Sunday, October 23, 2011

U.S. Is Undeniably Guilty Of War Crimes

CIA Kidnapped, Tortured "the Wrong Guy," Says Former Agency Operative Glenn Carle

Sunday 23 October 2011
by: Jason Leopold, Truthout | Video Interview and Report

Former CIA Operative Glenn Carle. (Photo: Lance Page / Truthout [3])

Rob Richer, the No. 2 ranking official in the CIA's clandestine service, paid a visit to Glenn Carle [4]'s office in December 2002 and presented the veteran CIA operative with an urgent proposal.

"I want you to go on a temporary assignment," Carle recalls Richer telling him. "It's important for the agency, it's important for the country and it's important for you. Will you do it?"

Richer, who resigned from the CIA in 2005 [5] and went to work for the mercenary outfit Blackwater, told Carle that agency operatives had just rendered a "high-value target," an Afghan in his mid-forties named Haji Pacha Wazir [6], who was purported to be Osama bin Laden's personal banker as well as financier for a number of suspected terrorists. Wazir was being held at a CIA black site prison in Morocco, and the agency needed a clandestine officer who spoke French to take over the interrogation of the detainee.

Carle, formerly the deputy national intelligence officer for transitional threats, who had no prior interrogation experience, agreed, and within 72 hours, he boarded a CIA-chartered jet bound for Morocco.

The Interrogator

Carle recounts what unfolded next in his riveting book, "The Interrogator: An Education," [7]which stands as a damning indictment of the CIA's torture and rendition program and the Bush administration's approach to the so-called Global War on Terror.

Carle refers to Wazir in his book as CAPTUS. The CIA, which did not respond to requests for comment for this report, would not allow Carle to print Wazir 's name in his book, nor was he permitted to disclose the locations of the two black site prisons where Wazir was imprisoned and tortured.

A report published [8] in Harper's in July first disclosed that CAPTUS is Wazir [8] and the location of the CIA black site prisons [8] where he was held.

During an on-camera interview with Truthout in Washington, DC, Carle said he originally believed the agency had captured a "significant Al-Qaeda leader" who had been a concern to US intelligence agencies "for a long time."

"The assessment that was made of [Wazir] was quite compelling and I accepted it," Carle said. "I knew my colleagues to be hard-working and careful and that they reviewed their assessments regularly and the assessment was that [Wazir] was one of the top players in Al-Qaeda."

Although Carle was told by a top agency official that he should do "whatever it takes to get this man to talk," which he said he understood meant using torture to "break this fellow's will" and obtain intelligence, Carle said he "would not do it [because] it was wrong."

Instead, Carle said he interrogated Wazir using standard rapport-building techniques and "psychological manipulation" that led the detainee to believe Carle was his "friend."

Carle concluded not long after he began interrogating Wazir that the agency had "kidnapped" the "wrong guy" and Wazir, who ran an informal money-transfer business known as a Hawala [9], was not a "committed jihadist" or Bin Laden's personal banker.

Wazir was "more like a train conductor who sells a criminal a ticket," Carle writes in "The Interrogator." "Slowly, progressively, first in dismay, then in anger, I had realized that on the CAPTUS case the Agency, the government, all of us, had been victims of delusion."

Wazir's life had been "destroyed" based on what Carle characterized as an "error."

But the CIA's position did not change. The agency believed Wazir was withholding intelligence due to the fact that he could not answer specific questions. So in an attempt to convince him to reveal information about Al-Qaeda, agency operatives kidnapped his older brother, Haji Ghaljai, in December 2002 and held him captive for six months at the same black site prison.

Carle documented his conclusions about Wazir, and called for his immediate release, in top-secret cables he prepared that were supposed to be sent to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. However, Carle said when he later inquired about his cables he discovered they "were never transmitted so they never formerly existed."

The US government eventually moved Wazir from Morocco to the infamous Salt Pit prison in Afghanistan, which Carle refers to as "Hotel California," and then transferred him to the Bagram prison facility.

Psychological Torture

Carle described in great detail the conditions in which Wazir and other detainees were held at the black site prisons.

