Curt Wechsler, The World Can't Wait: February 2013 Archives

thanks to John Kiriakou,

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the CIA's torture program was exposed as policy, rather than the actions of a few rogue agents

Thumbnail image for john_kiriakou.jpg
Since his ordeal became public, Kiriakou has inspired a groundswell of support across the country from civil rights activists and concerned citizens. Many are contributing to the John Kiriakou Support Fund, established to mitigate the financial hardship his family is experiencing. Last month, prominent artist Robert Shetterley honored Kiriakou with a portrait (left), painted as part of a series focused on truth-telling Americans. In addition, Kiriakou received the 2012 Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage in November 2012. Currently, he is one of the subjects of an Academy Award- -nominated documentarian's upcoming film on the mistreatment of intelligence whistleblowers. Today and throughout Kiriakou's imprisonment, GAP [the Government Accountability Project] and its supporters will defend his cause on social media with regular updates...

torture advocates repudiated

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Zero Dark Thirty, the CIA and film critics have a very bad evening

This is a rare case of some justice being done. There's little question that the objections to its pro-torture depictions and CIA propaganda were what sunk the film. In explaining why its Oscar chances had all but disappeared, the Atlantic's Richard Lawson explained last month that as a result of the controversy, the film has "just become something vaguely taboo". That's a good thing, as it should be taboo. The film is unsurprisingly a box office success, earning in excess of $100 million... 

it's both gratifying and a bit surprising to see that this CIA-shaped jingoistic celebration of America's proudest moment of the last decade - finding bin Laden, pumping his skull full of bullets, and then dumping his corpse into the ocean - ended up with the stigma it deserves. -- Glenn Greenwald

Actor David Clennon (left) protests the film with other members of the "Committee for Sanitizing Crimes Against Humanity."
Glenn Greenwald:

Whenever this issue is raised, people quite reasonably ask why there should be any difference in the reaction to targeting US citizens as opposed to foreign nationals. As a moral and ethical matter, and as a matter of international law, there is no difference whatsoever. I am every bit as opposed to targeting foreign nationals for due-process-free assassinations as I am US citizens, which is why I have devoted so much time and energy to opposing that policy. I also agree entirely with what Desmond Tutu recently said in response to calls for a special secret "court" to be created to review the targeting of US citizens for assassinations:

"Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours? That President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target is an American? Would your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave Dred Scott in the 19th century, are not as human as you are? I cannot believe it."


Norman Pollack looks at how cozy Democrats have come to the table of war crimes, repression, torture, and bow at the waist of their leader, "The Assassination President":

Complicity in Murder

Botero's Abu Ghraib 57 hangs outside the library of Berkeley Law School, home of "Torture Professor" John Yoo, architect of the U.S. government's torture program.
A Justice Department white paper laying out the circumstances in which the President can kill Americans talks not only about Al Qaeda but also about "associated forces," not clearly defined. Michael Crowley, of Time, pointed out that Jeh Johnson, the former Pentagon general counsel, has said that "Our enemy does not include anyone solely in the category of activist, journalist, or propagandist," and I don't mean to say that the current Administration has adopted the logic that it does, though that "solely" can do a lot of work. The vagueness could easily increase with the passage of time, as targeted killings shift from a policy to a precedent...

Can a President use drones against journalists?

and that's a good thing for the Afghan people:

3715_james_protest_01.jpgThe MU College of Education has decided not to fill the position of division executive director at this time.

Two candidates, including former military psychologist Larry James, were finalists for the position. The other candidate was Matthew Burns of the University of Minnesota.

James proved to be controversial because of his connection to the interrogations at Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo Bay...

2010 Wright State University photo c/o Pete Johnson

Confronted with the question of whether waterboarding constituted torture, President Obama's nominee for CIA director pleaded ignorance, saying "I'm not a lawyer."

John Brennan is met by protesters as he arrives for hearings on his confirmation as CIA chief. Photo: Jewel Samad, AFP/Getty Images
CodePink protesters disrupt confirmation hearings February 7, 2013. Photo by Jewel Samad, AFP/Getty Images

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein did her best to secure the appointment of "torture czar" John Brennan by distracting from a proper accounting of the candidate's history with good-guy/bad-guy notions of American exceptionalism:

"When people hear 'American', they think someone who's upstanding... Mr. Awlaki is not an American citizen by where anyone in America would be proud."

