Category Archives: Neo-Cons

9/11 Commission Based on Torture

Editor’s Note: The below interview was conducted by Democracy Now in February 2008. Philip Zelikow served as executive director of the 9/11 Commission, Robert Windrem is an investigative journalism who co-authored an analysis on the 9/11 Commission Report, and Michael Ratner is the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. You can view the full uninterrupted interview here.

They Said ‘No’ to Torture: The Real Heroes of the Bush Years

Jon Wiener writes for The Nation:

‘Hidden in the Senate torture report are stories of some heroes—people inside the CIA who from the beginning said torture was wrong, who tried to stop it, who refused to participate. There were also some outside the CIA, in the military and the FBI, who risked careers and reputations by resisting—and who sometimes paid a heavy price. They should be thanked and honored.

But President Obama hasn’t mentioned them. Instead, he praised the CIA officials who presided over the torture regime as “patriots.”

We should “celebrate the ones who stood up for what was right,” says David Luban of the Georgetown University law school, author of Torture, Power and Law. Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, author of the definitive book on Bush administration torture, The Dark Side, calls them “the real torture patriots.”

The opposition to torture within the CIA was so strong, Mayer reports, that the CIA Inspector General, John Helgerson, “conducted a serious and influential internal investigation.” That led the Justice Department to “ask the CIA to suspend the torture program”—at least “until it could be reconciled with the law.”’

READ MORE…

What the Torture Report Isn’t Telling You

‘Why is the corporate media turning torture into a debate? Abby Martin discusses the media’s reaction to the Senate torture report and why torture has suddenly turned into a partisan debate.’ (Breaking the Set)

CIA First Planned Jails Abiding by U.S. Standards

Matt Apuzzo and James Risen report for The New York Times:

Just six days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, President Bush signed a secret order that gave the Central Intelligence Agency the power to capture and imprison terrorists with Al Qaeda. But the order said nothing about where they should be held or how the agency should go about the business of questioning them.

For the next few weeks, as the rubble at ground zero smoldered and the United States launched a military operation in Afghanistan, C.I.A. officials scrambled to fill in the blanks left by the president’s order. Initially, agency officials considered a path very different from the one they ultimately followed, according to the newly released Senate Intelligence Committee report on the C.I.A.’s harsh interrogation program.

They envisioned a system in which detainees would be offered the same rights and protections as inmates held in federal or American military prisons. Conditions at these new overseas prisons would be comparable to those at maximum-security facilities in the United States. Interrogations were to be conducted in accordance with the United States Army Field Manual, which prohibits coerced, painful questioning. Everything at the prisons would “be tailored to meet the requirements of U.S. law and the federal rules of criminal procedure,” C.I.A. lawyers wrote in November 2001.

The C.I.A.’s early framework for its detention program offers a glimpse of a possible alternative history. As the country grapples with new disclosures about the program, the Senate report tells a story of how plans for American-style jails were replaced with so-called “black sites,” where some prisoners were chained to walls and forgotten, froze to death on concrete floors and were waterboarded until they lost consciousness.’

READ MORE…

Dick Cheney On The Torture: “I’d Do It Again In A Minute”

Torture Report: CIA Was Pressured to Link Iraq to Qaeda After 9/11

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

‘The CIA tortured al-Qaeda suspects because it wanted evidence that Saddam Hussein was linked to 9/11 in order to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The agency was under intense pressure from the White House and senior figures in the Bush administration to extract confessions confirming co-operation between the Iraqi leader and al-Qaeda, although no significant evidence was ever found.

The CIA has defended its actions by claiming that it was “unknowable” if torture had produced results, although the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, maintains torture produced nothing of value.

A second line of defence put forward by defenders of the CIA is to say that the agency was swept up in the reaction to 9/11 in the US and needed to find out quickly if there were going to be further attacks.’

