Originally published at the Nation by Katherine Hawkins on 11/7/13
Over four years after President Obama promised to “look forward, not backward” regarding the CIA’s brutal treatment of captives under the Bush administration, the issue has not gone away. The torture debate may fade from the headlines for weeks or months at a time, but it al
ways come back. Last year the trigger was the release of Zero Dark Thirty. A few weeks ago, it was Abu Anas al-Libi’s capture, shipboard interrogation and transfer to the United States for trial. Later this year, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) will vote on whether to begin declassification of its 6,000-page report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects.
Often, debates about torture focuses on whether it leads to high-profile counterterrorism successes: the killing of Osama bin Laden, the capture of high-level suspects like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the disruption of terrorist plots against Los Angeles or London. The public evidence suggests—and according to Democratic senators, the SSCI report will definitively prove—that defenders of “enhanced interrogation” have greatly exaggerated the role that torture played in these events.
In all the debates about whether torture “worked,” though, there is another part of the record that is almost always forgotten: the attacks that torture did not prevent. There are no documented cases of “ticking time bombs” being defused by torture. But there are Al Qaeda plots that were not stopped,… Continue reading
Originally published at FastCompany by Stan Alcorn on 11/25/13
Evan Booth hacks together working weapons–like a shotgun, a grenade, and a crossbow–with purchases anyone can make after they go through security, to show that the TSA is more spectacle than real protection. And the FBI is taking notice.
Things you can’t bring on a plane: Scissors, gel candles, large snow globes.
Things you can bring on a plane: A homemade shotgun.
Programmer by day, “security researcher” by night, Evan Booth has built, tested, and demonstrated not just a shotgun, but a whole comically named arsenal of DIY weapons, made solely with items purchased in the airport–after the security screening.
“I think people have kind of been suspecting that the type of things I’ve built are possible,” says Booth, “I just don’t think anyone’s ever taken the time to do it.” The object of the research is a demonstration–half silly, half disturbing–that weapons are everywhere and that the “security theater” of the TSA is not doing that much to keep us safe.
“If we’re trying stop a terrorist threat at the airport,” says Booth. “It’s already too late.”
The project began after the introduction of body scanners. “It just seemed so invasive, really expensive,” he says. “And if you’re going to go through all that trouble getting into the terminal,… Continue reading
Originally posted By Stephanie Condon at CBS News on March 13, 2014
The White House has played a larger role in the serious dispute between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee over an ongoing investigation, according to reports.
President Obama’s team has been withholding about 9,400 documents that the Intelligence Committee requested as part of its review of the CIA’s now-defunct detention and interrogation program, McClatchy reports. Since 2009, the White House has ignored or rejected multiple requests from the committee to review the documents.
Mr. Obama said Wednesday he supports the committee’s efforts. “We have worked with the Senate committee so that the report that they are putting forward is well-informed, and what I’ve said is that I am absolutely committed to declassifying that report as soon as the report is completed,” he said.
The White House said in a statement to McClatchy that it withheld “a small percentage” of the 6.2 million pages of documents provided to the committee “because they raise executive branch confidentiality interests.” The White House added it has worked closely with the committee “to ensure access to the information necessary to review the CIA’s former program.”
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. — who blew the lid open on the clash between the committee and the CIA on the Senate floor on Tuesday — has reportedly… Continue reading
Originally published by Erin Billups at NY1 on April 8, 2014
Last month, NY1 told viewers about another link discovered between the toxic dust many were exposed to in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks and a higher risk of heart disease, and now, the doctor heading up the research is going into more detail. NY1′s Erin Billups filed the following report.
We’ve known for years that the toxic dust inhaled by first responders to the September 11th attacks could lead to lung, heart and kidney problems, but new research out from Mount Sinai Hospital’s World Trade Center Health Program finds that those with the highest exposures are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea.
“The airway narrows during sleep, and patients snore. They hold their breath, and importantly, they don’t get enough oxygen when they’re sleeping,” says Dr. MaryAnn McLaughlin, director of the Mt. Sinai Medical Center Cardiac Health Program. “So this can cause an inflammation in the body and lead to high blood pressure, increased risks of heart attack and sudden death.”
Post-traumatic stress disorder is also a risk factor for heart disease. McLaughlin and her team found that those with high dust cloud exposure were also 20 percent more likely to have the disorder.
“It’s also associated with depression, as well,” McLaughlin says.
The findings are the result of a two-year study, surveying 800 participants.
