so the CIA used an alternative set of procedures. These procedures were designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution, and our treaty obligations. The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively and determined them to be lawful. I cannot describe the specific methods used—I think you understand why....

I was watching the live broadcast that day and I remember the uncanny feeling that came over me as, having heard the President explain the virtues of this "alternative set of procedures," I watched him stare straight into the camera and with fierce concentration and exaggerated emphasis intone once more: "The United States does not torture. It's against our laws, and it's against our values. I have not authorized it—and I will not authorize it." He had convinced himself, I thought, of the truth of what he said.

This speech, though not much noticed at the time, will stand, I believe, as George W. Bush's most important: perhaps the only "historic" speech he ever gave. In telling his version of Abu Zubaydah's story, and versions of the stories of Khaled Shaik Mohammed and others, the President took hold of many things that were already known but not acknowledged and, by means of the alchemical power of the leader's voice, transformed them into acknowledged facts. He also, in his fervent defense of his government's "alternative set of procedures" and his equally fervent denials that they constituted "torture," set out before the country and the world the dark moral epic of the Bush administration, in the coils of whose contradictions we find ourselves entangled still. Later that month, Congress, facing the midterm elections, duly passed the President's Military Commissions Act of 2006, which, among other things, sought to shelter from prosecution those who had applied the "alternative set of procedures" and had done so, said the President, "in a thorough and professional way."

A t the same time, perhaps unwittingly, President Bush made it possible that day for those on whom the "alternative set of procedures" were performed eventually to speak. Even as the President set out before the country his version of what had happened to Abu Zubaydah and the others and argued for its necessity, he announced that he would bring him and thirteen of his fellow "high-value detainees" out of the dark world of the disappeared and into the light. Or, rather, into the twilight: the fourteen would be transferred to Guantánamo, the main acknowledged offshore prison, where—"as soon as Congress acts to authorize the military commissions I have proposed"—they "can face justice." In the meantime, though, the fourteen would be "held in a high-security facility at Guantánamo" and the International Committee of the Red Cross would be "advised of their detention, and will have the opportunity to meet with them."

A few weeks later, from October 6 to 11 and then from December 4 to 14, 2006, officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross—among whose official and legally recognized duties is to monitor compliance with the Geneva Conventions and to supervise treatment of prisoners of war—traveled to Guantánamo and began interviewing "each of these persons in private" in order to produce a report that would "provide a description of the treatment and material conditions of detention of the fourteen during the period they were held in the CIA detention program," periods ranging "from 16 months to almost four and a half years."

As the ICRC interviewers informed the detainees, their report was not intended to be released to the public but, "to the extent that each detainee agreed for it to be transmitted to the authorities," to be given in strictest secrecy to officials of the government agency that had been in charge of holding them—in this case the Central Intelligence Agency, to whose acting general counsel, John Rizzo, the report was sent on February 14, 2007. Indeed, though almost all of the information in the report has names attached, and though annexes contain extended narratives drawn from interviews with three of the detainees, whose names are used, we do find a number of times in the document variations of this formula: "One of the detainees who did not wish his name to be transmitted to the authorities alleged..."—suggesting that at least one and perhaps more than one of the fourteen, who are, after all, still "held in a high-security facility at Guantánamo," worried about repercussions that might come from what he had said.

In virtually all such cases, the allegations made are echoed by other, named detainees; indeed, since the detainees were kept "in continuous solitary confinement and incommunicado detention" throughout their time in "the black sites," and were kept strictly separated as well when they reached Guantánamo, the striking similarity in their stories, even down to small details, would seem to make fabrication extremely unlikely, if not impossible. "The ICRC wishes to underscore," as the writers tell us in the introduction, "that the consistency of the detailed allegations provided separately by each of the fourteen adds particular weight to the information provided below."

T he result is a document—labeled "confidential" and clearly intended only for the eyes of those senior American officials to whom the CIA's Mr. Rizzo would show it—that tells a certain kind of story, a narrative of what happened at "the black sites" and a detailed description, by those on whom they were practiced, of what the President of the United States described to Americans as an "alternative set of procedures." It is a document for its time, literally "impossible to put down," from its opening page—

Contents Introduction 1. Main Elements of the CIA Detention Program 1.1 Arrest and Transfer 1.2 Continuous Solitary Confinement and Incommunicado Detention 1.3 Other Methods of Ill-treatment 1.3.1 Suffocation by water 1.3.2 Prolonged Stress Standing 1.3.3 Beatings by use of a collar 1.3.4 Beating and kicking 1.3.5 Confinement in a box 1.3.6 Prolonged nudity 1.3.7 Sleep deprivation and use of loud music 1.3.8 Exposure to cold temperature/cold water 1.3.9 Prolonged use of handcuffs and shackles 1.3.10 Threats 1.3.11 Forced shaving 1.3.12 Deprivation/restricted provision of solid food 1.4 Further elements of the detention regime....

—to its stark and unmistakable conclusion: The allegations of ill-treatment of the detainees indicate that, in many cases, the ill-treatment to which they were subjected while held in the CIA program, either singly or in combination, constituted torture. In addition, many other elements of the ill-treatment, either singly or in combination, constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Such unflinching clarity, from the body legally charged with overseeing compliance with the Geneva Conventions—in which the terms "torture" and "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" are accorded a strictly defined legal meaning—couldn't be more significant, or indeed more welcome after years in which the President of the United States relied on the power of his office either to redefine or to obfuscate what are relatively simple words. "This debate is occurring," as President Bush told reporters in the Rose Garden the week after he delivered his East Room speech, because of the Supreme Court's ruling that said that we must conduct ourselves under the Common Article III of the Geneva Convention. And that Common Article III says that, you know, there will be no outrages upon human dignity. It's like—it's very vague. What does that mean, "outrages upon human dignity"?[5]

In allowing Abu Zubaydah and the other thirteen "high-value detainees" to tell their own stories, this report manages to answer, with great power and authority, the President's question. 3.

We return to a man, Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian who, in his thirty-one years, has lived a life shaped by conflicts on the edge of the American consciousness: the Gaza Strip, where his parents were born; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he apparently first saw the light of day; Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, where he took part in the jihad against the Russians, perhaps with the help, directly or indirectly, of American dollars; then, post-Soviet Afghanistan, where he ran al-Qaeda logistics and recruitment, directing aspiring jihadists to the various training camps, placing them in cells after they'd been trained. The man has been captured now: traced to a safe house in Faisalabad, gravely wounded by three shots from an AK-47. He is rushed to the Faisalabad hospital, then to the military hospital at Lahore. When he opens his eyes he finds at his bedside an American, John Kiriakou of the CIA: I asked him in Arabic what his name was. And he shook his head. And I asked him again in Arabic. And then he answered me in English. And he said that he would not speak to me in God's language. And then I said, "That's okay. We know who you are." And then he asked me to smother him with a pillow. And I said, "No, no. We have plans for you."[6]

Kiriakou and the "small group of CIA and FBI people who just kept 24/7 eyes on him" knew that in Abu Zubaydah they had "the biggest fish that we had caught. We knew he was full of information...and we wanted to get it." According to Kiriakou, on a table in the house where they found him "Abu Zubaydah and two other men were building a bomb. The soldering [iron] was still hot. And they had plans for a school on the table...." The plans, Kiriakou told ABC News correspondent Brian Ross, were for the British school in Lahore. Their prisoner, they knew, was "very current. On top of the current threat information."

With the help of the American trauma surgeon, Abu Zubaydah's captors nursed him back to health. He was moved at least twice, first, reportedly, to Thailand; then, he believes, to Afghanistan, probably Bagram. In a safe house in Thailand the interrogation began: I woke up, naked, strapped to a bed, in a very white room. The room measured approximately [13 feet by 13 feet]. The room had three solid walls, with the fourth wall consisting of metal bars separating it from a larger room. I am not sure how long I remained in the bed. After some time, I think it was several days, but can't remember exactly, I was transferred to a chair where I was kept, shackled by [the] hands and feet for what I think was the next 2 to 3 weeks. During this time I developed blisters on the underside of my legs due to the constant sitting. I was only allowed to get up from the chair to go [to] the toilet, which consisted of a bucket. Water for cleaning myself was provided in a plastic bottle. I was given no solid food during the first two or three weeks, while sitting on the chair. I was only given Ensure [a nutrient supplement] and water to drink. At first the Ensure made me vomit, but this became less with time. The cell and room were air-conditioned and were very cold. Very loud, shouting type music was constantly playing. It kept repeating about every fifteen minutes twenty-four hours a day. Sometimes the music stopped and was replaced by a loud hissing or crackling noise. The guards were American, but wore masks to conceal their faces. My interrogators did not wear masks. During this first two to three week period I was questioned for about one to two hours each day. American interrogators would come to the room and speak to me through the bars of the cell. During the questioning the music was switched off, but was then put back on again afterwards. I could not sleep at all for the first two to three weeks. If I started to fall asleep one of the guards would come and spray water in my face.

