WASHINGTON -- The United States tortured al Qaeda detainees captured after the Sept. 11,2001 attacks, President Obama acknowledged Friday, in some of his most expansive comments to date about a controversial set of CIA practices that he banned after taking office.
"We tortured some folks," Obama said at a televised news conference at the White House. "We did some things that were contrary to our values."
Addressing the impending release of a Senate report that criticizes CIA treatment of detainees, Obama said he believed the mistreatment happened because of the pressure national security officials felt to forestall another attack. He said Americans should not be too "sanctimonious" about passing judgment through the lens of a seemingly safer present day.
That posture, which he expressed as a candidate for national office in 2008 and early in his presidency, explains why Obama did not push to pursue criminal charges against the Bush era officials who carried out the CIA program. To this day, many of those officials insist that what they did was not torture, which is a felony under U.S. law.
Still, Obama's remarks on Friday were more emphatic than his previous comments on the subject, including a 2009 speech in which he trumpeted his ban of "so-called enhanced interrogation techniques," and "brutal methods," but did not flatly say the U.S. has engaged in torture.
"I believe that waterboarding was torture and, whatever legal rationales were used, it was a mistake," he said in April 2009.
Obama on Friday did not address two other central arguments of the soon-to-be-released Senate report - that the brutal interrogations didn't produce life-saving intelligence, and that the CIA lied to other elements of the U.S. government about exactly what it was doing.
"This is a question about the credibility of the CIA and what they said about the effectiveness of this program," said CBS News National Security Analyst Juan Zarate. "What we're going to see is, out in the open, further debate about the enhanced interrogation techniques that were applied by the CIA in the first and early parts of the Bush administration."
The president also expressed confidence in his CIA director, John Brennan, in the wake of an internal CIA report documenting that the spy agency improperly accessed Senate computers. There have been calls for his resignation by congressional lawmakers.
© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Ukraine MH17 may be CIA false flag and it ain’t flying
Published time: August 01, 2014 15:21
The world has seen all this theatre before. We saw it with the false flag Gulf of Tonkin incident during the Vietnam War. We saw it with the CIA-Saudi faked Sarin gas episode in 2013 that brought the world to the brink of a world war.
We saw it in the fake Niger uranium yellowcake episode that was used to bully a US Congress into war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 2003—the so-called Weapons of Mass Destruction that were never found.
Now the world is seeing it again in the frantic efforts by the US State Department and elements of the CIA to try to blame Putin’s Russia for allegedly giving the east Ukraine separatist rebels highly sophisticated Russian anti-aircraft weapons allegedly used to shoot down the Malaysia Airlines plane.
Putin, so charges Secretary of State John Kerry on five (!) US talk shows on July 20, is de facto guilty for not controlling the eastern Ukraine rebels. The proof of it all? “Social media,” according to the State Department official press spokesperson.
The good news for those sober souls who are not eager to see a World War III pitting China-Russia and the BRICS against a US-led NATO and turning Western Europe into a devastated Trümmerfeld for the third time in a century, is that this attempt to blame Putin’s Russia is backfiring even as this is being written.
One of the most shocking features of Western mainstream media coverage of the MH17 event is the utter lack of serious, cautious investigative journalism of the variety which used to exist only a few years ago. Rather than err on the side of caution before rushing to judgment in a situation that could easily trigger a new Cold War or worse, CNN, the New York Times, Washington Post, and most EU media including German simply quote Kiev government officials, among them the neo-Nazi ones, as if they were credible. Real inquiry must look at the unanswered questions.
First we should begin with several very vital unanswered questions before making judgment what happened to MH17 Boeing 777 aircraft on July 17.
Number one is why Kiev Air Traffic Control, a part of the Ukraine Ministry of Aviation, ordered the MH17 to deviate from its scheduled route that avoided the war zone in eastern Ukraine? According to the initial reports of FlightAware.com which tracks all civilian aircraft online, on Thursday, July 17 Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 Flight MH17 from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, deviated significantly in altitude and route from all other commercial flights, which since the outbreak of the civil war in eastern Ukraine in April have flown south of the conflict region. The key questions before giving blame to anyone, which have been completely ignored by the Ukrainian government in Kiev, by the Obama Administration in Washington, by most Western media, are why did the pilot divert from his usual flight plan? Why did he fly above restricted airspace? And just what, if any instructions, did Kiev air control give the pilot in the minutes before the tragic explosion?
