December 31st, 2014 - by admin
Thandeka / Tikkun – 2014-12-31 00:56:53
(December 24, 2014) — It’s almost Armageddon time. The premeditated slaying of two New York Police Officers by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, followed by the fatal shooting of yet another black teenager by police in Missouri, has brought us to the brink of urban chaos and race riots.
We may be headed toward a world in which racists turn our streets into killing fields, cops go on killing sprees beyond their current rate of killing one black American every twenty-eight hours, and more cops are slayed by avenging black men.
To avert mass bloodshed we must start peeling back the colors that hide aggrieved feelings. Social media on “Black Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter” are still color coded, thus hiding what they can’t reveal: a history of human fear, grief, and shock.
Consider Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s state of mind to get the point. He did not shoot his ex-girlfriend, Shaneka Thompson, because she wears blue in the Air Force Reserve. Nor did he shoot New York Police Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Lui because they wore blue. Brinsley pulled the trigger on each of his victims because he was mentally ill. Even his mother was afraid of him. He had taken medications under psychiatric care, but to no avail. A year ago he tried to hang himself. Then, on Saturday, he succeeded in committing suicide, but only after the three shootings.
The first killing was an accident, Brinsley explained by phone to his ex-girlfriend’s mother. Killing the policemen, by his own testimony, was not. In an Instagram post that showed his camouflage pants and blood-splattered shoe, he wrote: “I’m Putting Wings On Pigs Today. They Take 1 of Oursâ€¦â€¦ Let’s Take 2 of Theirs #ShootThePolice.”
In response, there is now a hue and cry to find the common ground shared by protesters for and against the police. To do so we must return to interrogate the apparition that sparked this latest firestorm: the demon in the head of Darren Wilson.
A Demon Born of Loss
In his testimony before the St. Louis County Grand Jury, Darren Wilson said he felt like a five-year-old peering into the face of someone who “looks like a demon” as he wrestled with Michael Brown, the black teen he later shot to death in Ferguson, Missouri.
In other words, Wilson’s eyes perceived an unarmed teenager, but within his head that image was transfigured into a demonic apparition.
The actions of police officers aren’t supposed to be governed by fear. But Darren Wilson’s were. Wilson’s actions, however, weren’t “his actions,” but rather an outcropping of what theologian Sarah Drummond aptly calls “an epigenetic, cellular memory of loss and its resultant need for a scapegoat.”
Michael Brown became the scapegoat for Wilson’s own internalized feelings of powerlessness. Like so many other white people in this society, Wilson viscerally experienced himself as powerless because of a historical truth: for hundreds of years, most European immigrants and their descendents have been used instrumentally by white elites to cement the interlocking racial and economic hierarchies that subjugate most people in this country.
In the process, they have lost their ethnic roots and adopted “white” identities defined by fear. It is this core feeling of fear — a mixture of internalized feelings of powerlessness and loss, paired with the conviction that blackness is to blame for these feelings rather than the actual white attacks against them by the white ruling elite — that make up the demon in Darren Wilson’s head.
The story of how this demon got into Wilson’s head starts in the 1670 Virginia Assembly, which laid the groundwork for the construction of a legal system in the United States that disempowered most whites and all blacks when declaring it forbidden for “Negroes and Indians” to own Christian (i.e., white) servants.
Another key moment in this story is the “Great Compromise” reached during the Philadelphia US Constitutional Convention of 1787, which decreed that slaves legally counted as three-fifths of a person for the political purpose of population counts to disenfranchise non-slaveholding white voters.
By the nineteenth century, all European immigrants to the United States needed to learn how to become white in order to get and keep their jobs as the North’s new industrial workers — and in succumbing to this process, a bogeyman got into their own heads. It is this same internalized demon that led Darren Wilson to kill Michael Brown.
This master narrative exposes the “surplus powerlessness” — to use Rabbi Michael Lerner’s fine term — that disempowered whites use as an add-on, if you will, to self-destructively increase the social and economic exploitation they fall victim to through the vested financial interests of the white power elite. This is not a conspiracy story but an ongoing American tragedy.
The powerless, in short, keep pulling themselves down when others push them down. In this tragic scenario, the use of deadly force against black men, teens, and children by white cops today is the collateral damage to an ongoing attack against whites by their own economic, political, and social systems that render most of them afraid. And for good reason. They live in a country that trashes most whites.
Let us return to Wilson’s testimony before the St. Louis County Grand Jury — the testimony in which he described his fear in the face of someone who “looks like a demon.”
When Wilson finally fired off shots, Brown ran away. Wilson pursued, firing more rounds. Brown stopped and turned around, and, then according to Wilson, began “bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I’m shooting at him. And the face that he had was looking straight through me, like I wasn’t even there, I wasn’t even anything in his way.”
Wilson thus “had to kill him,” he said, to neutralize that aggressive, demonic force. So he shot Brown six times, twice in the head. And only after a bullet entered Brown’s head did Wilson feel he had regained control. Wilson said, “And then when it went into him, the demeanor on his face went blank, the aggression was gone, it was gone, I mean, I knew he stopped, the threat was stopped.” Wilson’s demon was dead.
Clearly, Wilson didn’t like what he felt as he wrestled with “Hulk Hogan”: powerless and afraid. And clearly his mind turned Brown into a demon. Wilson thus killed a young man he thought of as a demon that could not be wounded, handcuffed, and carted off to jail, but must instead be slayed. This is a self-incriminating statement, evidence that could have been used to indict Wilson for unjustifiable manslaughter. But it wasn’t.
Now consider the public statement of Daniel Pantaleo, the Staten Island Police Officer whose chokehold killed Eric Garner, an unarmed black man suspected of peddling cigarettes last summer. Pantaleo, like Wilson, said he was afraid.
The New York Times quoted him as saying he feared they would crash through a plate glass storefront as they tumbled to the ground. Although the attack on this black man was recorded on the smartphones of eyewitnesses, as were his asthmatic cries of “I can’t breathe,” the police officer was not indicted. His fear, apparently, was deemed reasonable, along with his killer grip.
When white cops who kill unarmed black Americans say they felt afraid and threatened or that they believed they faced catastrophic injury or death, the grand juries conclude — with rare exception — that these cops had every right to slay what made them so afraid.
Cops, when under attack, are not supposed to tremble and quake like a child watching a demon romp and stomp and make a wild rumpus start as wild things are wont to do. Nor are they supposed to kill people for selling single cigarettes. Police officers are trained to toughen up, to not hallucinate, and to stay calm. But because white men like Wilson and Pantaleo “can’t police their imagination,” as poet Claudia Rankine puts it, “black men keep dying.”
Or as Drummond puts it, “We live in a culture where anything we do can be excused when our explanation is that we did it because we were afraid. So we have to understand the underlying structure of fear, as it’s the scaffold we’re calling an ethical framework.”
Policing the Imagination
The results of the racial scaffolding are now becoming a matter of public record. Police, for example, must be taught strategies to control their fears — their ego and adrenaline rushes. This is the conclusion of a two-year federal investigation by the Justice Department of the Cleveland Police Department. The study found an “unreasonable and unnecessary use of force” that prompted reckless and dangerous behavior.
But the strategies to correct this behavior fall way short of the mark because they target the behavior of cops and neglect the emotional history that has created frightful black demons in white American minds for more than three centuries. This is why the recent grand jury decisions in Staten Island and in Ferguson against indicting white cops who killed unarmed black men seem to defy logic.
According to the New York Times, criminal justice scholars believe the decision hinges on the officer’s perception of danger during an encounter. And this perception is not being adequately interrogated as an issue of surplus powerlessness: white victims participating in their own economic demise.
Presently, no one is focusing on the white officers’ perceptions, except in terms of white racism against blacks. This racial approach is tragically flawed. White cops cannot police their own fears because they have learned how to see “blackness” when feeling overpowered and afraid. And when grand juries do the same, we’ve got an invisible race problem in America writ large.
This problem of surplus powerlessness among most whites is a psychological problem that is rooted in a history of white-on-white racial violence: when the mass of European immigrants to the United States lost their political and economic power and their ethnic identities, the elite whites who took these things away from them taught their white victims to blame their losses on black folk.
The “race problem” between the police force and black Americans won’t go away because it’s a deadly ruse. Race talk about the need for more black police officers in black communities, more body cameras on cops, more civilian review boards for police, and more special prosecutors will never solve the core emotional problem.
Neither will Al Sharpton’s pleas for the Justice Department to create national guidelines for investigating officers when they use deadly force nor pleas from people like Democratic committeewoman in Ferguson Patricia Bynes for fuller participation in traditional politics.
Such talk hides a pervasive political, economic, and social disorder that compromises the emotional integrity of whites who then blame blacks for terrorizing them. The blacks in this white drama are “simply” the scapegoats. Or more precisely, the collateral damage.
The disempowerment inflicted upon whites by other whites in the process of constructing a collective white identity has been almost impossible to understand politically because it began with the slave count. Few American historians write about this racial ruse.
The Slave Count and the Electoral College
When the southern colonies agreed to ratification of the US Constitution for the new republic, they insisted that each slave held in the states of this new government must be counted as three-fifths of a person. This decision, called The Three-Fifths Compromise, is found in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution:
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
This particular article is referred to as a “compromise” because the Southern delegates to the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 wanted to tally each of their slaves. But the Northern delegates only wanted to count the free inhabitants of the states as the basis for determining tax rates and the apportionment of members of the United States House of Representatives. The compromise reached by the two groups was that slaves would be tallied as three-fifths of a person.
I call this way of tallying slaves a ruse because five blacks got three votes, which of course, they didn’t get. Rather, every five slaves counted as three white men in order to increase proportionately the number of representatives who could be elected to represent the state in the Congress.
This calculation of political value of each slave (called the federal ratio) increased the number of votes in the Electoral College, which was based on the number of congressional representatives from each state. These extra votes — called the “Negro votes” — swept Washington and then Jefferson into the presidency. Negroes, in effect, became the shill, the co-conspirator in a voting game they did not create.
New Hampshire Senator William Plumer summarized Jefferson’s election mandate this way: “The Negro votes made Mr. Jefferson president. Negro electors exceed those of four states, and their representatives are equal to those of six states.”
Pulitzer Prizeâ€“winning historian Garry Wills lays out this move against nonslaveholding white voters in his extraordinary book Negro President: Jefferson and the Slave Power. Wills’s study of Jefferson’s election is unusual, however, because he is one of only a handful of American historians who mention the fact that Jefferson won election by the slave count. Yet, as Wills also notes, this election “is one of the most thoroughly studied events in our history.”
So why this silence among historians about the ruse? The truth was too big to hold onto. America politically disempowered the vast majority of its newly white citizens and called the move democracy. A series of ad campaigns hid the truth.
The Creation and Promotion of Whiteness
In seventeenth-century colonial America, upper-class Virginians created a new racial category called “white” and made laws to this effect. They did so as members of the Virginia General Assembly, the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Subsequently, anyone who fit into this new race category would be given, by law, white racial privileges that no other “races” could have.
Social historian Edmund S. Morgan chronicles the results in American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia. In 1670, the Virginia Assembly forbade Free Negroes and Indians to own Christian (white) servants. In 1680, the Virginia Assembly made it legal for white Christians to give “any negroe or other slave who shall presume to lift his hand in opposition to any Christian [thirty] lashes on the bare back.” And in 1705, a law forbade masters to “whip a Christian white servant naked.” Whipped, yes. Naked, no.
The purpose of these white racial privileges, as Morgan rightly notes, was to form a wedge between the European and African indentured servant classes and exbondsmen so that a united class war against the ruling elite would not happen.
