Sunday, May 3, 2009

Torture, Accountability, Questions, Investigations And Accusations; It Won’t Go Away. (Plus (9/11 Charges and H. RES. 383)

Torture, Accountability, Questions, Investigations And Accusations; It Won’t Go Away. (Plus (9/11 Charges and H. RES. 383)


H. Res. 383: Establishing A Select Committee To Review National Security Laws, Policies, And Practices


Under The Heading Of: “Who Needs Enemies!”




Torture and Accountability

By Will Marshall


Are political activists losing their ability to distinguish between policy disputes and mistakes and criminal behavior? The distinction is crucial, and it has apparently has been lost on those who demand that the authors of the Bush administration's infamous torture memos be prosecuted for breaking the law.


The activist group MoveOn, for example, is calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor. There's more than a little irony here. After all, MoveOn was born in reaction to a partisan attempt by Republicans to impeach Bill Clinton for his dalliance with a young White House intern. The effort foundered because most Americans could tell the difference between poor judgment and the "high crimes and misdemeanors" standard that impeachment requires.


There's no doubt public officials should be held accountable for their mistakes, but it is dangerous to conflate policy differences with crimes. For one thing, it will likely boomerang by inviting partisan retribution once your opponents come to power. The prospect of being hauled into court will surely constrain bold and decisive action by government officials. At a more basic level, those clamoring for "justice" overestimate the law's ability to provide policymakers with fixed and unambiguous guides to action. In fact, our laws are always open to varying interpretations - that's why we have a whole third branch of government to adjudicate among them.


After President Bush declared his "war on terror," Justice Department lawyers came under pressure from the White House to produce legal justification for harsh interrogation techniques for terrorist suspects. They obliged, essentially by defining waterboarding and other forms of physical abuse as falling short of torture, which is banned under U.S. and international law.


Fulfilling his campaign pledge, President Obama has overridden the Bush policy and made the torture memos public for good measure. Now some activist groups want heads to roll. But whose?


The President has ruled out prosecutions of CIA interrogators, who had no standing to challenge the legal guidance they received. So the prosecution lobby has looked up the chain of command, to the memo's authors. But why stop there? The real architects of U.S. interrogation policies were President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, who staunchly defends them as necessary to save American lives.


And it turns out that key Congressional leaders in both parties were briefed on these coercive interrogation methods in the anxious years after 9/11. They can't escape complicity in the policy and for that matter neither can the voters who reelected them. Even now polls show Americans remain closely divided on whether to use torture to prevent imminent terrorist attacks.


In this sense, the impulse to criminalize differences over policy and presidential prerogative is corrosive to democracy. More than legal accountability, we need political accountability. Elections are the best way to stop bad policies. When it comes to judging any administration's actions, there should be a strong presumption in favor of letting the voters decide, rather than the courts.


Barack Obama won the election and, quite rightly in my view, banned waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques as violating Americans' creedal belief in the inalienable rights and dignity of the individual. But that doesn't end the matter. There is still the question of whether torture is the only way to get information that can prevent attacks and save American lives.


That's the real reason for a bipartisan, 9/11 commission to examine the whole episode. It should critically assess the claims of Cheney and other top officials that torture is indispensible to Americans' safety. Many professional interrogators deny such claims, saying there are better ways to get suspects to talk and that, in any case, information gained through torture is often unreliable.


Progressives ought not to demand prosecutions that will inevitably look to many Americans like a partisan vendetta. Instead, we should get the truth about torture out and let this case be tried in the court of public opinion.



Will Marshall Is President Of The Progressive Policy Institute.


Condoleezza Rice or Richard Nixon?
OpEdNews - Newtown,PA,USA
The current President has yet to issue a pardon to Condoleezza Rice, Dick
 Cheney, former Commander-In-Chief Bush or any of their cohorts. ...See all stories on this topic

The Slow Drip of Torture Revelations

Sometimes it feels like torture.  Every day it feels as if there are new revelations.  Everyday there is more speculation about why President Obama doesn’t come out and say he will or will not support prosecution of Bush administration officials.  I have said before that I think he is waiting to see what Congress does and what the Justice Department finds in various investigations.  I think he doesn’t want to be seen as too eager and too partisan.  I understand why many are frustrated.  After all, the Republicans brought impeachment procedings and had a multi-year investigation by a special prosecutor about what was essentially a personal crime by President Clinton.  The whole thing sapped energy from things that Clinton could have been doing and I can understand that Obama wants to pass some of his real agenda first.  I want to see criminal prosecutions in the courts, although Judge Jay Bybee is an exception who needs to be impeached.

John Nichols writing in the Nation says

And President Obama, who erred on the side of the transparency demanded by the American Civil Liberties Union in its long campaign to obtain the memos, gets points for ordering an end to the use of the torture techniques they outlined and for expressing at least a measure of openness to a “further accounting” and perhaps prosecution of wrongdoers. But Obama’s fretting about inquiries “getting so politicized” and suggesting a preference for shifting responsibility to a bipartisan independent commission are unsettling. As a former constitutional law lecturer, Obama should have a firmer grasp of the point of executive accountability. It is not merely to “lay blame,” as he suggests; it is to set boundaries on presidential behavior and to clarify where wrongdoing will be challenged.

Presidents, even those who profess honorable intentions, do not get to write their own rules. Congress must set and enforce those boundaries. When Obama suggested that CIA personnel who acted on the legal advice of the Bush administration would not face “retribution,” Illinois’s Jan Schakowsky, chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s subcommittee on oversight and investigations, offered the only appropriate response. “I don’t want to compare this to Nazi Germany, but we’ve come to almost ridicule the notion that when horrific acts have been committed that people can use the excuse that, Well, I was just following orders,” explained Schakowsky, who has instructed aides to prepare for a torture inquiry. “There should be an open mind of what to do with information that we get from thorough investigations,” she added.

There must also be a proper framework for investigations. Gathering information for the purpose of creating a permanent record is only slightly superior to Obama’s banalities about wanting to “move forward.” Truth commissions that grant immunity to wrongdoers and bipartisan commissions that negotiate their way to redacted reports do not check and balance the executive branch any more than “warnings” punish speeding motorists.

Impeaching Bybee, as recommended by Nadler and Common Cause, would send the right signal. But it cannot be the only one. The House Judiciary Committee should examine all available avenues for achieving accountability–including the prospect of formal action against former officeholders, up to and including the sort of impeachments imagined by Mansfield and his compatriots in 1974. And Nadler and Feingold should use their subcommittees to begin outlining statutory constraints on the executive branch. The point, again, is not merely to address Bush/Cheney-era crimes but also to dial down the imperial presidency that has evolved under the unwatchful eye of successive Congresses.

“Congress…must be vigilant to the perils of the subversive notion that any public official, the president or a policeman, possesses a kind of inherent power to set the Constitution aside whenever he thinks the public interest or ‘national security’ warrants it. That notion is the essential postulate of tyranny,” California Congressman Don Edwards warned thirty-five years ago, when too many of his colleagues thought Nixon’s resignation had caged the beast of executive aggrandizement. That vigilance, too long delayed, is the essential duty of every member of Congress who swears an oath to support and defend the Constitution.

Here’s most recent example of the drip of revelations.  It appears that former Secretary of State Condi Rice might also be implicated in a conspiracy.  Keith Olbermann ran this tape  of her trying to defend torture.

So I say the Congress should begin impeaching Jay Bybee and we should let the revelations continue.  I’m not sure when enough will be enough to begin criminal proceedings but I’m sure Eric Holder will figure that out.

Accepting Torture?

Would you support torture if you knew it saved American lives and prevented acts of terrorism? Would you support torture if you were serving in combat duty in Iraq and you knew it would save the lives of your fellow soldiers? If you answered "yes" to either of these questions, you might be surprised to learn that you are in a minority, and have been for the past eight years.

We have assembled the first comprehensive archive of public opinion on the use of torture taken since September 11, 2001. Despite unending orange alerts, two wars, and the specter of leading political figures arguing for the efficacy of "enhanced interrogation," a majority of Americans continue to reject government use of torture, even when confronted with the "ticking time bomb" scenario.

In 30 polls taken since September 11, 2001, the average public approval for American use of torture is 44 percent, ranging as low as 15% and as high as 49%, depending on the vagaries of the question.

When asked most directly if they think it is "acceptable to torture people suspected of terrorism", only 35% of Americans express approval. Apparently the basic moral sensibilities of the public exceeds that of Vice President Cheney.

We are told that torture is efficacious--it works. It results in "actionable intelligence." Apparently, Americans moral compasses are resistant to such moral complexities. A number of surveys asked respondents if they supported torture "(I)f you knew torture would save American lives..." or "(I) f you knew that torture could prevent terrorist attacks..." Even given that absolute certainty and a "ticking time bomb," time and again, a majority of Americans rejected the use of torture by our government.

We are told that this is not your grandfather's war. The Geneva Convention and the U.N. Convention Against Torture are quaint luxuries that we can't accommodate in this new war against an elusive enemy. Yet, even members of the military, presumably those who are most knowledgeable about the ugliness of modern warfare, oppose torture. A poll conducted by the US military of soldiers serving in Iraq found that 56 percent of Marines and 59 percent of Army personnel opposed the use of torture even if they knew it would save the life of a fellow solider! A larger majority (61 and 64% respectively) opposed torture as a way to gather intelligence.

Why have so many in the political and media elite so badly misread the strong majorities opposed to torture? A recent survey we commissioned helps shine a light on the psychological process of misperception--also called "false consensus"--whereby an individual mistakenly believes that their viewpoints represent the public majority. False consensus has a long legacy in social psychological research, but our survey is unique in that it examines for the first time how false consensus may have shaped the public debate over torture.

A national opinion poll taken among 1000 respondents just before the 2008 election-- shows that nearly two-thirds of Americans overestimated the level of national support for torture. Surprisingly, however, false consensus did not operate evenly across the population. The stronger an individual supports torture, the larger the gap in his or her perception. In fact, those who believe that torture is often justified--a mere 15% of the public--think that more than a third of the public agrees with them. Another 30% say that torture can "sometime" be justified, but say that 62% of Americans do as well. On the other hand, those most opposed to torture--29% of the public--are the most accurate in how they perceive public attitudes on the topic.

