US Intel Vets Decry CIA’s Use of Torture

Torture defenders are back on the offensive publishing a book by ex-CIA leaders rebutting a Senate report that denounced the brutal tactics as illegal, inhumane and ineffective. Now, in a memo to President Obama, other U.S. intelligence veterans are siding with the Senate findings and repudiating the torture apologists.


FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Veteran Intelligence Professionals Challenge CIA’s “Rebuttal” on Torture

Former CIA leaders responsible for allowing torture to become part of the 21st Century legacy of the CIA are trying to rehabilitate their tarnished reputations with the release of a new book, Rebuttal: The CIA Responds to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Study of Its Detention and Interrogation Program. They are pushing the lie that the only allegations against them are from a partisan report issued by Democrats from the Senate Intelligence Committee.

President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney receive an Oval Office briefing from CIA Director George Tenet. Also present is Chief of Staff Andy Card (on right). (White House photo)

President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney receive an Oval Office briefing from CIA Director George Tenet. Also present is Chief of Staff Andy Card (on right). (White House photo)

We recall the answer of General John Kimmons, the former Deputy Director of Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was asked if good intelligence could be obtained from abusive practices. He replied: “I am absolutely convinced the answer to your first question is no. No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tell us that.”

But the allegation that the CIA leaders were negligent and guilty was not the work of an isolated group of partisan Democrat Senators. The Senate Intelligence report on torture enjoyed bipartisan support. Senator John McCain, for example, whose own encounter with torture in North Vietnamese prisons scarred him physically and emotionally, embraced and endorsed the work of Senator Feinstein. It was only a small group of intransigent Republicans, led by Saxby Chambliss, who obstructed the work of the Senate Intel Committee.

Indeed, some of us witnessed firsthand during the administration of President George W. Bush that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence were virtually paralyzed from conducting any meaningful oversight of the CIA and the U.S. Intelligence Community by the Republican members of these committees. Instead, they pursued the clear objective of protecting the Bush administration from any criticism for engaging in torture during the “War on Terror.”

It is curious that our former colleagues stridently denounce the work of the Senate Intelligence Committee but are mute with respect to an equally damning report from the CIA’s own inspector general, John Helgerson, in 2004.

Helgerson’s report, “Counterterrorism Detention and Interrogation Activities (September 2001-October 2003),” was published on May 7, 2004, and classified Top Secret. That report alone is damning of the CIA leadership and it is important to remind all about the specifics of those conclusions. According to the CIA’s own Inspector General:

–The Agency’s detention and interrogation of terrorists has provided intelligence that has enabled the identification and apprehension of other terrorists and warned of terrorist plots planned in the United States and around the world. . . . The effectiveness of particular interrogation techniques in eliciting information that might not otherwise have been obtained cannot be so easily measured however.

–In addition, some Agency officials are aware of interrogation activities that were outside or beyond the scope of the written DOJ opinion. Officers are concerned that future public revelation of the CTC Program is inevitable and will seriously damage Agency officers’ personal reputations, as well as the reputation and effectiveness of the Agency itself.

–By distinction the Agency-especially in the early months of the Program-failed to provide adequate staffing, guidance, and support to those involved with the detention and interrogation of detainees . . .

–The Agency failed to issue in a timely manner comprehensive written guidelines for detention and interrogation activities. . . .Such written guidance as does exist . . . is inadequate.

–During the interrogation of two detainees, the waterboard was used in a manner inconsistent with the written DOJ legal opinion of 1 August 2002.

–Agency officers report that reliance on analytical assessments that were unsupported by credible intelligence may have resulted in the application of EITs without justification.

The CIA’s Inspector General makes it very clear that there was a failure by the CIA leaders, who include Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence John McLaughlin, Counter Terrorism Center Chief Cofer Black, Counter Terrorism Center Chief Jose Rodriguez and the Director Directorate of Operations James L. Pavitt. Lack of proper guidance and oversight created fertile soil for subsequent abuses and these men were guilty of failing to properly do their jobs.

