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January 15, 2009

And Dana Priest Was Mysteriously Unavailable For Comment....

Oh, the humanity!

"The Clinton policy in practice meant torture," Joanne Mariner, counterterrorism director for Human Rights Watch, told The Washington Times. "We haven't been able to interview the people themselves, but we have evidence that they were tortured."

Muntassir al-Zayyat, an Egyptian lawyer who represented four of the suspects seized in Albania, told The Times that "all were subjected to torture."

Two of the suspects -- Ahmed Ibrahim al-Naggar and Ahmed Ismail Uthman -- were executed in 1999, while two others -- Shawky Salama Mostafa and Mohammed Hassan Mahoud -- remain in prison, Mr. al-Zayyat said.

The men were suspected of plotting an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tirana, Albania, and coordinating actions with a cell in Egypt. Mr. al-Zayyat told Human Rights Watch that these suspects were taken to "ghost villas."

Al-Naggar, according to the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, was blindfolded for most of his nine-month detention. At one point, he was locked in a room for 24 hours with dirty water up to his knees.

During interrogation, his "hands were tied behind his back and his feet were shackled as security agents applied electric shocks to different parts of his body," the organization said.

Karim Haggag, a spokesman for the Egyptian Embassy in Washington, declined to comment.

Clinton administration officials have said that in all cases in which suspects were sent to jails in countries with poor human rights records, assurances were sought that they would not be tortured and consular visits were arranged.

"When we sent someone to a place like Saudi Arabia, with questionable practices, we got prior assurance that they would not be tortured and we got consular rights to visit them periodically to make sure they didn't," said Richard A. Clarke, counterterrorism czar under Mr. Clinton.

He cited the case of Hani el-Sayegh, a Saudi Shi'ite Muslim who was suspected of involvement in the 1996 bombing at Khobar Towers that killed 19 U.S. airmen. He was handed over to U.S. authorities by Canada in 1997 and sent to Saudi Arabia in 1999.

Other officials said that U.S. leaders knew renditions would lead to torture in some cases.

Michael Scheuer, chief of the CIA unit that tracked Osama bin Laden from 1995 to 1999, told The Times, "The Egyptians were not stupid. When we asked, they would not say they tortured our people. But everyone knew what was going on. The White House must have known."

Al Gore certainly knew:

Where was the outrage over violations of international law? Certainly not coming from Vice President, Albert Gore:
'extraordinary renditions', were operations to apprehend terrorists abroad, usually without the knowledge of and almost always without public acknowledgment of the host government…. The first time I proposed a snatch, in 1993, the White House Counsel, Lloyd Cutler, demanded a meeting with the President to explain how it violated international law. Clinton had seemed to be siding with Cutler until Al Gore belatedly joined the meeting, having just flown overnight from South Africa. Clinton recapped the arguments on both sides for Gore: "Lloyd says this. Dick says that. Gore laughed and said, 'That's a no-brainer. Of course it's a violation of international law, that's why it's a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass.'" ”
- Richard Clarke

And lest we forget, just as the Clinton administration used warrantless physical searches on residents of public housing until they were stopped by the ACLu, the Clinton administration rendered terror suspects to nations known to torture and even kill prisoners when we weren't even at war in violation of the same "international laws" one Al Gore has been fulminating about for the 8 years George Bush has been in office. As Michael Scheuer pointed out, we weren't even interested in interrogating these people. We just wanted to disappear them.

Which rather neatly disposes of the Democrats' supposed reverence for the Constitution, human rights, and international law, now doesn't it?

But now that the Lightworker is about to ascend the Imperial Throne, look for all this to disappear down the memory hole as we call for show trials of the evil Bush administration for things the previous administrations all did when we were not at war.

Got it. I understand now. This is the country my husband has served for nearly three decades. Excuse me while I throw up.

While I'm otherwise occupied, I invite you to compare a sample of torture victims.

Sample one: Innocent Gitmo detainees who were so mentally scarred by the awful treatment they suffered at our hands that they went on to spontaneously combust.

Sample two: American servicemen who fought under the uniform of their country and suffered broken bones, dislocated joints, and mental and physical tortures far exceeding anything that which (apparently) Judge Crawford considers "upsetting and embarrassing".

