The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

I was intimately involved in setting up and administering the CIA’s ‘enhanced interrogation’ program, and I left the agency in 2007 secure in the knowledge not only that our program worked — but that it was not torture.

A CIA veteran on what ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ gets wrong about the bin Laden manhunt

Jose Rodriguez at the Washington Post with a reminder that he’s still a sociopath.

He adds:

[T]he enhanced interrogation program was carefully monitored and conducted. It bore little resemblance to what is shown on the screen. The truth is that no one was bloodied or beaten in the enhanced interrogation program that I supervised from 2002 to 2007.

Unfortunately, we have to take sociopath Jose’s word for it since he destroyed the entire cache of interrogation videotapes in 2005.

George Washington did not face an enemy like Al Qaeda. These are people who want to die as martyrs and see the killing of thousands of innocent men, women, and children as justifiable to promote their cause. Making a few of the worst terrorists on the planet uncomfortable for a few days during their first month of imprisonment is worth it in order to save thousands of lives.

"I Really Resent You Using the Word ‘Torture’": Q. & A. with CIA Torturer and Interrogation Tape Melter Jose Rodriguez

Have fun with this interview. Mr. Rodriguez is, surely, a sociopath. His brain is capable of rationalizing anything. All he has to do is tell himself, over and over, “I saved lives, I saved lives …”. “I put my ‘big boy pants on’ (his words) … to save lives…”. He sounds like he’s working on a script for a new 24 series.

Over and over in the interview he insists that everything he and his co-torturers did was legal, because the infamous torture memos said so. He steadfastly refuses to answer whether it was right. Whether it was moral. He’ll only say that it was legal and his superiors said it was OK and that we had to do it…to save “thousands of lives” and that’s good enough for him. He actually believes he is a hero and that he and his cohorts are the real victims because they were eventually (ostensibly anyway) made to stop.

[Jose] Rodriguez joins an elite club of war criminals — including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld — who, instead of being prosecuted for using torture, or authorizing its use, have, instead, been allowed to write books, go on book tours and appear on mainstream TV to attempt to justify their unjustifiable actions. Andy Worthington, Torture: The Bush Administration on Trial

Just as [former CIA torturer, sociopath, and video tape melter, Jose] Rodriguez should be more directly challenged for his defense of war crimes, the president should be equally challenged for his failure to live up to the rule of law, particularly his unwillingness to hold accountable those who ordered and administered torture in our name. No Secret Why CIA is Now Romanticizing ‘Harsh Interrogation’ Techniques

Since [Leslie] Stahl omitted another critical question [in her 60 Minutes interview with sociopath CIA Torturer and Video Tape melter, Jose Rodriguez], I will ask it here: Why now? Why a CIA authorized book justifying CIA torture? There are two possible explanations. First, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) will soon release its long-awaited report on CIA torture. The report is expected to find no convincing evidence that harsh interrogation techniques led to any breakthroughs in the fight against terrorism. We should not be surprised if the CIA might want to preempt this inconvenient finding. How many will heed a report released by Senate Democrats compared to the high-profile interview and book tour of a tough CIA veteran pushing the romance of “dark-side” fixes to America’s security problems?

Robert Crawford, No Secret Why CIA is Now Romanticizing ‘Harsh Interrogation’ Techniques

Note: I took some liberties filling in some of the blanks in the quote. Forgive me.

As so many people react with revulsion to the mindset of [CIA torturer and video tape melter] Jose Rodriguez, perhaps this is a good time to stop and realize why it’s so dangerous and wrong to trust the Executive Branch to exert the most extreme powers — of assassination, indefinite detention, rendition, surveillance — in the dark, with no oversight, constraints or transparency. Those of you who are content to have the Executive Branch decide — without checks or transparency — who lives and dies, who is free and imprisoned, who is entitled to due process and who isn’t, are putting your blind faith in the Jose Rodriguezes of the world. Glenn Greenwald

Self-admitted unpunished torturer admits crime again | David Atkins

Former CIA torturer and interrogation video melter, Jose Rodriguez, was on 60 Minutes last night, defending the agency’s decent into lawless barbarism under the guise of “national security”. David Atkins explains the idiocy of Rodriguez’ justifications for torture:

[The ticking time bomb defense is] one of the most infuriatingly stupid premises ever devised to permit codified totalitarian action. Why? First of all, because the ticking time bomb scenario is incredibly improbable, one only ever seen in cheesy Hollywood movies and right-wing fantasy television shows. But second, because if such a scenario really ever did implausibly happen, that’s what prosecutorial discretion is for. It’s often said that hard cases make for bad law, and if ever there was a circumstance in which that saying applied, it’s this one. In the incredibly unlikely event that a nuclear attack were about to go off in minutes and a suspect in custody had the information to disarm the bomb, I imagine that any number of things would probably be done to attempt compliance and few people would bat an eye—if the truth about what happened ever even came out. Nobody would prosecute the people involved, and few but the most ardent civil libertarians would care.

