Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What war is: Captain Dan Quinn stands up to American crimes

   Against administration policy, Captain Dan Quinn stood up to the sexual abuse of boys by "allies" on an American military base in Afghanistan.  He cares about something, aside from getting home alive.  He could not stand the sick feeling in his stomach at looking the other way: what higher-ups had ordered him to do.  Quinn is an American hero.

    He and Sergeant Charles Martland,  another special forces soldier, were forced out of the military.

    Corporal Gregory Buckley was killed, his father suspects, for not going along with this program.  


   The three letters below from the  New York Times about the story capture the moral character of the American war effort.  The US abetting child abuse is, as Susan Altman writes, worse even than Mullah Omar, who, in this one respect, fought against the crime (The Taliban in Pakistan shot 14 year old  Malala Yousafzai who stands up for the education of women, and to this day, call for her murder...).


    As Captain Quinn put it, in the article below:

    “But we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did — that was something village elders voiced to me.”


      Here are Corporal Buckley's words, remembered by his father:

     “At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine’s father, Gregory Buckley Sr., recalled his son telling him before he was shot to death at the base in 2012. He urged his son to tell his superiors. 'My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.'”


     A former lance corporal who supported the official policy, nonetheless, describes what that policy, in plain sight even at the American base, was:

    "Still, the former lance corporal, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid offending fellow Marines, recalled feeling sickened the day he entered a room on a base and saw three or four men lying on the floor with children between them. 'I’m not a hundred percent sure what was happening under the sheet, but I have a pretty good idea of what was going on,'  he said."


    To fight the Taliban (formerly President Reagan’s allies, the “freedom fighters” in Afghanistan the CIA sponsored against the Soviet Union, including Osama Bin Laden), the Bush administration chose to ally with murderous warlords.  General Dustum, for example, murdered some 4,000 “enemies” stuffing them down wells….  In the large footprint of American influence/aggression in Afghanistan, on what the US government chose to rely on and then how the army carried it out, the war effort – this is pretty generally true of American war efforts – was ordinarily, from an imperialist point of view, a mistake but often unspeakable.


       Further, the US has become a frighteningly militarist society. The signs are everywhere, though many people (like the proverbial frog in slowly boiling war) miss them.  For instance, at a panel on black soldiering at the Society for African-American Life and History last Thursday at which I delivered "Slave-gangs, press-gangs and abolitionism in the American Revolution" here, Kristin Moriah, another paper-giver, spoke of the ever increasing militarism down to a Dunkin Donuts in Manhattan decorated this summer in camouflage…


     In a reality not covered in an acquiescent corporate media, the US government/army currently divides the world into 6 military commands, with 1180 bases abroad (Russia has 4 in the former Soviet Union, 1 in Syria; France 5 in former French colonial North Africa…).  The US intervenes, often directly, in even small conflicts.  To his great credit, Obama is beginning to with Iran, to move away from longstanding American belligerence and balance the reactionary power of Israel (Israel is the seizer of Palestinians water resources, used for its much vaunted but parasitic “making the desert bloom,” and expelling indigenous people, calculatedly, as many as possible for as long as possible – h/t Claire Gilbert - from the Occupied Territories) and the Saudi monarchy (currently murdering people with US support, including today a wedding party of over 100,  in its aggression in Yemen, the Saudis purchased $65 billion in weapons from Obama during a 2010 weapons-hawking trip – the one Keynsian “stimulus” the corporate press/bankers/Koch brothers/Sheldon Adelson/Republicans allow during a depression…).


      Now balancing between Iran and Israel might still deescalate tensions in the region.  But Obama has committed unbelievably to 45 billion in military “aid” – sales of American-manufactured weapons -  to Israel over the next 10 years.  That is an escalation of $1.5 billion per year from the previous $3 billion under Bush and through most of Obama’s Presidency.  Grassroots International and the Campaign to End the Occupation of Palestine have a campaign against this - with a petition here.


      That the American military officially stands aside from – eyes raised to heaven - the abuse of boys by its “allies”/”trainees” on its bases is unspeakable. One should recall here the crime of torture wantonly exercised under Bush and to which Obama has made his admininistration, in violation of American obligations under the Convention against Torture, an accomplice.  Thus, what is unspeakable may be simply an accompaniment of what it means for an Empire to go to war everywhere and reap, for ordinary Americans, the blowback. Negotiations and treaties (as in the case of the Iran agreement) are a noteworthy step away from this policy.   But stopping these policies - drastically curbing or eradicating American militarism (the $1.7 trillion a year the government feeds to the military-industrial-Congressional-media-foreign military/war complex as I call it for short) - is, however, the only way out.


