With just two weeks of training, or about half the time it takes to become a truck driver, the CIA certified its spies as interrogation experts after 9/11 and handed them the keys to the most coercive tactics in the agency’s arsenal.
It was a haphazard process, cobbled together in the months following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington by an agency that had never been in the interrogation business. The result was a patchwork program in which rules kept shifting and the goals often were unclear.
At times, the interrogators went too far, even beyond the wide latitude they were given under the Bush administration’s flexible guidelines, according to newly unclassified documents released Monday. Interrogators took the simulated drowning technique of waterboarding beyond what was authorized. Mock executions were held. Family members were threatened. There were hints of rape.
President Barack Obama plans to reappoint Ben Bernanke to a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve, a position from which he guided the economy away from its worst recession since the 1930s and, the White House hopes, toward an economic recovery critical to its legacy.
Widely credited with taking aggressive action to avert an economic catastrophe after the financial meltdown last year, Bernanke will be nominated for another term as the helm of the central bank on Tuesday. Obama plans to make the announcement on Martha’s Vineyard, the Massachusetts island where he is vacationing for the week with his family.
Call me a socialist — and certainly someone will — but in light of President Barack Obama’s diminishing insistence on a public option in the health care reform package that is developing in Congress, it’s worth noting that, despite the noisy support for the status quo arising from the right, many Americans would welcome significant change in our health care system, which even some Republicans admit is broken.
You would like to think that we learned some lessons from the exotic financial products that did so much to push us into recession.
But maybe not.
In a disturbing report, the Associated Press says that financial institutions have begun repackaging old mortgage securities — some of them good, some of them not so good — and selling them as top-rated bonds.
If the Secret Service and the White House don’t worry about armed-to-the-teeth civilians being in relatively close proximity to Barack Obama, why should we? Certainly no one who might disagree with what is going on inside one of those free-for-all forums on health care could be expected to use his Second Amendment privilege to harm the president or any of the rest of us who might be outside, hoping to get in.
In fact, it is a safe bet that if you asked the fellow chillingly pictured at one of these affairs with a semi-automatic assault rifle slung over his shoulder and a handgun on his hip why he felt the need to come so loaded for bear, he would reply that he was there to protect himself and the rest of us. From what or whom? It is a good thing, too. Obviously the several hundred police officers guarding the outside of the presidential venue couldn’t handle the job. Only a National Rifle Association-certified American could be trusted to do that.