Originally published at The Guardian by Spencer Ackerman on 6/15/15
Exclusive: Watchdogs shocked at ‘disconnect’ between doctors who oversaw interrogation and guidelines that gave CIA director power over medical ethics
The Central Intelligence Agency had explicit guidelines for “human experimentation” – before, during and after its post-9/11 torture of terrorism detainees – that raise new questions about the limits on the agency’s in-house and contracted medical research.
Sections of a previously classified CIA document, made public by the Guardian on Monday, empower the agency’s director to “approve, modify, or disapprove all proposals pertaining to human subject research”. The leeway provides the director, who has never in the agency’s history been a medical doctor, with significant influence over limitations the US government sets to preserve safe, humane and ethical procedures on people.
CIA director George Tenet approved abusive interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, designed by CIA contractor psychologists. He further instructed the agency’s health personnel to oversee the brutal interrogations – the beginning of years of controversy, still ongoing, about US torture as a violation of medical ethics.
But the revelation of the guidelines has prompted critics of CIA torture to question how the agency could have ever implemented what it calls “enhanced interrogation techniques” – despite apparently having rules against “research on human subjects” without their informed… Continue reading
Originally published at Homeland Security Today by Amanda Vicinanzo on 6/9/15
Nearly 15 years after the tragic September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, problems with interoperable communications continue to plague the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), according to a DHS Inspector General (OIG) audit report.
“In other words, nearly a decade after the 9/11 Commission highlighted the problem with interoperable communications, DHS components could not talk to each other using about $430 million worth of radios purchased,” said DHS Inspector General John Roth, whose office just concluded a verification review of its 2012 audit of DHS’s oversight of interoperable communications.
In the 2012 audit report, DHS’ Oversight of Interoperable Communications, the IG’s review of progress on intra-agency communications during an emergency, such as a terrorist event, found less than 0.25 percent of the 479 radio users could access and communicate via that specified common channel.
Moreover, of the 382 radios tested, only 20 percent contained all the correct program settings for the common channel.
The IG determined the reason behind the communications failure was lack of an effective governing structure with the authority and responsibility to ensure DHS achieved department-wide interoperable radio communications.
Now more than two years later, the IG found, DHS still hasn’t complied with the recommendations of the initial 2012 audit. Although DHS has taken some corrective actions to standardize department-wide radio activities, plans have not been finalized and DHS could not provide a timetable for finalization of the plans.
Furthermore, some component… Continue reading
Originally published at Courthouse News Service by Tim Ryan on 6/15/15
WASHINGTON (CN) – The CIA declassified five documents Friday that show differing perceptions of the agency’s counterterrorism efforts prior to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
One 480-page report from the Office of the Inspector General reviews the findings of a joint inquiry by the House and Senate intelligence committees regarding the performance of CIA employees before 9/11.
The OIG said its “overall conclusions on most of the important issues” coincided with Congress but that it did reach different findings “in a number of matters.”
“Concerning certain issues,” the CIA and its officers “did not discharge their responsibilities in a satisfactory manner,” the report states.
While one major error is not responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, the CIA “did not always work effectively and cooperatively” in trying to combat al-Qaida and Osama Bin Ladin, the OIG goudn.
“The team found neither a ‘single point of failure’ nor a ‘silver bullet’ that would have enabled the Intelligence Community to predict or prevent the 9/11 attacks,” the report says. “The team did find, however, failures to implement and manage important processes, to follow through with operations and to properly share and analyze critical data.”
Specifically, the report faults CIA Director George Tenet for not properly leveraging his position to make counterterrorism more of a priority within the agency before the attacks.
The redaction-pocked audit faults Tenet for funneling resources to projects… Continue reading
Originally published at Washington’s Blog by Kevin Ryan on 2/9/15
NBC News anchor Brian Williams is taking heat for having repeatedly lied to the public about an Iraq War experience that he never had. Williams has decided to take a few days off to see if the whole affair will blow over but that strategy is not likely to work given the legs that the story has grown. There is a way for Williams to turn it all around, although it would be tougher than anything he has done in the past. He could save face by coming clean on something important that he once reported and never mentioned again.
