Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Torture and Tortured Situations: Obama And The CIA, Tortured Politics In Illinois And Israel On The International Hot Seat. : It's Time for a Revoluti

Torture and Tortured Situations: Obama And The CIA, Tortured Politics In Illinois And Israel On The International Hot Seat. : It's Time for a Revolution


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After Sharp Words on C.I.A., Obama Faces a Delicate Task


WASHINGTON — For two years on the presidential campaign trail,Barack Obama rallied crowds with strongly worded critiques of the Bush administration’s most controversial counterterrorism programs, from hiding terrorism suspects in secret Central Intelligence Agencyjails to questioning them with methods he denounced as torture.


Now Mr. Obama must take charge of the C.I.A., in what is already proving to be one of the more treacherous patches of his transition to the White House.


Last week, John O. Brennan, a C.I.A. veteran who was widely seen as Mr. Obama’s likeliest choice to head the intelligence agency, withdrew his name from consideration after liberal critics attacked his alleged role in the agency’s detention and interrogation program. Mr. Brennan protested that he had been a “strong opponent” within the agency of harsh interrogation tactics, yet Mr. Obama evidently decided that nominating Mr. Brennan was not worth a battle with some of his most ardent supporters on the left.


Mr. Obama’s search for someone else and his future relationship with the agency are complicated by the tension between his apparent desire to make a clean break with Bush administration policies he has condemned and concern about alienating an agency with a central role in the campaign against Al Qaeda.


Mark M. Lowenthal, an intelligence veteran who left a senior post at the C.I.A. in 2005, said Mr. Obama’s decision to exclude Mr. Brennan from contention for the top job had sent a message that “if you worked in the C.I.A. during the war on terror, you are now tainted,” and had created anxiety in the ranks of the agency’s clandestine service.


One of the first issues Mr. Obama must grapple with is the future of C.I.A. detention: will the agency continue to hold prisoners secretly, question them using more aggressive methods than allowed for military interrogators, and transfer terrorism suspects to countries with a history of using torture?


During the presidential campaign, a constant theme for Mr. Obama was the need to restore “American values” to the fight against terrorism. He pledged to banish secret C.I.A. interrogation rules and require all American interrogators to follow military guidelines, set out in the Army Field Manual on interrogation.


In a speech last year, Mr. Obama cast the matter as a practical issue, as well as a moral one. “We cannot win a war unless we maintain the high ground and keep the people on our side,” he said. “But because the administration decided to take the low road, our troops have more enemies.”


On Wednesday, a dozen retired generals and admirals are to meet with senior Obama advisers to urge him to stand firm against any deviation from the military’s noncoercive interrogation rules.


But even some senior Democratic lawmakers who are vehement critics of the Bush administration’s interrogation policies seemed reluctant in recent interviews to commit the new administration to following the Army Field Manual in all cases.


Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who will take over as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in January, led the fight this year to force the C.I.A. to follow military interrogation rules. Her bill was passed by Congress but vetoed by President Bush.


But in an interview on Tuesday, Mrs. Feinstein indicated that extreme cases might call for flexibility. “I think that you have to use the noncoercive standard to the greatest extent possible,” she said, raising the possibility that an imminent terrorist threat might require special measures.


Afterward, however, Mrs. Feinstein issued a statement saying: “The law must reflect a single clear standard across the government, and right now, the best choice appears to be the Army Field Manual. I recognize that there are other views, and I am willing to work with the new administration to consider them.”


Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, another top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said he would consult with the C.I.A. and approve interrogation techniques that went beyond the Army Field Manual as long as they were “legal, humane and noncoercive.” But Mr. Wyden declined to say whether C.I.A. techniques ought to be made public.


C.I.A. officials have long argued that publishing a list of interrogation techniques only allows Al Qaeda to train its operatives to resist them. But they say the secrecy has led to exaggeration and myth about the agency’s detention program.


During the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama’s aides said he would consider allowing the C.I.A to continue holding prisoners in overseas jails, but would insist that inspectors from the International Committee of the Red Cross be allowed to visit them. They also said he would end the practice of “rendering” terrorism suspects to countries that have used torture.


One of the retired generals meeting with the Obama team on Wednesday, Paul D. Eaton, who oversaw the training of Iraqi forces for the Army in 2003 and 2004, said in an interview Tuesday that it was crucial for leaders to send the right message on the treatment of prisoners.


General Eaton pointed out that Vice President Dick Cheney once dismissed waterboarding, the near-drowning tactic considered by many legal authorities to be torture, as a “dunk in the water” and said such statements influenced rank-and-file soldiers to believe that brutality was not really prohibited.


“This administration has set a tone problem for the military,” General Eaton said. “We’ve had eight years of undermining good order and discipline.”


It is widely expected that Mr. Obama will replace Michael V. Hayden, the C.I.A. director. Among those mentioned as possible candidates for the job are Stephen R. Kappes, a C.I.A. veteran who is the deputy director; Tim Roemer, a former congressman from Indiana who was a member of the Sept. 11 commission; Senator Chuck Hagel, the Nebraska Republican who is retiring from the Senate in January; and Jack Devine, a former head of the agency’s clandestine service who left the C.I.A. before the Sept. 11 attacks.


