reboot the republic daily August 7, 2010

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Osama Bin Lyin?

Posted: 07 Aug 2010 03:19 PM PDT

From Washington’s Blog

Everyone knows that Osama Bin Laden confessed to 9/11 on videotape.

Admittedly, German experts say (rough English translation here) that the Bin Laden confession tape was mistranslated. But what do the Germans know, other than how to make beer?

Sure, an American computer expert says that a Bin Laden video released in 2007 was spliced together from earlier footage, and that:

There are so many splices that I cannot help but wonder if someone spliced words and phrases together. I also cannot rule out a vocal imitator during the frozen-frame audio. The only way to prove that the audio is really bin Laden is to see him talking in the video….

But he’s just a pencil-neck computer geek, so why should we listen to him?

Yeah, Swiss scientists are 95% certain that an early post-9/11 Bin Laden tape was a fake. They conclude that all of the later Bin Laden tapes are probably fakes as well. But what do the Swiss know, besides banking and milk chocolate?

Okay, one of the world’s top experts on Bin Laden – Bruce Lawrence of Duke University – says that recent Bin Laden tapes are fake. He also says that the tape in which Bin Laden confessed to 9/11 is a fake, and that the top Bin Laden experts in the Department of Homeland Security agree. But he must be a communist or something.

And it is interesting that – as confirmed by the Washington Post’s Spy Talk columnist – the CIA admitted to faking a Bin Laden videotape using CIA personnel:

The agency actually did make a video purporting to show Osama bin Laden and his cronies sitting around a campfire swigging bottles of liquor and savoring their conquests with boys, one of the former CIA officers recalled, chuckling at the memory. The actors were drawn from “some of us darker-skinned employees,” he said.

But that is obviously just an isolated incident which doesn’t mean that any other Bin Laden tapes are fake.

Because everyone knows that America doesn’t engage in propaganda.

Note: This essay does not have anything to do with 9/11 itself or Bin Laden’s role in 9/11. It doesn’t have to do with the war in Afghanistan. It focuses solely on the question of whether or not America ever engages in propaganda and disinformation.

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Study: CIA Doctors ‘Gave Green Light to Torture’

Posted: 07 Aug 2010 11:23 AM PDT

From Raw Story

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that physicians with the CIA’s Office of Medical Services (OMS) played an even greater role in facilitating the torture of detainees than was previously recognized.

As described in the (subscription required) study, “In 2003, partially in response to a CIA Inspector General investigation that questioned the use of enhanced interrogation methods and criticized the agency’s failure to consult with OMS about the risks to detainees of waterboarding, OMS physicians assumed another role, providing opinions to the agency and lawyers whether the techniques used would be expected to cause severe pain or suffering and thus constitute torture.”

This advisory function came in addition to the physicians’ previous involvement in the torture of detainees through performing medical evaluations before and after interrogation, monitoring waterboarding sessions, and collecting information on the effectiveness and risks of various techniques.

The study, titled “Roles of CIA Physicians in Enhanced Interrogation and Torture of Detainees,” was authored by Leonard S. Rubinstein, the president of Physicians for Human Rights, and Brig. Gen. (ret.) Stephen N. Xenakis, a former Army psychiatrist who is now with the Center for Public Health and Human Rights. It is based on a previously secret document from 2004, laying out OMS guidelines for detainee interrogation, which was released by the Obama administration.

In an article for Harper’s, human rights lawyer Scott Horton notes that the JAMA study makes it apparent that the OMS physicians did not merely offer a medical opinion as to what constituted torture but “gave their bosses exactly what was expected of them: a green light to torture.”

The study emphasizes that even though OMS approved the use of enhanced interrogation methods subject to “medical limitations,” those limitations took no account of actual pain and suffering and were merely calculated to minimize the chances of doing permanent physical damage.

They “included durational limits for exposure to a specified temperature, either up to the time hypothermia would be expected to develop or on evidence of hypothermia; body weight loss of 10% or evidence of significant malnutrition as a result of dietary restrictions; and exposure to noise just under the decibel levels associated with permanent hearing loss. Stress positions were permitted for up to 48 hours provided the detainee’s hands were no higher than the head, weight was borne by lower extremities, and preexisting injuries were not aggravated. … The OMS guidelines also advised that emergency resuscitation equipment be available when waterboarding was used.”

Although the guidelines specify that “the detainee’s physical condition must be such that these interventions will not have lasting effect,” they ignore professional literature on the potential health risks of the techniques, citing instead such sources as “‘Wilderness Medicine’ 4th Ed., Ch 6 — Accidental Hypothermia.”

“The duplicity in this affair is amazingly circular.,” Horton writes. “The Justice Department’s torture lawyers relied on the CIA’s torture doctors for the conclusion that specific techniques did not produce ’severe pain’ that ran afoul of the criminal law prohibition on torture; the CIA doctors relied on the Justice Department lawyers for the same conclusion. It looks like a compact, and an alert prosecutor would no doubt call it a joint criminal enterprise. … It’s hard to see at this point whose behavior was the more ethically odious, though evidence suggests that both engaged in professional misconduct so egregious as to warrant formal disciplinary proceedings.”

