Open the lid on US torture

The public deserves to know what the CIA did in its name

I thought things might be changing earlier this year, but I was wrong.

In January, Barack Obama’s administration announced what seemed to be a major change in policy: Henceforth, former prisoners of the Central Intelligence Agency would be allowed to describe their life in custody. Though they could not identify CIA personnel or disclose where they were tortured, the new rule allowed them to provide “information regarding [their] treatment” and “conditions of confinement.”

That was a big deal, and those of us who represent the men tortured by the CIA welcomed the news. Attorneys for Majid Khan, a former CIA prisoner, promptly sought permission to disclose his description of his torture. Among other abuses, he was subjected to what the CIA euphemistically calls rectal infusions but what prosecutors all over the country call anal rape.

After some back and forth, the government allowed Khan’s lawyers to release his account to the public. Reuterspublished the account, and for the next 24 hours, the article was one of the most popular stories on Reuters’ 17 websites worldwide, which gives some indication of the public interest in this information.

And that was apparently the end of the administration’s very brief dalliance with transparency.

My colleagues and I represent Zain Abidin Mohammed Husain Abu Zubaydah, who was the first person subjected to so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. In fact, he is the person for whom the techniques were devised. Like Khan’s lawyers, we sought permission to disclose Abu Zubaydah’s description of his torture.

Abu Zubaydah’s treatment was considerably more brutal than Khan’s and went on for a substantially longer period. The public already knows he was waterboarded 83 times in August 2002 alone. In fact, according to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Abu Zubaydah’s torture was so appalling that when it began, seasoned CIA agents asked to be transferred rather than be forced to watch it take place. It was sufficiently grotesque that the CIA sought assurances that his treatment would never come to light and that he would be held incommunicado for the rest of his life.

You want to get beyond the sterile bureaucratic blather that deliberately conjures no image — empty expressions such as ‘stress position’ and ‘enhanced interrogation’?

And that is precisely why it should be known. Four people represent Abu Zubaydah: Mark Denbeaux, a law professor at Seton Hall; Amy Jacobsen, an American lawyer now living in Copenhagen, Denmark; Brent Mickum, an attorney in Washington, D.C.; and me. We are among the few people in the world who know what happened to him at the CIA black sites. And the facts of his treatment would make people sick. Literally physically sick.

In response to the new rule, we submitted 136 pages of notes and drawings in 17 submissions — some written by us, most by our client. In these pages, Abu Zubaydah described in great detail the treatment and conditions he endured. We followed the government’s requirements to the letter, carefully removing all prohibited information.

The government authorized us to release a grand total of four pages.

I realize that for some people, it might make a difference whether the government was right about Abu Zubaydah, whether he really was the terrorist mastermind that officials thought he was when the CIA was torturing him. That’s not my view — I think torture is always wrong — but I know many people disagree with me. I respect their view but would suggest that, at this stage of the debate, the question is not whether he should have been tortured but whether the facts surrounding his torture should remain secret.

In any case — and I add this only because it matters to a lot of people — the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence found what we and a number of intelligence officials have said for years: The government was horribly mistaken about Abu Zubaydah. He was never a member of Al-Qaeda, let alone the No. 3 man, as he was often portrayed. What’s more, he had no knowledge of or role in any Al-Qaeda plot, including 9/11. In fact, the Senate found there was no support for any of the claims made by the CIA, claims that the agency used to justify his torture. He has not been charged in the military commission system, let alone a real court, and probably never will be.

Abu Zubaydah is the poster child for the torture program, which is why the government wants to bury him at Guantánamo. You want to know what we did to him? You want to get beyond the sterile bureaucratic blather that deliberately conjures no image — empty expressions such as “stress position” and “enhanced interrogation”?

His account sits in a carefully marked folder, in a specific drawer, locked in a certain room of a particular building. Should the content of this folder be the subject of public discussion? I think so, and if the reaction to the disclosure of Khan’s account is any indication, so do a great many other people.

You want to see it? Don’t ask me. Don’t ask my co-counsel. We’re not allowed to disclose it. Ask the government.

US Has ‘Four or Five’ Syrians Left Fighting Against ISIS

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 16:  Gen. Lloyd Austin III (R), commander of U.S. Central Command, and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Christine Wormuth testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the ongoing U.S. military operations to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during a hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 16, 2015 in Washington, DC. Austin said that slow progress was still being made against ISIL but there have been setbacks, including the ambush of U.S.-trained fighters in Syria and the buildup of Russian forces in the country.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Gen. Austin Admits Training ‘Behind Schedule’

Testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee today, Gen. Lloyd Austin, the head of Centcom, admitted that the pro-US Syrian rebel faction, dubbed the New Syrian Force (NSF) in most official contexts, is virtually gone now, with virtually everybody either killed or having fled.

syriaWhat was initially envisioned as a force of tens of thousands of anti-ISIS fighters amounted to only 54 to start with, and Gen. Austin told Congress today that they are down to “four or five” fighters still active in the field. Needless to say, it’s not going well.

