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The (Unfinished) Story of Majid Khan, Dick Cheney and the Torture Memos

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FROM THE UNPUBLISHED ARCHIVES: This post is among several unpublished, unfinished drafts — all of them works-in-progress, when I set them aside to speak out on behalf of other issues. The news in America is relentlessly bad, and it’s only getting worse. It’s difficult for the average person to stand still long enough to make sense of one horror story, before another one overtakes it. Torture is promising to be an ongoing horror — past, present and future.  And I remain unconvinced that the Obama Adminstration has done enough — or intends to do enough — to ensure, “Never again.”

In this vein, we should never stop shedding light on all the terrorist acts Dick Cheney committed under the false flag of fighting terrorism. We should never stop demanding that Cheney and his gang be held accountable for their war crimes. Even as this post is unfinished, it holds value as a reference tool for shedding light onto the complex legal sleights-of-hand Cheney used to “legalize” torture.

Equally important is the need to continually shed light onto the victims of the Cheney-era war crimes. Many of these victims — if not most — are believed to be innocent. And who’s to say otherwise? Few have ever been officially charged with a crime and none have been permitted the basic right of a trial — their every effort to do so having been defeated by Team Cheney’s devious legalese, which is still a de facto part of American law. The number of these victims is seemingly countless. Majid Khan is but one of these human souls left to rot in jail, his guilt long ago sealed by accusations and confessions extracted under torture.

My apologies for not finishing this post, and for any loose ends I didn’t tie up.

The (Unfinished) Story of Majid Khan

Dick Cheney and his torture regime are like the vampire in the B-grade movie that refuses to die. Until someone drives a stake through its heart — that is, until the Department of Justice sees fit to take the gloves off and conduct an honest investigation into Cheney’s regime of corruption and torture — the monster will continue to re-injure our country, our laws, our integrity, our standing in the world. Not to mention the victims, whose stories are the stuff of nightmares. Problem is, the more time passes, the easier it becomes for Dick Cheney and daughter, Liz (who is — mark my words — being groomed to run for the vice-presidency in 2012), to re-write history and for the American public to then blindly accept their bill of goods. But, make no mistake, the rest of the world — the good, the bad and the ugly — aren’t buying.

Obama’s refusal to acknowledge America’s war crimes and hold these criminals acountable is not only short-sighted — permitting this history to exist unimpeded and ripe to repeat itself — but it also makes  Obama party to the crimes.  Obama’s neglect does not abrogate the DOJ from their duty to investigate these crimes to the fullest extent of the law. But that’s not how things are done in America today. Ultimately, it is up the American people to demand this. Perhaps we can pencil this fight into our busy agendas, somewhere between our battle for health care reform our own personal struggles with the collapsing American economy.

I want to be absolutely clear with our people and the world: the United States does not torture. — George W. Bush, September 6, 2006

By the time George Bush uttered those words, he was (technically, anyway) correct. That is, according to the precise letter of the law, as interpreted by Dick Cheney’s crackerjack team of attorneys at the Dept. of Justice Office of Legal Council (OLC) and published in the four Bybee and Bradbury memos, dating from August 2002 and May 2005. According to Team Cheney, we never did torture, and even if we did, the point was moot. Here’s why, according to the Bybee and Bradbury memos:

