Tag Archives: john mccain

US Officials Used Torture

1 May


Juan Cole argues that the U.S. has made its own security worse by engaging in torture.

The political reality of the United States in the world is that of blowback. Blowback is a term of art in the intelligence community for what happens when a covert operation goes bad and comes back to bite you on the ass. The US spent the 1980s encouraging Muslim radicals to engage in ‘freedom fighting’ against the leftist government of Afghanistan, and that policy certainly is implicated in the creation of al-Qaeda. We have been suffering with lack of security ever since. And what would have happened if Washington had just left the Communist government in place? Wouldn’t it have gone the same way as the former Communist regime of Tajikistan or Kyrgyzstan? Which of you feels threatened by those former Soviet Socialist Republics?

The policy of deliberate deployment of torture by US officials, in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib (Iraq) and Bagram (Afghanistan), as well as black sites in Poland and elsewhere, during the past decade, has spawned a whole new wave of blowback.

It’s conclusive: the United States in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks engaged in torture (via Lawfare).

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If Only Progressives Stand Tall Like Paul

8 Mar

060313holderNow that my Rand Paul-induced swoon through Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-tinted glasses has been flushed from my body, I’m just depressed. We still live in a world where Americans believe making war on abstract nouns and anyone or anything that says, “Boo!” or seems strange is a reasonable argument and a prudent policy. And, “[n]ot only did Paul stage a pointless piece of political theater, he managed to obfuscate and mischaracterize the debate while simultaneously helping to worsen public perceptions in a misleading way.” (via Erik Loomis)

First, let’s review Paul’s actual question. Regardless of how people want to interpret the question as being solely about targeted killing policy regarding the war on terror, Holder clearly interpreted it as whether or not there is a legal right for the President to employ lethal force within the United States in SOME circumstances. As Holder makes clear in his letter, he views the scenarios where such a use of force would be authorized and legal to be highly unlikely and illustrates the hypothetical with situations that are quite out of the ordinary.

While one might quibble about his use of Pearl Harbor as an example (as it was a foreign enemy) the 9/11 example is apt, because that was a situation where lethal force against American citizens could have been deployed without trial. How is this, you ask? Specifically we’re talking about the possibility of the Executive Branch authorizing the shoot down of hijacked airliners. While the hijackers weren’t citizens, each airliner had scores of American citizens, who, if shot down by an F-16 would have been killed without due process or trial. Does this really seem like an outlandish use of force? And let’s remember that Holder is saying that it would take that sort of extreme scenario for the contemplation of that authority to even be invoked.

Matt Binder and Michael Brooks talk about Paul’s filibuster, the cast of Republican clowns, and Matt’s refusal to kill Americans under any circumstances (~41 minutes).

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The Real Reason Susan Rice Will Not Be America’s Top Diplomat

15 Dec

Secretary Susan Rice and meles ZenawiWomen can be excellent diplomats, and African-Americans should be on the international stage and crafting government policy. But, Susan Rice, the once-and-never-again nominee for U.S. Secretary of State and still ambassador to the United Nations, is a bad choice for the nation’s top diplomatic post, because of her record on Africa and her professional relationships with various African leaders.

The death knell of her ambitions was probably sounded by a New York Times story on Monday, which detailed how she failed to put pressure on President Paul Kagame of Rwanda to stop fomenting violence in Congo. The liberal establishment’s favourite paper also ran an opinion peace by an Ethiopian activist criticising Rice’s fulsome tribute to the late Meles Zenawi.

In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal recalled how Rice, an Africa specialist, had invested faith in young, progressive-seeming leaders such as Kagame, Zenawi and Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, but stuck by them when they turned out to be not so progressive after all.

Other pieces recalled how in the Clinton administration she had reportedly asked what effect the Rwandan genocide might have on Democrats’ prospects in the 1994 mid-term elections.

The NYT reported that Rice had watered down a UN resolution condemning Kagame’s support for Congo’s M23 rebels, whose recent invasion of Goma, the major eastern city, provoked international condemnation. It emerged that Kagame had been a client of Intellibridge, a Washington consultancy Rice worked for during George W Bush’s presidency.

Senator John McCain, who threatened to block her nomination, and other Republicans would have had plenty of material to make her confirmation hearing very uncomfortable, besides Benghazi.

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