Waterboarding is Torture… Period

Just in case you, like Judge Michael Mukasey presidential candidate nominated to follow up Gonzales, you were wondering about waterboarding, please read the following.

I’d like to digress from my usual analysis of insurgent strategy and tactics to speak out on an issue of grave importance to Small Wars Journal readers. We, as a nation, are having a crisis of honor.

Last week the Attorney General nominee Judge Michael Mukasey refused to define waterboarding terror suspects as torture. On the same day MSNBC television pundit and former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough quickly spoke out in its favor. On his morning television broadcast, he asserted, without any basis in fact, that the efficacy of the waterboard a viable tool to be used on Al Qaeda suspects.

Scarborough said, “For those who don’t know, waterboarding is what we did to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is the Al Qaeda number two guy that planned 9/11. And he talked …” He then speculated that “If you ask Americans whether they think it’s okay for us to waterboard in a controlled environment … 90% of Americans will say ‘yes.’” Sensing that what he was saying sounded extreme, he then claimed he did not support torture but that waterboarding was debatable as a technique: “You know, that’s the debate. Is waterboarding torture? … I don’t want the United States to engage in the type of torture that [Senator] John McCain had to endure.”

In fact, waterboarding is just the type of torture then Lt. Commander John McCain had to endure at the hands of the North Vietnamese. As a former Master Instructor and Chief of Training at the US Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE) in San Diego, California I know the waterboard personally and intimately. SERE staff were required undergo the waterboard at its fullest. I was no exception. I have personally led, witnessed and supervised waterboarding of hundreds of people. It has been reported that both the Army and Navy SERE school’s interrogation manuals were used to form the interrogation techniques used by the US army and the CIA for its terror suspects. What was not mentioned in most articles was that SERE was designed to show how an evil totalitarian, enemy would use torture at the slightest whim. If this is the case, then waterboarding is unquestionably being used as torture technique.

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War pimp allert: Secret move to upgrade air base for Iran attack plans

The US is secretly upgrading special stealth bomber hangars on the British island protectorate of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean in preparation for strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to military sources.

The improvement of the B1 Spirit jet infrastructure coincides with an “urgent operational need” request for £44m to fit racks to the long-range aircraft.

That would allow them to carry experimental 15-ton Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bombs designed to smash underground bunkers buried as much as 200ft beneath the surface through reinforced concrete.

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WAr pimp allert: US: Iran seeks nuclear weapons

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States on Monday brushed aside the UN nuclear watchdog agency chief’s warning that there was no proof Iran seeks atomic weapons, and invited him to stay out of diplomacy with Tehran.Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told CNN Sunday that he had no evidence Iran was building nuclear weapons and accused US leaders of adding “fuel to the fire” with their warlike rhetoric.

“He will say what he will. He is the head of a technical agency,” US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters. “I think we can handle diplomacy on this one.

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Blackwater men ‘given immunity’

Yes, No, Yes,

Private US security contractors accused of shooting dead 17 innocent Iraqis may have been offered partial immunity by the US state department, say reports.

Unnamed officials said the offer was unauthorised and could make it much more difficult to prosecute the guards employed by the Blackwater firm.

If confirmed, the revelation may put further strain on US-Iraq relations.

The Iraqi government was furious at the 16 September deaths, and demanded the guards be handed over to face trial.

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Russia begins large-scale military exercises in Far East

KHABAROVSK, October 28 (RIA Novosti) – Russia began on Sunday large-scale military exercises in the Far East to practice interoperability between troops, the press office of the Far Eastern military district said.

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The mystery of the missing $2.9 trillion

Like most people, economists love a mystery – especially if it involves not a missing person but a missing $2.9 trillion in United States debt.

That’s $2.9 with 11 zeros after it.

Some words of explanation: Every quarter the Department of Commerce comes up with the US “International Investment Position.” At the end of 2006, for instance, the US had a net negative position – by this measurement of international assets and liabilities – of $2.6 trillion. In other words, the country is by far the world’s biggest debtor nation.

A quarter century ago, the US was the world’s largest creditor nation.

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Rumsfeld flees France fearing arrest

Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld fled France today fearing arrest over charges of “ordering and authorizing” torture of detainees at both the American-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the US military’s detainment facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, unconfirmed reports coming from Paris suggest.

US embassy officials whisked Rumsfeld away yesterday from a breakfast meeting in Paris organized by the Foreign Policy magazine after human rights groups filed a criminal complaint against the man who spearheaded President George W. Bush’s “war on terror” for six years.

Under international law, authorities in France are obliged to open an investigation when a complaint is made while the alleged torturer is on French soil.

According to activists in France, who greeted Rumsfeld shouting “murderer” and “war criminal” at the breakfast meeting venue, US embassy officials remained tight-lipped about the former defense secretary’s whereabouts citing “security reasons”.

Anti-torture protesters in France believe that the defense secretary fled over the open border to Germany, where a war crimes case against Rumsfeld was dismissed by a federal court. But activist point out that under the Schengen agreement that ended border checkpoints across a large part of the European Union, French law enforcement agents are allowed to cross the border into Germany in pursuit of a fleeing fugitive.