We do not have to rely solely on the report of the CIA’s Inspector General. In addition, the Report by the Senate Armed Services Committee on Detainee Treatment reached the same conclusions about the origins, evils, harm to U.S. policy and intelligence collection of “enhanced interrogation,” a euphemism for “torture” first used by Nazi Germany during World War II.

Indeed, all independent analyses of the enhanced interrogation program have concluded it constituted torture, was ineffective, and contrary to all American laws, ideals, and intelligence practices. We also have the testimony and record of Ali Soufan, an Arabic-speaking FBI Agent, who was involved with several interrogations before torture was used and who achieved substantive results without violating international law.

The sworn testimony of FBI Agent Ali Soufan, who is the only U.S. Government employee to testify under oath on these matters, completely contradicts the authors of Rebuttal:

“In the middle of my interrogation of the high-ranking terrorist Abu Zubaydah at a black-site prison 12 years ago, my intelligence work wasn’t just cut short for so-called enhanced interrogation techniques to begin. After I left the black site, those who took over left, too for 47 days. For personal time and to ‘confer with headquarters’.

“For nearly the entire summer of 2002, Abu Zubaydah was kept in isolation. That was valuable lost time, and that doesn’t square with claims about the ‘ticking bomb scenarios’ that were the basis for America’s enhanced interrogation program, or with the commitment to getting life-saving, actionable intelligence from valuable detainees. The techniques were justified by those who said Zubaydah ‘stopped all cooperation’ around the time my fellow FBI agent and I left. If Zubaydah was in isolation the whole time, that’s not really a surprise.

“One of the hardest things we struggled to make sense of, back then, was why U.S. officials were authorizing harsh techniques when our interrogations were working and their harsh techniques weren’t. The answer, as the long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee Report now makes clear, is that the architects of the program were taking credit for our success, from the unmasking of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the mastermind of 9/11 to the uncovering of the ‘dirty bomber’ Jose Padilla. The claims made by government officials for years about the efficacy of ‘enhanced interrogation’, in secret memos and in public, are false. ‘Enhanced interrogation’ doesn’t work.”

The former CIA officers who have collaborated on this latest attempt to whitewash the historical record that they embraced and facilitated torture by Americans, are counting on the laziness of the press and the American public. As long as no one takes time to actually read the extensively footnoted and documented report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, then it is easy to buy into the fantasy that the CIA officers are simply victims of a political vendetta.

These officers are also counting on a segment of the American people repeatedly identified in polling results that continues to believe torture works. Such people have no proof that it works (because there is none that it works consistently and effectively), they simply believe it instinctively or because of people such as this book’s authors’ arguments to that effect.

That is why it is so important that the truth be told and this book and its arguments be debunked. Americans must learn the realities of torture that it rarely if ever works, that it dehumanizes the torturer as well as the tortured, that it increases the numbers and hostility of our opponents while providing no benefit, and that it seriously diminishes America’s reputation in the world and thus its power.  Torture is wrong and the men who wrote this book are wrong.

The book, Rebuttal, is a new incarnation of the lie extolling the efficacy of torture. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, a time of perceived crisis and palpable fear, the leaders of the CIA decided to ignore international and domestic law. They chose to discard the moral foundations of our Republic and, using the same justifications that authoritarian regimes have employed for attacking enemies, and embarked willingly on a course of action that embraced practices that in earlier times the United States had condemned and punished as a violation of U.S. laws and fundamental human rights.

As former intelligence officers, we are compelled by conscience to denounce the actions and words of our former colleagues. In their minds they have found a way to rationalize and justify torture. We say there is no excuse; there is no justification. The heart of good intelligence work, whether collection or analysis, is based in the pursuit of truth, not the fabrication of a lie.

It is to this end that we reiterate that no threat, no matter how grave, should serve to justify inhuman behavior and immoral conduct or torture conducted by Americans.

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

Fulton Armstrong, National Intelligence Officer for Latin America (ret.)

William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)

Tony Camerino, former Air Force and Air Force Reserves, a senior interrogator in Iraq and author of How to Break a Terrorist under pseudonym Matthew Alexander

Glenn L. Carle, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Transnational Threats, CIA (ret.)

