Tag Archives: CIA

General Petraeus, national security, and national hypocrisy

by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, 1/11/15

General David Petraeus is back in the news, no longer as the mastermind of the Iraq “surge” 8 years ago and then director of our war and spying efforts, but as a potential felon (CBS News: “Former CIA Chief David Petraeus may face criminal charges,” 1/10/15). Oh, the irony: in the video there (at 1:31), Paula Broadwell says the interviews with her were motivated in part by his concern over his legacy.

I haven’t been a very big fan of Petraeus for a while. On 11/19/12, I posted this in “Justice and other themes”:

Online comment on Susan Estrich, “Gen. Petraeus loses big time … but so does the nation,” 11/15/12:

As befits a friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Susan Estrich doesn’t want to see a connection between personal behavior and national reputation. Petraeus has made the US and the CIA look bad, and may or not have revealed intelligence secrets to unauthorized people. It’s nice he’s a gentleman, but I doubt that is on the job description for general or CIA director. Neither is being a playboy a great background for elective office, as he could have intuited from the fall of president Nicholas Sarkozy of France and president Silvio Berlusconi of Italy. These references are not random, since Petraeus was rumored to be planning to run for US president.

You’d think I’d admire David Petraeus, with his PhD from Princeton, as I do Joe Sestak (PhD Harvard) and Tom Wolf (PhD MIT).

But something about him made me nervous. Maybe it was his rumored political ambitions….

continue reading at Politics: A View from West Chester

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Background on psychological torture

Excerpt from Lisa Hajjar, “The CIA Didn’t Just Torture, It Experimented on Human Beings,” The Nation, 1/5/15:

…The “war on terror” is not the CIA’s first venture into human experimentation. At the dawn of the Cold War, German scientists and doctors with Nazi records of human experimentation were given new identities and brought to the United States under Operation Paperclip. During the Korean War, alarmed by the shocking rapidity of American POWs’ breakdowns and indoctrination by their communist captors, the CIA began investing in mind-control research. In 1953, the CIA established the MK-ULTRA program, whose earliest phase involved hypnosis, electroshock and hallucinogenic drugs. The program evolved into experiments in psychological torture that adapted elements of Soviet and Chinese models, including longtime standing, protracted isolation, sleep deprivation and humiliation. Those lessons soon became an applied “science” in the Cold War.

During the Vietnam War, the CIA developed the Phoenix program, which combined psychological torture with brutal interrogations, human experimentation and extrajudicial executions. In 1963, the CIA produced a manual titled “Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation” to guide agents in the art of extracting information from “resistant” sources by combining techniques to produce “debility, disorientation and dread.” Like the communists, the CIA largely eschewed tactics that violently target the body in favor of those that target the mind by systematically attacking all human senses in order to produce the desired state of compliance. The Phoenix program model was incorporated into the curriculum of the School of the Americas, and an updated version of the Kubark guide, produced in 1983 and titled “Human Resource Exploitation Manual,” was disseminated to the intelligence services of right-wing regimes in Latin America and Southeast Asia during the global “war on communism.”

In the mid-1980s, CIA practices became the subject of congressional investigations into US-supported atrocities in Central America. Both manuals became public in 1997 as a result of Freedom of Information Act litigation by The Baltimore Sun. That would have seemed like a “never again” moment.

But here we are again. …

Read the full article at The Nation.

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Will James Risen Be Jailed? In Press Freedom Fight, NYT Reporter Tells Court He Won’t Name Source

Democracy Now!, 1/7/15

In a closely watched press freedom case, New York Times investigative reporter James Risen was called to the witness stand Monday after a seven-year legal battle against the government’s attempts to subpoena him and force him to reveal his source. The hearing in Virginia took place ahead of the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who is accused of giving Risen classified information which revealed a botched CIA plot to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program. It is unclear yet if Risen will be called to testify at Sterling’s trial. Without more information from Risen, Sterling’s defense attorney argues the case should be dismissed….

continue reading at Democracy Now!

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Sen. Mark Udall on the CIA

from “Mike Gravel to Senator Mark Udall: Make Full Torture Probe Public Like I Did with Pentagon Papers,” interview with Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!, 12/26/14

…SEN. MARK UDALL: The CIA has lied to its overseers in the public, destroyed and tried to hold back evidence, spied on the Senate, made false charges against our staff, and lied about torture and the results of torture. And no one has been held to account. … There are right now people serving in high-level positions at the agency who approved, directed or committed acts related to the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. It’s bad enough not to prosecute these officials, but to reward or promote them and risk the integrity of the U.S. government to protect them is incomprehensible. The president needs to purge his administration of high-level officials who were instrumental to the development and running of this program….

read the full post at Democracy Now!

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