RANGER AGAINST WAR: Gambols and Capers <

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gambols and Capers

[D]amage of the same kind can be done by a

bullet, bacteria or mother-in-law

--William Menninger,

while chief psychiatrist of the U.S. Army

Martha Raddatz
: [Al-Qaeda was not in Iraq]

until after the U.S. invaded.

: Yeah, that's right.
So what?
--ABC News interview
, 12/14/08

Oh, Ratty! Can't we have everything back like it was?

--Mole, The Wind and the Willows
Kenneth Grahame


As former president Clinton has the unfortunate distinction of being remembered for his lawyerly deconstruction of the word "is," Bush and Cheney will be remembered for their flip use of the interrogative, "SO?" Sometimes it's the little things.

Wall Street Journal featured an Op-Ed, "The 'Real' Torture Disgrace," which went beyond the usual conservative pale. As expected, they dismissed The bipartisan report by the Senate Armed Services Committee as a "torture narrative," agitprop falsely alleging "'detainee abuse," "making Mr. Bush, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and their deputies . . . morally -- and legally -- responsible for all prisoner abuse since 9/11, not least Abu Ghraib."

Ignoring the bipartisan nature of the report, they say, "The second-guessing of Democrats is likely to lead to a risk-averse mindset at the CIA and elsewhere that compromises the ability of
terror fighters to break the next KSM. The political winds always shift, but terrorists are as dangerous as ever."

A sad state when public and military officials are
risk averse to breaking the law, yes? Yet recent intel summaries clearly indicate that torture does not yield accurate intel; rather, the opposite. Despite this, the Journal insists the "terror fighters" must use every tool in their handbook, using a Marvel comics construction to embody the superhuman nature of a human threat.

Except that's not the story told by men like Matt Alexander, author of
How to Break a Terrorist who led an interrogations team assigned to a Special Operations task force in Iraq in 2006. Alexander said,

"I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. . . It's no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. . . How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me -- unless you don't count American soldiers as Americans" (I'm Still Tortured by What I Saw in Afghanistan.)

Intelligence and law enforcement agencies are not "fighters," but agents of the government and its citizens. The U.S. should not "fight terror" but react to and proactively deal with the threat through judicious law enforcement techniques.

The legal response to terror is the only option that will nullify the threat and ensure civil liberties and the rule of law will prevail in the U.S. The NYT
The Torture Report says,

"Alberto Mora, the former Navy general counsel who protested the abuses, told the Senate committee that 'there are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq — as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat — are, respectively, the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo."

The Senate report makes a "case for bringing criminal charges against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; his legal counsel, William J. Haynes; and potentially other top officials, including the former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff. . . ."

"[T]hese top officials, charged with defending the Constitution and America’s standing in the world, methodically introduced interrogation practices based on illegal tortures devised by Chinese agents during the Korean War. Until the Bush administration, their only use in the United States was to train soldiers to resist what might be done to them if they were captured by a lawless enemy."

While these miscreants may never be prosecuted, they stand guilty of sanctioning or perpetrating war crimes. By the Nuremburg standard, our leaders and by extension Congress and the American people are guilty of aggressive war in contravention of international law.

In a non sequitur following their argument for the necessity of actionable intelligence, the Journal says,

"In a 2007 interview former CIA director George Tenet described the urgency of that post-9/11 period: 'I've got reports of nuclear weapons in New York City, apartment buildings that are going to be blown up, planes that are going to fly into airports all over again . . . Plot lines that I don't know -- I don't know what's going on inside the United States.'"

Just so. The CIA charter tasks them as the lead agency for foreign intelligence functions. The CIA is not a police organization. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is by law the agency to perform counterintelligence within the U.S. And just because you "don't know" doesn't entitle the use of conjecture.

Americans should not desire the CIA to operate in the suburbs of the U.S.
This is a greater threat to American freedoms than is the reality of Terrorism. Since Poppy was a CIA director, Bush does not see it that way.

The Journal says, "Actionable intelligence is the most effective weapon in the war on terror, which can potentially save thousands of lives." While this is the mantra, it ain't necessarily so. There was scads of actionable intelligence prior to 9-11, which Bush promptly ignored. CIA reports like, "
Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US."

Bush and Cheney had seen " a stream of alarming reports on al Qaeda's intentions." Dana Priest wrote in the
WaPo (4/04): "In April and May 2001, for example, the intelligence community headlined some of those reports 'Bin Laden planning multiple catastrophic operations,' 'Bin Laden network's plans advancing' and 'Bin Laden threats are real" (Bush's Counterterrorism Record: 0 for 1).

Dick Cheney is quoted from an ABC interview this week, "There was a time there, three or four years ago, when about half of everything we knew about al Qaeda came from one source" -- KSM." A lie, but presuming it were true: what a sorry state of intel and war-making potential this would indicate for the U.S. (Pack of Liars.)

If the U.S. national leadership would take the nation into a war lacking intel on the adversary, this alone would be a high crime and misdemeanor.

The Journal continues, "As for 'stress positions' allowed for a time by the Pentagon, such as hooding, sleep deprivation or exposure to heat and cold, they are
psychological techniques designed to break a detainee, but light years away from actual torture." In fact, all of these technique are forms of physical torture, and meet all international definitions of such. Second, psychological torture IS real torture.