  • Intention is nine-tenths (plus one-tenth) of the law: Unless the interrogators intended to inflict pain and suffering, it was not torture. And since the specific intention of the interrogators was to gather intelligence — and not to inflict pain and suffering, per se — it was not technically torture.
  • Location, location, location: Under the terms Article 16 in the Geneva Convention Against Torture (CAT), the torture prohibitions apply specifically to “territories under [United States] jurisdiction.” To ascertain whether we were in compliance with this treaty obligation, the memo authors repeatedly consulted dictionary definitions of “territory” and “jurisdiction,” which neatly supported their argument that it is was not illegal for the U.S. to torture prisoners, so long as the torture took place in non-U.S. territories. Thus, the network of secret black site prisons around the globe (e.g. Afghanistan, Poland, Syria, Morocco, Thailand, etc.) where torture took place were determined to be, technically, legal, as were enhanced interrogations on any ships not registered with the U.S.  (see pages 17-21 in the May 30, 2005 Bradbury Memo)
  • Look that up in your Funk & Wagnalls: An existing U.S. Senate reservation states the the U.S. is bound to the obligations of the Geneva Convention Against Torture “only insofar as the term ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment'[ means [that] prohibited by the Fifth, Eigth and/or Fourteenth Amendments to Constitution of the United States.” Scrutinizing the language of this reservation, Team Cheney again consulted the dictionary for clarity on the precise definitions of key words and terms, such as “torture” and “calculated” and “severe physical suffering” and “severe mental pain or suffering” and “prolonged mental harm.” After careful consideration of the dictionary definitions, they concluded that  the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, were legal. Waterboarding cannot be considered “severe physical suffering” because, according to the dictionary, for distress to be “severe,” the intensity and duration of the distress must be taken into account. The memo explains that, by definition, waterboarding does not constitute “severe physical suffering,” since (a) the physical distress of waterboarding ends as soon as the session is over, and since (b) these sessions were, by their estimation, brief (with the maximum time set at 12 minutes per day, total, of actual waterboarding per day, with each session to last no longer than 40 seconds.) A similar argument is used to explain why waterboarding does not cause “prolonged mental harm,” as the length of these sessions do not conform to the dictionary definition of “prolonged.” You’d have to read the memos to appreciate the beauty of these definitions, as they apply to the blow-by-blow legalization of torture, as construed in these memos. Here are a few examples, as they apply to each of the following Constitutional Amendments:
    • 8th Amendment – This amendment protects against the infliction of “cruel and unusual punishments.” As the memo argues, however, this amendment only applies after an individual has been convicted of a crime. Thus, the memo concludes that “Because the high-value detainees on whom the CIA might use enhanced interrogation techniques have not been convicted of any crime, the substantive requirements of the Eighth Amendment would not be relevant here.” Accordingly, so long as the due process is denied ( per the provisions of the 14th Amendment, below) then a detainee could be detained forever, being subjected all the while to “cruel and unusual punishments.”
    • 5th Amendment — Unlike the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, the Fifth Amendment allows that NO person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Setting aside the dictionary for a moment, the memo’s authors turned to case law, citing a 1952 ruling, which stated that the due process component of the 5th Amendment protects, specifically, against executive action that “shocks the conscience.” And to determine whether an action “shocks the conscience,” it is necessary to determine whether it is “arbitrary in the constitutional sense,” which, in turn, depends on whether the action is justifiable “in the service of a legitimate government objective.” The memo authors devote several pages to this concern before ultimately determining waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques do not “shock the conscience” and therefore do not violate the 5th amendment.  Building on this argument, the memo asserts that — since aliens (non-U.S. citizens) are not entitled to Fifth Amendment rights outside of the sovereign territory of the United States — it is not illegal to subject aliens to “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”so long as this takes place in the above mentioned black prison sites. This argument was no doubt used to justify the extraordinary rendition of Canadian citizen Mahar Arar to Syria. (To be sure, since the Constitution technically only applies to U.S. citizens, it stands to reason (and this is painstakingly spelled out in the Bybee-Bradbury memo) that it is perfectly legal to subject non-U.S. citizens to “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.” )
    • Fourteenth Amendment — While this amendment provides that “No State shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law,” this provision does not *technically* apply in the District of Columbia, which is coincidentally where the White House is located. This gave the Bush-Cheney Administration additional license, as if they needed it, to deprive anyone they jolly well pleased — from American citizens to aliens — of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.

In other words, (according to the authority of Dick Cheney and his crackerjack team of lawyers) there are no domestic or international laws to prohibit the U.S. from torture, illegal detainment, extraordinary rendition or the denial of due process. Which brings me to the case of Majid Khan.

It is only appropriate (since his incarceration and torture would have been deemed illegal in pre-Bybee-Bradbury years) that his name is physically present in these memos. In the May 30, 2005 Bradbury memo, if you look at the 2nd paragraph on page 10, you’ll find his name. Look closely, because the words “Majid Khan” — much like the actual person — have been partially obliterated by the ubiquitious redactions.