A naked man chained in a small, very cold, very white room is for several days strapped to a bed, then for several weeks shackled to a chair, bathed unceasingly in white light, bombarded constantly with loud sound, deprived of food; and whenever, despite cold, light, noise, hunger, the hours and days force his eyelids down, cold water is sprayed in his face to force them up.

O ne can translate these procedures into terms of art: "Change of Scenery Down." "Removal of Clothing." "Use of Stress Positions." "Dietary Manipulation." "Environmental Manipulation." "Sleep Adjustment." "Isolation." "Sleep Deprivation." "Use of Noise to Induce Stress." All these terms and many others can be found, for example, in documents associated with the debate about interrogation and "counter-resistance" carried on by Pentagon and Justice Department officials beginning in 2002. Here, however, we find a different standard: the Working Group says, for example, that "Sleep Deprivation" is "not to exceed 4 days in succession," that "Dietary Manipulation" should include "no intended deprivation of food or water," that "removal of clothing," while "creating a feeling of helplessness and dependence," must be "monitored to ensure the environmental conditions are such that this technique does not injure the detainee."[7] Here we are in a different place.

But what place? Abu Zubaydah was not only the "biggest fish that we had caught" but the first big fish. According to Kiriakou, Zubaydah, as he recovered, had "wanted to talk about current events. He told us a couple of times that he had nothing personal against the United States.... He said that 9/11 was necessary. That although he didn't think that there would be such a massive loss of life, his view was that 9/11 was supposed to be a wake-up call to the United States."

In those initial weeks of healing, before the white room and the chair and the light, Zubaydah seems to have talked freely with his captors, and during this time, according to news reports, FBI agents began to question him using "standard interview techniques," ensuring that he was bathed and his bandages changed, urging improved medical care, and trying to "convince him they knew details of his activities." (They showed him, for example, a "box of blank audiotapes which they said contained recordings of his phone conversations, but were actually empty.") According to this account, Abu Zubaydah, in the initial days before the white room, "began to provide intelligence insights into Al Qaeda."[8]

Or did he? "How Good Is Abu Zubaydah's Information?" asked a Newsweek "Web exclusive" on April 27, 2002, less than a month after his capture. The extreme secrecy and isolation in which Abu Zubaydah was being held, at a location unknown to him and to all but a tiny handful of government officials, did not prevent his "information" being leaked from that unknown place directly into the American press—in the cause, apparently, of a bureaucratic struggle between the FBI and the CIA. Even Americans who were not following closely the battling leaks from Zubaydah's interrogation would have found their lives affected, whether they knew it or not, by what was happening in that faraway white room; for about the same time the Bush administration saw fit to issue two "domestic terrorism warnings," derived from Abu Zubaydah's "tips"—about "possible attacks on banks or financial institutions in the Northeastern United States" and possible "attacks on US supermarkets and shopping malls." As Newsweek learned from a "senior US official," presumably from the FBI—whose "standard interview techniques" had produced that information and the "domestic terrorism warnings" based on it—the prisoner was "providing detailed information for the 'fight against terrorism.'" At the same time, however, "US intelligence sources"—presumably CIA—"wonder whether he's trying to mislead investigators or frighten the American public."[9]

For his part, John Kiriakou, the CIA man, told ABC News that in those early weeks Zubaydah was "willing to talk about philosophy, [but] he was unwilling to give us any actionable intelligence." The CIA officers had the "sweeping classified directive signed by Mr. Bush," giving them authority to "capture, detain and interrogate terrorism suspects," and Zubaydah was "a test case for an evolving new role, which the agency was to act as jailer and interrogator of terrorism suspects." Eventually a team from the CIA's Counterterrorism Center was "sent in from Langley" and the FBI interrogators were withdrawn. We had these trained interrogators who were sent to his location to use the enhanced techniques as necessary to get him to open up, and to report some threat information.... These enhanced techniques included everything from what was called an attention shake, where you grab the person by their lapels and shake them, all the way up to the other end, which is waterboarding.

T hey began, apparently, by shackling him to the chair, and applying light, noise, and water to keep him awake. After two or three weeks of this Abu Zubaydah, still naked and shackled, was allowed to lie on the bare floor and to "sleep a little." He was also given solid food—rice—for the first time. Eventually a doctor, a woman, came and examined him, and "asked why I was still naked." The next day he was "provided with orange clothes to wear." The following day, however, "guards came into my cell. They told me to stand up and raise my arms above my head. They then cut the clothes off of me so that I was again naked and put me back on the chair for several days. I tried to sleep on the chair, but was again kept awake by the guards spraying water in my face."

What follows is a confusing period, in which harsh treatment alternated with more lenient. Zubaydah was mostly naked and cold, "sometimes with the air conditioning adjusted so that, one official said, Mr. Zubayah seemed to turn blue."[10] Sometimes clothing would be brought, then removed the next day. "When my interrogators had the impression that I was cooperating and providing the information they required, the clothes were given back to me. When they felt I was being less cooperative the clothes were again removed and I was again put back on the chair." At one point he was supplied with a mattress, at another he was "allowed some tissue paper to use when going to toilet on the bucket." A month passed with no questioning. "My cell was still very cold and the loud music no longer played but there was a constant loud hissing or crackling noise, which played twenty-four hours a day. I tried to block out the noise by putting tissue in my ears." Then, "about two and half or three months after I arrived in this place, the interrogation began again, but with more intensity than before."

It is difficult to know whether these alterations in attitude and procedure were intended, meant to keep the detainee off-guard, or resulted from disputes about strategy among the interrogators, who were relying on a hastily assembled "alternative set of procedures" that had been improvised from various sources, including scientists and psychiatrists within the intelligence community, experts from other, "friendly" governments, and consultants who had worked with the US military and now "reverse-engineered" the resistance training taught to American elite forces to help them withstand interrogation after capture. The forerunners of some of the theories being applied in these interrogations, involving sensory deprivation, disorientation, guilt and shame, so-called "learned helplessness," and the need to induce "the debility-dependence-dread state," can be found in CIA documents dating back nearly a half-century, such as this from a notorious "counterintelligence interrogation" manual of the early 1960s: The circumstances of detention are arranged to enhance within the subject his feelings of being cut off from the known and the reassuring, and of being plunged into the strange.... Control of the source's environment permits the interrogator to determine his diet, sleep pattern and other fundamentals. Manipulating these into irregularities, so that the subject becomes disorientated, is very likely to create feelings of fear and helplessness.[11]

A later version of the same manual emphasizes the importance of guilt: "If the 'questioner' can intensify these guilt feelings, it will increase the subject's anxiety and his urge to cooperate as a means of escape." Isolation and sensory deprivation will "induce regression" and the "loss of those defenses most recently acquired by civilized man," while the imposition of "stress positions" that in effect force the subject "to harm himself" will produce a guilt leading to an irresistible desire to cooperate with his interrogators. 4.

Two and a half months after Abu Zubaydah woke up strapped to a bed in the white room, the interrogation resumed "with more intensity than before": Two black wooden boxes were brought into the room outside my cell. One was tall, slightly higher than me and narrow. Measuring perhaps in area [3 1/2 by 2 1/2 feet by 6 1/2 feet high]. The other was shorter, perhaps only [3 1/2 feet] in height. I was taken out of my cell and one of the interrogators wrapped a towel around my neck, they then used it to swing me around and smash me repeatedly against the hard walls of the room. I was also repeatedly slapped in the face.... I was then put into the tall black box for what I think was about one and a half to two hours. The box was totally black on the inside as well as the outside.... They put a cloth or cover over the outside of the box to cut out the light and restrict my air supply. It was difficult to breathe. When I was let out of the box I saw that one of the walls of the room had been covered with plywood sheeting. From now on it was against this wall that I was then smashed with the towel around my neck. I think that the plywood was put there to provide some absorption of the impact of my body. The interrogators realized that smashing me against the hard wall would probably quickly result in physical injury.

One is reminded here that Abu Zubaydah was not alone with his interrogators, that everyone in that white room—guards, interrogators, doctor—was in fact linked directly, and almost constantly, to senior intelligence officials on the other side of the world. "It wasn't up to individual interrogators to decide, 'Well, I'm gonna slap him. Or I'm going to shake him. Or I'm gonna make him stay up for 48 hours," said John Kiriakou. Each one of these steps...had to have the approval of the Deputy Director for Operations. So before you laid a hand on him, you had to send in the cable saying, "He's uncooperative. Request permission to do X." And that permission would come.... The cable traffic back and forth was extremely specific. And the bottom line was these were very unusual authorities that the agency got after 9/11. No one wanted to mess them up. No one wanted to get in trouble by going overboard.… No one wanted to be the guy who accidentally did lasting damage to a prisoner.

Smashing against hard walls before Zubaydah enters the tall black coffin-like box; sudden appearance of plywood sheeting affixed to the wall for him to be smashed against when he emerges. Perhaps the deputy director of operations, pondering the matter in his Langley, Virginia, office, suggested the plywood?