On September 11, 2001, Williams was covering the terrorist attacks of the day. Late that afternoon a third skyscraper collapsed at the World Trade Center (WTC) and Williams interviewed a New York City fireman named David Restuccio about it. Just after the building collapsed, NBC broadcast the live scene as Williams remarked, “This is like watching the collapse of an active volcano. And the dust from it is not unlike that from a volcano.” He brought Restuccio on and continued, “You guys knew this was coming all day.” Restuccio replied, “We had heard reports that the building [WTC 7] was unstable and that it would be best if it would either come down on its own or it would be taken down.”
This was the point at which a good journalist would have stopped and asked, “It would be taken down”?… Continue reading
Originally published at Consensus 9/11 on 9/10/14
NORAD is the US-Canadian military agency responsible for defending North American airspace. Its traditional operating procedures – according to which planes are to be intercepted when they deviate from their courses, turn off their transponders, or permanently lose radio contact – were not followed on 9/11.
As the commander-in-chief of NORAD on 9/11, General Ralph E. “Ed” Eberhart was ultimately responsible for all of NORAD’s failures on 9/11 – most importantly, the failure to intercept hijacked airliners before they could strike the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. The fourth airliner, UA 93, which was reportedly headed towards the nation’s capital, may have been shot down by NORAD, but NORAD has denied this. Accordingly, the official story about 9/11 is that NORAD was four-for-four in failing to intercept hijacked airliners that day.
Nevertheless, in spite of NORAD’s disastrous failures under General Eberhart’s leadership, he was never held accountable or even criticized. Indeed, he was promoted shortly after 9/11 and later called a “9/11 hero.”
Unlike others, such as Gen. Richard Myers and Gen. Henry Shelton, Eberhart has not written an account of his actions on 9/11. Likewise, he was seldom discussed by the 9/11 Commission. Accordingly, we do not know much about his actions that day. But enough has been said and reported by officials and the media to add up to an official story about his actions.
Originally published at Mother Jones by Erika Eichelberger and AJ Vicens on 12/23/14
The cost of US war-making in the 13 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks reached a whopping $1.6 trillion in 2014, according to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).
The $1.6 trillion in war spending over that time span includes the cost of military operations, the training of security forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, weapons maintenance, base support, reconstruction, embassy maintenance, foreign aid, and veterans’ medical care, as well as war-related intelligence operations not tracked by the Pentagon. The report tracks expenses through September, the end of the government’s 2014 fiscal year. Here’s a breakdown of where most of that money went:
How taxpayer dollars were spent on Iraq, Afghanistan, and other war-related activities
US military bases
The key factor determining the cost of war during a given period over the last 13 years has been the number of US troops deployed, according to the report. The number of troops in Afghanistan peaked in 2011, when 100,000 Americans were stationed there. The number of US armed forces in Iraq reached a high of about 170,000 in 2007.
Although Congress enacted across-the-board spending cuts in March… Continue reading
Originally published at The Guardian by Spencer Ackerman and Dominic Rushe in New York, and Julian Borger in London on 12/9/14
The full extent of the CIA’s interrogation and detention programmes launched in the wake of the September 11 terror attack was laid bare in a milestone report by the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday that concluded the agency’s use of torture was brutal and ineffective – and that the CIA repeatedly lied about its usefulness.
The report represented the most scathing congressional indictment of the Central Intelligence Agency in nearly four decades. It found that torture “regularly resulted in fabricated information,” said committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, in a statement summarizing the findings. She called the torture programme “a stain on our values and on our history”.
“During the brutal interrogations, the CIA was often unaware the information was fabricated.” She told the Senate the torture program was “morally, legally and administratively misguided” and “far more brutal than people were led to believe”.
