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Biden Advisor an “Apologist for Torture,” an Architect of “Kill Lists”

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JEFFREY KAYE, jeffkaye at sbcglobal.net, @jeff_kaye
Author of Cover-up at GuantanamoKaye said today: “According to former Obama senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, putative Democratic Party candidate for president Joe Biden picked a ‘superstar‘ when he appointed ex-CIA Deputy Director and White House attorney Avril Haines to head his national security and foreign policy team.

“No matter how much Obama/Biden administration officials praise her, Avril Haines’ role always seems to be making the unpalatable palatable, whether it’s prettifying companies like [data mining] contractor Palantir, agencies like the CIA, policies like ‘targeted killing,’ or war criminals like current CIA chief, ‘Bloody’ Gina Haspel.

“During Haspel’s contentious Senate confirmation, the Trump administration turned to Haines to legitimate Haspel, whose crimes included helping destroy CIA torture tapes, as well as participating in an unspecified management role at more than one CIA black site. Haines called Haspel ‘intelligent, compassionate, and fair.’ But that wasn’t all that Avril Haines has done for the CIA. She also participated in an ‘accountability board’ inquiry into CIA interference in the Senate investigation of CIA torture. She, of course, found no wrong-doing by the CIA.

“Haines claims to find torture immoral, yet she supports known torture official Haspel. Additionally, she was a White House lawyer when the UN Committee on Torture condemned the Obama-supported Army Field Manual on interrogations for using methods of interrogation, including sleep deprivation and sensory deprivation, that can cause psychotic reactions in prisoners, raising serious concerns of U.S. current use of torture. Did Haines agree with the Obama administration’s decision to defend the condemned techniques?

“We don’t know, as many questions haven’t been asked in the rush to anoint her a ‘superstar’ appointment. One anonymous progressive leader told The Daily Beast, ‘Being where any decent person should be on a few issues doesn’t cancel out an endorsement of torturers.’ It is sad that in 2020 ‘the leader of a progressive nonprofit that works on national security issues’ would fear ‘professional reprisal’ for daring to criticize Biden’s choice!

“The problems with Haines don’t stop with her shady connections to torture. It’s known that Avril Haines was Obama’s CIA deputy director. But most of the public doesn’t know she was also Obama’s direct advisor in constructing his targeted assassination ‘Kill List’ policy.

“Haines supposedly made Obama’s drone assassination program more transparent and less liable to kill innocents. But a 2016 ACLU examination of the policy Haines helped construct concluded it fell ‘far short of the standards for transparency and accountability needed to ensure that the government’s targeted killing program is lawful under domestic and international law.’ In particular, the Haines-influenced policy relied on ‘looser, law-of-war standards that govern conduct in war, rather than the more protective rules that apply under international human rights law.’

“Avril Haines is presented as a humane, intelligent and compassionate alternative to the typical white male elite that run the CIA and other such agencies. But her record is clear. She is an apologist for torture operations. She helped create kill lists for the CIA and U.S. Special Forces. She is not an alternative to the barbarism of the Trump administration, but a dire predictor of Biden’s obeisance as president to an out-of-control national security establishment.”

Shutdown Government, Expand Military: * Afghan War After 12 years * Africa Attacks * U.S. Global Bases

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MATTHEW HOH, mphoh1 at yahoo.com, @MatthewHoh
Hoh is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and is the former director of the Afghanistan Study Group. A former Marine and State Department official, Hoh resigned in protest from his post with the State Department in Afghanistan over U.S. strategic policy and goals in Afghanistan in 2009. He said today: “It is fitting that as we pass the 12-year mark of the U.S. and Western invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the U.S. government is shut down, our economy, education system and infrastructure continues their persistent degradation, and the American people, for the first time ever, now believe their children will not be better off than they. The failure of the United States’ war in Afghanistan, a failure that has been obvious for quite some time, like our own domestic failings, is a testament to a broken American political order and a $1 trillion a year national security Leviathan. Of course, the Afghan people are no closer to becoming a country at peace than at any time since the 1970s and the United States must and should understand its responsibility and culpability in the continuing death, loss and chaos. 

“Similarly, in Libya and Somalia, again violence and military force is proving not to be a solution to terrorism. We have to understand the root causes. And many times these root causes are local and regional issues we have a poor grasp of — and sometimes those root causes are grievances against U.S. policies. In Somalia, we keep losing sight of the fact that al-Shabab has not conducted operations anywhere that was not related to occupation of Somalia, this is true for their operations in Uganda and their recent attack in Kenya. So much of this is tied to the U.S. sponsored Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. In Libya, our support in the overthrow of Gaddafi’s government, to include the killing of the man that the U.S. State Department had defined as a reliable ally in the war on terror, has led to continued chaos and a vacuum in government. Two years later we find ourselves having to kidnap a man responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people. How can we describe our operations in Libya to have been successful or a model for future operations as is so often described by administration officials or pundits?”

VIJAY PRASHAD, vp01 at aub.edu.lb, @vijayprashad
Edward Said chair at American University in Beirut, Prashad is co-editor of Dispatches from the Arab Spring and author of Arab Spring, Libyan Winter. He said today: “The UN’s mission in Libya has attempted to create a law and order based governance system in the most difficult circumstances. On 22 September, the Libyan government, with help from the UN mission, passed a law on transitional justice with rules that include provisions on fact-finding, reparations for victims and accountability. The entire UN-authorized mission of 2011 run by NATO was legitimized by human rights questions. The current U.S. raid on Libya to capture a man (indicted in 2000 for the 1998 al-Qaeda attacks on U.S. targets in East Africa) from the upscale Noufleen neighborhood in Tripoli undermines the process driven by the Libyan government and the UN mission in Libya. The U.S. has no extradition treaty with Libya but there are other legal avenues to have used before the snatch and render method employed. There is no indication that the U.S. had ever asked the Libyans to extradite the suspect, nor that the U.S. informed the Libyans of this operation. It is a major setback to Libyan efforts to create transitional justice, and once more calls into question the U.S. commitment to a rules and regulations society.”

DAVID VINE, vine at american.edu
Vine is associate professor of anthropology at American University and is author of Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia. He is currently completing a book about the effects of U.S. military bases located outside the United States.

He recently wrote the piece “The Italian Job: How the Pentagon Is Using Your Tax Dollars to Turn Italy into a Launching Pad for the Wars of Today and Tomorrow” for Tom Dispatch.

The piece states: “The Pentagon has spent the last two decades plowing hundreds of millions of tax dollars into military bases in Italy, turning the country into an increasingly important center for U.S. military power. Especially since the start of the Global War on Terror in 2001, the military has been shifting its European center of gravity south from Germany, where the overwhelming majority of U.S. forces in the region have been stationed since the end of World War II. In the process, the Pentagon has turned the Italian peninsula into a launching pad for future wars in Africa, the Middle East, and beyond. …

“Our bases in Italy are making it easier to pursue new wars and military interventions in conflicts about which we know little, from Africa to the Middle East. Unless we question why we still have bases in Italy and dozens more countries like it worldwide — as, encouragingly, growing numbers of politicians, journalists, and others are doing — those bases will help lead us, in the name of American ‘security’, down a path of perpetual violence, perpetual war, and perpetual insecurity.”