      As the likely Presidential nominees show (and even with the possibility of Bernie Sanders), this will be a hard longterm fight - against the grain - from below. The CIA, an organization which also murdered over 100 people in American custody by Pentagon statistics, continues to release lies, in response to the already suppressed Senate torture report (this dishonesty is John Brennan’s doing with Obama's approval).  Many officials, who like Captain Quinn stand for decency, signed a letter about this.  Ali Soufan, the FBI interrogator, who got information out of Abu Zubaydeh by talking with him and bonding with him, is one of them.  Soufan was abruptly replaced by Tenet and Bush with the jejune psychologists Mitchell and Jesson (they had concocted imitation ”Chinese” tortures to prepare American soldiers if they were captured, in the SERE program, but had never questioned a “suspect...”).


      Soufan called back FBI headquarters insisting that he and others be withdrawn – the proposed acts, including waterboarding, were capital crimes – and left.  Below, he relates a new fact: Tenet and Company did not start torturing for 47 days.  So much for the “clock is ticking,” “24” scenario under which the American government legitimized its torture to citizens and the world.  


       It is time for the troops to come home.  It is time to stop supporting reactionary regimes with "aid" to buy American weapons and put down popular protests.  It is time to try off-shore diplomacy and balancing as in the Iran agreement. It is time to break America’s “military-industrial addiction” (George Kennan, American Diplomacy, 1984 edition) which now ingests $1.7 trillion a year in government spending Chris Hedges suggests in “What it means to be a socialist” here.  It is also  time to stop the Israeli arms invention for  and police training in the United States – pretty much, the main thing the Israeli regime has become.  For instance, they manufacture 60% of drone parts, and test weapons in slaughters - "mowing the lawn" - in Gaza. 


    It is time to stop the war complex...  


‘Shameful’ Policy of Tolerating Afghan Child Abuse
SEPT. 23, 2015

To the Editor:

The fact that “U.S. Troops Are Told to Ignore Afghan Allies’ Abuse of Boys” (front page, Sept. 21) is mind-boggling. And the discharging of American servicemen who could not stand by and watch the systematic raping of young children is even more insane. Explain to me why we are in Afghanistan if not to protect the innocent. [as this phrasing suggests, there is no decent explanation: oil, absolute control of the Middle East, military bases, neo-con fanaticism…]

This is one of the most shameful things I have ever heard of. We cannot remake countries in our own image, but we cannot condone atrocities and violations of basic human rights. Where does this place us on a moral scale? We ask our soldiers to risk their lives and do the right thing, but we turn our backs on the children of a war-ravaged country. What have we become?

Shrub Oak, N.Y.

To the Editor:

Child sexual abuse may be a serious problem in Afghanistan, but it is not considered acceptable. In fact, Mullah Omar, the deceased leader of the Taliban, was famous for hanging a local warlord who had raped two young girls. An unwillingness to take a strong stand against child molestation is not a sign of cultural respect. It is a sign of weakness, and an indication that the human rights that we claim to care about are easily ignored when it comes to political considerations.

The punishment of American military personnel who tried to intervene is shameful. And having to take lessons in morality from Mullah Omar is a disgrace.


To the Editor:

That the United States military tolerates widespread pederasty by Afghan commanders lest “good relations” be compromised in the joint effort against the Taliban and in deference to Afghan cultural values, even disciplining those of our troops who have protested the policy, is beyond unspeakable and yet another of the many pacts with the devil we’ve entered upon in our largely misdirected war on terror.

San Francisco


U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies

Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain  beat up an Afghani militia commander for keeping a boy chained to a bed as a sex slave. American soldiers were instructed not to intervene in the sexual abuse of children Quinn, and others who did so, faced discipline and even career ruin.

Dan Quinn was relieved of his Special Forces command after a fight with a U.S.-backed militia leader who had a boy as a sex slave chained to his bed. CreditKirsten Luce for The New York Times 

KABUL, Afghanistan — In his last phone call home, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. told his father what was troubling him: From his bunk in southern Afghanistan, he could hear Afghan police officers sexually abusing boys they had brought to the base.

