Sunday, February 28, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
"How not to torture" Memo Lawyers Cleared of "professional misconduct"
In a day when we confront an enemy that has no state, wears no uniform and can not be appeased or negotiated with using diplomatic or economic means a new challenge was met by President George W. Bush with renewed reliance on the historic and evolving use of executive power. We all remember the battles Bush had with Congress over the use of Executive authority to combat terrorism after September 11th. John Yoo was at the epicenter of those battles. From 2001-2003, he served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he worked on issues involving foreign affairs, national security, and the separation of powers.
In 2002, on the heels of 9/11, the Office of Legal Counsel determined that the interrogation practices of the CIA were lawful. This gave the CIA legal confidence on where the line was drawn so that they could carry out their duty of protecting the country without fear of criminal and professional prosecution down the road.
For the last 5 years, the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility has been conducting an investigation into the rulings held by Yoo and Bybee.
Last Friday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers released their report:
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Thursday, February 25, 2010
Daniel Freedman Debates Marc Thiessen
Even good questions from the MSNBC Morning Joe hosts (all points addressed in Thiessen's book, Courting Disaster). Thiessen comes very well armed for debate.
Ali Soufan wouldn't come on to defend and debate (Ali Soufan is the FBI agent- not evil, just wrong and a hero in my book- who has been lionized by the left for his opposition to the CIA interrogation program) so he is represented by Daniel Freedman, the Director of Policy Analysis and Communications of the Soufan Group (also served on Giuliani's campaign as a foreign policy analyst).
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010
A Defining Moment...
Another page in the scrapbook has a clear acetate pouch. Stuffed inside is a thick, folded sheet of blue paper. An Iraqi ballot I stole on January 30th 2005.
The sound of mortar fire fills my ears. The desk dissolves. Suddenly, I’m kneeling on a road, a palm grove to my front. Iraq. Election Day 2005.
The bullets are flying.
My squad runs through the searing heat and forms a wall of flesh and Kevlar between the incoming fire and the citizens standing in line behind us. They’ve turned out in their finest clothes to wait for the opportunity to cast a vote. For most, this moment is a defining one in their lives. They’ve never had a voice before. This means something to them, and they have used the moment as an object lesson for their children. They appear nervous and take photos. The kids stand with them in line, viewing first hand this revolution in Iraqi civics.
As they came to line up earlier that morning, the men thanked us and clasped their hands over their heads, striking a triumphant pose. Some of the women cried. The kids were on their best behavior.
The gunfire began that afternoon. Insurgents started to shoot them. My unit ran to the road and formed a protective position between the killers and the citizens going to the polls. As we scanned the palm grove in front of us, bullets cracked and whined, then mortars start thumping around us. My squad pushed into the palm grove. I stayed on the road, overseeing their movement and coordinating the heavy fire from the Bradleys.
The firefight ebbs. The mortar fire ceases. A few last stray rounds streak past. A cry from behind causes me to turn. Lying in the road is a young Iraqi woman. I run over to help. She’s caught a round just below her temple. Her stunning beauty has been ruined forever.
She cries, “Paper! Paper” over and over until the ambulance arrives to take her away. An old lady emerges from the schoolhouse-turned voting site, sheets of blue paper in hand. She gives one to the wounded girl, who clutches it to her like a prized possession even as the ambulance carries her away.
The ballot was her voice. All she wanted was a chance to exercise it, just once, before she died.
The old woman returns to the school house, but drops another ballot along the way. It drifts in a gentle breeze across the bloodstained asphalt. I stoop down and pick it up. It is all in Arabic, and I have no idea what each set of candidates advocate. That’s not my place, and it doesn’t really matter. I helped make this day happen. This ballot represents the reason why we’re here, why my friends had to die.
Carefully, I fold the ballot up and put it in my pocket. Even though I was 29 at the time , I’d only voted once.
I had taken something so precious for granted for far too long.
Read the rest...from beginning to end.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Killing vs. Capturing/Interrogating Terrorists
More regarding the dueling VPs last weekend:
Biden struck first, declaring that Cheney's attacks on Obama's commitment to fighting terrorism ignored the facts.
"We've eliminated 12 of their top 20 people. We have taken out 100 of their associates," said Biden. "They are in fact not able to do anything remotely like they were in the past. They are on the run. I don't know where Dick Cheney has been. Look, it's one thing, again, to criticize. It's another thing to sort of rewrite history. What is he talking about?"
What is Joe Biden talking about, "rewrite history"? Much of al Qaeda's original leadership and many of its operatives were killed and captured in the years since 9/11 and before the Age of Obama. Furthermore, Obama has inherited many of the tools developed during the Bush years that has kept America safe. Even many of his lefty allies understand that much of the war on terror success OBiden can boast of in his first year in office is due to the perpetuation of Bush-era policies that they so despised and reviled.
