Tuesday, April 02, 2013

He really is lousy







Friday, we noted how far All Things Media Big and Small fell in the lead up to the Iraq War and the years since.  Today new details on a US torture scandal break in England.  Big Media is going to avoid as they avoid all things.  If it's going to get traction in the US, it will have to be via Little Media.  Joel Bleifuss, editor and publisher of In These Times, did a mass e-mailing today.  As if to drive the point home about just how useless our 'independent' and 'alternative' media is, they tried to fundraise not by providing information -- which is what they're supposed to be paid to do, they grasp that right -- but instead by noting that Chris Hayes used to write for them and tonight his All In debuts on MSNBC.  This really trumps torture?  This back patting is going to help raise money?
No, all it says is, "We are so worthless that seven years ago we were able to employ Hayes.  For him to do anything of importance he had to leave us.  So go watch MSNBC and realize how unimportant and ineffectual we at In These Times actually are."
Want to raise money, Joel?  You do an e-mail like this:
Today, British media broke the news of systemic US torture in Iraq that took place during and after Abu Ghraib.  Testimony from British soldiers reveals torture as bad and worse than what was reported about Abu Ghraib.  Do you think the New York Times will front page this story?  No.  That's why In These Times needs your support.  To grab these stories and amplify them, to provide coverage of what Big Media doesn't want you to know about.
As we face an austerity crisis that threatens to undo the very fabric of our social safety net, In These Times is proud to bring you the news the corporate media would rather keep from you.

Help us continue to do so. Please make a donation to In These Times today.

Ian Cobain (Guardian) notes some of what British soldiers saw the US military do in the secret prison:

• Iraqi prisoners being held for prolonged periods in cells the size of large dog kennels.
• Prisoners being subjected to electric shocks.
• Prisoners being routinely hooded.
• Inmates being taken into a sound-proofed shipping container for interrogation, and emerging in a state of physical distress.

The facility was Camp Nama.  The Guardian offers satellite imagery of Camp Nama.  In 2009, Michael Bronner (Center for Public Integrity) turned out a very long article that briefly noted Camp Nama as a hushed aside, "Camp Nama was run by a secretive U.S. Joint Special Operations task force, and was off-limits even to most military personnel. Those who did have access retained operational anonymity -- few knew even each other by their real names. The CIA would eventually become worried enough about being associated with what went on there that it barred employees from setting foot inside."  In March of 2006,  Eric Schmitt and Carolyn Marshall (New York Times) 'reported' on a torture room at Camp Nama:

The new account reveals the extent to which the unit members mistreated prisoners months before and after the photographs of abuse from Abu Ghraib were made public in April 2004, and it helps belie the original Pentagon assertions that abuse was confined to a small number of rogue reservists at Abu Ghraib.
The abuses at Camp Nama continued despite warnings beginning in August 2003 from an Army investigator and American intelligence and law enforcement officials in Iraq. The C.I.A. was concerned enough to bar its personnel from Camp Nama that August.
It is difficult to compare the conditions at the camp with those at Abu Ghraib because so little is known about the secret compound, which was off limits even to the Red Cross. The abuses appeared to have been unsanctioned, but some of them seemed to have been well known throughout the camp. 

"Reported"?  I have no problem with Eric Schmitt's reporting.  In the years when we regularly tracked Carolyn Marshall's 'reporting' here.  We don't have time to review all of her nonsense.  'We know little and we'll tell little' really seems the point of the article with a rushed, 'Now move along now,' tacked on.  Move along is what the torture did, though Schmitt and Marshall missed that in their 2006 'report.'  In the summer of 2004, most likely in a panic over the two Navy Seals who tried to take photos, Camp Nama's torture was  halted because, Cobain explains, "the secret prison was moved to Balad, a sprawling air base 50 miles north of Baghdad, where it became known as the Temporary Screening Facility (TSF). The Army Air Force and RAF troops continued their role there."

Do the British soldiers going public have knowledge of the torture at Balad?  They may very well.  But what they've already revealed is damaging enough to the lie that what happened at Abu Ghraib was more accident and not policy.  It was policy.

In the 2006 article, Schmitt and Marshall could note a then minor figure in terms of public awareness,  mention him at the end of a sentence:  "Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who leads the Joint Special Operations Command, the headquarters at Fort Bragg, N.C., that supplies the unit's most elite troops."  Cobain notes today, "One person who has been widely reported to have been seen there frequently was General Stanley McChrystal, then commander of US Joint Special Operations forces in Iraq."  And yet what brought this torturer down was shooting off his mouth about US Vice President Joe Biden?  Torture wasn't just policy, it was approved policy or President Barack Obama wouldn't have put McChrystal in charge in Afghanistan.

In May 2009, John H. Richardson (Esquire) pointed out as Barack named McChrystal to be the top US commander in Afghanistan:

The news that President Obama picked General Stanley McChrystal to run the war in Afghanistan put an old story of mine into the national spotlight last week. In 2006, Esquire sent me around the country to interview military interrogators with a Human Rights Watch investigator named Marc Garlasco. One of those men worked at Camp Nama, a small base near Baghdad where a Special Forces task force was interrogating Iraqis in an effort to find the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq. It was so secret that the officers went by false names there. Bad things happened. They doused people in cold water, used isolation and stress positions and sleep manipulation. These methods all appeared on a checklist. To use each one, they had to check the appropriate box and get approval.
The chain of command for that approval went through General McChrystal. Even more damning, the interrogator told us that he actually saw McChrystal in the camp while such acts were occurring. He also said that his supervisor told him and his colleagues that McChrystal had made a personal promise that the Red Cross would never be allowed into the camp — a violation of our treaty obligations under the Geneva Conventions, which is a violation of the law that we used to follow before the Bush administration.

