In Wake of Syria Torture Report Remember That the US Has Taken Advantage of the Assad Regime's Brutality

Ahead of the ongoing Syria peace talks in
Switzerland the U.S. and the United Nations expressed
their horror
at the findings of a report put together by former
war crimes prosecutors, which shows that the Assad regime
systematically
killed about 11,000 detainees
from March 2011 to August 2013.
The report is based on roughly 55,000 photographs of the thousands
of dead tortured detainees leaked by a Syrian military police
photographer, who has defected.

Read the report below (contains graphic images):

The report is shocking. But, as Foreign
Policy
‘s
David Kenner has pointed out, the U.S. has used
the brutality of the Assad regime to its advantage. Kenner’s
article highlights the case of Maher Arar, a Syrian-Canadian
national who, according to the
Open Society Foundations
, was arrested by American authorities
in September 2002 and then sent (after almost two weeks of
interrogation) to Jordan, where he was beaten by Jordanian guards
at a CIA detention center in Amman before being sent to a detention
center in Syria run by the Syrian Military Intelligence.

From Foreign Policy:

The only mystery for Arar is why Americans are shocked at
reports of torture in Syrian prisons. “What surprises me is the
reaction of some people in the West, as if it’s news to them,” he
told Foreign Policy. “As far back as the early 1990s … the State
Department reports on Syria have been very blunt — the fact is,
Syria tortures people.”

It’s a history that the U.S. government knows all too well —
because, at times, it has exploited the Assad regime’s brutality
for its own ends. Arar was sent to Assad’s prisons by the United
States: In September 2002, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization
Service (INS) detained him during a layover at New York’s John F.
Kennedy International Airport. U.S. officials believed, partially
on the basis of inaccurate information provided by Canada, that
Arar was a member of al Qaeda. After his detention in New York,
Arar was flown to Amman, Jordan, where he was driven across the
border into Syria.  

“Successive U.S. administrations may not agree with the politics
of Bashar al-Assad, but when you have a common enemy called al
Qaeda — that changes everything,” Arar said. “[S]ince 9/11,
Assad’s regime has been used for what the media now calls ‘torture
by proxy.'”

More from Foreign Policy:

The U.S. government has also never apologized to Arar for
rendering him to Syria, or admitted that he was tortured in Assad’s
jails. So it’s no surprise, perhaps, that Arar believes U.S.
officials’ surprise at the latest revelation is more than a little
hypocritical.  

“Of course, the U.S. government will always ask for assurances
for people not to be tortured,” he said. “But they know that those
assurances are not worth the ink they’re written with. They know
that once a person gets there — they know what’s going to
happen.”

During his first presidential campaign then-Senator Barack Obama
spoke out against the Bush administration’s policies relating to
the War on Terror. However, although Obama did order the closing of
the CIA’s “black” detention sites in January 2009, the Obama
administration’s record on the treatment of terror suspects is

far from ideal

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In Wake of Syria Torture Report Remember That the US Has Taken Advantage of the Assad Regime’s Brutality

Ahead of the ongoing Syria peace talks in
Switzerland the U.S. and the United Nations expressed
their horror
at the findings of a report put together by former
war crimes prosecutors, which shows that the Assad regime
systematically
killed about 11,000 detainees
from March 2011 to August 2013.
The report is based on roughly 55,000 photographs of the thousands
of dead tortured detainees leaked by a Syrian military police
photographer, who has defected.

Read the report below (contains graphic images):

The report is shocking. But, as Foreign
Policy
‘s
David Kenner has pointed out, the U.S. has used
the brutality of the Assad regime to its advantage. Kenner’s
article highlights the case of Maher Arar, a Syrian-Canadian
national who, according to the
Open Society Foundations
, was arrested by American authorities
in September 2002 and then sent (after almost two weeks of
interrogation) to Jordan, where he was beaten by Jordanian guards
at a CIA detention center in Amman before being sent to a detention
center in Syria run by the Syrian Military Intelligence.

