Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 12, 2014

Obama Excludes "Black Sites" From Torture Prohibition

Obama to United Nations Committee Against Torture: "We tortured some folks. We'll keep our options open to do that again and again."

The Obama administration, after an internal debate that has drawn global scrutiny, is taking the view that the cruelty ban applies wherever the United States exercises governmental authority, according to officials familiar with the deliberations. That definition, they said, includes the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and American-flagged ships and aircraft in international waters and airspace.

But the administration’s definition still appears to exclude places like the former “black site” prisons where the C.I.A. tortured terrorism suspects during the Bush years, as well as American military detention camps in Afghanistan and Iraq during the wars there. Those prisons were on the sovereign territory of other governments; the government of Cuba exercises no control over Guantánamo.

Obama says that the convention against torture does doesn't apply where torture by U.S. goons is most likely.

Is there anything which tells us that the Obama administration is not using this self-defined exclusion?

Posted by b on November 12, 2014 at 17:04 UTC | Permalink


obama 'regime' doesn't seem interested in stopping the use of incendiary weapons either, especially among it's allies in the ukraine and syrian conflict..

"Incendiary weapons were used in recent conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says, citing their own evidence. The organization also reported that residential areas in Ukraine suffered rocket attacks from Kiev’s army." link

there is nothing the exceptional nation can't do, except stop the pain and suffering it is directly responsible for on the planet.. buffoons like kerry and obama come from a long line of traitors who support the mil and financial complex over the well being of humanity..

Posted by: james | Nov 12 2014 17:25 utc | 1

That Obama guy is sooooooooooooooooooooooooo incompetent

Posted by: The Persian Persuader | Nov 12 2014 17:41 utc | 2

soooooooooooooooooooooo immoral!
soooooooooooooooooooooo psychopathic!
soooooooooooooooooooooo in sync with the capitalistic cancer metastasizing on a global basis!

Posted by: juannie | Nov 12 2014 17:45 utc | 3

Any day now I expect to see the following headline in the NY Daily News:

"Obama to UN: We won't torture, unless we feel like it"

Posted by: lulu | Nov 12 2014 17:48 utc | 4

soooooooooooooooooooooo immoral!
soooooooooooooooooooooo psychopathic!
soooooooooooooooooooooo in sync with the capitalistic cancer metastasizing on a global basis!

Posted by: juannie | Nov 12, 2014 12:45:44 PM | 3

No just incompetent - clearly he intended to ban all torture everywhere but because he's so incompetent he F'd it up, and let those horrible Neo-Cons con him into not banning it in specifically in the places it most likely be practiced

Any other attempt at explaining it is clearly Fascist, Conspiratorial and Defeatist!!!!!

Posted by: The Persian Persuader | Nov 12 2014 18:37 utc | 5

. . . . and RACIST!!!!! (natch)

Posted by: The Persian Persuader | Nov 12 2014 18:39 utc | 6

riddle me this...

from that joint letter to obama, why did the nyt single out this one quote?

It is crucial that the United States signals to the world that we have to put the dark chapter of the Bush administration’s torture program behind us, and are not seen as attempting to leave open the possibility of using so-called enhanced interrogation techniques ever again.

...which looks like pure snake oil to my weary eyes.

Posted by: john | Nov 12 2014 18:55 utc | 7

Sorry if I'm a little more of a shrill bore than usual lately...I'm off my meds and my nut.

Posted by: The Persian Persuader | Nov 12 2014 18:58 utc | 8

@ 8

even so you're still not nearly as boring as me or juannie

Posted by: guest77 | Nov 12 2014 19:06 utc | 9

The issue of officially sanctioned acts of torture by American forces, which we know occurred,
is not just a crime under the US Criminal Code, which since 1996 has incorporated the Geneva Conventions specifically as US law. The planning and sanctioning of torture, as well as the covering up of torture, and the failure to punish torture are also crimes. So its not just Bush and Cheney who are culpable, Obama could be in the frame as a war criminal, if he continues with his "we must look forward, not to the past" attitude to torture.

Posted by: harry law | Nov 12 2014 19:29 utc | 10

Oh dear. The work of shabbos-goys never ends. They must be exhausted.

Posted by: giddy | Nov 12 2014 19:41 utc | 11

A J Muste: The problem after [and during] a war is the victor. He thinks he has just proved that war and violence will pay. Who will now teach him a lesson?

Certainly not us. Perhaps Mother Gaia will.

Posted by: Eric Shun | Nov 12 2014 20:26 utc | 12

There are examples everywhere.

Posted by: James | Nov 12 2014 21:03 utc | 13

Is Obama a liar and a hypocrite? Say it ain't so!