“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine’s father, Gregory Buckley Sr., recalled his son telling him before he was shot to death at the base in 2012. He urged his son to tell his superiors. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”

Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistanparticularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally “boy play,” and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.


George Buckley Sr., whose son, a Marine serving in Afghanistan, was shot dead by one of the young boy sex slaves kept by an American-backed Afghan militia commander.

Gregory Buckley Sr. believes the policy of looking the other way was a factor in his son's killing. Credit Kirsten Luce for The New York Times 

The policy has endured as American forces have recruited and organized Afghan militias to help hold territory against the Taliban. But soldiers and Marines have been increasingly troubled that instead of weeding out pedophiles, the American military was arming them in some cases and placing them as the commanders of villages — and doing little when they began abusing children.

“The reason we were here is because we heard the terrible things the Taliban were doing to people, how they were taking away human rights,” said Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain who beat up an American-backed militia commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave. “But we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did — that was something village elders voiced to me.”

The policy of instructing soldiers to ignore child sexual abuse by their Afghan allies is coming under new scrutiny, particularly as it emerges that service members like Captain Quinn have faced discipline, even career ruin, for disobeying it.

After the beating, the Army relieved Captain Quinn of his command and pulled him from Afghanistan. He has since left the military.

Four years later, the Army is also trying to forcibly retire Sgt. First Class Charles Martland, a Special Forces member who joined Captain Quinn in beating up the commander.

“The Army contends that Martland and others should have looked the other way (a contention that I believe is nonsense),” Representative Duncan Hunter, a California Republican who hopes to save Sergeant Martland’s career, wrote last week to the Pentagon’s inspector general.

In Sergeant Martland’s case, the Army said it could not comment because of the Privacy Act.

When asked about American military policy, the spokesman for the American command in Afghanistan, Col. Brian Tribus, wrote in an email: “Generally, allegations of child sexual abuse by Afghan military or police personnel would be a matter of domestic Afghan criminal law.” He added that “there would be no express requirement that U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan report it.” An exception, he said, is when rape is being used as a weapon of war.

The American policy of nonintervention is intended to maintain good relations with the Afghan police and militia units the United States has trained to fight the Taliban. It also reflects a reluctance to impose cultural values in a country where pederasty is rife, particularly among powerful men, for whom being surrounded by young teenagers can be a mark of social status.

Some soldiers believed that the policy made sense, even if they were personally distressed at the sexual predation they witnessed or heard about.

“The bigger picture was fighting the Taliban,” a former Marine lance corporal reflected. “It wasn’t to stop molestation.”

Still, the former lance corporal, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid offending fellow Marines, recalled feeling sickened the day he entered a room on a base and saw three or four men lying on the floor with children between them. “I’m not a hundred percent sure what was happening under the sheet, but I have a pretty good idea of what was going on,” he said.

But the American policy of treating child sexual abuse as a cultural issue has often alienated the villages whose children are being preyed upon. The pitfalls of the policy emerged clearly as American Special Forces soldiers began to form Afghan Local Police militias to hold villages that American forces had retaken from the Taliban in 2010 and 2011.

By the summer of 2011, Captain Quinn and Sergeant Martland, both Green Berets on their second tour in northern Kunduz Province, began to receive dire complaints about the Afghan Local Police units they were training and supporting.

First, they were told, one of the militia commanders raped a 14- or 15-year-old girl whom he had spotted working in the fields. Captain Quinn informed the provincial police chief, who soon levied punishment. “He got one day in jail, and then she was forced to marry him,” Mr. Quinn said.
When he asked a superior officer what more he could do, he was told that he had done well to bring it up with local officials but that there was nothing else to be done. “We’re being praised for doing the right thing, and a guy just got away with raping a 14-year-old girl,” Mr. Quinn said.

George Buckley Sr., whose son, a Marine serving in Afghanistan, was shot dead by one of the young boy sex slaves kept by an American-backed Afghan militia commander. (New York Times)

A portrait of Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. in his family's home in Oceanside, N.Y. He was shot to death in 2012 by a teenage "tea boy" living on his base in Helmand Province.CreditKirsten Luce for The New York Times 

Village elders grew more upset at the predatory behavior of American-backed commanders. After each case, Captain Quinn would gather the Afghan commanders and lecture them on human rights.

Soon another commander absconded with his men’s wages. Mr. Quinn said he later heard that the commander had spent the money on dancing boys. Another commander murdered his 12-year-old daughter in a so-called honor killing for having kissed a boy. “There were no repercussions,” Mr. Quinn recalled.

