Category Archives: GWOT

Quote of the day II: Profitable torturing for the CIA

From Tamsin Shaw, Associate Professor of European and Mediterranean Studies and Philosophy at NYU, writing in the New York Review of Books on the role of professional psychologists in the Central Intelligence Agency’s war on terror torture program:

The Senate report also tells us that the CIA misrepresented the results of the program to policymakers and the Department of Justice, maintaining that it was obtaining “a high volume of critical intelligence.” In the case of two prisoners tortured by [CIA torture program co-architect James] Mitchell—Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed—the CIA attributed to them the statement that “the general US population was ‘weak’, lacked resilience, and would be unable to ‘do what was necessary’ to prevent the terrorists from succeeding in their goals.’” But the Senate report tells us: “There are no CIA operational or interrogation records to support the representation that KSM or Abu Zubaydah made these statements.”

In spite of the clear lack of effectiveness of their “enhanced interrogation techniques,” [torture program co-architect/psychologist Bruce] Jessen and Mitchell continued to apply them and were eventually paid $81 million for doing so. When the involvement of psychologists in interrogations in Guantánamo Bay and Iraq came to light in a New York Times article in late 2004, the APA assembled a task force to look into it and issue ethical guidelines. In discussing their report, one board member, Diane Halpern, insisted they included a statement asserting that torture was ineffective. The task force did not pursue the question of effectiveness and did not include a statement on it.

When the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence published its extensive report on official torture in December 2014, Jonathan Haidt tweeted a link to an article by Matt Motyl, his former Ph.D. student, claiming that the report would not change anyone’s views on the morality or effectiveness of torture, owing to the phenomenon of cognitive bias, which distorts people’s assessment of the relevant evidence. Motyl warned that none of us should assume that our beliefs about torture are based on facts. Nevertheless, there are established facts. One of them is that psychologists secured enormous financial gains by collaborating in official torture, while also having clear evidence that it was ineffective.

The Empire Files: Bloodshed on the border

In the second part [first part here] of “The Empire’s Border,” her report on the bloody politics of the United States’ southern border, The Empire Files‘ Abby Martin examines the origins of that boundary line in bloody conflict, America’s first imperial war against another American nation state.

Her focus then shifts to the first border wall, erected after a fierce street battle in the border town of Nogales, Arizona/Juarez, Mexico 98 years ago.

Adding immensely to the border tensions was the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement [and do watch Hillary’s spouse preaching its virtues on signing the treaty into law].

Then came 9/11, and the subsequent paranoia-enabled national security spending binge, in which fears of boundary leakage proved centers of immense profits and bureaucratic binging. . .

Increased deaths became inevitable, especially given a media fueled campaign of paranoia direction against brown-skinned people.

Well, we’ll leave the rest for you.

From teleSUR English:

The Empire Files: The Empire’s Border Part II – A Hidden War

Program notes:

In the second installment of this two-part episode, Abby Martin continues her investigation of the hidden war on the U.S.-Mexico border, looking at the root causes of the epidemic of migrant deaths. The Empire Files documents an inflated, paramilitary Border Patrol, the devastating impacts of NAFTA, how the U.S. Empire benefits from immigrant labor and what can change the equation.

Featuring interviews with Todd Miller, author of ‘Border Patrol Nation’, and Araceli Rodriguez, mother of Jose Antonio, a 16-year-old boy murdered by Border Patrol.

Chomsky on Bernie: New Dealer, not a socialist

From Al Jazeera English, Chomsky makes a point we’ve been making, then looks at the rest of the candidates and some New Atheist idiocy:

UpFront – Noam Chomsky on Clinton vs Sanders

Program notes:

Renowned political theorist Noam Chomsky is often cited for his criticism of the US political system.

In the second of a special two-part interview, Chomsky sits down with Mehdi Hasan to discuss the US presidential election and the rise of Islamophobia.

The US academic says Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has the “best policies”, but little chance of winning in a “mainly bought” election.

When asked if he would vote for presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton if he lived in a swing state, Chomsky says: “Oh absolutely… my vote would be against the Republican candidate.”

Regrets from a man who ignited Arab Spring

Two self-immolations by Tunisian peddlers, angry and frustrated by abused and beatings by police, sparked the series of events that became known as the Arab Spring of 2011.

Lauded by Western media and facilitated by the actions of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East have been transformed into bloody, ongoing civil wars, in which forces of religious fanaticism are opposed by military forces, often equipped by the state Western powers that originally aided and abetted in the initial violence.