Originally published at the Miami Herald by on 8/22/14 (Updated 9/26/14)
Mystery solved, if there was any doubt: It was the CIA that hit the mute button in the war court earlier this year when a defense lawyer for the accused 9/11 mastermind began talking about the CIA’s secret overseas prisons, the lawyer said Monday.
The Jan. 28 episode so embarrassed Army Col. James Pohl, the judge in the Sept. 11 terror case, that he ordered the kill switch unplugged, an order the agency apparently honored because no outside entity has censored the court since.
Prosecutors had only allowed the kill-switch operator to be identified by the codename “OCA,” short for Original Classification Authority.
But Monday, attorney David Nevin, representing Khalid Sheik Mohammed, whom the CIA waterboarded 183 times, unmasked the OCA in open court while describing to the judge the slow pace of discovery in a Defense Department investigation of whether anyone else has the power to listen in on the war court, specifically their confidential attorney-client conversations.
“We recently learned that was the CIA, that CIA was controlling that location of the feed,” Nevin told the judge.
And this time nobody muted him for uttering the initials of the Central Intelligence Agency
The strange censorship episode occurred in January just as Nevin was asking the judge to issue a protective order on whatever remnants exist of the CIA’s secret overseas prison network. Pohl’s the judge who similarly declared the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq a crime… Continue reading
Originally published at FoxNews by Catherine Herridge on 10/1/14
Newly released documents further support the conclusion that the FBI was working with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki after the 9/11 attacks – in the years before he became the first American targeted for death by a U.S. drone strike.
As part of an ongoing investigation of the cleric that began after the 2009 Fort Hood shooting massacre, Fox News was first to report that in 2002, al-Awlaki was released from custody at JFK International Airport — despite an active warrant for his arrest — with the okay of FBI Agent Wade Ammerman.
Watchdog group Judicial Watch has since obtained more than 900 pages of new documents in the course of its federal lawsuit against the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act. They show the cleric was emailing and leaving voice messages with an FBI agent in 2003, a year after Ammerman told customs agents at JFK airport to bypass an outstanding warrant for the cleric’s arrest.
The documents further support claims that Awlaki, who eventually went overseas and linked up with an Al Qaeda affiliate, worked with the FBI and was likely a U.S. government asset.
“I have little doubt that President Obama assassinated a terrorist that was an asset of the U.S. government,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.
He added: “There have been so many missed opportunities in getting the bad guys, but it’s… Continue reading
Originally published by Reuters by Jonathan Stempel on 9/2/14
(Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Tuesday said photos of a Saudi national imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay who U.S. officials have said intended to be the “20th hijacker” in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks should stay classified, in the interest of protecting national security.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said the government plausibly showed that releasing images of Mohammed al-Qahtani, who was subject to interrogation techniques that a government official likened to torture, could endanger military personnel, diplomats and workers in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents al-Qahtani in a federal lawsuit in Washington, D.C. over his treatment, had sought the disclosure of photographs, videos and other audiovisual evidence of his confinement conditions under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
Writing for a three-judge panel, however, Circuit Judge José Cabranes said the release “could logically and plausibly harm national security because these images are uniquely susceptible to use by anti-American extremists as propaganda to incite violence against United States interests domestically and abroad.”
Al-Qahtani has been held since February 2002 at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
He had been the target of a “special interrogation plan” that included 20-hour interrogations, sleep deprivation, prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, forced nudity, performance of dog tricks while wearing a dog collar, and sexual humiliation, according to publicly leaked interrogation logs.
Lawrence Lustberg, a lawyer for CCR, in a statement objected… Continue reading
Originally published at Washington’s Blog on 9/3/14
No wonder the movement to declassify 9/11 information is gaining momentum.
Originally published at Ron Paul Institute by Adam Dick on 8/18/14
“The American People have the right to know the truth and to know the relationship with the Saudis at the time of the Bush administration,” declared Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) in a Monday discussion with Ron Paul on the Ron Paul Channel. Jones made the comment in support of his US House of Representatives legislation H.Res. 428 that seeks the declassification of 28 pages redacted from a joint House and Senate Intelligence Committees report regarding the attacks on America on September 11, 2001.
