Monthly Archives: April 2009

How ’07 ABC Interview Tilted a Torture Debate

NYTimes, April 27, 2009
By BRIAN STELTER

In late 2007, there was the first crack of daylight into the government’s use of waterboarding during interrogations of Al Qaeda detainees. On Dec. 10, John Kiriakou, a former C.I.A. officer who had participated in the capture of the suspected terrorist Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in 2002, appeared on ABC News to say that while he considered waterboarding a form of torture, the technique worked and yielded results very quickly.

Mr. Zubaydah started to cooperate after being waterboarded for “probably 30, 35 seconds,” Mr. Kiriakou told the ABC reporter Brian Ross. “From that day on he answered every question.”

His claims — unverified at the time, but repeated by dozens of broadcasts, blogs and newspapers — have been sharply contradicted by a newly declassified Justice Department memo that said waterboarding had been used on Mr. Zubaydah “at least 83 times.” Continue reading

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Filed under Media, Rights, Justice, Law

letter emailed to Phila Inquirer, 4/26/09:

Rather than deal with the full range of information we now have at our disposal, Christine Flowers picks and chooses among those that support her premise and makes up anything not in evidence that might be required to prove her point.

Left out is the December 2008 statement of FBI Director Robert Mueller that torture elicited “intelligence” played no role in foiling any terror plots.

Similarly left out is the new revelation that the very agency the Bush
administration went to for their terror program told them that torture doesn’t work, a premise bolstered by the statements of numerous former civilian and military interrogators, including those who dealt with the highest of value prisoners during World War II.

The Military Code of Justice states that the use of torture is a crime. The Geneva Conventions, to which we are, or at least were enthusiastic signers, states that torture is a crime. We have, in the past, prosecuted and convicted both Americans and foreigners who water boarded prisoners of having committed torture.

We claim to be a country governed by the rule of law. If we in fact are such a country then there is no choice whatsoever other than to fully investigate every aspect of the actions taken by the Bush administration. That means uncover all of the facts, both the ones Ms. Flowers finds useful and the ones she does not. If the facts indicate that crimes may have been committed, then the individuals responsible must have their day in court.

This is what the New York Times and all who cherish the Constitution and the rule of law demand.

Joe Magid
Wynnewood, PA

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Filed under Peace, Security, Terrorism, War, Rights, Justice, Law

Reopening the Doors to College

Harvard Magazine, 3-4/09, p. 24

The crisis in access to higher education, and a strategy for moving beyond elite handouts for the lucky few.

Speaking to alumni at Commencement exercises at the conclusion of her first year in office last June, Harvard President Drew Faust joined her voice with those of other university leaders in touting the collective prowess of American higher education, extolling “the most valuable educational resource in the world”—a system that has “managed to combine broad access with unsurpassed intellectual distinction.”

But that synthesis of excellence and access is rapidly coming undone—even as U.S.-based universities continue to rank at the top of lists of relative institutional excellence, and the country is admired across the world for its historic primacy in offering higher education to the many, not just the few. Even as the advent of the Information Revolution and the postindustrial economy has intensified Americans’ faith that advanced degrees and advanced research are central to social opportunity and economic vitality, the United States no longer leads the world in the attainment of college degrees. Meanwhile, growing imbalances in popular access to and wider resource gaps among institutions of higher learning threaten to turn higher education from a great equalizer of opportunity to a force that deepens inequality. …

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Filed under Education and schools links

Calming thought for today

“Let us choose to be the peace that we seek and support all beings on their path to happiness.”

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Filed under Uncategorized