“It was instantaneously, completely black,” Carle said about the black site prisons. “Not dark, black. A darkness where literally I could not see my hand…Totally black. And there was loud incessant noise or a series of other sounds. Babies wailing, sounds that would appear to be someone being hit or car crashes or wheels screeching. The goal is to play upon the senses so as to disorient the prisoner.”

Carle said he believed the psychological methods used to disorient detainees rose to the level of torture. He said that if "things got out of hand" during an interrogation a CIA psychologist would step in. Carle said, however, he “never saw any of the physical techniques being administered [to Wazir]” while he was present.

“Whenever anything came up to make that possible I wouldn’t allow it,” Carle said. “I stopped it. So I wasn’t aware of that happening. But I don’t know what happened to him after I left” the black site prison.

Habeas Denial

Blogger Marcy Wheeler reported that in September 2006 Wazir filed a habeas petition [10] and "his suit was ultimately consolidated with the three Bagram detainees whose DC Circuit habeas denial remains the relevant decision denying Bagram detainees habeas."

"But Wazir’s petition was denied in spite of the fact that a former Bagram detainee revealed that Wazir had been told some time in June or July 2008 there was no evidence against him," Wheeler wrote.

Tina Foster, a constitutional attorney who represented Wazir in his habeas petition against the US government [8], told Harper's, “the Justice Department maintained that Pacha Wazir was legally detainable on unspecified grounds, but that the determination had been properly made by those with knowledge of his case.”

“Had the conclusions reached by [Carle in cable assessments he sent about Wazir] not been destroyed, and instead acknowledged and disclosed by the government to the court, it would likely have tipped the scales of justice in his case and possibly also in other cases,” Foster said.

Wazir was not freed until February 2010, eight years after his capture.

Heavily Redacted

The CIA's Publications Review Board, "under the guise of 'protecting sources and methods,' imposed numerous redactions and elliptical phrases on my manuscript," Carle writes in "The Interrogator," which was published following a year-long battle with the agency. "These have eliminated or softened harsh facts about what our government has done in pursuit of terrorists, rounded edges of wrongdoing, and obscured the corruption of our institutions and of our system of government caused by the rendition, detention, and coercive interrogation of terrorists or terrorist suspects."

Still, Carle footnoted the redactions and summarized, in general terms, what the agency had censored. For example, in response to a redacted paragraph on page 134, Carle added this footnote:

The deleted passage concerns my assessment of why Headquarters would persit in its conceptual and operational errors in [Wazir's] case. The passage is acidic. This is the only reason I can see why it would be redacted, for it reveals no source or method--other than contemptible institutional incompetence.

Carle told Truthout that since his book was published in June, he has been the subject of a "whispering campaign," where "unnamed anonymous representatives and supporters of [torture] and defenders of them will speak to significant members of the media and say, 'You shouldn't take a chance on [reporting] his story because you don't want to damage your access to useful sources."

"That's had some effect on my ability to get this story out," Carle said, without citing the media outlets that were allegedly contacted. "The effort clearly has been, and I have heard this from multiple sources, to keep me from having access to the major media networks and newspapers and magazines. It has worked. I have not been able to share my story on a major network."

Prosecutions Would "Divide Us"

Yet Carle, who retired from the CIA in 2007, refuses to endorse an investigation and/or prosecution of key Bush administration and CIA officials who he said they were responsible for violating numerous laws in the name of national security, claiming it would "divide" the country.

"It's not to protect the guilty," Carle told Truthout about the reasons he does not support accountability. "I think a trial or series of trials would divide us, polarize us and become a he said, she said, 'I attempted to protect the nation' - and I am sure everyone sincerely intended to do that - and 'You're just for political reasons coming after me.' I think that would be counterproductive."

"The country is already 'divided,'" Truthout responded, "even without a full-scale investigation or prosecution. You're well aware of the partisan bickering currently taking place in Washington, DC. How would a criminal probe further polarize the country?"

"Well, we are divided in a more distressing way than at any time since the the Vietnam War," Carle said. "But Vietnam was over an issue not over a political philosophy. By taking steps that fuel the divisions we don't end them. My objective is to make the feeling more broad among the American public that [torture is] un-American and unacceptable and doesn't work. I think that comes not by going after the designers of them, but by taking steps that make the average American think, 'well, yeah these methods don't work and are incompatible with what it means to be an American citizen. So, I think strengthening the feeling that the measures are wrong is more important than having three or four people pay a penalty for this."