Government claims of torture's success have always been highly exaggerated in the past. In 1972, the British Parker Commission claimed that the torture of 14 prisoners in Northern Ireland resulted in preventing 85 terrorist attacks, the arrest of 700 IRA soldiers, and the capture of hundreds of weapons. None of these claims were ever substantiated. The French have yet to release all the documents on torture squads in the Battle of Algiers. Now there are calls from the previous administration for the release of the memos that will show America's use of torture worked, and therefore, the logic must follow, is justified.

The American public has spoken in 30 polls since September 11, 2001 that it does not believe that the use of torture is justified, even if it works. What is reflected in the polling data is that the majority of Americans support the principles of fairness and decency, even when there are more expedient means at our disposal. They understand that the war on terror isn't about getting more land or wealth; it is a war about superior values. Al Qaeda's winning argument is that our values are just fake, and that when it comes down to it, we don't believe those values and defend them with torture. But the majority of Americans, as well our soldiers in the field, never have believed the ends justified the means when it comes to torture. They understand that to lose the high ground is to have lost the war to Al Qaeda.

In 1942, the Gestapo tortured or killed 7,442 innocent Czechs and Jews to catch 103 of its enemies. They called that campaign a success. What is the acceptable ratio of torturing innocents-to-terrorists for America to call our campaign a success, 50-to-1, 10-to-1? We are not sure what American value the previous administration hopes to support with the release of the "torture success memos." 

Darius Rejali is the author of the award winning book, Torture and Democracy. Paul Gronke studies public opinion and American politics. Both are professors of Political Science at Reed College.

Torture orders dictate action
Santa Maria Times - Santa Maria,CA,USA
Why not keep Guantanamo open, and make it home for a minimum of eight years for
 Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, Rice and Gonzalez. Perhaps throw in a little ...
See all stories on this topic

May 1, 2009

BILL MOYERS: Welcome to the Journal.

Enhanced interrogation, "harsh" questioning techniques, extraordinary rendition... now we know what they were really talking about — throwing a man against a wall thirty times in a row, depriving a prisoner of sleep for 11 straight days, waterboarding one detainee 183 times — in a word, torture.


With President Obama's release two weeks ago of those memos from the Bush administration's Office of Legal Counsel and the imminent release of photos documenting further mistreatment, a national debate has erupted over what to do with the overwhelming evidence of human rights abuse. The President said, "This is a time for reflection, not retribution."


But we wrestle with a powerful dilemma — shall we move on, as Mr. Obama has suggested, or do we hold a Congressional investigation, appoint an independent commission or a special prosecutor, and put those responsible on trial?


With me are two men who have been thinking and writing a lot about the morality and legality of our actions since 9/11.


Bruce Fein has worked for three Republican Presidents, including as the Associate Deputy Attorney General under Ronald Reagan. He was counsel to Congressman Dick Cheney when Cheney was the ranking House Republican on the committee investigating Iran Contra.


Nearly two years ago he was here on the Journal calling for George Bush's impeachment...


BRUCE FEIN: He's claimed authority to say he can kidnap people, throw them into dungeons abroad, dump them out into Siberia without any political or legal accountability. These are standards that are totally anathema to a democratic society devoted to the rule of law.


BILL MOYERS: Now in private life Bruce Fein is chairman of the American Freedom Agenda, an organization advocating the restoration of constitutional checks and balances. He's also the author of this book: "Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for our Constitution and Democracy."


As a reporter for 25 years, Mark Danner has covered everything from politics to war to human rights, with a special focus on American foreign policy. A long time staff writer for "The New Yorker," he is now a frequent contributor to the "New York Review of Books."


"The Wall Street Journal" says his recent publication of a secret Red Cross report on the treatment of prisoners was key to President Obama's decision to release those memos from the Office of Legal Counsel. Among his many books is this one: "Torture and Truth." He has written new books that will come out this Fall: "Stripping Bare the Body: Politics, Violence, War" and "Voices from the Black Sites."


Welcome to the Journal.


The President had a press conference on Wednesday night in which he was asked two questions about torture. If you'd been there, Mark, what would you have asked him?


MARK DANNER: I would have asked him to get out in front of the country this whole debate about torture. Why it was done. Whether it really protects the country. What we've lost and what we've gained. Because I think the losses have been very, very great.

But until the country is convinced and understands how great the losses have been, and parts with the notion that torture is necessary to protect us, we still are going to be having this continuing debate about torture as a necessity to protect the country, which I think is very harmful.


BRUCE FEIN: I would have asked him, since he's agreed that what was done was torture, and that the United States criminal code makes torture a crime. And there's no national security exception, no exception if you get useful information. And because we had impeached, in the House Judiciary Committee, a former President, called Richard Nixon, for failing faithfully to execute the laws. How he can justify not moving forward with an investigation when we have a former President and Vice President openly acknowledging they authorized water boarding, what he has described as torture, is a crime.


Or in the alternative, if he thinks that there are mitigating circumstances, and there's body language suggests that, then he should pardon them like Ford did Richard Nixon. And the reason why the difference between a pardon and non-prosecution is important, is because a pardon requires the recipient to acknowledge guilt. That there was wrongdoing. There was a crime. Just forgetting and sweeping it under the rug suggests this wasn't illegal.


BILL MOYERS: But he is clearly trying to move, as he says, beyond the past. He's closing Guantánamo. He doesn't countenance torture. He says it won't happen on his watch. I mean, shouldn't that settle the issue?


MARK DANNER: This is an issue that, as he has put it, divides the country. But because it divides the country, in my opinion, is one reason we have to confront it. The idea that this is about the past is simply wrong. It's not about the past. It's about our present politics.


You have a political predicate being laid down by the former administration and by some Republicans now in office that essentially says, because these techniques have been stopped, if and when there's a second attack, it will be the fault of the new administration. That President Obama, in deciding not to torture, has left the country vulnerable to another attack. That is present politics. That's not about the past. That's about now. And that's why this has to be confronted, not only legally, because I agree with that. But politically, as well.


BRUCE FEIN: Mark, torture isn't a Republican or Democratic prohibition. We ratified the Convention against Torture in the Senate. We passed it and made it a crime. It's not a Republican or Democratic issue. Moreover, with regard to this idea of well, as long as we got good information, then we can flout the law. That's not how you do it in the United States. I've been around for 41 years. If you think the law is deficient, then we should have repealed the torture statute.


In fact, if it was so important to undertake waterboarding and torture, Cheney should be out there demanding that it be reinstituted. Because he still agrees that we've got Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda out there, wanting to plot and kill us.


MARK DANNER: But he is out there demanding it be reinstituted.


BRUCE FEIN: He should be asking, "Repeal the statue."


MARK DANNER: You know, for all factual purposes—


BRUCE FEIN: Not just take my handcuffs off.


MARK DANNER: That's what-- for all practical purposes, that is what Cheney is saying. Cheney is saying that the fact that we're not doing this now, he doesn't say waterboarding in particular, but he says the fact that we're not doing this now is leaving the country vulnerable. That is what he's saying.


BILL MOYERS: Let me play for you what Former Vice President Cheney actually said to Sean Hannity the other day. Take a look.


DICK CHENEY: We had to collect good, first-rate intelligence about what was going on so we could prepare and defend against it. And that's what we did. We -- with the intelligence programs, the terror surveillance program, as well as the interrogation program, we set out to collect that kind of intelligence. It worked. It's been enormously valuable in terms of saving lives, preventing another mass casualty attack against the United States.


MARK DANNER: What's critical about that, I think, is not only that the former Vice President of the United States is saying it. It's that a lot of Americans believe it. You know, the torture discussion, I think involves the law in the way you suggest. I think it involves prosecutions in the way you suggest. I have no problem with that. I agree with that.


But the key question here is: if it's simply a legal matter, if it's a matter of recognizing the law was broken and prosecuting people, why wasn't this done in 2004? We have known about this, for five long years now. How it happened, who approved it. More documents are coming out. But in fact, the basic narrative we've known since the summer of 2004.


Nothing was done, because as a political matter, the politics of this, until very recently, and arguably still, cut in the other direction. Which is to say, a lot of people believe it, a lot of people think you have to be harsh with terrorists. A lot of people support, either vocally or quietly what the Vice President just said so vividly.


BRUCE FEIN: This is the way I would respond—


MARK DANNER: That's the political problem we have to confront.


BRUCE FEIN: But you cannot separate the political from the legal, the constitutional.


MARK DANNER: Oh, I agree with that.


BRUCE FEIN: The President of the United States, the Attorney General, when I was in office, I took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. Meaning, to enforce it. And there's a way out of that. You can issue pardons. You don't have a right to consult the political forces, say, "I'll just ignore the law."


And in fact, in 2004, we confronted the same problem we had with Nixon. He wasn't going investigate Watergate and the obstruction of himself. That's why I had a special prosecutor, and ultimately an independent counsel. That hasn't been done in this case. But now, the President and the Vice President who authorized this are gone. So, there's no obstacle. If President Obama didn't want to be President and faithfully enforce the laws, he shouldn't be there.


MARK DANNER: You know, let's—


BRUCE FEIN: He should issue a pardon.


But I want to go to the more important issue. This is the whole idea of who we are as a country. If you think the law is handcuffing you, you change the law. The President can't say, "I just flout the law." That's what banana republics and tyrannies do.


MARK DANNER: Can we follow the Watergate parallel just for a second? Because I think this makes my point. Watergate, as some of your viewers will remember, and some won't—


BILL MOYERS: High crimes and misdemeanors.


MARK DANNER: Involved not only high crimes and misdemeanors, involved Judge Sirica. That is, you had prosecutions going on. You also had the Watergate Select Committee, which was a television event, I remember, vividly.


It showed the country what happened, and why what happened was wrong. And in so doing, it laid the political groundwork for political change. And for investigation, true investigation, so that the legal part of it didn't simply seem to be a witch hunt. That's what, to me, that's how torture has to be—


BRUCE FEIN: But that can have-- all—


MARK DANNER: --confronted, on both sides.


BRUCE FEIN: --all Obama has to do is ask for a joint committee or a torture committee and it would happen tomorrow.


We have to confront this issue, whether we're going to live by a rule of law. 'Cause it's the same issue arose, Bill, with regard to the electronic surveillance. "Oh, the FISA statute's handcuffing our ability to gather intelligence. To heck with the law, we'll just go ahead and do it." No, in this country, if we want a republic to exist, you have to change the law. That's the difference between a civilized country, and one that's arbitrary and capricious. That's what we're fighting about.