Former Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL), who chaired the joint Intelligence Committees investigation that produced the report, explained at a March press conference hosted by Jones and other House supporters of H.Res. 428 that the 28 redacted pages make up an entire chapter that “dealt primarily with who financed 9/11.” Graham further states that thousands of Americans currently litigating against Saudi Arabia and other entities for complicity in the September 11, 2001 attacks have been denied justice in part because of the withholding of information, including the 28 pages, that could sustain the court claims. Continue reading
Originally published at Reason.com by Nick Gillespie & Jim Epstein on 4/12/14
Much of Morris’ work explores, as he puts it, “how people prefer untruth to truth” and how they’re “blinded by their own spurious convictions.”
“Errol Morris on Donald Rumsfeld, The Unknown Known, and Evidence-Based Journalism”, by Nick Gillespie and Jim Epstein, was released on April 3, 2014. The original writeup follows:
Donald Rumsfeld’s “war crime,” says Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris, is “the gobbledygook, the blizzard of words, the misdirections, the evasions…and ultimately at the heart of it all…the disregard and devaluation of evidence.”
The former secretary of defense’s complicated relationship with the truth is the subject of Morris’ new documentary, The Unknown Known, which opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, April 4.The Unknown Known is an extended conversation with Rumsfeld, tracing his long career through the Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush administrations, and focusing on his role in leading U.S. military forces into Iraq to fight a bloody and senseless war.
In the film, Morris engages in a verbal sparring session with Rumsfeld in an effort to break through the linguistic “evasions” and “gobbledygook” for which he’s known.
The title of the film comes from Rumsfeld’s response to a question by NBC reporter Jim Miklaszewski at a Pentagon news conference on February 12, 2002. When Miklaszewski asked Rumsfeld if there was any evidence that Iraq was supplying terrorists with weapons, Rumsfeld replied:
Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because… Continue reading
Witness Iraq has brought a lawsuit against key members of the Bush Administration: George W. Bush, Richard B. Cheney, Donald H. Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and Paul Wolfowitz.
In Saleh v. Bush, plaintiff Sundus Shaker Saleh alleges that the Iraq War was a premeditated war against the Iraqi people, the planning of which started in 1998. The war was not conducted in self-defense, did not have the appropriate authorization by the United Nations, and under international law constituted a “crime of aggression” — a crime first set down at the Nuremberg Trials after World War II.
See August 19 update
Originally published at Quiet Mike by Quiet Mike on7/25/14
Last summer, Inder Comar, Esq. filed a lawsuit against the Bush Administration on behalf of Iraqi refugee plaintiff Sundus Shaker Saleh. It is a noble attempt to hold the Bush Administration accountable for war crimes and a case that Quiet Mike has been following from the beginning.
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice, who is defending the six Bush Administration officials, responded to the lawsuit by requesting that the case be dismissed. The Bush tribe is claiming that the planning of the war occurred within the scope of their employment and therefore they have immunity.
Rather than dismissing the case, the Judge asked for additional information. So Mr. Comar… 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 release… Continue reading
Originally published at The Guardian by Spencer Ackerman on 7/31/14
The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, issued an extraordinary apology to leaders of the US Senate intelligence committee on Thursday, conceding that the agency employees spied on committee staff and reversing months of furious and public denials.
Brennan acknowledged that an internal investigation had found agency security personnel transgressed a firewall set up on a CIA network, which allowed Senate committee investigators to review agency documents for their landmark inquiry into CIA torture.
Among other things, it was revealed that agency officials conducted keyword searches and email searches on committee staff while they used the network.
The admission brings Brennan’s already rocky tenure at the head of the CIA under renewed question. One senator on the panel said he had lost confidence in the director, although the White House indicated its support for a man who has been one of Barack Obama’s most trusted security aides.