"I Did My Best"

Another CIA officer took over Wazir’s case in 2003 and Carle returned to the United States. He said he did not inquire about what happened to the detainee until he reluctantly typed his name into Google in December 2010.

"I was an undercover CIA operations officer for most of my career,” Carle said. “I was known to foreign services around the world as a CIA officer. It would be unwise for me to associate my name with an operation. I never asked [about Wazir] and I never looked. I learned only last year, nine months after [Wazir] had been freed, that in fact he had been freed. I knew nothing about it."

Ultimately, Carle said, "I did my best and I think in this case I made the right decisions and acted honorably, although I was unable to accomplish much of what I tried."


This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License [11].

Jason Leopold [13]
Source URL:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

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Oh You Love Us, You Really Love Us! Best Taking of the High Road

The Pitch | Best of Kansas City 2011 | Arts & Entertainment | Best Taking of the High Road

The voices of 200 singers filled Redemptorist Catholic Church in midtown one Sunday in February. The performance of French composer Gabriel Fauré's Requiem raised money for the church's organ. The church staff had invited the Heartland Men's Chorus to participate in the program, a move that didn't sit well with those Catholics who think gay men should renounce their gay ways. In advance of the event, a conservative blogger faulted the church for inviting "a group with an open agenda of proselytizing their message of first tolerance, then acceptance, finally conversion." Members of the men's chorus brushed aside the complaints and focused on the music. In the end, the performance of Fauré's "Lullaby of Death" packed the pews, and there were no reports that the statue of Mary above the church door shed a tear upon the arrival of of gay and gay-sensitive men wearing tuxedoes."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Remarks by the President at the Human Rights Campaign's Annual National Dinner

Can I get a hallelujah? I have to say he came out swinging last night and frankly my dear, I loved it. Two favorite moments? On anti-gay bullying:
"This isn’t just “kids being kids.” It’s wrong. It’s destructive. It’s never acceptable. And I want all those kids to know that the President and the First Lady is standing right by them every inch of the way. I want them to know that we love them and care about them, and they’re not by themselves. That’s what I want them to know."
and on the GOP:
"We don’t believe in a small America. We don’t believe in the kind of smallness that says it’s okay for a stage full of political leaders -- one of whom could end up being the President of the United States -- being silent when an American soldier is booed. We don’t believe in that. We don’t believe in standing silent when that happens. We don’t believe in them being silent since. You want to be Commander-in-Chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it’s not politically convenient."

Release Time:
For Immediate Release
Washington Convention Center

Washington, D.C.

7:26 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. It is great to be back. (Applause.) I see a lot of friends in the house. I appreciate the chance to join you tonight. I also took a trip out to California last week, where I held some productive bilateral talks with your leader, Lady Gaga. (Laughter.) She was wearing 16-inch heels. (Laughter.) She was eight feet tall. (Laughter.) It was a little intimidating.

Now, I don’t want to give a long speech. Cyndi Lauper is in the house. I can’t compete with that. (Applause.) But I wanted to come here tonight, first of all, to personally thank Joe for his outstanding years of leadership at HRC. (Applause.) What he has accomplished at the helm of this organization has been remarkable, and I want to thank all of you for the support that you’ve shown this organization and for your commitment to a simple idea: Every single American -- gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender -- every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of our society. It’s a pretty simple proposition. (Applause.)

Now, I don’t have to tell you that we have a ways to go in that struggle. I don’t have to tell you how many are still denied their basic rights -- Americans who are still made to feel like second-class citizens, who have to live a lie to keep their jobs, or who are afraid to walk the street, or down the hall at school. Many of you have devoted your lives to the cause of equality. So you know what we have to do; we’ve got more work ahead of us.

But we can also be proud of the progress we’ve made these past two and a half years. Think about it. (Applause.) Two years ago, I stood at this podium, in this room, before many of you, and I made a pledge. I said I would never counsel patience; that it wasn’t right to tell you to be patient any more than it was right for others to tell African Americans to be patient in the fight for equal rights a half century ago. (Applause.) But what I also said, that while it might take time –- more time than anyone would like -– we are going to make progress; we are going to succeed; we are going to build a more perfect union.