BILL MOYERS: So, what do you want Obama to do, Bruce?


BRUCE FEIN: If Obama thinks that these people, and he's said, have committed torture, and he doesn't believe it should go forward for political reasons, he needs to pardon them.


BILL MOYERS: Before they're convicted of anything?


BRUCE FEIN: Yes, that's what happened with President Nixon. He wasn't accused of anything. He wasn't indicted. You can issue pardons before there's a formal accusation.


BILL MOYERS: So, therefore-- then what?


BRUCE FEIN: Then at least we do not have a situation where we have set a precedent that lies around like a weapon, that you can violate the law with impunity. Then, at least, at that point, we can have a full investigation. There's no criminal culpability.


BILL MOYERS: You would follow the pardon with an investigation?


BRUCE FEIN: And try to—


BILL MOYERS: Congressional investigation?




BILL MOYERS: Special prosecutor?


BRUCE FEIN: We need Congress to get back and do its work, Bill.


BILL MOYERS: But they're compromised. I mean, four top Members of Congress were briefed on this, back in 2002.




BRUCE FEIN: Then they need to be exposed, the Congress shouldn't be covering up itself.


MARK DANNER: Well, the problem here is, the entire top of the government is implicated in this. It's not just the Bush Administration. Congress was briefed. And it's one of the reasons why Democrats in Congress, some Democrats, are not enthusiastic about a commission.


So, if you define it narrowly in a legal way, to me, that's a dead end. I support prosecutions, but I believe there needs to be a full investigation that will not only tell us, in minute terms, what was done. We now already know a lot about this. But that will educate the country, not only about what was done, but what was lost. And why this is important.


BILL MOYERS: An investigation by Congress, as you say, compromised? Or by an independent commission that's not accountable to Congress or the White House?


MARK DANNER: I would favor, myself, an independent commission, along the lines of 9/11. There are downsides to that. There's no question about it. It would take time. You need to have, obviously, the highest security clearances. They need to look at all information. But they need, above all, to be credible, and authoritative.


You need to be able to speak to the country, and say, "This was a disaster. And this is why." And, you know, there's one other point to be made about the relationship between politics and the law. At the end of the day, it's the politicians who make the law.


Lawyers may not want to recognize that. But in 2006, this is very late, 2006, few years ago, we already knew about Abu Ghraib. We already knew about torture. Congress passed a law called the Military Commissions Act that, part of which, shielded those interrogators who took part in this stuff from prosecution under the War Crimes Act.


Now, this was passed in full view of the public, by Congress, Democrats could have filibustered it. They didn't. Why? Because they knew it would be a political risk. And they would be accused of "coddling terrorists."


BILL MOYERS: The other day, Karl Rove was on Fox News, saying you don't want any administration to criminalize policies of the previous administration. Take a look.


KARL ROVE: We're going to turn ourselves into the moral equivalent of a Latin American country run by colonels in mirrored sunglasses, and we're going to do is prosecute systematically the previous administration or threaten prosecutions against the previous administration based on policy differences. Is that what we've come to in this country?


BRUCE FEIN: That is nonsense on stilts. Torture is not a political issue. Torture is something prohibited—




BRUCE FEIN: --under a treaty by the U.S. Senate. It was prohibited in the U.S. Criminal Code. A bill passed by the House and Senate, including Republicans. And this idea that this would be like banana republics. No, we have due process. No one gets convicted without proof beyond a reasonable doubt, right to counsel, opportunity to cross-examine all adverse witnesses, make all the arguments, reasonable reliance on the law, which is a defense. So, this idea of saying that we have a criminal enforcement system that's a banana republic shows his ignorance of how our system works, as opposed to how banana republics work.


BILL MOYERS: I spent the weekend reading the documents that you've published in the "New York Review of Books," from the Red Cross Report. And then I spent the rest of the weekend, reading the four memos that had been released by the government recently. I want to ask you this, I mean, they turned the stomach. But is there anything new in them?


MARK DANNER: I mean, what I think is distinct about the Red Cross report is that it describes, in minute detail, from the detainees themselves, the kind of torture that they were subjected to. In great detail. You know, it's easy to talk about water boarding. And say, "It only takes 30 seconds. It's very easy. It's very effective. It's not cruel, because it breaks people very quickly." You heard this, particularly on Fox News, but elsewhere for years now.


In fact, we find out a couple of things. We find out that it's extremely violent, that it causes extensive vomiting and physical reactions. And those descriptions are very vivid in the Red Cross Report. We find out from the legal documents you're talking about that this was not done once to Abu Zubaydah. This was done 83 times. This was done 183 times to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, in a month. So, we're talking about six times a day.


BILL MOYERS: These documents that have been released, spell out-- lawyers spelling out specific water temperatures to be used when hosing detainees. The length of time detainees could be denied sleep or put in stress positions. How the head and the neck needed to be supported by a towel, when they were knocking them against the wall. I mean, Mr. Lawyer, what's going on there? Why are lawyers doing this?


BRUCE FEIN: Well, what you see, it's clear that they got marching orders. "We need to do this to save the country. Give us some kind of legal cover."


BILL MOYERS: You think it came from the top?


BRUCE FEIN: Of course, it came from the top. I worked in Office of Legal Counsel.


MARK DANNER: We need to get that document, though.


BRUCE FEIN: I worked in Office of Legal Counsel. Office of Legal Counsel never just out of the sunset said, "Hey, why don't we write a memo saying you can do all these things to save the country." They obviously got a request over from the White House. And we don't even know whether they had already started these enhanced interrogation techniques and then thought after the fact, "Hey, let's get a legal cover."


Which is, apparently, what they did in the illegal surveillance. They started the violations of FISA and then said, "Now, let's concoct some kind of theory that justifies this. And why it looks so slipshod, in terms of its rationale. But one of the recurring refrains in these memos is the cop out of the advice.


We assume that there will be physicians on the scene, where if it becomes torture, they'll stop it. Well, how are they going to know? But they keep saying that we assume that the pain or the mental suffering becomes prolonged, the physicians will say it's too much. And you'll stop. But it also is what you're saying, very antiseptically written. Like, you know, it's like you can read in "1984."


MARK DANNER: If you read the Red Cross Reports closely, as you spent your weekend doing-- I'm sure it was a happy weekend-- there were moments where, in fact, the physicians did stop certain things. One of the detainees, who was subjected to forced standing. That is, his hands were manacled to the ceiling. And he was kept on one foot for days. One foot, because one of his legs he had lost in fighting at Afghanistan.

A doctor finally came in and measured with a tape measure the swelling of his leg, his remaining leg, and decided that this had to be stopped. During the waterboarding, they put a clip on one detainees hand to monitor the oxygen content of his blood, to make sure that they wouldn't kill him. This is the one who is waterboarded 183 times in a month.


So, you had this perverse both legal side of this. You know, the Red Cross Reports and the four memoranda that the Obama Administration released are in a funny way the mirror sides of the same event. You have on the one hand the detainees talking about it, on the other hand, the lawyers describing these things. And it makes haunting-- You know, I'd encourage viewers to just read these.


BILL MOYERS: We will link viewers to our website. But I want to ask you this. You were talking about how these documents got written. The columnist David Broder wrote this weekend, that these memos, and I'm quoting, "represented a deliberate and internally well-debated policy decision made in proper places." What's your take on that? He is saying these were done in-- under the right procedure, in the right way, by the right people.


MARK DANNER: First of all, he is, in a sense, the voice of the Washington establishment. He is telling you, look, this happened within the government. It happened according to channels, et cetera. It's important for a second reason, I think, which is that this stuff was debated at a high level of government. It was talked about.

And there's evidence that, as this interrogation was going on-- that's described in minute terms in the Red Cross Report.


As the waterboarding was happening, the sleep deprivation, the forced standing, there was daily, really hourly, contact between those rooms in Afghanistan, Thailand, and elsewhere, in the Black Sites. Daily contact between them and Langley, Virginia. All of these things had to be approved at the acting director-level of the C.I.A. And daily contact between the C.I.A. and the Principals Committee in the White House. George Tenet came over and briefed—


BILL MOYERS: Director of the C.I.A., right.


MARK DANNER: Then the Director of the C.I.A., and briefed the principals, almost on a daily basis on these interrogations. So, you know, they were informed in real time what was going on. Which goes back to the question about prosecutions. You know, again, I don't oppose prosecutions. I think they should come, perhaps not immediately. But they should definitely come. But the question is also, where do you start?


If the President approved it, the Vice President approved it, the Principals Committee, including the Vice President and the Attorney General, by the way, were briefed on it every day. You know, you have the interrogators doing it. You have the top level of the C.I.A. approving it, in writing. You have the Justice Department approving it extensively, minutely, in writing, right down to the level of techniques and whether you can put insects in the black box in which you're stuffing a detainee. You have, from the bottom-most levels of the interrogators, all the way to the President, involvement of the entire U.S. Government.


BILL MOYERS: All right, but let me ask Bruce, who served in the Justice Department, only one of the three of us who did. It is two or three days after 9/11. The President has said to John Ashcroft, the Attorney General, "John, don't let this happen again." And everybody says, "We're in a pressure cooker." The C.I.A. is frantically trying to find out if there're going to be more attacks. And everybody said, "We've got to find out if they're going to attack us again. And the detainees we have here are the ones who can tell us. If anybody knows about the next plot, it's them." What would you have done?


BRUCE FEIN: Well, there are two things that I would think I would have advised the President. Number one, we can get any law repealed, revoked, changed, authorized what you think needs to be done. Congress did that with regards to the authorization to use military force, so you change the law if you think they're restricting. Even-


BILL MOYERS: You go to Congress.


BRUCE FEIN: Yes, go to Congress. And you can do this in secret session. Then Congress would have done anything the President- they would have passed a law saying the world is flat after 9/11, if the President asked for it. The second thing is, even if you thought that there was no time whatsoever. You'd say, "Mr. President, if we do it, as soon as we've done, we need to go to Congress and ask for ratification, after the fact. They've got to ratify what we're doing is legal." We can't just throw the Constitution and shred it. Like we're- now national security, then it trumps the Constitution of the United States.


So, there are ways in which you can approach this kind of crisis. Even defying the law as long as you make certain that you're going to go back, have political ratification. You can explain what you've done, without exposing sources and methods. And if you have to expose sources and methods, in order to have legitimacy, that's what a republic requires. That's how you can do this.