Or perhaps it was someone higher up? Shortly after Abu Zubaydah was captured, according to ABC News, CIA officers "briefed high-level officials in the National Security Council's Principals Committee," including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Attorney General John Ashcroft, who "then signed off on the [interrogation] plan." At the time, the spring and summer of 2002, the administration was devising what some referred to as a "golden shield" from the Justice Department—the legal rationale that was embodied in the infamous "torture memorandum," written by John Yoo and signed by Jay Bybee in August 2002, which claimed that for an "alternative procedure" to be considered torture, and thus illegal, it would have to cause pain of the sort "that would be associated with serious physical injury so severe that death, organ failure, or permanent damage resulting in a loss of significant body function will likely result." The "golden shield" presumably would protect CIA officers from prosecution. Still, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet regularly brought directly to the attention of the highest officials of the government specific procedures to be used on specific detainees—"whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subject to simulated drowning"—in order to seek reassurance that they were legal. According to the ABC report, the briefings of principals were so detailed and frequent that "some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed." At one such meeting, John Ashcroft, then attorney general, reportedly demanded of his colleagues, "Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly."[12]

W e do not know if the plywood appeared in Zubaydah's white room thanks to orders from his interrogators, from their bosses at Langley, or perhaps from their superiors in the White House. We don't know the precise parts played by those responsible for "choreographing" the "alternative set of procedures." We do know from several reports that at a White House meeting in July 2002 top administration lawyers gave the CIA "the green light" to move to the "more aggressive techniques" that were applied to him, separately and in combination, during the following days: After the beating I was then placed in the small box. They placed a cloth or cover over the box to cut out all light and restrict my air supply. As it was not high enough even to sit upright, I had to crouch down. It was very difficult because of my wounds. The stress on my legs held in this position meant my wounds both in the leg and stomach became very painful. I think this occurred about 3 months after my last operation. It was always cold in the room, but when the cover was placed over the box it made it hot and sweaty inside. The wound on my leg began to open and started to bleed. I don't know how long I remained in the small box, I think I may have slept or maybe fainted. I was then dragged from the small box, unable to walk properly and put on what looked like a hospital bed, and strapped down very tightly with belts. A black cloth was then placed over my face and the interrogators used a mineral water bottle to pour water on the cloth so that I could not breathe. After a few minutes the cloth was removed and the bed was rotated into an upright position. The pressure of the straps on my wounds was very painful. I vomited. The bed was then again lowered to horizontal position and the same torture carried out again with the black cloth over my face and water poured on from a bottle. On this occasion my head was in a more backward, downwards position and the water was poured on for a longer time. I struggled against the straps, trying to breathe, but it was hopeless. I thought I was going to die. I lost control of my urine. Since then I still lose control of my urine when under stress. I was then placed again in the tall box. While I was inside the box loud music was played again and somebody kept banging repeatedly on the box from the outside. I tried to sit down on the floor, but because of the small space the bucket with urine tipped over and spilt over me.... I was then taken out and again a towel was wrapped around my neck and I was smashed into the wall with the plywood covering and repeatedly slapped in the face by the same two interrogators as before. I was then made to sit on the floor with a black hood over my head until the next session of torture began. The room was always kept very cold. This went on for approximately one week. During this time the whole procedure was repeated five times. On each occasion, apart from one, I was suffocated once or twice and was put in the vertical position on the bed in between. On one occasion the suffocation was repeated three times. I vomited each time I was put in the vertical position between the suffocation. During that week I was not given any solid food. I was only given Ensure to drink. My head and beard were shaved everyday. I collapsed and lost consciousness on several occasions. Eventually the torture was stopped by the intervention of the doctor. I was told during this period that I was one of the first to receive these interrogation techniques, so no rules applied. It felt like they were experimenting and trying out techniques to be used later on other people. 5.

All evidence from the ICRC report suggests that Abu Zubaydah's informant was telling him the truth: he was the first, and, as such, a guinea pig. Some techniques are discarded. The coffin-like black boxes, for example, barely large enough to contain a man, one six feet tall and the other scarcely more than three feet, which seem to recall the sensory-deprivation tanks used in early CIA-sponsored experiments, do not reappear. Neither does the "long-time sitting"—the weeks shackled to a chair—that Abu Zubaydah endured in his first few months.

Nudity, on the other hand, is a constant in the ICRC report, as are permanent shackling, the "cold cell," and the unceasing loud music or noise. Sometimes there is twenty-four-hour light, sometimes constant darkness. Beatings, also, and smashing against the walls seem to be favored procedures; often, the interrogators wear gloves.

In later interrogations new techniques emerge, of which "long-time standing" and the use of cold water are notable. Walid Bin Attash, a Yemeni national involved with planning the attacks on the US embassies in Africa in 1998 and on the USS Cole in 2000, was captured in Karachi on April 29, 2003: On arrival at the place of detention in Afghanistan I was stripped naked. I remained naked for the next two weeks. I was put in a cell measuring approximately [3 1/2 by 6 1/2 feet]. I was kept in a standing position, feet flat on the floor, but with my arms above my head and fixed with handcuffs and a chain to a metal bar running across the width of the cell. The cell was dark with no light, artificial or natural. During the first two weeks I did not receive any food. I was only given Ensure and water to drink. A guard would come and hold the bottle for me while I drank.... The toilet consisted of a bucket in the cell.... I was not allowed to clean myself after using the bucket. Loud music was playing twenty-four hours each day throughout the three weeks I was there.

This "forced standing," with arms shackled above the head, a favorite Soviet technique ( stoika ) that seems to have become standard procedure after Abu Zubaydah, proved especially painful for Bin Attash, who had lost a leg fighting in Afghanistan: After some time being held in this position my stump began to hurt so I removed my artificial leg to relieve the pain. Of course my good leg then began to ache and soon started to give way so that I was left hanging with all my weight on my wrists. I shouted for help but at first nobody came. Finally, after about one hour a guard came and my artificial leg was given back to me and I was again placed in the standing position with my hands above my head. After that the interrogators sometimes deliberately removed my artificial leg in order to add extra stress to the position....

By his account, Bin Attash was kept in this position for two weeks—"apart [from] two or three times when I was allowed to lie down." Though "the methods used were specifically designed not to leave marks," the cuffs eventually "cut into my wrists and made wounds. When this happened the doctor would be called." At a second location, where Bin Attash was again stripped naked and placed "in a standing position with my arms above my head and fixed with handcuffs and a chain to a metal ring in the ceiling," a doctor examined his lower leg every day—"using a tape measure for signs of swelling." I do not remember for exactly how many days I was kept standing, but I think it was about ten days.... During the standing I was made to wear a diaper. However, on some occasions the diaper was not replaced and so I had to urinate and defecate over myself. I was washed down with cold water everyday.

Cold water was used on Bin Attash in combination with beatings and the use of a plastic collar, which seems to have been a refinement of the towel that had been looped around Abu Zubaydah's neck: Every day for the first two weeks I was subjected to slaps to my face and punches to my body during interrogation. This was done by one interrogator wearing gloves.... Also on a daily basis during the first two weeks a collar was looped around my neck and then used to slam me against the walls of the interrogation room. It was also placed around my neck when being taken out of my cell for interrogation and was used to lead me along the corridor. It was also used to slam me against the walls of the corridor during such movements. Also on a daily basis during the first two weeks I was made to lie on a plastic sheet placed on the floor which would then be lifted at the edges. Cold water was then poured onto my body with buckets.... I would be kept wrapped inside the sheet with the cold water for several minutes. I would then be taken for interrogation....

Bin Attash notes that in the "second place of detention"—where he was put in the diaper—"they were rather more sophisticated than in Afghanistan because they had a hose-pipe with which to pour the water over me." 6.

A clear method emerges from these accounts, based on forced nudity, isolation, bombardment with noise and light, deprivation of sleep and food, and repeated beatings and "smashings"—though from this basic model one can see the method evolve, from forced sitting to forced standing, for example, and acquire new elements, like immersion in cold water.

Khaled Shaik Mohammed, the key planner of the September 11 attacks who was captured in Rawalpindi on March 1, 2003—nine of the fourteen "high-value detainees" were apprehended in Pakistan—and, after a two-day detention in Pakistan during which he alleges that a "CIA agent...punched him several times in the stomach, chest and face [and]...threw him on the floor and trod on his face," was sent to Afghanistan using the standard "transfer procedures." ("My eyes were covered with a cloth tied around my head and with a cloth bag pulled over it. A suppository was inserted into my rectum. I was not told what the suppository was for.") In Afghanistan, he was stripped and placed in a small cell, where he "was kept in a standing position with my hands cuffed and chained to a bar above my head. My feet were flat on the floor." After about an hour, I was taken to another room where I was made to stand on tiptoes for about two hours during questioning. Approximately thirteen persons were in the room. These included the head interrogator (a man) and two female interrogators, plus about ten muscle guys wearing masks. I think they were all Americans. From time to time one of the muscle guys would punch me in the chest and stomach.