What one doesn’t do under any circumstance is codify torture into law in order to justify an impossibly implausible scenario. And one doesn’t engage in torture, “legal” or illegal, on suspects who may or may not have information on a potential attack that may or may not be in process.

This has been probably the most chilling aspect of the new civil liberties regime over the last 12 years: it’s not just what has been done in our name—that’s bad enough—but that what was done has been justified so openly. It’s not as if the American government hasn’t since its inception done some truly awful things in its past by people who justified to themselves, like Mr. Rodriguez, that they were doing it all for flag and country. But at least in the past such people had enough shame to know they should at least keep it under wraps and classified. J. Edgar Hoover, terrible as he was, at least knew better than to proudly make public his operations.

But when torture becomes a matter of national public policy and men like Mr. Rodriguez proclaim it proudly on national television rather than from behind cell bars, we have a different order of problem entirely. And the onus for that problem lies not just with our elected officials, but with all of us as a society. After all, once it’s on 60 Minutes it’s not as if we can turn our heads and pretend we didn’t know.

Crime boasting for profit | Glenn Greenwald

"On December 7, 2007, The New York Times reported that the CIA ‘in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about its secret detention program.’ Documents obtained when the ACLU asked a federal judge to hold the CIA in contempt of court — for destruction of evidence which that judge had ordered be produced — subsequently revealed that the agency had actually ‘destroyed 92 videotapes of terror-suspect interrogations.’ The videotapes recorded interrogations of detainees who were waterboarded and otherwise tortured.”

[The] CIA official who ordered the videotapes’ destruction, Jose Rodriguez, is now enjoying the fruits of his crimes. He just published a new book in which he aggressively defends his decision to destroy those tapes (“The propaganda damage to the image of America would be immense. But the main concern then, and always, was for the safety of my officers …I was just getting rid of some ugly visuals that could put the lives of my people at risk”). He also categorically justifies the CIA’s use of torture (“I am certain, beyond any doubt, that these techniques … shielded the people of the United States from harm and led to the capture of killing of Usama bin Ladin”) as well as the agency’s network of black sites (“Why not bring the detainees to trial?,” asksThe Washington Post‘s Dana Priest in a review today of the book; Rodriguez’ answer in the book: “because they would get lawyered up, and our job, first and foremost, is to obtain information”). The title of the book: “Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives.”

Rodriguez thus joins a long line of Bush officials — Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, et. al — who not only paid no price for the crimes they committed, but are free to run around boasting of those crimes for profit. That’s what happens when the most politically powerful officials are vested with immunity for their illegal acts. Both the criminals and their crimes become normalized. They feel free not only to admit their crimes openly but to justify and glorify them, because they know they will never be held accountable for them. Instead of having to explain himself as a criminal defendant, Rodriguez is instead permitted to wrap his conduct in the banner of heroism as a highly-paid Simon & Schuster author.

This will be one of the most enduring and consequential aspects of the Obama legacy: by working so hard, in so many ways, to shield Bush-era crimes from all forms of accountability, the Democratic President has ensured that they are not viewed as crimes at all, but at worst, run-of-the-mill political controversies. Given all this, why would any government officials tempted to commit these same crimes in the future possibly decide that they should not?

Read more

Secrecy, leaks, and the real criminals | Glenn Greenwald

Abusing government secrecy powers is a vastly more frequent and damaging illegal act than unauthorized leaks, yet the President obsesses on the latter while doing virtually nothing about the former other than continuing its worse manifestations.  As the Supreme Court explained, few things are more damaging to a democracy than allowing political leaders to abuse secrecy powers to cover-up wrongdoing and control the flow of information the public hears, i.e., to propagandize the citizenry. 

But that’s exactly what Washington’s secrecy fixation is designed to achieve.  And while excessive secrecy has been a problem in the U.S. for decades, the Obama administration’s unprecedented war on whistleblowers makes it much more odious, since now it is about not only keeping vital information from the public and stifling public debate, but also threatening whistleblowers (and investigative reporters) with prolonged imprisonment.  That’s why they turn what candidate Obama called these “acts of courage and patriotism” (whistleblowing) into crimes, while the real criminals — political officials who abuse their secrecy powers for corrupted, self-interested ends — go unpunished. 

This is a perfect symbol of the Obama administration: claims of secrecy are used to censor a vital critic of torture and other CIA abuses ([Ali] Soufan) and to prosecute an NSA whistleblower who exposed substantial corruption and criminality ([Thomas] Drake), while protecting from all consequences the official who illegally destroyed video evidence of the CIA’s torture program ([Jose] Rodriguez) and then help ensure that his torture-hailing propaganda book becomes the defining narrative of those events.  As usual, the real high-level criminals prosper while those who expose their criminality are the only ones punished.

For more on the attempts to control the narrative of events related to the intelligence community and 9/11, see C.I.A. Fights Memoir of 9/11 by F.B.I. Agent in Terror Fight - NYTimes.com