In broad brushstrokes, the story of Majid Khan  can be given in two sentences: Majid Khan, a legal U.S. resident from Baltimore, was arrested in 2003, based on accusations from a torture victim, who has since acknowledged giving false information under torture, simply to make the torture stop. Majid Khan has spent the past 6 years — and counting — in prison, without charges, during which time he, himself, has been reportedly subjected to torture, under which he confessed to crimes he never committed.

Majid Khan is seen in year in high school in Baltimore, Maryland. Khan, 27, is now jailed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Majid Khan is seen in 1999 during his senior year in high school in Baltimore, Maryland. Khan, 27, is now jailed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Again, my apologies to Majid Khan and his family for not finishing this post. I hope that this post will be a starting point for others to take an interest in his story.  By all appearances, Mr. Khan is an innocent man: he has yet to be charged with any crime — much less been granted the basic right of a trial — and, as such, appears to be guilty of nothing more than getting mired in the web of Dick Cheney’s deceitful war on terror.

Below is a synopsis of Majid Khan’s story, quoted from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. CCR has been actively involved in litigation on behalf of many Guantanamo detainees, including Mr. Khan, whom they’ve represented since Sept. 2006, a timeline of which can be found here, at the CCR website, along a list of PDF files of their actions throughout this case:

Mr. Khan was kidnapped in 2003 while visiting relatives in Pakistan, imprisoned in secret CIA detention for three-and-a-half years and subjected to “alternative interrogation methods” that amount to torture. He has never been formally charged with a crime.

Majid Khan had immigrated with his family to the United States in 1996. They settled in Baltimore, where he attended Owings Mills High School, graduating in 1999. Majid was granted legal asylum in the U.S. in 1998 and subsequently worked for the State of Maryland. In 2002, he went to Pakistan to get married and then came home to the United States to continue working. Shortly after returning to his wife in Pakistan, Majid and other relatives were kidnapped from their residence.

In the middle of the night, on March 5, 2003, individuals identified as Pakistan security officials pounded on the door of the home of Majid’s brother in Karachi, and rushed into the flat. The family members at home included Majid, his brother, his brother’s wife and their month-old daughter. As the family was trying to wake up, the officials hooded and bound them before placing them in a vehicle. They were all taken to an unknown location.

Majid’s sister-in-law and infant niece were imprisoned for about a week. Pakistan officials imprisoned his brother for approximately one month. When Majid’s brother was released, officials threatened him not to make any public statements or inquire after Majid. As a result of the threats, Majid’s family in Baltimore and Karachi waited anxiously and fearfully for his return. He was never released or heard from again.

Back home in the U.S., Majid’s family cooperated with U.S. authorities in every way they could; Majid’s older brother, a U.S. citizen, was interviewed hundreds of times by the FBI and he asked repeatedly about Majid’s whereabouts. Nonetheless, Majid’s family did not learn he was in U.S. custody or even that he was alive until a news reporter knocked on their door and told them President Bush announced Majid’s name in a speech before the nation on September 6, 2006.

Majid now has a young daughter he hasn’t seen.

For more on Majid Khan from the Center for Constituional Rights archives:

