Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

11.15  The long read:  The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]

11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]

11.15 Trump administration to cut air pollution from heavy-duty trucks [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.14 Backed by Ocasio-Cortez, Youth Climate Activists Arrested in Pelosi's Office Demanding Democrats Embrace 'Green New Deal'

11.13 What would a smog-free city look like?

11.13 Global report highlights Australia’s renewables potential amid mixed signals for coal

11.13 Interior department whistleblower: Ryan Zinke hollowed out the agency

11.12  This Land is Your Land:  The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.12 Planned Parenthood's new president warns of 'state of emergency' for women's health

11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.09 Rainforest destruction from gold mining hits all-time high in Peru

11.09 A new way to make steel could cut 5% of CO2 emissions at a stroke

11.08 Medicaid’s stunning victory

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]

11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]

11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]

11.15 Big Oil v the planet is the fight of our lives. Democrats must choose a side

11.14 The Real Florida Recount Fraud

11.14 Telling NRA #ThisIsOurLane, Doctors' Photos Show Blood-Soaked Reality of America's Gun Madness

11.14 At Freshman Orientation, Young and Growing Progressive Caucus Makes Clear It Will 'Fight Like Hell' for Bold Democratic Agenda

11.13 'You Sound Nervous': Gillum Mocks Trump as President Demands End to Florida Recount

11.13 Kyrsten Sinema wins Arizona Senate race in breakthrough for Democrats

Justice Matters

11.09 Trump administration blocks asylum claims by those crossing border illegally [Making America Less Great Again...]

High Crimes?

11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]

11.10 US stops refuelling of Saudi-led coalition aircraft in Yemen war [But there are a few children still alive. It's too soon!]

Economics, Crony Capitalism

11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]

11.14 Brexit: May tells her cabinet, this is the deal – now back me

11.11 Tax reform: down with the ‘stepped-up basis’

International & Futurism

11.15 Cuba to pull doctors out of Brazil after President-elect Bolsonaro comments [terms must be negotiated for fairness to Cuba's health professionals without disruption of healthcare for Brazil's poor]

11.14 'Appalling' Khashoggi audio shocked Saudi intelligence – Erdogan [Exposing a psychopath?]

11.14 Israel and Hamas launch hundreds of attacks in Gaza clash

11.14 Mueller seeking more details on Nigel Farage, key Russia inquiry target says

11.13 Austin's Fix for Homelessness: Tiny Houses, and Lots of Neighbors

11.13 Portugal Dared to Cast Aside Austerity. It’s Having a Major Revival.

11.13 Caravan marks one month on the road: ‘We keep on going, laughing or crying’

11.13 Letter Shows Einstein’s Prescient Concerns About ‘Dark Times’ in Germany

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Hope Abandoned: Obama Protects and Promotes CIA Torture Mavens
Newspaper logo

A CRIME IS ALWAYS A CRIME, ADMITTED TO OR NOT:

Hope Abandoned: Obama Protects and Promotes CIA Torture Mavens

by Chris Floyd
Thursday, 9 April 2009
"Hope must be grounded in reality; and it must be invested in the right place. When reality gives it the lie, then it must be abandoned."
It is clear that the Obama Administration does not have the slightest intention of obeying the law and instigating the required investigations and prosecutions of the high crime -- the capital crime -- of ordering and committing torture.

It was obvious from the moment that Barack Obama appointed Leon Panetta to head the CIA that there was going to be no serious investigation -- much less prosecution -- of the high crimes of torture committed by the agency at the order of the Bush White House. Panetta, a Clinton retread (who actually began his career in the Nixon administration), has always been a bland, feckless, obedient servant of the Establishment; he has no outside power base, no pull, no heft, no popularity -- nothing that would enable him to grab hold of the CIA with both hands and clean that fetid, blood-encrusted house. And of course, it was precisely this kind of powerless figure that Barack Obama wanted in the post.