From Foreign Policy:

The only mystery for Arar is why Americans are shocked at
reports of torture in Syrian prisons. “What surprises me is the
reaction of some people in the West, as if it’s news to them,” he
told Foreign Policy. “As far back as the early 1990s … the State
Department reports on Syria have been very blunt — the fact is,
Syria tortures people.”

It’s a history that the U.S. government knows all too well —
because, at times, it has exploited the Assad regime’s brutality
for its own ends. Arar was sent to Assad’s prisons by the United
States: In September 2002, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization
Service (INS) detained him during a layover at New York’s John F.
Kennedy International Airport. U.S. officials believed, partially
on the basis of inaccurate information provided by Canada, that
Arar was a member of al Qaeda. After his detention in New York,
Arar was flown to Amman, Jordan, where he was driven across the
border into Syria.  

“Successive U.S. administrations may not agree with the politics
of Bashar al-Assad, but when you have a common enemy called al
Qaeda — that changes everything,” Arar said. “[S]ince 9/11,
Assad’s regime has been used for what the media now calls ‘torture
by proxy.'”

More from Foreign Policy:

The U.S. government has also never apologized to Arar for
rendering him to Syria, or admitted that he was tortured in Assad’s
jails. So it’s no surprise, perhaps, that Arar believes U.S.
officials’ surprise at the latest revelation is more than a little
hypocritical.  

“Of course, the U.S. government will always ask for assurances
for people not to be tortured,” he said. “But they know that those
assurances are not worth the ink they’re written with. They know
that once a person gets there — they know what’s going to
happen.”

During his first presidential campaign then-Senator Barack Obama
spoke out against the Bush administration’s policies relating to
the War on Terror. However, although Obama did order the closing of
the CIA’s “black” detention sites in January 2009, the Obama
administration’s record on the treatment of terror suspects is

far from ideal

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NSA Telephone Spying Is Illegal and Useless, Asserts Obama's Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board

NSA Spying ProtestLast summer, President Barack Obama asked the
Privacy and Civil Liberties
Oversight Board
to look into the effectiveness and legalities
of the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program.
The Board was especially to investigate the NSA’s clandestine
collection of essentially all of the phone records of Americans.
The PCLOB was established to monitor the activities of federal law
enforcement, counter-terrorism, and spy agencies in an effort to
make sure that the executive branch is not violating the civil
liberties of Americans.

According to the
Washington Post
and the
New York Times
, the PCLOB report, which will be issued
today, finds that the NSA’s massive domestic surveillance program
is illegal and largely useless and should be ended. From the
Times:

The program “lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215
[of the PATRIOT Act], implicates constitutional concerns under the
First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and
civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited
value,” the report said. “As a result, the board recommends that
the government end the program.”

The panel further noted, as the Post reports:

“We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to
the United States in which the telephone records program made a
concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism
investigation,” said the report, a copy of which was obtained by
The Washington Post. “Moreover, we are aware of no instance in
which the program directly contributed to the discovery of a
previously unknown terrorist plot or the disruption of a terrorist
attack.”…

“The Board believes that the Section 215 program has contributed
only minimal value in combating terrorism beyond what the
government already achieves through these and other alternative
means,” the report said. “Cessation of the program would eliminate
the privacy and civil liberties concerns associated with bulk
collection without unduly hampering the government’s efforts, while
ensuring that any governmental requests for telephone calling
records are tailored to the needs of specific investigations.”

The Board explicitly rejected claims made by NSA enablers that
the agencies massive telephone spying program could have prevented
the 9/11 atrocities or helped disrupt the New York City subway
bombing plot.

The PCLOB report finds that the NSA claim that the telephone
calling data of all Americans is “relevant to an authorized
investigation” is an absurd interpretation of the PATRIOT Act. The
Post reports that …

… the board found that it is impossible that all the records
collected — billions daily — could be relevant to a single
investigation “without redefining that word in a manner that is
circular, unlimited in scope.”…“At its core, the approach boils
down to the proposition that essentially all telephone records are
relevant to essentially all international terrorism
investigations,” the report said. This approach, it said, “at
minimum, is in deep tension with the statutory requirement that
items obtained through a Section 215 order be sought for ‘an
investigation,’ not for the purpose of enhancing the government’s
counterterrorism capabilities generally.”

