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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Before Plame there was Susan Lindauer

Before Plame, a woman who revealed the administration's lies on Iraq paid a horrible price for coming forward. In an effort to diminish her testimony, Susan Lindauer was labelled insane, isolated, and forcibly medicated during her detention.

Lindauer is a former reporter and Congressional aide, so she can't so easily be dismissed. Espionage charges were filed against her in 2004, then later dropped. Rather than release her, now-Attorney General Mukasey, Lindauer's presiding judge at the time, ordered her to undergo extensive psychiatric observation and treatment against her will.

I am not a psychiatrist so I couldn't assess Lindauer's mental condition. I don't trust a Court-appointed psychiatrist, either, especially when the presiding judge is a friend of the President's, or seeking a promotion. The present Attorney General, Mike Mukasey, presided over Lindauer's case while a federal judge in New York. She'd been accused of "acting as an unregistered agent," in the original indictment.

Mukasey's payback for forcing Lindauer out of the public eye must have been his selection as A.G.. Doing dirty jobs for the Bush administration has been a ticket for advancement. Now-Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, John Roberts was on a Federal Appeals Court that granted a favorable ruling to the White House prior to his nomination in 2005. Democracynow explains:
"Roberts was part of a three-judge panel that handed Bush an important victory last week when it ruled that the military tribunals of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could proceed. The decision also found that Bush could deny terrorism captives prisoner-of-war status as outlined by the Geneva Conventions."

Mukasey is a neocon who has fought hard since his promotion to keep John Bolton and Harriet Miers from testifying before Congress. Sacrificing moral and judicial principles and integrity for a little bigger slice of the pie is just how the game is played in Washington. None of this of course excuses Mukasey, Bush, or Roberts, any more than just obeying orders would have been an excuse for anyone active in achieving the aims of the Nazi government.

Of course, we are not the Nazis, or we wouldn't have need for any solution more complicated than a bullet in the back of the head. The neocons however, have said that any behavior is tolerable in defense of democracy. It should also be noted that neocons fervently believe the case against fascist regimes--as Hussein's was painted--justify any action by democracies, legal or illegal, who were seen as too soft in opposing the rise of Hitler.

In another example of how we aren't like the Nazis, our Supreme Court by a 5-4 decision just agreed to give Gitmo detainees back their right to challenge their detention. Chief Justice John Roberts dissented of course, claiming detainee rights were sufficient or in his words, "the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country as enemy combatants.” (link)

Don't dose me, bro

Forced medication is against numerous state, federal, and international laws. The US military recently suspended the involuntary drugging of Gitmo detainees due to a recent Court ruling (seeking the link). The Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent a letter to the Department of Defense in April, 2008, TPMMuckraker reported.

One anti-psychotic drug, Haldol, was used by the Soviet Union. A May, 2008, the commondreams.org article "Back in the USSR" by Joyce Marcel cites a Washington Post article:
"“Haldol gained notoriety in the Soviet Union, where it was often given to political dissidents imprisoned in psychiatric hospitals,” the Post said. Then the story quoted a specialist who pointed out — as if it needed to be pointed out — that giving these drugs to people who are not psychotic “is medically and ethically wrong.”

The Soviets liked to accuse dissidents of mental illness and imprison and medicate them on those grounds. If the activists were too much of a problem, their disappearance might only generate additional public interest about what they did, and stir more curiousity in why the activist had presented such a threat to the regime. By isolating the individual, medicating and most likely over-medicating, the threat could be quarantined. In our alternate approach, the effort seems to be on restricting negative media coverage. This is fitting as our politicians are extremely media-conscious and eager to manage public perception.

The US has admitted that Some U.S. detainees (were) drugged for deportation." Along a similar theme, in January, Immigration and Customs Control announced they would no longer sedate detainees. The change in policy came after a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.

It began with Plame. Or did it?

It should come as no surprise that the Bush administration is hostile to the truth. By now, the vast bulk of evidence indicates that secrecy has been a methodology through which the White House has attempted to cover up illegal activities, including the willful outing of Valerie Plame.

Plame's outing should have sounded the warning that intelligence operatives were being threatened. Lindauer predates that incident, so I guess keeping her silenced was even more important in setting precedent. Good thing Joe Wilson wasn't intimidated into silence, although Wilson made the mistake of underestimating the lengths to which the administration would go to try to keep the Iraq intelligence deception from being revealed. Operating covertly, Plame was presumably vulnerable; Wilson therefore must not have known that his wife would be outed in retaliation.