The appointment was very typical of the Obama operation. Panetta had made a few very mild statements over the years that would allow him to be passed off as some kind of "progressive" in the witless, substanceless "process stories" that the corporate media do for new government appointees. This would be enough to keep the progressive "base" -- which was overwhelmingly inclined to give Obama every benefit of every doubt -- lulled long enough to get the patsy into the job. Of course, to actually get the job, Panetta had to make it clear to Congress that he wasn't going to stir up any trouble on the torture front, and was willing to play along with anything the Unitary Executive might order him to do. But the corp-media made little of this, concentrating instead on Panetta's rote assertions that "America doesn't torture," and his embrace of the Army Field Manual as the standard for CIA interrogation. (Of course, the vaunted manual also allows practices that any rational human being would consider torture, but that's another story.)

Once Panetta was confirmed in his figurehead director's role, the Obama White House then confirmed its true intentions regarding the rogue agency. It has put the actual running of the CIA into the hands of one of the top figures involved in the Bush torture program. Scott Horton at Harper's points us to the remarkable story by investigator John Sifton, detailing Obama's retention -- and promotion -- of Bush's willing torturers. From Sifton:

On Monday night the confidential report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on the CIA’s secret detention and interrogation program was published on the website of the New York Review of Books. The report confirms previous allegations about CIA abuses against detainees. Unlike earlier reporting, however, the document is based on irrefutable first hand information: interviews with detainees and U.S. officials. The document describes in stark detail the CIA’s use of forced standing, sleep deprivation, prolonged isolation, assaults, and waterboarding. It also discloses the participation of CIA medical personnel in torture....

The New York Times reported that Leon Panetta, the current CIA director, has taken the position that “no one who took actions based on legal guidance from the Department of Justice at the time should be investigated, let alone punished.” Yet a number of CIA officials implicated in the torture program not only remain at the highest levels of the agency, but are also advising Panetta. Panetta’s attempt to suppress the issue is making Bush’s policy into the Obama administration’s dirty laundry.

Take Stephen Kappes. At the time of the worst torture sessions outlined in the ICRC report, Kappes served as a senior official in the Directorate of Operations—the operational part of the CIA that oversees paramilitary operations as well as the high-value detention program. (The directorate of operations is now known as the National Clandestine Service.) Panetta has kept Kappes as deputy director of the CIA—the number two official in the agency. One of Kappes’ deputies from 2002-2004, Michael Sulick, is now director of the National Clandestine Service—the de facto number three in the agency. Panetta’s refusal to investigate may be intended to protect his deputies. Since the basic facts about their involvement in the CIA interrogation program are now known, Panetta’s actions are increasingly looking like a cover-up.

Sifton also makes a very important point about the Red Cross report on torture that has been almost entirely ignored (which is not surprising, given that the Red Cross report itself has been almost entirely ignored by the corporate media that gives us the "news" of the day):

Another overlooked fact is this: the ICRC report is an important legal document that contains well-sustained allegations of criminal conduct with legal significance. Unlike earlier claims in books, magazines, and newspapers, the ICRC’s allegations are official notices from a legally recognized entity. The ICRC, after all, is not Human Rights Watch, the Washington Post, or The New Yorker, all of which have reported on the CIA’s secret prison program. The ICRC is an official entity recognized under the Geneva Conventions and various other earlier international treaties relating to armed conflict and prisoners of war. The ICRC is specifically tasked under the Geneva Conventions to visit prisoners and communicate with detaining powers to uphold the conventions’ spirit and purpose. Its interpretations and statements on matters of international law are held as legally authoritative. As such, the ICRC’s allegations have legal significance beyond previous disclosures. In effect, the document itself is evidence in a criminal case.

Note in particular the report’s date, February 14, 2007—Valentine’s Day. On that date, the U.S. government was put on notice about the allegations of CIA torture. (The ICRC also wrote to the U.S. governments about the issue of disappearances at several points in 2003-2006.)

