15 December 2014

Update no.678

Update from the Heartland
No.678
8.12.14 – 14.12.14
To all,

Navy, 17 – Army, 10.  Now, I am getting embarrassed for my cousins – USMA 1974 & 1978.  A Baker’s Dozen – 13 and counting – Navy Football has stood victorious over the Black Knights of West Point.  Sorry, Brothers; we love ya nonetheless.  I must say, the first quarter of play did not leave me feeling well.  Thankfully, the Middies figured it out and eventually moved the ball down field.  So, to my cousins, and our brothers-in-arms, good luck next year.  Go Navy, Beat Army.

Resistance is futile!  The Rolling Stone article “Gang Rape on Campus” has created quite the stir in the Blog-o-sphere.  The citation:
“A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA – Jackie was just starting her freshman year at the University of Virginia when she was brutally assaulted by seven men at a frat party. When she tried to hold them accountable, a whole new kind of abuse began”
by Sabrina Rubin Erdely
Published: November 19, 2014
The disconnect for the magazine certainly suggests sloppy reporting or perhaps emotional myopia.  However, regardless of the details that may not be correct, there is no doubt in my little pea-brain that violent, rape assaults like that portrayed in Erdely’s essay happen all too often on university campuses and elsewhere.  Please do not throw out the Erdely essay as the whole of the article is certainly representative of real events.  In this instance, I have first hand experience of a similar nature.  I was honored to hold the position of Chancellor, Prescott (AZ) Campus, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University for two years across three academic years.  In that time, I was confronted with a half dozen cases of sexual assault involving our students.  None of the cases resulted in criminal prosecution despite my encouragement for the women involved to take legal action.  Unfortunately, of the six cases, only two made it to a law enforcement investigation; however, none of them could generate sufficient evidence to attain probable cause and would have fallen short of “beyond a reasonable doubt” for a conviction.  In every case, intoxicants were involved – in every case, alcohol, and in a few of those cases, other drugs, marijuana and likely rohypnol, γ-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), or other date rape drugs.  The brouhaha over the Rolling Stone article, and more importantly the allegations and implications of the article’s topic and subject stimulated me to recount my supervisory experience and opinion as a man, a father, a grandfather and as a citizen.
            First, after reviewing the investigative material and interviewing those involved (where possible), there is no doubt in my little pea-brain that serious felonious crimes had been committed in each of the cases in which I was aware.  I was and I still am deeply disappointed criminal prosecution of the wrong-doing did not lead to arrests, trials and convictions, but I have to accept that my opinion was not a legally sustainable position.
            Second, no means no, no matter how or when it is given.  There are no conditions or situations that give a man authority or implicit consent to violate a woman’s body.
            Third, unconsciousness, intoxication of any form, incoherence or any other impaired state are NOT consent . . . FULL STOP!  An unconscious woman is incapable of providing consent.  Therefore, no one should touch her except to protect her.
            Fourth, I offered my fatherly counsel to the women involved and to all of our children and age-appropriate grandchildren.  Do not ever surrender your autonomy to anyone unless you truly trust them with your life.  That means do not EVER consume anything you cannot clearly and unequivocally establish the content, concentration and quality.  Always be suspicious and aware in groups or crowd settings.
            Lastly, with this tragedy playing out in the life of William Henry ‘Bill’ Cosby, Jr., I would be remiss if I did not say so much of this reminds me of the divine right of kings from centuries ago, and the resilient and persistent vestiges of the Doctrine of Coverture, first articulated by Sir William Blackstone in 1765.  I have a long history of rejection and rebellion against such thinking (or mindless reaction), yet I cannot avoid the obvious – why do women place themselves in that position of abdicating control of their space, their autonomy, and their dignity?  Social acceptance simply can never be worth the risk.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) finally released its so-called torture report on Friday, 5.December.2014; the actual, proper title is: “Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program,” and publicly announced the report on Tuesday, 9.December.2014.  The report was originally approved by the Committee but not released on 13.December.2012.  The confrontation between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [659] complicated the release of the report.  I can certainly understand why the CIA was not pleased with this report.  Actually, what we can see in the public domain are the Unclassified or declassified Executive Summary and redacted Findings, along with the accompanying Minority View Report {since this was a precisely divided, political endeavor).  The complete 6,700-page study remains classified Top Secret / [SCI] / NoForn and beyond public scrutiny for what might be 20-50 years.  I vacillated with how to report on the 525-page Executive Summary and the 167-page Minority View.  At the end of the day the Committee led with its findings, so let us do the same and begin with the findings from the Executive Summary.