And so, let’s see what happened. I met with Judy Shepard. I promised her we would pass a hate crimes bill named for her son, Matthew. And with the help of my dear friend Ted Kennedy we got it done. Because it should never be dangerous -- (applause) -- you should never have to look over your shoulder -- to be gay in the United States of America. That’s why we got it done. (Applause.)

I met with Janice Langbehn, who was barred from the bedside of the woman she loved as she lay dying. And I told her that we were going to put a stop to this discrimination. And you know what? We got it done. I issued an order so that any hospital in America that accepts Medicare or Medicaid -– and that means just about every hospital -– has to treat gay partners just as they do straight partners. Because nobody should have to produce a legal contract to hold the hand of the person that they love. We got that done. (Applause.)
I said that we would lift that HIV travel ban -- we got that done. (Applause.) We put in place the first comprehensive national strategy to fight HIV/AIDS. (Applause.)

Many questioned whether we’d succeed in repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.” And, yes, it took two years to get the repeal through Congress. (Applause.) We had to hold a coalition together. We had to keep up the pressure. We took some flak along the way. (Applause.) But with the help of HRC, we got it done. And “don’t ask, don’t tell” is history. (Applause.) And all over the world, there are men and women serving this country just as they always have -- with honor and courage and discipline and valor. We got it done. (Applause.) We got that done. All around the world, you’ve got gays and lesbians who are serving, and the only difference is now they can put up a family photo. (Laughter.) No one has to live a lie to serve the country they love.

I vowed to keep up the fight against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. There’s a bill to repeal this discriminatory law in Congress, and I want to see that passed. But until we reach that day, my administration is no longer defending DOMA in the courts. I believe the law runs counter to the Constitution, and it’s time for it to end once and for all. It should join “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the history books. (Applause.)

So, yes, we have more work to do. And after so many years -- even decades -- of inaction you’ve got every right to push against the slow pace of change. But make no mistake -- I want people to feel encouraged here -- we are making change. We’re making real and lasting change. We can be proud of the progress we’ve already made.

And I’m going to continue to fight alongside you. And I don’t just mean in your role, by the way, as advocates for equality. You’re also moms and dads who care about the schools your children go to. (Applause.) You’re also students figuring out how to pay for college. You’re also folks who are worried about the economy and whether or not your partner or husband or wife will be able to find a job. And you’re Americans who want this country to succeed and prosper, and who are tired of the gridlock and the vicious partisanship, and are sick of the Washington games. Those are your fights, too, HRC. (Applause.)

So I’m going to need your help. I need your help to fight for equality, to pass a repeal of DOMA, to pass an inclusive employment non-discrimination bill so that being gay is never again a fireable offense in America. (Applause.) And I don’t have to tell you, there are those who don't want to just stand in our way but want to turn the clock back; who want to return to the days when gay people couldn’t serve their country openly; who reject the progress that we’ve made; who, as we speak, are looking to enshrine discrimination into state laws and constitutions -- efforts that we’ve got to work hard to oppose, because that’s not what America should be about.

We’re not about restricting rights and restricting opportunity. We’re about opening up rights and opening up opportunity -- (applause) -- and treating each other generously and with love and respect. (Applause.)

And together, we also have to keep sending a message to every young person in this country who might feel alone or afraid because they’re gay or transgender -- who may be getting picked on or pushed around because they’re different. We’ve got to make sure they know that there are adults they can talk to; that they are never alone; that there is a whole world waiting for them filled with possibility. That’s why we held a summit at the White House on bullying. That’s why we’re going to continue to focus on this issue. (Applause.) This isn’t just “kids being kids.” It’s wrong. It’s destructive. It’s never acceptable. And I want all those kids to know that the President and the First Lady is standing right by them every inch of the way. (Applause.) I want them to know that we love them and care about them, and they’re not by themselves. That’s what I want them to know. (Applause.)