But where Obama departs from Bush is where he endangers America most...
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Friday, February 19, 2010
On This Day in History…
An exclusion order posted at First and Front Streets in San Francisco directing removal of persons of Japanese ancestry.
On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. There was no mention of relocation centers in the EO, because initially none were envisioned. The purpose was for those of Japanese ancestry to relocate voluntarily, anywhere within the interior, away from the West Coast and areas of strategic military importance.
On April 25, 1992, as a UCLA student, I went by bus from campus on a pilgrimage to Manzanar, 230 miles northeast of Los Angeles on the 50th Anniversary of the internment of 110,000 Japanese-Americans into relocation camps during WWII.
As sympathetic as I am to the Japanese-American experience (my mom being Japanese, I identify more with ...Japanese-American culture than Thai/Thai-American), I'm going to go ahead and anger a lot of people and extol some of the non-PC merits of Michelle Malkin's book, In Defense of Internment: the case for 'racial profiling' in World War II.
The imposing beauty of the Sierra Nevada mountains, marred by having to see them through barbed wire fences.
Photo taken by Wordsmith
Whether you agree or disagree with Malkin's points in the end, I see nothing at all that is "racist" about her book, unless one knee-jerks into PC-induced sensitivities as substitution for thinking.
It is revisionist dishonesty (or unfortunate ignorance) for anyone to claim there were no instances of Japanese issei or nisei who displayed commitment to the ultra-nationalistic tradition of "doho" (unbending loyalty to the Emperor regardless of residence or citizenship status). Malkin provides a number of examples of where there was evidence of Japanese-American disloyalty.
Even moreso than racism and prejudice, the possibility of fifth column saboteurs and the dangers of further attacks on the West Coast were very real, and supported by the best military and civilian intelligence analysis at the time. This included the MAGIC messages which were intercepted diplomatic communications that revealed Japan's espionage activities in regards to the West Coast, Hawaii, and the southern border.
Throughout Europe and the South Pacific, there were instances of Japanese immigrants who consorted with their ancestral homeland, revealing where their loyalties lay. Same held true with Germans who no longer lived in Germany (which brings up the point that it wasn't just those of Japanese ancestry who were interned by the Department of Justice- of the 31 thousand enemy aliens from Axis nations, nearly half were European).
The conventional perspective, of course, is exemplified by the following passage from "Yankee Samurai", by Joseph D. Harrington- a perspective that rings heroic for me, with selfless patriotism, bitter sorrow, honor and conflicted loyalty, and unconditional love and service to country:
"Before leaving New Guinea, Walter Tanaka had faced up to a major crisis in his life. He had done everything he could to dissuade his angry and disappointed father from renouncing the U.S. and returning to Japan. This was not easy to do while soaking wet in a foxhole with the enemy shooting at you. The moisture on Walt's face was more than rain when he read what he feared was his father's last letter on a painful subject.
America had disappointed him. Tunejiro Tanaka told his son, as he recounted the family troubles. He intended to go back to Japan as soon as he could. But, he had other ideas concerning Walter. 'When a tiger dies, he leaves his skin,' Tunejiro wrote, quoting an old Japanese adage, 'but when a man dies he leaves only his name. America has rejected me, and I am going back to my native country, Japan. You, however, are to stay in America. It is your country. Defend it. I charge you not to do anything that will dishonor my name."
-Ch. 12, pg 258
And we are all proud of the selfless patriotism and heroism of Nisei who found themselves in the unfortunate circumstance of having to prove their loyalty, fighting for a country that uprooted and held their families in internment camps.
To my knowledge, the all-Japanese 442nd Regimental Combat Team remains the most highly decorated unit in American military history. And those Japanese-Americans who acted as translators for military intelligence played a large role in saving lives by winning/shortening the war.
Today, civil rights activists want to draw parallels between the Japanese-American experience of then to that of Muslim-Americans, today.
Vigilance against prejudice is ok; but we shouldn't be crammed with so much political correctness as to throw common sense out the window.
Profiling is not the worst evil in the world. It is a logical process of identification. You do this naturally in your everyday activity. If I see someone wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt concert, the natural conclusion for me to reach is that, chances are, the guy's a fan of their music. I could be wrong, sure. But percentage-wise, I'm probably correct in my initial assessment, without yet verifying and confirming.
There are all kinds of profiling: Racial/ethnic, national, religious, behavioral...
The act of profiling doesn't mean you automatically are thinking "guilty before proven innocent".
If a certain terror cult had a strange fixation with wearing Casio F91W wrist-watches, it only follows that one should scrutinize those wearing the favored watch more closely than those without; it does not mean that ALL and even MOST people who choose to wear that watch are terrorists. It's just one clue on a list of potential traits to be on the lookout for.
