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Barack Obama Administration Lied About Torture and National Security

Back during the Bush administration, it was common for liberals to declare “Bush lied!” because, well, he did. Often. About matters of life and death.

Will those same liberals now declare “Obama lied!”?

In February 2009, a letter marked “Obama administration’s communication” was delivered from the U.S. State Department to the British government [the name of the author has been redacted]. The letter referred to seven redacted paragraphs of information about the treatment of Binyam Mohamed by U.S. agents as “highly sensitive information contained in the memoranda” and “classified information.” “Public disclosure of this information, reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage to the United Kingdom’s national security,” the letter declared. The UK Foreign Office confirmed that the Obama administration had argued the release of these seven paragraphs “could likely result in serious damage to UK and US national security.”

When, later in February of 2009, a British court blocked the release of these seven paragraphs, the Obama administration formally thanked the British government “for its continued commitment to protect sensitive national security information.”

In August 2009, after Spokesman Ian Kelly of the Obama State Department was asked in a Daily briefing about these seven paragraphs and was unable to provide a response, the Obama Administration issued the following formal written answer:

Question: Does the release of the 7 paragraphs of information from the trial of Binyam Mohamed hinder our intelligence sharing with Britain?

Answer: The United States and the UK government continue to share a commitment to protect sensitive national security information and preserve the long-standing intelligence sharing relationship that enables both countries to protect their citizens.

The following is the text of those seven paragraphs, finally released by the British Government:

It was reported that a new series of interviews was conducted by the United States authorities prior to 17 May 2001 [SIC] as part of a new strategy designed by an expert interviewer.

v) It was reported that at some stage during that further interview process by the United States authorities, BM had been intentionally subjected to continuous sleep deprivation. The effects of the sleep deprivation were carefully observed.

vi) It was reported that combined with the sleep deprivation, threats and inducements were made to him. His fears of being removed from United States custody and “disappearing” were played upon.

vii) It was reported that the stress brought about by these deliberate tactics was increased by him being shackled in his interviews.

viii) It was clear not only from the reports of the content of the interviews but also from the report that he was being kept under self-harm observation, that the inter views were having a marked effect upon him and causing him significant mental stress and suffering.

ix) We regret to have to conclude that the reports provide to the SyS made clear to anyone reading them that BM was being subjected to the treatment that we have described and the effect upon him of that intentional treatment.

x) The treatment reported, if had been administered on behalf of the United Kingdom, would clearly have been in breach of the undertakings given by the United Kingdom in 1972. Although it is not necessary for us to categorise the treatment reported, it could readily be contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities.

National security information? Sensitive? Vital to the protection of American and British citizens? No. That the United States used all of these techniques to grind people down was widely known around the world by the time Barack Obama took office.

To call confirmation that the United States tortured a detainee “national security information” or “sensitive” or a blow to the safety of American citizens is a lie. A lie that the Obama administration repeated for months on end, right until the moment that the seven paragraphs were released last week. Now the truth is out — that the United States Government under both Bush and Obama was hoping to avoid embarrassment — all the White House can manage to say is that it is “deeply disappointed.”

It was a lie.

Will you say it?

15 comments to Barack Obama Administration Lied About Torture and National Security

  • Tom

    Becoming ever-more clear: he’s a puppet, dancing to the corporate pipers’ tunes; i’m beginning to believe the CIA is running the country @ this point, or at least they’re the muscle in the mafia-style presidencies of Bush and now Obama. Homeland security is to keep US inline (along with the propaganda/distractive media we have 24/7).

  • ramone

    does anyone else besides me speak fluent clintonese? i’m a firm believer in spreading the truth so thin that you can see through it with a forty watt light bulb (only when it suits my purpose, of course). if it can be waltzed around, let’s dance, baby. so, to me, to say obama lied is a real stretch in this case. i don’t think you have even said these words were uttered from obama’s mouth. to save national embarrassment (over an interrogation that happened in 2001) the obama administration issued a formal statement? obama lied? that’s a leap.
    and if those seven paragraphs are the totality of evidence of torture against the bush/cheney crowd then we had better not pursue the matter any further. i’ve received harsher treatment from my wife after having come home late from a ball game.

    • Jim

      I can’t tell if you’re being serious or not, but I suspect you must be joking. Please tell me you’re being sarcastic or putting your tongue in your cheek.

      • ramone

        i might have been joking about “speaking fluent clintonese” and i was joking about my wife’s torture technique. but, seriously, calling obama a liar is a stretch for me at this point. did untrue words pass through his lips? did he sign the “formal written answer”? and my main question would be, where is the torture he lied about? cruel, inhumane and degrading. those terms could apply to any high school romance gone awry. i guess torture has garnered a lower threshold since obama has to defend, not only his own actions, but, bush/cheney transgressions from 2001 and on.

        • Jim

          1. He doesn’t have to defend anything. Obama’s job as chief executive is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not to cover anyone’s ass. Barack Obama has chosen to cover the ass of the Bush administration and continue its expansion of unaccountable executive power.

          2. You continue to joke about other people’s suffering. Go read up about sleep deprivation and forced confinement. Then go find and read the federal statute on torture and see what it says, particularly about threats of harm. Then go read about what happened to Binyam Mohamed when the U.S. did exactly what it threatened to do and “disappeared” Binyam Mohamed through extraordinary rendition to a third-party country that flayed his penis, among other things, to the knowledge and acquiescence of the United States. U.S. agents even took pictures.