Thomas Drake, former Senior Executive, NSA

Daniel Ellsberg, former State Department and Defense Department Official (VIPS Associate)

Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)

Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan (associate VIPS)

Larry C Johnson, CIA & State Department (ret.)

Michael S. Kearns, Captain, USAF Intelligence Agency (Retired), ex Master SERE Instructor

John Kiriakou, Former CIA Counterterrorism Officer

Karen Kwiatkowski, Lt. Col., US Air Force (ret.)

Edward Loomis, NSA, Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)

David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

James Marcinkowski, Attorney, former CIA Operations Officer

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East,CIA (ret.)

Todd Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)

Scott Ritter, former Maj., USMC, former UN Weapon Inspector, Iraq

Diane Roark, former professional staff, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

Coleen Rowley, Division Counsel & Special Agent, FBI (ret.)

Ali Soufan, former FBI Special Agent

Robert David Steele, former CIA Operations Officer

Greg Thielmann, U.S. Foreign Service Officer (ret.) and former Senate Intelligence Committee

Peter Van Buren, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel (USA, ret.), Distinguished Visiting Professor, College of William and Mary

Valerie Plame Wilson, CIA Operations Officer (ret.)

Ann Wright, U.S. Army Reserve Colonel (ret) and former U.S. Diplomat

27 comments for “US Intel Vets Decry CIA’s Use of Torture

  1. September 19, 2015 at 12:52

    Let’s not forget the Clinton years.The saga continues.But,in all fairness,..let’s not judge the “Devil”s on only their own merit’s. Who is really responsible for the Power that is given to the “Wildbeast” (‘s) of the earth (it’s government’s)? Is it not the same people who are using the illegal drug’s?Or engaging in questionable behavior’s? The same one’s voting them into office? …..

  2. Brendan
    September 16, 2015 at 04:54

    The CIA probably isn’t too worried about any criticism or bad publicity as long as it has Hollywood on its side. The movie Zero Dark Thirty, which earned more than $130 million in worldwide ticket sales, showed the positive results of CIA torture.

    Vice News revealed how the movie was made in close cooperation with the CIA. According to internal CIA documents released through the Freedom of Information Act, the film makers visited CIA headquarters, they met the then CIA director Leon Panetta, and they developed a close relationship with CIA officials.

    “The plot behind the plot of Zero Dark Thirty just gets better and better.
    From the moment it premiered in 2012, the film by Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal about the hunt for Osama bin Laden has been criticized as pro-torture propaganda. According to its many detractors, the film embraced the discredited notion that torture by CIA interrogators made Al Qaeda members talk about the whereabouts of their leader.

    at least 10 CIA officers met Bigelow and Boal at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, as well as at hotels and restaurants in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles. In addition, the CIA director at the time, Leon Panetta, met Bigelow at a dinner in Washington and, soon after that, shared a table with her and Boal at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. It also turns out that Boal read his script over the phone to CIA public affairs officials on four separate days in the fall of 2011. ”

    Original article in Vice:

  3. Brendan
    September 15, 2015 at 16:34

    At one time you could be subjected to torture by the CIA, just for being suspected of being connected to Al Qaida. Now, a former CIA chief, David Petraeus, thinks that members of the official Al Qaida group Al Nusra should be recruited as allies.
    But only if they’re ‘moderates’, of course!
    (Warning- requires large bandwidth)

  4. Brendan
    September 15, 2015 at 16:31

    Several former high-ranking CIA officials, incuding former CIA directors, have defended the use of torture in a book called ‘Rebuttal’, to be released this week.
    Even the Washington Post cannot ignore the reality of the CIA’s torture, which the book shies away from:

    “But while lashing out against critics, most of the essays avoid any mention of waterboarding, rectal feeding or other tactics that were used on CIA detainees, and do not explicitly defend the effectiveness of methods that Obama and human rights groups label as torture.”

