Friday, August 17, 2007

Torture? For God's Sake, Shout "al-Libi" from the Rooftops and End the Debate

by Don Williams, truth-to-power
Thursday, 09 August 2007
(I am reprinting in its entirety this recent blog entry from my brother Don Williams. I agree and can not say it better. Torture is not only morally reprehensible;it does not work. rod)

Is there no lesson to be learned from how we based the war in Iraq on lies told by a tortured man....If you're undecided about the use of torture, research the name Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi.If you already oppose torture, then shout this name from the rooftop until everyone knows it:Al-Libi. Al-Libi. Al-Libi.

It isn't hard to say, so we all should speak it and write it--to our representatives, our media, our neighbors. This name should be the end of the debate on torture, for al-Libi is living proof that torture and other degrading practices backfire so badly they've led to maybe the worst foreign policy blunder ever made by this country. George W. Bush and company bombed and invaded Iraq based in large part on lies told under extreme duress by Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi. Why are opponents of torture and kidnapping so slow to make this point?

Sometimes I think I must be crazy, because even people who question, criticize and publicly oppose torture are slow to bring al-Libi into the debate. Can someone tell me why?For instance, a new article by Jane Mayer in last week's New Yorker offers lots of insight into "The Black Sites," places where suspected terrorists are routinely held, questioned and tortured.I heard Mayer earlier this week on PBS's "Fresh Air" program discussing how 90 percent of the information from tortured prisoners has proven unreliable. Nary a word was mentioned, however, about how just how badly torture backfired in the case of al-Libi.

Why are Congressmen and others so slow to invoke al-Libi's name? Is it because they were taken in by his lies and would rather gloss over that sad fact of history than to make it part of their argument against the President's torture policies? Is it because they've become fearful of being called disloyal or soft on terrorism? Whatever fig leaf they're hiding behind, the record is clear that al-Libi was under custody of U.S. secret forces in 2001 when the CIA blindfolded him, duct-taped him, loaded him onto an airplane, told him they planned to rape his mother while he was away, then flew him off to Egypt. Interrogators in a secret hell-hole prison there asked al-Libi none too gently to “admit” that Saddam Hussein was teaching al-Qaeda to make chemical and biological weapons.

According to articles in The New Yorker , The New York Times, Newsweek and others, Al-Libi gave them what they wanted. Later he recanted, and said he told the lies to end the pain of torture. A Republican dominated Senate Intelligence committee long ago confirmed that no formal ties existed between Saddam and al-Qaeda, and further reported that, far from working together to attack U.S. interests, Saddam and bin Laden regarded each other as enemies. Still, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and others in “the Iraq group”--a team set up inside the White House in 2002 to sell America on the idea of invading Iraq--made al-Libi's lies a centerpiece of their case.

Just how aware Bush was that he based his war on a pack of lies should long ago have been exposed. In February, 2003, Colin Powell repeated al-Libi's torture-induced lies to the United Nations. Maybe that's why a repentant Powell later said we risk losing the moral high ground in our so-called war on terror. Hundreds of thousands have died in Iraq at least in part as a result of lies our government forced al-Libi to tell. Now we're stuck In Iraq like a wasp in a spider web. We've blown hundreds of billions of dollars that might've done much good. Yes, many loudly parrot unproven claims based on “classified information” that we've disrupted terrorist plots through use of “aggressive interrogation techniques.” Some even point to the Battle of Algiers, in the late 1950s, which France was loosing badly until it employed torture, mass bombing and other counter-terrorism techniques. What proponents of such a model often leave out is how a disgusted and angry populace rose up across Algeria and turned their French leash-holders out of the country by 1962.

In simple human terms, what the French failed to do, and what Bush long ago forgot, is to honor the logic and moral force behind the Golden Rule. When you think about it, that simple rule, “Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you,” is at the heart of the Geneva Accords. They honor standards of prisoner treatment that take into account how we'd want our own troops to be treated if captured by the enemy. So, unless you want torture to become and remain the law of the land, you'd best plan on spending lots of time telling anyone who'll listen—maybe your congressmen, senators, media and more—that there's a price to pay for Congress's public support for Bush's plans for continued torture and unlawful imprisonment. It could be your neighbor's son or daughter who gets captured in the next war. For God's sake, remind them of "al-Libi."

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Pentagon Paid $999,798 to Ship Two 19-Cent Washers to Texas

Tony Capaccio
Thu Aug 16, 11:59 AM ET
Aug. 16 (Bloomberg) -- A small South Carolina parts supplier collected about $20.5 million over six years from the Pentagon for fraudulent shipping costs, including $998,798 for sending two 19-cent washers to a Texas base, U.S. officials said.
The company also billed and was paid $455,009 to ship three machine screws costing $1.31 each to Marines in Habbaniyah, Iraq, and $293,451 to ship an 89-cent split washer to Patrick Air Force Base in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Pentagon records show.
To continue: $999,798 to Ship Two..

It is an absolute outrage that things like this can occur. Where is the over site? Is no one in charge? These people got caught, but is this just the tip of the iceberg of corruption? Regardless of how one may feel about the war in Iraq, or the policies that let to the war, there needs to be an investigation of the fraud, corruption, and inefficiency associated with the expenditure of funds for the military. Of the $452 Billion the Iraq war has cost, so far, how much of that was stolen and mismanaged?

Inefficiency in government is nothing new. Reagan appointed a special commission to look at government waste, waste was exposed but not much changed. Al Gore, in the first Clinton term, headed a commission on government waste, waste was exposed but not much changed. Remember the $600 toilet seat, the $400 ashtray and the $6500 hammer? Those pale in comparison to this example of waste. Congress should put differences about the war aside, and investigate military procurement, fraud, and waste. Heads should roll. Careers should be ruined. And, those committing fraud should go to jail. Congress should be screaming for change. Democrat or Republican however, it seems that politicians just accept massive government waste and corruption.

Nancy: Call for Congressional hearings! Vigorously investigate! Don't stop until real change occurs so that things like this do not continue to happen. Watching the purse strings in Congress's primary responsibility and they are doing a lousy job.

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