In September 2011, an Afghan woman, visibly bruised, showed up at an American base with her son, who was limping. One of the Afghan police commanders in the area, Abdul Rahman, had abducted the boy and forced him to become a sex slave, chained to his bed, the woman explained. When she sought her son’s return, she herself was beaten. Her son had eventually been released, but she was afraid it would happen again, she told the Americans on the base.

She explained that because “her son was such a good-looking kid, he was a status symbol” coveted by local commanders, recalled Mr. Quinn, who did not speak to the woman directly but was told about her visit when he returned to the base from a mission later that day.

So Captain Quinn summoned Abdul Rahman and confronted him about what he had done. The police commander acknowledged that it was true, but brushed it off. When the American officer began to lecture about “how you are held to a higher standard if you are working with U.S. forces, and people expect more of you,” the commander began to laugh.

“I picked him up and threw him onto the ground,” Mr. Quinn said. Sergeant Martland joined in, he said. “I did this to make sure the message was understood that if he went back to the boy, that it was not going to be tolerated,” Mr. Quinn recalled.
There is disagreement over the extent of the commander’s injuries. Mr. Quinn said they were not serious, which was corroborated by an Afghan official who saw the commander afterward.

(The commander, Abdul Rahman, was killed two years ago in a Taliban ambush. His brother said in an interview that his brother had never raped the boy, but was the victim of a false accusation engineered by his enemies.)

Sergeant Martland, who received a Bronze Star for valor for his actions during a Taliban ambush, wrote in a letter to the Army this year that he and Mr. Quinn “felt that morally we could no longer stand by and allow our A.L.P. to commit atrocities,” referring to the Afghan Local Police.
The father of Lance Corporal Buckley believes the policy of looking away from sexual abuse was a factor in his son’s death, and he has filed a lawsuit to press the Marine Corps for more information about it.

Lance Corporal Buckley and two other Marines were killed in 2012 by one of a large entourage of boys living at their base with an Afghan police commander named Sarwar Jan.
Mr. Jan had long had a bad reputation; in 2010, two Marine officers managed to persuade the Afghan authorities to arrest him following a litany of abuses, including corruption, support for the Taliban and child abduction. But just two years later, the police commander was back with a different unit, working at Lance Corporal Buckley’s post, Forward Operating Base Delhi, in Helmand Province.

Lance Corporal Buckley had noticed that a large entourage of “tea boys” — domestic servants who are sometimes pressed into sexual slavery — had arrived with Mr. Jan and moved into the same barracks, one floor below the Marines. He told his father about it during his final call home.

Word of Mr. Jan’s new position also reached the Marine officers who had gotten him arrested in 2010. One of them, Maj. Jason Brezler, dashed out an email to Marine officers at F.O.B. Delhi, warning them about Mr. Jan and attaching a dossier about him.

The warning was never heeded. About two weeks later, one of the older boys with Mr. Jan — around 17 years old — grabbed a rifle and killed Lance Corporal Buckley and the other Marines.

Lance Corporal Buckley’s father still agonizes about whether the killing occurred because of the sexual abuse by an American ally. “As far as the young boys are concerned, the Marines are allowing it to happen and so they’re guilty by association,” Mr. Buckley said. “They don’t know our Marines are sick to their stomachs.”

The one American service member who was punished in the investigation that followed was Major Brezler, who had sent the email warning about Mr. Jan, his lawyers said. In one of Major Brezler’s hearings, Marine Corps lawyers warned that information about the police commander’s penchant for abusing boys might be classified. The Marine Corps has initiated proceedings to discharge Major Brezler.

Mr. Jan appears to have moved on, to a higher-ranking police command in the same province. In an interview, he denied keeping boys as sex slaves or having any relationship with the boy who killed the three Marines. “No, it’s all untrue,” Mr. Jan said. But people who know him say he still suffers from “a toothache problem,” a euphemism here for child sexual abuse.


Consortium News consortnew@aol.com ]

U.S. Intel Vets Decry CIA's Use of Torture
September 14, 2015

Torture defenders are back on the offensive publishing a book by ex-CIA leaders rebutting a Senate report that denounced the brutal tactics as illegal, inhumane and ineffective. Now, in a memo to President Obama, other U.S. intelligence veterans are siding with the Senate findings and repudiating the torture apologists.

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Veteran Intelligence Professionals Challenge CIA's "Rebuttal" on Torture

Former CIA leaders responsible for allowing torture to become part of the 21st Century legacy of the CIA are trying to rehabilitate their tarnished reputations with the release of a new book, Rebuttal: The CIA Responds to the Senate Intelligence Committee's Study of Its Detention and Interrogation Program. They are pushing the lie that the only allegations against them are from a partisan report issued by Democrats from the Senate Intelligence Committee.

We recall the answer of General John Kimmons, the former Deputy Director of Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was asked if good intelligence could be obtained from abusive practices. He replied: "I am absolutely convinced the answer to your first question is no. No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tell us that."

But the allegation that the CIA leaders were negligent and guilty was not the work of an isolated group of partisan Democrat Senators. The Senate Intelligence report on torture enjoyed bipartisan support. Senator John McCain, for example, whose own encounter with torture in North Vietnamese prisons scarred him physically and emotionally, embraced and endorsed the work of Senator Feinstein. It was only a small group of intransigent Republicans, led by Saxby Chambliss, who obstructed the work of the Senate Intel Committee.

Indeed, some of us witnessed firsthand during the administration of President George W. Bush that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence were virtually paralyzed from conducting any meaningful oversight of the CIA and the U.S. Intelligence Community by the Republican members of these committees. Instead, they pursued the clear objective of protecting the Bush administration from any criticism for engaging in torture during the "War on Terror."

It is curious that our former colleagues stridently denounce the work of the Senate Intelligence Committee but are mute with respect to an equally damning report from the CIA's own inspector general, John Helgerson, in 2004.

Helgerson's report, "Counterterrorism Detention and Interrogation Activities (September 2001-October 2003) [ http://fas.org/irp/cia/product/ig-interrog.pdf ]," was published on May 7, 2004, and classified Top Secret. That report alone is damning of the CIA leadership and it is important to remind all about the specifics of those conclusions. According to the CIA's own Inspector General:

-The Agency's detention and interrogation of terrorists has provided intelligence that has enabled the identification and apprehension of other terrorists and warned of terrorist plots planned in the United States and around the world. . . . The effectiveness of particular interrogation techniques in eliciting information that might not otherwise have been obtained cannot be so easily measured however.

-In addition, some Agency officials are aware of interrogation activities that were outside or beyond the scope of the written DOJ opinion. Officers are concerned that future public revelation of the CTC Program is inevitable and will seriously damage Agency officers' personal reputations, as well as the reputation and effectiveness of the Agency itself.

-By distinction the Agency - especially in the early months of the Program - failed to provide adequate staffing, guidance, and support to those involved with the detention and interrogation of detainees . . .

-The Agency failed to issue in a timely manner comprehensive written guidelines for detention and interrogation activities. . . . Such written guidance as does exist . . . is inadequate.

-During the interrogation of two detainees, the waterboard was used in a manner inconsistent with the written DOJ legal opinion of 1 August 2002.

-Agency officers report that reliance on analytical assessments that were unsupported by credible intelligence may have resulted in the application of EITs without justification.

The CIA's Inspector General makes it very clear that there was a failure by the CIA leaders, who include Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence John McLaughlin, Counter Terrorism Center Chief Cofer Black, Counter Terrorism Center Chief Jose Rodriguez and the Director Directorate of Operations James L. Pavitt. Lack of proper guidance and oversight created fertile soil for subsequent abuses and these men were guilty of failing to properly do their jobs.

We do not have to rely solely on the report of the CIA's Inspector General. In addition, the Report by the Senate Armed Services Committee on Detainee Treatment reached the same conclusions about the origins, evils, harm to U.S. policy and intelligence collection of "enhanced interrogation," a euphemism for "torture" first used by Nazi Germany during World War II.

Indeed, all independent analyses of the enhanced interrogation program have concluded it constituted torture, was ineffective, and contrary to all American laws, ideals, and intelligence practices. We also have the testimony and record of Ali Soufan, an Arabic-speaking FBI Agent, who was involved with several interrogations before torture was used and who achieved substantive results without violating international law.

The sworn testimony of FBI Agent Ali Soufan, who is the only U.S. Government employee to testify under oath on these matters, completely contradicts the authors of Rebuttal:

"In the middle of my interrogation of the high-ranking terrorist Abu Zubaydah at a black-site prison 12 years ago, my intelligence work wasn't just cut short for so-called enhanced interrogation techniques to begin. After I left the black site, those who took over left, too - for 47 days. For personal time and to 'confer with headquarters'.

