The Taliban Tried to Surrender and the U.S. Rebuffed Them. Now Here We Are.


Only full annihilation was enough for the Bush administration. They wanted more terrorists in body bags. The problem was that the Taliban had stopped fighting, having either fled to Pakistan or melted back into civilian life. Al Qaeda, for its part, was down to a handful of members.So how do you kill terrorists if there aren’t any?Simple: Afghans that the U.S. worked with understood the predicament their military sponsors were in, so they fabricated bad guys. Demand has a way of creating supply, and the U.S. was paying for information that led to the death or capture of Taliban fighters. Suddenly there were Taliban everywhere. Score-settling ran amok; all you had to do to get your neighbor killed or sent to Guantánamo was tell the U.S. they were members of the Taliban.

Source: The Taliban Tried to Surrender and the U.S. Rebuffed Them. Now Here We Are.

Major New Court Ruling Says “Even The President” Can’t Declare Torture Lawful


The ruling reinstates a lawsuit against a military contractor for its role in the torture of four men at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Source: Major New Court Ruling Says “Even The President” Can’t Declare Torture Lawful

Scalia dismisses concept of religious neutrality in speech

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Saturday the idea of religious neutrality is not grounded in the country’s constitutional traditions and that God has been good to the U.S. exactly because Americans honor him.

Source: Scalia dismisses concept of religious neutrality in speech

Bland Monster Jeb Bush “Proud” of His Brother’s Torturing People

In remarks in Iowa, Jeb celebrated all his brother did “to create a secure environment for our country” after 9/11.

Source: Bland Monster Jeb Bush “Proud” of His Brother’s Torturing People

After Petraeus Plea Deal, Lawyer Demands Release of Stephen Kim

The lawyer for imprisoned leaker Stephen Kim has asked the Department of Justice to immediately release him from jail, accusing the government of a “profound double standard” in its treatment of leakers following a comparatively lenient plea deal for former Gen. David Petraeus.

Petraeus avoided prison time for disclosing a trove of classified information to his lover and lying to the FBI about it. Kim, meanwhile, was sentenced to 13 months in prison for violating the Espionage Act by talking to a Fox News reporter about a single classified report on North Korea. Kim pleaded guilty after a five-year legal battle that depleted his finances and sent him to the brink of suicide. Petraeus, in the wake of his plea arrangement, is expected to continue his lucrative career working for an investment bank and giving speeches.

Kim’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, noted in a scathing letter to the DOJ that Petraeus, in his plea deal, admitted leaking a range of highly sensitive material “at least as serious and damaging to national security as anything involved in Mr. Kim’s case” to Paula Broadwell, his lover and authorized biographer. Petraeus also acknowledged that when he was director of the CIA he lied to the FBI about leaking to Broadwell, as well as about keeping classified information at his home.

Yet while Kim, a former State Department official, was prosecuted under a draconian law against leaking — even though he merely discussed a single document that a government official later described in court filings as a “nothing burger” — Petraeus was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor offense of mishandling classified information, and he was not charged at all for the felony of lying to the FBI. Under the deal, he is expected to be placed on probation for two years and pay a fine of $40,000.

“The decision to permit General Petraeus to plead guilty to a misdemeanor demonstrates more clearly than ever the profound double standard that applies when prosecuting so-called ‘leakers’ and those accused of disclosing classified information for their own purposes,” Lowell wrote in his two-page letter, which was dated March 6, just three days after the Petraeus plea deal was announced. “As we said at the time of Mr. Kim’s sentencing, lower-level employees like Mr. Kim are prosecuted under the Espionage Act because they are easy targets and lack the resources and political connections to fight back. High-level officials (such as General Petraeus and, earlier, Leon Panetta), leak classified information to forward their own agendas (or to impress their mistresses) with virtual impunity.”

Link (The Intercept)

CIA Director Describes How the U.S. Outsources Terror Interrogations

In rare remarks about a sensitive issue, the director of the CIA confirmed today that the U.S. government works with foreign intelligence agencies to capture and jointly interrogate suspected terrorists.

