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Wed Dec 10, 2014 at 05:45 AM PST

Cue the World's Tiniest Violin

by Crashing Vor

Reposted from Crashing Vor by Yasuragi

NBC News foreign correspondent Richard Engel has been getting an earful from folks at Langley about the Senate Intel Committee's report on torture, and America's spooks are quite the Grumpy Cats this week. Yesterday, he told Ronan Farrow.

“The CIA was asked to do this; was given authorizations to do this. And now many people involved are saying to me privately, ‘Now we’re being held out to dry. You asked us to do this, and now the world is coming down on top of it,” Engel said.
The refrain was similar on Hardball.
"Now they feel like they're being punished for it."
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Reposted from Valtin by rb137

Recent revelations about the content of a still secret Senate report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program, which allowed for use of torture, highlight the use of techniques used by a little-known military department.

These techniques from the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape program (SERE) had been lifted from a mock-torture prison camp exercise used to inoculate U.S. prisoners against the effects of torture. Two military psychologists hired as contractors for the CIA allegedly helped form the CIA’s controversial “enhanced interrogation” program.

James Mitchell, one of the two psychologists, recently told The Guardian newspaper he could not talk about the specifics of the program due to a non-disclosure agreement, which carried "criminal and civil penalties" should he violate it. But the details of the program, used in slightly different forms by both the CIA and the Department of Defense have been examined in numerous press and governmental reports.

Currently, the use of SERE techniques is supposedly banned for use by both CIA and Defense Department interrogators.

But a key U.S. Defense Department directive rewritten only a month before Barack Obama was first elected President used a legalistically-carved definition for SERE techniques to hide the fact that important components of the SERE interrogation techniques that could amount to torture were still available to U.S. interrogators.

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Reposted from Sara R by Yasuragi

Quilt for The Packhorse and irishwitch -- read irishwitch's diary about it here!

Many of you know 2thanks from the beautiful quilt messages he has given over time -- and the thoughtful comments he makes elsewhere.  His name is William -- and he has a need for some community support in the form of a quilt.  The reason is that he is a full time caregiver to his wife -- and he works full time as well to support them.  She has a combination of autoimmune problems that have effectively destroyed her health. She has poor vision, chronic pain, weakness, exhaustion, trouble standing and walking and problems with digestion.  William's wife is disabled to such an extent that she cannot even carry a glass of water across a room.  She loves and depends upon William utterly -- and he loves her to the depth of his enormous heart.  

Caregiving is extremely exhausting.  I know it and Ann knows it -- for we have done it for fragile parents.  I know many of you know the fatigue that comes with caregiving firsthand, too, and the effect it can have on one's health over time.  William wouldn't have asked if he didn't need this extra boost in the form of messages of love and support from you.  Will you help him with some kind words for his quilt?

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Reposted from El Bloguero by El Bloguero

There. I said it. Please join your Bloguero today and support The Day We Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance."

What does support this mean? Spread widely on social media, and also, more important call and/or email your Congress persons to tell them this:

As your constituent, I am deeply concerned about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) mass surveillance programs. We need real reform to stop the NSA's mass collection of our information.

I urge you to support the USA Freedom Act (H.R. 3361/S. 1599), an important first step in stopping mass spying, reforming the FISA court, and increasing transparency. But reform shouldn't stop there: please push for stronger privacy protections that stop dragnet surveillance of innocent users across the globe, and stop the NSA from sabotaging international encryption standards.

I'm also urging you to oppose S. 1631, the so-called FISA Improvements Act. This bill aims to entrench some of the worst forms of NSA surveillance and extend the NSA surveillance programs in unprecedented ways. It would allow the NSA to continue to collect the phone records of hundreds of millions of Americans not suspected of any crime—a program I absolutely oppose—and could expand into collecting records of Internet usage.

The NSA mass surveillance programs chill freedom of speech, undermine confidence in US Internet companies, and run afoul of the Constitution.  We need reform now.

It's really easy. And it's not a bad idea to make your voice heard.
Reposted from Winter Rabbit by Avila

I mourn the loss of my specific tribal heritage due to my biological family being assimilated into Christianity, the shame that religion put into them, which caused them to lose their tribal heritage - thus mine.

The Massacre For Which Thanksgiving Is Named (Pt.2)

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Reposted from El Bloguero by El Bloguero

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Eugene V. Debs (11/5/1855 - 10/20/16)

This is Eugene V Debs, a founder of the Industrial Workers of the World an the five-time Socialist Party of America candidate for president. Debs ran in each race from 1900 to 1920. In 1920 he ran even though he was then in federal prison in Atlanta.

Why am I telling you this century old story of an American radical? Why now? It's simple. Today would be his 158th birthday. And there is something in his story to inspire us to move beyond our present despair and frustration, something to give us courage. This history, the history of the American left from a century ago, is worth remembering, especially now.

Please follow me across the barricade.

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Reposted from El Bloguero by El Bloguero

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Salvador Allende (1908-1973)

Vive En Memoria

It was on September 11, 1973, 40 years ago, that democracy died in Chile. A CIA backed coup, led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet, overthrew democratically elected President Salvador Allende and began a repressive, 17 year military dictatorship. Some say that Allende committed suicide during the coup; others, that he was murdered. This event preceded the phrase "regime change" but embodied it.