Damn it all, so do I. And yet somehow these men rose above what was done to them by a cruel and inhumane enemy:

When Denton recalls his trials in Vietnam, his eyes are often closed. For two and a half years, he spent 17 to 18 hours a day in irons. Alone, in a coffin-sized cell, he had to remain on a 47-inch-by-47-inch square during the day. It was just long enough to walk two paces. At night, he slept on a stone slab. "It wasn't the Hilton," Denton said. There were no windows. Just a 10-watt bulb, roaches and spiders the size of tarantulas. "Jesus was with me all the time," said Denton, who is a devout Catholic. His proudest moment was conquering his claustrophobia. Denton said during that time, he was in an "extremely intellectual and spiritual state." He said it is amazing what the mind can accomplish, if given the opportunity.

He once derived the formula for centrifugal force in his head, something he couldn’t do with pencil and paper at the U.S. Naval Academy. Although the other captives had designated Denton "president of the optimist club," there were times he prayed to die. He didn't want to -- couldn't -- endure another minute of despair. Once, when Denton refused to tell guards how the Americans communicated with each other, he was tortured for 10 days and nights. By the 10th night, he couldn't think anymore. He couldn’t pray anymore.

Denton surrendered. Not to the guards, but to God. "It was a total surrender," he said. "If there was anymore to do, you will do it," he told God. "That instant, I felt zero pain," he said. "I felt the greatest comfort and reassurance in life that I haven’t felt since."

When Denton talks to groups around the country, he tells them that patriotism can motivate men to perform for their country, but only prayer can provide the strength for the kind of performance required in prison camps. Denton also found strength in his fellow captives. The Americans were forbidden to communicate with each other. But that didn’t stop them. They communicated in Morse code and other number-based codes they devised and transmitted through blinks, coughs, sneezes, taps on the wall and even sweeps of a broom.

"I experienced what I couldn't imagine human nature was capable of," Denton said. "I witnessed what my comrades could rise to. Self-discipline, compassion, a realization there is a God." He also experienced periodic compassion from the North Vietnamese. Sometimes the guards would weep as they tortured him.
One experience, he will never forget. Denton kept a cross, fashioned out of broom straws, hidden in a propaganda booklet in his cell. The cross was a gift from another prisoner. When a guard found the cross, he shredded it. Spat on it. Struck Denton in the face. Threw what was left of the cross on the floor and ground his heel into it. "It was the only thing I owned," Denton said.

Later, when Denton returned to his cell, he began to tear up the propaganda booklet. He felt a lump in the book. He opened it. "Inside there was another cross, made infinitely better than the other one my buddy had made," Denton said. When the guard tore up the cross, two Vietnamese workers saw what happened and fashioned him a new cross. "They could have been tortured for what they did," Denton said.

One wrong does not excuse another. But these things are all in the public record.

I find it little short of amazing that none of our "investigative media" think to look at what our own servicemen and women endured during Vietnam. They don't want to look at their stories because they speak of character and integrity and faith.

And they are a living testament to the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity despite almost overwhelming odds. They are a living testament to hope: something the media consider anathema.

Posted by Cassandra at January 15, 2009 12:31 PM

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You mean to forgive is divine? I cannot begin to imagine what they suffered. I can only say thank you...and thank a Divine Being who still guides and guards our nation by having such men and women as these.

Posted by: Cricket at January 15, 2009 03:50 PM

I know that I continue to harp on this theme.

But it truly boggles my mind that the our own media continue to place sleep deprivation and humiliation in the same bin with breaking people's bones, dislocating their joints and (oh-by-the-way) ALSO sleep deprivation, humiliation, forcing prisoners to lie in their own vomit and feces for days and days on end, intimidation: all of the horrible things they are accusing us of.

And these men went on - NOT to go back to Vietnam and become terrorists, NOT to be broken, pitiful psycopaths, but to achieve great things. Check into their records.

Of course the media cover this stuff up because it contradicts the narrative. Two state senators who were tortured. For YEARS.

Heads of companies.

These are not dysfunctional people. Yes, they undoubtedly have had to face demons. But they overcame them.

Not easily, or without tremendous personal cost.

But by the grace of God.

I get so angry when I think of this that I begin to lose my perspective, and so I refrain from writing about it Cricket. I cannot ever be objective about this subject.

It haunts me. The press have been criminally negligent in their responsibility to us. This is our history and we know nothing about it because the DNS paid overpriced lawyers to cover it up.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 15, 2009 03:59 PM

Admiral Stockdale will probably always be most remembered for the Vice-presidential debate of 1992.
I remember on the day he died, some clown on a local radio station mocked him because of his "performance" and his "responses" on that night. I seriously thought about driving to the radio station and putting my fist through that airhead's face.

