Transcript #127-1

A Torrent Of Additional Evidence Of Right-Wing Torture-Mongering


Partially hyperlinked to sources.  For all sources, see the data resources page.


Greetings!  You're listening to podcast #127 of Blast The Right.  I'm your host Jack Clark.  Great to have you on board.


Today, you'll hear a torrent of new evidence that's just come out which further details the Bush administration's torture regime.  You'll learn about the self-styled "War Council," use of Chinese torture techniques, vehement protests by the military's own lawyers, hiding the abuse from the Red Cross, and, recent medical findings of marks of torture on detainee's bodies.


In a concluding QuickBlast, you'll hear Dick Morris serially lie about Democratic tax plans, and learn how to respond to any right-winger spouting similar nonsense.


Let's get right into it.


audio: Bush

I've said to the people that we don't torture, and we don't. [source]

Originally I intended to use today's show to update several past podcasts.  One of the updates was to be on right-wing pro-torture policies.  There was a new story on that.


But then there was another new story the next day, and one the following day, and pretty soon I had five such new developments at hand.


So I'll spend the bulk of today on five torture updates. 


While you probably already believe the Bush administration tortures prisoners,  the more details that come out, the more impossible it is for the Bushians to deny that they explicitly authorized and oversaw a program of torturing detainees.


Sources you'll hear include: McClatchey newspapers, the Boston Globe, the New York Times,, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, and CBS News.


The first update would concern the so-called  "War Council."


Apparently there were five Bush administration lawyers who were the driving force beyond the attempt to legally justify torture.




drafted legal opinions that circumvented the military’s code of justice, the federal court system and America’s international treaties in order to prevent anyone - from soldiers on the ground to the president - from being held accountable for activities that at other times have been considered war crimes. 

These five attorneys called themselves the War Council.


They conducted secret meetings every few weeks in each other's offices to plot legal strategy.


The War Council?


Do you remember a few podcasts ago you heard how Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and others repeatedly met in the White House to discuss which specific torture techniques to use on which prisoner?  I said if it were a movie script, no one would believe it.


Well, this War Council name invokes the same feeling in me.


Does it strike you as odd, pathetic, laughable as it does me?


Where are Superman and Batman to get the bad guys?!  Or the Justice League of America, the organization of superheros?


Did War Council members set up phone booths so they could change into superhero costumes before having their draft-a-pro-torture-memo meetings?


It's like little boys with their tree house club rooms.


Are offices of War Council members festooned with knickknacks and little models in the form of guillotines and torture racks and water boards?


But really, this isn't funny.


One of the members of the War Council was John Yoo, who publicly stated that he couldn't rule out authorizing the crushing of a child's testicles to force the child's parent to talk.


audio: Yoo

Questioner:  If the President deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there's no law that can stop that.

Yoo:  No treaty. 

Questioner:  And also no law by Congress.  That's what you wrote in the August, 2002 memo.

Yoo:  I think that depends on why the President feels that he needs to do that. [source]

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was another member of this august club.  So was David Addington, who's presently chief of staff to Dick Cheney.


Enough of the War Council, the "who" behind the creation of an attempted legal cover for torture. 


On to another stunning revelation, concerning the origins of the torture techniques the War Council was trying to legally justify.


In prior podcasts you learned how the Bush administration torturers studied and adopted Soviet Union interrogation techniques.  Check out podcast 98, for example.


Apparently the right-wing affinity for adopting Communist torture methods didn't stop there.


As reported in the New York Times:


The military trainers who came to Guantanamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of “coercive management techniques” for possible use on prisoners, including “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint,” and “exposure.”

…[T]heir chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners. 

The Times dryly notes that:


The only change made in the chart presented at Guantánamo was to drop its original title: “Communist Coercive Methods for Eliciting Individual Compliance.”

Yeah, I guess that might have given the US personnel taking the class some pause.


Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  He conducted the hearing where this revelation was made.  He makes a critical point:


What makes this document doubly stunning is that these were techniques to get false confessions

People say we need intelligence, and we do. But we don’t need false intelligence.

Why not?  False intelligence is exactly what the Bush administration loves, to gin up war.


Why don't you ask your friendly local right-winger, which torture methods they're partial to, Evil Empire Soviet, or Red Chinese?


Or do they prefer America use a combination of the two?


Next up: it's military attorneys who raise vehement protests against the Bush administration's torture program!




Did the Bushians establish a legal edifice for torture, and teach Chinese torture techniques, without anyone with a brain and a conscience noticing, and protesting?


The Judge Advocate General's corps is charged with enforcing the Uniform Military Code of Justice, which establishes rules of war and forbids torture.


Well, these JAG lawyers


warned the Pentagon that methods it was using post-9/11 violated military, U.S. and international law. Those objections were overruled…

Or as McClatchey newspapers put it:


When they protested, the War Council shut them out.

Our friends the War Council.


“We were absolutely marginalized,” said Donald J. Guter, a rear admiral who served as the Navy’s judge advocate general from 2000 to 2002.