These "full-dress" interrogations—where the detainee stands naked, on tiptoe, amid a crowd of thirteen people, including "ten muscle guys wearing masks"—were periodically interrupted by the detainee's removal to a separate room for additional procedures: Here cold water from buckets was thrown onto me for about forty minutes. Not constantly as it took time to refill the buckets. After which I would be taken back to the interrogation room. On one occasion during the interrogation I was offered water to drink, when I refused I was again taken to another room where I was made to lie [on] the floor with three persons holding me down. A tube was inserted into my anus and water poured inside. Afterwards I wanted to go to the toilet as I had a feeling as if I had diarrhoea. No toilet access was provided until four hours later when I was given a bucket to use. Whenever I was returned to my cell I was always kept in the standing position with my hands cuffed and chained to a bar above my head.

A fter three days in what he believes was Afghanistan, Mohammed was again dressed in a tracksuit, blindfold, hood, and headphones, and shackled and placed aboard a plane "sitting, leaning back, with my hands and ankles shackled in a high chair." He quickly fell asleep—"the first proper sleep in over five days"—and remains unsure of how long the journey took. On arrival, however, he realized he had come a long way: I could see at one point there was snow on the ground. Everybody was wearing black, with masks and army boots, like Planet-X people. I think the country was Poland. I think this because on one occasion a water bottle was brought to me without the label removed. It had [an] e-mail address ending in ".pl."

He was stripped and put in a small cell "with cameras where I was later informed by an interrogator that I was monitored 24 hours a day by a doctor, psychologist and interrogator." He believes the cell was underground because one had to descend steps to reach it. Its walls were of wood and it measured about ten by thirteen feet.

It was in this place, according to Mohammed, that "the most intense interrogation occurred, led by three experienced CIA interrogators, all over 65 years old and all strong and well trained." They informed him that they had received the "green light from Washington" to give him " a hard time." "They never used the word 'torture' and never referred to 'physical pressure,' only to ' a hard time. ' I was never threatened with death, in fact I was told that they would not allow me to die, but that I would be brought to the ' verge of death and back again.'" I was kept for one month in the cell in a standing position with my hands cuffed and shackled above my head and my feet cuffed and shackled to a point in the floor. Of course during this month I fell asleep on some occasions while still being held in this position. This resulted in all my weight being applied to the handcuffs around my wrist resulting in open and bleeding wounds. [Scars consistent with this allegation were visible on both wrists as well as on both ankles.] Both my feet became very swollen after one month of almost continual standing.[13]

For interrogation, Mohammed was taken to a different room. The sessions last for as long as eight hours and as short as four. The number of people present varied greatly from one day to another. Other interrogators, including women, were also sometimes present.... A doctor was usually also present. If I was perceived not to be cooperating I would be put against a wall and punched and slapped in the body, head and face. A thick flexible plastic collar would also be placed around my neck so that it could then be held at the two ends by a guard who would use it to slam me repeatedly against the wall. The beatings were combined with the use of cold water, which was poured over me using a hose-pipe. The beatings and use of cold water occurred on a daily basis during the first month.

L ike Abu Zubaydah; like Abdelrahim Hussein Abdul Nashiri, a Saudi who was captured in Dubai in October 2002, Mohammed was also subjected to waterboarding, by his account on five occasions: I would be strapped to a special bed, which could be rotated into a vertical position. A cloth would be placed over my face. Cold water from a bottle that had been kept in a fridge was then poured onto the cloth by one of the guards so that I could not breathe.... The cloth was then removed and the bed was put into a vertical position. The whole process was then repeated during about one hour. Injuries to my ankles and wrists also occurred during the water-boarding as I struggled in the panic of not being able to breath. Female interrogators were also present...and a doctor was always present, standing out of sight behind the head of [the] bed, but I saw him when he came to fix a clip to my finger which was connected to a machine. I think it was to measure my pulse and oxygen content in my blood. So they could take me to [the] breaking point.

As with Zubaydah, the harshest sessions of interrogation involved the "alternative set of procedures" used in sequence and in combination, one technique intensifying the effects of the others: The beatings became worse and I had cold water directed at me from a hose-pipe by guards while I was still in my cell. The worst day was when I was beaten for about half an hour by one of the interrogators. My head was banged against the wall so hard that it started to bleed. Cold water was poured over my head. This was then repeated with other interrogators. Finally I was taken for a session of water boarding. The torture on that day was finally stopped by the intervention of the doctor. I was allowed to sleep for about one hour and then put back in my cell standing with my hands shackled above my head.

Reading the ICRC report, one becomes eventually somewhat inured to the "alternative set of procedures" as they are described: the cold and repeated violence grows numbing. Against this background, the descriptions of daily life of the detainees in the black sites, in which interrogation seems merely a periodic heightening of consistently imposed brutality, become more striking. Here again is Mohammed: After each session of torture I was put into a cell where I was allowed to lie on the floor and could sleep for a few minutes. However, due to shackles on my ankles and wrists I was never able to sleep very well....The toilet consisted of a bucket in the cell, which I could use on request [he was shackled standing, his hands affixed to the ceiling], but I was not allowed to clean myself after toilet during the first month.... During the first month I was not provided with any food apart from on two occasions as a reward for perceived cooperation. I was given Ensure to drink every 4 hours. If I refused to drink then my mouth was forced open by the guard and it was poured down my throat by force.... At the time of my arrest I weighed 78kg. After one month in detention I weighed 60kg. I wasn't given any clothes for the first month. Artificial light was on 24 hours a day, but I never saw sunlight. 7. Q : Mr. President,...this is a moral question: Is torture ever justified? President George W. Bush : Look, I'm going to say it one more time.... Maybe I can be more clear. The instructions went out to our people to adhere to law. That ought to comfort you. We're a nation of law. We adhere to laws. We have laws on the books. You might look at these laws, and that might provide comfort for you. —Sea Island, Georgia, June 10, 2004

Abu Zubaydah, Walid Bin Attash, Khaled Shaik Mohammed—these men almost certainly have blood on their hands, a great deal of blood. There is strong reason to believe that they had critical parts in planning and organizing terrorist operations that caused the deaths of thousands of people. So in all likelihood did the other twelve "high-value detainees" whose treatment while secretly confined by agents of the US government is described with such gruesome particularity in the report of the International Committee of the Red Cross. From everything we know, many or all of these men deserve to be tried and punished—to be "brought to justice," as President Bush, in his speech to the American people on September 6, 2006, vowed they would be.

It seems unlikely that they will be brought to justice anytime soon. In mid-January, Susan J. Crawford, who had been appointed by the Bush administration to decide which Guantánamo detainees should be tried before military commissions, declined to refer to trial Mohammed al-Qahtani, who was to have been among the September 11 hijackers but who had been turned back by immigration officials at Orlando International Airport. After he was captured in Afghanistan in late 2002, Qahtani was imprisoned in Guantánamo and interrogated by Department of Defense intelligence officers. Crawford, a retired judge and former general counsel of the army, told TheWashington Post that she had concluded that Qahtani's "treatment met the legal definition of torture." The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent.... You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive.[14]

Qahtani's interrogation at Guantánamo, accounts of which have appeared in Time and The Washington Post, was intense and prolonged, stretching for fifty consecutive days beginning in the late fall of 2002, and led to his hospitalization on at least two occasions. Some of the techniques used, including longtime sitting in restraints, prolonged exposure to cold, loud music, and noise, and sleep deprivation, recall those described in the ICRC report. If the "coercive" and "abusive" interrogation of Qahtani makes trying him impossible, one may doubt that any of the fourteen "high-value detainees" whose accounts are given in this report will ever be tried and sentenced in an internationally recognized and sanctioned legal proceeding.

I n the case of men who have committed great crimes, this seems to mark perhaps the most important and consequential sense in which "torture doesn't work." The use of torture deprives the society whose laws have been so egregiously violated of the possibility of rendering justice. Torture destroys justice. Torture in effect relinquishes this sacred right in exchange for speculative benefits whose value is, at the least, much disputed. John Kiriakou, the CIA officer who witnessed part of Zubaydah's interrogation, described to Brian Ross of ABC News what happened after Zubaydah was waterboarded: He resisted. He was able to withstand the water boarding for quite some time. And by that I mean probably 30, 35 seconds.... And a short time afterwards, in the next day or so, he told his interrogator that Allah had visited him in his cell during the night and told him to cooperate because his cooperation would make it easier on the other brothers who had been captured. And from that day on he answered every question just like I'm sitting here speaking to you.... The threat information that he provided disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks.

This claim, echoed by President Bush in his speech, is a matter of fierce dispute. Bush's public version, indeed, was much more carefully circumscribed: among other things, that Zubaydah's information confirmed the alias ("Muktar") of Khaled Shaik Mohammed, and thus helped lead to his capture; that it helped lead, indirectly, to the capture of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a Yemeni who was another key figure in planning the September 11 attacks; and that it "helped us stop another planned attack within the United States."

At least some of this information, apparently, came during the early, noncoercive interrogation led by FBI agents. Later, according to the reporter Ron Suskind, Zubaydah named countless targets inside the US to stop the pain, all of them immaterial. Indeed, think back to the sudden slew of alerts in the spring and summer of 2002 about attacks on apartment buildings, banks, shopping malls and, of course, nuclear plants.