READ MORE…

CIA Agents Blast Report, Defend Torture

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘It’s already glaringly obvious that the Senate isn’t going to follow up the CIA torture report with any actual reform, or even a token attempt to hold any of the torturers accountable. Still, CIA officials are outraged.

Nobody likes to be called a torturer, even if they tortured people and even if they’re going to get away with it. CIA Director John Brennan and others were furious about the release of the heavily redacted summary of the report.’

READ MORE…

ACLU Head Calls For Obama To Pardon Bush And Those Who Tortured

Cynics, Step Aside: There is Genuine Excitement Over a Hillary Clinton Candidacy

Gleen Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

It’s easy to strike a pose of cynicism when contemplating Hillary Clinton’s inevitable (and terribly imminent) presidential campaign. As a drearily soulless, principle-free, power-hungry veteran of DC’s game of thrones, she’s about as banal of an American politician as it gets. One of the few unique aspects to her, perhaps the only one, is how the genuinely inspiring gender milestone of her election will (following the Obama model) be exploited to obscure her primary role as guardian of the status quo.

That she’s the beneficiary of dynastic succession – who may very well be pitted against the next heir in line from the regal Bush dynasty (this one, not yet this one) – makes it all the more tempting to regard #HillaryTime with an evenly distributed mix of boredom and contempt. The tens of millions of dollars the Clintons have jointly “earned” off their political celebrity – much of it speaking to the very globalists, industry groups, hedge funds, and other Wall Street appendages who would have among the largest stake in her presidency – make the spectacle that much more depressing.

But one shouldn’t be so jaded. There is genuine and intense excitement over the prospect of (another) Clinton presidency. Many significant American factions regard her elevation to the Oval Office as an opportunity for rejuvenation, as a stirring symbol of hope and change, as the vehicle for vital policy advances.’

READ MORE…

Report to U.N. Calls Bullshit on Obama’s ‘Look Forward, Not Backwards’ Approach to Torture

Murtaza Hussain writes for The Intercept:

‘Months after President Obama frankly admitted that the United States had “tortured some folks” as part of the War on Terror, a new report submitted to the United Nations Committee Against Torture has been released that excoriates his administration for shielding the officials responsible from prosecution.

The report describes the post-9/11 torture program as “breathtaking in scope”, and indicts both the Bush and Obama administrations for complicity in it – the former through design and implementation, and the latter through its ongoing attempts to obstruct justice. Noting that the program caused grievous harm to countless individuals and in many cases went as far as murder, the report calls for the United States to “promptly and impartially prosecute senior military and civilian officials responsible for authorizing, acquiescing, or consenting in any way to acts of torture.”’

READ MORE…

Blackwater Founder Remains Free and Rich While His Former Employees Go Down on Murder Charges

Jeremy Scahill writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Blackwater Founder Remains Free and Rich While His Former Employees Go Down on Murder Charges‘[…] The incident for which the men were tried was the single largest known massacre of Iraqi civilians at the hands of private U.S. security contractors. Known as “Baghdad’s bloody Sunday,” operatives from Blackwater gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians at a crowded intersection at Nisour Square on September 16, 2007. The company, founded by secretive right-wing Christian supremacist Erik Prince, had deep ties to the Bush Administration and served as a sort of neoconservative Praetorian Guard for a borderless war launched in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

While Barack Obama pledged to reign in mercenary forces when he was a senator, once he became president he continued to employ a massive shadow army of private contractors. Blackwater — despite numerous scandals, congressional investigations, FBI probes and documented killings of civilians in both Iraq and Afghanistan — remained a central part of the Obama administration’s global war machine throughout his first term in office.

Just as with the systematic torture at Abu Ghraib, it is only the low level foot-soldiers of Blackwater that are being held accountable. Prince and other top Blackwater executives continue to reap profits from the mercenary and private intelligence industries. Prince now has a new company, Frontier Services Group, which he founded with substantial investment from Chinese enterprises and which focuses on opportunities in Africa. Prince recently suggested that his forces at Blackwater could have confronted Ebola and ISIS. “If the administration cannot rally the political nerve or funding to send adequate active duty ground forces to answer the call, let the private sector finish the job,” he wrote.’