  5. Brendan
    September 15, 2015 at 16:28

    Several former high-ranking CIA officials, incuding former CIA directors, have defended the use of torture in a book called ‘Rebuttal’, to be released this week. Even the Washington Post cannot ignore the reality of the CIA’s torture which the book shies away from.
    “But while lashing out against critics, most of the essays avoid any mention of waterboarding, rectal feeding or other tactics that were used on CIA detainees, and do not explicitly defend the effectiveness of methods that Obama and human rights groups label as torture.”

  6. Brendan
    September 15, 2015 at 16:21

    Some of the current generation of US intelligence analysts are rebelling too, this time about the alledged doctoring of their reports on IS/ISIL.

    “50 Spies Say ISIS Intelligence Was Cooked”

    “More than 50 intelligence analysts working out of the U.S. military’s Central Command have formally complained that their reports on ISIS and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria were being inappropriately altered by senior officials

    Some of those CENTCOM analysts described the sizeable cadre of protesting analysts as a “revolt” by intelligence professionals who are paid to give their honest assessment, based on facts, and not to be influenced by national-level policy.

    The analysts have accused senior-level leaders, including the director of intelligence and his deputy in CENTCOM, of changing their analyses to be more in line with the Obama administration’s public contention that the fight against ISIS and al Qaeda is making progress. The analysts take a more pessimistic view about how military efforts to destroy the groups are going.”

  7. Enai
    September 15, 2015 at 06:13

    I never understand how people can believe that torture produces reliable information. Have they not heard of the witch hunts? The accused confessed to blighting crops, striking their neighbor’s cattle with illnesses and even to flying by means of broomsticks. Assuming torture works, shouldn’t we at least have air courier services like in Hayao Miyzaki’s classic “Kiki’s delivery service”?

  8. onno
    September 15, 2015 at 04:28

    I quote Mark Twain: ” In our country we have those 3 unspeakable precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and the prudence never to practice either” And also the great US President Abraham Lincoln after the battle at Gettysburg in 1863″ that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth” He also predicted that America will not be destroyed from the outside but destroys itself from within. What a wisdom more than 100 years ago. When we look at Washington today that not only abuses and lies to its citizens, but also send his young people overseas to fight useless battles in Vietnam, Iraq, Syria and now is challenging Russia and China in the hope that USA can hold on to its ‘DREAM’ of global dominance. Washington has become a centre of neocons and warmongers who are paid by the defence industry to keep their business profitable and the dead/ injured American veterans are for these neocons ‘ONLY’ collateral damages.
    It shows that fascism lives in Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s hopes for democracy and US Laws are trampled by the White House and Congress.

  9. Skip Edwards
    September 14, 2015 at 23:30

    This article and most comments are well worth the read. However, there is almost no discussion of the complicity of George Bush and Dick Cheney and high officers of the Bush Administration in ordering, or at least complying with this ghastly smearing of the name of the United States of America and, thusly implied, the names of all Americans. The Obama Administration, likewise, are co-conspirators in this tragic, ongoing tragedy the likes of which the world has never seen. Until we, the citizens of the USA, demand and cause to occur the indictment and justifying prosecution of all these elected and appointed officials for designated time periods, we as a people will forever live in shame. Under our system of gov’t these people are not royalty. They are merely our subjects and subject to our and international law; not what they might like to pretend is their misguided, self fulfilling, disgraceful conscription of law. To make ourseves whole, we must put all of them in the dock. For what good is a Democracy otherwise?

    • Bob Van Noy
      September 15, 2015 at 12:24

      I agree Skip Edwards, it seems that a reconciliation project could be devised that would publicly discuss our very deep problems especially in international relations, I’m thinking mostly about post WW II and the establishment of the CIA, and subsequent nation building in the Mideast and South America. It seems to me that during this period, our nation, acted not in the public best interest but in the interest of big and well connected business. This approach persists, and has become institutionalized as witnessed by our current byzantine approach called exceptionalism.

      I would especially like to see George W Bush testify under oath without his alter ego Dick Cheney.

      That we even have to discuss torture is indication enough that a forum is necessary. Thanks to all.