The BBC put it this way in 1973:

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Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 09:59 PM PDT

In the Hands of the U.K.

by Garrett

Reposted from Garrett by Avila

How was Serdar Mohammed treated by U.K. forces?

In the course of detaining M, the soldiers set a dog loose, which attacked and bit him on his right shoulder. M was blindfolded with goggles, handcuffed and then taken by foot to a nearby village.

Grounds of Claim

The dog bite is acknowledged by the U.K.
M did sustain a dog bite during the course of his capture. He later received medical treatment for this dog bite.
He was beaten after being taken back to his village.
At this point he was beaten and kicked repeatedly by a number of UK soldiers. He was unable to protect himself from the blows as his hands were cuffed....

He was further assaulted by two soldiers, one of whom he believes was an interpreter. One of the men leant hard on the back of his neck, punching his head. The other stood behind him, kicking him hard in the back and around his hips.

At a U.K. temporary holding facility, he was subject to stress positions and sleep deprivation.
On arrival, he was led into a large hall or hangar where he was initially made to stand, and then sit facing a wall. He was held there for the remainder of the night and was not permitted to sleep during this time. When he started to doze off, a soldier would shake him to wake him up.
He was then taken to a main UK Detention Facility in Kandahar. He got "isolation" and cold cell treatment.
On arrival at the second detention centre M was at first held in isolation. The light was kept on in his cell day and night so he could not sleep properly. Also, the cell was kept very cold with air conditioning and M was not provided with sufficient clothing or blankets.
He then spent a month back in the first detention facility, without interrogation. From there, he was handed over to NDS Lashkar Gah.
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Reposted from Garrett by Avila

In 2012, Reprieve, a human rights organization, filed a lawsuit against the U.K. Ministry of Defense. The lawsuit was on behalf of Serdar Mohammed.

U.K. military forces had captured Mohammed in Kajaki district, southern Afghanistan. Under agreement and by standard procedure, the U.K. handed Mohammed over to the Afghan National Directorate of Security.

Mohammed was first held at the N.D.S. prison in Lashkar Gah.

The abuse took various forms. For example, one of the commanders beat M with a stick. He was made to sit crossed-legged, with his hands fed through his legs, holding onto his earlobes. He was then hit with a baton on his back. He was also kicked and beaten with electric cables on his shoulders, back and thighs.

Grounds of Claim

He was then transferred to an N.D.S. prison in Kabul.
There were a variety of beatings. NDS personnel shackled him and beat him severely for several hours with a pipe. They beat him on his feet until they bled....

In addition to the beatings, M was repeatedly shackled in very painful positions. For example, sometimes NDS officials cuffed his hands behind his neck and tied his feet together. They then pulled his feet upwards, towards his hands so his body was bent backwards in an arc. They left him like this for long periods.

The lawsuit sought to halt U.K. prisoner transfers to the N.D.S.

During the proceedings, an email mysteriously appeared on the Department of Defense website, either by mistake, or that someone wanted it seen. The email told of a forthcoming United Nations Assistance Mission report on torture in Afghanistan. And of efforts to get N.D.S. head Asadullah Khalid's name into the torture report. The email also told of U.K. official meetings with Khalid.

Among the U.K. officials to have met with Khalid was Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a Foreign Office minister and a Conservative Party chair. Mohammed's counsel was able to link the N.D.S. head and the Foreign Office minister in court.  

Dinah Rose, QC for Mohammed, repeatedly described the head of the NDS as "Mr Khalid the Torturer".... "Baroness Warsi met him and shook his hand, and I hope she washed her hands well afterwards."

Torture Claims Halt MoD Transfers to Afghan Jails, Guardian

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Thu May 16, 2013 at 12:50 AM PDT

Guantanamo Bay Hunger Strike

by CcVenussPromise

Reposted from CcVenussPromise by Avila

"They won't try us. They won't let us live in peace, and they won't let us die in peace." Fayiz al-Kandari

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Sun May 05, 2013 at 08:29 PM PDT

America's "Dirty Wars"

by regibaby67

Reposted from regibaby67 by Avila

Today, I had the opportunity to listen to Jeremy Scahill, author of "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army" speak about his new book, "Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield." The crowd squeezed into the small venue of The Last Bookstore (an appropriate name for a bookstore nowadays) in downtown Los Angeles to hear him give a scathing indictment of the current policy by our government to conduct secret wars across the globe.  The movie version of the book by the same title is on it's way to theaters soon, and has already won praise at Sundance. A quick google and you can view the trailer yourself.

The reality of the terror that is being inflicted across the globe in our name should be a concern to all American citizens.  We are told we are bombing the "enemy," and we are taking out the terrorists before they have a chance to carry out their evil plans to kill Americans on our shores.  We are assured that the kill lists that our government uses in order to take out these said "terrorists" is reviewed in depth, and approved by the highest reaches in our government, heads of the CIA and our own President.  We are told, these are evil people who want to harm us, because of our "freedoms" here in the US.  We are told this War on Terror is a war without real end.  For every terrorist we remove, there will be more to take his place.  It is truly an unwinnable situation.  A perfect situation for the military industrial complex.

