Thursday, July 24, 2008

Secret Memo Shows Harsh CIA Tactics Approved

If they didn't think these methods were so controversial, if not illegal, why did they keep it a secret? Is Congress really intending on keeping this administration accountable? At the very least, why don't we have hearings like Iran-Contra that were held during the Reagan days. Bush Inc. should not get away Scott Free:

The Justice Department in 2002 told the CIA that its interrogators would be safe from prosecution for violations of anti-torture laws if they believed "in good faith" that harsh techniques used to break prisoners' will would not cause "prolonged mental harm."

That heavily censored memo, released Thursday, approved the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques method by method, but warned that if the circumstances changed, interrogators could be running afoul of anti-torture laws.

The Aug. 1, 2002, memo signed by then-Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee was issued the same day he wrote a memo for then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales defining torture as only those "extreme acts" that cause pain similar in intensity to that caused by death or organ failure. That memo was never rescinded.

McCain FOX News Interview: Transcript (7-23-08)

Read the entire transcript:

HANNITY: Well, let me ask you about that, because this is Barack Obama. He is your opponent, and his first trip ever to Afghanistan, hasn't been back to Iraq in 900 some odd days, and the three major networks and their big stars out there to cover this.

Does that bother you at all? Is that — what do you think of that? Is that media bias?

MCCAIN: No, but, you know, one of the things that's very interesting, he had never before asked to sit down and get a briefing from General Petraeus. I mean — and the other thing I thought was interesting, he issued his policy statement towards Iraq and Afghanistan, which as you mentioned never been to, before he left.

Now, I've got to tell you, Sean. I've traveled around the world, usually at your expense.

HANNITY: At my expense.

MCCAIN: . but I make my policy statements and speeches after I've learned along the way, so it's pretty clear that Senator Obama was not going to change his wrong view that the success had not succeeded, and the fact is it has succeeded, and we're winning, and he refuses to acknowledge that.

HANNITY: Well, he — actually up until the week before he had on his Web site that the surge wasn't working, and then they purged that part of it, and they talked about the minor success, but he still won't admit that the surge has been successful.

Is that just a political posture?

MCCAIN: No rational person who was in Iraq two years ago and saw the situation, and it was dire then. We were on the verge of losing a war, and seeing it now, no rational person cannot say that the surge has succeeded, and there's one other thing about this.

It makes you just marvel and stand in awe of the young men and women who did all this. Our service members — there were political pundits that you and I like and admire that said it was lost. Harry Reid, the majority leader of the Senator, it was lost.

And yet these young people under the inspirational leadership of General Petraeus and other, and others went out there, and they succeed in this thing, and it's — what a testimonial it is to the brave men and women, and when you say it wasn't because of them, then I think it's a disservice to them.

Obama Berlin Speech Transcript

Read the entire transcript text of the highly anticipated speech, as provided by the campaign:

I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.

I know that I don’t look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father – my grandfather – was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning – his dream – required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West. And so he wrote letter after letter to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer for a better life.

That is why I’m here. And you are here because you too know that yearning. This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom. And you know that the only reason we stand here tonight is because men and women from both of our nations came together to work, and struggle, and sacrifice for that better life.

Ours is a partnership that truly began sixty years ago this summer, on the day when the first American plane touched down at Templehof.

[...]The size of our forces was no match for the much larger Soviet Army. And yet retreat would have allowed Communism to march across Europe. Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily begun. All that stood in the way was Berlin.

And that’s when the airlift began – when the largest and most unlikely rescue in history brought food and hope to the people of this city.

The odds were stacked against success. In the winter, a heavy fog filled the sky above, and many planes were forced to turn back without dropping off the needed supplies. The streets where we stand were filled with hungry families who had no comfort from the cold.

But in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up. And on one fall day, hundreds of thousands of Berliners came here, to the Tiergarten, and heard the city’s mayor implore the world not to give up on freedom. “There is only one possibility,” he said. “For us to stand together united until this battle is won…The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty. People of the world: now do your duty…People of the world, look at Berlin!”

Ex U.S. Official: Afghan Leader Shields Drug Trade

American troops are fighting and dying to defend corruption in Iraq. Now they are defending a government that is busy lining it's pockets rather fighting the enemy. Is it any wonder we aren't "winning?"

