Sunday, November 27, 2005

Pentagon Expanding Its Domestic Surveillance Activity

Pentagon Expanding Its Domestic Surveillance Activity
Fears of Post-9/11 Terrorism Spur Proposals for New Powers

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 27, 2005; Page A06

The Defense Department has expanded its programs aimed at gathering and analyzing intelligence within the United States, creating new agencies, adding personnel and seeking additional legal authority for domestic security activities in the post-9/11 world.

The moves have taken place on several fronts. The White House is considering expanding the power of a little-known Pentagon agency called the Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, which was created three years ago. The proposal, made by a presidential commission, would transform CIFA from an office that coordinates Pentagon security efforts -- including protecting military facilities from attack -- to one that also has authority to investigate crimes within the United States such as treason, foreign or terrorist sabotage or even economic espionage.

The Pentagon has pushed legislation on Capitol Hill that would create an intelligence exception to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information gathered about U.S. citizens with the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies, as long as the data is deemed to be related to foreign intelligence. Backers say the measure is needed to strengthen investigations into terrorism or weapons of mass destruction.

The proposals, and other Pentagon steps aimed at improving its ability to analyze counterterrorism intelligence collected inside the United States, have drawn complaints from civil liberties advocates and a few members of Congress, who say the Defense Department's push into domestic collection is proceeding with little scrutiny by the Congress or the public.

"We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without even a [congressional] hearing," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a recent interview.

Wyden has since persuaded lawmakers to change the legislation, attached to the fiscal 2006 intelligence authorization bill, to address some of his concerns, but he still believes hearings should be held. Among the changes was the elimination of a provision to let Defense Intelligence Agency officers hide the fact that they work for the government when they approach people who are possible sources of intelligence in the United States.

Modifications also were made in the provision allowing the FBI to share information with the Pentagon and CIA, requiring the approval of the director of national intelligence, John D. Negroponte, for that to occur, and requiring the Pentagon to make reports to Congress on the subject. Wyden said the legislation "now strikes a much fairer balance by protecting critical rights for our country's citizens and advancing intelligence operations to meet our security needs."

Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said the data-sharing amendment would still give the Pentagon much greater access to the FBI's massive collection of data, including information on citizens not connected to terrorism or espionage.

The measure, she said, "removes one of the few existing privacy protections against the creation of secret dossiers on Americans by government intelligence agencies." She said the Pentagon's "intelligence agencies are quietly expanding their domestic presence without any public debate."

Lt. Col. Chris Conway, a spokesman for the Pentagon, said that the most senior Defense Department intelligence officials are aware of the sensitivities related to their expanded domestic activities. At the same time, he said, the Pentagon has to have the intelligence necessary to protect its facilities and personnel at home and abroad.

"In the age of terrorism," Conway said, "the U.S. military and its facilities are targets, and we have to be prepared within our authorities to defend them before something happens."

Among the steps already taken by the Pentagon that enhanced its domestic capabilities was the establishment after 9/11 of Northern Command, or Northcom, in Colorado Springs, to provide military forces to help in reacting to terrorist threats in the continental United States. Today, Northcom's intelligence centers in Colorado and Texas fuse reports from CIFA, the FBI and other U.S. agencies, and are staffed by 290 intelligence analysts. That is more than the roughly 200 analysts working for the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and far more than those at the Department of Homeland Security.

In addition, each of the military services has begun its own post-9/11 collection of domestic intelligence, primarily aimed at gathering data on potential terrorist threats to bases and other military facilities at home and abroad. For example, Eagle Eyes is a program set up by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, which "enlists the eyes and ears of Air Force members and citizens in the war on terror," according to the program's Web site.

The Marine Corps has expanded its domestic intelligence operations and developed internal policies in 2004 to govern oversight of the "collection, retention and dissemination of information concerning U.S. persons," according to a Marine Corps order approved on April 30, 2004.

The order recognizes that in the post-9/11 era, the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity will be "increasingly required to perform domestic missions," and as a result, "there will be increased instances whereby Marine intelligence activities may come across information regarding U.S. persons." Among domestic targets listed are people in the United States who it "is reasonably believed threaten the physical security of Defense Department employees, installations, operations or official visitors."

Perhaps the prime illustration of the Pentagon's intelligence growth is CIFA, which remains one of its least publicized intelligence agencies. Neither the size of its staff, said to be more than 1,000, nor its budget is public, said Conway, the Pentagon spokesman. The CIFA brochure says the agency's mission is to "transform" the way counterintelligence is done "fully utilizing 21st century tools and resources."

One CIFA activity, threat assessments, involves using "leading edge information technologies and data harvesting," according to a February 2004 Pentagon budget document. This involves "exploiting commercial data" with the help of outside contractors including White Oak Technologies Inc. of Silver Spring, and MZM Inc., a Washington-based research organization, according to the Pentagon document.

For CIFA, counterintelligence involves not just collecting data but also "conducting activities to protect DoD and the nation against espionage, other intelligence activities, sabotage, assassinations, and terrorist activities," its brochure states.

CIFA's abilities would increase considerably under the proposal being reviewed by the White House, which was made by a presidential commission on intelligence chaired by retired appellate court judge Laurence H. Silberman and former senator Charles S. Robb (D-Va.). The commission urged that CIFA be given authority to carry out domestic criminal investigations and clandestine operations against potential threats inside the United States.

The Silberman-Robb panel found that because the separate military services concentrated on investigations within their areas, "no entity views non-service-specific and department-wide investigations as its primary responsibility." A 2003 Defense Department directive kept CIFA from engaging in law enforcement activities such as "the investigation, apprehension, or detention of individuals suspected or convicted of criminal offenses against the laws of the United States."