#1: The CIA's use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.
#2: The CIA's justification for the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.
#3: The interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.
#4: The conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were harsher than the CIA had represented to policymakers and others.
#5: The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program.
#6: The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.
#7: The CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making.
#8: The CIA's operation and management of the program complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions of other Executive Branch agencies.
#9: The CIA impeded oversight by the CIA's Office of Inspector General.
#10: The CIA coordinated the release of classified information to the media, including inaccurate information concerning the effectiveness of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques.
#11: The CIA was unprepared as it began operating its Detention and Interrogation Program more than six months after being granted detention authorities.
#12: The CIA's management and operation of its Detention and Interrogation Program was deeply flawed throughout the program's duration, particularly so in 2002 and early 2003.
#13: Two contract psychologists devised the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques and played a central role in the operation, assessments, and management of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program. By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the program.
#14: CIA detainees were subjected to coercive interrogation techniques that had not been approved by the Department of Justice or had not been authorized by CIA Headquarters.
#15: The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained, and held individuals who did not meet the legal standard for detention. The CIA's claims about the number of detainees held and subjected to its enhanced Interrogation techniques were inaccurate.
#16: The CIA failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness of its enhanced interrogation techniques.
#17: The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious and significant violations, inappropriate activities, and systemic and individual management failures.
#18: The CIA marginalized and ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections concerning the operation and management of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program.
#19: The CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program was inherently unsustainable and had effectively ended by 2006 due to unauthorized press disclosures, reduced cooperation from other nations, and legal and oversight concerns.
#20: The CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program damaged the United States' standing in the world, and resulted in other significant monetary and non-monetary costs.
The opening of the Committee’s study Executive Summary certainly set the tone for the remainders of the documents I reviewed.  The Committee offered the brief rationale under their finding #1:
For example, according to CIA records, seven of the 39 CIA detainees known to have been subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques produced no intelligence while in CIA custody.”
To which, they added Endnote 1: “As measured by the number of disseminated intelligence reports.  Therefore, zero intelligence reports were disseminated based on information provided by seven of the 39 detainees known to have been subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques.” [emphasis added]
The finding is the essence of the entire study and the core of the Committee’s conclusions.  I do not consider myself an intelligence professional, although I do hold an Intelligence Officer secondary Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) among others; however, I have enough experience to observe an extraordinary lack of appreciation for the intelligence collection and analysis processes.  Interrogation information is considered raw data for a myriad of reasons and would rarely be disseminated ‘as is’ even to an audience with established “need to know.”  The key value of interrogation data usually comes in positive (or negative) correlation or corroboration with other independent information.  Thus, to base a major study’s primary finding on a paucity of “disseminated intelligence reports” strikes me as dangerously naïve and terribly misleading.  Although the Minority View summary is a bit lengthy for this humble forum, it is the most illuminating regarding the overall study report.
“First, the Committee's decision not to interview key witnesses led to significant analytical and factual errors in the original and subsequent updated versions of the Study.
“Second, over the objection of the minority, the Committee did not provide a copy of the draft Study to the Intelligence Community for initial fact-checking prior to the vote to adopt the Study at the end of the 112th Congress.
“Third, Committee members and staff were not given sufficient time to review the Study prior to the scheduled vote on December13, 2012.
