Daily Archives: December 13, 2014

Remarks by Senator Warren on Citigroup and its bailout provision

As promised, Elizabeth Warren has left blood and teeth on the floor. Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke on the floor of the Senate on Dec. 12, 2014 about the provision that Citigroup added to the omnibus budget package. Keep fighting the real fight, Elizabeth!

 

H.R. 4681 Passes Congress –Rep. Justin Amash Calls It: “One of the Most Egregious Sections of Law I’ve Encountered During My Time as a Representative”

Liberty Blitzkrieg blog:

Decency, security, and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means — to declare that the government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal — would bring terrible retribution. Against that pernicious doctrine this court should resolutely set its face.

–  Louis Brandeis, Supreme Court Justice, in 1928

While most Americans are busy Christmas shopping and making preparations for trips to see family, Congress remains hard at work doing what it does best. Giving gifts to Wall Street and trampling on citizens’ civil liberties.

…………..

While that’s bad enough, the lame duck Congress clearly didn’t consider its job done without legislating away the 4th Amendment. Here is some of what one of the only decent members of Congress, Justin Amash, wrote on Facebook:

When I learned that the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2015 was being rushed to the floor for a vote—with little debate and only a voice vote expected (i.e., simply declared “passed” with almost nobody in the room)—I asked my legislative staff to quickly review the bill for unusual language. What they discovered is one of the most egregious sections of law I’ve encountered during my time as a representative: It grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American.

On Wednesday afternoon, I went to the House floor to demand a roll call vote on the bill so that everyone’s vote would have to be recorded. I also sent the letter below to every representative.

With more time to spread the word, we would have stopped this bill, which passed 325-100. Thanks to the 99 other representatives—44 Republicans and 55 Democrats—who voted to protect our rights and uphold the Constitution. And thanks to my incredibly talented staff.

###

Block New Spying on U.S. Citizens: Vote “NO” on H.R. 4681

Dear Colleague:

The intelligence reauthorization bill, which the House will vote on today, contains a troubling new provision that for the first time statutorily authorizes spying on U.S. citizens without legal process.

Last night, the Senate passed an amended version of the intelligence reauthorization bill with a new Sec. 309—one the House never has considered. Sec. 309 authorizes “the acquisition, retention, and dissemination” of nonpublic communications, including those to and from U.S. persons. The section contemplates that those private communications of Americans, obtained without a court order, may be transferred to domestic law enforcement for criminal investigations.

To be clear, Sec. 309 provides the first statutory authority for the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of U.S. persons’ private communications obtained without legal process such as a court order or a subpoena. The administration currently may conduct such surveillance under a claim of executive authority, such as E.O. 12333. However, Congress never has approved of using executive authority in that way to capture and use Americans’ private telephone records, electronic communications, or cloud data.

Supporters of Sec. 309 claim that the provision actually reins in the executive branch’s power to retain Americans’ private communications. It is true that Sec. 309 includes exceedingly weak limits on the executive’s retention of Americans’ communications. With many exceptions, the provision requires the executive to dispose of Americans’ communications within five years of acquiring them—although, as HPSCI admits, the executive branch already follows procedures along these lines.

In exchange for the data retention requirements that the executive already follows, Sec. 309 provides a novel statutory basis for the executive branch’s capture and use of Americans’ private communications. The Senate inserted the provision into the intelligence reauthorization bill late last night. That is no way for Congress to address the sensitive, private information of our constituents—especially when we are asked to expand our government’s surveillance powers.

I urge you to join me in voting “no” on H.R. 4681, the intelligence reauthorization bill, when it comes before the House today.

/s/

Justin Amash
Member of Congress

###

U.S. Representatives Who Voted NO:

Amash
Bass
Bentivolio
Blumenauer
Bonamici
Brat
Bridenstine
Brooks (AL)
Broun (GA)
Burgess
Chu
Clark (MA)
Clarke (NY)
Clawson (FL)
Cohen
Conyers
Cummings
DeFazio
DelBene
DesJarlais
Doggett
Doyle
Duncan (SC)
Duncan (TN)
Eshoo
Farr
Garamendi
Garcia
Garrett
Gibson
Gohmert
Gosar
Gowdy
Graves (GA)
Grayson
Griffith (VA)
Grijalva
Gutiérrez
Hahn
Hanabusa
Hastings (FL)
Heck (WA)
Holt
Honda
Huelskamp
Huffman
Jackson Lee
Jones
Jordan
Kaptur
Kildee
Kingston
Labrador
Lee (CA)
Lewis
Lofgren
Lowenthal
Lummis
Massie
Matsui
McClintock
McCollum
McDermott
McGovern
Meadows
Mica
Moore
Mulvaney
Nadler
Nugent
O’Rourke
Pallone
Perry
Pocan
Poe (TX)
Polis
Posey
Rangel
Ribble
Roe (TN)
Rohrabacher
Salmon
Sanford
Schakowsky
Scott, Austin
Sensenbrenner
Serrano
Speier
Stockman
Swalwell (CA)
Takano
Tierney
Tipton
Velázquez
Waters
Weber (TX)
Welch
Woodall
Yarmuth
Yoho

The Media Is Focusing On the WRONG Senate Torture Report

Zerohedge:

While the torture report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee is very important, it doesn’t address the big scoop regarding torture.