Suskind is only the most prominent of a number of reporters with strong sources in the intelligence community who argue that the importance of the intelligence Zubaydah supplied, and indeed his importance within al-Qaeda, have been grossly and systematically exaggerated by government officials, from President Bush on down.[15]

Though it seems highly unlikely that Zubaydah's information stopped "maybe dozens of attacks," as Kiriakou said, the plain fact is that it is impossible, until a thorough investigation can be undertaken of the interrogations, to evaluate fully and fairly what intelligence the United States actually received in return for all the severe costs, practical, political, legal, and moral, the country incurred by instituting a policy of torture. There is a sense in which the entire debate over what Zubaydah did or did not provide, and the attacks the information might or might not have prevented—a debate driven largely by leaks by fiercely self-interested parties—itself reflects an unvoiced acceptance, on both sides, of the centrality of the mythical "ticking-bomb scenario" so beloved of those who argue that torture is necessary, and so prized by the writers of television dramas like 24. That is, the argument centers on whether Zubaydah's interrogation directly "disrupted a number of attacks."

P erhaps unwittingly, Kiriakou is most revealing about the intelligence value of interrogation of "high-value detainees" when he discusses what the CIA actually got from Zubaydah: What he was able to provide was information on the al-Qaeda leadership. For example, if bin Laden were to do X, who would be the person to undertake such and such an operation? "Oh, logically that would be Mr. Y." And we were able to use that information to kind of get an idea of how al-Qaeda operated, how it came about conceptualizing its operations, and how it went about tasking different cells with carrying out operations.... His value was, it allowed us to have somebody who we could pass ideas onto for his comments or analysis.

This has the ring of truth, for this is how intelligence works—by the patient accruing of individual pieces of information, by building a picture that will help officers make sense of the other intelligence they receive. Could such "comments or analysis" from a high al-Qaeda operative eventually help lead to the disruption of "a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks"? It seems possible—but if it did, the chain of cause and effect might not be direct, certainly not nearly so direct as the dramatic scenarios in newspapers and television dramas—and presidential speeches—suggest. The ticking bomb, about to explode and kill thousands or millions; the evil captured terrorist who alone has the information to find and disarm it; the desperate intelligence operative, forced to do whatever is necessary to gain that information—all these elements are well known and emotionally powerful, but where they appear most frequently is in popular entertainment, not in white rooms in Afghanistan.

There is a reverse side, of course, to the "ticking bomb" and torture: pain and ill-treatment, by creating an unbearable pressure on the detainee to say something, anything, to make the pain stop, increase the likelihood that he will fabricate stories, and waste time, or worse. At least some of the intelligence that came of the "alternative set of procedures," like Zubaydah's supposed "information" about attacks on shopping malls and banks, seems to have led the US government to issue what turned out to be baseless warnings to Americans. Khaled Shaik Mohammed asserted this directly in his interviews with the ICRC. "During the harshest period of my interrogation," he said, I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear in order to make the ill-treatment stop.... I'm sure that the false information I was forced to invent...wasted a lot of their time and led to several false red-alerts being placed in the US.

For all the talk of ticking bombs, very rarely, if ever, have officials been able to point to information gained by interrogating prisoners with "enhanced techniques" that enabled them to prevent an attack that had reached its "operational stage" (that is, had gone beyond reconnoitering and planning). Still, widespread perception that such techniques have prevented attacks, actively encouraged by the President and other officials, has been politically essential in letting the administration carry on with these policies after they had largely become public. Polls tend to show that a majority of Americans are willing to support torture only when they are assured that it will "thwart a terrorist attack." Because of the political persuasiveness of such scenarios it is vital that a future inquiry truly investigate claims that attacks have been prevented.

A s I write, it is impossible to know what benefits—in intelligence, in national security, in disrupting al-Qaeda—the President's approval of use of an "alternative set of procedures" might have brought to the United States. What we can say definitively is that the decision has harmed American interests in quite demonstrable ways. Some are practical and specific: for example, FBI agents, many of them professionals with great experience and skill in interrogation, were withdrawn, apparently after objections by the bureau's leaders, when it was decided to use the "alternative set of procedures" on Abu Zubaydah. Extensive leaks to the press, from both officials supportive of and critical of the "alternative set of procedures," undermined what was supposed to be a highly secret program; those leaks, in large part a product of the great controversy the program provoked within the national security bureaucracy, eventually helped make it unsustainable.

Finally, this bureaucratic weakness led officials of the CIA to destroy, apparently out of fear of eventual exposure and possible prosecution, a trove of as many as ninety-two video recordings that had been made of the interrogations, all but two of them of Abu Zubaydah. Whether or not the prosecutor investigating those actions determines that they were illegal, it is hard to believe that the recordings did not include valuable intelligence, which was sacrificed, in effect, for political reasons. These recordings doubtless could have played a critical part as well in the effort to determine what benefits, if any, the program brought to the security of the United States.

F ar and away the greatest damage, though, was legal, moral, and political. In the wake of the ICRC report one can make several definitive statements:

1. Beginning in the spring of 2002 the United States government began to torture prisoners. This torture, approved by the President of the United States and monitored in its daily unfolding by senior officials, including the nation's highest law enforcement officer, clearly violated major treaty obligations of the United States, including the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture, as well as US law.

2. The most senior officers of the US government, President George W. Bush first among them, repeatedly and explicitly lied about this, both in reports to international institutions and directly to the public. The President lied about it in news conferences, interviews, and, most explicitly, in speeches expressly intended to set out the administration's policy on interrogation before the people who had elected him.

3. The US Congress, already in possession of a great deal of information about the torture conducted by the administration—which had been covered widely in the press, and had been briefed, at least in part, from the outset to a select few of its members—passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and in so doing attempted to protect those responsible from criminal penalty under the War Crimes Act.

4. Democrats, who could have filibustered the bill, declined to do so—a decision that had much to do with the proximity of the midterm elections, in the run-up to which, they feared, the President and his Republican allies might gain advantage by accusing them of "coddling terrorists." One senator summarized the politics of the Military Commissions Act with admirable forthrightness: Soon, we will adjourn for the fall, and the campaigning will begin in earnest. And there will be 30-second attack ads and negative mail pieces, and we will be criticized as caring more about the rights of terrorists than the protection of Americans. And I know that the vote before us was specifically designed and timed to add more fuel to that fire.[16]

Senator Barack Obama was only saying aloud what every other legislator knew: that for all the horrified and gruesome exposés, for all the leaked photographs and documents and horrific testimony, when it came to torture in the September 11 era, the raw politics cut in the other direction. Most politicians remain convinced that still fearful Americans—given the choice between the image of 24 's Jack Bauer, a latter-day Dirty Harry, fantasy symbol of untrammeled power doing "everything it takes" to protect them from that ticking bomb, and the image of weak liberals "reading Miranda rights to terrorists"—will choose Bauer every time. As Senator Obama said, after the bill he voted against had passed, "politics won today."

5. The political damage to the United States' reputation, and to the "soft power" of its constitutional and democratic ideals, has been, though difficult to quantify, vast and enduring. In a war that is essentially an insurgency fought on a worldwide scale—which is to say, a political war, in which the attitudes and allegiances of young Muslims are the critical target of opportunity—the United States' decision to use torture has resulted in an enormous self-administered defeat, undermining liberal sympathizers of the United States and convincing others that the country is exactly as its enemies paint it: a ruthless imperial power determined to suppress and abuse Muslims. By choosing to torture, we freely chose to become the caricature they made of us. 8.

In the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, Cofer Black, the former head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and a famously colorful hard-liner, appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee and made the most telling pronouncement of the era: "All I want to say is that there was 'before' 9/11 and 'after' 9/11. After 9/11 the gloves come off." In the days after the attacks this phrase was everywhere. Columnists quoted it, television commentators flaunted it, interrogators at Abu Ghraib used it in their cables. ("The gloves are coming off gentlemen regarding these detainees, Col Boltz has made it clear that we want these individuals broken."[17] )

The gloves came off: four simple words. And yet they express a complicated thought. For if the gloves must come off, that means that before the attacks the gloves were on. There is something implicitly exculpatory in the image, something that made it particularly appealing to officials of an administration that endured, on its watch, the most lethal terrorist attack in the country's history. If the attack succeeded, it must have had to do not with the fact that intelligence was not passed on or that warnings were not heeded or that senior officials did not focus on terrorism as a leading threat. It must have been, at least in part, because the gloves were on—because the post-Watergate reforms of the 1970s, in which Congress sought to put limits on the CIA, on its freedom to mount covert actions with "deniability" and to conduct surveillance at home and abroad, had illegitimately circumscribed the President's power and thereby put the country dangerously at risk. It is no accident that two of the administration's most powerful officials, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, served as young men in very senior positions in the Nixon and Ford administrations. They had witnessed firsthand the gloves going on and, in the weeks after the September 11 attacks, they argued powerfully that it was those limitations—and, it was implied, not a failure to heed warnings—that had helped lead, however indirectly, to the country's vulnerability to attack.