"For nearly the entire summer of 2002, Abu Zubaydah was kept in isolation. That was valuable lost time, and that doesn't square with claims about the 'ticking bomb scenarios' that were the basis for America's enhanced interrogation program, or with the commitment to getting life-saving, actionable intelligence from valuable detainees. The techniques were justified by those who said Zubaydah 'stopped all cooperation' around the time my fellow FBI agent and I left. If Zubaydah was in isolation the whole time, that's not really a surprise.

"One of the hardest things we struggled to make sense of, back then, was why U.S. officials were authorizing harsh techniques when our interrogations were working and their harsh techniques weren't. The answer, as the long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee Report now makes clear, is that the architects of the program were taking credit for our success, from the unmasking of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the mastermind of 9/11 to the uncovering of the 'dirty bomber' Jose Padilla. The claims made by government officials for years about the efficacy of 'enhanced interrogation', in secret memos and in public, are false. 'Enhanced interrogation' doesn't work."

The former CIA officers who have collaborated on this latest attempt to whitewash the historical record that they embraced and facilitated torture by Americans, are counting on the laziness of the press and the American public. As long as no one takes time to actually read the extensively footnoted and documented report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, then it is easy to buy into the fantasy that the CIA officers are simply victims of a political vendetta.

These officers are also counting on a segment of the American people - repeatedly identified in polling results - that continues to believe torture works. Such people have no proof that it works (because there is none that it works consistently and effectively), they simply believe it instinctively or because of people such as this book's authors' arguments to that effect.

That is why it is so important that the truth be told and this book and its arguments be debunked. Americans must learn the realities of torture - that it rarely if ever works, that it dehumanizes the torturer as well as the tortured, that it increases the numbers and hostility of our opponents while providing no benefit, and that it seriously diminishes America's reputation in the world and thus its power.  Torture is wrong and the men who wrote this book are wrong.

The book, Rebuttal, is a new incarnation of the lie extolling the efficacy of torture. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, a time of perceived crisis and palpable fear, the leaders of the CIA decided to ignore international and domestic law. They chose to discard the moral foundations of our Republic and, using the same justifications that authoritarian regimes have employed for attacking enemies, and embarked willingly on a course of action that embraced practices that in earlier times the United States had condemned and punished as a violation of U.S. laws and fundamental human rights.

As former intelligence officers, we are compelled by conscience to denounce the actions and words of our former colleagues. In their minds they have found a way to rationalize and justify torture. We say there is no excuse; there is no justification. The heart of good intelligence work -- whether collection or analysis -- is based in the pursuit of truth, not the fabrication of a lie.

It is to this end that we reiterate that no threat, no matter how grave, should serve to justify inhuman behavior and immoral conduct or torture conducted by Americans.

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

Fulton Armstrong, National Intelligence Officer for Latin America (ret.)

William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)

Tony Camerino, former Air Force and Air Force Reserves, a senior interrogator in Iraq and author of How to Break a Terrorist under pseudonym Matthew Alexander

Glenn L. Carle, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Transnational Threats, CIA (ret.)

Thomas Drake, former Senior Executive, NSA

Daniel Ellsberg, former State Department and Defense Department Official (VIPS Associate)

Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)

Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan (associate VIPS)

Larry C Johnson, CIA & State Department (ret.)

Michael S. Kearns, Captain, USAF Intelligence Agency (Retired), ex Master SERE Instructor

John Kiriakou, Former CIA Counterterrorism Officer

Karen Kwiatkowski, Lt. Col., US Air Force (ret.)

Edward Loomis, NSA, Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)

David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

James Marcinkowski, Attorney, former CIA Operations Officer

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East,CIA (ret.)

Todd Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)

Scott Ritter, former Maj., USMC, former UN Weapon Inspector, Iraq

Diane Roark, former professional staff, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

Coleen Rowley, Division Counsel & Special Agent, FBI (ret.)

Ali Soufan, former FBI Special Agent

Robert David Steele, former CIA Operations Officer

Greg Thielmann, US Foreign Service Officer (ret.) and former Senate Intelligence Committee

Peter Van Buren, US Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel (USA, ret.), Distinguished Visiting Professor, College of William and Mary

Valerie Plame Wilson, CIA Operations Officer (ret.)

Ann Wright, US Army Reserve Colonel (ret) and former U.S. Diplomat