The Board rejected the proposal that there should be a central
repository holding data on the phone calls of all Americans.
Federal agencies can seek data from individual telephone companies
on a case-by-case basis using constitutionally authorized
procedures, e.g., warrants issued on the basis of probable
cause.

President Obama was briefed on the Board’s findings before his
speech last Friday in which he outlined a couple of
very feeble proposals for reforming
the NSA’s unconstitutional
domestic spying operations. He evidently didn’t listen to his own
oversight board.

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via IFTTT

NSA Telephone Spying Is Illegal and Useless, Asserts Obama’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board

NSA Spying ProtestLast summer, President Barack Obama asked the
Privacy and Civil Liberties
Oversight Board
to look into the effectiveness and legalities
of the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program.
The Board was especially to investigate the NSA’s clandestine
collection of essentially all of the phone records of Americans.
The PCLOB was established to monitor the activities of federal law
enforcement, counter-terrorism, and spy agencies in an effort to
make sure that the executive branch is not violating the civil
liberties of Americans.

According to the
Washington Post
and the
New York Times
, the PCLOB report, which will be issued
today, finds that the NSA’s massive domestic surveillance program
is illegal and largely useless and should be ended. From the
Times:

The program “lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215
[of the PATRIOT Act], implicates constitutional concerns under the
First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and
civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited
value,” the report said. “As a result, the board recommends that
the government end the program.”

The panel further noted, as the Post reports:

“We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to
the United States in which the telephone records program made a
concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism
investigation,” said the report, a copy of which was obtained by
The Washington Post. “Moreover, we are aware of no instance in
which the program directly contributed to the discovery of a
previously unknown terrorist plot or the disruption of a terrorist
attack.”…

“The Board believes that the Section 215 program has contributed
only minimal value in combating terrorism beyond what the
government already achieves through these and other alternative
means,” the report said. “Cessation of the program would eliminate
the privacy and civil liberties concerns associated with bulk
collection without unduly hampering the government’s efforts, while
ensuring that any governmental requests for telephone calling
records are tailored to the needs of specific investigations.”

The Board explicitly rejected claims made by NSA enablers that
the agencies massive telephone spying program could have prevented
the 9/11 atrocities or helped disrupt the New York City subway
bombing plot.

The PCLOB report finds that the NSA claim that the telephone
calling data of all Americans is “relevant to an authorized
investigation” is an absurd interpretation of the PATRIOT Act. The
Post reports that …

… the board found that it is impossible that all the records
collected — billions daily — could be relevant to a single
investigation “without redefining that word in a manner that is
circular, unlimited in scope.”…“At its core, the approach boils
down to the proposition that essentially all telephone records are
relevant to essentially all international terrorism
investigations,” the report said. This approach, it said, “at
minimum, is in deep tension with the statutory requirement that
items obtained through a Section 215 order be sought for ‘an
investigation,’ not for the purpose of enhancing the government’s
counterterrorism capabilities generally.”

The Board rejected the proposal that there should be a central
repository holding data on the phone calls of all Americans.
Federal agencies can seek data from individual telephone companies
on a case-by-case basis using constitutionally authorized
procedures, e.g., warrants issued on the basis of probable
cause.

President Obama was briefed on the Board’s findings before his
speech last Friday in which he outlined a couple of
very feeble proposals for reforming
the NSA’s unconstitutional
domestic spying operations. He evidently didn’t listen to his own
oversight board.

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Veronique de Rugy on America’s Crushing Fiscal Gap

The U.S. government has racked up $12
trillion in public debt, a figure equivalent to nearly
three-quarters of gross domestic product. Yet that massive sum
pales in comparison to the costs of the federal government’s unpaid
promises, mostly in the form of health care and retirement benefits
for seniors. Veronique de Rugy says it’s time to account for future
government obligations.

View this article.