Austin went on to say that the next two classes of NSF fighters are still being trained, though that training too is falling behind schedule. The indications are that these classes aren’t much bigger, 100-120 fighters all told. The pared-back goal of 5,000 fighters is likely still years off.

The general went on to say that they are “reviewing” the program, though since the Pentagon has repeatedly talked up the NSF as the end-all, be-all plan for victory in Syria, and has harshly resisted efforts to change the process, which they’ve invested tens of millions of dollars into for tens of fighters.

by Jason Ditz

21 signs you’re mentally stronger than average

Mental strength takes a long time to develop.

It is the daily practice of pushing yourself to grow stronger, maintaining realistic optimism, and setting healthy boundaries. Mentally strong people don’t do things like waste time feeling sorry for themselves or give away their power to other people.

How do you know where you fall on the spectrum? We asked psychotherapist Amy Morin, the author of “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.”

Morin shared the following 21 signs you’re mentally stronger than average, which we’ve listed here in her words:

1. You balance emotions with logic.

Mentally strong people understand how their emotions can influence their thinking. In an effort to make the best decisions possible, they balance their emotions with logic.

2. You choose productive behavior.

While it may be tempting to make excuses, complain about other people, and avoid difficult circumstances, mentally strong people refuse to waste time on unproductive activities

3. You feel confident in your ability to adapt to change.

Mentally strong people know that although change is uncomfortable, it’s tolerable. They focus their energy on adapting to change, rather than resisting it.

4. You face the fears that hold you back.

While mentally strong people don’t need to conquer fears because they have something to prove to others, they do strive to face the fears that hold them back.

5. You learn from your mistakes.

Mentally strong people don’t hide or excuse their mistakes. Instead, they learn from them.

6. You balance self-acceptance with self-improvement.

Mentally strong people accept themselves for who they are, while simultaneously recognizing their need for personal development.

7. You genuinely celebrate other people’s success.

Mentally strong people cooperate — rather than compete — with those around them. They don’t feel as though other people’s success somehow diminishes their own achievements.

8. You are comfortable living according to your values.

Mentally strong people make decisions with relative ease because they understand their priorities and they live according to their values.

9. You focus on sharpening your skills, rather than showing them off.

While some people seek validation from others, mentally strong people are less concerned about gaining recognition. Instead, they’re intrinsically motivated to become better.

10. You live an authentic life.

Mentally strong people are true to themselves. Their words are in line with their behavior.

11. You view life’s hardships as opportunities for growth.

While hardship causes some people to grow bitter, mentally strong people let adversity make them better.

12. Your self-worth depends on who you are, not what you achieve.

Mentally strong people feel good about themselves, whether they win or lose.

13. You practice delayed gratification.

Mentally strong people view their goals as a marathon, not a sprint. They’re willing to tolerate short-term pain when it can provide long-term gain.

14. You bounce back from failure.

Mentally strong people don’t view failure as the end of the road. Instead, they use their failed attempts as opportunities to gain knowledge that will increase their chances of success in the future.

15. You’re a realistic optimist.

Mentally strong people are able to look for the silver lining and think on the bright side, but they don’t allow their optimistic tendencies to blind them to reality.

16. You accept personal responsibility for your choices.

Mentally strong people don’t needlessly beat themselves up, but they do accept complete responsibility for their actions.

17. You express gratitude.

Rather than exclaim they need more, mentally strong people acknowledge they have more than they need.

18. You focus on what you can control.

Mentally strong people are effective and productive in life because they devote their resources to the things they can control.

19. You engage in active problem-solving.

Mentally strong people don’t dwell on the problem — instead, they create solutions.

20. You’re open to learning more from all that surrounds you.

Mentally strong people are constantly learning from their circumstances and the people they encounter every day.

21. You work on your weaknesses, rather than masking them.

While many people work hard to disguise their vulnerabilities, mentally strong people invest their energy into improving their shortcomings.

 

Hillary Clinton Provided Material Assistance to Terrorists

In the course of my work at Fox News, I am often asked by colleagues to review and explain documents and statutes. Recently, in conjunction with my colleagues Catherine Herridge, our chief intelligence correspondent, and Pamela Browne, our senior executive producer, I read the transcripts of an interview Browne did with a man named Marc Turi, and Herridge asked me to review emails to and from State Department and congressional officials during the years when Hillary Clinton was the secretary of state.