Of the two Tunisians who set themselves ablaze, one died and the other, Hosni Kalaya, know regrets all that followed his act of desperation.

He tells his story in this video, produced by Mediadante for the Guardian.

Via Journeyman Pictures:

‘I changed Tunisia’s history. I regret it all now’

Program notes:

Five Years After The Revolution: A look at Tunisia five years after the revolution, and one of the men who started it

Five years ago, in a desperate act of protest against the oppression he faced in Tunisia, fruit seller Mohammed Bouazizi killed himself by setting himself on fire. His death prompted protests in his home town of Sidi Bouzid. Hosni Kalaya tells how he set himself on fire to further fuel the anger, triggering a revolution in Tunisia and the Arab Spring in the wider region.

The Empire Files: The U.S. role in birthing ISIS

Our respect for Abby Martin continues to grow as she matures as a journalist, first moving from hosting a show on Berkeley’s community access cable station to RT America, where she hosted Braking the Set, and then, after a brief hiatus, moving on to teleSur where she now hosts The Empire Files.

Each step of the way she has matured as a journalist, attaining a sense of gravitas that is the antithesis of what it takes to survive on this country’s corporate media.

In this latest edition of The Empire Files, she conducts what is probably the best interview we’ve seen on the troubles now afflicting the Middle East and North Africa, and lays the blame squarely at the doorstep of those most responsible, the U.S. Department of State and successive presidential administrations, and their use of oil as a weapon to bring down governments.

Her guest is Vijay Prasad, George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and Professor of International Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and he dissects the U.S. role in the violence now unfolding in Libya and Syria.

One of his most trenchant statement brilliantly sums up the nexus of crises across the globe: “The rich have gone on strike and are refusing to pay taxes.”

And so, from teleSUR English:

The Empire Files: Examining the Syria War Chessboard

Program notes:

The war in Syria is an unparalleled crisis. It has gone far beyond an internal political struggle, and is marked by a complex array of forces that the U.S. Empire hopes to command: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kurdistan, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq and more. To simplify this web of enemies and friends, Abby Martin interviews Dr. Vijay Prashad, professor of International Studies at Trinity College and author of several books.

Headline of the day III: An American legacy

From the Los Angeles Times:

Long after most U.S. troops have left Iraq, civilians are dying in ‘obscene’ numbers

It’s a place where the daily grind — the office commute, a quick trip to the neighborhood market — could end in death, abduction or torture.

Islamophobia, one thing still made in the U.S.A.

The current U.S. electoral debate on Islamophobia ignores a foundational fact: The role of the U.S. in directly propagating the rise of violent Islamism.

Extremism is the product of extreme conditions, just as the rise of Nazi Party was directly produced by a Wall Street collapse. [If you want to play anyone for the rise of Third Reich, look no further than the board rooms of America’s unregulated big banks]. Sure, Germany had a hard core of fascists starting with the Treaty of Versailles ending WWI.

But it was the collapse that generated the anger the Nazis needed to channel as fuel for their rise.

And it was the U.S., either directly or through its crew of Usual Suspects in Europe and Down Under, which created the conditions for the rise of the violent Islamists, first through overt and covert State Department- and CIA-orchestrated organization of dissidents in oil rich and strategically positioned nations of the Mideast and North Africa, then by a wave to post-9/11 military campaigns, and followed by still more Washington-led political organization that created the conditions for the current wave of violence in the Mideast, Africa, Europe, and the U.S.

With the complicity of the mainstream media, all this context is ignored in the current electoral season, ensuring that the continuation of a set of policies that are very rewarding for the nation’s defense contractors and their plutocratic and institutional shareholders, always reliable sources of contributions and future jobs for the politicians who write the laws [or, more realisitically, who allow corporate lobbyists to write the laws].

And with that by way of preface, here’s the latest edition of The Empire Files, Abby Martin’s series for teleSUR English, featuring an interview with Deepa Kumar, Associate Professor of Media Studies and Middle East Studies at Rutgers. She also an author, most recently of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire.

From teleSUR English:

The Empire Files: The Most Dangerous Year for Muslims in America

Program notes:

Abby Martin interviews Dr. Deepa Kumar, professor of media studies at Rutgers University and author of *Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire*, about the roots of this alarming situation. From confronting right-wing arguments, to examining the reality behind Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims, to how Islamophobia is a reinforcement and basis for the structures of Empire, the first Empire Files episode of 2016 gives essential context to the wave of anti-Muslim hate in America and beyond.