Some JAG leaders were, however, able to speak bluntly to War Council members.  Here's Thomas Romig, who served from 2001 to 2005 as the Army's judge advocate general:


John Yoo wanted to use military commissions in the manner they were used in the Indian wars

I looked at him and said, ‘You know, that was 100-and-something years ago. You’re out of your mind; we’re talking about the law.’ ”

The law, what's that?  Have you ever seen the right-wing meet a law they weren't all too happy to violate?


Here's quite the prescient military official, Mark Fallon, a higher up in the Defense Department's Crinimal Investigation Task Force.  He


…warned in an October 2002 e-mail to Pentagon colleagues that the techniques under discussion would "shock the conscience of any legal body" that might review how the interrogations were conducted.

"This looks like the kind of stuff Congressional hearings are made of," Fallon wrote. He added: "Someone needs to be considering how history will look back at this.

What a powerful movie scene.  Too bad it's the real right-wing nightmare.


And these right-wingers knew what they were doing would not be looked kindly on by the rest of the world.


The next revelation concerns the Red Cross.


The International Committee of the Red Cross, the ICRC,  is responsible for monitoring whether Geneva Convention rules on the treatment of military prisoners are being followed.


So the right-wing made strenuous efforts to prevent the Red Cross from finding out what they were up to.


They concealed the harsh treatment.


Listen to these quotes from the minutes of a October 2002 meeting at Gitmo.


This is Lt. Col. Diane Beaver, the top military lawyer at Gitmo:


We may need to curb the harsher operations while ICRC is around. It is better not to expose them to any controversial techniques

She also said, regarding such techniques as sleep deprivation:


Officially it is not happening.

It is not being reported officially. The ICRC is a serious concern. They will be in and out, scrutinizing our operations, unless they are displeased and decide to protest and leave. This would draw a lot of negative attention.

The Bushians also hid the location of detainees.


Here's another person at that meeting, Jonathan Fredman, chief counsel of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center:


In the past when the ICRC has made a big deal about certain detainees, the DOD (Defense Department) has ‘moved’ them away from the attention of the ICRC.

The US often complains that other nations prevent Red Cross access to prisoners, and that they'll temporarily improve conditions when inspections are occurring.


Sounds like we're doing the same thing, doesn't it?


Why don't you ask a right-wing friend or acquaintance, the next time a foreign government seizes a US citizen and denies holding him or her, how are we going to complain?   We do the same thing.


Up next: medical exams provide physical evidence of US torture of detainees.



Alright, so you have the War Council, the Communist Chinese techniques, the protesting military lawyers, and the hide-and-go-seek with the Red Cross.


Are your neck muscles all loosened up from shaking your head in disbelief?


Well, I hope your jaw is well-lubricated, because it may drop now multiple times.


Last on our hit parade of right-wing torture-mongering, as reported in the Boston Globe, quote:


Human Rights Group Says It Has Proof of Detainee Abuse 

by Bryan Bender 

WASHINGTON - A Cambridge-based human rights organization said it has found medical evidence supporting the claims of 11 former detainees who were allegedly tortured while in American custody between 2001 and 2004…

Medical evaluations of the former inmates found injuries consistent with the alleged abuse, including the psychological effects of sensory deprivation and forced nudity as well as signs of “severe physical and sexual assault,” Physicians for Human Rights said in a report scheduled for release today.

Four of the prisoners were imprisoned at Gitmo after capture in Afghanistan.  Seven were held in Iraq.


Now as I detail some of this evidence, you have to remember this:


None were ever charged with a crime.  All have been released.


I repeat:


None were ever charged with a crime.  All have been released.




One detainee, 41 year old Kamal, was held for 9 months at Abu Ghraib.  He claimed to have been stabbed in the cheek with a screwdriver, among other abuse.  The doctors said a healed puncture injury matches that description.


How's he doing now psychologically?


Kamal’s clinical presentation, reported history of abuse, and the result of psychological testing support the presence of several psychiatric diagnoses

the report said. The diagnoses include


depression, a panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the report.

How about Amir, late 20's, held at Abu Graib for 16 months.


He claimed that he had been sodomized by his captors.


The medical evidence


showed signs of rectal tearing that are highly consistent with his report of having been sodomized with a broomstick

Amir also said he was


forced by his interrogators to howl like a dog while a soldier urinated on him.

He fainted, the report said, “after a soldier stepped on his genitals."

One more:


Yasser, mid-40's, Abu Ghraib.  He claimed American personnel had subjected him to electric shock torture.  His thumbs had scars, and his tongue irregularities, that supported this contention.


These eleven prisoners of the United States -- and remember, none were ever charged with a crime, all were released -- these prisoners claim they were  subjected to other forms of physical abuse.  Such as sleep deprivation, extremes of heat and cold, being chained in stress positions for over 18 hours.


Psychological abuse including forced nudity in front of female soldiers and interrogators, as well as being told that their female relatives would be raped, and that they would be executed.


The Physicians for Human Rights report said that all eleven of these innocent former detainees are suffering from physical or mental trauma as a result of their abuse while in American custody.