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The fog of work: What happened to Fremont mechanic Hamid Sayadi after 9/11?

In the beginning, 9/11 was a local story — it was the intimate grief and shock and incomprehension that so profoundly shook us those first days and weeks. Over time it morphed into something political, and we came to see the tragedy through the wide-angle lenses of foreign policy and law and the other spasms of governance it inspired.

But even as the specific event blurred into unspecific politics and symbolism over the years, it continued to affect individuals in concrete ways — ways that Fremont resident Hamid Sayadi claims he paid a price for.

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Will Bush really bomb Iran?

The rhetoric is getting stronger, the sanctions tougher and military planning more detailed. Iran is now the focus of attention in Washington

In the white desert sands of New Mexico, close to where the first atom bomb was detonated, America’s biggest conventional weapon was tested last spring. A 30,000lb massive ordnance penetrator, known as the Big Blu or the Mother of All Bombs, was placed inside a tunnel to test its explosive power against hard, deeply buried bunkers and tunnels designed to conceal weapons of mass destruction.

The monster bunker-buster was so heavy, it could not fly. But the blast was a huge success, rippling through the tunnels and destroying everything in its wake.

Today the Big Blu might as well have “Tehran” written on its side in the same way that the Iranians love to parade missiles marked “Tel Aviv”. Tucked away in an emergency defence spending request, the US air force has just asked Congress for $88m to equip B2 stealth bombers, the black warriors of the skies, with racks strong enough carry the huge bomb.

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Defense contract award protested

The winning firm had an unfair advantage due to Bush administration links, say companies in complaints to GAO.

By Walter F. Roche Jr., Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 26, 2007

WASHINGTON — A Defense Department medical services contract worth up to $790 million was awarded last month to a Wisconsin-based company three months after it hired a former Bush administration appointee who had supervised military health programs at the Pentagon for the last six years.

William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs from 2001 until April, joined Logistics Health Inc. as a director and consultant in June. The firm beat out two other bidders with proposals that ranged from $80 million to $100 million less, records show. Under the new contract, Logistics Health will provide immunizations and physical and dental exams for reservists and National Guard members.

Logistics Health of LaCrosse, Wis., is headed by another ex-official of the Bush administration — former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson.

“They stacked the deck,” said Fran Lessans, president of Passport Health, one of the losing bidders. Her Baltimore-based firm lost despite a bid projected over five years to cost nearly $100 million less than Logistics Health’s winning proposal.

“It was wired. There is no doubt in my mind,” Lessans said of the Defense procurement process.

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Defense contract award protested

The winning firm had an unfair advantage due to Bush administration links, say companies in complaints to GAO.

By Walter F. Roche Jr., Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 26, 2007

WASHINGTON — A Defense Department medical services contract worth up to $790 million was awarded last month to a Wisconsin-based company three months after it hired a former Bush administration appointee who had supervised military health programs at the Pentagon for the last six years.

William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs from 2001 until April, joined Logistics Health Inc. as a director and consultant in June. The firm beat out two other bidders with proposals that ranged from $80 million to $100 million less, records show. Under the new contract, Logistics Health will provide immunizations and physical and dental exams for reservists and National Guard members.

Logistics Health of LaCrosse, Wis., is headed by another ex-official of the Bush administration — former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson.

“They stacked the deck,” said Fran Lessans, president of Passport Health, one of the losing bidders. Her Baltimore-based firm lost despite a bid projected over five years to cost nearly $100 million less than Logistics Health’s winning proposal.

“It was wired. There is no doubt in my mind,” Lessans said of the Defense procurement process.

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Video: Asian countries dumping their dollars

See this

The world of private ‘security’: Unleashed: the fat cats of war

The US is finally facing up to its failures to supervise the private armies operating on its behalf in Iraq. But the problem may be worse than it admits. Kim Sengupta reports on a booming industry

Published: 26 October 2007

 

The killings by Blackwater’s private security guards on Baghdad’s Bloody Sunday were brutal and unprovoked. Terrified men, women and children were mowed down as they tried to flee from the ferocious gunfire, cars were set on fire incinerating those inside.

I was in Nisour Square, in Mansour district, on the afternoon of 17 September when the massacre took place, and saw the outpouring of anger that followed from Iraqis vociferously demanding that Western, private armies acting violently, but immune from scrutiny or prosecution, should face justice.

But there was always the underlying feeling that this was, after all, Iraq, where violent deaths are hardly unusual. The scapegoat for America’s dependence on private armies appears to be a mid-ranking official who yesterday resigned as the State Department overseer of security contractors.

Richard Griffin made no mention of the Mansour killings or their aftermath in his resignation letter but it came just one day after a study commissioned by Condoleezza Rice found serious lapses in the department’s oversight of private guards. At the same time Congress is moving to put under military control all armed contractors operating in combat zones, an effort the State Department is strongly resisting.

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On Track for U.S. Collapse

Bush and Cheney are steering the U.S. into a collapse. Only strong public voices by influential people can prevent the coming disaster. We desperately need for men and women who are known to the public and have credibility to speak up in the critical period ahead to avoid catastrophe.