READ MORE…

What ‘Democracy’ Really Means in U.S. and New York Times Jargon: Latin America Edition

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - What ‘Democracy’ Really Means in U.S. and New York Times Jargon: Latin America Edition‘One of the most accidentally revealing media accounts highlighting the real meaning of “democracy” in U.S. discourse is a still-remarkable 2002 New York Times Editorial on the U.S.-backed military coup in Venezuela, which temporarily removed that country’s democratically elected (and very popular) president, Hugo Chávez. Rather than describe that coup as what it was by definition – a direct attack on democracy by a foreign power and domestic military which disliked the popularly elected president – the Times, in the most Orwellian fashion imaginable, literally celebrated the coup as a victory for democracy:

With yesterday’s resignation of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator. Mr. Chávez, a ruinous demagogue, stepped down after the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader, Pedro Carmona.

Thankfully, said the NYT, democracy in Venezuela was no longer in danger . . . because the democratically-elected leader was forcibly removed by the military and replaced by an unelected, pro-U.S. “business leader.” The Champions of Democracy at the NYT then demanded a ruler more to their liking: “Venezuela urgently needs a leader with a strong democratic mandate to clean up the mess, encourage entrepreneurial freedom and slim down and professionalize the bureaucracy.”’

READ MORE…

George W. Bush was still completely wrong about Iraq’s WMDs

Matt Purple writes for Rare:

‘Yesterday the New York Times published a major scoop: American troops had uncovered chemical weapons during the Iraq war, and on at least six occasions were injured by chemical agents. The government then frantically tried to conceal the WMDs, keeping the information classified and, in some cases, denying soldiers care for chemical-related injuries.

There are plenty of conclusions to draw from the Times story.

That the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq is vindicated is not one of them.

The Times reports that many of the chemical weapons were empty, most were unusable, and all were manufactured before 1991. This fits with the current wisdom that Saddam Hussein abandoned his chemical weapons program after the First Gulf War.

As the Times concludes, “The discoveries of these chemical weapons did not support the government’s invasion rationale.”

Still that hasn’t stopped many conservatives from engaging in a little hackneyed told-you-so. “Put that ‘Bush lied, kids died’ in your pipes and smoke it!!!” went today’s typical Tweet.’

READ MORE…

The American Government Tried to Kill James Risen’s Last Book

Murtaza Hussain reports for The Intercept:

‘James Risen’s new book on war-on-terror abuses comes out tomorrow, and if you want to find a copy it shouldn’t be hard to obtain. As natural as that seems, it almost wasn’t the case with the Risen’s last book, “State of War,” published in 2006. Not only did U.S. government officials object to the publication of the book on national security grounds, it turns out they pressured Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS, to have it killed.

The campaign to stifle Risen’s national security reporting at the Times is already well-documented, but a 60 Minutes story last night provided a glimpse into how deeply these efforts extended into the publishing world, as well. After being blocked from reporting on the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program for the paper of record, Risen looked into getting these revelations out through a book he was already under contract to write for Simon & Schuster, a book that would look at a wide range of intelligence missteps in the war on terror.’

READ MORE…

Afghanistan: CIA-Backed Warlord Behind 2001 Massacre of 2,000 POWs Becomes Vice President