Few braver and more noble men have ever worn this country's uniform, but that is the way he will be remembered by the Media and by a "grateful nation".

When I think about people like your husband and others who have given a lifetime of service to this country, it makes me intensely proud to be an American, to share the title of "citizen" with such people.
But when I think of the prancing fairies in the media and how they represent that self-same service, I wonder what is to become of us.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at January 15, 2009 04:44 PM

Imagine for a moment what went through the minds of these wonderful Americans when they were shown pictures of Hanoi Jane giving aid and comfort to the NVA while sitting on an AA gun. Or the anti-war, anarchist photos occuring on American campuses, and the list goes on.

Didn't you love Ted Turner's response to the fact tgat millions were killed or reeducated by the NVA, Khmer Rouge killing fields of Cambodia, and the desperate boat people? He stated he had not been aware of that.

Sometimes words fail me.

Posted by: vet66 at January 15, 2009 05:34 PM

Nothing do I know of this from personal experience. No one's ever even hurt me physically that I can recall, let alone tortured me. But it does seem that torturous experiences of all kinds (illness, loss) can make us or break us. It doesn't depend on the torture. It depends on us.

Maybe this is sophistry on my part, but I see a big difference between putting extreme pressure on someone to reveal information vs. beating and maiming someone for the purpose of acting out hatred and fury. You can argue that it's not right to inflict pain or even extreme discomfort for the purpose of making a soldier violate his duty not to reveal military secrets, but I don't see how you can simply equate harsh interrogation with torture for torture's sake. It takes all meaning out of the word "torture." It's like the people who like to call every official action they disagree with "terrorism," as if any unwelcome use of physical or psychological force were terrorism. They leave the real word "terrorism" without meaning.

Posted by: Texan99 at January 15, 2009 07:44 PM

They do that, vet66, because it dilutes the argument of who is right or wrong in the first place. It is a psychological trick used to cause people to second-guess themselves and lose the element of either surprise or the tactical advantage.

Standard debating crap from the Social-Minded nitwits.

Posted by: Cricket at January 15, 2009 08:34 PM

Sorry, Texan99. I meant you. I was distracted.

A sense of proportion is being called for in the Gaza dustup. Here is where absolutes are being nullified to gain the 'talk' advantage:

Hamas violated the cease-fire. Even though they fired 'only 65' mortars or rockets into Israel, they violated it. Israel's response was swift, decisive and they did not back down. Now the Hamas whiners are calling Israel bullies when they have it in their charter that no cease-fire is possible.

So, I say boot Hamas out, take back the land and never let the world forget the lesson.


Posted by: Cricket at January 15, 2009 08:39 PM

"...I see a big difference between putting extreme pressure on someone to reveal information vs. beating and maiming someone for the purpose of acting out hatred and fury." -- Texan99

At least there was some improvement in the NVA treatment of POWs over that of the Japanese circa WWII.

As far as I know, the NVA did not use the prisoners as slave labor and didn't attempt to massacre an entire prison population when their rescue seemed likely, as the Japanese did. Correct me if I'm wrong, please.

And now we have Gitmo which is a much nicer place than some jails in Mexico or Turkey. Or probably the U.S.

Posted by: Donna B. at January 15, 2009 10:10 PM

No, I think you are right, Donna.

I read somewhere today (I forget where) that we are about to be treated to the arrival of 'the new pessimists'. This is supposed to be a good thing - out with the 'erroneous' idea that we are getting better over time - that freedom and democracy are spreading - that we as a species are becoming, in the aggregate, more humane.

I wonder whether these people ever pick up a history book? It's not just America. It's all over the world. We are becoming more civilized, everywhere. We're not braining each other for a piece of meat, or a woman. Certainly we're not perfect but we're a damned sight better than we were. Life is less brutish, especially for the weak and the conquered.

This is what I don't understand about the far left sometimes. You can not like the world the way it is and yet be happy. But for some of these folks, their pantyhose will always be wrapped into a wad no matter how much better things get because no matter what we do accomplish, they are always full of angst and anger about whatever is still dangling just out of their reach. Progress, by definition, becomes impossible to achieve because they equate the recognition of progress along a continuing spectrum with either being an apologist for everything wrong with the world, or with not wanting things to get better anymore.