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A.M. Links: Majority on Govt. Privacy Board Say NSA Data Collection is Illegal, Huckabee May Run in 2016, Texas Executes Mexican Citizen

  • Three of the five members of a government
    privacy board
    reportedly think that the NSA’s collection of
    telephone metadata is illegal and have said that the government
    should “purge the database of telephone records that have been
    collected and stored during the program’s operation.”
  • Texas
    executed a Mexican national
    yesterday despite the Mexican
    government saying that the execution would violate international
    law. Secretary of State John Kerry asked Texan officials to delay
    the execution.
  • Virginia’s attorney general has said that state’s
    ban on gay marriage
    is unconstitutional and that he will not
    defend it in federal lawsuits.  
  • Former Arkansas Gov.
    Mike Huckabee
    might be considering a 2016 presidential
    run.
  • Russian law will allow authorities to
    spy on all communication
    in Sochi during the Winter
    Olympics.
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said
    “more could have been done”
    to plow the Upper East Side.

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content.

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Andrew Napolitano on President Obama’s NSA Placebo

In a thinly disguised effort to
change the subject, President Obama’s most recent speech on the NSA
speech focused on where the seized data is stored, rather than on
whether the government in a free society is empowered to collect
it. Andrew Napolitano says that instead of addressing the massive
violations of the natural and constitutionally protected right to
privacy, instead of reestablishing the serious constitutional and
civil liberties bona fides he established for himself as a U.S.
senator, the president defended his massive spying as a necessary
tool in the fight to maintain national security and offered only a
placebo to its critics.

View this article.

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Andrew Napolitano on President Obama's NSA Placebo

In a thinly disguised effort to
change the subject, President Obama’s most recent speech on the NSA
speech focused on where the seized data is stored, rather than on
whether the government in a free society is empowered to collect
it. Andrew Napolitano says that instead of addressing the massive
violations of the natural and constitutionally protected right to
privacy, instead of reestablishing the serious constitutional and
civil liberties bona fides he established for himself as a U.S.
senator, the president defended his massive spying as a necessary
tool in the fight to maintain national security and offered only a
placebo to its critics.

View this article.

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Brickbat: Ring It Up

When Sheboygan
Falls High School basketball players Jordan, Jamal and Juwaun
Jackson posed for a photograph for a newspaper profile, they
probably didn’t expect that it would lead to them
being suspended
and investigated by police
. But that’s what happened. Jordan
posed making a sign commonly used by NBA players after making a
three-point shot. But officials with the Sheboygan Falls,
Wisconsin, school district had apparently never seen it, so they
asked the police department to investigate, and the cops insist
it’s a gang sign, which led the school to suspend them.

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Tonight on The Independents: Greg Gutfeld on Independence & Libertarianism, Judge Napolitano on the NSA, John Stossel on Climate Policy…Plus Big Booties, Army Robots, and Some of Your Hate Mail!

By G. Nagy. |||Wednesday
night episodes of Fox Business Network’s The
Independents
(9 pm ET, 6 pm PT, repeats at midnight) have
tended to be
libertarian red-meatathons
…so no reason to stop now. Did you
want Andrew Napolitano talking bracingly about
politicians
and
journalists
who would throw Edward Snowden under the Espionage
Act bus? You got it. John Stossel explaining how you can conclude
that mankind is contributing to the warming of the planet

without
wishing to regulate capitalism out of existence?
Check. And multi-show Fox News degenerate (and smashing
television success
) Greg Gutfeld talking about how hanging out
with liberals makes you conservative but hanging out with
conservatives
makes you libertarian
? You betcha.

The Party Panel tonight consists of National Review
writer and
The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome
author Kevin
Williamson, and comedian Tom
Shillhue
, who will talk about Obamacare’s
impact on full-time work
, Obama’s
initiative to combat campus sex-crime
, the military’s
enthusiasm for death-robots
, and the proposed American
pullout from Afghanistan
.

Other topics likely to come up: Violent crackdowns on
jaywalking
, the
15-pound baby
, Katy Perry’s wish to
talk aliens with Obama
, Kanye West’s
latest Kanyisms
, and Jen “Big Booty” Selter’s
big new sports deal
. And sealing the deal will be a dramatic
reading of viewer hate mail, including choice selections from

last night’s comments string
!

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