Khan v. Bush / Khan v. Gates Synopsis: CCR’s representation of Majid Khan involves two cases: Khan v. Bush is a habeas corpus … of former Baltimore, MD resident and U.S. asylum-holder, Majid Khan, who was transferred from three-years in secret C.I.A. detention to …
Going to See a Ghost: Majid Khan and the Abuses of the ‘War on Terror’ … wrote this op-ed in The Washington Post on CCR client Majid Khan, a former Baltimore resident who was “disappeared” into a CIA …
Redacted Motion to Declare Interrogation Methods Used on Majid Khan Are Torture Cleared By CIA … the government to preserve evidence of Guantanamo detainee Majid Khan’s torture by the CIA, a second motion filed by the Center for … the motion is due to the court on December 20. “Majid Khan was subjected by U.S. personnel to a ruthless program of …
CCR Attorneys Release Revelations of Torture of Former Ghost Detainee Majid Khan Sub Heading: Motion Filed to Preserve Evidence of Majid‘s Torture While at CIA Black Site Last week, a motion that … attorneys filed in the case of former ghost detainee Majid Khan was made public. The heavily redacted motion, which was filed in order to …
Government Declassifies Majid Khan Torture Motion … by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of Majid Khan, a former CIA ghost detainee now held at Guantanamo. The motion and its …
Freedom of Information Act: Ghost Detention and Extraordinary Rendition Case … tortured in Syria for nearly a year. CCR also represents Majid Khan, a former resident of Baltimore, Maryland, who was detained in secret for …
Dixon, J. Wells … Yemen. He also represents former Baltimore-area resident Majid Khan, who was imprisoned and tortured in secret CIA “black sites” for more …
CCR Files Important Brief in Khan v. Bush … response to the government’s efforts to deny CCR access to Majid Khan, on whose behalf CCR previously filed a petition of habeas corpus. Mr. …
Gutierrez, Gitanjali … Convening Authority in May 2008.  She also represents Majid Khan, a Baltimore resident and citizen of Pakistan transferred from secret CIA …
CCR Attorney Gives Unprecedented Classified Briefing to Senate Intelligence Committee on Details of CIA Torture Program … provided a thorough account of what was done to CCR client Majid Khan and of the on-the-ground implementation of the CIA’s “enhanced …

Court Orders Government Not to Destroy Torture Evidence … to preserve” evidence relating to Guantanamo detainee Majid Khan, including evidence of his torture by the CIA. The U.S. Court of Appeals …

FAQs: What Are Ghost Detentions and Black Sites … In addition, CCR provides legal representation to Majid Khan, one of the 15 men transferred from secret CIA custody to Guantanamo Bay. …
House Votes to Outlaw Waterboarding … was released on the same day that the government brought Majid Khan, who is represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, and others to …
CIA Acknowledges It Has More than 7,000 Documents Relating to Secret Detention Program, Rendition, and Torture … of men. These include some of our clients, like Majid Khan, who were known to be in the program. The public needs to know what …

Sources plus more info for further reading:

April 17, 2009 Letter from Attorney General Eric Holder to  Sen. John D. Rockefeller in response to the Senator’s Feb. 2009 request for declassification and release of a narrative regarding advice provided by the CIA on the legality of certain interrogation techniques

World Socialist Website: More Revelations from Bush Torture Memos

Security Dilemmas (A blog dedicated to examining issues of international and national security, international politics, and international law): Legalizing Torture? Part II: The 30 May 2005 Bradbury Memo

Emptywheel/Firedoglake: The Gestation of Bradbury’s Torture Memos

Congressional Research Service: The U.N. Convention Against Torture: Overview of U.S. Implementation Policy Concerning the Removal of Aliens (January 21, 2009)

The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: The text

ACLU: FAQs on the U.N. Convention Against Torture

ACLU: On April 16, 2009, the Department of Justice released four secret Bybee-Bradbury Memos, which were used by the Bush-Cheney Administration to justify torture. This page includes links to the texts of the following memos:

  • The Bybee-Memo: An 18-page memo, dated August 1, 2002, from Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
  • Bradbury Memo: A 46-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
  • Bradbury Memo: A 20-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
  • Bradbury Memo: A 40-page memo, dated May 30, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
    • NOTE: This is the memo where you will find mention of Majid Khan in the 2nd paragraph on page 10, which reads:

More specifically, we understand that KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] admitted he had tasked Majid Khan with delivering a large sum of money to an al Qaeda associate… Khan subsequentgly identified the associate (Zubair) who was then captured. Zubair, in turn, provided information that led to the arrest of Hambali. the information acquired from these captures allowed CIA interrogators to pose more specific questions to KSM, which led the CIA to Hambali’s brother, al-Hadi. Using information from multiple sources, al-Hadi was captured, and he subsequently identified the Guraba cell…. With the aid of this additional information, interrogations of Hambali confirmed much of what was learned from KSM.