New Yorker editor Amy Davidson poses whether attributions of "proud" and "upstanding" are a legitimate basis for judging fundamental questions of legal rights and due process.  

"The most extremist power any political leader can assert is the power to target his own citizens for execution without any charges or due process, far from any battlefield. The Obama administration has not only asserted exactly that power in theory, but has exercised it in practice. In September 2011, it killed US citizen Anwar Awlaki in a drone strike in Yemen, along with US citizen Samir Khan, and then, in circumstances that are still unexplained, two weeks later killed Awlaki's 16-year-old American son Abdulrahman with a separate drone strike in Yemen. -- Glenn Greenwald

Many of today's news stories debate the legality of President Obama's presumption of ultimate authority to decide who is covered by human rights law for the right to live.  

...a better question might be "who is not?"

James_Larry_01_t_w600_h1200.jpgWar criminals are a nasty lot. Dodging accountability for their actions and public reprobation, they often find employment in the military/industrial complex. But American academic institutions share complicity in protection of these social pariah, accommodating them with positions of respectability. Universities face resistance to these appointments from students and parentsalumni and a few faculty members disparage, and communities at large attempt to legislate remedy. It is our responsibility to call out criminals and enablers alike. 

Torture advocates threaten not only the ethical training of future generations of lawyers and judges; we all face culpability for crimes left unpunished. An energized and politically active public can make those prosecutions happen. A good place to start would be to support the opposition to appointment of Larry James to the position of division                 photo: Jim Witmer/Dayton Daily News                      executive director with the College of Education at the 
University of Missouri:

see Debate over candidate's Abu Ghraib role

Last Friday, John Kiriakou, a CIA analyst and counter-terrorism officer from 1990 to 2004, was sentenced to 30 months in prison after pleading guilty to leaking the identity of another covert CIA officer to a journalist - a violation of 1982's Intelligence Identities Protection Act. In reading the many articles on the case, one is likely to notice the frequent linkage of the word "first" with the name "Kiriakou." -- Michael Youhana, The Odd Politics Behind Torture  

After all the hand wringing during the Bush Administration with its newly 
minted 'War on Terror' and allegations of Executive over reach, he was the 
one person who stood up and said 'yes we torture'. His background of being a 
career CIA operative lent weight to his statements. With George Bush's very 
public admission later that he personally gave the go ahead to the various
forms of waterboarding, sleep deprivation, cramming detainees into small 
boxes for days on end, and the 'cold rooms' where water would be splashed on
freezing inmates all were told to us first by Mr. Kiriakou.

As with members of the military, all government officials have to swear
an oath to uphold our Constitution, not to any one branch of government
or official. In good conscience he felt what was going on was a betrayal
of that document and the nation needed to know. Did the torturers and
those who authorized it get called to account? Not yet anyway. Who is
going to prison? John Kiriakou the whistleblower. Even the man who
knowingly destroyed the tapes made during these illegal tortures, in
itself a federal crime and one that brought down the Nixon Administration
if you recall, is serving no prison time. Rather than that he is criss-
crossing the country touting his book and talking up the benefits of
torture. All those on the left, right and center would do well to
remember the name of John Kiriakou as we lose our civil liberties one by
one. You can add Bradley Manning and Julian Assange to that short list as

Mike Caggiano
SMPA [San Mateo Peace Action] Prez.

update from Guantanamo

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has been reporting from America's off-shore prison camp all week... 
Secret censorship of military tribunal proceedings here and here,

plus HuffingtonPost video.

Thanks Jason, and we look forward to your safe return.

UC Berkeley Billboard

press conference, protest, photos, video, reports

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Events & Calendars

War Criminals Watch Events

Important Reading

Physicians for Human Rights
Broken Laws, Broken Lives

NLG White Paper

The President's Executioner

Detention and torture in Guantanamo

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in February 2013.

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