McLaughlin says they’re trying to uncover what causes heart disease not only for those September 11th responders, but also for others… Continue reading
Originally posted at Foreign Policy Blogs by Maxime H.A. Larivé on 5/6/14
Let’s be honest, foreign policy making has never been democratic. The label of national security has offered governments around the world the power to hide information from their citizens. Aside from this statement, the making of American foreign policy has completely shifted since 9/11. Not only this shift was abrupt and made under intense emotional stress, but it has also created a precedent in the way the U.S. engages in the world. Additionally, American foreign policy has become much more militarized than in the past. A series of recent articles (here and here), documentaries (here and here), and radio show (here) have been produced looking back at the way the U.S. has conducted itself these last 13 years on the international stage.
Since 9/11, the U.S. has been fighting “evil” – to adopt a very Bushian expression – with evil. The U.S. has used a wide array of instruments considered by international law as illegal such as: rendition, torture — known as an “enhanced interrogation technique” — use of force against countries without legal jurisdiction, drone strikes in countries wherein the U.S. is not at war, mass snooping on American and world citizens, cover-up operations, and so forth. The “Global War on Terror” has been the longest war in American history. Since 2001, the U.S. has invaded two countries – Iraq and Afghanistan – launched an undisclosed numbers of drone strikes in countries with which the U.S. is not… Continue reading
On May 20, 2009, four men from the impoverished and largely African-American city of Newburgh, NY, were apprehended for an alleged terror plot. They had no history of violence or terrorist ties, but had been drawn by a Pakistani FBI informant into a carefully orchestrated scheme to bomb Jewish synagogues in a wealthy New York City suburb and fire Stinger missiles at U.S. military supply planes. Their dramatic arrest, complete with armored cars, a SWAT team and FBI aircraft, played out under the gaze of major TV outlets, ultimately resulting in 25-year prison sentences for the “Newburgh Four.”
Amidst the media frenzy surrounding the case, political figures extolled the outcome as a victory in the “war on terror” and a “textbook example of how a major investigation should be conducted,” though others believed the four men were victims of FBI entrapment. THE NEWBURGH STING delves deeply into this case — one of many cases across the country where people have been allegedly drawn into a plot with extreme consequences.
The Imam and assistant Imam of Mesjid al-Ikhlas, Newburgh mosque, recall their first encounters with Shahed Hussain – an undercover informant sent to Newburgh by the FBI in 2008 on a mission to find domestic terrorists. Representing himself as a businessman, Hussain drove expensive cars and made inflammatory statements about women and jihad. Suspicious, the Imams told a few of their congregants to stay away from Hussain, but one man, James Cromitie, bought into his story. Cromitie, a low-level drug dealer… Continue reading
Originally published at CNN by Ray Sanchez on 8/3/14
(CNN) — President Barack Obama acknowledged Friday that the United States “crossed a line” and tortured al Qaeda detainees after the 9/11 terror attacks.
The comments at a White House news conference were the President’s strongest on the controversial subject since he came into office denouncing what he described as the Bush years of torturing alleged terrorists, also known as “enhanced interrogation.”
“When we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques, techniques that I believe and I think any fair-minded person would believe were torture, we crossed a line,” Obama said. “And that needs to be … understood and accepted. And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so that hopefully we don’t do it again in the future.”
In the remarks, Obama was referring to a soon-to-be-released Senate Intelligence Committee report detailing the CIA’s controversial interrogation and detention program following the 9/11 attacks.
The document is a nearly 700 page summary of the full 6,800 page report that was approved a year and a half ago by a committee sharply divided along party lines.
Senators on the committee have said the report is critical of the CIA’s treatment of terrorism suspects, saying it amounted to torture — an allegation CIA officials have denied. It also finds that those harsh interrogation techniques did not help disrupt future terrorist attacks as many in intelligence community have claimed.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein said later Friday that the report’s public… Continue reading
Originally published at The Guardian by Joanna Walters on 8/17/14
The New York Times reporter James Risen, who faces jail over his refusal to reveal a source and testify against a former CIA agent accused of leaking secrets, has called President Barack Obama “the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation”.
Speaking to his colleague Maureen Dowd, Risen accused the president of aggressively pursuing journalists, including himself, who report sensitive stories that reflect poorly on the US government.
Risen faces jail over his reporting of a botched intelligence operation that ended up spilling nuclear secrets to Iran. The Justice Department has long been seeking to force him to testify and name the confidential source of the account, which is contained in his 2006 book State of War.
Risen recently failed in an attempt to have the supreme court review an order for him to testify, and acknowledges that he has exhausted all his legal options against the Justice Department’s pursuit of him under the controversial Espionage Act. In the face of incarceration that could come as early as this autumn, he is resorting instead to journalistic defiance.
Risen would be the first journalist to go to prison for failing to divulge sources since 2005, when the former New York Times reporter Judith Miller was jailed for contempt of court, after refusing to testify about a… Continue reading