The Price Paid for Power

 Election, Featured, Politics, Presidency, Religion, Right Wingnuts  Comments Off on The Price Paid for Power
Aug 212008
 

John McCain’s military service deserves the thanks and respect of the American people, especially given his time spent as a POW in Vietnam. However, the over-use of this status for political gain becomes laughable after a while, and erodes the respect with which it should be treated. It seems to be used by his surrogates to explain everything.

The other day McCain was asked about how many houses he owns (I plan to write more about this later), and he stumbled, and could not remember. As it turns out, it’s either seven or eight…no one else seems quite sure either.  It took less than 24 hours for for a McCain spokesperson to invoke the POW status to explain away the housing gaffe. Brian Rogers told the Washington Post, “This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years — in prison.”

Recently at the Saddleback interviews (where McCain received Rick Warren’s questions in advance), McCain told a story about his time as a POW when a guard came to him at Christmas time and quietly used his sandal to draw a cross on the dirt floor. It was certainly a moving story, but what exactly it says about McCain I can’t quite figure out. It seems to me to say more about that guard…but the krazy kristian kooks love it. Anyway, like some of Dick Cheney’s story, it might have been borrowed.

Let’s look at the timeline. McCain came back from Vietnam in 1973, and shortly after that wrote a 12,000 word story published in U.S. News and World Report, but never mentions this incident. In 1999, McCain writes about it as his story in his book, Faith of Our Fathers. But in 2000 he talks about the story, but says it was another prisoner.

OK, so just strike it up to his age (or his previous status as a POW). Except that story appeared in the book, The Gulag Archipelago, by recently deceased Alexandrja Solzhenitsyn and published in the west in 1973. Did the same thing happen to McCain? Certainly could have, but it could have also come from a distant memory in a ghost writer’s brain…especially since McCain attributed it to someone else himself.  Continue reading »

Dec 112007
 

I sincerely hope that no one is falling for this “false flag” (I believe it’s called in intelligence parlance) of the CIA Agent suddenly coming forward to condemn waterboarding as torture, but then saying it saved thousand of lives when used to interrogate Abu Zubaydah. It is just too convenient that this “former” agent, John Kiriakou, suddenly gets permission to come forward and openly discuss this operation on the national news circuit. Does anyone still fall for this shit from this Administration?

Let’s play this all out. First off, Wikipedia defines “False Flag” as, “covert operations conducted by governments, corporations, or other organizations, which are designed to appear as if they are being carried out by other entities.” These sorts of operations are not unknown to the CIA, and are a standard part of operations within intelligence organizations.

Detainees and defense attorneys are not allowed to see any information related to interrogations, and according to the administration, US Courts can’t see information about interrogations and interrogation techniques even during these bogus detainee hearings at Guantanamo. Kiriakou said things on national TV that could not be discussed at one these detainee tribunals according to the Administration.

Now according to Kiriakou he was only at Zubaydah’s initial interrogation when captured, but the guy was captured while in the process of making a bomb, and had the plans for a school laid out on the same table. How convenient. He provides some detail of the operations that were uncovered during the Zubaydah interrogations, but admits he wasn’t there when Zubaydah caved after only about 35 seconds of being waterboarded…however, the guy couldn’t be broken any other way.

Kiriakou says that he didn’t know about the existence of the tapes until just the day before his appearance, yet he was able to get the appropriate clearances for these appearances from a gigantic bureaucracy in less than 24 hours. While this is the season of miracles, I’m not buying it.

 Mr. Kiriakou is “retired” from the CIA. He looks about 32, so I guess he went to work there at about age 10. Boy, they start them young. You can see part of his ABC interview at Crooks and Liars. Kiriakou is perfect for the job. He’s no longer with the agency…wasn’t there when the waterboarding was actually done…didn’t even take “the training,” but did submit to a little demonstration waterboarding.

The guy is handsome, well spoken, and well rehearsed. On a couple of the interviews, it even appears the questions are as rehearsed as the answers. He offers up the softest of descriptions of waterboarding (nothing like the the one offered by the Military Officer testifying under oath before Congress). Steve Benen at Carpet Bagger Report sums it up well:

As a matter of crass politics, Kiriakou’s assessment seems to offer a little something for everyone. For the right, Kiriakou is saying that torture produced intelligence that saved lives and thwarted possible attacks. For the left, Kiriakou is conceding that the Bush administration authorized and utilized torture (i.e., committed a felony), and he now believes the U.S. should stop using these “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

There is, however, one angle that warrants a closer look: whether torturing Zubaydah actually produced actionable intelligence. The answer is far from clear.

You see, it turns out that some time back it was reported that CIA and FBI agents had determined that Zubaydah, at most a low-level logistics guy arranging for some travel for families, and was most likely certifiably crazy. Ron Suskind reported some time back in the Washington Post:

Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries “in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3″ – a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail “what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said.” Dan Coleman, then the FBI’s top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, “This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality.”

I am just not buying it. This is an attempt to lessen the impact of even more attention to the administration’s illegal activities, and to try to start the dialog as being something that was valuable at the time because it supposedly saved lives, but we shouldn’t be doing it now…so let’s just drop it, and all go back to our respective corners.

Kiriakou says he thinks there should be a national debate about torture. BULLSHIT. There should be no discussion about torture. What has become of the values of this Republic and we as a people when we have to have a debate about torture?