Until this period, class defined race. Accordingly, class prejudice, as Morgan reminds us, was difficult to distinguish from race prejudice. Indentured servants of all colors were considered part of the same race: the poor. Thus when bedraggled, penniless Englishmen and women were first shipped to Virginia, Morgan tells us, they initially found common cause with enslaved people of African descent:
When their masters began to place people of another color in the fields beside them, the unfamiliar appearance of the new workers may well have struck them as only skin deep. There are hints that the [African slaves and English indentured servants] initially saw each other as sharing the same predicament. It was common, for example, for servants and slaves to run away together, steal hogs together, get drunk together. It was not uncommon for them to make love together.
The planter class designed a new racial lineage system to make poor whites feel like a million bucks. Promoted through a series of ad campaigns for wage earners in the industrial North, this system also created a new type of racial identity for immigrant Americans: the white. Promotional materials called for complete, immediate, and utter assimilation by European immigrants — in effect, a “Got Race?” ad campaign was underway.
Coupled with this campaign, of course, were veiled or direct threats of annihilation to those who failed to make the grade. The campaigns produced, what one commentator on this period called, a “destruction of memories.”
Remember, the first-generation factory workers, whether native-born or foreign-born, had been peasants and agrarian workers. So they had to be broken in by the Northern industrialists who hired them. They had to learn how to work by the clock rather than by the sun. To act, simply put, like whites.
Efforts to promote this new racial lineage system hid from view its real purpose: to breed contempt between African and European laborers. The ad campaign was designed, in sum, to keep most whites impoverished as politically powerless wage earners and small businessmen. Campaigns for white assimilation and loyalty thus used attacks against blacks to hide an economic attack against working whites.
When Hinton Rowan Helper exposed this pervasive hidden race-class link in his 1857 book The Impending Crisis of the South, his book was publicly burned in the South. A Methodist minister spent a year in jail for simply owning a copy, and three Southerners were hanged for reading it.
According to Helper, “The lords of the lash are not only absolute masters of the blacks â€¦ but they are also the oracles and arbiters of all non-slaveholding whites, whose freedom is merely nominal, and whose unparalleled illiteracy and degradation is purposely and fiendishly perpetuated.” His work was banned in the South and bandied in the North.
Helper’s work, as American history David Williams notes in Rich Man’s War: Class, Caste, and Confederate Defeat in the Lower Chattahoochee Valley, sold more copies than any other nonfiction book of the era and was called by one historian “the most important single book, in terms of its political impact, that has ever been published in the United States.” But Helper’s book couldn’t stop the campaigns for white assimilation because the campaigners had already discovered a powerful trick: putting the traumatized emotions of working class whites into blackface.
Traumatic Transitions into Whiteness
Social historian Herbert G. Gutman chronicles this racial indoctrination program for the immigrant industrial workers in Work, Culture, and Society in Industrializing America. In 1895, he writes, the New Jersey American Standard called Irishmen who caused disorder as the sought wages due them from the Erie Railroad “animals” and “a mongrel mass of ignorance and crime and superstition, as utterly unfit for its dues, as they are for the common courtesies and decencies of civilized life.”
In 1869, Scientific America told the “ruder” laborers of Europe who were welcomed to American shores that if they did not “assimilate” quickly, they would face a “quiet but sure extermination.” They must change their ways or “share the fate of the native Indian.”
In the mid-1870s, the Chicago Post-Mail characterized its city’s Bohemian population as “depraved beasts, harpies, decayed physically and spiritually, mentally and morally, thievish and licentious.” The Chicago Tribune called striking immigrant brickmakers men but “not reasoning creatures.”
During this same period, the Chicago Times complained that the country had become “the cesspool of Europe under the pretense that it is the asylum of the poor.” The New York Times would echo similar sentiments fifteen years later.
The immigrants assimilated as fast as they could. As one of them said at the end of this process: “I have been successful. I have property. My children have superior advantages. But >o?I have lost my life.”
Sociologist William Isaac Thomas studied the immigrants’ attitudes and recorded their stories of how their internal, emotional lives were altered. As Thomas notes in recording the memories of one immigrant’s story, the man’s loss pertained to the “memories of his home conditions, of leisure and festivities, of joys and sorrows shared by an intimate group.”
The Rise of Minstrelsy
These workers’ emotions were still Irish, Italian, Slavic, German, English, Catholic, Jewish, and Russian, and their religious values still affirmed a world of relationships that could not be reduced to commercial interest and gain.
But they had to get rid of these internal feelings in order to become white Americans, namely, white industrial wage earners. They had to learn how to hide their true feelings, their ethnic desires, and their Old World memories because they weren’t white enough.
So to find an outlet for these forbidden feelings and memories, they disguised them in blackface. They blackened their facial expressions and body gestures — and by so doing created America’s first national cultural institution: white minstrel shows performed in blackface. Black was now the color of choice for the industrial workers’ own white surplus powerlessness.
They blackened up and then sang their Old World songs to their heart’s delight but now as Zip Coon or other famous minstrel figures. They blackened up so that they could see their true feelings. They gazed at their feelings of being lost, alone, and afraid. They gazed at their regrets and their profoundly disquieting feeling of being at risk in the country they now must live in as their home. They put all these feelings — these seditious emotions — in blackface so as to be able to express them as whites while at the same time disowning them as whites.
This is how the campaigns for white racial assimilation took hold at a deeply subjective level in these immigrants’ lives. The marketing campaign showed up in them disguised as a kind of Free Will Myth. These industrial workers, after all, seemed to freely choose to blacken their faces and act like Zip Coon — and other figures with demonic or ghoulish demeanors. But their choice to blacken up was the result of a “Got Race?” campaign to turn them into whites.
Becoming White through Blackface
Night after night these industrial workers would sit in the audience with other male members of their class and watch performers who were self-announced “white” men. They wore grease paint and burnt cork on their faces and hands to show their audience what white men weren’t: Men with seditious emotions. Men with inordinate desires and feelings and longings for what they were not supposed to have.
Distancing themselves from their own emotions through blackface, they made fun of what they felt. They blackened their feelings in order to affirm them, even while pretending to deny them.
These industrial workers and performers bamboozled themselves. They pretended that the feelings they expressed on stage weren’t their own forbidden and thus “seditious” feelings because their white depictions were of the blacks. These images thus revealed and also hid the way whites felt about themselves.
The brilliant montage of blackened ghoulish and demonic images collected by Spike Lee and displayed at the end of his movie Bamboozled lays out in stark detail how campaigns for white assimilation hid the raw and ravaged feelings of whites by depicting them as ghoulish blacks:
The “Got Race?” campaigns in both the North and the South look like white racist attacks against blacks because that’s indeed what they are. But when we break the historical code of silence, wipe away the greasepaint, and focus attention on the grim poverty of whites who got disempowered through the creation of whiteness (and the attendant requirement that working class whites participate “willingly” in their own exploitation), the primary target of these ad campaigns comes into view: the ravaged emotional feelings of disenfranchised whites.
We see the white racist attacks against the desires of immigrants to be Italian, Irish, Slavic, etc. — and not whites. And we see the collateral damage: the racial demeaning of blacks.
Thanks to these ad campaign narratives, the racial identities of black and white Americans became co-constructed ways of dismantling, shattering, and destroying the emotional integrity of the American people.
The Black Face of Darren Wilson’s Feelings
Black and white racial identities were constructed to keep most Americans from seeing what they have in common: feelings of loss, sorrow, remorse, feelings of being at risk, feelings of anger and rage, and excessive fears because they are ceaselessly being taken advantage of. These “seditious” emotions rise up against the 1 percent.
Perhaps Darren Wilson felt that Michael Brown could “see right through” him because, in facing Brown, Wilson came face to face with his own terrified feelings. The white cop saw his own terror, his own broken hopes and dreams, his own losses and defeats, his own anger and rage, and felt his own sense of learned powerlessness. Even though he had a gun, he was, according to his own account, undone and panicked like a five-year-old kid.
The deepest tragedy here, of course, is that in my account both Wilson and Brown are racial victims of the same historical whiteness campaign. Both men looked into the face of the racial “other” and felt a threat to their own emotional integrity. The major difference, of course, is that Wilson had the gun and the legal authority to use it.
If the scenario I have laid out here is correct or at least worthy of consideration, Wilson’s grand jury testimony can become a tipping point narrative for young activists looking for new ways to make sense of their own emotions that got stoked and set ablaze by the gunning down of Michael Brown — and the chokehold death of Eric Garner.
These activists are not streaming the old narratives proffered by veteran civil rights workers who once again push for more minority police officers, civilian review boards for police, special prosecutors, or national guidelines for investigating officers when they use deadly force. And they are not notably moved by pleas for fuller participation in traditional politics.
Rather, there’s now a breach, a break, a disjunction widening between the old civil right formulators and the youthful experimenters. Or as Alisha Sonnier — the nineteen-year-old president of Tribe X formed to protest Michael Brown’s death — told the New York Times, “At the end of the day all of us are dealing with similar feelings and similar emotions. There’s a disjointment in how we feel we should go about it.”
Millennial activists are looking for new race narratives. And when millennial demonstrators shout “If we don’t get no justice, they don’t get no profit,” they are exposing the links between race and wealth that the “Got Race?” ad campaigns were designed to conceal. The basic premise of white privilege, after all, rests on a ghoulish shill, albeit a fatal one that leaves one black American killed every twenty-eight hours by a cop.
As millennials track down their own raced (and erased) emotions, they can start a new American narrative, one that portrays both Wilson and Brown as victims of a centuries-old race campaign that has disempowered the vast majority of the American people. Their new narrative will be about the American people and what we can now do together to end the racial assaults that keep us a divided and conquered people.
Thandeka, author of Learning to Be White: Money, Race, and God, will be the Visiting Professor of Affective Theological Studies at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, Massachusetts, this spring. For more on her work see revthandeka.org.
Tikkun is a publication project of the Network of Spiritual Progressives. The NSP is made up of people of all walks of life who are joined together by the passionate commitment to help create a society that reflects our spiritual values of love, care, kindness, generosity, and awe, wonder, and radical amazement at the beauty and grandeur of the universe.
2342 Shattuck Avenue, Suite 1200, Berkeley, CA 94704
Phone: 510-644-1200 | Fax: 510-644-1255 | www.tikkun.org
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
December 31st, 2014 - by admin
Noah Rayman / Time Magazine & The Security Ledger – 2014-12-31 00:52:00
New Research Blames Insiders,
Not North Korea, for Sony Hack
Growing evidence suggests it was not North Korea
Noah Rayman / Time Magazine
(December 30, 2014) — A leading cyber security firm says it has evidence that contradicts the government’s allegation that North Korea was behind the debilitating cyber attacks against Sony Pictures. [See following story — EAW.]
Researchers from the firm Norse told Security Ledger, an independent security news website, that they believe that a group of six individuals orchestrated the hack, including at least one former employee who was laid off in company-wide restructuring in May.
The latest allegations add to growing skepticism over the FBI’s assertion — reiterated by President Barack Obama — that linked North Korea to the attack, which the country has denied. A recent linguistic analysis cited in the New York Times found that the hackers’ language in threats against Sony was written by a native Russian speaker and not a native Korean speaker.
“For every clue that seems to point to the involvement of the DPRK, there are others that point in other directions, as well,” the Security Ledger reports.
New Clues In Sony Hack Point To Insiders, Away from DPRK
(December 28, 2014) — A strong counter-narrative to the official account of the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment has emerged in recent days, with the visage of the petulant North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, replaced by another, more familiar face: former Sony Pictures employees angry over their firing during a recent reorganization at the company.
Researchers from the security firm Norse allege that their investigation of the hack of Sony has uncovered evidence that leads, decisively, away from North Korea as the source of the attack. Instead, the company alleges that a group of six individuals is behind the hack, at least one a former Sony Pictures Entertainment employee who worked in a technical role and had extensive knowledge of the company’s network and operations.
