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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Peter Maass, The Intercept: Have you heard the screams of a prisoner who is being tortured in America's war on terror? I can't forget them. They pierced the walls of a detention center I visited in Samarra during an offensive by American and Iraqi forces in 2005. In a small room, I was interviewing a frightened detainee whose head was bandaged from an injury he unconvincingly attributed to a car accident during his capture. Bloodstains dripped down the side of a desk, and there was an American military adviser with us, as well as a portly officer of Iraq's special police commandos. Suddenly there was a chilling scream. "Allah," someone wailed. "Allah! Allah!" As I wrote at the time, this wasn't a cry of religious ecstasy. It was the sound of deep pain, coming from elsewhere in the town library, which had been turned into a detention center by Iraqi security forces who were advised by American soldiers and contractors. read more


Having someone who is the brother of one former president and the son of another run against the wife of still another former president would be sweetly illustrative of all sorts of degraded and illusory aspects of American life, from meritocracy to class mobility. That one of those two families exploited its vast wealth to obtain political power, while the other exploited its political power to obtain vast wealth, makes it more illustrative still: of the virtually complete merger between political and economic power, of the fundamentally oligarchical framework that drives American political life.

Then there are their similar constituencies: what Politico termed "money men" instantly celebrated Jeb Bush's likely candidacy, while the same publication noted just last month how Wall Street has long been unable to contain its collective glee over a likely Hillary Clinton presidency... read more


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

As President Obama continues to reject a criminal probe of torture in the George W. Bush administration, former Vice President Dick Cheney has said he has no regrets about the torture of foreign prisoners, including innocent people. Speaking to NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, Cheney said, "I'd do it again in a minute." Cheney's claim highlights a key question: Are top officials above the law -- and will the impunity of today lead to more abuses in the future? We discuss the issue of impunity and the history of U.S. torture with Alfred McCoy, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of the books, "A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror," as well as "Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation." We are also joined by Steven Reisner, founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and psychological ethics adviser to Physicians for Human Rights. read more


The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is our Frankenstein. The United States after a decade of war in Iraq pieced together its body parts. We jolted it into life. We bathed it in blood and trauma. And we gave it its intelligence. Its dark and vicious heart of vengeance and war is our heart. It kills as we kill. It tortures as we torture. It carries out conquest as we carry out conquest. It is building a state driven by hatred for American occupation, a product of the death, horror and destruction we visited on the Middle East. ISIS now controls an area the size of Texas. It is erasing the borders established by French and British colonial powers through the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement. There is little we can do to stop it. read more


Monday, December 15, 2014

So now we can finally consider the partial release of the long-awaited report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about the gruesome CIA interrogation methods used during the Bush administration's "Global War on Terror." But here's one important thing to keep in mind: this report addresses only the past practices of a single agency. Its narrow focus encourages us to believe that, whatever the CIA may have once done, that whole sorry torture chapter is now behind us.

In other words, the moment we get to read it, it's already time to turn the page. So be shocked, be disgusted, be appalled, but don't be fooled. The Senate torture report, so many years and obstacles in the making, should only be the starting point for a discussion, not the final word on U.S. torture. Here's why. read more


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