      • Bob Van Noy
        September 15, 2015 at 12:43

        Sorry, I should have included this from the essay:

        “The former CIA officers who have collaborated on this latest attempt to whitewash the historical record that they embraced and facilitated torture by Americans, are counting on the laziness of the press and the American public. As long as no one takes time to actually read the extensively footnoted and documented report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, then it is easy to buy into the fantasy that the CIA officers are simply victims of a political vendetta.”

  10. F. G. Sanford
    September 14, 2015 at 21:16

    @ Paul – I admire your fidelity to The Constitution and agree fully with your point of view. But in actual fact, 5th Amendment protections are now entirely subject to the whims of the authorities until new laws are Constitutionally challenged. The USA effectively no longer recognizes Geneva Conventions either. That was the entire rationale for inventing the status of “unlawful combatant” and the more recent “unprivileged belligerent”. Somehow, they have established that Constitutional protections do not apply to anyone outside CONUS, thus the motive to keep detainees at offshore detention facilities. The topic of “torture” is not permitted to be introduced in any military proceeding regardless of the fact that The Constitution specifies “No Person”, not “No United States Person physically located inside the United States”. The new “Law of War” manual effectively dispenses with the Geneva Conventions and invokes the martial law doctrine of “military necessity”. As Elizabeth Beavers succinctly put it, “The lack of accountability for torture is not a bug in the system, it’s a feature”. The recent flap over the William Bradford article emanates from the fact that he actually stated in plain English what the administration has disguised in legalese: that the new “Law of War” provisions suspend Constitutional protections for American civilians based on “military necessity”. That’s where Carl Schmitt’s doctrine of the “friend-enemy distinction” plays out. Domestic enemies may be deprived of their rights based on the intrinsically prohibitive nature of martial law. With indefinite detention – which they claim is now perfectly legal – you may never get to present your case, so Constitutionality is moot. At Nuremberg, the new CIA rebuttal would have been introduced as a confession. But these guys are essentially thumbing their noses, sticking out their tongues, dropping “trou” and mooning the judicial system: Nanny Nanny Boo Boo, Nothin’ You Can Doody Doo! Chris Hedges tried to challenge these laws, and as far as I know, his case was remanded for lack of merit. They don’t want to admit in open court that these laws apply to civilians on American soil.

  11. September 14, 2015 at 18:44

    Missing from the entire torture debate has been a dispositive issue: U.S. detainees’ right to remain silent. Prisoners of war are required to divulge only their “surname, first names and rank, date of birth, and army, regimental, personal or serial number, or failing this, equivalent information.” Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, 75 U.N.T.S. 135, entered into force Oct. 21, 1950, Article 17.

    All others are protected by the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. The torturer’s resort to the “ticking time bomb” scenario is of no assistance to them legally; there is no such exception to the Fifth Amendment. The use of any form of coercion in interrogations is very simply illegal, regardless of who is being interrogated.

    • toby
      September 15, 2015 at 08:15

      Telling lies in court was illegal too…until the doctrine of “alternative defenses” made lying in court a lawyer norm.

  12. KHawk
    September 14, 2015 at 18:04

    There are at least two effective uses of torture…

    1. It is good at producing false confessions, and thus, the needed scapegoats.

    2. It incites the needed enemy.

  13. Joe Tedesky
    September 14, 2015 at 16:48

    There was a time whenever I would watch a documentary about the rise of Adolph Hitler, I would view this with amazement to how stupid the German people could be to elect such a violent dictator. Now, I know how this may happen, because it appears it is happening here in America. All of the defensive measures that are being taken to support such prisoner abuse, is proof that the torture of detainees was instigated from the top. After Abu Ghraib though, only the lower class enlisted people were found to be guilty. The people at the top never quite seem to get spanked. No, instead these so called leaders get a medal for valor.

    If interested read about Hanns Schraff and Sherwood F. Moran. Between a German WWII officer and an aged American who entered the Marine Corp during WWII, you will see how interrogation maybe done effectively, and in a humane way. Torture never brings out the best information, but does reign terror over the enemy. If you worry about ‘what goes around comes around’, well there’s that too. So, pray you don’t get caught, if you are in a war zone.