The bigger question (and it's not even a question any more) is, is Obama even in charge of his own government?

It's almost laughable, when you consider what's been going on for the past decade or two, how relentlessly the US government continually pushes the boundaries of what is considered lawful and without the bounds of civilized behavior.

With all the fanfare about the fall of the Berlin wall, one would think the media analysts would have noticed that whatever was considered outrageous and out of bounds by the Soviets -- who we had to defeat at all costs -- is now virtually SOP with the gang in DC.

with every passing year they outdo themselves, and there's only one destination where they're headed.

Posted by: Hugo First | Nov 12 2014 21:34 utc | 14

#8 >:[ , >:0

Posted by: juannie | Nov 12 2014 22:41 utc | 15

@9 haha, you are a complete dipshit, mc.clown.

Posted by: guest77 | Nov 12 2014 23:27 utc | 16

Oooh. Nice. I am so glad I voted for Change. The US has finally turned a dark page.

Bcauses of this new moral stance, I for one will never again claim that Obama is no better than GWB and that the US is a murderous evil Empire intent on destroying humanity... unless I am in a a couple of locations I have designated to do so in.

Posted by: guest77 | Nov 12 2014 23:35 utc | 17

Yes, a page has turned in the book of Darkside Cheney and his Connecticut Cowboy Sidekick.

Unfortunately, Obama has simply turned a page in that book. While the main characters differ in appearance, the directors and producers are the same. They have the same black hearts and the same storyline continues.

Posted by: fast freddy | Nov 13 2014 0:53 utc | 18

You can't make this stuff up:
news report--
Obama: Human Rights Issues a Key Element in U.S.-Chinese Relations
(sorry for the bold but I think it is world-class hypocrisy.)

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 13 2014 1:24 utc | 19

Of course it's not defeatist to outline the crimes of the Empire as it decays and as forces crystallize against it. Had these forces not done so, the torture would be occuring also in Damascus by now.

Posted by: truthbetold | Nov 13 2014 1:24 utc | 20

Onward to victory!

The long awaited promised land lies just beyond the next stinking pile of someone elses massacred children!



Posted by: JMcC | Nov 13 2014 2:31 utc | 21

ever since iraq ( there are probably countless examples before this time frame too) when abu griab turned into an american torture chamber/prison, those pesky liar-leaders in office have done everything they can to silence whistle-blowers - bradley manning, sibel edmunds, edward snowden and a much longer list with less well known folks, i'm sure..

when the exceptional nation engages in illegal acts, it makes a point of going after anyone who points it out, instead of changing course.. so obama wants another exception for his exceptional nation - no surprise.. that anyone who lives in the usa can tolerate how far the states has slid is an open question.. looks to me like the wheels coming off as it continues on into the ditch it is destined for..

Posted by: james | Nov 13 2014 2:34 utc | 22

The dumbass Yank fake left have declared victory!

Lets crack open a magnum of Bolli and throw another pulverised Palestinian child's corpse on the barbeque while you're at it!

Posted by: JMcC | Nov 13 2014 2:37 utc | 23

attention - b,

is it possible to ban JMcC? if you could monitor this person for the next time they come with a different alias to harass people here and turn your site into a place no one wants to come to, it would also be helpful. thanks.

Posted by: james | Nov 13 2014 3:05 utc | 24

Yes b,

Wouldnt want any hint of reality to interrupt the victory celebrations, now would we

Posted by: JMcC | Nov 13 2014 3:21 utc | 25

@20 US hypocrisy really knows no bounds, doesn't it? The double standards, the lies... if this was a person, they'd be roundly reviled.

I'm probably not telling anyone here anything they don't know, but I see this as an old pattern. The US began emphasizing "Human Rights" in its diplomatic doublespeak in the mid-to-late Seventies.

Having just killed many millions in IndoChina and still unable to ensure many of its own citizens equal rights, the US nonetheless engaged in a massive public relations campaign to present itself as the guarantor of global human rights. Echoes of this campaign can be as recently as the transition from George W. Bush to Barack Obama. And just as the USA presents itself as "indispensable" to world peace and prosperity, so too did it present "human rights" as "American values" at the time.

Accusations regarding human rights conditions in the Eastern Bloc were all the rage. Crummy and crude fascists like Solzhenitsyn were presented as "peaceful dissenters". The KGB and the Stasi were presented as examples of Communist repression - even though the Church Committee was proving that US was doing the same (and worse) at home.

And now the US is trying desperately to make similar accusations stick to Russia and contemporary China while it maintains the world's largest prison population (larger than China's not just per capita, but in total) and an internal surveillance system unprecedented in scope in all of human history.