The footnote (#6) to the above section was redacted in entirety, except for this sentence:

We discuss only a small fraction of the important intelligence CIA interrogators have obtained from KSM.

2007 International Red Cross report This ICRC report, dated February 2007, details the treatment of fourteen “high value detainees” in CIA custody. The leaked report was first published by the New York Review of Books. This report cites specific instances of ill-treatment as reported by these 14 detainees. Below are the passages that mention Majid Khan:

  • Prolonged Stress Standing (Section 1.3.2): Ten of the fourteen [detainees] alleged that they were subjected to prolonged stress standing positions, during which their wrists were shackled to a bar or hook in the ceiling above the head for periods ranging from two or three days continuously, and for up to two or more months intermittently. All those detainees who reported being held in this position were allegedly kept naked throughout the use of this form of ill-treatment. For example…. Mr. Majid Khan [was shackled] for three days in Afghanistan and seven days in his third place of detention…. While being held in this position some of the detainees were allowed to defecate in a bucket. A guard would come to release their hands from the bar or hook in the ceiling so that they could sit on the bucket. None of them, however, were allowed to clean themselves afterwards. Others were made to wear a garment that resembled a diaper… Three other detainees specified that they had to defecate and urinate on themselves and remain standing in their own bodily fluids. Of these, on Mr. Bin Lep agreed that his name be transmitted to the authorities.
  • Prolonged Nudity (Section 1.3.6): The most common method of ill-treatment noted during the interiews with the fourteen was the use of nudity. Eleven of the fourteen alleged that they were subjected to extended periods of nudity during detention and interrogation, ranging from several weeks continuously up to several months intermittently. For example…. Mr. Majid Khan alleged that he was kept naked for three days in Afghanistan and for seven days in his third place of detention….. Most of the detainees commented that the provision of clothes was determined by how cooperative they were perceived by the interrogators.
  • Deprivation/Restricted Provision of Solid Food (Section 1.3.12) Eight of the fourteen alleged that they were deprived of solid food for periods ranging from three days to one month.This was often followed by a period with the provision of food was restricted and allegedly used as an incentive for cooperation. Two other detainees alleged that, whilst they were not totally deprived of solid food, food was provided intermittently or provided in restricted amounts. For example…. Mr. Majid Khan alleged that he did not receive any solid food for seven days in Afghanistan.
  • In addition, the dates of the ICRC’s written interventions to the U.S. authorities, requesting information on Majid Khan are given in Annex 2 of this same report.

The Washington Post:

  • Human Beings Without Humanity — (Excerpt: “The profoundly disgusting memos made public yesterday — in which government lawyers attempted to justify flatly unconscionable and illegal acts — provide a depressing reminder of a time when the powerful and powerless alike were stripped of their humanity. These memos gave the CIA the go-ahead to do things to people that you’d be arrested for doing to a dog. And the legalistic, mechanistic analysis shows signs of an almost inconceivable callousness. The memos serve as a vivid illustration of the moral chasm into which the nation fell — or rather, was pushed — during the Bush era. President Obama deserves great credit for defying members of the intelligence community who wanted to keep these memos secret. But in calling for the nation to move on without any further looking back, Obama put his political needs above his moral and legal obligations…..”)
  • Too Embarrassing to Disclose? (Excerpt: “President Obama’s approach to government transparency is disturbingly opaque in places, particularly when it comes to disclosing information about the Bush administration’s torture legacy….”)

Salon.comIs waterboarding torture? Ask the prisoners (November 6, 2007)

Long Excerpt: If senators such as Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein have doubts about whether waterboarding is torture, they should — and should be allowed to — interview the men who have likely experienced it in secret CIA detention facilities in American hands.

For example, they should interview Majid Khan, a Baltimore resident abducted and held for years in secret CIA prisons. He was a “ghost detainee” who this past year was among the “reappeared” at Guantánamo.

President Bush himself has clearly stated that Khan was held at a secret CIA facility before being transferred to Guantánamo. Bush also made clear that an “alternative set of procedures” were enforced — procedures widely believed to include waterboarding.