But hey, let's believe George when he says:


audio: Bush

I've said to the people that we don't torture, and we don't. [source]



All of what you've heard, about how the torture program was conceived, justified, executed and covered up, as well as the suffering it inflicted on people, gives the lie to the biggest whopper of all:


audio: Bush:

We certainly wish Abu Ghraib hadn't happened  But that shouldn't reflect America.  This the action of some soldiers. [source]

This bad apples argument has been totally discredited.  These torture techniques weren't just used at Abu Ghraib, but were also used at Gitmo and at other facilities and in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Some, like the electric shock, sodomizing and screwdriver through the cheek, are at this point at least, not among the ones we know were officially authorized.


But who knows what tomorrow's revelations will bring.


After all, we have this gem from the minutes of the Gitmo meeting I discussed earlier.  It's from that senior CIA lawyer, Jonathan Fredman.  He said torture "is basically subject to perception."


His only standard seems to have been


If the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong

Yes, he really said that:


If the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong.

That would seem to leave plenty of room for even more gruesome forms of torture than have so far been revealed as officially sanctioned Bush administration policy.


Even without revelations of such additional horrors, there's at least one retired military officer who's speaking the truth based just on what we definitely know now to be true.


Major General Antonio Taguba was in charge of the official investigation into  the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal.


He wrote a preface to the Physicians for Human Rights report.


Listen carefully:


This report tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the commander in chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture

After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.

To repeat:


…[T]here is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.

Wow, pretty tough words from a former Major General.


So what'll happen?  Will anyone be held to account?


Progressive forces are trying to push for investigations and prosecutions. 


On the advocacy front, for example, you have the ACLU. 


It is increasingly clear that the decision to abandon the rule of law and order torture and abuse was made at the very top.

We look forward to the full investigative report from the Armed Services Committee and call on Congress to hold accountable any and all public officials involved in ordering illegal torture.

On the actually doing something front,


A group of 56 Congressional Democrats last week asked the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate whether any Bush administration officials may have broken laws in approving the use of harsh interrogation techniques for suspected terrorists.

Only 56.  I wouldn't expect anything serious to happen anyway, since this is the Bush Justice Department.  They're not going to seriously investigate themselves.


On the other hand, under a President Obama, more Democrats could find the courage to support such an investigation, and a Justice Department headed by someone other than a Bush flunky could very well undertake such an endeavor.


Could, not definitely will, but could.


Certainly this would never happen under a President McCain.


Under a President Obama, it could.


How to get from could to will?


It'll probably require a heck of a lot of pressure from us progressives to force it to happen.


But then, so what?  Pressuring the government to do the right thing is what we progressives are all about, isn't it?


Pressuring even a centrist Democrat, if that is what Obama turns out to be, is going to be a heck of a lot more likely to succeed, than trying to pressure another Republican administration.


Trying to do that would be a hopeless task.


Pressuring a Democratic administration, and a much stronger Democratic majority Congress, is doable.


Doable is a lot better than hopeless, don't you think?


On this and a whole host of issues.



Transcript #127-2

Dick Morris Lies About Democratic Tax Plans


Partially hyperlinked to sources.  For all sources, see the data resources page.


Here's a QuickBlast for you: continued right-wing lies about Democratic tax plans.


The source here is


Listen to right-wing pundit Dick Morris:


audio: Morris

HANNITY: …President Obama -- what would he do?

MORRIS: He would double the capital gains tax. That means that you get far less when you sell your home, or your 401(k), or your stock plan. He would double the dividends tax. That means that old ladies who clip coupons from corporate stocks get less money.

He would double the -- he would increase the limit on Social Security taxes, which means instead of paying 12 1/2 percent of the first $100,000, you pay it on everything that you're making.


If you've been listening to Blast The Right, you can probably pick out the lies.


Let's go through Morris's misleading spiel, lie by lie:


He would double the capital gains tax.

Morris omits that such would apply only to those making over $250,000 a year, the wealthiest 3% of the population.


 That means that you get far less when you sell your home,

Again, only if you make more than $250,000 a year.  Moreover, Morris omits the fact that in most cases you can exempt up to $250,000 in gains from capital gains taxes for a home you occupy.  For married homeowners, that's $500,000.  So you'd have to have an income level of $500,000 or a million dollars, including the profit on the sale of your home, before any increased capital gains tax would kick in.


Hardly applicable to most people.


or your 401(k), or your stock plan.

Again, not unless you make over $250,000 a year.  And Morris maybe doesn't even know, that most distributions from 401(k) and IRA accounts are taxed as ordinary income, not capital gains!


He would double the dividends tax. That means that old ladies who clip coupons from corporate stocks get less money.

Again, that $250,000 exemption from the increase.  Only quite wealthy old ladies clipping coupons would pay a higher tax, Dick.




He would double the -- he would increase the limit on Social Security taxes, which means instead of paying 12 1/2 percent of the first $100,000, you pay it on everything that you're making.

Wrong,  Obama's plan includes a "doughnut hole" where  income above the current cap but under, yes, you guessed it, $250,000 is exempt.


Obama has explicitly stated:


"[A]nybody under $250,000 would not be affected whatsoever. Ninety-seven percent of Americans will see absolutely no change in their taxes under my plan."

Obama couldn't be any clearer.  But that's only relevant if someone is interested in telling the truth.  It seems Morris isn't.



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