Instead, it is the Senate Armed Services Committee’s report that dropped the big bombshell regarding the U.S.  torture program.

Senator Levin, commenting on a Armed Services Committee’s report on torture in 2009, explained:

The techniques are based on tactics used by Chinese Communists against American soldiers during the Korean War for the purpose of eliciting FALSE confessions for propaganda purposes. Techniques used in SERE training include stripping trainees of their clothing, placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over their heads, subjecting them to face and body slaps, depriving them of sleep, throwing them up against a wall, confining them in a small box, treating them like animals, subjecting them to loud music and flashing lights, and exposing them to extreme temperatures [and] waterboarding.

McClatchy filled in important details:

Former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration

For most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there.”

It was during this period that CIA interrogators waterboarded two alleged top al Qaida detainees repeatedly — Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August 2002 and Khalid Sheik Muhammed 183 times in March 2003 — according to a newly released Justice Department document…

When people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people to push harder,” he continued.”  Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn’t any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam . . .

A former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army investigators in 2006 thatinterrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were under “pressure” to produce evidence of ties between al Qaida and Iraq.

“While we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al Qaida and Iraq,” Burney told staff of the Army Inspector General. “The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . . . there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”

“I think it’s obvious that the administration was scrambling then to try to find a connection, a link (between al Qaida and Iraq),” [Senator] Levin said in a conference call with reporters. “They made out links where they didn’t exist.”

Levin recalled Cheney’s assertions that a senior Iraqi intelligence officer had met Mohammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, in the Czech Republic capital of Prague just months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The FBI and CIA found that no such meeting occurred.

The Washington Post reported the same year:

Despite what you’ve seen on TV, torture is really only good at one thing: eliciting false confessions. Indeed, Bush-era torture techniques, we now know, were cold-bloodedly modeled after methods used by Chinese Communists to extract confessions from captured U.S. servicemen that they could then use for propaganda during the Korean War.

So as shocking as the latest revelation in a new Senate Armed Services Committee report may be, it actually makes sense — in a nauseating way. The White House started pushing the use of torture not when faced with a “ticking time bomb” scenario from terrorists, but when officials in 2002 were desperately casting about for ways to tie Iraq to the 9/11 attacks — in order to strengthen their public case for invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 at all.

***

Gordon Trowbridge writes for the Detroit News: “Senior Bush administration officials pushed for the use of abusive interrogations of terrorism detainees in part to seek evidence to justify the invasion of Iraq, according to newly declassified information discovered in a congressional probe.

Colin Powell’s former chief of staff (Colonel Larry Wilkerson) wrote in 2009 that the Bush administration’s “principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qaeda.”

Indeed, one of the two senior instructors from the Air Force team which taught U.S. servicemen how to resist torture by foreign governments when used to extract false confessions has blown the whistle on the true purpose behind the U.S. torture program.

As Truthout reported:

[Torture architect] Jessen’s notes were provided to Truthout by retired Air Force Capt. Michael Kearns, a “master” SERE instructor and decorated veteran who has previously held high-ranking positions within the Air Force Headquarters Staff and Department of Defense (DoD).

***

The Jessen notes clearly state the totality of what was being reverse-engineered – not just ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’ but an entire program of exploitation of prisoners using torture as a central pillar,” he said. “What I think is important to note, as an ex-SERE Resistance to Interrogation instructor, is the focus of Jessen’s instruction. It isEXPLOITATION, not specifically interrogation. And this is not a picayune issue, because if one were to ‘reverse-engineer’ a course on resistance to exploitation then what one would get is a plan to exploit prisoners, not interrogate them. The CIA/DoD torture program appears to have the same goals as the terrorist organizations or enemy governments for which SV-91 and other SERE courses were created to defend against: the full exploitation of the prisoner in his intelligence, propaganda, or other needs held by the detaining power, such as the recruitment of informers and double agents. Those aspects of the US detainee program have not generally been discussed as part of the torture story in the American press.”

In a subsequent report, Truthout notes:

Air Force Col. Steven Kleinman, a career military intelligence officer recognized as one of the DOD’s most effective interrogators as well a former SERE instructor and director of intelligence for JPRA’s teaching academy, said ….  “This is the guidebook to getting false confessions, a system drawn specifically from the communist interrogation model that was used to generate propaganda rather than intelligence”  …. “If your goal is to obtain useful and reliable information this is not the source book you should be using.”