Stonewalled by the C.I.A.

Published: January 2, 2008

MORE than five years ago, Congress and President Bush created the 9/11 commission. The goal was to provide the American people with the fullest possible account of the “facts and circumstances relating to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001” — and to offer recommendations to prevent future attacks. Soon after its creation, the president’s chief of staff directed all executive branch agencies to cooperate with the commission.

The commission’s mandate was sweeping and it explicitly included the intelligence agencies. But the recent revelations that the C.I.A. destroyed videotaped interrogations of Qaeda operatives leads us to conclude that the agency failed to respond to our lawful requests for information about the 9/11 plot. Those who knew about those videotapes — and did not tell us about them — obstructed our investigation.

There could have been absolutely no doubt in the mind of anyone at the C.I.A. — or the White House — of the commission’s interest in any and all information related to Qaeda detainees involved in the 9/11 plot. Yet no one in the administration ever told the commission of the existence of videotapes of detainee interrogations.

When the press reported that, in 2002 and maybe at other times, the C.I.A. had recorded hundreds of hours of interrogations of at least two Qaeda detainees, we went back to check our records. We found that we did ask, repeatedly, for the kind of information that would have been contained in such videotapes.

The commission did not have a mandate to investigate how detainees were treated; our role was to investigate the history and evolution of Al Qaeda and the 9/11 plot. Beginning in June 2003, we requested all reports of intelligence information on these broad topics that had been gleaned from the interrogations of 118 named individuals, including both Abu Zubaydah and Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, two senior Qaeda operatives, portions of whose interrogations were apparently recorded and then destroyed.

The C.I.A. gave us many reports summarizing information gained in the interrogations. But the reports raised almost as many questions as they answered. Agency officials assured us that, if we posed specific questions, they would do all they could to answer them.

So, in October 2003, we sent another wave of questions to the C.I.A.’s general counsel. One set posed dozens of specific questions about the reports, including those about Abu Zubaydah. A second set, even more important in our view, asked for details about the translation process in the interrogations; the background of the interrogators; the way the interrogators handled inconsistencies in the detainees’ stories; the particular questions that had been asked to elicit reported information; the way interrogators had followed up on certain lines of questioning; the context of the interrogations so we could assess the credibility and demeanor of the detainees when they made the reported statements; and the views or assessments of the interrogators themselves.

The general counsel responded in writing with non-specific replies. The agency did not disclose that any interrogations had ever been recorded or that it had held any further relevant information, in any form. Not satisfied with this response, we decided that we needed to question the detainees directly, including Abu Zubaydah and a few other key captives.

In a lunch meeting on Dec. 23, 2003, George Tenet, the C.I.A. director, told us point blank that we would have no such access. During the meeting, we emphasized to him that the C.I.A. should provide any documents responsive to our requests, even if the commission had not specifically asked for them. Mr. Tenet replied by alluding to several documents he thought would be helpful to us, but neither he, nor anyone else in the meeting, mentioned videotapes.

A meeting on Jan. 21, 2004, with Mr. Tenet, the White House counsel, the secretary of defense and a representative from the Justice Department also resulted in the denial of commission access to the detainees. Once again, videotapes were not mentioned.

As a result of this January meeting, the C.I.A. agreed to pose some of our questions to detainees and report back to us. The commission concluded this was all the administration could give us. But the commission never felt that its earlier questions had been satisfactorily answered. So the public would be aware of our concerns, we highlighted our caveats on page 146 in the commission report.

As a legal matter, it is not up to us to examine the C.I.A.’s failure to disclose the existence of these tapes. That is for others. What we do know is that government officials decided not to inform a lawfully constituted body, created by Congress and the president, to investigate one the greatest tragedies to confront this country. We call that obstruction.

Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton served as chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the 9/11 commission.
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So What!

Here we are in the HOLIDAY Season. And dirty politics are spewing yet again (like it ever stops). Over the HOLIDAY week, someone (CHRISTIANS) in South Carolina mailed out, to residents, HOLIDAY cards that were made to be from Republican, Mormon Mitt Romney and his Mormon family.

The mailer, which says it is "Paid for by the Boston Massachusetts Temple," displays a quote from Mormon apostle Orson Pratt saying that God had multiple wives:

"We have now clearly shown that God the father had a plurality of wives, one or more being eternity by whom he begat our spirits as well as the spirit of Jesus, his first born, and another being upon the earth by whom he begat the tabernacle of Jesus, as his only begotten in this world," the quote reads.

The card focuses on the Republican presidential candidate's home state of Massachusetts, displaying a photo of the Mormon Temple in Boston as well as a snowy photo of the Public Garden in Boston.

The mailing also quotes from the first Book of Nephi, part of the book of Mormon, in which the Virgin Mary is described as "exceedingly fair and white."

Of course, the Romney camp denied they released the card; they also condemned the mailing of the card. Why would someone mail a bunch of fake Holiday cards to South Carolinians? Because a bunch of Religious FREAKS live in the Southern States (and some in the Northern). You know, THOSE FREAKS. The freaks who believe one man had every animal in current existence within a few hundred yards of his big (must have been HUGE) boat, and not just one of each animal, a pair of each animal (for mating), and not only did the boat float, but it floated through a 40 day and 40 night rainstorm that flooded the whole world but saved one boat.