    • frederike
      September 14, 2015 at 18:14

      Thanks for the reference to Hanns Schraff and Sherwood F. Moran.

    • Bob Van Noy
      September 14, 2015 at 18:44

      I agree with you Joe, I thought I had the European aspect of the Second World War down fairly well based upon all those great movies I watched in the 50’s but later when I became more curious about inconsistencies, especially in my JFK research, I learned truly stunning things like the “saving” and reconstitution of the Gehlen Organization. Spy vs. spy just like Mad Magazine, except for Real. I became aware of the minority opinion on Dresden and Tokyo. Each revaluation, dimming my view of “The Greatest Generation.” Today I read Opinion in the New York Times that I simply cannot believe comes from an American news source. These are bad times…

      • Joe Tedesky
        September 14, 2015 at 23:27

        Yeah, I remember watching Sgt. John M. Stryker die on the Sands of Iwo Jima, starring ‘the Duke’ John Wayne on the local TV afternoon movie after school. Often us kids would wear our Army surplus helmets, and we would shoot each other with our air rifles, pretending we were some kind of war hero like Stryker. There were all sorts of documentaries showing how victorious our side was over the Axis Powers. Then came the JFK assassination, and later even more assassinations. As you will recall Vietnam was ascending into our evening news broadcast ever so slowly, until the death tolls that were announced every night became routine. Funny, how looking back gives one a clearer view too how we got to where we are now. You remember Mad’s Spy vs Spy, but don’t ever forget Boris and Natasha. I wonder how different modern life would have been if FDR had picked Henry Wallace as his VP, instead of old ‘Buck Stopper’ Harry.

    • Jo
      September 14, 2015 at 19:38

      As you may know, in Operation Paperclip, we imported hundred of Nazi scientists….now, we are living with the repercussions…

    • bobzz
      September 14, 2015 at 23:32

      Within a few years, driven by the forces of profit, the cult of “me-ism” had all but overwhelmed our sense of acting together, our sense of social justice and internationalism.

      Our whole public life today is like a hothouse for sexual ideas and stimulations. Just look at the bill of fare served up on our movies, …, and theaters, and you will hardly be able to deny that this is not the right kind of food, particularly for the youth. In shop windows and billboards the vilest means are used to attract the attention of the crowd. This sensual, sultry atmosphere leads to ideas and stimulations at a time when the boy should have no understanding of such things.

      This sounds like a sermonic rant one could hear in any Christian Right church, but the ‘preacher’ was Adolph Hitler criticizing the rampant immorality of the Weimar Republic.1 Many professional German theologians and the church generally welcomed Hitler’s stance on morality, but behind the façade of moral concern over personal morals Hitler was building a war machine to dominate Europe, implementing the ‘Jewish solution’, and loosing the Stasi or secret police to spy on his own citizens. German Christians were seduced, and the Christian Right fell for the same baloney when Nixon played to their fears of an America unhinged by moral collapse. My brothers and sisters were/are duped plain and simple. We are no more moral after 40 years of neocon rule. The Christian Right thinks they are being persecuted, but what they are experiencing is blowback from trying to impose their views on the general populace (ballot-box Christianity). As for why the masses accept torture, look no further than the TV series, “24” and similar ilk.
      1 Hitler, Adolph, Mein Kampf. trans. Ralph Manhiem. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971, 257. Cited in Derber, Charles with Yale Magrass. Morality Wars: How Empires, the Born Again, and the Politically Correct Do Evil in the Name of Good. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2008, 89.

      • Joe Tedesky
        September 15, 2015 at 09:49

        bobzz, you make a strong point that is for sure. Years ago I struggled with this very thing. One day, long ago, I recalled what I learned as a kid, how God is everywhere. Then I realized I didn’t need to wear my faith on my sleeve, and make others feel inadequate. I didn’t need no church, because I was surrounded by God. I didn’t need no fire and brimstone preacher, preaching down at me. I just needed to thank God, and then go about my way. I’m not recommending any of what I did too anyone, but this worked for me. I happen to have a few friends who are atheists, and yet these non believers seem to have better morals than many of these so called right wing Christians. The best part is I believe we are not supposed to judge God’s children…that’s easy, so I don’t judge. Sorry for my sermon here.