“The torture doctors expect to have their identities protected, and thus to escape the natural consequences of their gross professional misconduct,” Horton concludes. “This helps us understand why senior figures in the intelligence community are today ferociously pressuring the Justice Department to criminalize anyone who attempts to discover the identities of those involved. They assert that those identified would be terrorist targets. In fact, those who are unmasked face likely professional ethics proceedings, as well as the long-term risk of criminal prosecution, particularly if they ever venture beyond the borders of the United States.”

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Reduce Federal Spending: End the Drug War

Posted: 07 Aug 2010 11:23 AM PDT

From The Future of Freedom Foundation

by Jacob G. Hornberger

I have a proposal for reducing federal spending: End the drug war by legalizing drugs.

Let’s face reality: Unless something drastic happens, like bankruptcy or hyperinflation, Americans are not likely going to let go of their welfare-warfare state in the near term.

When it comes to welfare, Americans are as addicted as your most hard-core heroin addict. How many times have we heard, “If we didn’t have Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, people would die in the streets from starvation and illness”?

Then there’s the warfare dole for the military and military-industrial complex. Don’t think for a moment that the Pentagon and its contractors are ever going to be willing to give up their warfare dole. They have as big entitlement mentality as welfare recipients. Moreover, they will always be able and willing to conjure up or provoke all sorts of foreign enemies, bogeymen, crises, fears, and threats that will guarantee them a continual stream of warfare money.

Then there’s the interest on the national debt. And then there is all the so-called “discretionary spending,” such as the bailouts, education grants, stimulus funds, farm subsidies, regulatory enforcement, and all the rest. You can count on every single recipient of such largess to fight just as viciously for his share of the dole as the other welfare and warfare recipients.

Given the enormous and growing gap between federal tax revenues and federal expenditures, the future doesn’t look good. Common sense will tell you that such a situation is not going to end well.

The liberals want to resolve the problem by raising taxes. But what they’re ignoring is that the welfare-warfare state might have finally have reached a breaking point — where higher taxes drive more firms into shutting down, thereby reducing tax revenues even more and increasing the number of people on the dole. Think Greece.

So, what to do? The answer is obvious: Immediately abolish — as in repeal — all welfare-state programs, beginning with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, restoring retirement and health care to the free market.

At the same time, dismantle the entire warfare state, immediately ending the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing all the troops home and discharging them, closing all the foreign bases and most of the bases here at home, and drying up the military-industrial complex.

Alas, however, Americans aren’t ready to go there yet. The addiction to welfare-warfare spending is too deeply engrained in the American psyche.

So, how about reducing federal spending by ending the drug war?

How much is spent on the drug war? Around $15 billion. Okay, admittedly that’s a drop in the bucket in a $3.5 trillion budget. But we’ve got to start somewhere, and what better place to knock off billions of dollars in one fell swoop?

After all, what’s the point of the drug war? Everyone, including the head of the DEA, would concede that the drug war has not been victorious despite decades of warfare. In fact, it’s become the never-ending war, one that has no other point than to punish people without accomplishing anything. As everyone knows, the drug war certainly hasn’t stemmed the flow of drugs.

So, I ask again: What’s the point of it? It has no point whatsoever. We could immediately save $15 billion by ending it.

And think of the collateral benefits that would flow from an immediate legalization of drugs:

1. The drug cartels and drug lords would be out of business immediately. Who could object to that? Isn’t that what the DEA and U.S. and Mexican militaries are trying to do with their law-enforcement operations? Yet, as soon as they kill or jail some drug lord, he’s quickly replaced by new ones.

Thus, their method will never permanently rid society of drug lords and drug cartels. It can only fill the graveyards or prisons with them, endlessly.

Drug legalization, on the other hand, puts them all of business. Why wouldn’t that be a better way to rid society of drug cartels and drug lords? Indeed, it’s the only way to do so.

2. Virtually all the robberies, muggings, thefts, burglaries, and murders that addicts engage in to pay for the exorbitant, black-market prices for drugs would disappear. We’d have a safer society. When was the last time you heard of a wino or alcoholic committing acts of violence to get the money to buy a bottle of wine or a case of beer? That’s because the cost of buying these products is low, compared to the potential cost of engaging in violent crime to get the money. Drug legalization would do the same thing to the prices of illicit drugs.

3. Drug addicts would be encouraged to be more open about their addiction, enabling them to openly seek therapy for the issues that are driving them to use drugs. The drug war drives people underground, fearful that someone will turn them in. Drug legalization brings the process to the surface, where it is easier to deal with.

4. The drug-war violations of privacy and civil liberties would disappear, along with one of the police’s favorite excuses for harassing citizens. No more asset-forfeiture, no more cash reporting requirements, no more planting drugs on innocent people. Indeed, no more drug-war bribes to government officials.

5. Most important, drug legalization will restore a core aspect of human freedom to our land — the right of human beings to ingest whatever substance they want without being punished by the state for it.

Would legalization of drugs resolve the federal budgetary problem? Of course not! But it would put a dent into it, while bringing about a more peaceful and free society.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.

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Related posts:

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