If true, the allegations by Norse deal a serious blow to the government’s account of the incident, which placed the blame squarely on hackers affiliated with the government of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, or DPRK. That accusation, first aired last week, has been the source of heated rhetoric from both Washington D.C. and Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.
Speaking to The Security Ledger, Kurt Stammberger, a Senior Vice President at Norse, said that his company identified six individuals with direct involvement in the hack, including two based in the U.S., one in Canada, one in Singapore and one in Thailand. The six include one former Sony employee, a ten-year veteran of the company who was laid off in May as part of a company-wide restructuring.
Stammberger said that Norse’s team of around nine researchers started from the premise that insiders would be the best situated to carry out an attack on the company and steal data. The company analyzed human resources documents leaked in the hack and began researching employees with a likely motive and means to carry out a hack.
That HR data was the “golden nugget” in the investigation, revealing the details of a mass layoff at Sony in the Spring of 2014, including a spreadsheet identifying employees who were fired from Sony Pictures in the April-May time period.
After researching those individuals, Norse said it identified one former employee who he described as having a “very technical background.” Researchers from the company followed that individual online, noting angry posts she mad e on social media about the layoffs and Sony.
Through access to IRC (Internet Relay Chat) forums and other sites, they were also able to capture communications with other individuals affiliated with underground hacking and hacktivist groups in Europe and Asia.
According to Stammberger, the Norse investigation was further able to connect an individual directly involved in those online conversations with the Sony employee with a server on which the earliest known version of the malware used in the attack was compiled, in July, 2014.
Stammberger was careful to note that his company’s findings are hardly conclusive, and may just add wrinkles to an already wrinkled picture of what happened at Sony Pictures. He said Norse employees will be briefing the FBI on Monday about their findings.
“They’re the investigators,” Stammberger said. “We’re going to show them our data and where it points us. As far as whether it is proof that would stand up in a court of law? That’s not our job to determine, it is theirs,” he said of the FBI.
At a minimum, the latest theory suggest that official accounts of the hack from U.S. government sources are now just one among many competing theories about the source of motivation behind the attack that are circulating within security circles and in the mainstream media. This, ten days after the Obama Administration pinned the blame for the destructive attack squarely on hackers affiliated with the reclusive government of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK).
The sheer amount of information leaked by the hackers has provided plenty of ammunition to fuel alternative narratives about what happened. Initial reports noted that the malware used in the attacks on Sony was created on systems that used Korean language software libraries, and shared similarities with malicious software used in destructive attacks on the Saudi oil firm Saudi Aramco.
But for every clue that seems to point to the involvement of the DPRK, there are others that point in other directions, as well. For example, recent analysis has focused on date and time stamps attached to the leaked Sony data. Researchers have used those time stamps to infer the speed with which the data was transferred off Sony’s network. Reports have suggested that the timestamp data points to a data leak within Sony’s enterprise network, for example: to a USB device or external hard drive.
Other analysis studied clues buried in statements made by the shadowy hacking crew, the Guardians of Peace or GOP, who claimed responsibility for the attacks. Email addresses and other ephemera from the GOP communications with Sony and the outside world have been read to reveal links to everything from Japanese anime and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers television show to US domestic disputes over politics and gender equality.
Further, linguistic analysis of GOP’s online communications suggests they were penned by someone who is a native Russian speaker, not a native Korean (or English) speaker.
But the Norse account of the hack does answer some puzzling questions about the incident that are as yet unexplained, according to Mark Rasch, a former federal prosecutor and a principal at Rasch Technology and Cyberlaw. Among those questions: how hackers were able to obtain near-perfect knowledge of Sony Pictures’ network and, then, sneak terabytes of data off of the network without arousing notice.
“It has always been suspicious that it was North Korea,” Rasch said. “Not impossible — but doubtfulâ€¦It made a lot more sense that it was insiders pretending to be North Korea.”
Rasch noted, as others have, that the attackers initially made no mention of the Sony Pictures film “The Interview” in communications with the company or the outside world. Rasch notes that the hackers also exhibited a somewhat sophisticated knowledge of how Hollywood works — leaking data that was deeply personal and particularly embarrassing to Sony executives.
Stammberger notes the involvement of an insider would explain how the attackers obtained critical information about Sony’s network, including the IP addresses of critical servers and valid credentials to log into them. Even in sophisticated attacks, remote actors might spend days, weeks or months probing a network to which they have gained access to obtain that information: using compromised employee accounts to explore and find sensitive data before stealing it or causing other damage.
It is during that “lateral movement,” malicious actors are often spotted, Stammberger said. In the case of the Sony hack, however, the malware was compiled knowing exactly what assets to attack.
Still, there are many questions that have yet to be answered. Norse’s own analysis has plenty of blank spaces. Stammberger said that a “handful” of former employees may have been involved, though only one was linked directly to the hack. T
hat employee, at some point, joined forces with external actors and more experienced hackers with a grudge against Sony, including individuals involved with sites like the Pirate Bay which offer Hollywood movies for download. “We see evidence for those two groups of people getting together,” Stammberger told The Security Ledger.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
December 31st, 2014 - by admin
Bill Simpich / Reader Supported News – 2014-12-31 00:46:34
The Interview: Seth Rogen’s Assassination Fantasy Is Sick
Bill Simpich / Reader Supported News
(December 30, 2014) — Can you imagine a foreign movie dedicated to assassinating Barack Obama? Not just that, but proceeding to display it in loving detail — along with the president defecating in his pants minutes before the final attack?
It might be considered an act of war.
I’m a First Amendment maven — sure, Sony has the right to make this movie.
But it’s not funny.
I’ve always liked Seth Rogen, the star and producer.
I appreciate humor that blows away boundaries.
But Rogen should hang his head in shame.
This is sick in all the wrong ways. (We live in an era where “sick” is a compliment.)
One of the North Korean woman leaders is named Suk. Guess what “the boys” would like her to do.
Hookers are bandied about for Kim Jong-un and James Franco to share . . . during the middle of the movie when it’s time to “humanize” the North Korean leader before he gets blown to bits.
While pretending to invoke the cheery spirit of Abbott and Costello in the midst of battle, Rogen’s movie displays an American culture that has fallen beneath the decadent standards of ancient Rome.
The United States government has a long history of killing and trying to kill foreign leaders.
This movie laughs about this kind of killing at every turn, secure that jokes about farts, goat-fucking, and cleavage shots of CIA officers will assure the audience that this is “all good fun.”
To name just a few of these murders of foreign leaders . . .
President Eisenhower directly called for the assassination of Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba in 1960. Months later, Lumumba ran to try to escape his fate, and was killed by Belgian soldiers once he was outside his security perimeter.
Eisenhower also called for the assassination of Rafael Trujillo, in the Dominican Republic. CIA director Allen Dulles authorized passing machine guns to Trujillo’s enemies. Trujillo was shot dead by the end of May 1961.
In 1963, after deciding to overthrow the South Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem, the CIA cabled the State Department “we do not set ourselves irrevocably against the assassination plot.” Diem and his brother were killed, and Vietnam descended into utter chaos.
The Church Committee found concrete evidence of at least eight plots to assassinate Fidel Castro between 1960 and 1965. There were also attempts to kill Raul Castro and Che Guevara. Che was killed after being taken prisoner in Bolivia in 1967, and an American officer wore Che’s Rolex afterwards as a trophy.
In 1970, after the socialist leader Salvador Allende was elected as Chile, President Nixon ordered his advisers to conduct a coup d’Ã©tat. The principal obstacle within the Chilean military was General Rene Schneider, “who insisted the constitutional process be followed.” On October 22, the CIA passed machine guns to a rebel group. That same day, Schnieder was mortally wounded in a failed kidnap attempt.
The coup failed for the moment, but Allende was ultimately overthrown in a US-led coup in 1973. Allende died during the takeover.
The use of American drones to assassinate political figures has been a constant for the last several years, including American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in September 2011, and his 16-year-old son a month later.
Make no mistake about it, the release of this movie is a political act of hatred.
Business Insider reports that plans are underway to ship the movie to North Korea to stir unrest against the Supreme Leader. The rising demand is reportedly at $50 a pop.
Did you know that there are credible estimates that a quarter of North Korea’s population of ten million died in the Korean War?
You don’t have to be a fan of North Korea to realize that after the USA killed millions of their people in air strikes and forced them to live in caves, it’s understandable that their society would suffer from a chronic case of PTSD. The US dropped more bombs on Korea than on the entire Pacific theater during World War II.
The release of the movie was supposed to be killed because a North Korean cyberattack on Sony’s computers had made the movie commercially unviable.
That story got headlines around the world.
“Almost all signs point in another direction.” This is from the principal security researcher of Cloudfare, the world’s leading mobile security company. He thinks the likely culprit is an employee facing a pink slip, and the FBI sees this as an opportunity to pass tough new cyber laws.
By shipping this movie to the Internet and small indie theaters, CNN solemnly intones that small independent cinema owners are summoning “unabashed patriotism, rank silliness, vaudeville shtick and Yippie absurdity.” The Daily Beast tells us that viewers are “part of a moment . . . that will probably go down in film history.”
Film history? Like The Birth of a Nation?
In case you didn’t know, that was D.W. Griffith’s celebration of the Ku Klux Klan’s dedication to protect female morality. The Interview is hate speech wrapped neatly into an American flag. Seth Rogen is the D.W. Griffith of the 21st Century.
At least Griffith had the sense to repent.
Seth Rogen says that if you watch his movie, “you’re a goddamn fucking American hero.”
Boycott Rogen’s movie.
Watching it won’t make you ashamed to be an American.
Watching it will make you ashamed of being a human being.
Tell him to stop smoking so much pot.
And start figuring out that he’s hanging out with fascists.
Bill Simpich is a civil rights attorney and an antiwar activist in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
December 29th, 2014 - by admin
Shannon Speed and Hallie Boas / A Jazeera America – 2014-12-29 00:51:06
Why Are the Feds Harassing Navajo Shepherds?
Shannon Speed and Hallie Boas / A Jazeera America
(December 27, 2014) — In late October in a remote area of Arizona called Black Mesa, federal SWAT teams dressed in military flak jackets and wielding assault rifles set up roadblocks and detained people as helicopters and drones circled overhead.
The response made it seem as though police were targeting dangerous criminals — terrorists, even. But they were actually detaining impoverished Navajo (Dine’) elders accused of owning too many sheep.
For the past month Hopi rangers and agents from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) have been entering people’s land and holding them at gunpoint, with few warrants and little respect for due process. Community members say they live in fear because of this extreme intimidation in the Hopi Partitioned Lands in northern Arizona.
The Hopi tribe and the BIA say that over four dozen people have exceeded their permitted limit of 28 sheep per household, which will lead to overgrazing. Even if that were true — and many people doubt the claim — it would hardly justify the excessively intimidating approach to the problem. So far, three people have been arrested and more than 300 sheep impounded. Exorbitant fees are levied for people to recover their sheep, which the elderly Navajo residents depend on for their livelihood.
The residents of Black Mesa believe this most recent assault on their livelihood is being funded and instigated by the federal government through the Department of Interior and the BIA as part of an ongoing effort to maintain access to vast coal reserves on their ancestral homelands.
The 1974 Navajo and Hopi Settlement Act made almost a million acres of shared Navajo-Hopi land in northern Arizona exclusive Hopi territory, called Hopi Partitioned Lands. Black Mesa was crisscrossed and split by barbed wire fencing designating boundaries. The Department of Justice undertook a plan to relocate more than 14,000 Navajo and 100 Hopi.
Couched as an effort to resolve what was called the Navajo-Hopi land dispute, the act was actually the result of an ongoing effort to exploit mineral resources in the area. The Navajo and Hopi had peacefully coexisted in the area for decades until the discovery of coal led to policies that created corporate-backed tribal governments and divided the tribes over resource exploitation.
