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Waterboarding and Hoodies

April 9, 2012

Which One of These Doesn't Belong?

On April 6, 2012 the Associated Press announced that an ex-CIA officer, John C. Kiriakou, who publicly opposed waterboarding has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia for allegedly divulging the name of a covert CIA agent to journalists and misrepresenting his role in the capture of Abu Zubaydah.

Kiriakou is being indicted while Karl Rove and others in the Bush White House who deliberately divulged Valerie Plame’s covert CIA identity to punish her husband Ambassador Joseph Wilson for being a whistleblower and showing that Bush was lying about WMD in Iraq are free to be pundits and syndicated columnists and paid big speaking fees?

Zubaydah was waterboarded by the CIA over a hundred times. As Jason Leopold wrote at Truthout.org on December 19, 2007:

In July 2002, a meeting was convened at the White House, where former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, Justice Department attorney John Yoo, Vice President Dick Cheney, Cheney’s attorney David Addington, and unknown CIA officials discussed whether the CIA could interrogate Zubaydah more aggressively in order to get him to respond to questions.

It was at this July 2002 meeting where Yoo, Gonzales and Addington gave the CIA the green light to use a wide variety of techniques, including waterboarding, on Zubaydah and other detainees at several secret prisons to “break” them and force them to cooperate with interrogators, according to an account published in Newsweek in late December 2003. Less than a month after the meeting, on August 1, 2002, Yoo drafted a memo to Gonzales that was signed by Jay Bybee, the assistant attorney general at the time. That memo declared that President Bush had the legal authority to allow CIA interrogators to employ harsh tactics to extract information from detainees. Human rights organizations and Democratic and Republican lawmakers have characterized the methods outlined in the Yoo memo as torture.

In his book “The One Percent Doctrine,” author Ron Suskind said Zubaydah was not the “high value detainee” the CIA had claimed. Rather, Zubaydah was a minor player in the al-Qaeda organization, handling travel for associates and their families, Suskind says.

Abu Zubaydah’s captors soon discovered that their prisoner was mentally ill and knew nothing about terrorist operations or impending plots. That realization was “echoed at the top of CIA and was, of course, briefed to the President and Vice President,” Suskind writes.

But Bush portrayed Zubaydah as “one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States.

“And, so, the CIA used an alternative set of procedures” to get Zubaydah to talk, Bush said in the spring of 2002, after Zubaydah was captured.

Suskind writes that Zubaydah became one of the first prisoners in the wake of 9/11 to undergo some of the harshest interrogation methods at the hands of American intelligence officials.

Suskind says that, despite the fact that Bush was briefed by the CIA about Zubaydah’s low-level al-Qaeda status, the president did not want to “lose face” because he had stated his importance publicly.

So a CIA agent who actually has a conscience is being indicted by the Obama administration, the administration that Obama says wants to “look forward, not backward” in justifying his decision not to prosecute Bush, Cheney, Yoo, Bybee, Rumsfeld, et al for torture (and murder of at least one hundred detainees by torture). Obama is nonetheless looking backward at whistleblowers and going after them. This list of those he’s after includes accused whistleblower Bradley Manning and Wikileaks’ founder and leader Julian Assange who is devoted to supporting whistleblowers and transparency in governments, the latter something that Obama claims that he upholds.

And in a related story, George Zimmerman is still unindicted for his murder of Trayvon Martin, more than 40 days after he killed the young black man for the crime of being black in his neighborhood. Before shooting the armed with only Skittles and iced tea Martin, Zimmerman can be heard on tape saying something that sounds like it could be a racial slur. (Recoiling from the anger at his claims that Trayvon’s wearing a hoodie was responsible for his death, Geraldo Rivera sort of apologized (but not really): “I apologize to anyone offended by what one prominent black conservative called my ‘very practical and potentially life-saving campaign urging black and Hispanic parents not to let their children go around wearing hoodies.’” So let me get this straight Geraldo: you are apologizing, but you can’t help but cite in your “apology” the approving comments of a right wing African American in the same sentence as your “apology?”)

What sort of society is it that from the highest echelons of power vengeance is sought against the honorable and innocent and the despicable are let off scot-free? Is this the sort of society that you can feel good about being part of? Isn’t it time that more people of conscience stood up and said “Enough?” It’s not going to happen if people remain silent and legitimate it the way Obama has legitimated the crimes of Bush and Cheney and added his own list of crimes to that list of infamy, including his drone attacks targeting innocents, including children.


Dennis Loo is Professor of Sociology at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He is a Harvard honors graduate in Government and received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author of Globalization and the Demolition of Society and Co-Editor/Author of Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney. Website: Dr. Dennis Loo


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2 Responses to Waterboarding and Hoodies

  1. Bill Weaton on April 21, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    I have never quite been able to understand how Karl Rove could commit so many ethical and criminal violations and yet, escape any kind of justice. When subpoenaed by congress, he simply refused on what most legal scholars regard as ludicrous legal claims about executive privilege covering all his activities. Here again we see the Democrats seemingly helpless in the face of dubious and unconstitutional Republican behaviors.

    • ddloo on July 4, 2012 at 3:23 pm

      Bill: Since the Dems took back the House in 2006 and then the White House in 2008, they have forgotten about all of the criticisms that they leveled at the Bush Regime’s unconstitutional and illegal behavior and done two things: first, ratified them (e.g., the Telecom Amnesty Bill) and second, upped the ante in carrying forward with even more outrageous egregious behavior/policies such as deporting even more immigrants, punishing whistleblowers even more aggressively, escalating the use of drones, and engaging in an open program of assassinations, personally presided over by Obama.

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