  • A few weeks ago, Israel bombed a alleged nuclear facility in Syria. This is a warm-up for an attack on Iran.
  • In the last few days, the U.S. unilaterally tightened sanctions on Iran. Russia and China do not support this move.
  • A week ago Bush warned Iran that its attainment of nuclear arms would lead to World War III.
  • Russia, which has been assisting Iran in its nuclear construction program for decades, regards Western military action against Iran as unacceptable.
  • China has been arming Iran with missiles. Its relations with Iran have been improving for years.

We know that Bush and Cheney are capable of pre-emptive attack. We know that Bush will act if he believes he is right no matter what the costs are. In his distorted worldview, Iran with nuclear weapons is a scenario worth any cost to avoid.

We know that Bush, Cheney, and Rice have repeatedly warned Iran of meaningful consequences if Iran arms itself with nuclear weapons. We know that their terms in office end in 15 months. These are the critical months.

But it is by no means clear that the front-running candidates for office who may replace them hold substantially different views. Hillary Clinton has publicly called for sanctions against Iran and has called Iran a threat to Israel.

Why may an unprovoked attack on Iran lead to WWIII and why may it lead to the collapse of the U.S.?

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From CIA Jails, Inmates Fade Into Obscurity

By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, October 27, 2007; ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — On Sept. 6, 2006, President Bush announced that the CIA’s overseas secret prisons had been temporarily emptied and 14 al-Qaeda leaders taken to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But since then, there has been no official accounting of what happened to about 30 other “ghost prisoners” who spent extended time in the custody of the CIA.

Some have been secretly transferred to their home countries, where they remain in detention and out of public view, according to interviews in Pakistan and Europe with government officials, human rights groups and lawyers for the detainees. Others have disappeared without a trace and may or may not still be under CIA control.
The bulk of the ghost prisoners were captured in Pakistan, where they scattered after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Among them is Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, a dual citizen of Syria and Spain and an influential al-Qaeda ideologue who was last seen two years ago. On Oct. 31, 2005, the red-bearded radical with a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head arrived in the Pakistani border city of Quetta, unaware he was being followed.

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Attack Iran and you attack Russia

The barely reported highlight of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tehran for the Caspian Sea summit last week was a key face-to-face meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.A high-level diplomatic source in Tehran tells Asia Times Online that essentially Putin and the Supreme Leader have agreed on a plan to nullify the George W Bush administration’s relentless drive towards launching a preemptive attack, perhaps a tactical nuclear strike, against Iran. An American attack on Iran will be viewed by Moscow as an attack on Russia.

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With no new evidence, Fox continues to ask: Did al Qaeda burn California?

If you want to go Paranoid that let’s not forget that Potrero was on of the first villages to burn.
Potrero is the village that put up most resistance against Blackwater USA building a third base in the nearby valley (also burned). And if they had not, than mark my words, Blackwater will argument there would have been enough water to have saved Potrero if Blackwater had their base there.

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Former Bush General Touts Privatization of National Disaster Response

“Country Club Fees” Would Guarantee ProtectionA retired general now working for a controversial private security company told an audience last night about the services the company plans to provide.

The government does not have the tax base to provide services to everyone in the event of a major catastrophe, retired Brigadier General Richard W. Mills told an audience in Pellston last night.

Mills served as Deputy Director of the Counterterrorism Center (CTC) of the Central Intelligence Agency before retirement this year. At a public meeting at the Pellston High School he presented himself as the executive vice president for strategic development for Sovereign Deed, an 18 month old company that offers private disaster response services.

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War pimp allert: Pentagon Orders “Bunker-Busters” for Urgent Delivery; Strike on Iran in the Works?

Where would the military use a stealth bomber armed with a 30,000-pound bomb, and why the rush?
Tucked inside the White House’s $196 billion emergency funding request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is an item that has some people wondering whether the administration is preparing for military action against Iran.

The item: $88 million to modify B-2 stealth bombers so they can carry a newly developed 30,000-pound bomb called the massive ordnance penetrator, or, in military-speak, the MOP.

The MOP is the the military’s largest conventional bomb, a super “bunker-buster” capable of destroying hardened targets deep underground. The one-line explanation for the request said it is in response to “an urgent operational need from theater commanders.”

What urgent need? The Pentagon referred questions on this to Central Command.

ABC News called CENTCOM to ask what the “urgent operational need” is. CENTCOM spokesman Maj. Todd White said he would look into it, but, so far, no answer.

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Terror watch list swells to more than 755,000

WASHINGTON — The government’s terrorist watch list has swelled to more than 755,000 names, according to a new government report that has raised worries about the list’s effectiveness.

The size of the list, typically used to check people entering the country through land border crossings, airports and sea ports, has been growing by 200,000 names a year since 2004. Some lawmakers, security experts and civil rights advocates warn that it will become useless if it includes too many people.

“It undermines the authority of the list,” says Lisa Graves of the Center for National Security Studies. “There’s just no rational, reasonable estimate that there’s anywhere close to that many suspected terrorists.”

The exact number of people on the list, compiled after 9/11 to help government agents keep terrorists out of the country, is unclear, according to the report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Some people may be on the list more than once because they are listed under multiple spellings.

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