Source: screenshot images from FlightAware.com compiled by from Vagelis Karmiros who collated all the recent MH17 flight paths as tracked by FlightAware and shows that while all ten most recent paths pass safely well south of the Donetsk region, and cross the zone above the Sea of Azov, it was only the July 17 MH17 tragic flight that passed straight overhead Donetsk.
Curiously, after the FlightAware data was initially published, the site changed its version of the trajectory of MH17. Were they pressured to do so?
Kiev’s fake ‘smoking gun’ video
Most of the Obama Administration arguments about who is responsible for MH17 rely on citing Kiev government officials. Yet they have lied repeatedly since their US-backed coup d’état on February 22, 2014, brought them illegally into power at the barrel of a gun. Just hours after the news of the downing of the plane, Ukrainian Secret Intelligence released what it claimed was “proof” that MH17 was shot down by Russian-trained separatists under direct orders from Russia. The 2:23 minute YouTube video purported to prove that "militants of "Bes" group using a Russian anti-aircraft missile shot down a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 passenger jet heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Ukrainian intelligence presented what it alleged were recorded conversations between a pro-Russian separatist and his coordinator Vasyl Geranin, said to be a Colonel of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces. They talk about the “downing of a jet.” There is no distinction whether this is a civilian or a military jet, and may well refer to a Ukrainian Su-25 which was shot down some hours earlier in the civil war fighting.
In the YouTube video there is no way to prove the audio was not simply two actors in a studio reading a script given them. The entire Kiev “smoking gun” video vanished from the media when diligent IT researchers discovered the time/date stamp showed the video was put online on 2014-07-16 at 19:10 Kiev time, a full day BEFORE the downing of MH17. Ooops! Back to the Langley drawing board, boys.
So much for the credibility of the Kiev government, which has lied about pretty much everything since day one in office.
US NATO maneuvers simultaneous
US NATO maneuvers simultaneous
Now we come to a highly interesting coincidence. Just as was the case during the World Trade Center attacks of September, 2001 and the so-called Boston Bombers attack and numerous other terror incidences, there were relevant NATO-Ukraine maneuvers taking place on the days before and right after the MH17 event.
According to Washington NSA “whistleblower” Wayne Madsen, NATO and the Ukraine military were involved in ten days of joint military “exercises,” code-named Sea Breeze,” that included the use of electronic warfare and electronic intelligence aircraft such as the Boeing EA-18G Growler and the Boeing E3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS). Sea Breeze, according to Madsen, included the AEGIS-class guided missile cruiser USS Vela Gulf. From the Black Sea, “the Vela Gulf was able to track Malaysia Airlines MH17 over the Black Sea as well as any missiles fired at the plane.” As well, US AWACS electronic intelligence (ELINT) aircraft were also flying over the Black Sea region at the time of the MH17 fly-over of Ukraine. Growler aircraft have the capability to jam radar systems in all surface-to-air threats.
The NATO exercise coincided with the July 17 MH17 downing only 40 miles from Russia’s border.“NATO ships and aircraft had the Donetsk and Luhansk regions under total radar and electronic surveillance.”
(One very curious footnote is the recurring central role of Vice President Joe Biden in the Ukraine events. Biden has been personally involved since the beginning of the protests. And unusually, it was not NATO but the website operated by Vice President Joe Biden's office that first announced US Sea Breeze and Rapid Trident II military maneuvers on May 21, 2014. As well, in a brazen conflict-of-interest, Biden's son, Hunter Biden, is a newly-named director of the Ukrainian natural gas and oil company Burisma Holdings, Ltd., owned by Ihor Kolomoisky, the Ukrainian-Israeli mafia oligarch, whose is known as the “Chameleon”).