Now, I also need your help in the broader fight to get this economy back on track. You may have heard, I introduced a bill called the American Jobs Act. (Applause.) It’s been almost three weeks since I sent it up to Congress. That’s three weeks longer than it should have taken to pass this common-sense bill. (Applause.) This is a bill filled with ideas that both parties have supported -- tax breaks for companies that hire veterans; road projects; school renovations; putting construction crews back to work rebuilding America; tax cuts for middle-class families so they can make ends meet and spend a little more at local stores and restaurants that need the business.

Now, you may have heard me say this a few times before -- I’ll say it again: Pass the bill. (Applause.) Enough gridlock. Enough delay. Enough politics. Pass this bill. Put this country back to work. (Applause.) HRC, you know how Congress works. I’m counting on you to have my back. Go out there and get them to pass this bill. (Applause.) Let’s put America back to work.

Now, ultimately, these debates we’re having are about more than just politics; they’re more about -- they’re about more than the polls and the pundits, and who’s up and who’s down. This is a contest of values. That’s what’s at stake here. This is a fundamental debate about who we are as a nation.

I don’t believe -- we don’t believe -- in a small America, where we let our roads crumble, we let our schools fall apart, where we stand by while teachers are laid off and science labs are shut down, and kids are dropping out.

We believe in a big America, an America that invests in the future -- that invests in schools and highways and research and technology -- the things that have helped make our economy the envy of the world.

We don’t believe in a small America, where we meet our fiscal responsibilities by abdicating every other responsibility we have, and where we just divvy up the government as tax breaks for those who need them the least, where we abandon the commitment we’ve made to seniors though Medicare and Social Security, and we say to somebody looking for work, or a student who needs a college loan, or a middle-class family with a child who’s disabled, that “You’re on your own.” That’s not who we are.

We believe in a big America, an America where everybody has got a fair shot, and everyone pays their fair share. An America where we value success and the idea that anyone can make it in this country. But also an America that does -- in which everyone does their part -- including the wealthiest Americans, including the biggest corporations -- to deal with the deficits that threaten our future. (Applause.)

We don’t believe in a small America. We don’t believe in the kind of smallness that says it’s okay for a stage full of political leaders -- one of whom could end up being the President of the United States -- being silent when an American soldier is booed. (Applause.) We don’t believe in that. We don’t believe in standing silent when that happens. (Applause.) We don’t believe in them being silent since. (Applause.) You want to be Commander-in-Chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it’s not politically convenient. (Applause.)

We don’t believe in a small America. We believe in a big America -- a tolerant America, a just America, an equal America -- that values the service of every patriot. (Applause.) We believe in an America where we’re all in it together, and we see the good in one another, and we live up to a creed that is as old as our founding: E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. And that includes everybody. That’s what we believe. That’s what we’re going to be fighting for. (Applause.)

I am confident that’s what the American people believe in. (Applause.) I’m confident because of the changes we’ve achieved these past two and a half years -– the progress that some folks said was impossible. (Applause.) And I’m hopeful -- I am hopeful --


THE PRESIDENT: I’m fired up, too. (Laughter.) I am hopeful -- (applause) -- I am hopeful -- I am still hopeful, because of a deeper shift that we’re seeing; a transformation not only written into our laws, but woven into the fabric of our society.

It’s progress led not by Washington but by ordinary citizens, who are propelled not just by politics but by love and friendship and a sense of mutual regard. (Applause.) It’s playing out in legislatures like New York, and courtrooms and in the ballot box. But it’s also happening around water coolers and at the Thanksgiving table, and on Facebook and Twitter, and at PTA meetings and potluck dinners, and church socials and VFW Halls.

It happens when a father realizes he doesn’t just love his daughter, but also her wife. (Applause.) It happens when a soldier tells his unit that he’s gay, and they tell him they knew it all along and they didn’t care, because he was the toughest guy in the unit. (Applause.) It happens when a video sparks a movement to let every single young person know they’re not alone, and things will get better. It happens when people look past their ultimately minor differences to see themselves in the hopes and struggles of their fellow human beings. That’s where change is happening. (Applause.)

And that’s not just the story of the gay rights movement. That’s the story of America -- (applause) -- the slow, inexorable march towards a more perfect union. (Applause.) You are contributing to that story, and I’m confident we can continue to write another chapter together.

Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.)

7:45 P.M. EDT