‘Afghanistan has inaugurated its first new president in a decade, swearing in Ashraf Ghani to head a power-sharing government. Joining him on stage Monday was Abdul Rashid Dostum, Afghanistan’s new vice president. Dostum is one of Afghanistan’s most notorious warlords, once described by Ghani himself as a “known killer.” Dostum’s rise to the vice presidency comes despite his involvement in a 2001 massacre that killed up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners of war. The men were allegedly shot to death or suffocated in sealed metal truck containers after they surrendered to Dostum and the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance. The dead prisoners — some of whom had been tortured — were then buried in the northern Afghan desert. Dostum, who was on the CIA payroll, has been widely accused of orchestrating the massacre and tampering with evidence of the mass killing. For more than a decade, human rights groups have called on the United States to conduct a full investigation into the massacre including the role of U.S. special forces and CIA operatives. We speak to Jamie Doran, director of the 2002 documentary “Afghan Massacre: The Convoy of Death,” and Susannah Sirkin, director of international policy at Physicians for Human Rights, the group that discovered the site of the mass graves of the Taliban POWs.’ (Democracy Now!)

Are Neocons Getting Ready to Ally With Hillary Clinton?

Editor’s Note: It’s also worth noting that Robert Kagan’s wife is Victoria ‘Fuck the EU’ Nuland, a member of Obama’s State Department and most famous for her role in Ukraine

Jacob Heilbrunn,  editor of the National Interest, wrote for The New York Times in July:

‘[…] It’s not as outlandish as it may sound. Consider the historian Robert Kagan, the author of a recent, roundly praised article in The New Republic that amounted to a neo-neocon manifesto. He has not only avoided the vitriolic tone that has afflicted some of his intellectual brethren but also co-founded an influential bipartisan advisory group during Mrs. Clinton’s time at the State Department.

Mr. Kagan has also been careful to avoid landing at standard-issue neocon think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute; instead, he’s a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, that citadel of liberalism headed by Strobe Talbott, who was deputy secretary of state under President Bill Clinton and is considered a strong candidate to become secretary of state in a new Democratic administration. (Mr. Talbott called the Kagan article “magisterial,” in what amounts to a public baptism into the liberal establishment.)

Perhaps most significantly, Mr. Kagan and others have insisted on maintaining the link between modern neoconservatism and its roots in muscular Cold War liberalism. Among other things, he has frequently praised Harry S. Truman’s secretary of state, Dean Acheson, drawing a line from him straight to the neocons’ favorite president: “It was not Eisenhower or Kennedy or Nixon but Reagan whose policies most resembled those of Acheson and Truman.”’

READ MORE…

Jeremy Scahill on Obama’s Orwellian War in Iraq: We Created the Very Threat We Claim to be Fighting

‘As Vice President Joe Biden warns it will take a “hell of a long fight” for the United States to stop militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, we speak to Jeremy Scahill, author of the book, “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield.” We talk about how the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 that helped create the threat now posed by the Islamic State. We also discuss the role of Baathist forces in ISIS, Obama’s targeting of journalists, and the trial of four former Blackwater operatives involved in the 2007 massacre at Baghdad’s Nisoor Square.’ (Democracy Now!)

Neocon pundit makes Homeland Security’s Terrorist Watchlist

Dylan Byers reports for Politico:

‘Stephen Hayes, a senior writer at The Weekly Standard and a regular Fox News contributor, was informed Tuesday that he had been placed on the Department of Homeland Security’s Terrorist Watchlist.

Hayes, who spoke to POLITICO by phone on Tuesday, suspects that the decision stems from U.S. concerns over Syria. Hayes and his wife recently booked a one-way trip to Istanbul for a cruise, and returned to the U.S., a few weeks later, via Athens. “I’d be concerned if it was anything more than that,” Hayes said.’

READ MORE…

Interview with Stephen Cohen on the Ukraine Ceasefire and the New Cold War

Editor’s Note: Stephen Cohen is Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics at NYU and Princeton, and he is a contributing editor to The Nation. He is also the author of ‘Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War‘. You can find more interviews and articles by Professor Cohen here.

Dick Cheney Portrait

Dick Cheney Should be in Jail

How the west created the Islamic State… with a little help from our friends

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Medium:

‘Missing from the chorus of outrage… has been any acknowledgement of the integral role of covert US and British regional military intelligence strategy in empowering and even directly sponsoring the very same virulent Islamist militants in Iraq, Syria and beyond, that went on to break away from al-Qaeda and form ‘ISIS’, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or now simply, the Islamic State (IS).