Posted by: guest77 | Nov 13 2014 3:29 utc | 26

Obama's pro-torture policy conveniently, and counterintuitively, overlooks the fact that torturing kidnap victims ALWAYS had the goal of creating and establishing a Master/Servant relationship between the kidnapper and his victim.

It probably started thousands of years ago when the victors in a tribal conflict rounded up the females and took them home as trophies. The women who didn't submit would have been tortured until they surrendered. or died. The same applies to the grand old tradition of Slavery "Do what you're told, or die in agony."

It is a Big, Fat Lie that it's possible, or even feasible to torture the TRUTH out of someone because torture is intended to elicit obedience and compliance. A torture victim will say and do anything to stop the pain.

Obama knows this and the fact that he defends the torture bullshit tells us all we need to know about "America's" lack of character and total absence of morality.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 13 2014 4:01 utc | 27

@James: Jurk MkKlown is un-bannable, shown multiple times over the last few years. He is just here to disrupt MoA and put out Empire-friendly talking points.

B has banned him, but he uses (amusingly) US State Dept. technology to get around it. It's not so bad now. He used to make actual comments in the past. He'd make the pro-Svoboda Nazi stuff, make up goofy lies about his life and experiences to women here, his endless butt-kissing of the sadly ACTUALLY banned Mr. Pragma. Originally, I felt had to be considered and responded to either to take on his political points or to let newcomers know what he's up to, but now he's reduced to just making dumb insults and using people's screen names to be a traditional sock puppet (as he did in #9).He even uses two different names in one thread. He's had.... what... 10 different names by now? He seems unable to make even the most basic statement of fact without presenting himself as some sort of genius... even though it is obvious he's pretty far from that.

He's a mediocre dolt. And that's being generous.

What's sad is Pragma is actually banned and though it would be great for him to return, he has, I suppose, the dignity not to. This fool doesn't even have a shred of dignity. Not a whiff. Not a hint. He just comes in to make an insult or two or sometimes - SOMETIMES - a totally inane comment combined with an insult. Frankly, I believe it was this clown who contributed to Pragma getting banned by egging him on and engaging in these foolish insult-fests.

He - That's You, JizzRag McClown - are worse than a worthless jackass. I do my best to ignore (I allow myself one response though I could do this all day) but just can't do it all the time. So - oh well.

Posted by: guest77 | Nov 13 2014 4:20 utc | 28

@HW: "A torture victim will say and do anything to stop the pain."

You are right of course. But for the US, it has nothing to do with getting at the truth.

It has to do with establishing domestic support for the President amongst the worst of American society. This moral "race to the bottom" that the US is experiencing.

It has to do with establishing another action that on the US is uniquely "allowed" in its role as world police officer. Imagine the outrage if Russia or China was discovered to have declared the same right regarding Tibetan or Chechen prisoners? To flout the UN like that?

Likely - and unfortunately for US citizens - such foolish pronoucements will backfire on the US and end up with its soldiers and its agents getting tortured. But then, do you think any relatives of the US aristocracy will find themselves in a Chinese prison? Most certainly they'll be employed one of those string of institutions which are heavily protected from "anti-American" sentiment,

Posted by: guest77 | Nov 13 2014 4:39 utc | 29

So, if I read that "exclusion" right then as far as Obama is concerned it is perfectly A-OK for him to:
a) order Seal Team Six into Tehran to snatch (say) a top Iranian nuclear scientist,
b) spirit him into a secluded location somewhere inside Iran, and
c) there torture him to death in the most cruel and inhumane manner imaginable.

According to Obama-logic that is perfectly permissible, since none of that operation takes place anywhere where the USA "exercises governmental authority".


Posted by: Johnboy | Nov 13 2014 6:33 utc | 31

I'm still trying to get my head around those two paragraphs that b has quoted.

Can I suggest that another way of stating the Obama Administration's position is this: The USA will stop the practice of torturing people anywhere where US courts might be able to subpoena evidence.

That's pretty much the sum of it, isn't it?

Posted by: Johnboy | Nov 13 2014 6:41 utc | 32

Ah, OK, I finished reading the link, and the Obama position is much more nuanced than b is suggesting.

The issue is this: the treaty bans "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" ... "in any territory under its jurisdiction."

So, yeah, it can be argued that this ban applies only on your own domestic soil since it is axiomatic that a country's "jurisdiction" does not extend outside its own territory.

That was the Bush era argument, and therefore that ban wouldn't apply to (say) any territory that is under the belligerent occupation of the USA (an occupying power only has "authority" over an occupied territory, not "jurisdiction")

So Obama's view actually does go much further than a strict interpretation would require i.e. he takes the view that the ban applies to anywhere where the USA has "authority", which is indeed a big step forward from the Bush interpretation.