The relocation conveniently cleared the way for two of the largest coal strip mines in the country. In its 30 years of operation, Peabody Coal’s 103-square-mile Black Mesa mine left a toxic legacy along a 273-mile abandoned coal-slurry pipeline, the source of an estimated 325 million tons of climate pollution discharged into the atmosphere. It ceased operations in 2005.
The still-operating Kayenta mine supplies approximately 7.5 million tons of low-sulfur thermal coal annually to the Navajo Generating Station near Page, Arizona. In 2013 the mine sold 7.9 million tons of coal.
Many Navajo resisted relocation. The federal government responded with a war of attrition to undermine their ability to remain on the land. It implemented a building moratorium that included repairs on existing structures and a livestock-reduction program that limited the number of animals a family could own.
Because traditional Navajo economy is based on sheep, these programs represented a direct threat to survival. If they cannot raise sheep, they must relocate to areas where they can find some other way to make a living. This will clear the way for further mining concessions, with no one in the area to protest the pollution and dislocation more mines will bring.
Black Mesa resident Louise Benally suggests that the grazing question is a red herring. “I believe overgrazing comes from the air and water pollution [on] Black Mesa. This is the front lines. The atmosphere is so toxified that it is killing everything,” she told us in a recent phone interview.
She argues that if sheep grazing is the real concern, a different approach should be taken. “Twenty-eight sheep is not enough to sustain a family. If Hopi care about the land, help us with land management education. We need someone qualified who knows the plants and animals to oversee the rotation of animals in these areas,” she said.
Shirley Tohannie and elder Caroline Tohannie had their herd of 65 sheep impounded on Oct 22. The Tohannies’ neighbor Jerry Babbit Lane was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for attempting to intervene on their behalf. Officials claimed that the grazing permit held by Tohannie’s late husband was no longer valid. In order to get her livestock back, she had to sign a complaint stating that she was trespassing and will have to appear in Hopi tribal court.
In September the US government signed a settlement with the Navajo Nation to pay over half a billion dollars in compensation for the government’s mismanagement of tribal trust resources. At the signing, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell cited President Barack Obama’s desire to improve the nation-to-nation relationship between tribes and the federal government. While this public relations move made national headlines, the simultaneous harassment of Navajo elders and the deliberate effort to deprive them of their ability to remain on their lands did not.
If the federal government really wants to improve its relationship with American Indian tribes, it should start by ending its historical collusion with energy corporations to displace people from their lands for natural resource extraction. The BIA and Department of the Interior should immediately stop impounding Navajo sheep and terrorizing the residents of Black Mesa.
The federal government should then work to forge collaborative nation-to-nation relationships that honor all Native people’s right to decide for themselves how to live on and develop their ancestral lands.
Shannon Speed is a Chickasaw tribal citizen and a public voices fellow with the OpEd Project. She is an associate professor of anthropology and the director of Native American and indigenous studies at the University of Texas at Austin.
Hallie Boas is a graduate student in anthropology and Native American and indigenous studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She has worked with the Black Mesa community for six years.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera America’s editorial policy.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
December 29th, 2014 - by admin
Cora Currier and Margot Milliams / The Intercept – 2014-12-29 00:30:55
(December 25, 2104) — Researchers and reporters had long counted the total number of prisoners who cycled through Guantanamo at 779, but the Senate intelligence committee’s report on CIA torture revealed that there was one more previously unknown detainee. Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, also known as prisoner 212, was held at a secret black site at Guantanamo Bay, according to the report, bringing the total number of detainees to 780.
That al-Libi was held by the CIA is long established. After all, al-Libi’s name is notorious as the source of bad information used by the Bush administration to tie Saddam Hussein to Al-Qaeda to support the US invasion of Iraq — information he provided while being tortured in Egyptian custody, and later recanted.
More than a single digit change in the tally, al-Libi’s hitherto unknown presence at Guantanamo underscores how much remains unknown about the total number of detainees and their fates.
The Senate report includes a list of 119 men — a rare official disclosure of the individuals held and in many cases tortured by the CIA. Only a fraction of those had previously been acknowledged as CIA detainees, though journalists and human rights groups had pieced together the population of prisoners from disclosures about Guantanamo, leaked documents, and court proceedings.
The Senate list fills the holes in a few cases, like al-Libi’s.
The black sites in the Senate report are identified by color code names, but journalists and human rights groups quickly identified them. As the Miami Herald‘s Carol Rosenberg first noted, the report confirms that al-Libi was at one of Guantanamo’s black sites — “Maroon” and “Indigo” in the report. Al-Libi was secreted away from Guantanamo in 2004 along with four other so-called high value detainees, before the Supreme Court determined that prisoners at the naval base had the right to challenge their detention.
Disappearing those detainees gave the CIA leeway to continue secret interrogations outside the view of any court system. Al-Libi ultimately ended up in prison in Libya, where he died in 2009.
The Senate report doesn’t cover everyone caught up in the CIA’s net. The Open Society Foundations, for example, published a report last year detailing 136 cases of individuals suspected to have been detained or rendered by the CIA. The Senate report misses some high-profile cases, however, because it didn’t include rendition — when the CIA handed prisoners over to third countries for interrogation or imprisonment. (As the Intercept‘s Peter Maass noted last week, it also doesn’t touch on detainee abuse by the military.)
Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, was detained in 2002 and shipped to Jordan and then Syria and tortured before being released in 2003. The Canadian government ultimately apologized and compensated him for its role in his rendition, but the Supreme Court allowed his case against the US government to be dismissed.
Saami al-Saadi, a Libyan opposition member, was detained in Hong Kong in 2004 and forced onto a plane by British and American agents to return to Libyan custody along with his wife and four young children. Saadi was tortured there, and the family ultimately settled a claim against the British government for more than two million pounds.
(In fact, the report redacts evidence of British involvement in the CIA program entirely; British intelligence agencies met with the Senate investigators repeatedly and asked to be scrubbed from the public version.)
The post-CIA fates of the detainees who are named in the Senate report vary. Twenty-nine of them remain in Guantanamo. Seven have been transferred from Gitmo to imprisonment in other countries or released. Several men were held at Bagram, the US prison in Afghanistan, and have since been released or handed over to the Afghan government.
Some were rendered to other countries: prisoners handed over to Libya, Syria, and Egypt emerged during the uprisings in those countries.
Several of the men on the Senate list were reportedly killed by drone strikes, including Abu Yahya Al Libi, who escaped from Bagram and then was killed in Pakistan in 2012, or Hassan Ghul, who was tracked down by the NSA from an email sent by his wife. One man, Ahmed Ghailani, was brought to the United States for trial and now sits in a Supermax prison in Colorado.
According to the Intercept‘s research, there are still 50 former CIA prisoners named by Senate investigators whose fates are unknown and who have not, to our knowledge, spoken to the media or human rights groups. If you have any information about the names listed here, email the authors at cora.currier@theIntercept.com or margot.williams@theIntercept.com, or communicate with us anonymously via SecureDrop.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
December 29th, 2014 - by admin
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Lamiat Sabin / The Independent – 2014-12-29 00:25:33
NATO Touts Afghan War ‘End,’ With Transition to New, US-Led War
NATO Touts Afghan War ‘End,’ With Transition to New, US-Led War
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(December 28, 2014) — NATO flags were lowered today in Afghanistan, marking what is nominally the “end” of the NATO-led occupation which has lasted over 13 years. Yet the war as such is far from over, despite officials trying to spin it as such.
What is actually happening now is much less significant, a transition from the NATO-led war to a more US-dominated one, with the US planning significant troops to remain through 2024 and beyond, and already agreeing to extend combat missions beyond the “end” of the war.
European NATO members have been trying to spin the conflict as over, in hopes of avoiding its continued status as an unpopular war and political issue. President Obama has been trying to do the same, insisting the “longest war in US history is ending.”
Yet the US involvement in the Afghan War is far from over, and not even all that changed between today and the first of 2015. The change is mostly on paper, with the shift from a UN mandate that the US and NATO ignored when it suited them to an Afghan status of forces agreement which they will similarly ignore as it suits them.
President Obama’s desire to get the focus off Afghanistan is part of an effort to portray the disastrous occupation as a “success,” and to get the bad taste of failed wars out of Americans’ mouths as the ISIS war picks up pace.
The approximately 10,000 US troops remaining in Afghanistan likely will not notice the difference in the war, and for them, official pronouncements of the war being over must seem awfully puzzling.
Afghanistan War End for NATO and US
Marked with Switch to New American-majority Mission
Operation ‘Resolute Support’ claims it will assist
Afghan army in non-combat matters
Lamiat Sabin / The Independent
LONDON (December 28, 2014) — The end of the war fought in Afghanistan by the United States and Nato forces for 13 years has been formally marked with a ceremony today at their military headquarters in Kabul.
The green-and-white flag for the US-led International Security Assistance Force was rolled up and put away in a symbolic handover to a new group named Resolute Support, which has 11,000 American soldiers out of a total of 13,500 that will start on 1 January in missions not involving combat, Nato claims.
US Army general and Isaf commander John Campbell said while paying tribute to troops who died fighting insurgents: “Today marks an end of an era and the beginning of a new one. Resolute Support will serve as the bedrock of our enduring partnership with Afghanistan”.
Wounded: The Legacy of War
He added: “Together, we have lifted the Afghan people out of the darkness of despair and given them hope for the future. We’re very proud of our relationship — a relationship built on trust, friendship, and shared interests.
“That trust and a common vision for a stable, secure, and unified Afghanistan fills me with confidence that we’ll continue to be successful. The road before us remains challenging, but we will triumph.”
His sentiments echo that of US President Barack Obama who thanked troops in a Marine Corps base in Hawaii and claimed that the multi-trillion-dollar war has made the world “safer”. The speech by the president was made a day before three Afghan villagers, who were armed but not part of the Taliban, were killed by US-led air strikes in the remote Ab Josh area.
This year has been declared the most dangerous for Afghan civilians since 2009 as the death toll for 2014 alone is expected to exceed 10,000 by the end of the month, according to United Nations as reported by Al-Jazeera.
President Ashraf Ghani, who took office in September, signed bilateral security agreements with Washington and Nato that stated he allowed the long-term military presence to continue to provide training and support to Afghanistan’s military and the 350,000-strong security force established by Isaf.
“Now is the time to write the next chapter in our story,” said General Hans-Lothar Domrose, Joint Force Command Brunssum Commander, referring to the launch of the new mission.
Mohammad Hanif Atmar, the Interior Minister of Afghanistan in charge of law enforcement, expressed gratitude on behalf of President Ghani and Afghan officials for the military action that claimed the lives of 2,201 US and 453 British soldiers since planes were flown into the Twin Towers in 2001.
He said: “We will never forget your sons and daughters who have died on our soil. They are now our sons and daughters.
“Afghan and Coalition personnel have spilled their blood to ensure a brighter future for our country and to bring peace to the world.”
13 Years, $1 Trillion Plus Spent,
Obama Declares Afghan War a ‘Success’
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(December 26, 2014) — 13 years and, by a very conservative reckoning, $1 trillion later, the US is transitioning to a different phase of the Afghan occupation in January. President Obama insists it was all worth it.
Speaking at a Marine Corps base, Obama declared that the occupation had made the world “safer” and that Afghanistan “is not going to be the source of terrorist attacks again.”
The comments must draw immediate comparisons to President Bush’s ill-conceived “mission accomplished” statement, as the US is far from ending the Afghan war, and indeed is planning to escalate activities in 2015 beyond what had previously been announced.