Since 2003, Anglo-American power has secretly and openly coordinated direct and indirect support for Islamist terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa. This ill-conceived patchwork geostrategy is a legacy of the persistent influence of neoconservative ideology, motivated by longstanding but often contradictory ambitions to dominate regional oil resources, defend an expansionist Israel, and in pursuit of these, re-draw the map of the Middle East.’

READ MORE…

Perpetual War, and Shame, Is Our Policy

Matthew Hoh writes for The Huffington Post:

‘The United States’ official policy in the Middle East is now perpetual war. What has been known for some time, including by those of us who have served overseas, by the millions who have suffered through our bombs and our bullets, and, of course, by the hundreds of thousands whose lives have been ripped from their families and from any promised futures, President Obama solidified last night.

The United States, by agreeing to airstrikes without end in support of a corrupt and sectarian government in Baghdad; by championing a Shia and Kurdish invasion of Sunni lands; and by promising arms, munitions and money to rebel groups in the middle of the Syrian Civil War, the same groups that sold Steven Sotloff to his beheading, has adopted a policy that will exacerbate the civil wars in both Iraq and Syria and deepen the nightmare existence of their people. President Obama’s speech will be remembered as a mark of moral shame on the United States, so very opposite and so very contradictory to the courage shown by the president five years ago in Cairo, Egypt.’

READ MORE…

The Barbaric World The United States Has Shaped Since 9/11: Interview with Michael Ratner

Editor’s Note: Michael Ratner is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), and U.S. attorney for Julian Assange and Wikileaks. He is also the author of a number of books including ‘The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book, Against War with Iraq‘ and ‘Guantanamo: What the World Should Know‘.

Dick Cheney’s Laundry List of Threats Enthralls American Enterprise Institute

Derek Davison writes for LobeLog on Darth Cheney’s recent speech at the right-wing American Enterprise:

‘Fear was the word of the day at the American Enterprise Institute on Wednesday, as former Vice President Dick Cheney talked about the nearly infinite number of grave threats he sees confronting the United States. Greeted by a standing ovation from the attendees, Cheney spent the bulk of his roughly 30-minute remarks listing those threats and championing a much more hawkish American response to all of them.

[…] Cheney suggested at various points in his speech that America ought to commit substantial military forces toward countering threats in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Afghanistan, with no particular sense about which of these should take priority over the others. Oh, and maybe in Ukraine as well; that part wasn’t as clear.’

READ MORE…

Ex-Egyptian minister: We warned US ahead of 9/11

Gavriel Fiske reports for The Times of Israel:

‘In the weeks ahead of the September 11 attacks in 2001, Egypt warned the Bush administration repeatedly about an imminent large-scale terror attack to be carried out by al-Qaeda operatives on US soil, but the message was ignored, a former high-ranking Egyptian government official said

Habib al-Adly, who served from 1997 to 2011 as minister of the interior for the Mubarak government, said in court testimony that Egypt received intelligence “from inside the al-Qaeda den” that “America would be subject to a huge terror attack.” In testimony last month that was translated and posted online Tuesday by the Middle East Media Research Institute, Adly said the intelligence was verified and analyzed, and then president Hosni Mubarak gave the order to pass it on to the US in May of 2001.

The information was passed to both the CIA and FBI several times, Adly said, as Egyptian intelligence received word that the terror attack was moving from the planning to operation stage.’

