No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post
I meant to post this last week but Jeff Kaye had a great look at an article in Intelligencer, Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies, which Kaye describes as a “house organ for the American Federation of Intelligence Officers (AFIO).” The article, titled “Terrorism - The Underlying Causes,” is a disturbingly bellicose and racist interpretation of the causes of extremism. That it occurs in a publication intimately tied to our intelligence services and not one of the crazier wingnut web sites shows just how deeply Bush-era paranoia and ignorance burrowed into the federal bureaucracy. The damage from those years will persist, and righting it will be a very long term process.
Andy Worthington has an extensive interview with Lawrence Wilkerson, Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. It’s a lot to digest but this part jumped out at me:
I spent 31 years in the DoD, and I have to say that the entity we probably disliked the most during the majority of my years was the Central Intelligence Agency. I mean, we would sit out in the Pacific, when I was working out there, and our station chiefs then, we would mock them, you know: big fat dudes, making 120, 130 thousand a year, and all they did was sit there and read the newspapers in their capital cities and report it back to Langley as finished intelligence. I mean, we didn’t have much use for the CIA and that’s generally the way the rank and file in the Pentagon feels — and in the military in general. I remember in the first Gulf War, when Norman Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell were on the phone at Colin Powell’s house — a secure phone; late in the evening for Powell, and early in the morning for Schwarzkopf — and Norm was threatening to come to Washington and shoot the DCI.Wilkerson worked for Powell at State, so on both counts he’s not exactly a disinterested observer floating over the proceedings. Even taking that into account there’s some pretty remarkable stuff, though.
So I mean, there’s always been that institutional jealousy, hatred even between the Pentagon and the CIA, so I didn’t have much difficulty understanding that that was a part of what had happened, and you add Rumsfeld’s arrogance and his power play to it, and you’ve got a real, powerfully dysfunctional system there, in terms of — as Powell put it in his debrief to President Bush, January 13, 2005, if I recall, “Mr. President, you have no idea.” Bush had just said, “Well, you’ve lived through Weinberger and Shultz, you know that there’s always infighting,” and Powell’s response was, “Mr. President, you have no idea. This is an order of magnitude worse.” Frankly, I think that was the first time anybody had ever alerted the President to the fact that his wasn’t a normal administration.
Marcy pointed out that the same guy who destroyed the CIA torture tapes was a key figure in blowing up the British intelligence services’ monitoring of a developing terrorist plot. Also, please keep in mind that the investigation used traditional surveillance methods, was wrecked when Junior came stomping in and still obtained convictions. Just in case you thought FISA was not capable of meeting the demands of the 21st century.
Some talking point that can’t die soon enough is the claim that if our hearts are pure it excuses breaking the law:
“Intentionality is essentially irrelevant,” the group said in its response to Washington, “in the sense that any act of enforced disappearance has the consequence of placing the persons subjected thereto outside the protection of the law, regardless of the pursued purposes.” U.S. negotiators had argued to the contrary in 2006 — that proving intent is “an essential ingredient of the crime.”The US has literally been trying to argue that the ends justify the means, a proposition rejected for centuries the world over as cynical and amoral.
Stay tuned to Vaughn Walker’s courtroom. I suspect when he rules there will be fireworks.
Ryan Grim has a fabulous article detailing just how outrageous the revolving door between the Fed and private industry really is.
Josh Marshall wins. It does my heart good to see everything explained so well.
In July 2002, a year and a half after the indictment and two days before Lindh’s lawyers planned to challenge the legitimacy of his FBI confession in court, claiming that it had been coerced under shocking conditions, the prosecutors offered them a surprise deal. The case was hastily settled in a weekend-long flurry of negotiations that ended at 2 A.M. on the day that the key evidence against Lindh was to be challenged in open court. By the time it was over, the Justice Department had dropped nine out of the ten counts against Lindh. As part of a plea agreement, Lindh accepted guilt on only two charges, and they were not directly related to terrorism: violation of a statute forbidding American citizens from contributing “services to the Taliban.” Ashcroft continued to cite Lindh’s conviction as a major success, but there was no doubt that the first high-profile prosecution effort had mysteriously imploded.All the legal issues regarding Lindh are settled, but the episode has been largely and unfortunately forgotten. The gratuitous abuse, contempt for even ostensibly trying to follow the law, inability to use anything produced by his treatment in legal proceedings and ultimate futility of cruel treatment that has characterized our detainee policy are foretold in the Lindh case. And one would think the consistencies between the Lindh and later cases would be thought of as key evidence of coordination at the highest levels.
“The Defense Department was really worried about the claims of mistreatment,” said George Harris. They said the deal had to be struck before the suppression hearing so the details wouldn’t get out. They really wanted to drop any claims of intentional mistreatment. That was key to Rumsfeld.” The surfacing of the directive from his general counsel, Haynes, encouraging interrogators to “take the gloves off” was not ideal publicity, even before the photographs of Abu Ghraib surfaced.