So, was Majid Khan really waterboarded? I don’t know. Khan has been prohibited from speaking to anyone except my colleagues, lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights who were finally allowed to visit him recently. One of those attorneys, Gitanjali Gutierrez, and her colleagues have also since been silenced: The government forced them to sign a protective order because Khan knew about “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Likely translation: Khan was tortured and the government is trying to cover it up by silencing him — and even his attorneys….

Those senators are perfectly within their rights and powers to pick up the phone right now and demand to interview Khan and others who were likely tortured at CIA secret sites. They can conduct classified interviews with the lawyers for the Center for Constitutional Rights about their milestone visit with Khan. They can learn exactly what happened to these men. And, if the men were waterboarded, they can learn exactly what the practice entails.

What they will likely hear are descriptions like one written by Henri Alleg, a French journalist who suffered waterboarding during the Algerian war: “I had the impression of drowning, and a terrible agony, that of death itself, took possession of me.”

…. And so the question is extremely simple: Do the men and women who serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee want to know, or not? Do they care about whether our nation has tortured?

….I believe that upon talking to victims of waterboarding any reasonable senator — or citizen — will define it as torture. There is no reasonable disagreement on this point. It was a technique invented in the Spanish Inquisition and used to terrible effect in the centuries since. The only question is whether there is any institution or group of politicians in this nation with the will to stand up for our Constitution, even at the risk of their own political prospects. If there are such men and women, then there is yet hope that our nation will rescue the Constitution from those who would shred it.

This is not a moment for political theater. This is not a moment for politics at all. This is the moment for good and decent leaders to remember that the truth still matters and to act accordingly.

POTENT QUOTABLES:

This is a highly classified area. All I want to say is that there was “before” 9/11 and “after” 9/11. After 9/11 the gloves come off. Nearly three thousand al-Qa’ida terrorists and their supporters have been detained. In Afghanistan the al-Qa’ida who refused to surrender have been killed. The hunt is on. — Cofer Black (former Director of the CIA’s counterterrorism center from 199 to May 2002) in his Sept. 2002 testimony before the House/Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing in their joint investigation into September 11th

The gloves are coming off gentlemen regarding these detainees…. we want these individuals broken. — U.S. Senate Committed on Armed Services report, titled “Inquiry Into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody” November 2008, pg. 199 [quoting an August 2003 email sent by Capt. William Ponce (the battle captain in the Combined Joint Task Force 7’s Human Intelligence and Counterintelligence Office in Iraq) to interrogation elements in the field, in which he requested they submit “interrogation techniques wish lists.”]

The danger facing us is enormous. The efforts we take to meet it must be just as enormous. The time has come to remove the gloves! We must use our fists now! ….Those who do not understand this fight today will thank us on bended knee tomorrow that we took it! — Joseph Goebbels, from his 1943 speech, “Nation Rise Up and Let the Storm Break Loose”

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Sanford’s Latest Apology: Jesus Plus Nothing

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Is there no limit to the embarrassment that we South Carolinians must endure while Mark Sanford publicly grinds through his mid-life crisis — a scandal made even more creepy by Sanford’s Jesus-deluded idea that his adulterous affair is but a stepping stone to fulfulling his greater mission from God?

On that topic, I suspect the time has long passed when any of us could exercise real control over the malignant end-times evangelical movement — that ubiquitious “invisible hand” of Doug Coe and The Family — that has encroached into our political system. Our country has become comfortable, to the point of embracing the rhetoric of politicians such as Sanford and Palin, who sound more like, say Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker than presidential hopefuls — and whose spiritual leader is reading from the same playbook used by men like Jim Jones, Warren Jeffs and David Koresh. Only, this is no tiny cult in the middle of some godforsaken nowhere. It may be too late to slam shut the doors (from Capitol Hill, to corporate board rooms, to front-row seats at the Rapture), which these politicians believe God is opening for them, as part of their greater destiny:   

I would ultimately be a better person and of more service in whatever doors God opened next in life if I stuck around to learn lessons rather than running and hiding down at the farm. — from Mark Sanford’s June 29, 2009  letter of apology, in which he explains why he intends to remain in politics

Don’t know what the future holds. I’m not gonna shut any door. That — who knows what doors open? — Sarah Palin, July 8, 2009, answering a question on her future presidential aspirations.