CIA spokesman Dean Boyd acknowledged that agency staff had improperly monitored the computers of committee staff members, who were using a network the agency had set up, called RDINet. “Some CIA employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached between [the committee] and the CIA in 2009 regarding access to the RDINet,” he said.
Asked if Brennan had or would offer his resignation, a different CIA spokesman, Ryan Trapani, replied: “No.”
Originally published at Dig Within by Kevin Ryan on 7/27/14
After becoming Director of the CIA (DCI) in 1997, George Tenet did what Louis Freeh had done after his appointment as FBI Director. He began to cultivate close personal relationships with the rulers of Saudi Arabia. Like Freeh, Tenet grew especially close to Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Bandar and Tenet often met at Bandar’s home near Washington yet Tenet did not share information from those meetings with his own officers who were handling Saudi issues at the Agency. The CIA’s Saudi specialists only learned about Tenet’s dealings with the Saudi authorities inadvertently, through their Saudi contacts. It seems that Tenet was operating within a network that surpassed the interests of the American public. Therefore the unsolved crimes of 9/11, attributed largely to young men from Saudi Arabia, should be considered in light of Tenet’s actions.
As Deputy Director for the CIA, in 1996, Tenet had worked to install one of his closest friends and confidants, John Brennan, as CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia. Brennan is now the DCI but, in his previous role, Brennan often communicated directly with Tenet, avoiding the usual chain of command. At the time, as an apparent favor to the Saudis, CIA analysts were discouraged from questioning Saudi relationship to Arab extremists.
The unusual relationship that both George Tenet and Louis Freeh had with Saudi intelligence (and George H.W. Bush) recalls the private network that was created in the mid-1970s to accomplish covert… Continue reading
Originally published at Benswann.com by Joshua Cook on 7/16/14
In March Benswann.com reported that Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY), Walter Jones (R-NC), and Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), , along with families who lost loved ones on Sept. 11, 2001, urged the president to declassify 28 pages from the 9/11 congressional investigation report, providing more information to the general public.
On Friday Rep. Massie commented on his Facebook page:
“Before we involve ourselves in #Iraq, Congressmen and their constituents need to know more about the events leading up to 9/11. Understanding what enabled this tragedy to occur is fundamental to drafting a strategy for the Middle East.
That’s why I joined families of 9/11 victims and Congressman Walter Jones and Congressman Stephen Lynch at a press conference to promote the release of 28 classified pages from an official 9/11 report. Based on my reading of the documents, I am confident that making these 28 pages public would not damage our national security.”
During a press conference in March Rep. Massie said, “As I read it, and we all had our own experience, I had to stop every couple of pages and just sort of try to absorb and try to rearrange my understanding of history. “It challenges you to re-think everything. I think the whole country needs to go through that.”
Instead of following the law and producing documents that could show whether or not Saudis living in Sarasota provided aid and assistance to the 9/11 terrorists, the FBI, a federal judge recently found:
• Provided records with “apparent” and unexplained chronological “gaps.”
• Presented to the court “located documents” that “seem incomplete.”
• Submitted “summary documents” that “do in fact seem to contradict each other.”
The FBI’s handling of requests for documents related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, which had links to locations and venues in Sarasota County, is unacceptable.
We and anyone interested in knowing more of the truth about 9/11 are grateful that U.S. District Court Judge William Zloch has steadily sought to require the FBI to adequately search for, find and release to the court documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act.
In contrast, it’s troubling that the nation’s top law-enforcement agency would not only be intransigent but would submit documents with gaps and contradictions to a federal court. The fact that the documents sought are relevant to one of the United States’ greatest domestic tragedies compounds the concerns.
In September 2011, two independent reporters writing for BrowardBulldog.org reported that a family from Saudi Arabia, who lived in Sarasota County’s prestigious Prestancia development prior to September 2001, had connections with individuals associated with terrorism.
The report, reprinted three years ago by the Herald-Tribune, cited documents showing phone calls to the… Continue reading