“Fourth, the Committee largely ignored the CIA's response to the Study on June 27, 2013, which identified a number of factual and analytical errors in the Study.
“Fifth, during the summer and early fall of 2013, SSCI majority staff failed to take advantage of the nearly 60 hours of meetings with some of the CIA personnel who had led and participated in the CIA's study response. Instead of attempting to understand the factual and analytical errors that had been identified by the CIA, the majority staff spent a significant portion of these meetings criticizing the CIA's study response and justifying the Study's flawed analytical methodology.
“Sixth, the production and release of the updated Study was marred by the alleged misconduct of majority staff and CIA employees in relation to a set of documents known as the ‘Panetta Internal Review.’
“Finally, Committee members and staff were not given sufficient time to review the updated Executive Summary and Findings and Conclusions prior to the scheduled vote on April 4, 2014.” [emphasis added]
            Despite the clear appearance of a voluminous, parochial, politically biased condemnation of the Central Intelligence Agency, the agency’s efforts to support the War on Islamic Fascism, and the use of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs), there are positive, constructive observations that can and should be distilled out of the study and improvements made to correct the identified deficiencies.  Among those lessons-learned observations, the United States and specifically the CIA lacked depth in its Human Intelligence (HumInt) in the aftermath of 11.September.2001, attacks on the Homeland, and the CIA was ill-prepared to carry out the operations it was immediately called upon to execute, notably the interrogation of battlefield combatants.  There are also numerous hints that the coordination between Allied intelligence organizations was less than optimal.
            I am struck by a number of related observations.  The last time the United States carried out such a large interrogation campaign was World War II.  The Ft. Hunt, Virginia, unit known only as P.O. Box 1142 [246] was actually the Military Intelligence Service Section Y that was devoted to the interrogation of high value German, Italian, Japanese and other high value POWs.  Unit P.O. Box 1142 operations were never, even to this day, submitted to the level of scrutiny the CIA has been under for its Detention and Interrogation Program.  On the other side of the equation in this debate, we have the renowned Major Sherwood Moran, USMCR, the master interrogator [491], and the methodical accomplishments of the British MI19 group at Trent Park and elsewhere; there is much to be said for the gentle approach.  Major Moran and MI19 believed they did not need harsh treatment to gain the information they sought.  The difference between then and now was time.  The CIA felt the heat of an impending second wave attack and the prospect of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of al-Qa’ida.  Another critical issue in this on-going debate remains the definition of the emotional threshold of torture.  My definition of torture . . . any activity that results or can result in permanent injury.  What happened to John McCain and other POWs in Hanoi was torture by any definition.  Agents of the CIA clearly failed even by my definition when Gul Rahman – a battlefield combatant affiliated with Afghan group Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) – died in CIA custody, reportedly of hypothermia as part of his interrogation.  The treatment recounted throughout most of the Committee study was not torture.  I can certainly appreciate and acknowledge that most folks are repulsed and disgusted by the treatment that is the subject of this study; however, war is not a pleasant endeavor.  I think the Minority was spot on correct that one of many elements missing from the Committee’s study was context – the perception and believe during those early years was that there was no time – further attacks were imminent.
            Lastly, I am left with two overwhelming impressions from my reading of the Committee study and the Minority View.  One, I repeatedly had thoughts that this disclosure was an institutional betrayal quite like, virtually identical, to those I felt while struggling to grasp the scope and depth of the Snowden betrayal [599, 610].  Two, the apparent intent of the Committee’s study was destructive, not constructive.  The majority of the Senate Intelligence Committee apparently sought to publicly condemn the CIA’s interrogation efforts in support of the War on Islamic Fascism.  They offered no recommendations, which in turn leaves the impression the majority illuminated a problem(s) without providing any suggestion of how to fix the problem(s).  I can see a number of recommendations for improvements; not least of which is, we clearly need a permanent, professional, intelligence interrogation unit with concise, general guidelines that allow strong inducements when warranted.  I would not encourage the specification of techniques in the public domain.  While I will offer praise for the extraordinary amount of work and effort that went into this study, at the bottom line, I must condemn this foolish, politically motivated, elaborate diatribe by staffers who were apparently offended by the rough treatment of certain battlefield combatant detainees.