"None of the dozen or so Abu Ghraib trials and investigations have implicated higher ups; the most senior officer charged, a lieutenant colonel, was acquitted in 2006. Former Defense Secretary Jim Schlesinger's panel concluded that the abuses were sadistic behavior by the 'night shift (WSJ).'"

But a few bad apples did not produce the murder of the "man on ice" from the Abu Ghraib trove. The dead man was a homocide victim of brutal interrogation. The blame is not on the night shift, but the behavior demonstrated by the murderous day shift encouraged their grotesque gamboling around the corpses and brutalized detainees.

A night shift operating sans officer supervision is a violation of U.S. military procedure. Where was the Duty Officer?

Finally, the Journal counsels, "Messrs. Obama and Holder would be foolish to
spend their political capital on revenge." Only, following the rule of law and confronting criminal allegations is not revenge.

It is justice.

--Jim and Lisa

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Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

absolutely. justice, not revenge.

if they truly were innocent they would be presenting themselves to the world court in the hague and saying "here are all the facts, this is what was done, and by whom."

they know that they did crimes, not only against u.s. law, but against the laws of nations. a fair trial is the very last thing that they want.

Monday, December 22, 2008 at 11:14:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous mike said...

Bush considers the whole thing a college prank - no worse than one of the frat-boy initiations that he presided over back in his Ivy League days.

Bush is the torturer. Addington, Woo, Gonzalez and others were just his night shift boys. Go after the witch - not just the flying monkeys.

Monday, December 22, 2008 at 12:30:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Mr.Natural said...

These people HAVE no guilt process. One has only to watch them on omnipresent teevee to see that! Which is WHY they need to be publicly prosecuted and imprisoned (or hung). Children and other citizens of the garden planet NEED to see that we honor the rule of law, and that we can chart a course forward in harmony, or they will (as I have) lose all hope and longing for a future.

All the best to you and yours this holiday season, and hopes for all that and more in the coming new year.

Monday, December 22, 2008 at 2:56:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

All of us that bothered to wear the uniform know that the Commander is responsible for all that is done or that which fails to be done.
As little Georgie said---he was the decider. jim

Monday, December 22, 2008 at 6:39:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Military people have historically used Court action to prove their innocence- I'll endorse your proposal for Hague review.

I'm looking forward to seeing the Nixon/Frost movie. jim

Monday, December 22, 2008 at 6:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Mr. Natural,
Please don't talk of loosing hope-I'm on my last legs and you may pull me into depression.:)

The comments we receive on this blog indicate that there are some solid thinkers and doers still in the stadium.

And best wishes to you for the season. Lisa and I are going south tomorrow just to see some new scenery.
Thanks for your comments, they are appreciated. jim

Monday, December 22, 2008 at 6:47:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous CTuttle said...

Aloha, Ranger and Lisa! I come bearing gifts...! Here's FM 3-05.130 (PDF) (revised SEP 08) the Army Special Operations Forces
Unconventional Warfare Manual

Mele Kalikimaka and Ha'ole Makahiki Hou!!! ;-)

Monday, December 22, 2008 at 8:02:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

the business end of a long rifle

practical factors.

Monday, December 22, 2008 at 8:47:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous CTuttle said...

Aloha, MB! Excellent post! I learned to shoot and hunt with my Dad's .308 Enfield, one sweet rifle! Didn't miss much with a smaller scope and without all the bells and whistles...! ;-)

Monday, December 22, 2008 at 9:22:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Mele Kalikimaka and Hau’oli Makahiki Hou to you, too!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 at 12:09:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

kishmesh jooni


Tuesday, December 23, 2008 at 12:37:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

CT, I reckon you think my reading this updated manual will cure my ED. It seems to work for the rest of the SOF community. jim

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 at 11:35:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Serving Patriot said...

Jim & Lisa,

Thanks for the passionate and eloquent post. Sadly, there are still way too many citizens out there who simply cannot get it in their head that torture is the bright line NEVER TO BE CROSSED by our nation.

You are not alone in calling for justice. Myself, I would be happy to start with simple sunshine into what exactly the Decider and his gang decided to authorize. Even as of this date, they still have not released the complete file of OLC memos that (presumably) authorize the CIA and NSA to operate with (without?) impunity inside the USA.

Thanks again. And Season's Greetings.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008 at 8:26:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


kishmesh jooni back at you! (I seem to remember from a past post that this is Apache for "Merry Christmas"?)

Serving Patriot,

We will hope the complete memos are revealed and justice prevails.

Happy holidays to you, too, thanks.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 at 8:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Serving Patriot,

The point that the paralyzed public miss entirely is the fine line of crossover. If they can torture anybody then they can torture us.No habeas, no sweat-assume the stress position maggot-MOVE.A Brave New World.!

Thank you baby Jesus for giving us George and Dick. jim

Wednesday, December 24, 2008 at 10:45:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Terrible said...

Dang straight it's justice not revenge! The problem is that the modern "conservatives" believe that anything holding them accountable to the laws of the United States is some kind of revenge.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 at 11:41:00 AM GMT-5  

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