Under international law—the Geneva Conventions, the Convention against Torture, and basic precepts of customary international law—the United States has a positive obligation to investigate and prosecute persons alleged to have committed torture and other violations of the laws of war. As of Valentine’s Day 2007, and possibly earlier, the U.S. government was obligated to investigate and prosecute the abuses detailed in the report. The United States’ failure to do so is a recurring breach of international law.

The United States has formally adopted the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture; they are not some kind of "foreign devilment" messing with our sacred sovereignty: they are the law of the land. But it is clear that the Obama Administration does not have and never had the slightest intention of obeying the law and instigating the required investigations and prosecutions of the high crime -- the capital crime -- of ordering and committing torture. And the reason for this refusal is also clear: the Obama Administration wants to retain the power to torture, to conduct "paramilitary operations" with secret armies and single assassins, to carry out mass, illegal surveillance of the population with no legal accountability, to do "whatever it takes" to keep the machine of war and domination churning at full strength. That is why they have retained apparatchiks like Kappes and Sulick; that is why they are not only defending the Bush gang's egregious assertions of authoritarian power, but are actually seeking to expand them, as Glenn Greenwald and others have detailed.

It is understandable that people hunger desperately for change after the open, scalding evils of the Bush years. It is understandable that they would seize on an attractively packaged figure who made a few progressive noises, carried a great deal of genuinely symbolic weight due to his race, and was more personable, cool and articulate than his god-awful predecessor. It is understandable that many people would want to give this figure the benefit of the doubt, to turn a blind eye to the many warning signs that emerged during the campaign, and hope for the best. After all, who would not rather live in hope?

But hope must be grounded in reality; and it must be invested in the right place. When reality gives it the lie, then it must be abandoned. There is no hope to be found in the Obama Administration: no hope for genuine change, no hope for a clean break (or any kind of break) from the relentless and ruthless promotion of empire, oligarchy and militarism. By his own choices -- his appointments, his policies, his court actions, his rhetoric -- Barack Obama has demonstrated beyond all doubt his sincere and abiding commitment to "continuity" in the most pernicious and corrosive elements of America's lawless hyper-state. To place one's hope in such a figure is a crippling, disastrous folly.

The only hope that can be associated with the Obama Administration is the long-shot, rapidly fading, outside chance that they could be forced -- very much against their will -- into at least slowing the militarist-oligarchic juggernaut by strong, sustained, massive, informed political opposition from the public. (And no, not the "tea-bag" fantasies of the fascistic Right, whose only real complaint about Obama -- aside from the unspoken one about his skin color -- is that he is not militarist and oligarchic enough.)

I don't believe this will happen, that this kind of genuine and fruitful dissent will arise on a scale large enough to pressure the administration into making changes in order to save its own political skin. Nor do I, as some do, place any "hopes" -- if that's the word -- that some outside power (or combination of powers) or calamitous event (or combination of calamitous events) will force the juggernaut onto another course. As in the case of the present global financial collapse, the reaction of the elite to such circumstances will be to do more of the same, to try more and more desperately to return to the status quo -- or, as today, to exploit the panic and chaos of disaster to extend their own power and privilege even further. And with a militarist elite that possesses an arsenal capable of bringing the world down with them if they can't hold on to power, I can't contemplate such a Götterdämmerung of suffering and death with anything like "hope."

But I also know that I don't know what the future might bring. So whatever small hope I still have resides in the flickering possibility of engendering the kind of large-scale, genuine, fruitful dissent described above. I realize that this is a rather slim reed to hang on to; yet it is a mighty oak when compared to a hope invested in leaders who protect and promote torturers, who perpetuate -- and laud -- mass war crimes, who expand tyrannical powers, and who sell their children's birthrights to a keep a tiny, rapacious elite in ascendancy. I will take my slim reed over such brutal delusions any day.


Chris Floyd at his deskChris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at cfloyd72@gmail.com.

This column is republished here with the permission of the author.



Copyright © 2009 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on April 12, 2009.

 



Public Service Ads:
Verifiable Voting in Maryland