Return of the Torturers: Back to the Crime Scenes of the Past

The Trump administration has signaled that it is willing to return to the heinous crimes of the past two decades, including torture and abuse, secret prisons, and extraordinary renditions. The appointment of Gina Haspel as the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency clearly indicates that the use of torture, including the use of waterboarding, which has been endorsed by the President, the national security advisor, and the CIA director, could once again be a major part of the U.S. campaign against international terrorism.

Haspel was a central figure in the CIA’s criminal behavior during the Bush administration.  She ran the CIA’s first secret prison in Thailand, where the brutal interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri took place.  No intelligence was gleaned from the use of torture in these interrogations.  When the head of the Counterterrorism Center, Jose Rodriguez, ordered the destruction of the videotapes of the torture, it was Haspel who drafted the cable that ordered the destruction.  This was clearly evidence of obstruction of justice in view of the investigation of torture and abuse that had already begun.

 

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More Bloat For Bloated Defense Spending

The justification for additional defense spending is reminiscent of traditional Cold War justifications.  The Senate’s defense authorization act even empowers the Pentagon to establish a “strategic competition initiative” for the U.S. African Command, which would lead to an expanded U.S. military presence in Africa.  The United States has already trained leaders of coups in Mali and Guinea, and provided aid to repressive regimes in Uganda and Niger.  The Pentagon can’t even provide an accurate inventory of the military equipment it has provided to African countries.

American Exceptionalism: Our Gun Culture at Home and Abroad

There is an insidious and unspoken connection between our gun culture at home and abroad.  U.S. politicians and pundits believe that huge defense budgets provide international security for the United States, and many Americans believe that personal weapons provide safety at home.  We don’t question the use of deadly weaponry in unnecessary wars overseas; Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan are the most recent examples.  At home, there are more guns than people — 120 guns for every 100 people.  The United States is exceptional because some of the same weapons designed for war are available to teenagers fighting their personal demons.

Containing the National Security State

Containing the National Security State