And so, after a devastating and unprecedented attack, the gloves came off. Guided by the President and his closest advisers, the United States transformed itself from a country that, officially at least, condemned torture to a country that practiced it. And this fateful decision, however much we may want it to, will not go away, any more than the fourteen "high-value detainees," tortured and thus unprosecutable, will go away. Like the grotesque stories in the ICRC report, the decision sits before us, a toxic fact, polluting our political and moral life.

S ince the inauguration of President Obama, the previous administration's "alternative procedures" have acquired a prominence in the press, particularly on cable television, that they rarely achieved when they were actually being practiced on detainees. This is especially the case with waterboarding, which according to the former director of the CIA has not been used since 2003. On his first day in office, President Obama issued executive orders that stopped the use of these techniques and provided for task forces to study US government policies on rendition, detention, and interrogation, among others.

Meantime, Democratic leaders in Congress, who have been in control since 2006, have at last embarked on serious investigations. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Christopher Bond, the chair and ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, have announced a "review of the CIA's detention and interrogation program," which would study, among other questions, "how the CIA created, operated, and maintained its detention and interrogation program," make "an evaluation of intelligence information gained through the use of enhanced and standard interrogation techniques," and investigate "whether the CIA accurately described the detention and interrogation program to other parts of the US government"—including, notably, "the Senate Intelligence Committee." The hearings, according to reports, are unlikely to be public.

In February, Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, called for the establishment of what he calls a "nonpartisan commission of inquiry," better known as a "Truth and Reconciliation Committee," to investigate "how our detention policies and practices, from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib, have seriously eroded fundamental American principles of the rule of law." Since Senator Leahy's commission is intended above all to investigate and make public what was done—"in order to restore our moral leadership," as he said, "we must acknowledge what was done in our name"—he would offer grants of immunity to public officials in exchange for their truthful testimony. He seeks not prosecution and justice but knowledge and exposure: "We cannot turn the page until we have read the page."

Many officials of human rights organizations, who have fought long and valiantly to bring attention and law to bear on these issues, strongly reject any proposal that includes widespread grants of immunity. They urge investigations and prosecutions of Bush administration officials. The choices are complicated and painful. From what we know, officials acted with the legal sanction of the US government and under orders from the highest political authority, the elected president of the United States. Political decisions, made by elected officials, led to these crimes. But political opinion, within the government and increasingly, as time passed, without, to some extent allowed those crimes to persist. If there is a need for prosecution there is also a vital need for education. Only a credible investigation into what was done and what information was gained can begin to alter the political calculus around torture by replacing the public's attachment to the ticking bomb with an understanding of what torture is and what is gained, and lost, when the United States reverts to it.

President Obama, while declaring that "nobody's above the law, and if there are clear instances of wrongdoing...people should be prosecuted," has also expressed his strong preference for "looking forward" rather than "looking backwards." One can understand the sentiment but even some of the decisions his administration has already made—concerning state secrecy, for example—show the extent to which he and his Department of Justice will be haunted by what his predecessor did. Consider the uncompromising words of Eric Holder, the attorney general, who in reply to a direct question at his confirmation hearings had declared, "waterboarding is torture." There is nothing ambiguous about this statement—nor about the equally blunt statements of several high Bush administration officials, including the former vice-president and the director of the CIA, confirming unequivocally that the administration had ordered and directed that prisoners under its control be waterboarded. We are all living, then, with a terrible contradiction, an enduring one, and it is not subtle, any more than the accounts in the ICRC report are subtle. "It was," as Mr. Cheney said of waterboarding, "a no-brainer for me." Now Abu Zubaydah and his fellow detainees have stepped forward out of the darkness to link hands with the former vice-president and testify to his truthfulness.

—March 12, 2009


[1]See "Restoring Trust in the Justice System: The Senate Judiciary Committee's Agenda in the 111th Congress," 2009 Marver Bernstein Lecture, Georgetown University, February 9, 2009.

[2]See "President Discusses Creation of Military Commissions to Try Suspected Terrorists," September 6, 2006, East Room, White House, available at

[3]See, for the authoritative account, Dana Priest, "CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons," The Washington Post, November 2, 2005.

[4]See Jonathan Alter, "Time to Think About Torture: It's a New World, and Survival May Well Require Old Techniques That Seemed Out of the Question," Newsweek, November 5, 2001. See also Raymond Bonner, Don Van Natta Jr., and Amy Waldman, "Interrogations: Questioning Terror Suspects in a Dark and Surreal World," The New York Times, March 9, 2003.

[5]"President Bush's News Conference," The New York Times, September 15, 2006.

[6]From "CIA—Abu Zubaydah. Interview with John Kiriakou." This is the rough and undated transcript of a video interview conducted by Brian Ross of ABC News, apparently in December 2007, available at Quotations from this document have been edited very slightly for clarity. See also Richard Esposito and Brian Ross, "Coming in from the Cold: CIA Spy Calls Waterboarding Necessary But Torture," ABC News, December 10, 2007.

[7]See "Working Group Report on Detainee Interrogations in the Global War on Terrorism: Assessment of Legal, Historical, Policy, and Operational Considerations," April 4, 2003, in Mark Danner, Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror (New York Review Books, 2004), pp. 190–192. A great many of these documents, collected in this book and elsewhere, were leaked in the wake of the publication of the Abu Ghraib photographs, and have been public since late spring or early summer of 2004.

[8]See David Johnston, "At a Secret Interrogation, Dispute Flared Over Tactics," The New York Times, September 10, 2006.

[9]See Mark Hosenball, "How Good Is Abu Zubaydah's Information?," Newsweek Web Exclusive, April 27, 2002.

[10]See Johnston, "At a Secret Interrogation, Dispute Flared Over Tactics."

[11]See KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation—July 1963 and Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual—1983, both archived at "Prisoner Abuse: Patterns from the Past," National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 122. For the historical roots of the "alternative set of procedures" see Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror (Metropolitan, 2006); and Jane Mayer, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals (Doubleday, 2008), especially pp. 167–174. See also my "The Logic of Torture," The New York Review, June 24, 2004, and Torture and Truth.

[12]See Jan Crawford Greenburg, Howard L. Rosenberg, and Ariane de Vogue, "Sources: Top Bush Advisors Approved 'Enhanced Interrogation,'" ABC News, April 9, 2008.

[13]The bracketed comment appears in the ICRC report.

[14]See Bob Woodward, "Detainee Tortured, Says US Official: Trial Overseer Cites 'Abusive' Methods Against 9/11 Suspect," The Washington Post, January 14, 2009.

[15]See Ron Suskind, "The Unofficial Story of the al-Qaeda 14," Time, September 10, 2006. See also Suskind's The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 (Simon and Schuster, 2006), pp. 99–101, and Mayer, The Dark Side, pp. 175–177.

16]See "Statement on Military Commission Legislation: Remarks by Senator Barack Obama," September 28, 2006.

[17]See my Torture and Truth, p. 33.


Top of Page

What's Really Going on Here??


Bush Traitor against Duty to Constitution and Country, Threat to World, Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., August 7, 2007

The White House directly participated in torture sessions, committee, April 10, 2008


Top of Page



US terror/torture links

US terror/torture analysis


The Corruption Database

Does this tick you off? Make you happy? Want to do something about it? You can speak your mind, or join us to curb bribery at our political reform site:

Blog it

("blog it" opens a blog text box on NextRevolution.Org. Soon, it will drag over the article link and title, and be linkable from here. Anyone a PHP expert?)



All Archives

Top of Page

9) The Article linked below was Abstracted from the source cited.

Sources: Obama ready to end harsh interrogations

ap on fox, 1-16-09

WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama is preparing to prohibit the use of waterboarding and harsh interrogation techniques by ordering the CIA to follow military rules for questioning prisoners, according to two U.S. officials familiar with drafts of the plans. Still under debate is whether to include a loophole that would allow exceptions in extraordinary cases.

The proposal Obama is considering would require all CIA interrogators to follow conduct outlined in the U.S. Army Field Manual, the officials said. The plans would also have the effect of shutting down secret "black site" prisons around the world where the CIA has questioned terror suspects _ with all future interrogations taking place inside American military facilities.

However, Obama's changes may not be absolute. His advisers are considering adding a classified loophole to the rules that could allow the CIA to use some interrogation methods not specifically authorized by the Pentagon, the officials said, although the intent is not to use that as an opening for possible use of waterboarding.

The new rules would abandon a part of President George W. Bush's counterterrorism policy that has been condemned internationally. Bush has defended his policies by pointing to the fact that the nation has gone more than seven years without another terrorist attack on its soil.

Obama spokeswoman Brooke Anderson did not have an immediate comment Friday about the drafted plans, which the two officials discussed only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.

No final decisions have been made about how to adjust the government's interrogation standards. Obama is still weighing whether to alter interrogation policy by executive order during his first days in office or working with Congress through legislation.