Either you have to be from the South, or live in the middle of nowhere in the North to believe this crock. Even my mother, who is a devout Catholic, sees both sides. Over the Holiday, I asked her about religion and science; I was shocked. She believes in Evolution and Religion. How can that be? Because she can differentiate the parts of the Religion that meant to be read and learned and followed, and the parts that are used to scare children into believing and to make the gods All-Powerful (you know, the B.S. side).

Back to Romney. If a person is gonna, or not gonna, vote for a Presidential Candidate JUST because of his Religion and what his views are on the very few (and usually unimportant issues like gay marriage), then that person's right to vote should be taken away. There is too much shit going on in this world today for the Religious vote to decide this election. We, the people who don't care about what the candidates Religion is, must decide this election (it is too important).

Our 2008 election year will involve nothing more than Religious speak from candidates. Especially from the Republican side (unless McCain or Ron Paul get the nomination). Those are the people who elect Political Leaders (see Bush). I can't blame the Politicians for pandering to these children. If you don't claim you are super religious, then you WILL NOT get elected.

So what do we have? Clinton? They have to show her speaking at churches and going to mass every Sunday. But she doesn't lay it on as thick as the other candidates. Obama? He discusses Religion a bit, and he is a Religious man, but it is not the focal point of his campaign. Romney? He's spent the past months just talking about his Religious tendencies. He will be defending it and finding common ground with Christians the entire election cycle. Huckabee? He's the worst. That will be his entire campaign. He is a former Baptist Preacher. Education: Ouachita Baptist University, B.A., 1975; Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1976-80. He, as governor, stated that Creationism deserves to be taught in science class alongside OTHER theories.

What will we have with another SuperReligious President? Well, for now, the ACLU has been able to stop Creationists Schools from totally revoking Evolution and installing Religious teaching for Science, but with every election cycle Religious Leaders are in power, it will be harder and harder to stop. For now, it is contained in the local levels (School Board, Principles). But soon it will reach Congress and the Supreme Court and a President who really pushes to have it installed.

St. Petersburg Times (Florida, for those Geography idiots), Published December 6, 2007
Donna Callaway, a former middle school principal from Tallahassee, told the Florida Baptist Witness that evolution "should not be taught to the exclusion of other theories of origins of life."

She also said she hoped Christians would pray over the issue. "As a SBOE member, I want those prayers," Callaway said. "I want God to be part of this."

Evolution is not a "theory of origins of life", number one, and number two, the Christian God cannot, by law, "be a part of" the Florida State Board Of Education - unless you rescind the United States Constitution, or secede from the union.

But you've all heard this before, time and time again. It's been said, over and over, a thousand times or more. The facts are always the same; Christian creationist who does not understand what evolution is, or what science is gets elected to the school board. Then they convince other Christian creationists on the school board to "teach the (nonexistent) controversy" by reading the religious tracts put out by the Discovery Institute, WoTM, or Dr. Dino. Overworked civil-rights defenders like the ACLU and FFRF take the school board to court and win. Many indignant news stories and op-ed columns are written about the evil atheist plot to persecute innocent Christians by teaching science instead of Christian mythology in - ahem - science classes. Overwrought email chain letters get forwarded to everyone and their grandmother shouting about the nasty atheists and their evil plan to barbecue all the Christian children in the public school system for the crime of being Christian.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

We are on a sinking ship (NOT UNLIKE THE ARK), and all we have to bail the water are beer mugs. The tidal wave is pounding the ship and water is still gushing in, and there is nothing we can do about it. The ship will sink, eventually. And any visible sign of the boat will cease from existence.

There are more ships out there sinking with repeated tidal waves. Stem Cell Research (or the EVIL SCIENCE)? You know, the science that might be a cure to cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, paralysis, tissue regrowth, and countless others? Bush, before 9-11, had to go to Crawford, Texas, for a week, to THINK about how he should handle it. His answer: No federal funding. Why: using frozen embryos from families who donated eggs and sperm for their OWN in vitro fertilization who had the child they wanted and those remaining embryos which were gonna be discarded anyway COULD NOT BE USED BECAUSE THE BIBLE SAID SO.

What did science do? Did they start a letter-writing campaign? Did they tech Stem Cell Research in children's science classes to USE THEM FOR A FUTURE GAIN? Did they start putting Stem Cell Research artifacts on the lawns of Government Buildings? No, that would just waste time. They started working on other ways to obtaining Stem Cells instead of harvesting human embryos. It took over 6 years, but they are making progress from skin cells. Progress! Just Progress! Of course, getting it other ways will not get the full effect and help as much people as the embryonic way, but who cares; our government is out to help the least amount of people as possible, anyway. So six years later and Parkinson's patients are still dying, Alzheimer's patients are still crumbling away, and paralysis victims are still confined to their wheel chairs, but at least Religion can claim VICTORY in the deaths and pains of others (just like a good Religion does).

To end this

I've heard The Simpsons were falling a bit on the comedy. I think when they have a topic to Satire, they are the Smartest, most Daring show in television history. The are on FOX, but can get away with some shit. With the sanitizing of Network TV, I figured it would only be said on South Park. Not only is this piece a biting bit of satire, but it is also a look into the future if the current path we are on as a country is taken.

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