The flap over Mr. Brennan, who served as a chief of staff to George J. Tenet when he ran the C.I.A., was the biggest glitch so far in what has been an otherwise smooth transition for Mr. Obama. Some C.I.A. veterans suggest that the president-elect may have difficulty finding a candidate who can be embraced by both veteran officials at the agency and the left flank of the Democratic Party.


A. B. Krongard, the C.I.A.’s third-ranking official under Mr. Tenet when the detention and interrogation program was created, called Mr. Brennan a “casualty of war” and said he believed C.I.A. tactics were being second-guessed for political purposes. The demise of Mr. Brennan’s candidacy, Mr. Krongard said, “is a huge loss to the country.”


But Mr. Krongard said he believed that ultimately, under a new director and a new set of policies, the agency would find common ground with Mr. Obama.


“The C.I.A.’s no different than any other place,” he said. “Probably 25 percent of the people there really like him, 25 percent don’t like him, and 50 percent are open-minded.”



Filling Ill. Senate Seat Gets Trickier
Washington Post - United States
A two-thirds vote would be required to convict Blagojevich and formally impeach him. If Blagojevich chose to resign, he would be replaced by Lt. Gov. ...
See all stories on this topic


Governor Blagojevich, resign
Chicago Tribune - United States
If he doesn't, the Illinois House should begin proceedings to impeach him. Blagojevich will get to defend himself in court against the criminal charges. ...See all stories on this topic


This Pretty Much Outlines All Available Options In Illinois


Madigan may take him to high court | NEXT STEP | Attorney general might invoke rule to get Illinois Supreme Court to vote on ousting Blagojevich.


SPRINGFIELD -- If Gov. Blagojevich refuses to relinquish power and avoids impeachment, Attorney General Lisa Madigan is prepared to force his hand, aides said Tuesday.


The state's chief law enforcement officer is prepared to invoke an obscure Illinois Supreme Court rule under which the state's seven justices could vote to oust a sitting governor deemed unfit for office.


"The attorney general is prepared to take action but believes the Legislature should have a reasonable time to act," Madigan spokeswoman Natalie Bauer said.


Bauer did not specify a timeline for Blagojevich to resign or for the House and Senate to act on impeachment before she would get involved.


The state Constitution doesn't explicitly indicate an officeholder can be ousted by the court or by impeachment if that person faces criminal charges. Instead, the Constitution uses terms such as "failure to qualify" or "disability" in laying out causes to impeach someone.


The Supreme Court rule allowing justices to wade into the issue of gubernatorial fitness is even less defined, saying only that the court has authority to determine "the ability of the governor to serve."


Madigan, House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a longtime Blagojevich friend and colleague, called Tuesday for his impeachment.


But it wasn't clear that Democratic legislative leaders were ready to act on impeachment anytime soon despite hasty plans to reconvene in Springfield next week to react to the Blagojevich bombshell.


One worry among some in the House, where impeachment would begin, focuses on how evidence now held exclusively and tightly by federal prosecutors could be presented to a legislative impeachment panel before a Blagojevich trial.


In a statement, House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), the attorney general's father, dealt only fleetingly with impeachment, saying he was "prepared to discuss the suggestions of the House Republican leader."


He did not commit to pushing for an impeachment resolution.


The governor's lawyer, Sheldon Sorosky, said his client has no plans to resign.


If Blagojevich did step down, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn would take over, dramatically altering the state's political landscape heading into a 2010 gubernatorial election. On Tuesday, Quinn urged the governor to "step aside."


With Blagojevich in mind, Quinn, a self-styled populist disliked by many in his own party, led an unsuccessful legislative effort to pass a constitutional amendment that would have allowed voters to recall corrupt or incompetent leaders from office.




Election Central Morning Roundup
TPM Election Central - New York,NY,USA
 that usually don't agree on much, have come to the same conclusion: Blago should resign now, and if he doesn't then the legislature should impeach him. ...See all stories on this topic


UN attacks Israeli rights 'crimes' | Israel's policies against the Palestinians are tantamount to a "crime against humanity", the United Nations' human rights rapporteur has said.


Richard Falk said in a statement on Tuesday that the UN must "implement the agreed norm of a responsibility to protect a civilian population being collectively punished by policies that amount to a crime against humanity".


The statement came on the same day that the UN Human Rights Council urged Israel to implement 99 measures to improve its rights record.


Falk said it would seem "mandatory" that the UN's International Criminal Court investigate Israel’s policies in regard to the Palestinians.


"[The court could] determine whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law," he said.  More…


War, Environmental Destruction, Recession: It's Time for a Revolution
AlterNet - San Francisco,CA,USA
They wonder how President George W. Bush and his Svengalian vice president could escapeimpeachment and accountability before the Congress for subverting ...
See all stories on this topic

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