The plans do not specifically address the issue of extraordinary rendition, the policy of transferring foreign terrorism suspects to third countries without court approval.

In private Capitol Hill meetings, CIA Director nominee Leon Panetta and Director of National Intelligence designate Dennis Blair have said Obama wants a single set of rules for interrogations. And in Senate testimony Thursday, Attorney General nominee Eric Holder called the Army manual "a good place to start."

The 384-page Army manual, last updated in September 2006, is a publicly available document. It authorizes 19 interrogation methods used to question prisoners, including one allowing a detainee to be isolated from other inmates in some cases. The manual explicitly prohibits threats, coercion, physical abuse and waterboarding, which creates the sensation of drowning. Holder termed waterboarding a form of torture on Thursday.

The CIA also banned waterboarding in 2006 but otherwise has been secretive about how it conducts interrogations. In the past, its methods are believed to have included sleep deprivation and disorientation, stress positions and exposing prisoners to uncomfortable cold or heat for long periods. It's also believed that some prisoners have been forced to sit in cramped spaces with bugs, snakes, rats or other vermin as a scare tactic.

Waterboarding has been traced back hundreds of years and is condemned by nations worldwide. U.S. officials waterboarded at least three top al-Qaida operatives _ including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed _ in 2002 and 2003 because of fears that more attacks were imminent.

The Army manual can be amended by the military. It is unclear whether the CIA would be held to the one published in 2006 or future versions.

For Obama, who repeatedly insisted during the 2008 presidential campaign and the transition period that "America doesn't torture," a classified loophole would allow him to follow through on his promise to end harsh interrogations while retaining a full range of presidential options in conducting the war against terrorism.

The proposed loophole, which could come in the form of a classified annex to the manual, is designed to satisfy intelligence experts who fear that an outright ban of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques would limit the government in obtaining threat information that could save American lives. It would also preserve Obama's flexibility to authorize any interrogation tactics he might deem necessary for national security.

However, such a move would frustrate Senate Democrats and human rights, retired military and religious groups that have pressed for a government-wide prohibition on methods they describe as torture.

Glenn Sulmasy, an international law professor at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., said Obama can and should preserve his executive authority to order aggressive interrogations when necessary. But he said that should be done on a case-by-case basis and not become a broad policy.

"There are some coercive techniques that he might employ on a ticking time bomb scenario, but he'll distinguish himself by making it clear that the presumption under the law is that there is no torture," Sulmasy said Friday.

Critics, however, said Obama cannot claim to ban torture if it's not clear what interrogation methods will be allowed.

"That would not be good," said the Rev. Richard Killmer, executive director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. "We don't need to be able to torture and we don't need to engage in any interrogation techniques that are not humane. And unless we have absolute clarity that these interrogation techniques will not be used, they are not going to be able to say that."

Speaking with reporters Thursday, outgoing CIA Director Michael Hayden said harsh interrogation tactics have been needed to get information from the most hardened terror suspects. He and some other U.S. intelligence officials oppose limiting the CIA to the Army manual, which was written specifically for military interrogations and may not be effective on the most dangerous detainees.

"It is an honest discussion to talk about what techniques we should use, but to assume automatically that the Army Field Manual would suit the needs of the republic in all circumstances is a shot in the dark," Hayden said.

Senate Democrats aren't likely to support a classified annex. Holder on Thursday said the interrogation methods outlined in the Army manual would be just as effective as those used by the CIA.

"I'm not convinced at all that if we restrict ourselves to the Army field manual that we will be in any way less effective in the interrogation of people who have sworn to do us harm," Holder said.


Top of Page


The Criminal Government

Unlimited President

International Police State


Secret Prisons/illegal detentions



Direct real-time link: torture Chamber to White House

Executive Trials



The Corruption Database

Does this tick you off? Make you happy? Want to do something about it? You can speak your mind, or join us to curb bribery at our political reform site:

Blog it

("blog it" opens a blog text box on NextRevolution.Org. Soon, it will drag over the article link and title, and be linkable from here. Anyone a PHP expert?)



All Archives

Top of Page

10) The Article linked below was Abstracted from the source cited.

Officials Say U.S. Wiretaps Exceeded Law

nyt, 4-16-09

By ERIC LICHTBLAU and JAMES RISEN Published: April 15, 2009

WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year, government officials said in recent interviews.

Several intelligence officials, as well as lawyers briefed about the matter, said the N.S.A. had been engaged in “overcollection” of domestic communications of Americans. They described the practice as significant and systemic, although one official said it was believed to have been unintentional.

The legal and operational problems surrounding the N.S.A.’s surveillance activities have come under scrutiny from the Obama administration, Congressional intelligence committees and a secret national security court, said the intelligence officials, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because N.S.A. activities are classified. Classified government briefings have been held in recent weeks in response to a brewing controversy that some officials worry could damage the credibility of legitimate intelligence-gathering efforts.

The Justice Department, in response to inquiries from The New York Times, acknowledged Wednesday night that there had been problems with the N.S.A. surveillance operation, but said they had been resolved.

As part of a periodic review of the agency’s activities, the department “detected issues that raised concerns,” it said. Justice Department officials then “took comprehensive steps to correct the situation and bring the program into compliance” with the law and court orders, the statement said. It added that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. went to the national security court to seek a renewal of the surveillance program only after new safeguards were put in place.

In a statement on Wednesday night, the N.S.A. said that its “intelligence operations, including programs for collection and analysis, are in strict accordance with U.S. laws and regulations.” The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the intelligence community, did not address specific aspects of the surveillance problems but said in a statement that “when inadvertent mistakes are made, we take it very seriously and work immediately to correct them.”

The questions may not be settled yet. Intelligence officials say they are still examining the scope of the N.S.A. practices, and Congressional investigators say they hope to determine if any violations of Americans’ privacy occurred. It is not clear to what extent the agency may have actively listened in on conversations or read e-mail messages of Americans without proper court authority, rather than simply obtained access to them.

The intelligence officials said the problems had grown out of changes enacted by Congress last July in the law that regulates the government’s wiretapping powers, and the challenges posed by enacting a new framework for collecting intelligence on terrorism and spying suspects.

While the N.S.A.’s operations in recent months have come under examination, new details are also emerging about earlier domestic-surveillance activities, including the agency’s attempt to wiretap a member of Congress, without court approval, on an overseas trip, current and former intelligence officials said.

After a contentious three-year debate that was set off by the disclosure in 2005 of the program of wiretapping without warrants that President George W. Bush approved after the Sept. 11 attacks, Congress gave the N.S.A. broad new authority to collect, without court-approved warrants, vast streams of international phone and e-mail traffic as it passed through American telecommunications gateways. The targets of the eavesdropping had to be “reasonably believed” to be outside the United States. Under the new legislation, however, the N.S.A. still needed court approval to monitor the purely domestic communications of Americans who came under suspicion.

In recent weeks, the eavesdropping agency notified members of the Congressional intelligence committees that it had encountered operational and legal problems in complying with the new wiretapping law, Congressional officials said.

Officials would not discuss details of the overcollection problem because it involves classified intelligence-gathering techniques. But the issue appears focused in part on technical problems in the N.S.A.’s ability at times to distinguish between communications inside the United States and those overseas as it uses its access to American telecommunications companies’ fiber-optic lines and its own spy satellites to intercept millions of calls and e-mail messages.

One official said that led the agency to inadvertently “target” groups of Americans and collect their domestic communications without proper court authority. Officials are still trying to determine how many violations may have occurred.

The overcollection problems appear to have been uncovered as part of a twice-annual certification that the Justice Department and the director of national intelligence are required to give to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on the protocols that the N.S.A. is using in wiretapping. That review, officials said, began in the waning days of the Bush administration and was continued by the Obama administration. It led intelligence officials to realize that the N.S.A. was improperly capturing information involving significant amounts of American traffic.

Notified of the problems by the N.S.A., officials with both the House and Senate intelligence committees said they had concerns that the agency had ignored civil liberties safeguards built into last year’s wiretapping law. “We have received notice of a serious issue involving the N.S.A., and we’ve begun inquiries into it,” a Congressional staff member said.

Separate from the new inquiries, the Justice Department has for more than two years been investigating aspects of the N.S.A.’s wiretapping program.

As part of that investigation, a senior F.B.I. agent recently came forward with what the inspector general’s office described as accusations of “significant misconduct” in the surveillance program, people with knowledge of the investigation said. Those accusations are said to involve whether the N.S.A. made Americans targets in eavesdropping operations based on insufficient evidence tying them to terrorism.

And in one previously undisclosed episode, the N.S.A. tried to wiretap a member of Congress without a warrant, an intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The agency believed that the congressman, whose identity could not be determined, was in contact — as part of a Congressional delegation to the Middle East in 2005 or 2006 — with an extremist who had possible terrorist ties and was already under surveillance, the official said. The agency then sought to eavesdrop on the congressman’s conversations, the official said.

The official said the plan was ultimately blocked because of concerns from some intelligence officials about using the N.S.A., without court oversight, to spy on a member of Congress.