Contrasting Lindauer's case with Plame brings up some noticeable contrasts. Active in the CIA, Plame was not as easy a target. She couldn't have anticipated that the administration would retaliate for Wilson's revelations about Iraq not seeking yellowcake from Niger as the President had claimed on at least two occasions. Lindauer was far easier to isolate, being an outside contractor. Kept at arm's length in her dealings with the CIA, she could be more easily cast aside.

I am leery of Lindauer's association with anyone in the Bush White House, even a marginal relationship. Having "CIA links" is enough to convince me that someone's credibility might be questionable; this may be the specter of disinformation that seems to accompany involvement with any covert intelligence service. This of course doesn't mean that Lindauer never worked for and/or with the CIA, but rather that she may have ended up mingling with the kind of people who work in the shadows and like to remain anonymous.

Plame's active status within the CIA should have shielded her from marginalization efforts but right-wing supporters of the administration were quick to decry her covert status, claiming Plame's employment at CIA was well known around Washington, which simply wassn't true. Plame's closest friends and family members didn't know that she worked for the CIA--why would she tell random passers-by? The effort to reduce Plame's status hints at typical damage control methods. For administration defenders to thrash her covert status meant that it was most likely was a major issue, and made the group of conspirators work quite diligently to reveal her identity indirectly, through their contacts in the press.

Women targetted

Bush and his gang of neocons seem fond of targetting women instead of their husbands. As the author of his editorial, Joe Wilson, a former Ambassador, was a bigger target than his wife, but victimizing women is a recurring theme as there've been several women targets of the administration. The question remains, however, that if Joe Wilson had been the covert agent and his wife the former ambassador making the public revelations, would he have been outed?

Oppressing women seems to be a recurring theme in the neo-fascist environment which emerged post-9/11. In Cleveland Heights, Ohio, attorney Carol Fisher was arrested for putting up posters critical of Bush. Greg Szymanski has her story here.
In an outrageous case, Fisher spent five weeks in jail, and was subjected to extensive psychiatric treatment during her detention. Her crime: opposing the regime.

Another prominent woman who hasn't faced any prosecutorial or pharmacological abuse is Sibel Edmonds, a whistelblower and former translator at the FBI. Edmonds has a lot to tell about the close relationships between key adminsitration officials and the Turkish government. At one point, she was put under a gag order--I believe before the 2004 election--but has said much since then.

Looking at the Sibel Edmonds case, it's clear government employees, even those under strict limits under their national security clearance, do tend to talk. This is the sign of a healthy democracy, a counterweight to the idea wrongdoing won't be exposed or revealed. As the Edmonds case demonstrates, even if exposure comes years later, a good deal of damage can be done, as ex-employees employees do carry a lot of credibility.

Women's stories have been manipulated for positive propaganda purposes as well. We saw the Jessica Lynch story and other instances where the US military lied about her rescue. The raid that freed Jessica Lynch hadn't saved her from any immediate danger. At considerable risk to themselves, Iraqi doctors had twice gone to US soldiers to tell them that they had Lynch at the hospital and wanted them to come get her.

The effort to look good motivated the Pentagon to make a more powerful case for war with Iraq through the use of fabricated pre-war intelligence. Subsequent to that, the Department of Offense placed active military officers posing as impartial analysts throughout the mainstream media, to keep the good news rolling.

Media Non-coverage

I've heard virtually nothing about this woman's case, not even on the Web, which testifies to the magitude of the marginalization of the story she tries to tell. How deliberate is the process to silence Lindauer? The scope of the effort to keep her out of the public eye shows how important keeping her story quiet was.

Lindauer is referred to as a "political prisoner," which implies Soviet-era tactics against dissidents: a dark cell, isolation, torture, and the forced injection of psychotropic drugs meant as an inducement to talk, or just to turn perfectly sane and mentally health people into drooling idiots--a sort of lobotomy without the lobotomy. Drugs can induce a near-comatose state. If professionally applied, psychotropic drugs can be allow the recipient to remain medicated, incoherent, harmless, or in a catatonic state more or less indefinitely.

We know that licensed medical professionals were involved in the use of psychotropic drugs in managing the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as in black sites throughout the world, including even some prison ships whose existence has only been recently acknowledged. In addition, some professional medical services must have been rendered in the process of extraordinary rendition, as we know from the accounts of released detainees that they'd been drugged before or in-flight.

