Why CIA torture techniques backfired

Prolonged stress from the CIA’s harsh interrogations could have impaired the memories of terrorist suspects, diminishing their ability to recall and provide the detailed information the spy agency sought, according to a scientific paper published Monday.

The methods could even have caused the suspects to create — and believe — false memories, contends the paper, which scrutinizes the techniques used by the CIA under the Bush administration through the lens of neurobiology. It suggests the methods are actually counterproductive, no matter how much suspects might eventually say.

Feds issue terror warnings to stadiums, hotels

Counterterrorism officials have issued security bulletins to police around the nation about terrorists’ desire to attack stadiums, entertainment complexes and hotels — the latest in a flurry of such internal warnings as investigators chase a possible bomb plot in Denver and New York.

In the two bulletins — sent to police departments Monday and obtained by The Associated Press — officials said they know of no specific plots against such sites, but urged law enforcement and private companies to be vigilant. These two bulletins followed on the heels of a similar warning about the vulnerabilities of mass transit systems.

The bulletin on stadiums notes that an al-Qaida training manual specifically lists “blasting and destroying the places of amusement, immorality, and sin… and attacking vital economic centers” as desired targets of the global terror network.

Rhode Island Republican quits over Joe Wilson

The chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Hispanic Assembly and member of the Republican Central Committee says he has quit the GOP because he was embarrassed by South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst during President Obama’s address to Congress on Sept. 9.

Wilson shouted “You lie,” when President Obama said illegal immigrants would not receive benefits under his health care plan.

Ivan Marte tells The Providence Journal that Wilson’s behavior was “shameful” and “uncivilized.”

Marte says he has been disenchanted by the GOP since Gov. Don Carcieri ignored his advice concerning the 2008 executive order
cracking down on illegal immigration.

State party chairman Giovanni Cicione says Marte’s contributions to the party were valued and he’s disappointed by the resignation.

Obama urged to end CIA probe

Seven former CIA directors who served both Republican and Democratic presidents have asked President Barack Obama to end the Justice Department’s criminal probe into the harsh interrogations of terror suspects during the Bush administration.

Three of the men who made the request in a letter Friday to the White House worked under President George W. Bush.

Attorney General Eric Holder said last month he was appointing an independent counsel to investigate possible incidents of abuse by CIA personnel during interrogations that went beyond guidelines imposed by the Bush administration.

The incidents were referred by the CIA inspector general to the Justice Department during the Bush administration, but Justice officials at the time prosecuted only one case.

Media arrogance breeds mistrust

You don’t trust us. You really don’t.

That’s the message to the media from a new poll by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press. It’s a devastating look at how little respect Americans have for mainstream newspapers and television news.

Interviewing 1,506 adults, 18 and older, in July and August by landline and cell phone, Pew’s researchers found that only 29 percent say news organizations “generally get the facts straight.”

A whopping 63 percent insist news stories are “often inaccurate.” In 1985, in the first survey, only 34 percent said news stories were often inaccurate. Two years ago, 53 percent expressed concern.

Why is this?

Race was the wrong card to play

One would hope that Jimmy Carter, as he has been frequently in the past, is dead wrong in his allegation that Rep. Joe Wilson’s unfortunate accusation that President Barack Obama was lying to Congress is rooted in racism. His playing of the race card not only seems ill advised, it has been disavowed by a White House dedicated to avoiding such polarization.

If the South Carolina Republican congressman had any other motivation than just disagreement with a presidential policy, it would help return the national political discourse to a hateful level not seen for decades.

So many lobbyists, so little disclosure

Few members of Congress are disclosing that lobbyists are helping them raise campaign cash despite a new law that was supposed to shed light on the ties between lawmakers and the capital’s influence brokers, an Associated Press review found.

Though lobbyist-hosted fundraisers are workaday events in Washington — typically advertised to political insiders by fax and word of mouth — only about two dozen lawmakers have reported lobbyists raising money for them.

ACORN, federal funds and whorehouses

Looking for a one-stop source of advice on sex trafficking, fraudulently obtaining mortgages, opening a brothel, tax cheating and shooting your husband?

Your go-to source for help appears to be certain offices of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, whose acronym, a nut, now seems singularly appropriate.

So many czars, so little reason

No question about it. The number of “czars” in government has proliferated under President Barack Obama and has provided a rallying point for his Republican opposition.

Conservatives say Obama has created as many as 40 czars and under that elastic definition President George W. Bush had as many as 36. Still, a less overheated count by The Washington Post lists 30 czars in the Obama administration, 12 of them preexisting, and eight of those requiring Senate confirmation, and 18 positions added by the new president.

“Czar,” it turns out, is a flexible title. In some cases, it’s simply shorthand. The “border czar” is a Department of Homeland Security assistant secretary with a really long title that includes responsibility for border affairs.

When rudeness rules

My dear readers, I am striving to be extra polite today because ill-mannered jerks appear to have taken over America and someone has to set a higher standard. In every field — particularly politics — rudeness rules.

I know what you are thinking: If I am the one to set the standards for politeness, we are all doomed. That is just the sort of discourteous thought that I seek to banish.

But how to restore good manners to America? The easiest way might be to bring back smoking as a fashionable pastime. Yes, it is a disgusting habit that can lead to horrible death, but on the upside, it has a sedative effect on users.