The commission's proposal would change that, giving CIFA "new counterespionage and law enforcement authorities," covering treason, espionage, foreign or terrorist sabotage, and even economic espionage. That step, the panel said, could be taken by presidential order and Pentagon directive without congressional approval.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the CIFA expansion "is being studied at the DoD [Defense Department] level," adding that intelligence director Negroponte would have a say in the matter. A Pentagon spokesman said, "The [CIFA] matter is before the Hill committees."

Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a recent interview that CIFA has performed well in the past and today has no domestic intelligence collection activities. He was not aware of moves to enhance its authority.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has not had formal hearings on CIFA or other domestic intelligence programs, but its staff has been briefed on some of the steps the Pentagon has already taken. "If a member asks the chairman" -- Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) -- for hearings, "I am sure he would respond," said Bill Duhnke, the panel's staff director.

Decoding Mr. Bush's Denials


Published: November 15, 2005

To avoid having to account for his administration's misleading statements before the war with Iraq, President Bush has tried denial, saying he did not skew the intelligence. He's tried to share the blame, claiming that Congress had the same intelligence he had, as well as President Bill Clinton. He's tried to pass the buck and blame the C.I.A. Lately, he's gone on the attack, accusing Democrats in Congress of aiding the terrorists.

Yesterday in Alaska, Mr. Bush trotted out the same tedious deflection on Iraq that he usually attempts when his back is against the wall: he claims that questioning his actions three years ago is a betrayal of the troops in battle today.

It all amounts to one energetic effort at avoidance. But like the W.M.D. reports that started the whole thing, the only problem is that none of it has been true.

Mr. Bush says everyone had the same intelligence he had - Mr. Clinton and his advisers, foreign governments, and members of Congress - and that all of them reached the same conclusions. The only part that is true is that Mr. Bush was working off the same intelligence Mr. Clinton had. But that is scary, not reassuring. The reports about Saddam Hussein's weapons were old, some more than 10 years old. Nothing was fresher than about five years, except reports that later proved to be fanciful.

Foreign intelligence services did not have full access to American intelligence. But some had dissenting opinions that were ignored or not shown to top American officials. Congress had nothing close to the president's access to intelligence. The National Intelligence Estimate presented to Congress a few days before the vote on war was sanitized to remove dissent and make conjecture seem like fact.

It's hard to imagine what Mr. Bush means when he says everyone reached the same conclusion. There was indeed a widespread belief that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons. But Mr. Clinton looked at the data and concluded that inspections and pressure were working - a view we now know was accurate. France, Russia and Germany said war was not justified. Even Britain admitted later that there had been no new evidence about Iraq, just new politics.

The administration had little company in saying that Iraq was actively trying to build a nuclear weapon. The evidence for this claim was a dubious report about an attempt in 1999 to buy uranium from Niger, later shown to be false, and the infamous aluminum tubes story. That was dismissed at the time by analysts with real expertise.

The Bush administration was also alone in making the absurd claim that Iraq was in league with Al Qaeda and somehow connected to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That was based on two false tales. One was the supposed trip to Prague by Mohamed Atta, a report that was disputed before the war and came from an unreliable drunk. The other was that Iraq trained Qaeda members in the use of chemical and biological weapons. Before the war, the Defense Intelligence Agency concluded that this was a deliberate fabrication by an informer.

Mr. Bush has said in recent days that the first phase of the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation on Iraq found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence. That is true only in the very narrow way the Republicans on the committee insisted on defining pressure: as direct pressure from senior officials to change intelligence. Instead, the Bush administration made what it wanted to hear crystal clear and kept sending reports back to be redone until it got those answers.

Richard Kerr, a former deputy director of central intelligence, said in 2003 that there was "significant pressure on the intelligence community to find evidence that supported a connection" between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The C.I.A. ombudsman told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the administration's "hammering" on Iraq intelligence was harder than he had seen in his 32 years at the agency.

Mr. Bush and other administration officials say they faithfully reported what they had read. But Vice President Dick Cheney presented the Prague meeting as a fact when even the most supportive analysts considered it highly dubious. The administration has still not acknowledged that tales of Iraq coaching Al Qaeda on chemical warfare were considered false, even at the time they were circulated.

Mr. Cheney was not alone. Remember Condoleezza Rice's infamous "mushroom cloud" comment? And Secretary of State Colin Powell in January 2003, when the rich and powerful met in Davos, Switzerland, and he said, "Why is Iraq still trying to procure uranium and the special equipment needed to transform it into material for nuclear weapons?" Mr. Powell ought to have known the report on "special equipment"' - the aluminum tubes - was false. And the uranium story was four years old.

The president and his top advisers may very well have sincerely believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But they did not allow the American people, or even Congress, to have the information necessary to make reasoned judgments of their own. It's obvious that the Bush administration misled Americans about Mr. Hussein's weapons and his terrorist connections. We need to know how that happened and why.

Mr. Bush said last Friday that he welcomed debate, even in a time of war, but that "it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began." We agree, but it is Mr. Bush and his team who are rewriting history.

Who They Are - The double standard that underlies our torture policies

The law, lawyers, and the court.

Who They Are
The double standard that underlies our torture policies.
By David Cole

Posted Friday, Nov. 11, 2005, at 12:32 PM ET

"It's not about who they are. It's about who we are."

So said Sen. John McCain, in defending his amendment to a defense appropriations bill that would bar U.S. officials from inflicting "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" on detainees in the war on terror. But while Sen. McCain is surely right that how we treat those in our custody ultimately reflects back on us, this debate is also very much about who "they" are. That's because the Bush administration's justification for employing "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" against certain individuals expressly turns on the fact that these individuals are foreign nationals held abroad. The coercive-interrogation policy is predicated on a double standard: According to the administration, we can do it to "them" because "they" are different from "us."

On this theory, what would indisputably be illegal if done on U.S. soil, or if done to a U.S. citizen anywhere in the world, becomes lawful when inflicted on foreign nationals held abroad. It is this theory that drove the administration to warehouse hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, under our control but technically beyond our borders. It is this theory that drove the administration to open a network of CIA-controlled secret prisons—dubbed "black sites"—in undisclosed locations around the world. Application of the theory has already resulted in multiple homicides in the course of interrogations, one of which is recounted in gruesome detail by Jane Mayer in the Nov. 14 issue of The New Yorker.