For contrast, I offer a mere smattering of contrarian opinions on the interrogation issue:
“I Can’t Be Forgiven for Abu Ghraib – The Torture Report Reminds Us of What America Was”
by Eric Fair
New York Times
Published: DEC. 9, 2014
“Report Portrays a Broken C.I.A. Devoted to a Failed Approach”
by Scott Shane
New York Times
Published: DEC. 9, 2014
I cannot agree with either of these opinions.

Congress passed H.R. 83 – Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 – that funds the government for FY2015.  It is not a proper budget and appropriations bill, but we have not seen one of those in quite a few years now.  VOTE: Senate: 56-40-0-0(4); House: 219-206-0-10(0).  Various sources report the usual attachments for parochial purposes, but I have too many balls in the air to track them down.  Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts publicly illuminated the most disturbing attachment.   A provision was snuck in that apparently allows big banks to go back to derivative trading, which was one of the activities that brought on the crash of 2008 and the Great Recession.  The President is expected to sign the bill into law early next week.  If he does, we can at least avoid the uncertainty of another federal government shutdown.

Continuation of comments from Update no.676:
 . . . actually Round four:
“I will address an important point here. I thought I had made my idea clear, but you state, ‘I do not believe distrust of the police by citizens with dark skin pigmentation is instinctive.’ Neither do I.  My entire point about tribal instincts is that the very tribal police distrust people with dark skin pigmentation, not the other way around. They distrust many others as well. That fear leads them to over-react to just about any behavior by others not apparently like them.
“Fear of the police by others, including me, is evidence based. For example, my first encounter with police attitudes was when I was 11 years old. The town cop accused me and my two younger brothers of stealing a car battery from a local gas station. This flew in the face of the obvious fact that none of us could have carried a car battery even a few feet. All the same, we rode around in the back of the cruiser all morning, scared out of our minds. Thinking about this now, over fifty years later, I wonder if this might be an early example of that same attitude that lower-class males are bound to cause trouble. I have since had other encounters with law enforcement that increase that fear. I won't tell them all here; I'm not writing a book this morning. Many of my friends share similar stories, and those who have gone to the trouble of studying the police find patterns that support that mistrust by racial and ethnic minorities, the poor, and gay people.
“A smaller point: as I mentioned, DNA seems to be a red herring in the discussion of male homosexuality. Prenatal environment, rather than genetics, seems to be the determining factor there. In any case, sexual orientation is a long multi-factored discussion.”
 . . . my continuing response to round four:
            Re: tribal mentality.  The tribal police distrust is quite the popular notion in so many movie and television programs.  I cannot deny such mentality does exist.  I just question the pervasiveness with which it is portrayed. 
            Re: distrust or perhaps disrespect.  This cycle is quite like my experience as a military professional in the 60’s & 70’s.  As a society, we overcame the disrespect for the military.  I believe we can and should overcome that societal distrust of law enforcement.  Just like the military, law enforcement personnel are us; they are and represent our communities.  The sooner we accept them for what they are – an essential and vital service – the sooner we can move to a more balanced society.  If we treat them like the enemy and obstruct the performance of their duties, we should not be surprised when they react accordingly.
            Here, I will insert a thought.  I respectfully suggest that some of the abuse of power experienced at the hands of police stems from bad law – a classic example is the central case that led to the Supreme Court’s Lawrence v. Texas [539 U.S. 558 (2003); 26.June.2003] [082, 188].  The principals were discovered, tried and convicted of a “morality” crime as a consequence of an erroneously executed arrest warrant – wrong address, wrong people.  Those damnable “morality” laws enable law enforcement “access” to our private lives and allow the abuses we often refer to in our discussions.
            Re: your experience.  I cannot comment or debate the essence of your experience, or the genesis of your avowed distrust of police.  What you lived is what you lived. 
            Re: appearances.  If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it likely is a duck.  Wearing certain clothes, or a mask, or brandishing an object that is an exact replica of Berretta 9mm semi-automatic pistol, make a person appear as an imminent threat.  No one should be surprised when law enforcement reacts accordingly.  A logical conclusion: don’t act like a criminal and you most likely will not be treated as a criminal.  If the police abuse our rights, file a complaint, build a case.
            Re: male homosexuality.  The specter of genetic predisposition seems to be widely held as rationale, i.e., I just am . . . .  There are very few behaviors I can accept as genetically induced, yet, as I stated earlier, I do think genetics may be a contributor, an enabler, of certain behaviors.  Prenatal environment would be one of those infantile contributors that helps build the house on the foundation.  At the end of the day, there must be some very powerful forces involved for an individual to defy the brutal strictures against those innermost attributes.
            Somehow, we must help society break these cycles.
 . . . Round five:
“I see significant differences between the situation with the military versus the police. ‘The military’ came to be seen as soldiers who had been misled into believing they were defending their country. Those soldiers, however, quit being soldiers for the most part. They came home and the bulk of them contributed to their communities. Those who could not contribute were largely shown to have been damaged by the war in question. None of that applies to the police. They are virtually all ‘lifers,’ their attitudes never change, and even those who are decent human beings and do much good in their own right defend the wrongdoers come what may. Whistle blowers meet with major issues, even if all parties know they are telling the precise truth.
“Vietnam veterans specifically have changed their own attitudes, and so the attitudes they encounter have changed. Police technology has changed a great deal, but the attitudes are what they were when I was a child.”
 . . . my response to round five:
            You have an interesting perspective of the military and police.  I can only say, your opinion might benefit from knowing more police officers beyond their profession.