Like any cancer, it gradually crept up on us — the nagging symptoms easily dismissed.  But we have no excuses now. Myraid stories on Doug Coe and the Family are a mere google away. All that’s left is the reading, then the votes. We are, after all, still somewhat of a democracy. Shall we fight for the integrity of this democracy? Or shall we willingly — or, through benign complacency — turn the reins of our country over to the very religious tyranny that our forefathers fought to escape when they fled to the shores of North America — aspiring to build a country, whose constitution would guarantee the separation of church and state, so that its citizens would never be subjected to the authority of any tyrannical religious idealogue?     

Because, make no mistake. Sanford is right about his greater mission, only his mission is not from God, per se, but from Doug Coe and the Family. Anytime a vote is cast for Sanford or Palin or any political leader who defers authority to God in matters of state, we are inching one step closer to a country run by the ilk of leaders embraced in the speeches of Doug Coe: Lenin, Hitler, Mao, Goebbler and Hemmler

In this vein, I offer, without apology, both the text and subtext of Mark Sanford’s most recent apology: 

I have struggled with how best to convey my regret in letting so many down, being discovered as a philandering, unethical hypocrite and in that regard I realize this op-ed does not do justice to the process of saying “I am sorry.”I’m still not going to resign.” A handwritten note or phone call simple “fuck you” would ultimately be more appropriate in keeping with the style of my governorship,  but given the number of people Christians I need to apologize appeal to by shamelessly pandering God to, I write this to begin the journey of trying to get things more right with you and others. everyone off my back.

It is true that I did wrong and failed at the largest of levels, but equally true is the fact that God being a minion of Doug Coe can make good of our respective wrongs in life. powerful politicians out of the most disreputable characters. In this vein, while none of us has the chance to attend our own funeral, in many ways I feel like I was at my own in the past weeks, and surprisingly I am thankful for oblivious to the perspective it has afforded.

If you ever have the misfortune of being at this point, caught with your pants down, whether self-induced as in my case or not, it will give you an indeed amazing perspective on life crash course in damage control and on what really matters. how difficult it is to fly by the seat of your pants while they’re still rolled around your ankles. I read notes from someone who worked in a sandwich shop I ate at ten years ago, from seventh-grade classmates, from state employees and more. While there have been  you’d think I’d have learned lifetimes of lessons learned over the past weeks, three things most immediately come to mind. Ive changed nothing. 

One, forgiveness and grace really do matter. Still, if you’re a Christian, it’s your job to forgive me. I used to believe that at an intellectual level. Now it is at the level of heart. I see that it is my only hope of salvaging my political career.  Over my life I have not given enough of either, always been too narcissistic to give a thought about anyone or anything but my own personal ambitions, and yet given all the ways in which my failings have come to light, that I’ve been caught misppropriating taxpayer dollars while engaging in an adulterous affair, I write to apologize for, in the most profound of ways, letting you and so many others down. explain how this is not just about me anymore — this is part of God’s plan. 

In life it’s always the people closest to us that we hurt the most, and given my standing of public trust, I know I’ve hurt many across our state. I wish I could put myself aside long enough to show remorse to my family, my friends and the citizens of South Carolina, but everytime I try, the words fall flat. I apologize for this, and more than anything would don’t know what else to do but keep pulling the pull the Christ card to ask for your forgiveness going forward.

Two, To paraphrase Doug Coe, life is indeed about way more than public standing or political views. It’s about recognizing that none of us is the arbiter of truth, that there are moral absolutes, and that there is a God to whom we will all report for our actions. power, influence and money, and exploiting God to get these. My failure has been was in revealing the role that Doug Coe and The Fellowship have played in my political and my personal life most glaring on this front, where no public apology can make wrong right. but, lucky for me, folks don’t seem too concerned about connecting the dots between Doug Coe, Howard Rich, Biblical Capitalism, the Santee Cooper scandal and my ongoing efforts to privatize the South Carolina school system.    