Obama went on to brag that Afghanistan “has a chance to rebuild its own country” because of the occupation, though many billions of dollars thrown at “reconstruction” schemes by the administration have been wasted, with Afghanistan regularly showing up on the list of most dysfunctional and corrupt nations on earth.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
December 29th, 2014 - by admin
Ron Paul / The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity & AntiWar.com – 2014-12-29 00:23:56
The Real Meaning of the 1914 Christmas Truce
(December 28, 2014) — One hundred years ago last week, on Christmas Eve, 1914, German and British soldiers emerged from the horrors of World War One trench warfare to greet each other, exchange food and gifts, and to wish each other a Merry Christmas. What we remember now as the “Christmas Truce” began with soldiers singing Christmas carols together from in the trenches.
Eventually the two sides climbed out of the trenches and met in person. In the course of this two day truce, which lasted until December 26, 1914, the two sides also exchanged prisoners, buried their dead, and even played soccer with each other.
How amazing to think that the celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace could bring a brief pause in one of the most destructive wars in history. How sad that it was not to last.
The Christmas Truce showed that given the choice, people do not want to be out fighting and killing each other.
It is incredibly damaging to most participants in war to face the task of killing their fellow man. That is one reason we see today an epidemic of PTSD and suicides among US soldiers sent overseas on multiple deployments.
The Christmas Truce in 1914 was joyous for the soldiers, but it was dangerous for the political leadership on both sides. Such fraternization with the “enemy” could not be tolerated by the war-makers.
Never again was the Christmas Truce repeated on such a scale, as the governments of both sides explicitly prohibited any repeat of such a meeting. Those who had been greeting each other had to go back to killing each other on orders from those well out of harmâ€™s way.
As much as governments would like to stamp out such humanization of the “enemy,” it is still the case today that soldiers on the ground will meet and share thoughts with those they are meant to be killing.
Earlier this month, soldiers from opposing sides of the Ukraine civil war met in eastern Ukraine to facilitate the transfer of supplies and the rotation of troops. They shook hands and wished that the war would be over.
One army battalion commander was quoted as saying at the meeting, “I think it’s a war between brothers that nobody wants. The top brass should sort things out. And us? We are soldiers, we do what we’re told.”
I am sure these same sentiments exist in many of the ongoing conflicts that are pushed by the governments involved — and in many cases by third party governments seeking to benefit from the conflict.
The encouraging message we should take from the Christmas Truce of 100 years ago is that given the opportunity, most humans do not wish to kill each other. As Nazi leader Hermann Goring said during the Nuremberg war crimes trials, “naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany.”
But, as he added, “the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”
The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
December 23rd, 2014 - by admin
Ali Watkins / The Huffington Post – 2014-12-23 19:56:13
WASHINGTON (December 22, 2014) — As the public grapples with the gruesome realities put forth in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s damning report on the CIA’s torture program, the agency has dug in to defend itself. The CIA claims the torture tactics it used in the years following 9/11 were legal and saved American lives. And despite what the Senate study alleges, the agency insists it never lied about the torture program.
One internal CIA document, though, could be key to discrediting this defense. And at this very moment, it’s tucked away in a Senate safe.
Over the past five years, this document, known colloquially as the Panetta Review, has made its way to the center of an unprecedented feud between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA. Committee members, who have spent those years investigating the torture program the CIA ran between roughly 2002 and 2006, believe the Panetta Review reveals that there was doubt within the agency itself about the morality and effectiveness of torture.
While the CIA’s official response to the Senate committee’s allegations has been to deny many charges of wrongdoing, senators on the intelligence panel say that the still-classified Panetta Review contradicts that official line. In fact, lawmakers believe the document actually confirms some of the incriminating charges that the committee made in its report.
A meticulous condemnation of the agency’s failings, the executive summary of the Senate document, released Dec. 9, accuses the CIA of using gruesome techniques like waterboarding, rectal feeding and sleep deprivation, all the while lying to authorities around Washington about the efficacy of these tactics.
Some senators say the Panetta Review concedes that the use of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” — the spy agency’s often-used euphemism for what is widely considered to be torture — did not make detainees any more willing to talk, despite the CIA’s public insistence that the program was successful.
Similarly, the document apparently admits that the agency lied about the program to Congress, the White House and the public — another conclusion that aligns with the findings of the Senate report, and one that the CIA’s official response vehemently denies.
As the debate over torture intensifies, the Panetta Review could dent the spies’ credibility just as they’re trying to salvage it.
The content of the document, though, is only one part of a sensational story, which involves a feud so explosive that months later, some lawmakers are still calling for CIA Director John Brennan’s head.
It’s unclear whether the Panetta Review will ever be made public, and much remains unknown about it. But new details are emerging that paint the clearest picture yet of the document, its significance and the timeline of events that led Senate staffers to pilfer it from right under the CIA’s nose.
Outgoing Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who lost a tough re-election bid after a year of fighting fiercely with the agency over the Panetta Review, revealed previously unknown information this month in a farewell address on the Senate floor. Combined with other public statements, court documents and news reports, these details are helping to better shape the story, showing just how complicated the feud between the CIA and lawmakers has become.
‘THE AGENCY’S VOICE MUST BE HEARD’
Soon after President Barack Obama took office in 2009, he outlawed the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. Shortly after that, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) announced that her committee would conduct a massive study on the CIA’s purported use of torture.
The nation was still reeling from details that were trickling out from the darkest corners of the CIA’s detention facilities into public view. Although the agency’s torture program had been officially revealed in 2006 by then-President George W. Bush, new and disturbing information kept coming out, stoking the flames of the discussion and inspiring outrage at the apparent departure from American values. In late 2007, Americans learned that the CIA had destroyed certain interrogation videotapes. The public outcry — along with concern within the legislative branch that the agency had evaded its oversight mechanisms — inspired several congressional inquiries, including Feinstein’s.
When the Senate Intelligence Committee began its investigation of the program in 2009, the CIA agreed to provide a massive trove of documents to the committee investigators. In an effort to catalog those documents, then-CIA Director Leon Panetta commissioned an internal review group tasked with summarizing the millions of records. The review group was made up of officers from the agency, including undercover National Clandestine Service officers, who would be responsible for reading and summarizing the documents before they were provided to the committee.
Their summaries would collectively come to be known as the Panetta Review.
According to Panetta’s original statement as well as recently filed court documents, the collection of summaries was intended to eventually serve as a foundation for putting together official agency responses to the Senate report’s final conclusions.
“The Panetta Review appears to have been created in response to Director Panetta’s instructions to figure out what the records being provided to the [Senate Intelligence Committee] would reveal,” said a Senate source familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity given its extraordinary sensitivity.
Agency leadership, in Panetta’s vision, could use the internal summaries and analysis as a basis for constructing and issuing an official CIA position on the Senate study.
At this time, the CIA itself was struggling to find a voice in the ongoing national conversation about torture. The new Obama administration had made very clear it would not continue to support the practices of the Bush-era CIA, and the agency was quickly starting to feel the heat from the Senate investigation, an inter-branch executive review of detention policies and a soon-to-be-commissioned Justice Department review. Coming up with official agency positions to defend against these probes, it seemed, was in the CIA’s best interest.
“In each case, the Agency’s voice must be heard,” Panetta wrote when first commissioning the review group.
In a series of letters exchanged in 2009 between then-CIA Director Leon Panetta and Feinstein, an agreement was reached. Feinstein’s staff could have access to an unprecedented number of agency records — but only, the CIA insisted, at an off-site facility operated by the spies.
The terms of the agreement were outlined in both a March 2014 floor speech from Feinstein and a February 2014 court filing from the agency, in which it denied a Freedom of Information Act request for the then-unreleased Senate torture study.
According to the agreement, Feinstein said, the agency would be required to provide a “stand-alone computer system” with a “network drive â€¦ segregated from CIA networks” on which Senate investigators could construct the study. That “walled-off” drive was only to be touched by the agency’s IT personnel, and only for upkeep purposes.
Beginning in late 2009, millions of documents, cables and records were shoveled from the agency to the committee. In the process of sifting through these documents, two committee staffers who led the torture investigation — Daniel Jones, 39, and Alissa Starzak, 41, who left the panel in 2011 and is currently nominated to serve as the Army’s general counsel — discovered a certain set of documents whose markings were unique.
The unique notations on these documents were recently revealed in a new court document that the CIA filed in response to a separate FOIA request to turn over the Panetta Review. (The agency denied the request). The top of the documents read:
This classified document was prepared by the CIA Director’s Review Group for Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation (DRG-RDI) for DRG-RDI’s internal discussion purposes and should not be used for any other purpose, nor may it be distributed without express permission from DRG-RDI or CIA’s Office of General Counsel. This document contains [certain classified information]. This document also contains material protected by the attorney-client and attorney work-product privileges.
Furthermore, this document constitutes deliberative work product, protected by the deliberative-process privilege, and is not a final, conclusive, complete, or comprehensive analysis of DRG-RDI or CIA. Rather, it was created to suit the needs of DRG-RDI, in support of informing senior Agency officials about broad policy issues. While every effort was made to ensure this document’s accuracy, it may contain inadvertent errors.
For this reason, and because this document selectively summarizes, draws inferences from, or omits information from the sources it cites, it should not be relied upon by persons outside DRG-RDI.
It’s not clear how exactly the documents ended up in committee hands.
“One possibility is that the CIA placed those documents in the database accessible to the Committee, intentionally or unintentionally,” said the Senate source familiar with the matter. “Another possibility is that an individual CIA officer placed them in that database without authorization.
A third possibility is that CIA built a system in which it appeared to them that the Panetta Review documents were unaccessible to the Committee, but were in fact accessible because either the database or the search tool did not work as intended. We don’t know.”
The precise timing of this discovery is also unclear. Feinstein has said that some of the Review Group’s summaries became available to Senate investigators at some point in 2010. But Udall, another member of the intelligence committee, said in his farewell speech that it’s not clear when exactly the panel found the Panetta document.
It’s not known what became of the document between the Senate investigators’ initial discovery and 2013. Panetta’s review group stopped compiling the summaries in mid-2010, apparently due to a parallel Justice Department inquiry into the torture program. With millions of documents already being cataloged and turned over, the extra paper trail was deemed unnecessary.
As far as the Senate is concerned, the committee’s investigators were working on constructing the torture study. According to Feinstein’s March 2014 floor statement, they had largely put the Panetta Review out of their minds during this time. But sometime in 2010, Feinstein says, the CIA began removing access to the “vast majority” of the summary documents that constituted the Panetta Review. It’s unclear whether this was a deliberate effort by the agency to hide the internal review from the committee, a fix to a previous technological glitch or something else.
In any case, Senate committee staffers had somehow preserved their own copy of the Panetta Review, either by printing the document or transferring it to their side of the walled-off hard drive and saving it.
A DOCUMENT IS SLIPPED AWAY
Fast forward to December 2012. After three years of examining millions of cables, Feinstein’s committee voted to consider the torture study “complete,” though certain writing adjustments continued to be made.
The day after approving its completion, Feinstein sent the 6,700-page report to the CIA for its review. The spy agency had 60 days — until Feb. 15, 2013 — to provide an official response.
As the agency began to compile a rebuttal to the Senate panel’s incriminating report, its seventh floor executive offices were reshuffling. John O. Brennan, the Obama White House’s counterterrorism advisor, had been nominated to run the CIA. He appeared before the Senate intelligence committee in a friendly confirmation hearing just one week before the CIA’s response deadline.
Pledging transparency and cooperation, Brennan promised Feinstein that the agency would take an honest look at her committee’s study. He made clear, though, that he had little to do with the agency’s formal response, whose construction had begun prior to his confirmation.
“I very much look forward to hearing from the CIA on that and then coming back to this committee and giving you my full and honest views,” Brennan said.
The niceties wouldn’t last long.
In June 2013, not long after Brennan took the helm of the CIA, agency leadership provided the official response to the intelligence committee.