Why aren't the torture criminals forced to appear before Congress, to testify in open session?  Because a lot of members of Congress signed off on the torture with their silence.  You saw that when Zero Dark Thirty came out and members of Congress attacked the film.  'That did not happen!' three senators insisted (Carl Levin, John McCain and Dianne Feinstein).  And idiots used that as 'proof' that Zero Dark Thirty was wrong.  No.  As former US House Rep Jane Harman and former CIA Director Leon Panetta noted, it was pretty accurate.

Congress looks the other way because many of them were complicit in the torture.  That's why they refused to launch an investigation into Abu Ghraib.  They are supposed to provide oversight.  They have been derelict in their Constitutional duty, they have ignored their Constitutional oaths.  And they've gotten away with it, year after year.

With McChrystal's confirmation hearing in June 2009, he was lucky to have senators who didn't want to ask about torture -- despite even the editorial board of the New York Times insisting those were the relevant questions.  Instead, helpers like John McCain asked him about Pat Tilman allowing him to grandstand on that (the lies told about Tilman's death) and look like a truth teller instead of the human waste that oversaw torture.

His unimportant remarks about Pat Tilman (we already knew, years prior, that the military and White House lied about Tilman's death -- this was established by the Congress and by the press) did what they were supposed to, lead idiots -- Taylor Marsh to name one -- to applaud him and insist he be immediately confirmed.  (The idiots also seemed unaware that McChrystal's position and immediate knowledge of the truth about Tilman's death meant he was required to immediately notify the family; something he refused to do.  And they weren't at all concerned about the mistreatment of the Tilman family when  McChrystal joined Joining Forces which is a White House group that's supposed to help military families.)

And when John McCain wasn't whoring, Harry Reid was.  Or have we all forgotten that there was reluctance to McChrystal and Reid took to the floor of the senate to deliver an impassioned speech insisting that McChrystal be immediately confirmed?

Congress always wants to rush . . . except when it involves them doing more than voting yes or no.  There's no rush -- now or then -- to investigate the torture.  Harry Reid is fine with torture as long as he is Senate Majority Leader.  Let him lose that position and believe that decrying torture can help him win it back, and Harry will be the biggest anti-torture senator.  And what of Dick Durbin?  Illinois' blubbering senator cried -- more for himself when he issued an apology -- over Abu Ghraib.

After all the senators signed off on McChrystal, Justin Rood (ABC News) reported that then-Senator Russ Feingold (who voted for McChrystal) stated McChrystal wasn't forthcoming on torture.  But they all voted for him, even Russ.

Torture was policy, not happenstance, not accidents.  That's what the latest revelations drive home. 

David Petraeus was sent back into Iraq in 2004 to implement counter-insurgency.  At the start of last month, Jim White (Empty Wheel) noted the US military order Frago 242 which was issued in June 2004 ("an order to ignore reports of torture carried out by these Iraqi groups") and that this order was issued the same month Petraeus returned to Iraq.

This is counterinsurgency.  This is the reality of counterinsurgency.  Harry Reid even noted, when McChrystal was forced out for remarks about Biden, that Petraeus was the one to replace McChrystal in Afghanistan ("General Petraeus has demonstrated that he can effectively carry out a counterinsurgency strategy . . .")

Today,  Cobain explains:

While Abu Ghraib prison, just a few miles to the west, would achieve global notoriety after photographs emerged depicting abuses committed there, Camp Nama escaped attention for a simple reason: photography was banned. The only people who attempted to take pictures – a pair of US Navy Seals – were promptly arrested. All discussion of what happened there was forbidden.

Discussion was forbidden?  No, he was enabled.  He's a War Criminal who oversaw torture but PRI's The World was happy to play patty-cakes with him last January.  Even trained monkey Jon Stewart whored in January letting McChrystal pimp his bad book and not asking any hard questions.  But, hey, Jon Stewart gave up hard questions and pointed humor when Bush left the White House.

Connecting the dots the politicians, press and pranksters don't with to is Muhammad Umer Toor (Pakistan Kakhudahafiz) explains:

Terror detention cells. Ethnic/sectarian cleansing. Butchers in place. Design, spark, initiate, support, fund, sustain and lead sectarian cleansing and civil war. That’s how America “played” with the national and sectarian life in Iraq for decades to come; that’s how they suppressed – factually speaking – sunni insurgency against America. The aim of America was to distract resistance, mainly sunnis, by pitting them against their conventional sectarian rivals – i.e. shias who were brutally oppressed by widely hated and un-Islamic ruler Saddam Hussein – from its real object: foreign occupation.
This news of US exploiting the fault line of Muslim ummah shouldn’t come as a surprise. However, this whole revelation of convincing and unequivocal evidence of US triggered civil war in Iraq is fresh: exposed by Guardian, which broadcasted on internet on 6th March 2013 a documentary on a US veteran, James Steele, the counter-insurgency ‘hero’ who led this campaign of terror and torture. Just as RAND think tank had advised US leaders when asked to work out a strategy to win war:
“Align its policy with Shiite groups who aspire to have more participation in government and greater freedoms of political and religious expression. If this alignment can be brought about, it could erect a barrier against radical Islamic movements and may create a foundation for a stable U.S. position in the Middle East.”
James Steele was a crucial element in executing the strategy.

James Steele is covered in the BBC Arabic and Guardian newspaper documentary James Steele: America's Mystery Man In Iraq (those unable to stream or who need closed captioning for streaming to be of any value can refer to Ava and my "TV: The War Crimes Documentary").



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