Top of Page

What's Really Going on Here??

Dems-Repug Traitors Pass Illegal Spy Bill in Defiance of Constitution

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., August 12, 2007

Warrants are our most fundamental check on Bush's claims to have Police State Powers. The issuing of warrants by an independent judiciary have traditionally keep the Police out of our lives, and police state powers out of the government's reach. The Constitution puts it like this:

“...and No warrant shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Today, the wisdom our Constitutional forefathers demonstrated by requiring warranted searches has become crystal clear as the President has overreached his office to threaten our country with a wide range of police state powers.

Our Crisis deepens as Congress and the Corporate Press assist Bush's concentration of these dangerous powers.

The Times and the rest of the corporate press have been actively assisting Congress and the President to claim and use police state powers since 2002.

The corporate press and our corporate Congress speak of finding the balance between security and rights. I speak of the rights defined in our Constitution, and will accept no less. The only true security comes with the protection of our rights.

Our parties, candidates and our elections are funded by corporate special interests. Elections funded by corporations produce politicians who represent corporations, rather than the values of their constituents.

Our political institutions have been hijacked with corporate bribery. Our Assemblymen and State Senators, like our Congressmen and federal Senators, owe their offices to the massive bribes of their corporate sponsors. As our democracy continues to decline, all of our rights are growing more insecure.

By passing this repugnant law, Congress has given its blessing to the President's illegal and unconstitutional claim to have the power to search Americans without warrants.

Congress cannot legitimately give, nor can the President legitimately use, powers that are denied to them by the Constitution. But Congress has defied the Constitution and granted the President illegal powers. Now all Americans are denied security in their homes and possessions. Our present government has proven itself incompetent to govern under the rules of our Constitution, and must be removed.

As we do not have a democracy here, and we fund, arm, and support dictators around the world, it is hard to understand what Bush is saying about spreading democracy around the world. Our allies are any governments, of any character, which will play ball with our multi-national corporations. This is typified by our main trading partners, China and Mexico.

And now the corporate elite that runs our government is squeezing out the last little bit of Fourth Amendment protections that was barely hiding our naked tyranny. Our Corporate politicians have drunk down our political, economic, and civil rights like Dracula drained blood from peasants.

The Times, besides soft-pedaling the fact that the President committed serious crimes when he began using warrantless searches, is also obscuring the fact that the NSA and FBI have been completely unleashed to spy on citizens within the US. to spy on our own citizens.

The Times seems strangely blinded to the that Bush's claims to unitary authority are a greater threat to American Freedom and the American way of life than a hundred Osamas and a thousand 9-11s. They can only threaten our material lives and possessions, while Bush is threatening the existence of our values themselves. is a an abomination, clearly unconstitutional, and an affront to every patriotic American.

But this jaded article hides the real loss of American privacy rights by blurring the distinction between "foreigner to foreigner" with "foreigner to American" communications.

The Times fails to mention that this "law" completely degrades the distinction between "foreign" and "American," communication into meaninglessness, and effectively eliminating warrants for either.

The most important obscured fact is that the NSA was completely banned from all domestic surveillance to defend citizen's rights against overbearing governmental power. Bush has claimed the powers of a dictator, and the Times is silent.

Before Bush, all domestic surveillance, either local or federal, required a warrant. No question about it. Until the FBI was made warrant-free by the "Patriot" act.

But now, under this new "law," neither the FBI nor the NSA will be required to obtain warrants for domestic searches. This is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment, and yet another example of the President's dangerous expansion of unchecked governmental power being confirmed, rather than prosecuted, by both Democrap and Repugnant Congresses.

The implications are disturbing. It is apparent that neither the Dems nor the Repugs have any clear understanding about why the Constitution specifies clear limits on police state powers.

The Dems have joined the Repugs in helping uncheck the President. Rather than fulfill their Constitutional obligation by checking the President's claims to illegal powers,Congress has instead neutered itself by approving the criminal acts of the president with a moot law: Congress has no power to suspend the Constitution with legislation.

The Democraps have undone what political history itself had evolved: the political power of the assembled people, Congress in our case, to defend their most fundamental rights against a tyrannical executive. The Democraps have at the same time united what the Constitution had torn apart: The direct hold on Police State Powers by the King.

With this illegal law, the Democraps have not just stripped the people of one of their most fundamental Constitutional rights, but they have upheld Bush's claim to be above the law. And by doing so they have stripped themselves of what little legitimacy they had left.

The Dems have confirmed the President's illegal and unprecedented claims to have and use the same domestic police powers claimed by the tyrants, kings and dictators our government arms, funds, and politically supports around the world.

The shoe we have forced onto the feet of the world is now being sized for us, by our own government. And we are too stupid, fat, and corrupted to object.

The Dems can add this illegal spying bill to their ever lengthening list of vile legislation they have passed in support of Bush's crimes. The Dems have accepted and continue to fund Bush's kidnappings, his secret prisons, and his torture chambers. Our perpetual war crime, Gitmo, remains open and fully funded by Congress.

The Dems can add this to their list of legislative precedents, along with accepting the loss of habius corpus, accepting "signing statements," and their complacency as Bush Contemptuously rejects Congress' power of oversight, and continues to defy both law and Constitution.

And the Dems are now parroting Bush's "endless war" rhetoric.

Before we can retrieve our rights, we must reclaim democratic elections, throw these bums out, and return our government to the constraints of our Constitution.

If we did that, our corporations would have little power to steal our rights and treasure, torture the world, impose dictators, steal global resources, and trigger another 9-11 against us.


Also See:

Corruption Updates 23, 9th article on the page, "TIMES SOFTPEDALS PRESIDENTIAL WAR CRIMES AND DOMESTIC CRIMES"

LA Times, July 29, 2007; Executive privilege touchy for presidential hopefuls: Just a Reminder of why Bush is Out of Control

Top of Page



Unlimited President: Illegal Spying

Unlimited President: The Dems were accessiories before, during, and after the original crimes


Obama takes All of the Crimes of Bush into his Administration

OBAMA, post election

Prosecution of Crimes?

Senator seeks Bush-era "truth commission", reuters, 2-9-09

Obama signals he isn't interested in 'truth commission' to investigate Bush abuses, raw story, 2-9-09


Torture Repudiated?

Obama sends a message: the United States will not torture, mcclatchy, 1-22-09 no, we will once again have proxies do it.

Torture, the UK, and Obama: A chance for "Change we can Believe in?" alex wierbinski, 2-4-09


Rendition, and the related torture

Panetta: Obama won't OK 'extraordinary rendition,' ap, 2-5-09 (unless the president orders it. Really, the same exact thing bush said and did)

Obama's Justice Department backs Bush secrecy on renditions suit, raw story, 2-9-09


Secret "Loopholes?"

Sources: Obama ready to ban harsh interrogations, ap, 1-16-09

Secret Prisons Closed?

Obama’s first big moves, csm, 1-22-09

Obama orders end to torture and Guantanamo closure, belfast telegraph, 1-23-09
Kangaroo courts stopped?

President Obama Officially Halts GITMO Show Trials, emptywheel, 1-20-09


Gitmo closing?

Reprieve is delighted to learn that President Barack Obama will close Guantánamo Bay, but urges that time is of the essence, reprieve, 1-22-09


Obama Bans Lobbying?

Obama lobbying ban hits DC reality, swamp, 1-22-09


lobbyists in the Obama Campaign

Spousal Ties to Lobbying Test a Vow From Obama, NYT, 12-14-08

Obama softens ban on hiring lobbyists, boston globe, 11-12-08

Campaign Skirts Obama Lobbyist Ban, newser, 9-18-08


The Same old Bush Shit

Obama keeps Bush policies on faith-based groups, mcclatchy, 2-5-09


The bottom line

Obama maintains power to Kidnap, ("Render") Torture, and hide crimes as "state secrets."


The Corruption Database

Does this tick you off? Make you happy? Want to do something about it? You can speak your mind, or join us to curb bribery at our political reform site:

Blog it

("blog it" opens a blog text box on NextRevolution.Org. Soon, it will drag over the article link and title, and be linkable from here. Anyone a PHP expert?)


Previous page: Page 182                      Next page: Page 183

Contact Us:


All Archives

Top of Page

news on this page


1] IRLI Successfully Defends Border Residents Right to Protect Themselves Against Illegal Aliens

2] Las Vegas Running Out of Water Means Dimming Los Angeles Lights

3] Obama 'ready to drop shield plans for Russian help on Iran,' ria novosti, 3-2-09

3] analysis: Strategic Strobe Light: The real Contours of Force shaping the Rise of Russia, alex, 3-4-09

4] Financial reports show 5 biggest banks face huge loss risk

5] O.C. Reps campaign cash tied to embattled lobbyist

6] Hillary History: No need for Musharraf to step down now: Hillary

7] Report claims CIA used 'torture'

8] US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites

9] Sources: Obama ready to end harsh interrogations (ah, do they mean TORTURE?)

10] Officials Say U.S. Wiretaps Exceeded Law, nyt, 4-16-09