What I saw has persuaded me beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty that Clinton provided material assistance to terrorists and lied to Congress in a venue where the law required her to be truthful. Here is the backstory.

Turi is a lawfully licensed American arms dealer. In 2011, he applied to the Departments of State and Treasury for approvals to sell arms to the government of Qatar. Qatar is a small Middle Eastern country whose government is so entwined with the U.S. government that it almost always will do what American government officials ask of it.

In its efforts to keep arms from countries and groups that might harm Americans and American interests, Congress has authorized the Departments of State and Treasury to be arms gatekeepers. They can declare a country or group to be a terrorist organization, in which case selling or facilitating the sale of arms to them is a felony. They also can license dealers to sell.

Turi sold hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of arms to the government of Qatar, which then, at the request of American government officials, were sold, bartered or given to rebel groups in Libya and Syria. Some of the groups that received the arms were on the U.S. terror list. Thus, the same State and Treasury Departments that licensed the sales also prohibited them.

How could that be?

That’s where Clinton’s secret State Department and her secret war come in. Because Clinton used her husband’s computer server for all of her email traffic while she was the secretary of state, a violation of three federal laws, few in the State Department outside her inner circle knew what she was up to.

Now we know.

She obtained permission from President Obama and consent from congressional leaders in both houses of Congress and in both parties to arm rebels in Syria and Libya in an effort to overthrow the governments of those countries.

Many of the rebels Clinton armed, using the weapons lawfully sold to Qatar by Turi and others, were terrorist groups who are our sworn enemies. There was no congressional declaration of war, no congressional vote, no congressional knowledge beyond fewer than a dozen members, and no federal statute that authorized this.

When Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., asked Clinton at a public hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Jan. 23, 2013, whether she knew about American arms shipped to the Middle East, to Turkey or to any other country, she denied any knowledge. It is unclear whether she was under oath at the time, but that is legally irrelevant. The obligation to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth to Congress pertains to all witnesses who testify before congressional committees, whether an oath has been administered or not. (Just ask Roger Clemens, who was twice prosecuted for misleading Congress about the contents of his urine while not under oath. He was acquitted.)

Here is her relevant testimony.

Paul: My question is … is the U.S. involved with any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons … buying, selling … anyhow transferring weapons to Turkey … out of Libya?

Clinton: To Turkey? … I will have to take that question for the record. Nobody’s ever raised that with me. I, I…

Paul: It’s been in news reports that ships have been leaving from Libya and that they may have weapons … and what I’d like to know is … the (Benghazi) annex that was close by… Were they involved with procuring, buying, selling, obtaining weapons … and were any of these weapons transferred to other countries … any countries, Turkey included?

Clinton: Senator, you will have to direct that question to the agency that ran the (Benghazi) annex. And I will see what information is available and … ahhhh…

Paul: You are saying you don’t know…

Clinton: I do not know. I don’t have any information on that.

At the time that Clinton denied knowledge of the arms shipments, she and her State Department political designee Andrew Shapiro had authorized thousands of shipments of billions of dollars’ worth of arms to U.S. enemies to fight her secret war. Among the casualties of her war were U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three colleagues, who were assassinated at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, by rebels Clinton armed with American military hardware in violation of American law.

This secret war and the criminal behavior that animated it was the product of conspirators in the White House, the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Justice Department, the CIA and a tight-knit group of members of Congress. Their conspiracy has now unraveled. Where is the outrage among the balance of Congress?

Hillary Clinton lied to Congress, gave arms to terrorists and destroyed her emails. How much longer can she hide the truth? How much longer can her lawlessness go unchallenged and unprosecuted? Does she really think the American voters will overlook her criminal behavior and put her in the White House where she can pardon herself?

Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution. The most recent is Suicide Pact: The Radical Expansion of Presidential Powers and the Lethal Threat to American Liberty. To find out more about Judge Napolitano and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

Pentagon Found Only 60 Syrian Rebels for Training Scheme

White House Concedes That’s Probably Not Enough

From the moment Congress put aside a huge chunk of money to train a new faction of pro-US Syrian rebels, the plan has been heralded by officials as an eventual game-changer. The Pentagon was to train some 5,400 rebels a year, a figure they later revised down to about 3,000.
There was a lot of debate about whether 3,000 or even 5,000 new rebels would be a difference maker, but all that debate seems sort of silly as officials today revealed that after many months of careful vetting, they’ve found a grand total of 60 rebels to train.

Since the Pentagon pumped some $500 million into this training program, they are getting Syrian rebels for about $9 million each, a bad deal even by Pentagon standards. Pentagon officials conceded this was “below expectations.”

The White House also felt the need to address the matter, with a similar understatement in which they conceded that the 60 rebels they’re in the process of training is “not enough” to win the war against ISIS.

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