Tag Archives: George W Bush

“Corrupt, toxic and sociopathic”: Glenn Greenwald unloads on torture, CIA and Washington’s rotten soul

Pentagon Holds Departure Ceremony For Rumsfeld

Glenn Greenwald tells Salon how the torture report exposes true evil — and a nation drowning in hypocrisy by ELIAS ISQUITH

It took years until the executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report — which shows not only that the CIA’s torture regime was larger and more vicious than understood, but that the agency repeatedly lied about it to the White House and Congress — was finally released to the public. But it only took hours before President Obama was once again urging the nation to look forward, not back. “Rather than another reason to refight old arguments,” read a White House statement, “I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong — in the past.” When members of the media asked whether that meant the White House considered torture to be ineffective, as the report claims, an anonymous official said Obama would not “engage” in the ongoing “debate.” On the issues of rape, waterboarding and induced hypothermia, apparently, reasonable minds can differ.

Glenn Greenwald, the Intercept’s Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and longtime critic of the war on terror, disagrees. “There’s no debate,” he told Salon. “Everything that we did,” he continued, “in terms of how we treated detainees, has [long] been viewed as morally vile and inexcusable and criminal.” Greenwald has little doubt, however, that Washington will turn torture into yet another partisan squabble. It’s the go-to move, he says, when America’s political and media elite decide they’d rather look the other way. “That’s just the ritual Washington engages in,” Greenwald said.

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Speaking with Salon from his home in Brazil (or at least we assumed as much, given the barking in the background) Greenwald discussed what surprised him about the summary, what we still don’t know, why expressions of shock and horror from Congress are disingenuous, how President Obama is culpable, too, and why America’s leaders are “sociopathic.” Our conversation is below and has been edited for clarity and length.

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Torture report: 10 examples of the horror in the CIA’s prisons

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Senate’s 480-page report summary lays out in horrifying detail what happened to detainees in secret torture sites

CIA torture report release: A detainee from Afghanistan is carried on a stretcher before being interrogated by military officials at Camp X-Ray at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

A detainee from Afghanistan is carried on a stretcher before being interrogated by military officials at Camp X-Ray at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba  By Raf Sanchez, Peter Foster,  Washington 6:29AM GMT 10 Dec 2014

 

The Senate report into the CIA’s secret torture programmes is clinical and unsparing.

Over the course of a 480-page summary, it lays out in horrifying detail what was done to detainees in secret torture sites around the world. Here are some of the starkest examples:

Detainees were “rectally fed”

At least five prisoners were forced to ingest food or water through their rectums. One detainee, Majid Khan, went on hunger strike and had a “food tray” of pureed hummus, pasta, nuts and raisins forced into his rectum. Khan apparently tried to kill himself by biting his own veins.

In 2012, he pleaded guilty to terror charges in front of a military court at Guantánamo Bay.

Prisoner dies of suspected hypothermia

In November 2002, the suspected Afghan militant Gul Rahman was being held at “the Salt Pit”, a secret US prison in Afghanistan. Rahman was stripped naked below the waist, chained, and made to sit on a bare concrete floor. He was found dead the next day of suspected hypothermia.

26 of 119 prisoners were wrongfully held

Among the people who were wrongly held was Nazar Ali, “an ‘intellectually challenged’ individual whose taped crying was used as leverage against his family member”.

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Greed destroyed us all – George W. Bush and the real story of the Great Recession (Long Read)

George W. BushFaulty monetary policy and insufficient regulation helped — but old-fashioned avarice really tanked the economy RICHARD S. GROSSMAN MONDAY, OCT 14, 2013 12:43 PM

Reprinted from “WRONG: Nine Economic Policy Disasters and What We Can Learn From Them” by Richard S. Grossman with permission from Oxford University Press. Copyright © 2013 by Richard S. Grossman

If financial crises came with their own nicknames, the subprime meltdown surely would have earned the sobriquet “worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.” That mantra has been chanted over and over again, not only by leading academics and media pundits, but at the highest levels of policy making. When President Barack Obama selected Christina Romer, an economic historian from the University of California, Berkeley, as chair of his Council of Economic Advisors, some carped that the president should have selected an economist with a deeper background in policy rather than in economic history. When Romer herself later asked President Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel why she got the job, Emmanuel answered: “You’re an expert on the Great Depression, and we really thought we might need one.” Given how close the subprime crisis came to economic Armageddon, it is important to understand the series of policy mistakes behind it.

For the most part, previous chapters in this book have focused on particular policies that have had disastrous results, rather than on economic disasters and the policies that led to them. The three policy failures of the interwar period—German reparations after World War I, the interwar gold standard, and the increasing trade protectionism of the 1930s—each merited its own chapter instead of being discussed in a single chapter on the Great Depression. The approach adopted here is different. Rather than starting with a failed economic policy, this chapter starts with a disaster—the subprime crisis—and examines the policies that contributed to it.

There are good reasons for proceeding in this way. The interwar policies discussed earlier had their origins in different countries and occurred under widely differing circumstances. World War I reparations resulted from fears that an isolationist United States would not be able to counter future German aggression, the heavy burdens of inter-Allied debts, and a French desire to punish Germany. The worldwide return to the gold standard was galvanized by the British precedent, which was based on a desire to return to the monetary “normalcy” of the nineteenth century. And the rise of trade protectionism, spurred by the United States’s Smoot-Hawley tariff, was a response to the beginnings of a global economic downturn and domestic political factors. By contrast, the subprime crisis originated almost entirely in the United States, although it subsequently spread far and wide. The main culprits behind the crisis were ill-conceived and ideologically motivated fiscal and monetary policies, which were aided and abetted by inadequate regulation and a variety of other policy mistakes.

Despite the severity of both the Great Depression and the subprime crisis, neither was completely unprecedented. Banking crises were common during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: there were more than 60 such crises in the industrialized world during 1805–1927. Many of these crises shared a common “boom-bust” pattern. Boom-bust crises occur when business cycles—the regular, normally moderate upward and downward movements in economic activity—become exaggerated, leading to a spectacular economic expansion followed by a dramatic collapse. Boom-bust crises play a central role in formal models of financial crises dating back at least as far as Yale economist Irving Fisher, who wrote about them in the 1930s. In Fisher’s telling, economic expansion leads to a growth in the number and size of bank loans—and even the number of banks themselves—and a corresponding increase in borrowing by non-bank firms. As the expansion persists, bankers continue to seek profitable investments, even though as the boom progresses and more investment projects are funded, fewer worthwhile projects remain. The relative scarcity of sound projects does not dissuade eager lenders, however, who continue to dole out funds. Fisher laments this excessive buildup of debt during cyclical upswings: “If only the (upward) movement would stop at equilibrium!” But, of course, it doesn’t.

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