The CIA’s response took serious issue with many of the torture study’s damning conclusions, such as the allegations that the gruesome tactics yielded no valuable intelligence and that the spies had lied about the torture program to authorities on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
What had started off as a promising new chapter in Senate-CIA relations quickly turned sour: According to Udall, Brennan rescinded on his earlier promises to meet with panel staff about the torture study.
Following receipt of the official CIA response, Senate staff members began to recognize discrepancies between the official position and the analysis in the internal Panetta Review document — which had been preserved in some form, but only at the off-site CIA facility used to construct the study.
It was at this time that committee staff realized the importance of the Panetta Review. Feinstein was also mindful of prior instances in which the agency had made important documents disappear. In an effort to preserve the document before anything could happen to it, staffers slipped a printed copy of the internal review from the secure agency facility back to Capitol Hill.
McClatchy Newspapers broke the news in March 2014 that Senate staff had taken the document. After additional press reports surfaced that the committee investigators may have “penetrated” a CIA firewall to find the Panetta Review, the panel’s chairwoman took to the Senate floor to respond. Feinstein’s March 2014 floor speech was her first public acknowledgement that her staff had removed the Panetta Review.
The circumstances surrounding the incident are unclear. It’s not known when exactly the document was taken back to the Senate committee’s secure office spaces, though it’s certain that the removal occurred sometime after June 2013, according to later statements from both Feinstein and Udall.
Similarly, it’s also unclear whether Senate committee staff consulted with their bosses before taking the document, informed them immediately after the fact, or didn’t let the senators — including Feinstein — in on the secret until much after the document had already been removed.
The committee also refuses to indicate which staffers slipped the printed Panetta Review out of the facility, or whether the document’s removal was authorized by David Grannis, the committee’s majority staff director.
Grannis declined to comment on the circumstances of the document’s removal.
While it’s not known whether or not members of the intelligence panel were aware that their staffers had taken the Panetta Review, senators soon began to raise questions about the mysterious document.
Feinstein later claimed that in “late 2013,” she wrote to the agency requesting a “final and complete version” of the Panetta Review. This was her first indication to the CIA that her committee had somehow learned of the internal review. (Similarly, Udall says he was made aware of the document in “late 2013.”)
While Feinstein was lobbying behind closed doors for a copy of the document, Udall helped shed public light on the effort.
At a December 2013 confirmation hearing for CIA general counsel nominee Caroline Krass, Udall noted that the committee had become aware of draft copies of the internal CIA document. He asked that his panel be provided with a final copy of the Panetta Review.
It’s unclear whether either senator knew at this point that parts of the document were already in the committee’s possession.
What is clear, though, is that the panel’s majority Democrats held tightly to their knowledge about the Panetta Review.
Immediately following Udall’s revelation in December 2013, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the intelligence committee’s ranking member, was asked about the document.
“I’ll be honest with you, that’s the first I’ve heard about it,” said Chambliss to this reporter, then with McClatchy. “I don’t know what he’s talking about.”
In the months since the Panetta Review‘s existence was publicly revealed, the panel’s Republicans have raised several concerns about the way the majority staffers handled the document. They say that the Democratic staffers should not have accessed the document, nor should they have removed it from the CIA facility. In addition, the minority members allege, staff members breached committee protocols even further by leaving the minority out of the loop when deciding how to handle the Panetta Review.
The Republicans on the committee mentioned the issue in a separate set of views that accompanied the release of the Senate torture report. Their response accuses the committee’s majority staff members of mishandling the highly sensitive document.
“The Panetta Internal Review document that was brought back to Committee spaces was not handled in accordance with Committee protocols,” the Republican response says, noting that no member of the minority has handled or even read the Panetta Review. “It appears the existence, handling, and the majority’s possession of this document was not disclosed for months.”
Regardless, though, the Democrats’ revelations had set the stage for a bitter dispute between the committee and the CIA.
THE SPYING SCANDAL ERUPTS
The news that the Democrats knew about the Panetta Review sent the CIA into a frenzy over how the panel had managed to access or take parts of the document.
The agency rejected Feinstein’s formal request for the document, informing her that it would not provide a copy of the Panetta Review to the panel. Then, after Udall publicly revealed the document’s existence, the CIA commissioned a secret “security review” of the computer network on which the broader torture study had been constructed, according to Feinstein’s March speech. This review, she said, included a “search” of the walled-off committee drive that was supposed to be off-limits to CIA employees.
Brennan requested an emergency meeting with Feinstein and Chambliss on Jan. 15, 2014, in which he informed them that this initial “search” had taken place. According to Feinstein, Brennan also informed the committee leadership that he intended to conduct a more thorough “forensic” investigation into the staff hard drive.
Two days later, an angry Feinstein wrote to the CIA, warning Brennan that the search raised major concerns over the constitutional balance of powers. She said she would not support any further action by the agency.
The Senate Intelligence Committee maintains to this day that the search of the walled-off hard drive violated prior agreements between Feinstein and then-Director Panetta. But Brennan and the agency say that Senate investigators breached the agreements as well, by slipping the Panetta Review back to committee headquarters.
The accusations didn’t stop. Shortly after Feinstein sent her letter to Brennan, the CIA chief wrote back to her. His letter indicated that the CIA didn’t believe that Senate staff had simply stumbled upon the Panetta Review. Instead, Brennan suggested, staff may have penetrated the walled-off agency hard drive and dug around restricted databases in order to find the document.
Feinstein insists that regardless of how the Panetta Review was accessed, the committee, as a legislative oversight mechanism, is entitled to the document. She also argues that the CIA has a history of making inconvenient documents vanish, and said her staff was concerned that something similar might happen with the Panetta Review.
After the exchange of letters in January, tensions between the CIA and the Senate committee exploded behind closed doors. According to news reports, the committee was furious that the CIA had sniffed around Senate computers, and suggested the agency had violated the Constitution.
Brennan and the CIA balked at Feinstein’s allegation and staunchly denied that their security review had led to any such violation. The agency also lobbed its own accusations, saying that congressional investigators had nefariously dug into CIA hard drives to find the Panetta Review.
As the dispute continued to unfold, the CIA’s general counsel sent a criminal referral to the Justice Department, alleging that Feinstein’s investigators had improperly accessed the CIA’s network drive and requesting an investigation. Meanwhile, the CIA Inspector General — the agency’s independent accountability office — sent the Justice Department a competing referral, accusing the CIA of illicitly accessing the Senate committee’s walled-off drive while conducting the security review.
The feud soon spilled into public view. Feinstein addressed the matter in her explosive floor speech in March 2014. “I have grave concerns that the CIA’s search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution,” Feinstein said. “It may have undermined the constitutional framework essential to effective congressional oversight of intelligence activities or any other government function.”
The Justice Department decided in July that it would not pursue investigations into either charge. But the battle continued.
In addition to sending a referral to the Justice Department, the CIA Inspector General opened its own investigation into the spying allegations early this year. That inquiry, which concluded in July, found that the spies had, in fact, improperly monitored the computers that the committee was using to construct the study. In an unclassified, one-page summary of the full report, the IG detailed how five CIA employees had accessed the Senate’s off-limits network drive and had searched through certain emails of Senate investigators.
But Udall said in his farewell address that the CIA hedged on the IG investigation, refusing for a time to provide the panel with a full copy of the report. He said that under duress, the agency eventually agreed to issue a full, classified version of the IG report to the committee. But this wasn’t enough.
“The longer, classified version was only provided briefly to members when it was first released, and I had to push hard to get the CIA to provide a copy to the Committee to keep in its own records,” Udall said. “Even the copy in Committee records is restricted to Committee members and only two staff members, not including my own.”
Still, the IG’s conclusions were enough to force Brennan to issue a personal apology to Feinstein. The spy chief also commissioned an independent accountability review board to determine what, if any, punishment should be doled out to those responsible for the transgression. That effort is ongoing.
The IG also determined that there was insufficient evidence to support the agency’s criminal referral against Senate staff — specifically, the allegation that the staff had improperly accessed agency computers to obtain the Panetta Review.
Brennan has declined to provide the committee with further details of the IG’s findings.
“For almost nine months, Director Brennan has flat-out refused to answer basic questions about the computer search — whether he suggested the search or approved it, and if not, who did,” Udall said in his farewell address. “He has refused to explain why the search was conducted, its legal basis, or whether he was even aware of the agreement between the Committee and the CIA laying out protections for the Committee’s dedicated computer system.”
On the other side of the dispute, the Senate staffers who accessed the Panetta Review weren’t off the hook yet.
As the CIA wrestled with its own computer breaches, the Senate sergeant-at-arms, the chamber’s law enforcement office, was tasked with investigating how, exactly, the Senate investigators originally obtained the Panetta Review.
There was hope that the sergeant-at-arms investigation would put to rest the agency’s accusations that Senate staffers had hacked into CIA computers. But the probe was completed without resolution. The sergeant-at-arms office said that it could not authenticate the agency computer records that would have shed light on the matter.
The CIA actually invited the Senate law enforcement office to agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia, to confirm the accuracy of the records in question. But the sergeant-at-arms declined to take the spies up on the offer for reasons that remain unclear, leaving one half of the storyline unresolved.
As the story swirls, at the center of it all is the still-secret Panetta Review.
NEW DETAILS ABOUT A CONTROVERSIAL DOCUMENT
Despite the tensions that the Panetta Review appears to have caused between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee, neither side has disclosed much about what’s actually in the document. Feinstein and her allies insist that the summaries back up the findings in the Senate report, while the CIA maintains the review was nothing more than a draft document. Beyond that, however, public information has remained elusive.
Now, though, recent court documents, along with Udall’s new information, are allowing observers to piece together a more complete picture of what the Panetta Review consists of and what, exactly, Senate investigators found when they stumbled upon the document in 2010.
Although a CIA court filing indicated that the text at the top of the Panetta Review documents was unique, Feinstein says the markings were not significantly different from the millions of other documents that were provided to the committee, meaning her staff had no reason not to read the review.
“There is a claim in the press and elsewhere that the markings on these [Panetta Review] documents should have caused the staff to stop reading them and turn them over to the CIA. I reject that claim completely,” Feinstein said in her March floor statement, days after the feud became public.
Regardless of what markings the documents had, though, Feinstein said that Senate investigators were entitled to read them because of congressional oversight privileges.
“We have discussed this with the Senate Legal Counsel who has confirmed that Congress does not recognize these claims of privilege when it comes to documents provided to Congress for our oversight duties,” she said.
The Senate source familiar with the dispute says there’s nothing to substantiate the CIA’s claim that the markings should have raised red flags.
“A number of the “privileges” cited are made-up claims that are not recognized by the Senate,” said the source. “The fact that this particular language referred to â€˜DRG-RDI’ as opposed to another CIA entity does not seem particularly significant — from the Senate’s perspective this particular component of the CIA doesn’t have any special powers to restrict the dissemination of information, beyond what anybody else in the CIA has.”
The CIA offered some initial hints about the Panetta Review in the court document it filed in response to the FOIA request for the document. The Panetta Review itself consists of “more than forty draft documents” relating to the torture program. (It’s unclear, though exactly what portions of the document Feinstein’s staff discovered and transported back to the committee’s offices.) The agency has denied the FOIA request, in part because it says the document is a draft record and was never fully vetted.
The court filing notes that the summaries analyze less than half of the more than six million documents provided to Senate investigators by the agency, and varied in format. A handful of the summaries were in a more “polished” form, while others, presumably the most recent ones, were only in the preliminary stages when the review was stopped in 2010 and consist only of rough interpretations. And the summaries, despite their initial purpose, were never reviewed by senior agency leadership.
The Senate Intelligence Committee’s description isn’t much clearer. The panel simply says that the Panetta Review, draft or otherwise, makes several of the same conclusions that the Senate itself drew in its own report on the torture program — conclusions that the CIA refutes, at least publicly.