        • bobzz
          September 15, 2015 at 12:45

          That’s OK, Joe. I’m still in church, and I don’t mind hearing truth. Even in my church, which is fairly enlightened, the vast majority have no clue as to what is going on in the wider world. Last night I listened to a world famous scholar, a church historian, speak of Christianity and Religious Freedom. He spoke about the relationship between church and state but never mentioned our abysmal foreign policy, nor did he mention the church’s primary problem—seventeen centuries of collusion with various states right up to the present. It is the non-Christians that are telling it like it is, that have the insights that the church desperately needs to hear—that is if we are going to be authentic followers of Christ. I appreciate this and similar sites.

          • Joe Tedesky
            September 15, 2015 at 15:38

            bobzz, thanks for your understanding. Just to be clear, I actually admire church goers. I mean, who is to judge what’s in someone’s heart. I certainly am of the belief that Jesus was reaching out to everyone. In fact, isn’t there some scripture saying how when Jesus returns he will destroy all of the false prophets? I may not be right about what the scripture says, but Jesus must be unhappy with what some churches are doing. If pastors were more attuned to the needs of their flock there would be no hate to preach. There’s that judgment thing I was talking about in my other comment post. Rather, today it often seems as though the faithful are the ones running around with the pitch forks, and judging anyone who isn’t like them. I like the saying, how ‘the first will be last and the last will be first’. To me that says it all. After all we are all God’s children, and God is everywhere. You seem to have it right, and I am happy for you. I always like reading your comments bobzz, so take it easy.

  14. Bill Bodden
    September 14, 2015 at 13:16

    As to be expected from the authors, this letter makes a solid case against torture, but is there any point in addressing it to the White House where the inhabitants and their advisers “know what they are doing”?

  15. F. G. Sanford
    September 14, 2015 at 11:58

    We have recently seen the publication of a new “Law of War” manual, which in conjunction with other post-911 laws, essentially constitute “standing orders”. These laws have been rationalized in part by invoking the rabidly delusional juridical reasoning of the infamous Carl Schmitt – a bona fide Nazi who was popularly referred to in Germany as “Hitler’s Lawyer”. Misguided ‘patriots’ are waving the proverbial flag in support of these draconian measures, while at the same time believe themselves to be “supporting the troops”. Policy has remained consistent throughout the Bush and current administrations, while world opinion has steadily eroded any American claim to moral authority. War propaganda which might have once been countered by the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” is now legal. Under new laws, government propaganda is perfectly legal and tax dollars may be allocated to fund its dissemination. Some of the rationale for this insidious degradation of American democratic principles has been provided by the current administration’s “Information Czar”, Cass Sunstein. A typical Neocon, his ideology is an outgrowth of the Leo Strauss school of thought. Strauss was Carl Schmitt’s protege before emigrating to the University of Chicago from Nazi Germany. It is noteworthy that, in the current “Empire of Chaos”, the principal outcome is the dismantling of “nation-states”. During WWII, the most egregious atrocities were committed in places where legitimate governments and the ‘rule of law’ had first been dismembered. Current policies run counter to international law, existing treaties and legal precedent. Obeying “standing orders” was no defense at Nuremberg. Schmitt’s juridical reasoning was roundly repudiated by those trials. Far from “supporting the troops”, we expose them to the perils our own policies promote: arbitrary detention, torture, trial without due process, and summary execution. As long as America retains hegemony, “victors’ justice” may prevail. Steady erosion of the “American Dream” through failed domestic leadership and reckless foreign policy promises an eventual degradation of that hegemony. Our “leaders” behave as though their world and ours are two entirely different places: perpetual sacrifice for us, and unimaginable wealth for them. That dichotomy can only be preserved by planning and executing a state of perpetual war…the “Supreme International Crime”.

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