“There are places throughout the world where CIA has worked with other intelligence services and has been able to bring people into custody and engage in the debriefings of these individuals … through our liaison partners, and sometimes there are joint debriefings that take place as well,” said John Brennan, the CIA director, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Brennan’s remarks confirm what journalists have long reported: that the Obama administration sometimes helps other countries do the dirty work of snatching and interrogating terror suspects — keeping the U.S. at arm’s length from operations that are ethically and legally dubious.

During a question-and-answer session, it was Fox News’ Megyn Kelley who questioned Brennan about “capturing terrorists.”

“Are we still doing that?” she asked. “And where are we keeping them and how are we interrogating them?”

Brennan responded that the U.S. is able to work with “partners” to “identify individuals and to have them captured … although there are not a lot of public pieces on Fox News about somebody that might be picked up in different parts of the world.”

In one of his first moves after taking office in 2009, President Obama famously shut down the CIA’s Black Site program, which was begun under President George W. Bush. After 9/11, more than 100 alleged terrorists were captured and sent to secret CIA-run detention centers where they were tortured and interrogated by agency operatives.

Although the Black Sites have been shut down and no new prisoners sent to Guantánamo Bay, detentions of terrorists — and attacks against them — remain a murky issue. The administration has brought several alleged terrorists to face trial in the United States, and it has killed thousands more in drone strikes, along with hundreds of civilians. Obama has also maintained the authority (as President Bill Clinton did in the 1990s) to render people to third countries, where laws are looser.

The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill and others have detailed cases during the Obama administration in which terror suspects were held in foreign custody at the behest of the U.S. In 2011, Scahill reported for The Nation on a secret prison in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. Though officially run by the Somali government, Scahill wrote, “US intelligence personnel pay the salaries of intelligence agents and also directly interrogate prisoners” at the facility.

Link (The Intercept)

The Orwellian Re-Branding of “Mass Surveillance” as Merely “Bulk Collection”

Just as the Bush administration and the U.S. media re-labelled “torture” with the Orwellian euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques” to make it more palatable, the governments and media of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance are now attempting to re-brand “mass surveillance” as “bulk collection” in order to make it less menacing (and less illegal). In the past several weeks, this is the clearly coordinated theme that has arisen in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand as the last defense against the Snowden revelations, as those governments seek to further enhance their surveillance and detention powers under the guise of terrorism.

This manipulative language distortion can be seen perfectly in yesterday’s white-washing report of GCHQ mass surveillance from the servile rubber-stamp calling itself “The Intelligence and Security Committee of the UK Parliament (ISC)”(see this great Guardian editorial this morning on what a “slumbering” joke that “oversight” body is). As Committee Member MP Hazel Blears explained yesterday (photo above), the Parliamentary Committee officially invoked this euphemism to justify the collection of billions of electronic communications events every day.

The Committee actually acknowledged for the first time (which Snowden documents long ago proved) that GCHQ maintains what it calls “Bulk Personal Datasets” that contain “millions of records,” and even said about pro-privacy witnesses who testified before it: “we recognise their concerns as to the intrusive nature of bulk collection.” That is the very definition of “mass surveillance,” yet the Committee simply re-labelled it “bulk collection,” purported to distinguish it from “mass surveillance,” and thus insist that it was all perfectly legal.

Link (The Intercept)

Hoping for spy reforms? Jeb Bush, dangerously close to being the next US prez, backs the NSA

Former Florida governor, brother of former President George W Bush, son of former President George H W Bush, and Republican frontrunner for the 2016 US presidential election, Jeb Bush … has strongly defended the NSA’s mass surveillance of innocent people.

Speaking at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs as part of his run for the White House, Bush made it clear that if he did become president he would retain the programs introduced under his brother’s administration.

While covering broad foreign policy topics, Bush appeared to go off script when he said that in order to effectively tackle Islamic terrorism, it was necessary to have “responsible intelligence gathering and analysis – including the NSA metadata program, which contributes to awareness of potential terror cells and interdiction efforts on a global scale.”

He continued: “For the life of me, I don’t understand.. the debate has gotten off track, where we’re not understanding or protecting.. we do protect our civil liberties.. but this is a hugely important program to use these technologies to keep us safe.”

Fast forward to the 28-minute mark for the fun to begin in this vid, streamed live on Wednesday, of his talk

Link (The Register)