And just when Congress appeared to be on the verge of doing something about it, Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the principal co-sponsors of the McCain Amendment, convinced the Senate to undercut the amendment by making it unenforceable—at least for the hundreds of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. On Thursday night, the Senate approved Graham's proposal, which would selectively suspend the writ of habeas corpus for foreign nationals held at Guantanamo, denying them any access to a court for violations of constitutional or international law—even if they are being subjected to precisely the cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment that the McCain Amendment prohibits. Graham's amendment is predicated on the same double standard as the Bush administration's interpretation of the Torture Convention—namely, that it is somehow permissible to do to foreign nationals what would be patently unacceptable if done to citizens.

This double standard is deeply flawed. Legal protections for fundamental rights of those we have locked up should not vary depending on the passport they hold. And this flaw raises a serious question not only about administration policy in the war on terror, but also about American constitutional doctrine.

The administration's justification for treating foreign nationals held abroad in the war on terror differently from those held here first surfaced with respect to the prisoners held at Guantanamo. When lawyers challenged the legality of those detentions, the administration responded that the Constitution does not extend to foreign nationals outside our borders, and that therefore the Guantanamo detainees have no constitutional rights. That issue is now being litigated in the courts—although not for long, if Graham's amendment becomes law.

Then, during Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' confirmation hearings, the administration disclosed that, in its view, not only does the Constitution not apply to foreigners held abroad, but a key part of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment doesn't either. That treaty, signed by virtually every country in the world, and signed and ratified by the United States in 1994, absolutely prohibits such conduct, without exception, even in a state of war.

After 9/11, however, the Bush administration took the view that the prohibition on "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" simply does not apply to foreign detainees held outside the United States. It pointed to the fact that when Congress ratified the treaty, it stated its understanding that "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" comprised conduct that would violate the United States Constitution—whose Fifth Amendment prohibits any coercion that "shocks the conscience" in interrogations. Claiming that the U.S. Constitution does not extend to foreigners overseas, the administration reasoned that the treaty prohibition on "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" is similarly limited.

This legal sleight of hand allows the president to insist repeatedly that he does not condone torture and acts only in accordance with the law, while simultaneously dispatching the vice president to Congress to preserve the loophole that allows the infliction of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment on foreign suspects abroad. That loophole is the legal underpinning of the CIA's reported practice of "disappearing" foreign suspects into secret "black sites" and then using interrogation tactics against them that would unquestionably be forbidden if employed at the agency's Langley, Va., headquarters. The CIA's approved tactics have reportedly included water-boarding—in which the suspect is made to think he is drowning to convince him to talk—mock burials, and threats to send individuals to countries with a known track record for even more brutal forms of torture.

The administration's treaty interpretation makes no sense. The Torture Convention is predicated on the principle that the conduct it prohibits is fundamentally incompatible with human dignity—and all human beings have equal dignity, regardless of their nationality, and regardless of where they are held. There is no evidence that Congress sought to limit the Torture Convention prohibition to conduct within our borders. Abraham Sofaer, who submitted the treaty to Congress on behalf of the first Bush administration, has written to Congress stating that the current administration's position is inconsistent with the original understanding of the convention and improperly turns an effort by Congress to give substantive definition to the terms "cruel, inhuman, and degrading" into a geographical loophole that frees U.S. officials to commit actions just short of torture when acting abroad.

Sen. Graham's proposal to cut off judicial review for foreign nationals held at Guantanamo exploits a similar double standard. By its terms, it applies only to foreign nationals—denying them habeas review that is preserved for citizens. There is no basis for selectively denying judicial review to foreign nationals—if anything, they need such protection even more than citizens, since, unlike citizens, they are unlikely to find any protection through the political process.

These efforts to exploit the vulnerabilities of foreign nationals raise even more fundamental questions about the proper scope of our constitutional obligations. If a particular tactic—say, water-boarding—is unconstitutional because it shocks the conscience when used against a citizen within the United States, why should the result be any different when U.S. officials employ the same tactic against a foreign national overseas?

Distinctions based on nationality and location have historical roots, but those roots are of doubtful validity today. For example, the Supreme Court's failure to treat freed slaves as "citizens" was the basis for its infamous 1857 ruling against Dred Scott. But Congress rejected the rationale of the Dred Scott case in the constitutional amendments adopted after the Civil War, guaranteeing equal protection and due process to all "persons."

When the Constitution was initially adopted, there were also strong distinctions between domestic and international law and jurisdiction—so much so that there was a question whether even U.S. citizens would be protected by the Constitution overseas. Indeed, in 1891, Supreme Court Justice Stephen J. Field wrote that "the Constitution can have no operation in another country."

But while such territorial distinctions might have made some sense in the 18th century, they make little sense today and have for the most part been abandoned. We routinely extend our laws abroad, prosecuting individuals for conduct overseas if it has any effect on U.S. citizens or property. Since the 1950s, the Supreme Court has held that the Bill of Rights is not limited by our borders and protects U.S. citizens from their own government wherever in the world they may be. Shouldn't the same principle apply to foreign nationals—at least in cases where U.S. officials have exercised coercive authority over them? The rights not to be locked up arbitrarily or to be protected from treatment that shocks the conscience are human rights, not privileges of citizenship. We should honor these rights wherever we are acting and on whomever we are acting.

Hermann Cohen, a 19th-century Jewish philosopher, once wrote, in an exegesis on the Bible, "The alien was to be protected not because he was a member of one's family, clan, or religious community, but because he was a human being. In the alien, therefore, man discovered the idea of humanity." We are in danger of losing that idea.

David Cole, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, is author of Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism.

The House's Abuse of Patriotism


The House's Abuse of Patriotism

Published: October 31, 2005

In the national anguish after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Congress rushed to enact a formidable antiterrorism law - the Patriot Act - that significantly crimped civil liberties by expanding law enforcement's power to use wiretaps, search warrants and other surveillance techniques, often under the cloak of secrecy. There was virtually no public debate before these major changes to the nation's legal system were put into effect.

Now, with some of the act's most sweeping powers set to expire at the end of the year, the two houses of Congress face crucial negotiations, which will also take place out of public view, on their differences over how to extend and amend the law. That's controversy enough. But the increasingly out-of-control House of Representatives has made the threat to our system of justice even greater by inserting a raft of provisions to enlarge the scope of the federal death penalty.

In a breathtaking afterthought at the close of debate, the House voted to triple the number of terrorism-related crimes carrying the death penalty. The House also voted to allow judges to reduce the size of juries that decide on executions, and even to permit prosecutors to try repeatedly for a death sentence when a hung jury fails to vote for death.

The radical amendment was slapped through by the Republican leadership without serious debate. The Justice Department has endorsed the House measure, and Representative James Sensenbrenner Jr., the Judiciary Committee chairman, who is ever on the side of more government power over the individual, is promising to fight hard for the death penalty provisions.

There are now 20 terrorism-related crimes eligible for capital punishment, and the House measure would add 41 more. These would make it easier for prosecutors to win a death sentence in cases where a defendant had no intent to kill - for example, if a defendant gave financial support to an umbrella organization without realizing that some of its adherents might eventually commit violence.

Any move to weaken the American jury system in the name of fighting terrorism is particularly egregious. But the House voted to allow a federal trial to have fewer than 12 jurors if the judge finds "good cause" to do so, even if the defense objects. Under current law, a life sentence is automatically ordered when juries become hung on deciding the capital punishment question. But the House would have a prosecutor try again - a license for jury-shopping for death - even though federal juries already exclude opponents of capital punishment.

The House's simplistic vote for another "crackdown" gesture can only further sully the notion of patriotism in a renewed Patriot Act.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

"The Look of Love" -"TORTURE MAN" - Dick Cheney, Why is this man still in office?

The Bush Administration and all that it’s reach commands is far and away are the most insipid group of governing individuals America has ever known about.

Why is the need to torture people so important that Cheny Lobbied for the past year about this?

Just who are the people in these secret camps all around the world?... where Dick Cheney wants to Torture them, kill them... without any adherence to the Geneva Convention laws prohibiting inhumane treatment of prisoners of war? It could be YOU in that camp the way Bush has obliterated American's civil rights. All under the guise of "PROTECTING AMERICA" from Terrorism.

The American people need to know what Bush is doing with the CIA and these secret prisons around the world.

And even more importantly we need to know the truth about 911.
There can be no real progress for America in the world until the truth about the Bush administrations role in 911 is understood. They have created false motives at every turn.
Distorted terrorist threats to induce fear, revoke free speech and civil liberty to ram through the Patriot Act, lies to start the Iraq war for oil and leave America with the highest debt in US history while they profit from it, excuses for outright negligence concerning the Katrina disaster...

Why are George W. Bush & Dick Cheney still in office? It’s outrageous and simply unbelievable. America is bankrolling a white house full of criminal conspirators. And the worst has yet to come.

Everything that has happened since 911 is proof that the Bush administration has used the powers of presidency in an ambiguously destructive manner. Deliberately. With supreme negligence and contempt for America and humanity in general.

Below is a list of links and articles concerning Dick Cheney’s mission to endorse TORTURE, above and beyond world law :


*+*+* Frontline's "The Torture Question" documented that the Bush admin. has sanctioned torture and committed war crimes.

++++++++++++++ ___________________________________


"Prisoners Allege Use of Lions"

The New York Times

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 - Army officials said Tuesday that they were looking into claims by two former Iraqi detainees that they had been put into cages holding lions to terrify them during interrogations in 2003.

Thahe Mohammed Sabar said in a statement released by the American Civil Liberties Union that soldiers had pushed him and Sherzad Khalid, a friend, into the cage, then pulled them out when a lion moved toward him. Mr. Khalid said soldiers had forced him into the cages after repeatedly asking where to find Saddam Hussein and unconventional weapons.

Asked about the allegations during a news conference on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said, "It seems quite far-fetched," adding, "Obviously, everything that everyone alleges is looked into."

The two are among eight plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in March by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First against Mr. Rumsfeld, alleging they were subjected to sexual abuse, mock executions and other torture.


***Read this little Torture Excerpt from a NY Times Op-Ed Below: ++++++++++

On Nov. 26, 2003, for example, an Iraqi major general, Abed Hamed Mowhoush, was forced into a sleeping bag, then asphyxiated by his American interrogators. We've obtained a memorandum from one of these interrogators - a former SERE trainer - who cites command authorization of "stress positions" as justification for using what he called "the sleeping bag technique."

"A cord," he explained, "was used to limit movement within the bag and help bring on claustrophobic conditions." In SERE, he said, this was called close confinement and could be "very effective." Those who squirmed or screamed in the sleeping bag, he said, were "allowed out as soon as they start to provide information."


Cheney Fights for Detainee Policy
As Pressure Mounts to Limit Handling Of Terror Suspects, He Holds Hard Line

By Dana Priest and Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, November 7, 2005; Page A01

Over the past year, Vice President Cheney has waged an intense and largely unpublicized campaign to stop Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department from imposing more restrictive rules on the handling of terrorist suspects, according to defense, state, intelligence and congressional officials.

Last winter, when Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, began pushing to have the full committee briefed on the CIA's interrogation practices, Cheney called him to the White House to urge that he drop the matter, said three U.S. officials.

In recent months, Cheney has been the force against adding safeguards to the Defense Department's rules on treatment of military prisoners, putting him at odds with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England. On a trip to Canada last month, Rice interrupted a packed itinerary to hold a secure video-teleconference with Cheney on detainee policy to make sure no decisions were made without her input.

Just last week, Cheney showed up at a Republican senatorial luncheon to lobby lawmakers for a CIA exemption to an amendment by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would ban torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners. The exemption would cover the CIA's covert "black sites" in several Eastern European democracies and other countries where key al Qaeda captives are being kept.

Cheney spokesman Steve Schmidt declined to comment on the vice president's interventions or to elaborate on his positions. "The vice president's views are certainly reflected in the administration's policy," he said.

Increasingly, however, Cheney's positions are being opposed by other administration officials, including Cabinet members, political appointees and Republican lawmakers who once stood firmly behind the administration on all matters concerning terrorism.

Personnel changes in President Bush's second term have added to the isolation of Cheney, who previously had been able to prevail in part because other key parties to the debate -- including Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and White House counsel Harriet Miers -- continued to sit on the fence.

But in a reflection of how many within the administration now favor changing the rules, Elliot Abrams, traditionally one of the most hawkish voices in internal debates, is among the most persistent advocates of changing detainee policy in his role as the deputy national security adviser for democracy, according to officials familiar with his role.

At the same time Rice has emerged as an advocate for changing the rules to "get out of the detainee mess," said one senior U.S. official familiar with discussions. Her top advisers, along with their Pentagon counterparts, are working on a package of proposals designed to address all controversial detainee issues at once, instead of dealing with them on a piecemeal basis.

Cheney's camp is a "shrinking island," said one State Department official who, like other administration officials quoted in this article, asked not to be identified because public dissent is strongly discouraged by the White House.

A fundamental question lies at the heart of these disagreements: Four years into the fight, what is the most effective way to wage the campaign against terrorism?

Cheney's camp says the United States does not torture captives, but believes the president needs nearly unfettered power to deal with terrorists to protect Americans. To preserve the president's flexibility, any measure that might impose constraints should be resisted. That is why the administration has recoiled from embracing the language of treaties such as the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which Cheney's aides find vague and open-ended.

On the other side of the debate are those who believe that unconventional measures -- harsh interrogation tactics, prisoner abuse and the "ghosting" and covert detention of CIA-held prisoners -- have so damaged world support for the U.S.-led counterterrorism campaign that they have hurt the U.S. cause. Also, they argue, these measures have tainted core American values such as human rights and the rule of law.

"The debate in the world has become about whether the U.S. complies with its legal obligations. We need to regain the moral high ground," said one senior administration official familiar with internal deliberations on the issue, adding that Rice believes current policy is "hurting the president's agenda and her agenda."

McCain's amendment would limit the military's interrogation and detention tactics to those described in the Army Field Manual, and it would prohibit all U.S. government employees from using cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Cheney pushed hard to have the entire amendment defeated. He twice held meetings with key lawmakers to lobby against the measure, once traveling to Capitol Hill in July, to button-hole Sens. John W. Warner (R-Va.), McCain and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).

When that tack did not work -- 90 senators supported the measure -- Cheney handed McCain language that would exempt the CIA. Despite Cheney's concerns, Graham said he has not heard any concerns from the CIA suggesting it needs an exemption from the McCain amendment. The CIA declined to comment.

"It shows that we have a philosophical difference here," said Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "The vice president believes in certain circumstances the government can't be bound by the language McCain is pushing. I believe that out of bounds of that language, we do harm to the U.S. image. It doesn't mean he's bad or I'm good; it just means we see it differently."

Cheney and the White House also oppose the language of a separate Defense Department directive, first reported by the New York Times, limiting detainee interrogations. The ongoing internal debate has stalled publication of the directive.

"This is the first issue we've gone to the trenches on," said a senior State Department official.

On the issue of the CIA's interrogation and detention practices, this spring Cheney requested the CIA brief him on the matter. "Cheney's strategy seems to be to stop the broader movement to get an independent commission on interrogation practices and the McCain amendment," said one intelligence official.

Beside personal pressure from the vice president, Cheney's staff is also engaged in resisting a policy change. Tactics included "trying to have meetings canceled ... to at least slow things down or gum up the works" or trying to conduct meetings on the subject without other key Cabinet members, one administration official said. The official said some internal memos and e-mail from the National Security Council staff to the national security adviser were automatically forwarded to the vice president's office -- in some cases without the knowledge of the authors.

For that reason, Rice "wanted to be in all meetings," said a senior State Department official.

Cheney's chief aide in this bureaucratic war of wills is David S. Addington, who was his chief counsel until last week when he replaced I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby as the vice president's chief of staff.

Addington exerted influence on many of the most significant policy decisions after Sept. 11, 2001. He helped write the position on torture taken by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, a stance rescinded after it became public, and he helped pick Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as the location beyond the reach of U.S. law for holding suspected terrorists.

When Addington learned that the draft Pentagon directive included language from Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits torture and cruel treatment, including "humiliating and degrading treatment," he summoned the Pentagon official in charge of the detainee issue to brief him.

During a tense meeting at his office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Addington was strident, said officials with knowledge of the encounter, and chastised Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew C. Waxman for including what he regarded as vague and unhelpful language from Article 3 in the directive.

On Tuesday, Cheney, who often attends the GOP senators' weekly luncheons without addressing the lawmakers, made "an impassioned plea" to reject McCain's amendment, said a senatorial aide who was briefed on the meeting and spoke on the condition of anonymity because of its closed nature. After Senate aides were ordered out of the Mansfield Room, just steps from the Senate chamber, Cheney said that aggressive interrogations of detainees such as Khalid Sheik Mohammed had yielded useful information, and that the option to treat prisoners harshly must not be taken from interrogators.

McCain then rebutted Cheney's comments, the aide said, telling his colleagues that the image of the United States using torture "is killing us around the world." At least one other senator, Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), supported Cheney, as he has in public, the aide said.

Staff writers Charles Babington and Josh White contributed to this report.

Cheney Plan Exempts CIA From Bill Barring Abuse of Detainees

By R. Jeffrey Smith and Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 25, 2005; Page A01

The Bush administration has proposed exempting employees of the Central Intelligence Agency from a legislative measure endorsed earlier this month by 90 members of the Senate that would bar cruel and degrading treatment of any prisoners in U.S. custody.

The proposal, which two sources said Vice President Cheney handed last Thursday to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the company of CIA Director Porter J. Goss, states that the measure barring inhumane treatment shall not apply to counterterrorism operations conducted abroad or to operations conducted by "an element of the United States government" other than the Defense Department.

Although most detainees in U.S. custody in the war on terrorism are held by the U.S. military, the CIA is said by former intelligence officials and others to be holding several dozen detainees of particular intelligence interest at locations overseas -- including senior al Qaeda figures Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaida.

Cheney's proposal is drafted in such a way that the exemption from the rule barring ill treatment could require a presidential finding that "such operations are vital to the protection of the United States or its citizens from terrorist attack." But the precise applicability of this section is not clear, and none of those involved in last week's discussions would discuss it openly yesterday.

McCain, the principal sponsor of the legislation, rejected the proposed exemption at the meeting with Cheney, according to a government source who spoke without authorization and on the condition of anonymity. McCain spokeswoman Eileen McMenamin declined to comment. But the exemption has been assailed by human rights experts critical of the administration's handling of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"This is the first time they've said explicitly that the intelligence community should be allowed to treat prisoners inhumanely," said Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "In the past, they've only said that the law does not forbid inhumane treatment." Now, he said, the administration is saying more concretely that it cannot be forbidden.

The provision in question -- which the Senate on Oct. 5 voted 90 to 9 to attach to its version of the pending defense appropriations bill over the administration's opposition -- essentially proscribes harsh treatment of any detainees in U.S. custody or control anywhere in the world. It was specifically drafted to close what its backers say is a loophole in the administration's policy of generally barring torture, namely its legal contention that these constraints do not apply to treatment of foreigners on foreign soil.

The House version of the appropriations bill contains no similar provision on detainee treatment, and lawmakers are to meet later this week to begin reconciling the conflict.

Cheney's meeting with McCain last week was his third attempt to persuade the lawmaker, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, to accept a less broad legislative bar against inhumane treatment. Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride declined to comment, saying, "the vice president does not discuss private conversations that he has with members [of Congress] . . . or information that may be exchanged with members."

She added that the intent of such meetings is usually "to build consensus on legislative issues, still in the policymaking process." CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Millerwise Dyck, a former Cheney aide, said the agency does not comment on the director's meetings.

Other sources said the vice president is also still fighting a second provision of the Senate-passed legislation, which requires that detainees in Defense Department custody anywhere in the world may be subjected only to interrogation techniques approved and listed in the Army's Field Manual.

The manual is undergoing revision, and McCain has contended that this process will give the military sufficient flexibility to respond to terrorist countermeasures. But Cheney's office has argued in talking points being circulated on Capitol Hill that the manual "will be inapplicable in certain instances" because of such countermeasures.

The CIA has been implicated in a number of alleged abuses in Iraq and has been linked to at least a few cases in which detainees have died during interrogations at separate military bases throughout the country. So far, no CIA operatives have been charged in connection with the abuse, although a single CIA contract employee is on trial for involvement in the death of an Afghanistan detainee, and sources have indicated that a grand jury may be looking at other allegations involving the CIA.

A report by the CIA inspector general's office on the agency's role in the handling of detainees is classified. It has been shown to the Justice Department and briefed only to a few lawmakers. Several military investigations have already blamed the CIA for leading a program in Iraq that essentially made detainees disappear within the military's detention system with no record of their captivity -- a practice that human rights groups have said violated international laws of war.

In a particularly infamous case, a detainee at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq named Manadel Jamadi was photographed after his death, packed in ice, by military police soldiers at the facility. He allegedly died in a shower room during interrogation by CIA officers after being brought there by Navy Seal team members. A high-level CIA operative allegedly helped conceal Jamadi's death after Army officers found his body.

But the extent of the CIA's direct involvement in torture is unclear, partly because the agency has been reluctant to help the Defense Department's many investigations into abuse and has refused to provide Army officers with documents deemed relevant to the probes.

Staff writer Dana Priest contributed to this report.


Op-Ed Contributors

Doing Unto Others as They Did Unto Us

Published: November 14, 2005

Washington — How did American interrogation tactics after 9/11 come to include abuse rising to the level of torture? Much has been said about the illegality of these tactics, but the strategic error that led to their adoption has been overlooked.

The Pentagon effectively signed off on a strategy that mimics Red Army methods. But those tactics were not only inhumane, they were ineffective. For Communist interrogators, truth was beside the point: their aim was to force compliance to the point of false confession.

Fearful of future terrorist attacks and frustrated by the slow progress of intelligence-gathering from prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Pentagon officials turned to the closest thing on their organizational charts to a school for torture. That was a classified program at Fort Bragg, N.C., known as SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape. Based on studies of North Korean and Vietnamese efforts to break American prisoners, SERE was intended to train American soldiers to resist the abuse they might face in enemy custody.

The Pentagon appears to have flipped SERE's teachings on their head, mining the program not for resistance techniques but for interrogation methods. At a June 2004 briefing, the chief of the United States Southern Command, Gen. James T. Hill, said a team from Guantánamo went "up to our SERE school and developed a list of techniques" for "high-profile, high-value" detainees. General Hill had sent this list - which included prolonged isolation and sleep deprivation, stress positions, physical assault and the exploitation of detainees' phobias - to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who approved most of the tactics in December 2002.

Some within the Pentagon warned that these tactics constituted torture, but a top adviser to Secretary Rumsfeld justified them by pointing to their use in SERE training, a senior Pentagon official told us last month.

When internal F.B.I. e-mail messages critical of these methods were made public earlier this year, references to SERE were redacted. But we've obtained a less-redacted version of an e-mail exchange among F.B.I. officials, who refer to the methods as "SERE techniques." We also learned from a Pentagon official that the SERE program's chief psychologist, Col. Morgan Banks, issued guidance in early 2003 for the "behavioral science consultants" who helped to devise Guantánamo's interrogation strategy (we've been unable to learn the content of that guidance).

SERE methods are classified, but the program's principles are known. It sought to recreate the brutal conditions American prisoners of war experienced in Korea and Vietnam, where Communist interrogators forced false confessions from some detainees, and broke the spirits of many more, through Pavlovian and other conditioning. Prolonged isolation, sleep deprivation, painful body positions and punitive control over life's most intimate functions produced overwhelming stress in these prisoners. Stress led in turn to despair, uncontrollable anxiety and a collapse of self-esteem. Sometimes hallucinations and delusions ensued. Prisoners who had been through this treatment became pliable and craved companionship, easing the way for captors to obtain the "confessions" they sought.

SERE, as originally envisioned, inoculates American soldiers against these techniques. Its psychologists create mock prison regimens to study the effects of various tactics and identify the coping styles most likely to withstand them. At Guantánamo, SERE-trained mental health professionals applied this knowledge to detainees, working with guards and medical personnel to uncover resistant prisoners' vulnerabilities. "We know if you've been despondent; we know if you've been homesick," General Hill said. "That is given to interrogators and that helps the interrogators" make their plans.

Within the SERE program, abuse is carefully controlled, with the goal of teaching trainees to cope. But under combat conditions, brutal tactics can't be dispassionately "dosed." Fear, fury and loyalty to fellow soldiers facing mortal danger make limits almost impossible to sustain.

By bringing SERE tactics and the Guantánamo model onto the battlefield, the Pentagon opened a Pandora's box of potential abuse. On Nov. 26, 2003, for example, an Iraqi major general, Abed Hamed Mowhoush, was forced into a sleeping bag, then asphyxiated by his American interrogators. We've obtained a memorandum from one of these interrogators - a former SERE trainer - who cites command authorization of "stress positions" as justification for using what he called "the sleeping bag technique."

"A cord," he explained, "was used to limit movement within the bag and help bring on claustrophobic conditions." In SERE, he said, this was called close confinement and could be "very effective." Those who squirmed or screamed in the sleeping bag, he said, were "allowed out as soon as they start to provide information."

Three soldiers have been ordered to stand trial on murder charges in General Mowhoush's death. Yet the Pentagon cannot point to any intelligence gains resulting from the techniques that have so tarnished America's image. That's because the techniques designed by communist interrogators were created to control a prisoner's will rather than to extract useful intelligence.

A full account of how our leaders reacted to terrorism by re-engineering Red Army methods must await an independent inquiry. But the SERE model's embrace by the Pentagon's civilian leaders is further evidence that abuse tantamount to torture was national policy, not merely the product of rogue freelancers. After the shock of 9/11 - when Americans desperately wanted mastery over a world that suddenly seemed terrifying - this policy had visceral appeal. But it's the task of command authority to connect means and ends rationally. The Bush administration has too frequently failed to do this. And so it is urgent that Congress step in to tie our detainee policy to our national interest.

M. Gregg Bloche is a law professor at Georgetown University and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. Jonathan H. Marks, a barrister in London, is a bioethics fellow at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Louisiana Sunset

LSU Lakes Dusk 3
Originally uploaded by Antifluff Superstar.

Louisiana Sunset

LSU Lakes Sunset
Originally uploaded by Antifluff Superstar.

“Online Freedom of Speech Act” is Rebublican Back Door for Unregulated Reporting of Political Ad's & Payoffs

The “Online Freedom of Speech Act” is OUTRAGEOUS!!
Especially since the Bush administration has been found to be “Buying News” ILLEGALLY!


This is how Bush became president for two terms. Control & manipulation ("Libby" leak as well to be sure) of "Jesus" via advertising channels presided over by Carl Rove. You can see the "911 Steel Beam Cross" for yourself if you click the link above...Baton Rouge, Louisiana July, 2005 "I'm with W how 'bout you" ... huge electronic Billboard Ad's along interstate I-10.


"the Internet would become a free-fire zone without any limits on spending or reporting requirements. The bill uses freedom of speech as a fig leaf, pasted on in the guise of defending political bloggers from government censorship. In fact, bloggers face no such threat under the existing campaign law."


The Digital Money Mill

Published: November 1, 2005

Now looms a wolfish assault in sheep's clothing: the Online Freedom of Speech Act, which House Republican leaders are suddenly planning to put to a vote on Wednesday so politicians can abuse the Internet as an unregulated outlet for multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns. The bill, put on a fast track in the hope that nobody notices outside the political-industrial complex, would exempt the Internet from the hard-won three-year-old reform law that stopped federal officials from tapping corporations, unions and fat cats for unregulated donations in the quid pro quo marketplace.

The reform law's ban on such "soft money" abuses would continue for political ads on radio and television and in print. But the Internet would become a free-fire zone without any limits on spending or reporting requirements. The bill uses freedom of speech as a fig leaf, pasted on in the guise of defending political bloggers from government censorship. In fact, bloggers face no such threat under the existing campaign law.

The Internet's power as a fund-raising tool has only begun to emerge. The House's greedy move to exempt the Web from the law of the land should be denied by any lawmaker mindful of polls showing that government corruption is a dominant public concern. Make no mistake: this is a bill to protect political bagmen, not bloggers.

Bush White House Abuse of - "War Powers in the Age of Terror"


"In the interests of national security today, we should curb presidential war-making powers. A hitherto compliant Congress must reclaim the institutional authority conferred upon it by the Constitution. When it comes to wars, the first responsibility of the legislative branch is not to support the commander in chief. It is to exercise independent judgment, an obligation that transcends party. Members of Congress who lack the wit or the moral courage to fulfill this obligation ought to be held accountable by voters."

Op-Ed Contributor

War Powers in the Age of Terror


Published: October 31, 2005


WHEN senators this month asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about possible military action against Syria or Iran, she recited the administration's standard response: all options remain "on the table." Pressed on whether any such action might require congressional authorization, Ms. Rice demurred. "I don't want to try and circumscribe presidential war powers," she said, adding that "the president retains those powers in the war on terrorism and in the war in Iraq."

Although Ms. Rice's evasion exhausted the committee's attention span, the war powers issue cries out for attention. In a post-9/11 world, what limits - if any - exist on the president's authority to use force?

The Constitution addresses the matter with apparent clarity. Article I, Section 8 assigns to Congress the authority "to declare war." After 1945, however, the perceived imperatives of waging the cold war all but nullified this provision. When it came to using force, presidents exercised wide discretion, ordering American troops into action and notifying Congress after the fact. The legislative branch no longer "declared" war; at most, it issued blank checks that the White House cashed at its convenience. Occasional efforts to constrain presidential freedom of action, like the Vietnam-inspired War Powers Resolution of 1973, accomplished little.

After 9/11, the Bush administration wasted little time in expanding executive prerogatives even further. Acting in his capacity as commander in chief, President Bush committed the nation to open-ended war on a global scale. Concluding that eradicating terrorism meant going permanently on the offensive, he promulgated a doctrine of preventive war. Finding that Saddam Hussein posed a clear and present danger, he moved to put this Bush Doctrine into effect in Iraq.

On Capitol Hill, the response to this sweeping assertion of presidential authority fell somewhere between somnolent and supine. With the administration gearing up to invade Iraq, the Congress roused itself just long enough to instruct the president in October 2002 to "defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq." As Lyndon Johnson did with the Tonkin Gulf Resolution of 1964, Mr. Bush interpreted this as a mandate to wage war however he saw fit, an interpretation that Secretary Rice has now reaffirmed.

Yet the brief history of America's global war on terrorism demonstrates the folly of allowing the executive branch a free hand in determining the scope and conduct of that conflict. Deference to Mr. Bush's fixation with Saddam Hussein has cost the United States dearly. To expand that misadventure will only drive those costs higher. Furthermore, an attack on either Syria or Iran, launched merely on the president's say-so, would produce a profound reaction, in all likelihood surpassing that induced by Richard Nixon's 1970 incursion into Cambodia.

In the interests of national security, earlier generations endowed whoever happened to occupy the Oval Office with the authority to unleash Armageddon. The perceived urgency of the Soviet threat took precedence over constitutional scruples. Deterring yesterday's enemy meant being able to wage war in an instant, with one man issuing the orders.

But defeating today's jihadists, who are unlikely to be impressed by the prospect of incineration, requires a different strategy. Victory will come when we have deprived violent radical Islam of its claim to legitimacy. Incorporating military power into that effort will require prudence - we have seen the consequences that rashness can produce. Hardly less important, sustaining military commitments once undertaken will demand a national consensus, which existed after 9/11 but which the present administration has since squandered.

In the interests of national security today, we should curb presidential war-making powers. A hitherto compliant Congress must reclaim the institutional authority conferred upon it by the Constitution. When it comes to wars, the first responsibility of the legislative branch is not to support the commander in chief. It is to exercise independent judgment, an obligation that transcends party. Members of Congress who lack the wit or the moral courage to fulfill this obligation ought to be held accountable by voters.

Andrew J. Bacevich, a professor of international relations at Boston University,is the author of "The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War."

Former Powell Aide Says Bush Policy Is Run by 'Cabal'

This is the first thing I've read, from someone who would know, (Powell's former aide Lawrence Wilkerson) that acknowledges the real danger we are in with the Bush Administration running America.

"Mr. Wilkerson suggested that the dysfunction within the administration was so grave that "if something comes along that is truly serious, truly serious, something like a nuclear weapon going off in a major American city, or something like a major pandemic, you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence."

Former Powell Aide Says Bush Policy Is Run by 'Cabal'

Published: October 21, 2005

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 - Secretary of State Colin Powell's former chief of staff has offered a remarkably blunt criticism of the administration he served, saying that foreign policy had been usurped by a "Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal," and that President Bush has made the country more vulnerable, not less, to future crises.

The comments came in a speech Wednesday by Lawrence Wilkerson, who worked for Mr. Powell at the State Department from 2001 to early 2005. Speaking to the New America Foundation, an independent public-policy institute in Washington, Mr. Wilkerson suggested that secrecy, arrogance and internal feuding had taken a heavy toll in the Bush administration, skewing its policies and undercutting its ability to handle crises.

"I would say that we have courted disaster, in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran, generally with regard to domestic crises like Katrina, Rita - and I could go on back," he said. "We haven't done very well on anything like that in a long time."

Mr. Wilkerson suggested that the dysfunction within the administration was so grave that "if something comes along that is truly serious, truly serious, something like a nuclear weapon going off in a major American city, or something like a major pandemic, you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence."

Mr. Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel and former director of the Marine Corps War College, said that in his years in or close to government, he had seen its national security apparatus twisted in many ways. But what he saw in Mr. Bush's first term "was a case that I have never seen in my studies of aberration, bastardizations" and "perturbations."

"What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues," he said.

The former aide referred to Mr. Bush as someone who "is not versed in international relations, and not too much interested in them, either." He was far more admiring of the president's father, whom he called "one of the finest presidents we've ever had."

Mr. Wilkerson has long been considered a close confidant of Mr. Powell, but their relationship has apparently grown strained at times - including over the question of unconventional weapons in Iraq - and the former colonel said Mr. Powell did not approve of his latest public criticisms.