The burning question is why has the US Government not released the exact tracking images for flight MH17 on July 17 to show precisely when it flew and from precisely where it was hit? Could it be they are afraid to reveal what they have for fear it would boomerang on Washington’s war hawks?
Not only do the US agencies have satellite data on the MH17 flight, they also have precise images of the likely rocket missile battery that fired the missile that destroyed MH17.
According to award-winning former Newsweek journalist Robert Perry, one reliable whistleblowersource told Parry that, “US intelligence agencies do have detailed satellite images of the likely missile battery that launched the fateful missile, but the battery appears to have been under the control of Ukrainian government troops dressed in what look like Ukrainian uniforms.”
Could this be the reason why even until today, the Obama Administration has not released detailed evidence to prove their assertions that Ukrainian “rebels backed by Moscow” fired the deadly rocket? It might show in fact the opposite that it was Kiev-tied forces.
US State Department changes story
The official propaganda war against Russia on the MH17 downing is being run, just as was the Maidan Square coup, by a cabal of neoconservatives in the US State Department. Victoria Nuland’s Deputy Press Spokesperson, a former CIA press spokesperson, Marie Harf, in a July 21 Washington press briefing, faced unusually persistent and critical questions from several journalists. They asked why, if Secretary John Kerry and the US Government possessed “irrefutable” evidence of Russian and rebel involvement in MH17, they are refusing to make it public as the US did in earlier instances such as the 1962 Cuba Missile Crisis.
Defensive and irritated by the questions, Harf retorted, referring to July 20 statements by Kerry she declared, “our assessment that this was an SA-11 fired from Russian-backed, separatist-controlled territory.” But, incredibly, what was the proof the journalists were demanding? Harf replied, “that we know – we saw in social media afterwards, we saw videos, we saw photos of the pro-Russian separatists bragging about shooting down an aircraft…”
Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen for gasping. “We saw it in social media afterwards…we saw photos of pro-Russian separatists bragging…” Has the CIA developed talking photographs too?
With Russian government and military intelligence releasing more of its own evidence, the Obama Administration has gone into a frantic “damage control” mode. At 5:57pm Washington time on July 22, they decided to organize an anonymous press briefing by “unnamed senior officials.” “Unnamed senior officials” usually refers to very high level cabinet or assistant secretary level officials.
Several “unnamed senior US officials” held a press briefing in Washington. The US intelligence officials stated that while the Russians have been arming separatists in eastern Ukraine, “the US had no direct evidence that the missile used to shoot down the passenger jet came from Russia.”
This was new from Washington.
The US intelligence officials went on to say they didn’t know who fired the missile or whether any Russian operatives were present at the missile launch. They were “not certain” that the missile crew was trained in Russia…In terms of who fired the missile, they stated, "We don't know a name, we don't know a rank and we're not even 100 percent sure of a nationality…"
Looking like goofy characters in a bad remake of a Hollywood Laurel & Hardy film, the “senior” US intelligence officials, when asked for details on their evidence, repeated the State Department mantra of Marie Harf. The intelligence “seniors” had the chutzpah to state that they were, “relying in part on social media postings and videos made public in recent days by the Ukrainian government,” even though they openly admitted that they have not been able to authenticate all of it. For example, they cited a video of a missile launcher said to have been crossing the Russian border after the launch, appearing to be missing a missile. But later, under questioning, the officials acknowledged they had not yet verified that the video was exactly what it purported to be.
That last bit of the press briefing is astonishing because it meant that some briefing officer, perhaps CIA or State Department, briefed the President of the United States (who presumably has little time to do his own investigations…) who then went on nationwide TV on July 21 to charge that the Malaysia Airlines plane, "was shot down over territory controlled by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine." He also said Russia has both trained the separatists and "armed them with military equipment and weapons, including anti-aircraft weapons." That speech brought the entire world one giant step closer to a Cold War with Russia that easily could become a hot war. A day later, somebody very senior inside the US Administration apparently decided to de-escalate the confrontation massively.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.