The fear of racial/ethnic/religious/national profiling- of being labeled "racist"- failed to protect us against 9/11 terrorists. Ronald Kessler's The Terrorist Watch, pg 30-31, pg 33:
When he wrote the Phoenix memo, Williams was investigating an individual who was a member of the al-Muahjiroun, an Islamic extremist group whose spiritual leader was a supporter of bin Laden. The man was taking aviation-related security courses at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. Why was he interested in aviation security? Perhaps so he could hijack a plane, Williams thought. Others taking flight training could have the same nefarious purpose.
Headquarters passed the memo off to low-level analysts, who wondered whether interviewing Middle Eastern men taking flight lessons or aviation security courses would raise issues of racial profiling.
the FBI operated in a politically correct atmosphere that Congress, the Clinton Administration, and the media fostered. Focusing on Arab men was a no-no.
In Defense of Internment, pg XXVIII-XXIX:
Williams recommendation to canvas flight schools was rejected, FBI director Robert Mueller later admitted, partly because at least one agency offical raised concerns that the plan could be viewed as discriminatory racial profiling. "If we went out and started canvassing, we'd get in trouble for targeting Arab Americans," one FBI official told the Los Angeles Times.
To be sure, the Phoenix memo was not enough to warn of the 9/11 plot (Williams himself only marked the memo for "routine" attention and never dreamt of the possibility of hijackers flying planes into buildings); but what is revealed is the aversion to conduct the kind of profiling that would raise the hackles of civil rights groups.
And today, we are still hamstrung by our political correctness sensitivities and fear to offend, as demonstrated by the Ft. Hood shooting (and what have we here....5 U.S. soldiers plotting together?!). That one should have been preventable.
So long as this remains the case, we will treat grandmothers and young, Middle-Eastern men in their 20's with equal levels of scrutiny, taking off belts and shoes, and being prevented to bring aboard a simple gift like a snow globe. Because discrimination is such a naughty word and profiling an act of great evil and injustice.
When civil liberty activists hyperventilate about "That's profiling!"
My answer, in classic Cheney-fashion, is...
Cross-posted at Flopping Aces
Monday, February 15, 2010
Zubaydah Thanked His Interrogators for Waterboarding Him
This past Valentine's Day....
Former VP Cheney's ABC This Week:
KARL: But you believe they should have had the option of everything up to and including waterboarding?
CHENEY: I think you ought to have all of those capabilities on the table. Now, President Obama has taken them off the table. He announced when he came in last year that they would never use anything other than the U.S. Army manual, which doesn’t include those techniques. I think that’s a mistake.
From VP Biden's appearance on CBS' Face the Nation:
Schieffer: "Can you Mr. Vice President envision a time where waterboarding can ever be used on anyone?"
Biden: "No, no, it's not effective"
Schieffer: "It's not effective?"
Biden: "It's not effective"
Abu Zubaydah disagrees with Joe Biden. He is living proof that waterboarding worked. Not only that, but he endorsed waterboarding with a personal stamp of approval.
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Sunday, February 14, 2010
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Welshmen will not Yield
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Biden Takes the Cake!
[Biden] – I am very optimistic about — about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration. You’re going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer. You’re going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government.
I spent — I’ve been there 17 times now. I go about every two months — three months. I know every one of the major players in all the segments of that society. It’s impressed me. I’ve been impressed how they have been deciding to use the political process rather than guns to settle their differences.
Labels: Marc Thiessen
Monday, February 08, 2010
Media Uses Story of Child Abuse as a Teachable Moment of Bush-Era "Torture" Practices
An Army sergeant who served in Iraq for 15 months has been restricted to his Washington military base after being accused of waterboarding his 4-year-old daughter because she refused to recite her ABCs.
But what I'd like to take umbrage with is how the media has decided to take this act of child abuse and water torture to draw an equivalence to the CIA enhanced interrogation program, which included the waterboarding of 3 known high-value terrorists, resistant to standard interrogation methods.
Although I'm linking to ABC News, it's not just ABC that's headlining this story as "waterboarding", drawing equivalence to the CIA program, and featuring a photo of protesters re-enacting their version of CIA waterboarding. See here and here and here.
Emily Friedman of ABC News writes:
The torture technique of waterboarding, which has been used by the CIA during interrogations of al Qaeda suspects, was outlawed in 2009 by President Obama.
Ok, it is disputable whether or not the CIA SERE-inspired technique of waterboarding rises to the definition of torture, both legally and morally. And as far as Obama "outlawing" it, well newsflash: Waterboarding (after just 3 terrorists) was already stricken from the CIA program. Obama's EO banning torture carried much the same language as the previous 2007 Bush EO that it replaced (newsflash: Bush was against torture as well). What Obama's EO did do, however, was close down the CIA program that gained us valuable intell (and saved lives), and order all interrogations be limited to what is only permissible from the Army Field Manual.
Leave it to an agenda-driven MSM to slant and push a political perspective to a story of child abuse.
Cross-posted at Flopping Aces