But in his farewell address on the Senate floor, Udall shed new light on what exactly the summaries say. He said that the Panetta Review acknowledges that the agency had, in fact, provided inaccurate information to lawmakers and administration officials, an allegation made in the Senate report. In contrast, the CIA’s official response denies that it engaged in this cycle of misinformation.
Perhaps most importantly, Udall said the Panetta Review undercuts — from within the agency — the CIA’s own staunchest defense of the torture program. The agency’s official position is that enhanced interrogation techniques were effective and did produce valuable intelligence. But according to Udall’s statement, the Panetta Review acknowledges that torture didn’t yield the kind of valuable information the CIA claims it did.
“The Panetta Review further describes how detainees provided intelligence prior to the use of torture against them. It describes how the CIA â€“- contrary to its own representations -â€“ often tortured detainees before trying any other approach.
It describes how the CIA tortured detainees even when less coercive methods were yielding intelligence,” Udall said. “The Panetta Review further identifies cases in which the CIA used coercive techniques when it had no basis for determining whether a detainee had critical intelligence at all.”
“In other words,” Udall continued, “CIA personnel tortured detainees to confirm they didn’t have intelligence — not because they thought they did.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE PANETTA REVIEW
If Udall’s characterizations are true, the Panetta Review could be key to unravelling the case made by defenders of torture.
Yet despite the sensational feud it inspired, the document played no role in the executive summary of the intelligence committee’s torture report that was released last week. Feinstein has said her investigators didn’t rely upon it when constructing their study.
And the Panetta Review itself, which Udall touted in his farewell address as the “smoking gun,” isn’t likely to ever see the light of day.
Asked last week whether her committee had any intention to do anything with the document, Feinstein said no.
“It’s classified,” she said. “We know what the Panetta Review says, and it essentially backs up our findings. So I think the important thing is to get people to understand the report and understand the strength of the report.”
The Panetta Review isn’t actually the Senate committee’s to release, since it’s a CIA document, although the panel still has its pilfered copy. And the CIA continues to fight the FOIA request to turn over the document. As the agency says in the FOIA suit, even finding the summaries required CIA staff to dig through the office that contains all of its draft records.
Brennan reiterated in a recent press conference that the Panetta Review was a draft, internal document, and therefore should never have found its way into Senate hands. Additionally, he made clear that his agency was not interested in providing the public with any more information.
“I think there’s more than enough transparency that has happened over the last couple days,” Brennan said. “I think it’s over the top.”
The feud, meanwhile, has continued to fester unresolved. The CIA’s accountability review is ongoing, and agency leadership has continued to hedge on questions about the computer search. And since the Senate sergeant-at-arms investigation ended inconclusively, the public will likely never know how exactly staff came to discover the Panetta Review in the first place.
The document itself remains locked away in that Senate safe. The Senate committee continues to believe its importance is monumental, while the agency says it’s nothing more than draft opinions from a handful of agency personnel.
With no clear resolution — and, apparently, no intention on either side to release the document — the public may be the ultimate loser.
“There’s reason to be pessimistic about our ability as a society to deliberate over these issues,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy, a program dedicated to government transparency. “No amount of gruesome detail seems to change the minds of those who, like Dick Cheney, would â€˜do it again in a second.’ And so I think the most discouraging thing to me is the inability of people to rethink their positions. And it may be that nothing will change that.”
But Aftergood added, “If we don’t reach a consensus position on what to do about this, then the issue will just fester, and it’ll recede from the headlines but it will continue to have negative consequences.”
Could the Panetta Review help reach that consensus?
A year after the feud erupted, we still don’t know. The Senate believes that releasing the document would help the country reckon with its dark history of torture. But the agency insists that isn’t true.
The American people aren’t likely to find out anytime soon.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
December 23rd, 2014 - by admin
Debra Sweet / The World Can’t Wait & Alan Goodman / Revolution Newspaper – 2014-12-23 19:44:18
Special to Environmentalists Against War
Behind the Senate’s ‘Torture Report’:
Washington’s ‘Global Assassination Campaign’
Debra Sweet / The World Can’t Wait
(December 23, 2014) — This week, members of the World Can’t Wait Steering Committee and other volunteers have been calling our supporters. Maybe you got a call? Your responses have been good to hear!
You say you are very deeply outraged by the Senate torture report. You want indictments and prosecution of those at the top of the government who pushed for — and are still defending — torture, like “Dick” Cheney. You want to know more, and mostly, you want this government to stop the dirty secret wars and torture.
You say you support World Can’t Wait, and want us to continue exposing reality of what this government does to millions of people living in this country.
The very worst thing to happen will be if the truth gets out . . . but the crimes continue because those who know act as if everything is normal.
Last week Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept, and Pardiss Kebriaei, Senior Staff Attorney at The Center for Constitutional Rights, spoke about what has become known as the Senate’s Torture Report. I was fortunate to be there, along with others who have protested torture with World Can’t Wait.
In a nearly full theater, before they spoke, we watched Jeremy’s film, Dirty Wars, a film that traces the continuation of US occupation and intervention through the Bush era by the Obama administration. The companion book Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield focuses on the Joint Special Operations Command, a highly secretive vehicle accountable directly to the president — and notoriously not to the rest of the military — which did hundreds of night raids in Afghanistan, ran with and funded the warlords in Somalia, and was hands-on doing torture of Iraqis.
The book’s chapter on Camp NAMA exposes a real life “Zero Dark Thirty.” The Camp (NAMA = “Nasty Ass Military Area”) was run by officers who did not use their real names, even with each other. They froze, injured, tied up, starved, and killed Iraqis during General Petraeus’ surge, and beyond. The whole enterprise was based on deniability.
Glenn pointed out that the Senate torture report covers up and distorts so much, driving to the conclusion that “enhanced interrogation” was:
1) carried out by “rogue” CIA agents;
2) primarily a CIA invention;
3) was unknown to Congress;
4) ditto, the Bush administration was “kept in the dark.”
Nevertheless, he said we have to dig into the contents of what is in that report and further expose what really happened.
Scahill grounded the discussion in the developments since Bush, saying that “some parts of the CIA and military are getting away with a global assassination campaign led by Obama.”
Pardiss, who defended Guantanamo prisoners, and represented Nasser Al-Aulaqi, father of Anwar Al-Aulaqi, a US citizen who was killed by a 2011 US drone attack in Yemen, pointed out that the US has killed at least 4,000 people in targeted drone strikes, yet we know the names of only five. She also spoke about CCR’s client Majid Khan, who suffered the torture of “rectal feeding” when he was held at a secret CIA black site. Pardiss argued strongly for criminal prosecution of those who ordered torture.
Knowing that the torture report was so redacted, watered-down and a deliberate attempt to keep the light from shining on systematic torture has perhaps made us not foresee how it would hit people so hard, and be so damaging to the status quo.
But let’s go out there and make the most of this opening! A shout-out to Glenn, Jeremy, and Pardiss for leading in exposing the torture. And thanks to Jeremy for recognizing me, in the audience, for “leading many, many protests” against torture.
Torture to Enforce a World of Horrors:
What the Senate Report Reveals . . . and Covers Up
Alan Goodman / Revolution Newspaper
(December 15, 2014) — On December 9, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued a “Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program.” This is a report on the orgy of officially approved torture carried out by the CIA in the aftermath of the attacks launched by Islamic fundamentalists on the US on September 11, 2001, and of CIA moves to lie about the scope, nature, and results of this torture.
The Senate report is highly censored. It is a product of years of infighting within different government agencies and factions over how much (or little) torture to reveal, how to package that torture, and who to blame. It covers up or glosses over the fact that — even if all the details were not known — top leaders of both parties knew the basic picture of this torture and signed off on it.
Most essentially, from beginning to end, the Senate report frames the torture carried out by the CIA in terms of whether or not that torture “saved American lives,” produced “useful intelligence” about Al Qaeda, and whether, in the end, this torture was in the “national interest of the United States.”
That’s an IMMORAL framework. The interests of rulers of the United States are the interests of a global empire of exploitation and oppression. American lives are not more important than other people’s lives. And nothing justifies torture.
In 2009, in the midst of earlier revelations of the torture that took place under the Bush regime, I wrote at revcom.us: “Let’s make it plain: torture is, literally and in essence, a crime against humanity. Like rape, it is a systematic attempt to violently degrade people and rob them of their very humanity.”
The scale of torture, the randomness with which victims were grabbed up, and the official endorsement of all this points to the real and essential motivation behind it: to instill terror across a wide swathe of the Middle East and Central Asia, and to send a mob-style message that nobody fucks with the US empire . . . or else.
The Most Depraved Crimes
The report describes extensive waterboarding — previously portrayed as a less sadistic and deadly form of torture — as a “series of near drownings.” One detainee, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was subjected to this horrific torture 183 times. In addition, he was deprived of sleep for seven and a half days, mostly forced into a standing position.
The CIA torturers took sadistic and ghoulish delight in inflicting sexually degrading torture on captives. Detainees were frequently stripped naked and forced to urinate and defecate on themselves. The report describes “rectal feeding” — forcing material up the rectums of detainees, a form of rape.
Detainees were subjected to constant and viciously realistic death threats. They were placed in tubs of ice for extended times. One detainee was chained partially nude to a concrete floor and died of hypothermia. Prisoners were subjected to sleep deprivation for up to a week, driven to “hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, and attempts at self-harm and self-mutilation.”
Other People’s Lives Matter!
In the wake of the Senate report, the airwaves have been filled with “debate.” Not over what kind of a system would produce such obscenities. Or what it will take to bring about a world where such things never happen. Instead, people are being trained to think that if torture saved American lives, then it was OK, and if it didn’t, then maybe it is not OK. As if any crime, no matter how barbaric, is fine if it protects American lives. And that other lives don’t matter.
Do you hear a familiar, ugly message here? You should. The same oppressive, genocidal, murdering system that enforces a reign of terror in Black communities from Ferguson to Staten Island, from Cleveland to Albuquerque, carries out even more naked oppression around the world. And just as Black lives do NOT matter to those who rule this system, the lives of the people of the world do not matter to them either.
The people who rule this empire of plunder they call the USA look down at the slums and barrios of this country and the world, at the workers who pick their crops and sew their clothes, at the angry, alienated youth. They see slaves to be kept in line. They see threats and potential threats to their whole setup. And they see vast sections of humanity as “extraneous” — unnecessary and unwanted — to be locked up and kept down through violence, terror, and TORTURE.
That is why when their police murder Black people, even if this or that politician wrings their hands in angst, over and over again police walk away with a pat on the back. And that is why, even if senators argue over just how the CIA should terrorize the people of the world, they will never stop doing what they do as long as this system stays in power.
The fact that the events of September 11, 2001 were carried out by reactionary Islamic fundamentalist forces doesn’t justify anything the CIA did. Nothing justifies torture. And as a matter of fact, those forces — including Osama Bin Laden who took credit for the 9/11 attacks — were originally put in business by the CIA to wage a war in Afghanistan in the 1980s against the Soviet Union, which at the time headed up a rival imperialist bloc that confronted the US around the world.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, these forces had a “falling out” with their former US sponsors. And after 9/11, like a big-time mob cartel — when the US thinks anyone might get the idea that it is vulnerable — the US lashed out. With invasions. And with torture. To send a message to anyone who might think about getting in its way.
Not “Saving Lives” But
Enforcing a World of Horrors
It has to be repeated: Even if it was the case that torture “produced useful intelligence” or “saved American lives,” the objectives of the rulers of the US empire are not in the interests of people anywhere. And torture is immoral in any instance.