MARK DANNER: It's clear why they didn't do that. They essentially say that when it comes to wiretapping, when it comes to torture, when it comes to various other things involving the President's power to make war, Congress simply cannot interfere.


Therefore, the war- the laws that seem to do that, like FISA, are inherently illegitimate.


BILL MOYERS: President Obama has absolved those who did the torturing. They won't be prosecuted, he said. And Attorney General Holder said the other day, and I'm quoting, "It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women, working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department." Is something a crime if the Justice Department has defined it as legal?


BRUCE FEIN: Well, Bill, there's been a longstanding rule in the laws that reasonable reliance upon legal advice is a defense. In fact, it was successfully invoked by Bernard Barker in the Watergate case. He told- "E. Howard Hunt told us, we need to burglarize the psychiatrist's office of Daniel Ellsberg for national security purposes." So, that is already into the law. That's entirely proper.


But the people you go after, you were mentioning, Mark, is at the very top. It's at Bush and the Cheney level. That's why Richard Nixon was under investigation for obstruction of justice. They didn't say, "Just go after Haldeman and Ehrlichman and the Watergate burglars." They went after the President of the United States. That's why he needed a pardon. And that's what should happen here.


The authorization came at the top. It's unfair to suggest these people who are being told by the President, who has access, purportedly, to all the national intelligence and security things in the world. "Do this. It's legal." And then you prosecute them? And the one who actually was responsible gets off scot-free? No, that's not the rule of law.


BILL MOYERS: Is the Obama Administration echoing, in effect, the defense of the German officials, who, at the Nuremberg Trial following World War II, said they were only following orders that had been from policy set by their higher-ups?


MARK DANNER: One of the problems with talking about Nuremberg is that one has to have-- you know, if you order someone to, say, "Look, there's a crowd of people over there. Shoot them. Here's the order." It's reasonable to assume that the person who has been given that order can look at this and say, "Well, that's murder. I shouldn't do it."

You have a case, in the torture debate, that's somewhat different, where you had legal documents that said, "You know what? Torture is defined in this way. In fact, waterboarding doesn't fit under these strictures." Now, we can look at these documents and find them absurd, I do. But they were legal arguments. The C.I.A. demanded them. And this goes back to the Church Commission,


BILL MOYERS: Senator Church investigating—




BILL MOYERS: Right. Right.


MARK DANNER: We're talking about Watergate again, of course, because this was in the aftermath of Watergate. They uncovered all kinds of assassination attempts, C.I.A. wrongdoing. And, in fact, from that point on the President, who before would have basically said, "I didn't know about that." Henceforth, as a result of those hearings, the President had to sign a finding and say, "You know what? Do this. I order you to do this. I'm the President. This is legal."


We have that in this case. And the result is, of course, the C.I.A. was very concerned to get their legal golden shield. That's why we have these documents. The result is that the entire government is implicated. I admire Bruce, because he has the courage of his convictions. He's saying, "Prosecute the President. Prosecute the Vice President."


BRUCE FEIN: Or pardon. No, and I'm not saying that. I'm saying you can pardon him. You can pardon him.


BILL MOYERS: Isn't there the assumption of guilt, if you pardon them?


BRUCE FEIN: Of course, there is. And that prevents it from being a precedent that you can violate the law with impunity. That's why it's important to have a pardon rather than non-prosecution.


MARK DANNER: But if you're going to have a pardon- I mean, I think the pardon is very interesting idea. But if you're going to have a pardon, the only way to do it, it seems to me, is at the end of a long investigation, or at least, a thorough investigation, that shows why they need to be pardoned.


BILL MOYERS: And who should do the investigating?


BRUCE FEIN: It would have to be an independent commission, because as you pointed out, and Mark, the Congress itself is implicated. Congress can't be trusted to investigate itself. Pelosi's not going to investigate herself. Jane Harman's not going to investigate herself. Harry Reid's not going to do that. So, you need an independent commission.


In the past, Bill, we've recruited people off the U.S. Supreme Court to head these kinds of commissions. There's Earl Warren.


BILL MOYERS: Robert Jackson from the Supreme Court over, presided over the Nuremberg Trials.


BRUCE FEIN: Yes, so that- those would be candidate to undertake this kind of commission. But the critical thing is that the commission has to have access, as Mark said, to all classified information. And they have to have authority to declassify it. Because what made the Church Committee successful, to the extent it was, like Watergate had been, it was public. You can have some secret sessions. But it's an educational mission that Mark's talking about, that's got to be done. This can't be done in secrecy.


BILL MOYERS: You know, during the Vietnam War, the United States sponsored, trained, and funded an operation, Operation Phoenix, which approved our allies in South Vietnam, practicing torture. Taking Viet Cong suspects and torturing them. North Vietnamese soldiers, insurgents.


By the C.I.A.'s own account, over 20,000 suspected insurgents were killed or tortured to death with our approval. We have also learned in all these hearings you've been talking about, how the U.S. trained torturers in Central America, let death squads operate in Central America. We now think that there's torture going on by our allies in Iraq.

So, here we are talking about maybe 28 men after 9/11 who were tortured, and talking about three of them who were waterboarded a number of times. Why all the tumult now?


BRUCE FEIN: It's a matter of proximity to the evil. If you're doing it directly, it's different than if you're encouraging somebody else to do it. And one of the things that your question brings out is, as you know, we had the Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, Lawrence Wilkerson testify, just last year, there have been 108 detainees, who died in U.S. custody. And 25, he says, have been found by our own internal investigation to be victims of murder. And we just sort of shrug our shoulders. It shows all-




BRUCE FEIN: Well, why do we do it? It's Alexander Hamilton in "Federalist 8," and I encourage all your readers the read "Federalist 8." It said, at a time of crisis in war, even democracies will yield civil liberties and freedom, because they'll be fearful. And that the leaders have to try to prevent that. And that's what's going on here.


Remember the same phenomenon in World War II. 120,000 Japanese Americans. Got to put them in concentration camps. Even though five months after Pearl Harbor, no evidence of espionage, no evidence of sabotage. They were volunteering out of the concentration camps to go fly, and got the medal for their bravery. And yet, we did it. And it took twenty-some, thirty years later before we said, "This got it wrong." This is happening again. The leaders are there to try to prevent us from succumbing to our basest instincts from fear.


MARK DANNER: There's no question that there have been many times in American history when the United States is attacked, when it responds by breaking its own laws. You could cite the Palmer Raids, Korematsu, as you just did, the McCarthy period. You can cite a number of examples. But you asked why this is different. And I'll tell you what it seems to me is dramatically different. This was made legal, within the American Government. I say "made legal" with quotes.


This was officially done. This was ordered by the President. The Department of Justice made memos saying you can do this. The principals, Attorney General, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, National Security Advisor, sat in meetings and talked about interrogations that were plainly illegal, according to our laws, and according to treaties we have signed.


All of it is now laid out before the public, and finally, if you look at Fox News, if you look at discussion of this — usually on the conservative side, not always, but usually on the conservative side — you find a strong attempt, basically, to say, "Not only should this stuff have been done, but we should not handcuff ourselves. We should keep doing it." So, we're talking about not simply what happened before. We're talking about the politics of now. And that's why it's important.


BILL MOYERS: Are we in danger of letting this preoccupation with what is over and happened five years ago, distract us from coping with the world?


BRUCE FEIN: No. Indeed, our greatest character as a nation comes from putting rule of law and how we behave towards others as more important than what the GNP is. Once we decide it's more important to prevent a layoff in some place, as opposed to following the rule of law, then we've lost our soul as the United States of America. Then we're the Roman Empire. And that's not what the founding fathers fought for.


Moreover, the Nixon period shows that you can chew gum and walk at the same time. There, you may recall, in the middle of impeachment, we had the Yom Kippur War. We had crisis with the Soviet Union. Putting on high alert, all those sorts of things. The impeachment process went on. You can pass laws, as well. There's no reason why that the focus on prosecution or pardons and confronting this directly disables us from addressing these other issues. And if it does, that's the price you pay for liberty in a republic.


MARK DANNER: And one should add, by the way, that this is vitally important not only because of what happened before, but because of what's going to happen after another attack. And we have to assume there will be another attack. And if the argument that torture is absolutely crucial to protect the country is accepted by the population, then in the wake of another attack, the politics, I think, are very likely to be extremely poisonous.


Blaming the current administration, because it didn't torture, and thus left the country vulnerable. So, we're talking about not simply the Bush Administration. We're talking about who we are, what we do in the world, how we fight this war, and what will happen in the wake of another attack that's very likely to come.


BILL MOYERS: This has been very informative. Bruce Fein, Mark Danner, thank you for joining me on the Journal.


MARK DANNER: Thank you, Bill.


BRUCE FEIN: Thank you, Bill.


BARACK OBAMA: We have rejected the false choice between our security and our ideals by closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and banning torture without exception.


BILL MOYERS: As demand grows for the Obama administration and Congress to publish the real story behind the torture of detainees -- and to hold accountable the officials responsible -- so, too, has public pressure been building to hold the banks accountable for their role in the collapse of our financial system.


That's proving difficult, and here's one reason why. Just this week, the number two democratic leader in the Senate made an extraordinary confession. Senator Durbin of Illinois has been battling for bankruptcy reform, but many banks don't want reform, and they're pushing back against meaningful change -- especially change that might help homeowners in danger of foreclosure.


On Monday an exasperated Senator Durbin told an interviewer that although, quote, "We're facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created, the banks are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill, and they frankly own the place."Let me repeat that: one of the Senate's own leaders says the banks own the place. And just yesterday, as if to prove Durbin's point, bankers killed the Senate's latest effort to staunch that wave of foreclosures, squashing a measure Durbin says would help one million seven hundred thousand Americans save their homes.


So what are regular folks to do? Well, some are picking themselves up and fighting back in one of the few forums left to them: the streets.


PROTESTORS: Enough is enough!


BILL MOYERS: Just this week, labor organized demonstrations outside Bank of America offices in more than 75 cities across the country, calling for an end to predatory lending and credit practices and demanding the firing of the bank's chair and CEO, Ken Lewis.


PROTESTORS:Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Ken Lewis has to go!


BILL MOYERS: They got their wish, at least half of it. On Wednesday, Bank of America stockholders fired Ken Lewis as chairman of the board but, in a close vote, kept him on as the bank's CEO.


Meanwhile, many other people struggling to save their homes are fighting and learning the transformative power of taking a stand together. We spent a few days with a community organizer named Steve Meacham. He's with a housing rights organization called City Life/Vida Urbana, in the working class neighborhoods south of Boston, Massachusetts.


ROBERTO VELAZQUEZ: My name is Roberto Velazquez and I'm facing a foreclosure.


ABBEY COOK: My name is Abbey Cook, I'm near the foreclosure, not sure yet but we're in trouble.


UNNAMED MAN: I'm trying to see if I can save my house. [STEVE MEACHAM AT MEETING]: The first meeting of the 1st Bank Tenant Association of Lynn is happening this Sunday. And it's going to be modeled after what you're doing.


STEVE MEACHAM: I work for a community organization called City Life. And I'm a community organizer there. You know, that's become a bit famous of late as a profession, but I've been doing it all my life.


[STEVE MEACHAM AT MEETING]: We have intervened in a key arena, which is stopping evictions after foreclosure and by doing that we are getting leverage to negotiate good deals with the banks.


STEVE MEACHAM: Every 17 minutes somebody is being foreclosed in Massachusetts. Nationally, it's every 13 seconds. There were 1,200 foreclosures in Boston in 2008 and that probably is about 4,000 or 5,000 people. So that's pretty heavy statistics.


MELONIE GRIFFITHS: Foreclosure and eviction are two totally different processes.


STEVE MEACHAM: On our Tuesday night meetings we get our squad of people in here who are residents of foreclosed buildings. We spend about the first half of the meeting with everybody in the room, explaining basic legal rights.


JAMES BROOKS: Can I ask again, how many people need to see lawyers?


STEVE MEACHAM: We have a group of volunteer lawyers who are here each Tuesday night. And they go into the back cubicles of our office and people go out and speak to lawyers independently. So it's a great combination of creative lawyering and community organizing.


LAWYER: You shouldn't feel bad at all about any of this; you're completely legitimate in everything that you're saying. You're telling them exactly what they need, you're not telling them more than that, and if they don't give you that money, you can't leave.


JAMES BROOKS: Can you be evicted for not paying your mortgage? Yes or No?




JAMES BROOKS: Only a judge can evict you. So, if someone offers you cash for keys what do you say to them?




STEVE MEACHAM: A lot of what we do when people are coming in is create the moral space for people to feel like they have the right to resist, because they're told by almost everybody that they don't. You know, their first reaction is, "There's nothing I can do because the bank owns the building now." And that is part of a disempowerment that goes far beyond that situation.


And part of the reason that people love to come here I think is that not only are we giving them solidarity and support in fighting the bank, but in so doing, it's like a, kind of upsetting this whole apple cart of disempowerment that they've been fed for years and years and years.


[STEVE MEACHAM AT MEETING]: When you're done with the attorney, please come back. We have a lot more to do in the meeting, crucial protests coming up.


STEVE MEACHAM: How we got into this mess, this foreclosure mess, I think is a critical thing to talk about because it really affects how we respond. The right wing kind of puts out two scenarios, they say you know people were greedy and they bought more house than they could afford.


UNNAMED WOMAN: So Sovereign Bank sent me this letter and I'm just trying to figure out...


STEVE MEACHAM: And that's simply not true. People weren't greedy. The people who are in our room were buying any old house in a working-class neighborhood and they were being told by everybody that they should. Even if prices are high, you have to buy now because they will only go up. That's what everybody was saying.


And second, even though they could see they couldn't afford that monthly, they were being told by the bank that they would be refinanced. And they say, "Why the heck would the bank lend me money they don't think I can afford?" Nobody thought that the banks would lend money they didn't think you could afford. And yet that's exactly what they were doing.


STEVE MEACHAM: Well Dorchester is kind of the epicenter of foreclosure crisis in Boston. You know, there's maybe as many as half of all the foreclosure deeds in Boston are filed in Dorchester.


I think at one point a single family house in Dorchester was probably going for $350,000 to $400,000 like, in 2005 and -6 at the height of the real estate bubble. And now those same properties are worth probably less than $200,000-- half that mortgage value or less. And that is the crisis in a nutshell right there.


STEVE MEACHAM: One of the unheralded things about this crisis right now is that there's an awful lot of owners who come to us who cannot afford their home at the inflated value, at the adjustable rate mortgage price. But they have plenty of income to afford their home at the real value at a 30-year fixed. And so why not just give them the property back at that amount? If they're foreclosed on, the best the bank that can do is sell the property at the real value. By definition, that is the absolute best.


If Deutsche Bank forecloses on Joe Schmoe the best they can do is to sell that property at real value. So if Joe Schmoe can afford the property at real value, why not sell it back to him? But the only reason the banks aren't doing that is because of what they call moral hazard. They say basically that homeowners should be punished because they signed these loan documents.


These are the same guys who have run our entire economy into the ground and who have been rewarded with billions in taxpayer bailouts and have used billions of that money to give bonuses to the very executives that drove their companies and the whole economy into the ground. And they are citing moral hazard as the reason why they can't resell that property to the existing homeowners at the real value. That is disgusting and hypocritical and in the extreme.


MELONIE GRIFFITHS:I kind of feel like you might want to have somebody look at your debt to income ratio too just to make sure you're in a comfortable loan, because something doesn't sound right. Especially if just losing a small part time portion of your income causes you to not even be able to make those payments.


MELONIE GRIFFITHS: I heard about City Life when I knew I was kind of falling behind on my mortgage and I was coming close to foreclosure. And my, you know, there was no help.


MELONIE GRIFFITHS:Okay? Alright, thanks, Ada.


MELONIE GRIFFITHS: When you come here, you automatically get connected. It was the only place I came. I was kind of looked down upon everywhere else I went. So I automatically felt a connection.


STEVE MEACHAM: I think people do come to their first meeting because they have a specific problem, they want to address it. People keep coming over time, and a lot of people come even after their problem is solved because they found something profound here. They found a community that works in a way that probably few other communities that they're involved in work. They found a community of struggle I guess you would say, where people are involved in dealing with opponents that they didn't really think they could deal with. And they built up a lot of camaraderie in the process of fighting those opponents.


[STEVE MEACHAM AT MEETING]: You know, this is all Dorchester basically here and Jamaica Plain, and Roxbury.


MELONIE GRIFFITHS: One of the things I loved about when I came to City Life and what kept me here. Was that they didn't really do for me, they helped me. They would direct me, but they never once did it for me and I liked that.


STEVE MEACHAM: You can fight it, you know. Somebody might want to give them a call from here whose not you.


MELONIE GRIFFITHS:Yeah. I know. I just want to be fighting all the time...


MELONIE GRIFFITHS: It's empowering. And I think that's what we do for our members. And it's kind of-- it empowers them to then take on a leadership role. Although I work for City Life, I have people in the group that are just as involved, just as committed and dedicated to this work and I think it's because of the approach that City Life takes.


[STEVE MEACHAM AT MEETING]: I'll look it over. I'll make some suggestions probably; we'll get to a final one. You sign it, I'll send it and fax it over to the lawyer.


STEVE MEACHAM: People who come to us generally don't get evicted. People who get into the room, who are a part of our organization, who get the legal help that's in the room, don't get evicted at a rate of maybe 95 percent they don't get evicted.


Exactly the opposite is true for people who don't get to us. They get evicted almost 100 percent. So, therefore, that dramatic difference means we got to get people here. And we do that through regular mass canvasses.


MELONIE GRIFFITHS:So is there anybody who wants to take part of Dorchester?


STEVE MEACHAM: We have a bunch of volunteers who come to the office here. And they visit foreclosed buildings and leave fliers and talk to people, and tell them don't move.


MELONIE GRIFFITHS:The last canvass we did one lady, she yelled at me, went crazy on me, and she called me two weeks later. So you know, these are really- and all I said to her was, "Okay, I'm sorry I'm just going to leave this..." and she was like "Get off my door!" and I was like "I'm just going to leave this bag." And she called me two weeks later to apologize and ask for help, and we've been able to help her, so...


LAUREN WOLINSKY: And they have meetings on Tuesdays that you can attend and they have a translator that comes and translates into Spanish the entire meeting.


STEVE MEACHAM: The basic message is: "Just because you're living in a foreclosed building doesn't mean you have to leave. Know your rights."


DEBORAH MASON: I'm thankful somebody left one of these on my door because I was panicking and trying to get ready to look for a place. And just didn't know what to do.


STEVE MEACHAM: And so through this mass canvassing that's going on constantly, that's how people find us and they come to the meeting. And once they get here, they don't get evicted.


I've been a community organizer or an organizer, in one way or another for... since 1972. So that's a long time now. That's 37 years. After some initial period when I was doing community organizing in Cambridge actually, I went to work in Quincy Shipyard as a welder. And the shipyard was both a grand place to work and a hellhole of a place to work.


You know, it was grand in the sense of 6,000 people working in common labor to produce this gigantic product, you know, a 1,000-foot long boat. Cranes would be going back and forth in the dark and whistles going off. It was quite a sight, it was a grand thing.


On the other hand, the corporation that owned it, General Dynamics was an awful company to work for. And they would make you, you know, get your time cards signed to go to the bathroom, and then you had to get it signed again when you came back so they could tell exactly how many minutes it took you to be down in the john. And, you know, they wouldn't let you go into a warm shack to have your coffee at break time because, you know, they thought you might spend too many minutes in there or something like that.


And so, it was just a miserable place to work in terms of the heat and the cold and the weather and everything else. And constant exposure to noxious chemicals and you know... There was one, I have a million stories, but there was one time that they started painting all the barges before we welded them, and they painted them with an epoxy paint and when you welded on them it turned into cyanide gas. And we actually had to wage a struggle so that we wouldn't be breathing cyanide.


So there was all these struggles going on there that, it made class in this country crystal clear. To the degree that class had been a kind of an understanding I had from thinking about it or reading about it or things I had experienced as a young person, as a child, now was something extremely visceral, you know. That moved it from my head to my gut. And it greatly influenced my subsequent organizing around housing.


STEVE MEACHAM: These are all protest signs. We have a million of them, so I've got to pick out the ones that are useful for the Bank of America protest.


STEVE MEACHAM: We have a strategy at City Life that we describe at each bank tenant meeting that we call The Sword and The Shield, La Espada and El Escudo. The Shield is the legal defense and The Sword is a public relations, public protest offense. And we find that the two work extremely well in combination.


STEVE MEACHAM: This is our Bank of America puppet, who doubles as our Deustche Bank puppet, and several other greedy people. But we have this sign that hangs on his teeth, that says ‘Bank of America' and on the other side that says ‘I want your bailout and your homes.'


STEVE MEACHAM: A legal defense is not enough because in Massachusetts the banks can evict you for no reason. And so for many people the strongest legal defense will simply slow the bank down. Slowing the bank down, however, can be very, very important because it gives us a chance to use the public protest to good benefit.


STEVE MEACHAM: Hey, hey, ho, ho, greedy banks have got to go.

We're here in front of Bank of America because we are demanding that the bank take the rent of people who live in foreclosed buildings instead of evicting them. We're demanding that Bank of America sell those properties at real value to the occupants instead of evicting them. We're here demanding that we want to give money to the bank. And the bank won't take it. Instead they want to evict us.


STEVE MEACHAM: So if the bank is facing the prospect of a long, drawn-out legal procedure, even one that they might ultimately win, that is both time consuming and expensive.


STEVE MEACHAM: Banks get bailed out!


CROWD: People get thrown out!


STEVE MEACHAM: Banks get bailed out!


CROWD: People get thrown out!


STEVE MEACHAM: And if, at the same time they're going through that, they're being regularly protested by City Life or they have public officials calling them, asking them, why a bank that just got taxpayers' bailout money should be evicting people who are willing to pay rent, that is a public relations battle the bank loses every time. So faced with that combination of long, drawn-out legal defense and public protest, the banks are very often choosing to negotiate and settle with us.


CROWD: No foreclosures! No eviction! No foreclosures! No eviction!


STEVE MEACHAM: City Life, if it's known for anything, it's known for demonstrations. And we do a lot of them. The most famous of recent times are eviction blockades that are right in front of somebody's house being evicted.


STEVE MEACHAM: Today we are witnessing a courageous woman taking a stand based on principle!


STEVE MEACHAM: And the point of that is pretty clear. We're trying to stop the bank from coming through our lines to evict the family. One reason we do the blockades is because they get a lot of publicity. If 50 or 75 people come and sit in front of a building and they're folks willing to be arrested, that is dramatic and it gets a lot of publicity.


CROWD: Shame, shame, shame.


STEVE MEACHAM: I think organizing is a lot about morality. A lot of ways in which people are oppressed is presented to them as normal. They may really get the fuzzy end of the lollipop, but it's presented to them as just normal. It's just, you know, I've had a big real estate corporation representative say to me, as they're evicting everybody, "Nothing personal, it's just the market."


And so a lot of our job is to say, is to apply a moral lens to this thing that you're not supposed to apply a moral lens to, which is the market. So that if you're evicting people in order to make profit and it's just extra profit, you don't need that money to run your building, then it is appropriate to say that's immoral. Or if you're a bank evicting people for no reason and you're going to cause untold suffering all over the city and the state and the country just because you don't think you want to be a landlord, that's immoral. And people have to bear the moral responsibility of their actions even if they're doing it through the market. And so bringing the moral lens to that stuff really helps our people and helps us organize the resistance.


As part of The Shield and The Sword method there is also a legislative part to our program.


STEVE MEACHAM: Well we're on this tour bus today with legislative aides and with press people to give people an understanding of what the foreclosure crisis is like in a hard hit neighborhood in Boston, the Four Corners neighborhood of Dorchester. A lot of the legislative aides that have come on the bus are sponsors or supporters of key legislation that Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending is sponsoring and so this tour is very important in terms of showing the real need for that legislation and showing the need for resistance.


STEVE MEACHAM: This is really criminal what's going on so it seems appropriate to put up on the building that this is a ‘White Collar Crime Scene'. You know, this is a crime scene, a white collar crime scene. We're going to put it right here on the porch.


PRIEST: Right now in my rectory, I have two people staying in my living room because they're homeless. They've lost their house and they have no place to go. This is the problem we have.


UNNAMED WOMAN: We need to have our neighbors to be able to stay in their homes and to be able to live here and to keep it the thriving community that we've worked so hard to bring it to be.


STEVE MEACHAM: When a person comes to their first rally it is a very scary thing to kind of raise your voice in a public setting like that. And when you do it and you kind of overcome that and join in the chants or lead the chants or speak at a rally.


UNNAMED MAN: And it was to fight foreclosure and we were able to stop five times, I told them I'm not giving up.


STEVE MEACHAM: It's very transformative. People find their voice that way. And I've seen it happen a lot of times that people in moments of struggle become different people and they become better people.


MELONIE GRIFFITHS:It seems like just yesterday that we stood in front of my property, almost in the same way, a lot of the same people, defending the same cause.


MELONIE GRIFFITHS: I don't know where that strength came from to do what I did. When I think back, like, the me that I know would've just moved out. I always say to people, I'm like, "Foreclosure was kind of like one of the best things that happened to me." And they're like, "Huh?" Like, but so much good came from it. I was able to help so many other people. I learned so much good information that if I'd had before, you know, but I can just turn it onto other people and help them not make the same mistake. And I kind of feel like it gave me my calling. It kind of put me where I needed to be.


REGGIE: I'm a working American. I work 60 hours a week sometimes. I have the money to pay the rent. The realty company won't take the rent payment. I thank God for the struggle and the unity of the people that are out here trying to fight this fight on behalf of the whole community.


STEVE MEACHAM:We will not let Reggie and his family be evicted, will we?




STEVE MEACHAM: I think that the process by which people, number one, go from feeling like victims to being activists on their own behalf. And then they take a step beyond that and they become activists on other people's behalf, other people that were in the same situation they were in.


LOCAL TV REPORTER: Just a last question, what's it doing to the neighborhood? Just real briefly, what kind of an effect?


STEVE MEACHAM: And then they become activists on other issues besides housing. And pretty soon they're trying to change the system. And the process by which people go through all those stages is a vital part of community organizing. It's not only a ‘community organizing' way of being, and not only builds organization, that it does. But if empathy is somehow the quintessential human emotion, the quintessential thing that makes us human, then solidarity is its expression.


[STEVE MEACHAM AT MEETING]: We close each meeting with a solidarity clap so if you wouldn't mind standing up.


STEVE MEACHAM: And I think that that experience of solidarity is something that feels so good that people come back just for that.


[STEVE MEACHAM AT MEETING]: We're going to beat back bank attack! We're going to beat back bank attack! We're going to beat back that bank attack! We're going to beat back that bank attack..."


BILL MOYERS: That's it for the Journal.


Log onto our website at for more about the foreclosure crisis and to find community organizers in your area. there's also a complete guide to our coverage of banks and the bailout and a history of the controversy surrounding the torture of terrorist suspects.


My conversation with Bruce Fein and Mark Danner continues online, log onto the Moyers website at, search "Moyers" and click on Bill Moyers Journal.


I'm Bill Moyers. See you next time. 

Torture: An Author and a Resister | by Ann Wright 

Friday 01 May 2009
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

As a Bush administration political appointee Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel of the Department of Justice, Jay Bybee, a Mormon, wrote one of four torture memos released last month. Bybee's August 1, 2002, 20-page memorandum laid out in excruciating detail the interrogation techniques he was authorizing the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to use on al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah.

Bybee authorized ten "enhanced interrogation techniques" to encourage Abu Zubaydah to disclose "crucial information regarding terrorist networks in the United States or in Saudi Arabia and information regarding plans to conduct attacks within the United States or against US interests overseas." The torture techniques authorized were (1) attention grasp, (2) walling, (3) facial hold, (4) facial slap, (5) cramped confinement, (6) wall standing, (7) stress position, (8) sleep deprivation, (9) insects placed in a confinement box and (10) waterboarding.

The current Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder has stated that waterboarding is torture, while the previous Attorney General Judge Mukasey refused to comment on whether waterboarding is torture.

From recently released CIA documents, we know the CIA waterboarded Abu Zubaydah 83 times and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times.

But, we know that from March through June, 2002, according to FBI interrogator Ali Soufan in an op-ed to The New York Times on April 23, 2009, FBI interrogators had already gotten "actionable intelligence" from Zubaydah using traditional, nontorturing interrogation techniques, including that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the mastermind of 9/11 and that Jose Padilla was planning to be a "dirty bomber."

Ninety of the 92 interrogation videotapes the CIA admits it destroyed were interrogations of Abu Zubaydah. Zubaydah's British attorney Brent Mickum, in the most detailed account the public has had of Zubaydah's life, states that after all the waterboarding and other torture methods used, the CIA finally recognized Zubaydah was not the senior al-Qaeda leader they had portrayed him to be. According to Mickum, the military commissions at Guantanamo are now "airbrushing" his name from the charge sheets of other Guantanamo prisoners. Mickum reveals Zubaydah was severely wounded in Afghanistan in 1992 while fighting communist insurgents after the withdrawal of Soviet forces.

He has two pieces of shrapnel in his head, which have affected his memory to the extent that "he cannot remember his mother's name or face." Mickum states that Zubaydah was shot and severely wounded when he was picked up in Pakistan. His life was saved by a John Hopkins surgeon flown to the region. After being saved from death, he was almost tortured to death by CIA operatives. Mickum says that Zubaydah is a stateless Palestinian with no country to argue on his behalf and a United States government now embarrassed at being caught in its own illegal conduct.

We know that combinations of the other nine techniques authorized by Jay Bybee can be classified as torture, as the Convening Authority of the Military Commissions at Guantanamo Susan Crawford declared when she dismissed the charges against Guantanamo prisoner Mohammed al-Qahtani, in January, 2009, in the last days of the Bush administration.

Crawford said that for 160 days al-Qahtani's only contact was with the interrogators and that 48 of 54 consecutive days he was subjected to 18- to 20-hour interrogations. He was strip searched and had to stand naked in front of a female agent. Al-Qahtani was forced to wear a woman's bra and had a thong placed on his head during the course of his interrogation and was told that his mother and sister were whores. With a leash tied to his chains, he was led around the room "and forced to perform a series of dog tricks." He was threatened with a military working dog named Zeus. The interrogations were so severe that twice al-Qahtani had to be hospitalized at Guantanamo with bradycardia, a condition in which the heart rate falls below 60 beats a minute and which, in extreme cases, can lead to heart failure and death. At one point, al-Qahtani's heart rate dropped to 35 beats per minute, the interrogation records showed.

The torture techniques Jay Bybee authorized in 2002 migrated to Iraq in 2003. Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller traveled to Iraq from Guantanamo to demonstrate to soldiers in Iraq the techniques the military and CIA were using in Guantanamo.

In September 2003, another Mormon, a woman soldier, US Army Spc. Alyssa Peterson, said she refused to use the interrogation techniques that Bybee had authorized on Iraqi prisoners. An Arabic linguist with the US Army's 101st Airborne Division at Tal Afar base, Iraq, 27-year-old Peterson, refused to take part in interrogations in the "cage" where Iraqis were stripped naked in front of female soldiers, mocked and their manhood degraded and burned with cigarettes, among other things. Three days later, on September 15, 2003, Peterson was found dead of a gunshot wound at Tal Afar base. The Army has classified her death as suicide.

Jay Bybee, in thanks for his being the loyal soldier to the Bush administration's policies of torture, was nominated and confirmed by the US Senate as a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where he sits to this day in his lifetime appointment. Jay Bybee, an author of torture, reportedly has a placard in his home for his children that reads, "We don't hurt each other."

Alyssa Peterson, for saying no to torture, is dead, perhaps by her own hand.

To help Army Spc. Alyssa Peterson rest in peace, I say we should demand accountability from our officials and IMPEACH the torture judge, Jay Bybee.

Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army Reserves veteran who retired as a colonel. She was a US diplomat, who served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somali, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Mongolia and Afghanistan, where she helped reopen the US Embassy in December 2001. She has traveled to Gaza twice in the past three months and will make her third trip in May 2009. She is the co-author of "Dissent: Voices of Conscience."

© 2009 truthout


Colonel (Retired) Ann Wright is a 29 year US Army veteran. She also was a US diplomat for 16 years and served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned in March, 2003 in (more...)

Psychologists for an Ethical APA calls for American Psychological Association investigation and resigations

Psychologists for an Ethical APA
242 West 101 Street, Apt # 1
New York City, NY 10025

James H. Bray, Ph.D.
American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242

April 30, 2009

Dear Dr. Anderson

Psychologists for an Ethical APA want to thank you for your timely public response to the recent release of the four Office of Legal Counsel memos identifying the participation of psychologists in the interrogation and torture of U.S. detainees. However, we believe far more needs to be done to even begin addressing the alarming implications of these memos for our profession. There is no more important time for us to join together, to speak out, and to take swift action to remediate the abuses and violation of human rights by any members of our profession who participated in these interrogation practices.

Members of Psychologists for an Ethical APA have been involved for the past four and a half years in gathering information and advocating for the end of unethical or illegal actions on the part of psychologists involved in military interrogations. This culminated in the drafting and then eventual passage by the membership of the referendum on psychologist participation in illegal detention centers, as mentioned in your press release. We offer any additional support we can provide to help you take the necessary steps to ensure that psychologists adhere to the highest standards of ethical behavior. In particular we believe that the fullest, quickest, and strictest investigations and sanctions should occur for all those who have violated the ethics of our profession as well as domestic and international law.

In addition we request that you take the following immediate actions:

• The complete implementation of the APA referendum against torture.

• Modification of Code 1.02 so that no resolution of a conflict between ethics and law or a governing legal authority may compromise ethical standards.

• Rescind the PENS Task Force report and its associated policies.

• On behalf of the APA call for an independent investigation of psychologists and psychological organizations involved and indirectly complicit in activities that culminated in the treatment of detainees that is now known to have been torture.

• Require the resignation of any APA official and/or staff member who either facilitated or consistently denied the involvement of psychologists in the abuse or torture of detainees.

We look forward to your response and to working together to end the inhumane activities engaged in by members of our profession, many of whom have unquestionably engineered, endorsed, or enforced the torture or cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment of detainees in national security detention centers.

Yours truly

On behalf of Psychologists for an Ethical APA
Dan Aalbers
Ghislaine Boulanger, Ph.D.
Martha Davis, Ph.D.
Diane Ehrensaft, Ph.D.
Ruth Fallenbaum, Ph.D.
Ryan Hunt, Ph.D.
Brad Olson, Ph.D.
Frank Summers, Ph.D.

See the call for an investigation from Psychologists for Social Responsibility.

 Stephen Soldz is psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher, and faculty member at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He is co-founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology (more...)


Newly Released Memo: Government 'Minders' at 9/11 Commission Interviews 'Intimidated' Witnesses | by Kevin Fenton (Posted by Better World Order)     Page 1 of 2 page(s)‘minders’-at-911-commission-interviews-‘intimidated’-witnesses/

My Copy Is Readable!

13279605   height="800" width="750" >                               value="">                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

    Publish at Scribd or explore others:                9/11                 

(A Must Read) The Republican Death Wish for America

Scientists Discover That Conservatives Are Brain-Dead

In Their Own Words: Why Dem Senators Screwed Homeowners


Only 45 Senate Democrats voted Thursday to oppose the banking industry and pass legislation aimed at stemming foreclosures. The bill would have allowed bankruptcy judges to allow homeowners who met strict conditions to renegotiate mortgages -- a process known as cramdown. It would have only applied to mortgages entered into before 2009.


Earlier in the week, the measure's lead proponent, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), concluded that banks "frankly own the place."


Of course, the 12 Democrats who voted "no" have a more charitable view of their own motivations. So we asked them what their reasoning was. In their own words, here is how (those we could find) explained their vote:


Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.): "A number of things. I thought the 31 percent is an arbitrary number. I think there are a whole lot of folks are likely folks, out there who have little debt outside their home who could -- I just thought it was an arbitrary number and I didn't like the way it was constructed."


Dorgan is referring to the percentage of a person's income that a judge could determine should be dedicated to paying the monthly mortgage. The figure is roughly in line with what financial analysts agree is appropriate.


Is Durbin right? Do banks own the Senate?


"I don't know who he's speaking about," said Dorgan. "He worked on this for a long, long time. And I wish they would have found a way to reach an agreement that would have allowed the legislation to get through...I don't know the context of which he said that."


Is the bill totally finished? "I don't know. I think I wish they had found some middle ground by which they could have moved a piece of legislation. They didn't do that. And you know, this legislation went well beyond subprime, as you know."


Ben Nelson (D-Neb.): "I've not supported the cramdown for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I hate to see that authority to determine what the future contract is ceded to the court."


Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who ultimately voted yes: "My concern about this is that in our appropriate zeal to help the four or five percent of Americans who might be faced with bankruptcy, we don't unduly raise the costs of homeownership on the 95 percent who never will."


Tom Carper (D-Del.): "One of the reasons why usually mortgage rates are cheaper for primary homes is that the markets have the certainty that the judge won't be invited to come in and change the terms of the mortgage."


Of course, the Senate package only included mortgages pre-2009, so interest rates on future mortgages would be unaffected. So what would it take to get Carper's vote?


"We talked earlier about limiting the range of the mortgages that can be modified from those originated, say, in 2003 to maybe through 2007. That would've been very helpful. The other thing is, the House has a provision that says if a mortgage is modified on behalf of a homeowner and later on that homeowner sells the house and realizes the profit--the House has a provision that if the lender participates, the first year [the lender recoups] 90 percent [of that profit], second year is 70 percent, third year is 50 percent, fourth year, 30 percent. I thought that was a better formula for participation. So those two points would have done it for me.


Not that that would have made the bill perfect, but it would have done it for me. And it's unfortunate we didn't have a chance, given the nature of the agreement, announced by Senator Reid, that we wouldn't have a chance to offer any amendments."


Is Durbin right about who owns the Senate?


"The banks sure don't think so. My guess is they don't feel like they have much [power] at all. Let me just say, I don't that's true. Not even close. But we could have had this provision--could have passed something close to what was on the floor--could have passed if we'd had, maybe on the floor, a chance to perfect it."


Could it come back again?


"My guess is we're not going to see this again."



"I don't think we're going to see this again."


Jon Tester (D-Mont.): "I just think a deal's a deal. I have a lot of empathy for folks who tend to get led astray, but I just think it's going to create some problems -- pretty obvious, actually. I don't have to list them. I'm generally opposed. I don't think it works well."


Mary Landrieu (D-La.): "My community bankers are really opposed to it and I think it's important for people to realize there is a big difference right now in the country between the health of these large international financial institutions and our local community banks...I think we gotta be careful about adopting processes and procedures that would really hurt our community banks."


The Huffington Post asked a few Republicans, too, since they still do, after all, vote.

Mel Martinez (R-Fla.): "We're working through this crisis. It's not quite as impending an issue as it may have been four months ago, because I think we're beginning to ease -- the crisis is sort of working its way through."


George Voinovich (R-Ohio): "I evaluated it and it harms more than it helps. It's the precedent that it sets in terms of a lot of people who are out there quite frankly very responsible. Our credit unions were giving money to people who were responsible.


You've got some people who were being very responsible and doing their job and come to you and say if this happens we're going to have to change the interest rate, recalculate. I mean, I want to encourage those people. I don't want to discourage them."

Susan Collins (R-Maine), on how her vote will play at home: "I think it'll play just fine, because I view it as increasing the costs for homeowners, so it just wasn't the right approach." 

A yes vote, John Kerry (D-Mass.), also weighed in: "They don't own me and I'm in the Senate. I think it's unfortunate. I don't know what the rationale is behind people's votes. I don't know what motivates -- some senators don't like changing of a contract. Some senators don't like to have courts have the power. There are different reasons."

Millions of different reasons, perhaps.


Bob Barr: GOP In 'Very Deep Trouble'
By The Huffington Post News Editors 
This from a man who sat for years, going right along with DeLay & Fritz & Lott & Armey & 
Bush &Cheney & every other wackjob who have scr ewed the pooch for the last 3 decades. ... Bob Barr sure misses the good old days when he managed the GOP's most pressing concern for the country, theimpeachment of a president for private consensual relations, after Osama bin Laden had already declared war on the US, blown up two US embassies that summer and would hit the USS Cole the ...
The Full Feed from -

The Galloping Beaver: The rule of law trumps Cheney's yapping
By Dave 
... any defence would be ineffective, and screeching remnants of the Bush cargo culture (Limbaugh, Malkin, et al) have so completely impeached themselves that the demand for prosecution of Bushadministration principals will suit both the ... They will happen when the current cheerleaders of those who perpetrated crimes have no audience, and instead of energetically defending their Bush/Cheneyheros they are forced to hang their heads and mutter in their own defence, ...
The Galloping Beaver - 

 U.S. May Revive Guantánamo Military Courts

Did Pelosi See Harman as a Female Joe Lieberman?
Politics Daily - Washington,DC,USA
Until now, official Washington never really knew why House Speaker 
Nancy Pelosi had refused in 2007 to give Jane Harman the chairmanship of the House ...See all stories on this topic

US House pushes for inquiry into Wall Street crisis

Boston Globe - May 1, 2009

By Mark Pittman and Laura Litvan NEW YORK - The US House plans to take up legislation next week to authorize the broadest congressional investigation of ...

Investigation Of Financial Crisis Idea Gaining Steam

TPMDC - May 1, 2009

By Brian Beutler - May 1, 2009, 1:20PM Earlier this year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested the creation of an internal "Pecora-like" congressional ...


Pelosi In Handcuffs?


Jay Ambrose, The Dickinson Press Published Sunday, May 03, 2009


Democrat Nancy Pelosi wants a truth commission to investigate possible U.S. facilitators of torture and criminal prosecutions if it comes to that, and here is what I wonder — does she also want poetic justice?

Surely not, because that could entail making the dreams of some Internet bloggers come true. The commission would subject her to some tough interrogation — no waterboarding, of course — and ultimately she’d be investigated, tried in court, put in handcuffs and led off to the clinker as a felon.

No ironic punishment of that kind will or should come the way of this speaker of the House of Representatives, although her reputation is already undergoing punishment for mendacious hypocrisy so obvious that it cannot be missed by anyone of sound mind.

The story is this. Back in 2002, the CIA conducted multiple briefings with top members of both parties on House and Senate intelligence committees. The subject was interrogation techniques approved by the Justice Department. Pelosi was present and raised no objections, but now claims she had no idea the techniques would be or had been employed and that, at any rate, she was bound to keep her mouth shut.

Also present was Peter Goss, then a Republican representative and later CIA director. He says the group was told the techniques were being employed, gave its support to the CIA and afforded it the funding it needed for its operations. Anyone who didn’t approve of the techniques could have spoken up or lodged complaints with the committee chairmen, House leaders, the CIA director or the White House, he has written.

Even if you decide you don’t believe or agree with Goss, can anyone there possibly have thought the CIA was having these discussions as a kind of academic undertaking with no real-life consequences? To think Pelosi was telling the truth, you’d have to conclude something pretty much like that.

The larger point here is not to underline the incompetence and prevarications of Pelosi, but to note that the whole truth commission idea is less about truth than about a partisan or at least ideological witch hunt aimed at ruining the lives of anyone who attempted in currently disapproved ways to protect the nation from terrorists.

A chief proponent of the commission, Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, denies, of course, that the panel is needed for purposes of vengeance, but to take a hard look at “what happens when we lose our national honor.”

In other words, he has prejudged what the truth commission will find: a loss of national honor. There are three facts he will obviously never, ever face.

One is that released memos show the interrogation techniques, while undeniably tough, were fashioned to avoid serious harm and fall short of the legal definition of torture. The second is that the Justice Department rulings on these procedures have a similar kind of legal standing as those of the Supreme Court and that the executive branch did consult members of Congress. The third fact is that the techniques saved lives.

It is easy to be blinded to these facts — the exaggerations and misinformation of the moment are coming at us like an avalanche — but it is important to understand that what we are now doing to ourselves could have implications for our future safety. The message is now being sent to officialdom that we should do no more than play patty-cake the next time we have a terrorist around with knowledge of murderous schemes.

We should also understand that one witch hunt can breed another. If all should unfold the way Pelosi and Leahy want, figure on a second round of vindictiveness the next time we have a transition of power from one party to the other.

— Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado.

Text of H. Res. 383: Establishing a select committee to review national security laws, policies, and practices



1st Session

H. RES. 383

Establishing A Select Committee To Review National Security Laws, Policies, And Practices.


April 30, 2009

Ms. LEE of California (for herself, Mr. WEXLER, and Mr. CONYERS) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Rules.


Building a Culture of Trust in Politics

Saturday 02 May 2009

by: Joe Brewer  |  Visit article original @ Cognitive Policy Works

    A culture of trust is vital to solving the big problems of our age. Without trust, there can be no hope of real and lasting positive change in the world. Our challenges are too big to solve on our own. We must be able to work together and collaborate on an unprecedented scale to build a stable economy, restore health to our communities, and manage the tremendous global changes unfolding around us.

    And yet we live in a world filled with manipulative messages, the very presence of which threatens the foundation of democracy. From a very early age, our hidden motivations (in the form of emotional tendencies and networks of associated knowledge embedded in our unconscious minds) have been exploited to trick us into thinking we need things that we don't.

    And now this pervasiveness of sophisticated commercial marketing has corroded the fabric of political engagement. We no longer trust most of the information we receive. Our skepticism is a cultural pathology - a deeply rooted belief that those in power are trying to trick us. Unfortunately, this distrust is grounded in the truth that we have indeed been tricked many times in the past.

    The existence of skepticism is a matter of significance that needs to be addressed in our politics. Lip service is often paid to the need for greater voter turnout, but no solutions are offered that address the malaise of distrust that has stood in the way of progress for decades.

    I believe that a culture of trust is desperately needed if we are to address the looming challenges of the modern world. People need to be able to identify deceptive practices and stop them in their tracks, while also having the skills necessary to communicate their real concerns authentically so that others can trust in them.

    A starting point in the cultivation of trust is to name the strategy that undermines it. One that has been around for years, but is not in common use, is the acronym "FUD" which stands for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt - the standard tactics for deceiving and manipulating people. FUD can be found every time that an insecurity is used to push a product ("Use our acne medication or you won't be attractive"). It is present in misinformation campaigns that undermine legitimate authorities ("Climate has changed in the past, so you can't trust those who claim it is changing now due to human causes."). And it is the basic premise of public relations and marketing firms that fill our world with mixed messages throughout the mass media every day.

    Where do FUD practitioners learn their trade? Is there a FUD University that teaches the tactics of deception and redirection? Perhaps not. But these skills are widely deployed and are threatening the public confidence that forms the basis of modern democracy.

    What we need is an antidote to FUD - a collection of skills and practices that nullify deception and transcend it. As we move into the 21st Century, we must create new tools for countering deception that instill trust in our capacity as a people to govern ourselves. We need to be able to deconstruct spin in the media so that hidden messages are made explicit. This will require us to think differently about truth and perception. We'll have to understand thepsychology of meaning and the nature of our hidden motivations. We need the opposite of FUD, an Open University that teaches the tactics of honesty and authenticity.

    The only viable response to FUD is openness and transparency. Our hidden tendencies can only be exploited if they remain hidden. It is vital that we democratize the production of political communications, starting at the most basic level of knowing our own minds. We need a cognitive toolbox - tools for understanding what's going on inside our heads - to be able to see how communication works within us. Only then can we truly open up the production process and invite the public to participate.

    This goes much deeper than merely changing the content of our messages in political communications. Rampant distrust in a culture keeps a populace from being able to discern truth for themselves, regardless of how accurate a message might be. Instead, we have to restructure the methods of communication themselves. For example, most people are well aware that digital media can be modified to make things that are fake seem real. We've all experienced this at the movies many times in our lives. So there is a need to make the creation of digital media more transparent - as websites like YouTube do when users typically know what is real because they are making it themselves. This transparency makes it possible for the process of media production to be scrutinized.

    The same can be said for other political processes. Currently most legislation is created behind closed doors and under the veil of technocratic language. The obscurity of this process - combined with the fact that bills have been used in the past for purposes different from what we were told (think "Patriot Act" or "No Child Left Behind") - and you get a recipe for widespread skepticism about the legislative process. No wonder so many people disengage!

    It is time to start the difficult work of building a better kind of politics, one that works in the 21st Century. We have to open up the political system and make it more participatory. People have to feel like they can take ownership and engage the political world with a mandate for openness and transparency.

    The age of elite democracy is behind us. It doesn't serve us any longer. In the days ahead, we'll need a populist politics that recognizes the value of active participation, one that promotes inclusiveness for everyone. Such an open political machine will only work if its "operating system" is visible. We can only trust in the system if we are able to see how it works and make modifications to it when it doesn't. This is analogous to what software developers call "open source" where the source code of a piece of software is open for others to see. When the source code is hidden, it is impossible to truly know what is going on inside the black box of the machine.

    The same is true for our politics. Democracy is only real when the political source code is open for everyone to see. Building a culture of trust will require that we get to the heart of this problem, and make visible the methods of production for all the world to see.

        Joe Brewer is founder and director of Cognitive Policy Works <>, an educational and research center devoted to the application of cognitive and behavioral sciences to politics. He is a former fellow of the Rockridge Institute, a think tank founded by George Lakoff to analyze political discourse for the progressive movement.


James Baker Backs Reinstating the Draft

May 03, 2009 01:19 PM ET | Paul Bedard |  By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

Rep. Charlie Rangel, Congress's lone champion of reinstating the military draft, can count on another Korean War-era vet for support: Republican James Baker, a soldier in the Reagan and Bush administrations. Baker, secretary of state during the first Gulf War, visited a private girls' school in Virginia, where he was asked how to attract kids into some kind of service that gives them a stake in the country's future. "This is a very unpopular thing that I am about to say," he warned. "But one thing that makes it harder to go to war is to have a draft, because when you have a draft, then everybody's got a stake in it, and the costs of war are brought home much more vividly and vigorously to the American people. I think national service is a wonderful idea." But unlikely, he conceded: "You get killed if you support a draft, politically, but it sure would raise the stakes. Everybody would understand a lot better what we have at stake when we go to war."

MyDD :: Direct Democracy for People-Powered Politics

By ralphlopez 
Spoonamore, who to this day supports the invasion of Iraq and calls the first Iraq election a "glorious day," says unequivocally in the Hartmann interview that he believes Ohio's critical 20 electoral votes in 2004 were "stolen. ... Concurrently herewith, I am informing Mr. Conyers and Mr. Kucinich in connection with their Congressional oversight responsibilities related to these matters..... Because of the serious engagement in this matter that began in 2000 of the Ohio ...

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