Theoretically, the use of psychotropic drugs will leave far fewer aftereffects than physical trauma. LSD, it should be remembered, was developed as an interrogation method for Soviet agents by the CIA. Flashbacks can and do occur, but these might not be so unpleasurable. With other drugs, long-term psychological effects could linger in the form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Although the specific trauma-causing incidents might be forgotten, it's unlikely memories of mistreatment can be forgotten altogether. Also, if detainees are kept too drugged, they can't communicate and therefore possess no "intelligence value" if indeed they could have provided any "actionable intelligence."

The use of dangerous psychotropic drugs by US government agents is evidence of torture and a clear war crime, especially when the Geneva treaties explicitly states that an Occupying force cannot remove a combatant or citizen from the nation in which they are apprehended. This makes holding ghost detainees highly illegal under US and international law, as well as that of the country where the detainee is being held. [Rep. Dennis Kucinich brought up this treaty statute as part of his 35 Articles of Impeachment recently brought before Congress.]

Agents who inject drugs into detainees without their consent do so at grave risk to the detainee if they lack the prerequisite medical training. Also, surviving "disappeared" detainees could be tested for drug residues, which could make plausible deniability harder by proving that someone was held, and that highly specialized medications were administered. I don't know how long truth serum survives in the bloodstream, I'm guessing newer meds might do so for much longer periods of time. (As a example, Prozac never degrades in the body and upon exit from the body enters the downstream water systems, which can't filter it out.)

We saw US policymakers at the highest level advocate the use of torture to exrtact "confessions" in the War on Terror. Surely they'd known that the results would be questionable. The use of torture revealed the administration's primarily political motive--to look tough on terror. The same political movitations might have led the military to go to great lengths to avoid negative publicity.

In one case, an active duty sergeant serving as an intelligence officer in Iraq was removed from the field of battle under suspicious circumstances and subjected to forced psychiatric treatments and evaluation. A Democracy Now webpage describes Sgt. Frank "Greg" Ford as attempting to file a formal complaint that his fellow intelligence operatives has repeatedly tortured and abused Iraqi detainees in Samarra, Iraq:
"...according to Ford, instead of an investigation being conducted, within about a day-and-a-half later, he was, in fact, strapped to a gurney, put on a C-130, and flown initially to Kuwait and eventually to Landstuhl, Germany, where he then underwent a series of psychological evaluations in Germany and also at two bases in the United States for approximately eight months."

We have no way of knowing how many of our soldiers have been shipped stateside simply for threatening to reveal blatant violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Interfering with Sgt. Ford's grievance was a violation of his rights, as he's required to inform his superiors of any violations under the UCMJ, as he did. Prisoner abuse was clearly going on and the military didn't want it known that abuse was commonplace. I was reminded of the 1989 Sean Penn movie Casualties of War which shows the extent that the "us vs. them" attitude among many in the military leads them to protect criminals in their ranks. Unchecked, amplified by the need to strike out at an unseen enemy, this behavior can result in outright brutality and savage war crimes.

Target #1: Intelligence Community

The intelligence services had a vital role in dispersing false information. Therefore intelligence agents who might reveal intelligence fabrications presented a real threat to the administration--at least through Election Day, November, 2004, after which they could presumably stall any investigation using the power of the Executive. If the public learned that the intelligence was not faulty but faked, they might question the justifications for war as being based on willful and premeditated lies.

The allegation that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger--later exposed by Joe Wilson--ultimately originated from the neocon camp. According to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Michael Ledeen, a prominent neocon, had a hand in procuring documents bearing the stolen stamp of the Niger embassy in Rome. More details on the inside operation can be found here, as well in this blog pertaining especially to Carlo Bonini's expose on the Niger affair, summarized by Justin Raimondo here.

The intelligence community seems to be the first target of the White House's suppression effort on the real pre-war intelligence, which stated quite clearly that Iraq had no WMD nor any connection to terror--two main rationales for war which a policy shop of outside contractors led by Douglas Feith called the Office of Special Plans strived to concoct. Feith and Ledeen worked together on building the case for war.

Operatives both within the Agency and those working on its periphery in an unofficial capacity--there are lots of these people--present the administration with serious political threat if they talked. Marginalizing these operatives must have seemed prudent, especially if they were to talk about how the President had lied, and known he'd lied.