The U.S. government's former point man in the fight against the heroin trade in Afghanistan has accused Afghan President Hamid Karzai of obstructing counter-narcotics efforts and protecting drug lords.

Thomas Schweich, who resigned last month from the State Department's narcotics bureau, said in an article to appear on Sunday in the New York Times magazine that the Afghan government was deeply involved in shielding the opium trade.

"While it is true that Karzai's Taliban enemies finance themselves from the drug trade, so do many of his supporters," Schweich wrote in article posted on the newspaper's Web site.

"Narco-corruption went to the top of the Afghan government," he wrote, adding that drug traffickers were buying off hundreds of police chiefs, judges and other officials.

And now that the Bush administration has essentially given up on Afghanistan, the likelihood of stopping the Taliban is remote. Obama will likely send troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. But if we can't "win" in Iraq with all those troops how are we going to win in a country where the enemy has free reign?
The Pentagon is unable to send additional combat brigades to Afghanistan this year because of constraints imposed by the war in Iraq, leaving a shift of forces to the next president, a spokesman said Wednesday.

US commanders in Afghanistan have requested three more combat brigades, or about 10,000 troops, to deal with growing insurgent violence in the eastern and southern parts of the country.

Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said improving security conditions in Iraq have raised the prospect for freeing up troops for Afghanistan next year, but Iraq remains the Bush administration's top priority.

"It looks as though this government is going to work to provide additional forces for Afghanistan next year," Morrell said. "How many, whether it is the three additional brigades that the commanders want I think is a question for the next administration."

Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has vowed to make Afghanistan the top priority if elected. His Republican rival, John McCain, argues that success in Iraq is more important, but has said he would send more troops to Afghanistan.

President George W. Bush met with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the military chiefs in a secure conference room at the Pentagon to review progress on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Morrell said efforts were underway to figure out what forces or military assets could be sent to Afghanistan in the near-term.

Whether additional forces can be diverted from Iraq to Afghanistan "is going to be the fundamental issue before the military leaders, the civilian leaders in this building in the coming months," he said.

But Morrell said providing additional combat brigades would require a more rapid drawdown of US forces from Iraq or the mobilization of guard and reserve troops.

"Obviously we don't have the means to send three BCTs (brigade combat teams) to Afghanistan at this very moment, without making some very hard choices," he said.

"You can't snap your fingers and make this happen."

Morrell's comments were striking because they came just a week after Gates and Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed vivid concern about the rising violence and deteriorating security in Afghanistan.

China Presses Grieving Parents to Take Hush Money on Quake

The Chinese certainly have put all the stops out in time for the Olympics. It is reminiscent of the Nazi regime prior to the Berlin games. And the response from the West will be the same.

The official came for Yu Tingyun in his village one evening last week. He asked Mr. Yu to get into his car. He was clutching the contract and a pen.

Mr. Yu’s daughter had died in a cascade of concrete and bricks, one of at least 240 students at a high school here who lost their lives in the May 12 earthquake. Mr. Yu became a leader of grieving parents demanding to know if the school, like so many others, had crumbled because of poor construction.

The contract had been thrust in Mr. Yu’s face during a long police interrogation the day before. In exchange for his silence and for affirming that the ruling Communist Party “mobilized society to help us,” he would get a cash payment and a pension.

Mr. Yu had resisted then. This time, he took the pen.

“When I saw that most of the parents had signed it, I signed it myself,” Mr. Yu said softly. A wiry 42-year-old driver, he carries a framed portrait of his daughter, Yang, in his shoulder bag.

Local governments in southwest China’s quake-ravaged Sichuan Province have begun a coordinated campaign to buy the silence of angry parents whose children died during the earthquake, according to interviews with more than a dozen parents from four collapsed schools. Officials threaten that the parents will get nothing if they refuse to sign, the parents say.

Chinese officials had promised a new era of openness in the wake of the earthquake and in the months before the Olympic Games, which begin in August. But the pressure on parents is one sign that officials here are determined to create a facade of public harmony rather than undertake any real inquiry into accusations that corruption or negligence contributed to the high death toll in the quake.