Sunday, January 31, 2010

Osama and al-Gore on the same page

Sunday Funnies

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pelosi Misleading the American Public

Remember this from May of last year:

Since the release of his new book, Courting Disaster, Marc Thiessen has been on fire, making his rounds to promote the book (which is a GREAT thing), while also writing articles to set the record straight on the issue of the CIA and enhanced interrogations. It is critical that the American public understands that we did not compromise our core values, that our CIA did not torture, that media leaks and President Obama's release of the OLC memos damages our national security and benefits al Qaeda; and that the CIA program is the reason why another 9/11 attack has not been successfully carried out (yet).

Yesterday, in the Washington Post, Thiessen writes a devastating article on Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi:

In mid-2004, then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi learned something from a CIA briefing that made her blood boil. Pelosi reportedly "came unglued" at the revelation and had "strong words" with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, demanding that the CIA abandon its plans. As a result, a top-secret finding that President George W. Bush signed to authorize the CIA's activities was revised. Pelosi succeeded in stopping the agency from moving forward with the controversial operation.

What drove Pelosi to action? Not the CIA's waterboarding of suspected al-Qaeda terrorists

Read more »

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Literary Giant of American Fiction, Dead at 87

Both Howard Zinn and JD Salinger died yesterday. As Steve Schippert quipped:

"Yesterday, America saw two giants of American literary fiction pass: JD Salinger and Howard Zinn."

Boston Globe:

Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and whose books, such as "A People's History of the United States," inspired young and old to rethink the way textbooks present the American experience, died today in Santa Monica, Calif, where he was traveling. He was 87.

His daughter, Myla Kabat-Zinn of Lexington, said he suffered a heart attack.

"He's made an amazing contribution to American intellectual and moral culture," Noam Chomsky, the left-wing activist and MIT professor, said tonight. "He's changed the conscience of America in a highly constructive way. I really can't think of anyone I can compare him to in this respect."

Chomsky added that Dr. Zinn's writings "simply changed perspective and understanding for a whole generation. He opened up approaches to history that were novel and highly significant. Both by his actions, and his writings for 50 years, he played a powerful role in helping and in many ways inspiring the Civil rights movement and the anti-war movement."

For Dr. Zinn, activism was a natural extension of the revisionist brand of history he taught. "A People's History of the United States" (1980), his best-known book, had for its heroes not the Founding Fathers -- many of them slaveholders and deeply attached to the status quo, as Dr. Zinn was quick to point out -- but rather the farmers of Shays' Rebellion and union organizers of the 1930s.

As he wrote in his autobiography, "You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train" (1994), "From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than 'objectivity'; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it. This, of course, was a recipe for trouble."


Carroll called Dr. Zinn "simply one of the greatest Americans of our time. He will not be replaced -- or soon forgotten. How we loved him back."

I believe it was on The Dennis Prager Show that I heard him interviewed a few years ago. Prager asked him if the world would have been better off had the U.S. never come into existence. His answer? "Yes."

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Digging a-hole

"What we inherited when we walked in the door was an economic situation that was far worse than anybody ever knew," Gibbs said on "Fox News Sunday." "The hole we inherit and the hole that we have to fill is very, very deep."
The "hole they inherited"?! Really?! The reason the "hole they have to fill is very, very deep" is because they haven't put the shovel down!!!

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

The book you should not be able to read...

...had this information not been leaked by irresponsible government officials and news media, and finally released by President Obama himself. It is Courting Disaster. It only helps the terrorists understand how to better resist CIA interrogation methods. Marc Thiessen sets the record straight on CIA "torture":

The public view of interrogations had been shaped by the fictional Bauer, who captures a terrorist and proceeds to torture him — holding down his head in a bathtub full of water, using a Taser to shock him, lopping off his fingers with a cigar cutter — while screaming questions until the terrorist finally breaks and gives up the location of the nuclear bomb that is about to go off.

For some critics of U.S. interrogation policy, this is not fiction, but a depiction of reality. In Newsweek, Dahlia Lithwick has written that “high-ranking lawyers in the Bush administration erected an entire torture policy around the fictional edifice of Jack Bauer.” And Philippe Sands, author of the book Torture Team, has written that the show has been the “midwife” for torture’s “actual use on real, living human beings.” None of this is true.

Unlike these critics, I have had the chance to actually meet the real Jack Bauers — the CIA officials who questioned Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other senior terrorist leaders and got them to reveal their plans for new terrorist attacks. They explained to my why their approach has nothing in common with the methods used by Bauer on the fictional 24.

On July 31, 2006, I walked up the winding stairs of the Eisenhower Building to a secure conference room in the offices of the National Security Council’s intelligence directorate. I had been assigned to write a speech for President Bush acknowledging the existence of what was then the most highly classified program in the war on terror: the CIA program to detain and question captured terrorists. To write this speech, I was given access to some of the most sensitive intelligence our country possessed on the interrogation of senior al-Qaeda terrorists, as well as to intelligence officers who could explain to me how the program worked and why it had been successful in stopping new terrorist attacks.

Sitting across the table from me were several CIA officials, including two men I will call Harry and Sam (not their real names), I didn’t know anything about the individuals before me except that they were with the CIA and knowledgeable about the interrogation program.

As we began our discussion, I told them I believed the key to the success of the speech was to demonstrate the effectiveness of CIA interrogations with real, concrete examples of how the program saved lives. If Americans knew that CIA interrogations were effective, most would have no problem with the techniques the agency had employed. Some might even be shocked at how restrained they had been. Many Americans, I said, imagined that what went on at the CIA “black sites” mirrored what they saw on 24.

They began by clarifying precisely how the program actually worked. While 24 depicts violent scenes where interrogators inflict severe pain to get time-sensitive intelligence on terrorist dangers, in the real world, they told me, this is not how interrogations take place.

They explained, for example, that there is a difference between “interrogation” and “de-briefing.” Interrogation is not how we got information from the terrorists; it is the process by which we overcome the terrorists’ resistance and secure their cooperation — sometimes with the help of enhanced interrogation techniques.

Once the terrorist agreed to cooperate, I was told, the interrogation stopped and “de-briefing” began, as the terrorists were questioned by CIA analysts, using non-aggressive techniques to extract information that could help disrupt attacks.

The interrogation process was usually brief, they said. According to declassified documents, on average “the actual use of interrogation techniques covers a period of three to seven days, but can vary upwards to 15 days based on the resilience” of the terrorist in custody.

Most detainees, they told me, did not undergo it at all. Two-thirds of those brought into the CIA program did not require the use of any enhanced interrogation techniques. Just the experience of being brought into CIA custody — the “capture shock,” arrival at a sterile location, the isolation, the fact that they did not know where they were, and that no one else knew they were there — was enough to convince most of them to cooperate.

Others, like KSM, demonstrated extraordinary resistance. But even KSM’s interrogation did not take long before he moved into debriefing. He had been captured in early March, they said, and before the end of the month he had already provided information on a plot to fly airplanes into London’s Heathrow airport.

As they described the information the CIA had gotten from KSM and others, I slowly realized that these men were not simply describing what others in the agency had done; I was sitting face to face with the individuals who had actually questioned terrorists at the CIA’s black sites and gotten the information they were describing to me themselves.

Harry, it turned out, had interrogated KSM. He explained that interrogations involved strict oversight. There was no freelancing allowed — every technique had to be approved in advance by headquarters, and any deviation from the meticulously developed interrogation plan would lead to the immediate removal of the interrogator.

Harry said the average age of CIA interrogators was 43 and that each interrogator received 250 hours of training before being allowed to come in contact with a terrorist. And even after that, he said, they had to complete another 20 hours working together with an experienced interrogator before they could lead an interrogation on their own. Contrary to the claims later made by some critics, such as FBI agent Ali Soufan, the CIA did not send a bunch of inexperienced people to question high-value detainees.

Harry explained that the interrogations were not violent, as some imagined. He said that the interrogators’ credo was to use “the least coercive method necessary” and that “each of us is put through the measures so we can feel it.” He added: “It is very respectful. The detainee knows that we are not there to gratuitously inflict pain. He knows what he needs to do to stop. We see each other as professional adversaries in war.” (Indeed, Mike Hayden told me years later that KSM referred to Harry as “emir” — a title of great respect in the jihadist ranks.)

Critics have charged that enhanced interrogation techniques are not effective because those undergoing them will say anything to get them to stop. Soufan, the FBI agent and CIA critic, has written: “When they are in pain, people will say anything to get the pain to stop. Most of the time, they will lie, make up anything to make you stop hurting them. . . . That means the information you’re getting is useless.”

What this statement reveals is that Soufan knows nothing about how the CIA actually employed enhanced interrogation techniques. In an interview for my book, former national-security adviser Steve Hadley explained to me, “The interrogation techniques were not to elicit information. So the whole argument that people tell you lies under torture misses the point.” Hadley said the purpose of the techniques was to “bring them to the point where they are willing to cooperate, and once they are willing to cooperate, then the techniques stop and you do all the things the FBI agents say you ought to do to build trust and all the rest.”

Former CIA director Mike Hayden explained to me that, as enhanced techniques are applied, CIA interrogators like Harry would ask detainees questions to which the interrogators already know the answers — allowing them to judge whether the detainees were being truthful and determine when the terrorists had reached a level of compliance. Hayden said, “They are designed to create a state of cooperation, not to get specific truthful answers to a specific question.”

Indeed, the first terrorist to be subjected to enhanced techniques, Zubaydah, told his interrogators something stunning. According to the Justice Department memos released by the Obama administration, Zubaydah explained that “brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship.” In other words, the terrorists are called by their religious ideology to resist as far as they can — and once they have done so, they are free to tell everything they know.

Several senior officials told me that, after undergoing waterboarding, Zubaydah actually thanked his interrogators and said, “You must do this for all the brothers.” The enhanced interrogation techniques were a relief for Zubaydah, they said, because they lifted a moral burden from his shoulders — the responsibility to continue resisting.

The importance of this revelation cannot be overstated: Zubaydah had given the CIA the secret code for breaking al-Qaeda detainees. CIA officials now understood that the job of the interrogator was to give the captured terrorist something to resist, so he could do his duty to Allah and then feel liberated to speak. So they developed techniques that would allow terrorists to resist safely, without any lasting harm. Indeed, they specifically designed techniques to give the terrorists the false perception that what they were enduring was far worse than what was actually taking place.

Once interrogators like Harry had secured a detainee’s cooperation, the enhanced techniques stopped, and the de-briefers entered the picture. Sam was a de-briefer — a subject matter expert with years of experience studying and tracking al-Qaeda members. His expertise had contributed to the capture of the terrorists he was now questioning — and now he put that expertise to work to find out what they knew.

Like the interrogators, de-briefers were carefully selected and trained before coming into contact with a detainee. They knew each detainee’s personal history, and what information they should know — allowing them to hone in on key details, maintain a fast pace of questions, and verify the truthfulness of the terrorists’ responses.

Sam had spent countless hours with KSM and the other terrorists held by the agency. When he elicited new information, he and the other de-briefers did not simply take the terrorists at their word. They checked their statements against other forms of intelligence and information from other captured terrorists — and confronted the detainees with evidence when they were holding information back or trying to mislead them.

Indeed, one reason the program was so effective, Sam told me, is that the de-briefers had 24/7 access to the detainees, many of whom were held in the same location. This allowed de-briefers to play one terrorist against the other. If KSM told them something about another terrorist in their custody, they could immediately confront the other terrorist with KSM’s revelations and get him to provide more details — and then go back with that information to get more from KSM.

They did this to great effect — confronting KSM and others with the statements of other terrorists in CIA custody, and getting information that helped them unravel planned attacks. Harry and Sam walked me through specific examples of how the interrogations had helped disrupt a series of terrorist plots in this way, showing me how information from a particular terrorist custody had led to the capture of other specific individuals, who in turn led us to other individuals, until the plots had been disrupted. These disrupted plots are detailed in Courting Disaster.

For example, information from detainees in CIA custody led to the arrest of an al-Qaeda terrorist named Jose Padilla, who was sent to America on a mission to blow up high-rise apartment buildings in the United States.

Information from detainees in CIA custody led to the capture of a cell of Southeast Asian terrorists which had been tasked by KSM to hijack a passenger jet and fly it into the Library Tower in Los Angeles.

Information from detainees in CIA custody led to the capture of Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, KSM’s right-hand-man in the 9/11 attacks, just as he was finalizing plans for a plot to hijack airplanes in Europe and fly them into Heathrow airport and buildings in downtown London.

Information from detainees in CIA custody led to the capture of Ammar al-Baluchi and Walid bin Attash, just as they were completing plans to replicate the destruction of our embassies in East Africa by blowing up the U.S. consulate and Western residences in Karachi, Pakistan.

Information from detainees in CIA custody led to the disruption of an al-Qaeda plot to blow up the U.S. Marine camp in Djibouti, in an attack that could have rivaled the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut.

Information from detainees in CIA custody helped break up an al-Qaeda cell that was developing anthrax for terrorist attacks inside the United States.

In addition to helping break up these specific terrorist cells and plots, CIA questioning provided our intelligence community with an unparalleled body of information about al-Qaeda — giving U.S. officials a picture of the terrorist organization as seen from the inside, at a time when we knew almost nothing about the enemy who had attacked us on 9/11.

In addition, CIA detainees helped identify some 86 individuals whom al-Qaeda deemed suitable for Western operations — most of whom we had never heard of before. According to the intelligence community, about half of these individuals were subsequently tracked down and taken off the battlefield. Without CIA questioning, many of these terrorists could still be unknown to us and at large — and may well have carried out attacks against the West by now.

Until the program was temporarily suspended in 2006, well over half of the information our government had about al-Qaeda — how it operates, how it moves money, how it communicates, how it recruits operatives, how it picks targets, how it plans and carries out attacks — came from the interrogation of terrorists in CIA custody.

Another reason the program was so effective, Harry and Sam explained, was that because the terrorists were in a secure location, CIA officials could also expose sensitive information to them — asking them to explain the meaning of materials captured in terrorist raids, and to indentify phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and voices in recordings of intercepted communications. This could never be done if the terrorists were being held in a facility where they had regular contact with the outside world. The danger of this information getting out would have been far too great.

Harry and Sam told me that the agency believed without the program the terrorists would have succeeded in striking our country again.

Harry put it bluntly: “It is the reason we have not had another 9/11.”

Their work was vital, but it was not easy. They took great care to stay within the confines of the law and to ensure the safety of those in their custody. For their efforts, they have been vilified as torturers by critics who know next to nothing about what went on at the “black sites” where they worked. In 2005, CIA director Porter Goss tapped two outside officials to conduct a review of the effectiveness of the CIA interrogation program: Gardner Peckham, the former national-security adviser to House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and John Hamre, former deputy secretary of defense in the Clinton administration. Both spent several months at CIA headquarters studying the program and meeting with officials involved.

Peckham recalls having a long conversation late one night with one of the interrogators when he was conducting his review. This was “a very dedicated, capable guy who told me that he had been in with KSM one day, and KSM had basically said to him matter-of-factly, ‘If I ever get out of this hole, I’m going to kill you and your entire family.’ We were sitting there at nine o’clock at night or something, and he said to me, ‘You know, I work long days; this is hard. When I get down about it, I just think back to the film footage of the two people standing on the window of the World Trade Center on the 90-something floor, grasping each other by the hand and stepping out into space.’ He said, ‘I think of those two people, and I just go back to work.’”

Peckham says, “That really got to me. That level of dedication. These guys knew they were, in a lot of ways, limiting their futures by doing this kind of work, I think.They were risking something. But they knew a lot of other people were risking things too. And they knew it was important work, and I just have an enormous amount of respect for the people who are in this program. And I have such profound disrespect for those who ran for the tall grass when it started to become exposed, and even less regard for those who now seek to take political advantage of it.”

Also, a great interview on the Michael Medved Show:

I bought Thiessen's book, Courting Disaster, today.

Finally, another great piece by Stephen Hayes:

Four top counterterrorism officials testified before a congressional committee that they were not consulted about how to handle the interrogation of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the al Qaeda operative who attempted to blow up Flight 253 on Dec. 25, 2009.

That group included all three senior Obama administration officials who testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday: Janet Napolitano, secretary of Homeland Security; Michael Leiter, chairman of the National Counterterrorism Center; and Dennis Blair, the director of National Intelligence. It also included FBI Director Robert Mueller.

With surprising candor, Blair, the nation's top intelligence official, explained that these officials were not deliberately excluded from the decision-making process in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Rather, he told the Senate Homeland Security Committee, there was no process at all.

"I've been a part of the discussions which established this high-value interrogation unit, [HIG] which we started as part of the executive order after the decision to close Guantanamo. That unit was created for exactly this purpose -- to make a decision on whether a certain person who's detained should be treated as a case for federal prosecution or for some of the other means. We did not invoke the HIG in this case," he said. "We should have."

That's quite an admission. Blair wasn't finished. "Frankly, we were thinking more of overseas people and, duh!, we didn't put it then. That's what we will do now. And so we need to make those decisions more carefully. I was not consulted and the decision was made on the scene. It seemed logical to the people there but it should have been taken using this HIG format at a higher level."
Read the rest.

Related post by Mike's America


Marc Thiessen vs. Christiane Amanpour

Just picked up his book today:

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Sunday Funnies

More at Flopping Aces


Saturday, January 23, 2010

NASA: No evidence of man-made global warming in the U.S.

Is this headline news worthy?

Check out this e-mail excerpt from Reto Ruedy, one of the top analysts at NASA GISS. It reveals they have no evidence of man-made global warming showing up in the USA temp data:

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Friday, January 22, 2010


If you want easy entertainment with your popcorn, MSNBC has been the place to be. This one's a Dean-scream:

Amazing how Howard Dean can do so much spinning and keep a straight face. Well...maybe not so amazing...this is Howard Dean, after all.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ted Kennedy Rolls Over in His Grave

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Funnies

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Friday, January 15, 2010

What's next? A television sit-com?

Just get a load of this photo with the following NYTimes article:

January 11, 2010
Brandon Neely, center, was a Guantánamo Bay guard, and Ruhal Ahmed, left, and Shafiq Rasul were prisoners. Photo by Jeff Overs

CJ had posted a year ago on the curious case of Brandon Neely. Recently, he and Marcus were wondering why a year later, they were receiving comments on the post, mostly coming from the UK. Here's the answer...


New to Facebook, Brandon Neely was searching the site for acquaintances in 2008 when he typed in the names of some of the detainees he had guarded during his tenure as a prison guard at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Mr. Neely, an Army veteran who spent six months at the prison in 2002, sent messages to one of the freed men, Shafiq Rasul, and was astonished when Mr. Rasul replied. Their exchanges sparked a face-to-face meeting, arranged by the BBC, which will be shown on Tuesday. Mr. Neely, who has served as the president of the Houston chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War, says his time at Guantánamo now haunts him, and has granted confessional-style interviews about the abuses he says he witnessed there. In a message to Mr. Rasul, Mr. Neely apologized for his role in the imprisonment.

Gavin Lee, a BBC correspondent, learned about the Facebook messages from Mr. Rasul, who lives in Britain, and thought the situation was incredible. Mr. Lee tracked down Mr. Neely — on Facebook, naturally — and asked, “would you consider meeting face to face?”

“He thought about it and he said, ‘I would love to,’ ” Mr. Lee recalled last week. “I would love to apologize in person.”

Read more »

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Funnies

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

Silly Request

YouTube is the most vile and worthless place for debate. A real time-waster.

Nevertheless, due to a friend posting a video on FB, and me taking issue with it, I somehow also ended up engaging debate on the YouTube site.

My request is this: If you see my comments (username: Fightflipnfold) and have a YouTube account, please "positive" them, as a vaccine against the haters who don't like what I say. I already received a few thumbs down rankings. After 6 negatives, no one can see what I wrote.

It's crazy to give me negative ratings simply because I'm saying things disagreeable to them. I don't give negatives to the challenges to my opinion.

So I expect even my lefty visitors here, who champion debate and free speech, will also give me thumbs up ratings.

Here's more background on Prysner, for anyone curious or unfamiliar with him and the video.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Partisan President

Brushing aside legitimate criticism and harsh questioning of the Obama Administration in wake of the Christmas "dingaling" bomber (as talk radio host Michael Medved refers to Umar Farouk Abdulmullatab), President Obama concluded his weekly radio address (January 2, 2010) with the following call for national unity:

But as we go forward, let us remember this-our adversaries are those who would attack our country, not our fellow Americans, not each other. Let's never forget what has always carried us through times of trial, including those attacks eight Septembers ago. [Did he just invoke 9/11 (not the first time, actually)? Something President Bush was criticized for doing repeatedly?- wordsmith]

Instead of giving in to fear and cynicism, let's renew that timeless American spirit of resolve and confidence and optimism. Instead of succumbing to partisanship and division, let's summon the unity that this moment demands. Let's work together, with a seriousness of purpose, to do what must be done to keep our country safe.

As we begin this New Year, I cannot imagine a more fitting resolution to guide us-as a people and as a nation.

As Medved pointed out in his program Monday, if the president wishes for politics to "stop at the water's edge", why then did he feel it necessary to include the following, earlier in the same speech:

It's why I refocused the fight-bringing to a responsible end the war in Iraq, which had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks [he's used this line in past speeches- wordsmith], and dramatically increasing our resources in the region where al Qaeda is actually based, in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It's why I've set a clear and achievable mission-to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies and prevent their return to either country.

Why does the "new kind of politician who rises above the petty Washington politics of old" never botheres to reach across the partisan divide himself and acknowledge that President Bush kept us safe since 9/11?

What is it with Mr. Unity, Barack Obama, who calls for the nation to come together at this particular moment, even as he sticks in politically partisan cheap shots within the same speech? As Michael Medved points out, how about leading by example, Mr. President?

Read more »

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Sunday Funnies

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