READ MORE…

The Power of Love Versus the Love of Power

Mel King and Reverend William E. Alberts write for CounterPunch:

‘We have developed the scientific technology to reach outer space, but have yet to discover the empathy to reach each other.  We have learned how to walk on the moon, but remain unable to walk in each other’s shoes.  We now control the heavens with drones that instill fear in the human heart, but lack the humanness to transform our own hearts.  We profess faith in the goodness of “God,” but trust in military power as the real “force for good.”  We pledge allegiance to “liberty and justice for all,” but the bottom line for many is “American exceptionalism.”  An “exceptionalism” that allows our government to commit horrible war crimes against The Other in our name.  An “exceptionalism” that also excludes The Other in America’s white-controlled hierarchy of access to political, economic and legal power.  We profess the power of love, but practice the love of power.’

READ MORE…

Bush Ambassador To Afghanistan, Iraq Investigated For Money Laundering

George Jahn reports for The Associated Press:

State prosecutor Thomas Vecsey confirmed a report in the Austrian weekly Profil about the investigation of Khalilzad, who played a key role in the political transition in Afghanistan after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion and the fall of the Taliban.’

READ MORE…

Frankensteinian Hubris: Bush’s “Redirection” and the Rise of ISIS

Dan Sanchez writes for Antiwar:

6-photo-henry-his-monster‘[…] It is good to remember that the policy that led to this mess was initiated under the Bush Administration, with full cognizance of the possibility that it could result in severe terroristic and destabilizing blowback. It was in 2007 that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia launched what Seymour Hersh, who broke the story in The New Yorker, called “the Redirection.” Under this policy revolution, the U.S. and the Saudis (with Israel’s blessing and prodding) began trying to bolster Sunni radicals in an effort to “contain” the “Shiite resurgence” brought about by the U.S. empowerment of the Shiites in Iraq. It all started in Lebanon.

[…] As reported by Patrick Cockburn, not all of the Saudis embraced such a blowback-inviting policy, so it would be more accurate to call it a victory for the Prince Bandar bin Sultan line. The fact that U.S. policymakers concluded that beleaguered Iran, with its long track record of not attacking a single country, is more of a danger than Sunni radicals, like the ones responsible for 9/11 and every other Al Qaeda attack, is an indication of just how little our overlords care about actually protecting us, as compared to pursuing regional power politics.

[…] Some of the radical Sunnis the U.S. has bolstered in Syria (namely, ISIS) have now crossed over into Iraq, conquered much of the northwest, and may soon take Baghdad, Maliki’s capital. I imagine this has put plenty of “fear” into his government: mission accomplished. Although, I don’t know how much “incentive” they’ll have to “cooperate” when they’re all dead or in exile.

[…] They have indeed outsmarted them, and it has indeed been ugly. Obama and the Saudis ramped up in Syria the same policy that Bush and the Saudis started pursuing in Lebanon, and the result was the same but worse. Salafi psychos in Syria, as in Lebanon, were able to get their hands on plenty of U.S. and Saudi aid. And through the course of the U.S.-supported bloody rebellion in Syria, ISIS acquired experience, recruits, arms, and territory, which they used to launch their conquest in Iraq.’

READ MORE…

The US bombing its own guns perfectly sums up America’s total failure in Iraq

Max Fisher writes for Vox:

‘When President Obama announced US airstrikes in Iraq, most observers understood that the US would be bombing members of ISIS. What many did not know was that, in a twist of such bitterly symbolic irony that it could only occur in the Middle East, the US would also be bombing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of American military equipment.

Here’s why: in the decade since the 2003 US-led Iraq invasion, the US has spent a fortune training and arming the Iraqi army in the hopes of readying it to secure the country once America left. That meant arming the Iraqi army with high-tech and extremely expensive American-made guns, tanks, jeeps, artillery, and more.

But the Iraqi army has been largely a failure. When ISIS invaded northern Iraq from Syria in June, the Iraqi forces deserted or retreated en masse. Many of them abandoned their American equipment. ISIS scooped it up themselves and are now using it to rampage across Iraq, seizing whole cities, terrorizing minorities, and finally pushing into even once-secure Kurdish territory. All with shiny American military equipment.’

READ MORE…