We invaded Iraq during the Bush administration under the concerns, we were told, that there were WMD's.  That Saddam had weapons that would harm Americans, and he was intent on using them on us.  We had to take action before the smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud appeared.  Certain 24 hour news channels fed the lie over and over again that Iraq somehow had something to do with 9/11.  While we know this is a false assertion, there are those who still believe that Iraq had something to do with 9/11.  The fact that they still believe this lie is I believe a part of the problem for the public dialogue about the realities of war.  Members of the previous administration proudly boast on national tv that they would, if given the chance, indeed do the same thing, and attack a nation innocent of any crimes against the United States of America.

The fact is, this is already happening, secretly, in many places around the world.  America, unknown to most Americans, is the aggressor.  While leaders claim we are "defending" ourselves against known "terrorists," our bombs are dropping into countries on the other side of the world, killing innocent women, children, and many times, innocent men.  There are secret covert operations, secret prisons, secret places of torture, and secret renditions, still taking place.  Americans are kept in the dark about such things, or maybe choose to turn a blind eye in the direction of such atrocities, because it is simply too hard to accept the truth of the matter.  No one wants to really swallow that bitter pill that our country is performing such despicable acts on innocent human beings.  We rally around our own injured and fallen, in attacks such as the one in Boston.  We praise our heroes who ran towards the bombs.  We set up a fundraising campaign for the injured.  We don't talk too openly about those who lost limbs who have no health insurance.  We show pictures of the innocent little 8 year old child who only wished for peace, and who's parents will forever grieve his loss.  

Yet, for some reason, we do not shed tears for the innocent dead on their way to a wedding party, or on their way to bury their own dead as the result of a bombing a few days prior.  Or the killing of a 16 year old child, an American citizen, for no apparent reason other than what Robert Gibbs is quoted as saying was the result of bad parenting.  For some reason, because those over there, a world away, are of another ethic back round, are Muslim, or have darker skin than us, for some reason, those losses are not mourned.  They are those who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.  They were hanging around those known terrorist hot spots.  Collateral damage. We're busy protecting American lives, so what if a few dark skinned Muslims have to die in the process?

No longer can we turn a blind eye and claim that we don't understand why a couple of young men in Boston would attack innocent civilians while in the meantime we don't acknowledge the terror we are inflicting on innocent civilians in other countries.  No longer can we sit still and let our leaders sift through kill lists, becoming judge, jury, and executioner to those who are offered no day in court, no awareness of their supposed crimes, no lawyer to defend their rights, no voice to speak out on their behalf to the injustices that are being inflicted on them, on a daily basis.  Is this justice?  Is this the "democracy" we are spreading across the globe?  Is this the kind of treatment we will allow our fellow human beings to endure in the name of God and country?

How long until those who've endured watching their loved ones being blown into pieces by American made bombs retaliate in the name of revenge and justice that they interpret as just and honorable?  Can you close your eyes and imagine going to your sister's wedding and having most of your family blown up by drones from another country?  We endured an attack on Boston, watched in horror as the video of a bomb exploding was replayed again and again, watched their stories unfold, witnessed their hopes and dreams being permanently altered by the violence inflicted upon them.  In other places, this scenario is played out again and again as bombs fall across their countries.  Children don't go to school for fear of drones.  Local tribal leaders don't meet, for fear that the grainy images viewed on a computer screen somewhere in a bunker in New Mexico might be mistaken for an Al Qaeda conspiracy, and they'll be blown to bits.  

The war on terror will never be won by inflicting more terror in the world.  War does not promote peace.  Dropping bombs does not promote democracy.  Murder does not make us a free nation.

Jeremy Scahill is doing what so few others will do, or can do.  He is pulling back the curtain to reveal the truth about what is being done in our name.  It's about time we took a hard look at the truth, for only when we acknowledge the reality of the situation, will we be able to take a stand and do something to change it.

Reposted from markthshark by Avila

Call me a fan of the vice president.

As politicians go, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is an American treasure. Although it's landed him in hot water more than once, Vice President Biden has a habit of doing what few other politicians dare do -- say what's really on his mind at any given time -- damn the consequences. Even though we'll probably never know one way or another, it very well could be that the vice president's comments on Meet the Press last year effectively quickened the president's own 'evolution' on gay marriage a short time later. It was less than a week after Biden announced his wholesale support of marriage equality that the president himself announced the administration's support for the issue.

Now, the question is, will lightening strike twice? Will the president himself call for the release of the classified Senate Intelligence Committee report on the use of torture and enhanced interrogation by the United States?

Roll Call has the story.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Friday night that he supports making a classified Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture and enhanced interrogation more available to the public.

Biden’s revelation was overshadowed by another statement he made at the forum in Sedona, Ariz., in which he suggested that the tanking economy in 2008 was the main reason Sen. John McCain lost to President Barack Obama. The vice president was appearing at a forum featuring a conversation with McCain.

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