So I don't necessarily agree with b on this: I think that Obama has gone as far as he should go w.r.t. the Convention Against Torture.

But (and this is a big caveat) there is still something more that the Obama Administration should be doing, which is to rule out the possibility of the USA continuing the policy of using "black site prisons".

But I think that this is a commitment that the USA should be making outside the auspices of the Convention on Torture since (afaik) the Convention has nothing to say on that matter.

Posted by: Johnboy | Nov 13 2014 7:03 utc | 33

29 yes, and i helped from not only al qeada but ISIS, too. You also forgot to blame me for both the economic crash of 2008 AND 1929

If youre gonna make dumb shit up why not go the whole hog.

"Experience with women"?

You sound jealous.

As usual when it comes to your delusions and lies i have no idea what that is suppossed to mean nor does anyone else on tne planet i'm. Always interesting from a psychological level what lies people choose to make up about their opponents. I guess the gimp is as usual projecting his own insecurities and inadequecies onto others.

Posted by: JMcC | Nov 13 2014 8:04 utc | 34

Reality (™) . . . . an Empire-friendly talking point!

Ya heard it here first folks

Posted by: JMcC | Nov 13 2014 8:11 utc | 35

You're forgetting REAL torture cells in Corporate America, and everyone in the world must be told, so they can never say, '...We did not know'.

Someday you and everyone reading this blog from America will be locked into a senior home, and realize with an awful shuddering horror you can never leave, you have been institutionalized by the private for-profit healthcare (sic) system, and from the moment the key locks you in, you are on portion-control feeding and mood-suppressant drugs, together with whatever drug interaction, pre-clinical trials or rogue vaccine experiments that Big Med wants to subject you to.

Once you are comatose, and you will be, they will wrap you tightly in a
barcolounger in a dark silent room-tomb, four or five of you, with pulse
monitor, a feed tube in one end, a butt tube in the other, and a damp
rag over your face, until your last savings are gone. Have a nice day!

You think I'm exaggerating, only because you are still ignorant of reality in America today. MIC is McArmy, McPrisons, McEducation, it's also McHealthcare (sic) and McSeniorcare (sicker). Remember your high school life? Now imagine high school in a wheel chair, with a janitor pushing you, because you've become a drug-induced drooling slackjaw.

Then you'll be left in the broom closet, to run out of air and die.

That's Corporate Healthcare in America. Now you know.

Posted by: ChipNikh | Nov 13 2014 9:41 utc | 36

Actually its obvious guest77, aka The Gimp, has had the buttplug for quite a while

Posted by: JMcC | Nov 13 2014 10:09 utc | 37

we didn't torture at Gitmo, but did at Camp X Ray, on Gitmo. See the difference??

Posted by: scottindallas | Nov 13 2014 12:52 utc | 38

A better option would be to make all torture illegal by all US government agencies but have all captured sunni terrorists including home grown actors legally classified under the Geneva Conventions as illegal enemy combatants and subject to military judgement and execution by US Army firing squad.
Then America can close Guantanamo, and shoot all the illegal combatants therein.

Posted by: Northern Observer | Nov 13 2014 13:39 utc | 39

@29 guest77. thanks.

Posted by: james | Nov 13 2014 16:18 utc | 40

You just have to read the 9/11 Commission Report to understand why the U.S. started torturing after 9/11. If you look at the footnotes, the alleged evidence for the commission's entire account of the operational details of 9/11 is testimony attributed to detainees, largely detainees that we know were tortured. Then the commission's staffers were not allowed to confront those detainees. Obviously, that could not be allowed because they might have denied what they were said to have said.

Then we have the testimony of al-Libi to the effect that Saddam's Iraq was training Al Qaeda in the use of chemical weapons. Testimony he only gave after he had been turned over to Mubarak's Egypt and tortured and threatened. Testimony that he later retracted, once the torture and threats were over and he was released.

Stalin's secret police used torture to get false confessions and other false testimony that they wanted. The U.S. government used torture for the same reason.

Posted by: lysias | Nov 13 2014 20:44 utc | 41

"Obama is still more popular than Ebola, but not by much."

Posted by: LB | Nov 13 2014 22:36 utc | 42


Yes thanks for the history. I just skip over the likes of John McCain. That sort of stuff does eat up a lot room, depresses the signal to noise ratio, but it's not hard to just skip it. The only problem is when people do read it and worse, reply to it.

Your history is instructive though, and I am appreciative. But I hate to see you stooping to insults yourself. Better not to read it. The emotional play is tried and true and does work ... better to just avoid it altogether. All of us slip on occasion and actually read that stuff. There's no there there.

Posted by: jfl | Nov 14 2014 2:36 utc | 43

The comments to this entry are closed.