          3. Then read up on American torture practices over the last decade if you want information about what else has been done. Don’t eat a meal first.

          4. These seven paragraphs have been at the center of a major international diplomatic incident between the US and UK in 2009 and 2010. If Barack Obama is not aware of the issue, then he is an incompetent leader. Statements in this regard have issued not only from the State Department, which reports to the President, but from the White House itself. This policy was backed up in other ways, by Obama administration efforts to prevent Binyam Mohamed from even bringing a case against the U.S. in court. Barack Obama is responsible for the policy and the repeated statements consistently declaring the substance of the seven paragraphs to be a matter of “national security.” The seven paragraphs had nothing to do with “national security” — they had to do with behavior toward an individual who was renditioned, tortured, shipped off to Guantanamo and NEVER charged with a crime before being released after seven years. That “national security” claim, made systematically and repeatedly by the State Department and the White House, is false, a fabrication, baloney, bullshit, assholic cover. It is a LIE, and if Barack Obama is not part of the LIE then he is the caricature of an empty suit that Republicans paint.

          I thought that surely your comments reflected sarcasm, not blithe indifference. I’m sorry that I was wrong. At what point does your moral center trump your partisan loyalty, ramone? Do you really care more about the person of your hero Barack Obama than you care about the integrity of the government he leads or the fate of the people subjected to that government’s increasingly unrestrained power?

          • ramone

            first off, i think the obama administration wants to move forward and not have to relive bush/cheney misdeads, as that will detract from the many problems we face. if you feel they are lying their way out of dealing with the past, well, so be it. i disagree.
            second: your original post did not go into detail about the specifics of this case. nothing about flayed penis’ and nothing about rendition. nothing about being held seven years without due process.(i admit being cavalier about sleep depravation and shackles, my bad, i should have known more about facts before making flippant remarks) (sometimes injecting humor can defuse uncomfortable situations, but, it’s a risky business and sometimes backfires, as witnessed here).
            third: my understanding is that the seven paraghraphs supposedly proved obama had lied in the administation’s formal written answer. this is where the fluent clintonese comes in. you say, because the seven paraghraphs were not a matter of national security, obama lied. i say what constitutes national security is open for debate and the precise wording that would establish barrack obama a liar are not in evidence. error in perception, error in judgement, empty suit in republican paint, a severe let down for progressives who would like to see the bush/cheney crowd up before some kind of court for war crimes. yes, yes, yes. but, “barrack obama administration lied about torture and national security”, is still stretching the relevance of these seven paragraphs.
            fourth: honestly, i am not indifferent to torture (and life can be torture to teenage lovers)and i am not a loyal partison willing to accept obama’s every position. what i am opposed to is the constant battering obama takes from the left, when i truly believe he still has our best interests at heart. being ramrodded by the right and having to cow-tow to them in order to accomplish anything is bad enough. having to take heat from both sides and still lead the nation through the most difficult of times is an almost unsurmountable task and i have the utmost empathy for him in this endeavor.

            • ramone

              jim, i’ve consulted my webster’s again. i decided my first post was more a case of being facetious (trying to be jocular at an inappropriate time) than sarcastic (a taunting, sneering, cutting or caustic remark; gibe or jeer, generally ironic).
              when it comes to real life torture, neither technique seems appropriate.
              my apologies.

              • Jim

                No apologies to me are necessary. Glad to know you do care. Let’s do what we can to stop the practice and the cover-up of torture, especially by the members of government who are supposed to be accountable to us.

              • ramone

                so, i’m reading this mornings paper, an article from the new york times, “is arrest turning point in the war”. pakistani intelligence captures 2nd in command of the taliban. the jest is that he may well cooperate and persuade other taliban leaders to negotiate for peace. caveat: if the pakistani and U.S. interrogators mistreat the prisoner or “he is percieved to be mistreated, that could end any hope of wooing other members of the taliban”. end of article. so, it hinges or humane treatment verses torture techniques employed by bush/cheney. i think this is all been made possible by obama’s open admission of bush’s torture policy and his commitment to changing our ways of doing business.
                would it not be great to be talking about a peace in afganistan that would leave terrorists without a sanctuary, ending the “war on terror” and starting a campaign to contain the terrorist threat that remains. instead, we’re talking about whether papers shuffled between U.S. and British agencies make out barrack obama to be a liar.
                here’s hoping obama’s policy on torture turn out to be the “turning point in the war”. :)

              • Jim

                That’s a great story, ramone, except that Obama has been pushing for information about American torture — binyam mohamed, torture photos, Abu Ghraib photos, waterboarding documents, victim testimonies — to be covered up and pushed out of the public eye. The Obama administration is not to thank for revelations about US programs of torture. The ACLU is to thank for its years of litigation to get the truth out.

                The papers are talking plenty enough about this big capture, which is very nice. I like to focus on the stories that get short shrift. And call me a contrarian, but I think it’s more important to pay attention to information that calls into question our bloated national self-image rather than information that reinforces that image.

  • Tom

    And this to let you know how serious it’s becoming, while we all sit around and wonder what to do:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/

  • Jim

    Regarding comments earlier about sleep deprivation techniques carried out by the U.S. Government not being such a big deal: here is some detail about what that actually entailed: it wasn’t your mom coming in and waking you up from your nap on a cot every 15 minutes. While the people in U.S. detention were being kept awake for days at a time, they were shackled immobile to a chain with their hands cuffed high and their feet bearing their weight, naked except for a diaper. That’s apart from sleep deprivation itself, which leads to paranoid and hallucinatory psychosis.

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