Plausible deniability functions by denying that the individual ever worked with the intelligence agency, a reason that the CIA likely uses outside contractors on various jobs where the chance of discovery is higher.

The post-9/11 tendency to silence would-be whistleblowers over national security concerns--real or imagined--has been overshadowed by growing tolerance in the Courts for ex-federal employees to talk to the media. As the momentum of political opposition has risen to a critical mass, so has the tacit understanding that mistakes--and perhaps much more, malignant and purposeful deceptions--were committed and must be revealed to the public.

Had Lindauer's admissions been revealed sooner--in 2002 and early 2003--the administration and mainstream media narrative that WMD existed there would have been aborted, long before any earnest searches for WMD launched after the invasion failed find any. Violating the "oops, sorry, we thought they were there" premise would point back to the fact that administration and neocons knew WMD were never there so they manufactured fake intelligence and lied to start a war for the neocon's primary benefactor, Israel.

The fact that intelligence was willfully manipulated, as opposed to being merely erroneous, emerged long after the President had to face the electorate. The greatest threat that the falsified intelligence now presents to Bush is damage to his legacy, some consolation prize for those who believe that lying to start a war is a war crime.

Removing threats

We see almost daily stories emerging from former insiders like Scott McClellan. Still, among all these crises that the White House must manage, no mention has been made of Lindauer.

Drugged, she posed little threat to the administration. Derided as a looney, flung into a psychiatric ward, Landaeur and, more importantly, her story, could be easily forgotten.

Lindauer's status as an unofficial contractor helped to publicly marginalize her when she tried to go to the press. Made into a felon by a politically motivated prosecution, she was painted into a criminal with psychological problems.

More recently, another CIA contractor referred to as 'Tony" made his way into the news. His case has been pursued by the MSM with the same vigor as Landauer's. His name was Richard Carnaby, shot by Houston police last month at the end of a car chase. Carnaby had called the FBI and a Houston police officer during the pursuit, then been shot in the back exiting his SUV. See more on the story , here.

Eliminating a potential whistleblower may be less effective than marginalizing them, although in a pinch I guess either could do. For those who can prove they'd worked for the government, a shooting might be preferrable, as they'd have more credibility than an outside contractor whose relationship with our government had been completely covert.


Michael Collins of electionfraudnews.com has authored two articles on Susan Lindauer. His 2007 article on scoop.co.nz; his more recent piece was available on HuffPo here.

Greg Szymanski articles on Lindauer appear in Artic Beacon archives here and the article "Two of America's Many Political Prisoners Released From the Gulag".



  • At 11:39 PM, Blogger jbpeebles said…

    Michael Collins from electionfraudnews.com has an exclusive interview with Susan Lindauer at op-ednews.com dated the 12th of June--today.

    In it, Lindauer says this of Mukasey:
    "I want to be clear that the man is my hero. Though I was detained, he issued a lengthy and well considered decision that blocked the Prosecution from forcibly drugging me. It's a decision that deserves to be considered in other cases in the future. I am profoundly grateful to Judge Mukasey. He has a great and formidable legal mind."
    Looks like I was premature in my conclusion that Mukasey was part of the problem. To be honest, though, I can't be sure of how embroiled in the legal system Lindauer remains. Can she speak freely? Absent trust in the Bush-controlled DoJ, and given their history of politically motivated prosecutions, I have to believe that her treatment was being directed by the highest levels as part of a suppression effort.
    Lindauer also talks about Mukasey's role in preventing her treatment from getting even worse. I'm sorry but I can't see how Ms. Lindauer was treated fairly, properly, or appropriately, or got any justice from her treatment by the system. It's little consolation that it took the intervention of a Bush insider to keep things from being even harder on her. Makes you wonder if it wasn't some kind of good cop/bad cop routine.

    You can see the very timely interview here.

  • At 6:11 AM, Anonymous Michael Collins said…

    Thanks for your excellent coverage of this issue. what a strange case it has been. But, Tuesday in NYC it will be quite interesting.

    American Cassandra - Susan Lindauer’s Story October 2007 http://tinyurl.com/2bhf5v

    Bush Political Prisoiner Gets Her Day in Court June 11, 2008 http://tinyurl.com/6jnbz7

    An Exclusive Interview with Susan Lindauer. June 11, 2008 http://tinyurl.com/6rpanp


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