Comments and contributions from Update no.677:
Comment to the Blog:
“I went to Wikipedia for the history of a Brooklyn Dodgers football team. How bizarre. It does give insight into the very commercial nature of big-time sports.
“My interest in history does not focus much on military history. I am more interested in why we make such effort to keep old wounds open.
“The ‘No Social Security for Nazis Act’ is a prime example of pandering for votes. Very few authentic Nazis remain alive, fewer in the United States, and those convicted of crimes will not be receiving Social Security. The real point is that every incumbent in Congress can say he or she voted against Nazis. They would pass a bill against Satan, too, but for the voting non-Christian likes of me.
“I look forward to progress in astronomy and to manned space travel. It might even bring prestige back to a government program if any credit can be wrestled away from private contractors' marketers.”
My response to the Blog:
            Re: commercial nature of big-time sports.  Not a news flash, but at least you got there.  When I first read that little factoid during research, I thought it was a typo . . . and a rather bad one . . . but it was not.
            Re: “such effort.”  Like what?  To what are you referring?
            Re: Nazis.  Quite so.  Window dressing.  The bill seemed so odd as I am reading this book about Nazis in the U.S.  I will have more to say once I’m done with my reading.  It is not clear whether the bill will make it through the Senate before the closing of the 113th Congress . . . so yes, most likely a value-less symbolic vote.
            Re: space.  I have faith . . . it may not be the glory days of Apollo, but it will be good and we shall learn more about where we live.
 . . . follow-up comment:
“I'm sorry, I assumed the effort put into keeping the Pearl Harbor defeat in people's minds was obvious. That battle occurred 73 years ago. Most of the veterans who survived the attack have died of age-related causes. The ensuing war ended 69 years ago. Yet the government goes on spending money along with assorted organizations. The objectives of the news media, the veterans' organizations, and the tourist services in Hawaii are easy to understand. What do the taxpayers get out of keeping this memory fresh?”
 . . . my follow-up response:
            The reason for that “effort” is to remember so we do not forget.  It is also about who gave their last full measure of devotion to freedom.
            Re: “What do the taxpayers get out of keeping this memory fresh?”  Answer: so future generations do not forget, just as they should not forget 9/11, and do their best to never let it happen again.

Another contribution:
“Thanks Cap, phew! Quite an exchange.
“You talk about the wonder of history and the message for William J Donovan. Do you know I didn’t realise until this year that as Roosevelt declared war on  the Japanese so did Great Britain and Australia. We never ever stop learning do we.”
My reply:
            Several anecdotal references suggest Great Britain declared war on Japan before the United States did.  Churchill called Roosevelt that evening and said, “We are all in the same boat now.”  Quite prophetic actually.  Those first few weeks of the combined Allies were amazing as they began to integrate their processes.  My outline has these events at the end of Book VI . . . not yet written . . . but eagerly anticipated.
            I’ve always said, the day I stop learning is the day I die.  I believe it.

My very best wishes to all.  Take care of yourselves and each other.
Cheers,
Cap                        :-)