But in that light, it is revealing that the Senate report basically exposes that the stream of news reports aimed at the US audience to justify torture was all lies. A slavishly compliant US mainstream media channeled CIA “leaks” into articles and stories aimed at convincing Americans that whatever the CIA was doing was producing “successes” in the so-called “War on Terror.”
The report documents that of “the CIA’s eight most frequently cited examples of â€˜thwarted’ plots,” those “CIA representations were inaccurate and unsupported by CIA records.” (See pages 223-225 of the report.)
The conclusion this leads to — but which the report does not touch with a ten-foot pole — is that torture was carried out not to “gather information,” much less “save lives,” but to instill terror.
Ghoulish Criminals Must Be Held Accountable
President George W. Bush, cabinet officials, and congressional leaders of both parties were in the loop from the beginning, and in various ways gave the OK for all these crimes, and took the exceptional step of formally authorizing them.
In February 2002, Bush signed a presidential edict stating that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions (an international agreement to which the US supposedly subscribes), which prohibits “mutilation, cruel treatment and torture,” did not apply to anyone suspected of being associated with Al Qaeda or the Taliban — the reactionary Islamic fundamentalist force that ruled Afghanistan.
Mutilation? Torture? If you were a CIA operative, how would you “interpret” that as anything but a blatant green light to carry out “mutilation” and “torture”? The White House office of legal council was assigned to, and repeatedly issued concocted legal excuses for torture during and after the fact. Anyone in the office who objected, even mildly, was pushed out of the way.
Bush’s open embrace of illegal assassination and torture outraged many people in this country and became an international scandal. Obama ran for president with promises to end torture. But Obama insisted early on that he would not prosecute anyone who committed these crimes.
A New York Times piece summarized how Obama has handled torture: “Court cases continued to be shut down before a word could be argued; officials who spoke to the press about this and other issues like wiretapping have been prosecuted, along with reporters themselves, with a disturbing enthusiasm.”
Any government which not only tolerates such things but which, from its highest offices, justifies and insists on them . . . any government which does not, once this has been exposed, prosecute the perpetrators but instead provides them in advance with immunity . . . reveals itself as a government of a system that requires such crimes, and such criminals, for its functioning.
And any people who do not resist such crimes, and demand prosecution of the torturers and, even more so, those who formulated the policy at the highest levels, reveal themselves to be complicit in those crimes. And in passively allowing the humanity of others to be degraded and attacked, they lose their own.
Nobody should accept a world like this. The perpetrators of torture and those who gave the orders must be confronted, exposed, and people must demand they be prosecuted for their crimes. Doing that has a thousand links to, and will strengthen, the movement being built for an actual revolution that will put an end to this criminal system.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
More Resources & Articles on Torture and Detention
ACLU Resource Page on Indefinite Detention: The World Is Not A Battlefield
ACLU Report National Security, Civil Liberties, and Human Rights Under the Obama Administration – An 18-Month Review (Released July 22, 2010):
Establishing a New Normal
(PDF Download of the 22 page report)
December 23rd, 2014 - by admin
Christine Ahn / Foreign Policy in Focus & AntiWar.com – 2014-12-23 19:34:06
Okinawa: The Small Island Trying To Block the US Military’s ‘Pivot to Asia’
(December 22, 2014) — On December 10 — International Human Rights Day — Takeshi Onaga began his term as the new governor of Okinawa.
Last month, the citizens of Okinawa delivered a landslide victory to Onaga, who ran on a platform opposing the construction of a new US Marine Corps base in northern Okinawa. Using the campaign slogan “All Okinawa,” Onaga pledged “to stop construction using every means at my disposal” and to remove Marine Osprey helicopters, which he called the “biggest obstacles to Okinawan development.”
Onaga’s win — in which he secured the backing of two-thirds of the electorate — constitutes a referendum by the Okinawan people against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s deepening alliance with Washington to further militarize the island.
Heavy American Footprint in Okinawa
I traveled to Okinawa in early December to attend a women and peacebuilding conference, and to hear from Okinawans about what they think of Washington’s plans to transfer the unpopular Futenma Marine Corps Air Station from the center of Ginowan city to the ecologically pristine Henoko Bay.
As I transited at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport to the gate to board a flight to Naha, it was quite clear that I was traveling to an American base. US servicemen in civilian clothing and camouflage, along with their families, dominated the boarding area.
While waiting for the flight, I shared a table with a tall African-American Marine named Ramone. When I asked him why he enlisted, he said that he had needed a change. His mother adamantly opposed his enlisting because his grandfather returned from World War II “not all right,” and his uncle had never fully recovered from Desert Storm.
Yet with limited opportunities in South Carolina, military life had been good to him, and he was able to quickly climb up the ladder. The father of two daughters, Ramone said he felt much safer raising his family in Okinawa than back at home. After we warmed up, I asked Ramone what he thought about the newly elected governor. He chuckled and replied, “His ideas are different.”
Ramone is among the 26,000 US troops based in Okinawa. Along with their families, they constitute the approximately 50,000 Americans living among 1.38 million Okinawans. Although I was glad that Ramone and his family faced less discrimination and violence than they might have at home, it deeply bothered me knowing how much violence and hardship the ongoing US military occupation of Okinawa has had on the people and the land.
It similarly reminded me of a recent conversation I had with my physical therapist in Honolulu, whose daughter lives with her Marine husband in Okinawa. She, too, said they loved living in Okinawa, even though they have limited interaction with the people.
When I finally mustered up the courage to prod her about the violence committed by US troops against Okinawan women, she replied that there were unfortunate restrictions placed on American soldiers in Okinawa due to the actions of a “few bad apples.”
But the more I spoke with the people of Okinawa and visited the potential site of the new US Marine base in Henoko Bay, the more I understood why Onaga’s victory was hugely significant in the decades-long struggle for Okinawan sovereignty.
Okinawa’s Long Struggle
The US military describes Okinawa as the “Keystone of the Pacific” due to its relative proximity to major Asian cities, including Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Manila. Today, Henoko is key to Washington’s strategy to encircle China and North Korea.
According to Japan scholar Gavin McCormack, “This so-called Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF), a land-sea-air base with its own deep-water port, was designed to serve through the 21st century as the largest concentration of land, sea, and air military power in East Asia.”
In 1945, with the defeat of Japan in World War II, Okinawa fell under US control. Although Japan was granted independence in the subsequent 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, the United States continued to control Okinawa for 27 more years. In 1972, the United States returned Okinawa to Japan, but a secret treaty between Washington and Tokyo allowed US military bases to remain.
During World War II, Okinawa was the only land battle fought in a populated part of Japan. One in four Okinawans died. According to Suzuyo Takazato, founder of Okinawan Women Act Against Military Violence, in the postwar period, the US occupying forces detained Okinawans displaced by war in concentration camps and requisitioned the most productive land to build US military bases. Okinawa comprises less than 1 percent of Japan’s land area, yet 74 percent of all US bases are located there, where they take up a fifth of all Okinawan land.
In 1995, following the brutal gang rape of a 12-year-old girl by three US servicemen, Okinawans mobilized massive protests calling for the removal of US bases from Okinawa. The situation so shook Tokyo that in 1996 it was forced to renegotiate with Washington the creation of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa, or “SACO,” to begin reducing the US military presence by 20 percent — including by closing the Futenma base in Ginowan City. Like a donut, the Futenma base occupies 30 percent of Ginowan’s city center, and is surrounded by nurseries, schools, universities, and hospitals that operate amidst massive noise from fighter jets, helicopters, and aircraft carriers.
The United States, however, soon replaced its promise to close Futenma with a proposal to relocate the base to Camp Schwab in Henoko Bay. This reversal sparked major outrage. And for 18 years now, the Okinawan people have been staging daily protests at the gates of Camp Schwab and by sea to halt construction of the new base.
Whose Security? Not Okinawan Women’s
“Okinawa has suffered from the burden of the US military presence for the past 69 years,” says Suzuyo Takazato. As a social worker, she has worked with women survivors of sexual violence for over two decades.
Takazato handed me a document containing decades of postwar US military crimes committed against Okinawan women. As there is no official record of such crimes, Takazato and others mined through police reports and newspaper clippings from 1945 up to 2012. They compiled them into a shocking 26-page document that demonstrates that US military violence against Okinawan women and girls is not just a case of a few bad apples, but rather structural.
During the Korean and Vietnam Wars, Okinawa served as the US military’s launching pad. It was also where American troops, many of them suffering from PTSD, returned after combat and committed violence against the Okinawan people, particularly women and girls. According to Takazato, rape and violent crimes spiked during and after these wars.
“They came back from fighting in such terrifying conditions and would lash out against women,” she explains. To manage US soldiers who would break into local homes and abduct women and girls, Takazato explains that, “Like a belt, military brothels were established around military bases.”
Maki Sunagawa, a 24-year-old graduate student at Okinawa Christian University, explained why she opposed the military occupation of Okinawa. First, when she was in junior high school, her brother was in the library at Okinawa International University when a US Marine helicopter crashed into the building. Although none of the students was injured, it raised a question for her about why a US military base was so close to where they lived.
Second, when she was in high school, one of her closest friends confided in her that she had been gang raped by five soldiers in civilian clothes. Sunagawa said her friend never told her parents or the police, and for the past eight years has suffered from severe depression, unable to complete high school studies.
A Stars and Stripes graphic showed that in 2011, there were 333 reports of US Marines committing sexual assault against women on Marine bases worldwide. Okinawa, with 67 assaults, was second only to Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, Florida.
Attempts have been made to restrict US soldiers’ activities, but attacks continue. In 2012, for example, on a short deployment to Okinawa from Fort Worth, Texas, two American naval servicemen attacked and raped an Okinawan woman.
Unlike most cases of sexual assault that fail to deliver justice to women survivors, the two sailors were tried and convicted in Japanese court and are now serving ten-year sentences in a Japanese prison. “We are fearful during holidays like Labor Day and the Fourth of July,” says Takazato, because of the rise in violence against women and children.
Contamination of Sea and Land
As we traveled by boat in Henoko and Oura Bays — where plans are underway to reclaim 160 hectares of sea to construct two massive runways and a loading dock — I spoke with several activists, young and old, dedicated to halting construction.
Takeshi Miyagi, a 44-year old farmer, said he abandoned his fields in July to join the resistance by monitoring the sea by canoe. Miyagi says he and other activists are ensuring the protection of the biologically rich ecosystem of the Henoko and Oura Bays and the survival of the dugong. The Japanese Ministry of the Environment lists the dugong — a marine mammal related to the manatee — as “critically endangered.” It is also on the list of US endangered species.
According to McCormack, the US Department of Defense found that of the 5,334 species that exist in the sea, 262 are under threat of extinction. The same Defense Department report alleged that few dugongs inhabit the bays, but surveyors recently discovered over the course of two months over 100 dugongs feeding in the reclamation area. This has prompted Japanese and American conservation groups to file a lawsuit against the US Department of Defense to halt construction.
Okinawans are also pointing to the historic chemical contamination by US military bases. Last month, the Japan Ministry of Defense began excavating at the Okinawa City soccer field where barrels containing toxic herbicides were discovered last year. In July, the Japanese government unearthed 88 barrels containing ingredients used to produce Agent Orange in reclaimed land next to the Kadena Air Force Base.
The strong resistance by Okinawans against the construction of the new base in Henoko Bay is not only challenging the Obama administration’s military pivot to Asia, but also raising awareness of the negative human and ecological impacts of hundreds of US military installations around the world.
Most importantly, the democratic victory in Okinawa offers hope to similar struggles in Guam, the Philippines, and South Korea’s Jeju Island that with dedicated persistence and nonviolent resistance, they too can stop the world’s most powerful war machine.
Foreign Policy In Focus columnist Christine Ahn is the International Coordinator of Women De-Militarize the Zone. Reprinted with permission from Foreign Policy In Focus.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Archives by Month: