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11 December 2014


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For my money, probably the most egregious instance of shirking -- hell, actively undercutting -- legal accountability was when Pelosi said, "impeachment is off the table", back in 2006.

At the time the "logic" was the usual gas about how there are unpleasant things that we must "put behind", in order to "move forward" to wherever the hell it is that we're supposedly going. But in fact the Dems had just (completely forseeably) swept the '06 midterms, and were licking their chops over an even bigger score in '08. By '06 the Bush-Cheney gang had spawned so much loathing that even semi-sentients like Pelosi could see that '08 would be a huge Dem victory -- so long as nothing happened to rock the boat.

Note that impeachment is a long, long way from marching the king up to the guillotine. It's the Constitutional remedy for an executive that's gone off the rails. (Of course, parliamentary systems have vastly better mechanisms for dealing with this problem, but we're stuck with the lousy political structures that we have.) By '06 it was pretty plain that the Bush-Cheney gang rated at least serious investigations by the legislative branch.

But that would have caused "controversy", which in turn might diminish Dem prospects for the big score. At the time I raised the impeachment issue at a "town hall" meeting with Chris Van Hollen, a fairly prominent Dem congresscritter, then head of the DCCC. His reponse? "But what if it doesn't work?"

After the event one of his lackeys approached me and gave me the standard brush-off line: "We admire your passion". Tools.


no one

"There's nothing new going on here. How is the recent torture program different than Op. Phoenix? After much Congressional hand wringing did any Phoenix heads roll? Ditto CIA operations in Chile in '73." IMO no American attached to Phoenix (Phung Hua) did anything like the things attributed to CIA in the senate report. If you read the article you cited you will see that the author, a marine officer, being attached to Phoenix was told that of he ever did anything that violated UCMJ he would be cashiered from the USMC. Congress can investigate anything it wants to. that does not prove anyone's guilt. You seem to be against covert action for political reasons. If you are, then you are just a dangerous naif. Removing covert action from CIA control would neuter CIA. pl

no one

Sir, My point is that US government leadership culture, above and beyond the CIA, has to change or this is going to happen again; CIA or no CIA.

I do not think it is routine, but I do think that it has happened enough to suggest that it has been, and will continue to be, a tactic (born of desperation) in the government's playbook when it is faced with losing against popular movements with ideologies contrary to those it prefers.



"... the much more educated, at least on the average, people that give these orders versus the maybe not so bright common soldier?" What a snobbish, arrogant thing to write! Have you ever known any "common soldiers?" In my experience they are at least as moral and ethical as the children of privilege and elite education. I have no idea what you are talking about in regard to my post. Duty ends when one is summoned to do something illegal, immoral or unethical. pl

no one

Sir. Yes, of course the officer in the article on the official CIA website alludes to conformity with the UCMJ. And of course I have no personal knowledge of the VN war ( I was in grade school during the last half of it) let alone the phoenix program; whereas you, of course, do.

That said, there are ample US sources from those claiming to have been involved, particularly as Navy SEALs, that do allege assassinations and torture of known or suspected communists by US personnel. I have never read a USMC source with such allegations.

I am not against covert operations at all. I think they are highly necessary. Maybe they should be run out of the DIA? It would appear that the CIA lacks the moral compass to do things in line with US laws and values.

William R. Cumming

LeaNder! How odd you ask but not a Canadian but until me all my ancestors born in Canada!

The DEEP STATE terminology is being applied by people like Tom Englehardt and Andrew Bacevich who carry on Chalmers Johnson's BLOWBACK project and related writings. In reality it deals with the 75% of federal government programs, functions, and activities not available for public scrutiny or even sometimes Congressional oversight due to classification or exemption from FOIA.

The Nuclear Priesthood is my favorite example of the clique that may get knocked over like the Aztecs and Incas by under 100 brave men and a few horses.

William R. Cumming

Despite their protestations of equal opportunity the IVIES enroll almost 90% of their students from the top 10% of US families as measured by wealth. The other 10% do get substantial financial help but the IVIES are not really NEED BLIND as they state.

50% of Harvard grads graduate Cum Laude regardless of academic performance.

William R. Cumming

John Yoo escaped disbarment only because there is no federal ethics code of Professional Responsibilty for its lawyers. Instead a largely corrupt system of STATE integrated bars rule on the Professional Ethics of federal lawyers.

But you must know that most lawyers are now paid for their signature not their opinion as to the best legal course of action.

William R. Cumming

Actually Ms. Plame contracted with or supervised a contract with her husband who was the expert. Few nuclear physicists or engineers employed by the CIA! And even fewer with language ability in MENA languages or Chinese or Korean.

William R. Cumming

LeaNder! It would be interesting to find out how personnel both federal employees and contractors were trained on EIT.

I am guessing little or no training and left to individual expertise and judgment. Both may be bought at a price!


Primarily, the US made reservationss to the CAT, which in my reading largely had to do with what 'cruel and unusual punishment' meant with regard to the death penalty, and the right of the states to enact according laws.

They clearly did not reserve for the US a right to torture.

Which, naturally, will not prevent some light headed silvertongue to pick that up and claim it meant to include enhanced interrogation techniques.

Text of the US declaration and reservation here:


The gem in this:

"Objection to the reservations made by Pakistan upon ratification:

“The Government of the United States of America objects to Pakistan’s reservations to the CAT. Pakistan has reserved to Articles 3, 4, 6, 12, 13, and 16 of the Convention, which address non-refoulement, criminalization of acts which constitute torture, arrest or apprehension of those suspected of committing torture, investigation of credible allegations of torture, the right to bring before and have examined by competent authorities allegations of torture and for protection of complainants and witnesses, and the prevention of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. At the same time, Pakistan has chosen not to participate in the Committee’s inquiry process under Article 20. The combination of Pakistan’s reservations and its decision not to participate in the Article 20 process raises serious concerns because the reservations obscure the extent to which Pakistan intends to modify its substantive obligations under the Convention, and preclude further inquiry by the Committee if well-founded indications of systematic torture do arise."

With torture, secret detention sites, rendition, secrecy, non-prosecution and immunities etc pp are concerned the US under Bush made a reality pretty much any of the points America objected to in Pakistan when they ratified the CAT.

William R. Cumming

Destruction of documents under legal supervision has some important implications for the lawyers involved. Record retention in the current world is controlled by the National Archives and NARA takes the position that compartmented classified records should not be sent to them. The result is a modern world where oral history may become the golden rule as in speak No Evil!

I have long assumed that EIT was compartmented and classified.

William R. Cumming

IMO President Obama did not "win" in 2008 but McCain did lose. With any VP nominee but Palin he would have won big!

nick b


"Utility or effectiveness are not the point. The practice in all its flavours is **prohibited** and **criminalised**.

Torture is a crime, and in war a war crime."

I believe this is the crux of the issue. So long as torture is viewed through the lens of utility, it will always find a way to be framed as excusable or justified. Until it becomes an matter of absolute right or wrong, rather than 'did it do more good than harm?' its practice will remain with us.

Ivan Karamazov, in conversation with his brother Alyosha, comes to mind:

"Tell me yourself, I challenge your answer. Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature- that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance- and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth."

"No, I wouldn't consent," said Alyosha softly.

I fear there are too many people today who would not answer as Alyosha did.


Col. Lang-

Agree very much with your suggestions, but think that perhaps disbanding the CIA completely would send the clearest message as to the damage that has been done. How far these suggestions actually get would indicate to me the level of rot present in the US government as it currently exists.


I am rather late to this thread, and I will admit that I have no idea how widespread this type of rant below is on TV and how many people follow those like it on Fox (faux) news and other MSM shills: http://gawker.com/fox-news-host-get-over-cia-torture-report-because-ame-1669234479 but. I always thought our awesomeness was due to the principles enshrined in or Constitution and Bill of Rights along with our stands against torture and for the rule-of-law.

I hope Col. Lang's stand and proposals will be followed up with prosecutions, but I have my doubts. If that is the case, it is our loss as a country and Osama bin Laden's victory.

I believe an ends-means or cost-benefit analysis is the wrong measure of all of this. The reason that torture is wrong and illegal is not that it produces bad intelligence but that it is evil, and that is why it has been made illegal by signatories of the states in Col. Lang's graphic at the top of this post.


no one

There were a number of people attached by the US military to Phoenix at CIA request. The ones provided were the sort of people that a commander is willing to 'give up" mostly to be rid of them. I would be cautious about accepting their view of things. Some people delight in inventing awful stories to make themselves interesting after the fact. We have an example of that in John Kerry who implied after the fact that he had seen atrocities that he really only had heard of as someone's BS whether orally or in print. The principal field element of Phoenix was the Province Reconnaissance Unit in each province. these were irregulars, mostly non-Vietnamese tribesmen who detested all things Vietnamese and with good reason. They were used by the RVN masters of the program to kill or capture underground communist political cadres. This should be understood in the context of a war between two states, one communist and the other nationalist. In the communist state real political activity was illegal. In the non-communist state communist activity was illegal. Phoenix was a small part of CORDS. pl


Yes, this is the only way from the current morass.
An avoidance to take this honorable step in a right direction would reveal the puppeteers and make the current administration illegitimate.


and selected for their pliability and loyalty to the interests of the "haves."


WRC, Bush/Cheney, IMO, assured a Dem victory, regardless of which idiot Captain McCain picked as his VP candidate. The country simply had enough of the GOP. The results of Clinton/Lewinski arguably cost the Dems a sure win, again IMO.

William R. Cumming

Apologies Chalmers Johnson! It is the AMERICAN EMPIRE PROJECT! BLOWBACK one of deceased C. Johson Books.

William R. Cumming

Babefish! No one raised inside the beltway can win the Presidency IMO!

William R. Cumming

P.L.! Agree with this comment!



Joe Wilson was a career diplomat at State. He had been ambassador to whatever crummy little African country that was the focus of the yellow cake silliness. Valerie was a career CIA case officer in the counter-proliferation field. The Bushies spread the story that Iraq was trying to buy yellow cake semi-reined uranium ore in that country. CIA needed to send someone to talk to the local government about this. they asked Joe to go. (I know both of them). Joe went on a no-fee basis (expenses only)and found that the Iraqis had enquired only once and then had lost interest. When US forces occupied Iraq they found that the Iraqis had warehouses full of yellow cake powder which they had bought all over the world. pl


Did not intend supine compliance with the existing oligarchy. Although after todays news that the congressional pawns approved a financing bill that gutted Dodd-Frank leaving the to big to prosecute banks free to saddle us with $300 trillion+ in derivative trading losses when the next big crash arrives, it's a little difficult to get enthusiastic about fighting the .01%. Again this financing bill now permits the Pension Guaranty Corp. to reduce existing pensions (except state pensions). That might produce a little uncivil unrest when the crunch comes. I tell everyone that listens we as a country are in trouble but mostly that goes over their heads or drives them into cognitive dissonance.

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