Posted by: Cassandra at January 15, 2009 10:57 PM

Cock-eyed pessimism: The glass will always be half-empty. No.matter.what. Doesn't matter if it gets filled, it was empty. If it does get filled, it will be half-empty again. It may not get filled again. If it does, the quality of the fill may be better than what was in the glass, and therefore sullied. If it does, the quality of the contents of the glass are better and are now diluted. The color, taste and vitamin content. The green effect. The global warming.
You name it, they have a crisis.

Posted by: Cricket at January 16, 2009 05:20 AM

This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 1/16/2009, at The Unreligious Right

Posted by: UNRR at January 16, 2009 08:36 AM

On Stockdale who had been a lecturer on philosophy, at the Hoover Institution before this; Dennis Miller, 15 years ago, said it best, I'm paraphrasing now "He looked like he couldn't hear. because those bastards, blew out his ear drum, he had been a casualty of that long war, that Bill Clinton had deigned not to get involved in. Paddy Chayevsky must be laughing his head off, up there, realizing the only crime, apparently is not to look good on TV"

Posted by: narciso at January 16, 2009 09:30 AM

As far as I know, the NVA did not use the prisoners as slave labor and didn't attempt to massacre an entire prison population when their rescue seemed likely, as the Japanese did. Correct me if I'm wrong, please.

The NVA did not use *US* POWs for slave labor, but the VC and Pathet Lao did, and I know of at least two instances where VC killed US POWs rather than allow them to be rescued -- I was a member of one of the rescue missions.

Posted by: BillT at January 16, 2009 11:40 AM

One reason I think we *won't* have show trials on this subject?

Because the defense would promptly call the Clintonians to testify.

It would be criminally inept to not do so.

And I don't think the Secretary of State, nor the About-to-be-President are interested in that, seeing as how, from a personing-chart perspective, this Administration is Clinton's Third Term.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at January 16, 2009 03:12 PM

BillT -- Thanks for correcting me. I put that phrase in there because I was almost certain that it happened again somewhere.

Still, I think the overall systematic brutality of the Japanese in WWII is still the worst. The command issued orders to kill and they went about obeying those orders with planning, determination, and skill.

Have you written about your experiences?

Posted by: Donna B. at January 16, 2009 10:20 PM

Donna -- Yes, but you'd have to go to The Castle to read them, and the TINS! series is neither in real-time chronological order nor all written by yrs trly. I've written about the two POW camp raids I was part of, but it was sent via e-mail as background for a book a friend is writing.

Maybe if I get coffee'd up and Real Life goes on hiatus for a month, I'll finish the book I started in 1991...

Posted by: BillT at January 17, 2009 03:55 AM


It has been my experience that if our schools are teaching history at, they are not covering Viet Nam. If they do it is a passing reference to the "Gulf of Tonkin Incident" and a "Police action" in Southeast Asia.

History has been rewritten, and replaced by, Sociology and Social Studies. I hope you complete your book. It is the only history we can reliably count on for historical context.

My grandmother wrote well of a covered wagon trip she made from Salida, CO. to Arizona in the early 1900's. Aside from a shotgun that fell off the wall killing her brother she taught us not to measure flour and then adding it to the water. She wrote that if you pour the water into the keg of flour, the flour would absorb exactly the amount of water needed to prepare the dough.


Thanks for your service.

NavSecGru, HI.

Posted by: vet66 at January 17, 2009 12:03 PM

My old outfit put a website together to augment the official history. Lotta stories there (including a bare-bones account of the POW camp raids). I think every unit that was ever there has done something similar, so the smaller stories will be available for as long as somebody's paying the rent.

But once the last of us are gone...

Posted by: BillT at January 17, 2009 12:44 PM

We must never forget. Hopefully the internet will change that. While I like to think that I know something about the timeline and causes of the Vietnam war, that is where real knowledge stops, because historians seldom seem to write from a real-time, this-is-happening-now perspective. It is all hindsight, which supposedly gives them a license to be critical or not, depending on what they want to accomplish. When someone provides a first-hand, eyewitness account, that is real-time history, not something an Ivory Tower'd Prof has said is history.

Now, y'all can tell me I am fulla carp. I only say this because of the fun facts I dug up out of 19th century US History books used in Missouri schools in 1900.

Posted by: Cricket at January 17, 2009 11:50 PM

And that is why I allow the CLUs to read military blogs along with the MSM websites. A balance is needed.

Posted by: Cricket at January 17, 2009 11:52 PM