As a consequence, it is on this plane that I’ve grown the most over the past weeks — and where I’m committed to growing the most  keeping my work with the Family invisible  going forward. I’ve been humbled and broken as never before in my life and as a consequence have given up areas of control in a way that I never have before far exceeded the levels of submission I achieved in my Fellowship prayer cell with Doug Coe [see quote at bottom of post] and it is my belief that this being a vessel thus emptied will make me a better father, husband, friend and advocate.disciple for Doug Coe.

It’s in the spirit of making good from bad the Fellowship’s belief that God’s “chosen ones” don’t have to adhere to man-made laws and ethics, nor God’s law that I am committing to you and the larger family of South Carolinians staying in office to use exploit this experience to both trust God Coe in his larger work delusional plot of changing me, to construct a Kingdom of God on earth with Washington as its capital, and from my end, to work continue sidestepping whatever laws and ethics are neccesary to becoming a better and more effective leader disciple for Doug Coe.

In this regard I think all that has transpired will be particularly relevant in the way I deal with the legislative body and other state leaders going forward. In my apology last month, I paraphrased Doug Coe and compared myself to King David, which didn’t go over very well. Maybe you’ll like this one better: Micah 6:8 asks us to do justice, love mercy and to walk humbly; and as I begin these steps into the last 18 months of this administration,  as I have no intention of resigning, I’m thinking that — since this Micah quote works so well for the Fellowship’s many evangelical missions around the world, working behind the scenes to spread capitalism and covert wealth to despotic leaders, under the mantle of helping the sick, the impoverished, the hungry and the oppressed — heck, it oughta work for me in South Carolina, so long as I act as if it will indeed be with a more contrite and humble spirit.

I’ve realized that as much as I have and will continue to advocate for things ranging from restructuring cutting public services and redistributing the state’s wealth into the private enterprise , to responsible spending saying “no” to anything-Obama, “yes” to reimbursing the state for my trip to Argentina, and “hell yes” to traveling first class on the taxpayer’s dime, to school choice, re-segregating the schools in South Carolina, my approach needs to be less about my will and more about looking for ways to more humbly present the greater principles and ideas at play. Doug Coe’s will and His greater plan for Mark Sanford and the Fellowship. It needs to be less strident more invisible and more about finding ways to work with behind the scenes to buy and/or coerce legislative leaders to advance the ideas so many of us believe in. agendas for South Carolinians of wealth and priviledge. It means less time fighting the tide Democrats — and a greater awareness of the fact that God money and power  controls it. can buy most anything. 

In working with a few alterations to my approach, I think this could be a far more productive last session than the one that would have been had the tragedy that has unfolded not occurred, I not been forced to take the stimulus money, and in turn, people’s lives can be made better as I scored a lot of political capital outside the state by refusing this money, which may be helpful, if I can channel it into the right pockets. 

Finally it is at your funeral a press conference in the wake of a political scandal that you your constituents in many ways not only can see most clearly the things that really matter in life, that this has been an onging pattern in the State House, but where one gets the best glimpse of who your real friends are governor is — and how much they little the citizens of South Carolina matter. For that reason, I want to thank so many for their kindnesses and support being oblivious to what I’ve doing (and not doing) over the years and for their kindness in  not taking to the streets with pitchforks after being subjected to this latest chapter (albeit not written on the Appalachian trail, but during my drive home from the airport)  in our book together as South Carolinians.    

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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 The following quote (referenced 6 paragraphs up ) is from the 2006 Rolling Stone article by Jeff Sharlet, titled, God’s Senator: Who Would Jesus Vote For? Meet Sam Brownback, wherein Sharlet describes Doug Coe’s method for breaking the will of Fellowship members through confession. (As an aside, the use of confession as a tool in mind control has been well-studied and documented by many scholars. Psychiatrist Robert Lifton, a well-published scholar in the field of mind control and cult formation, cites confession as one of eight methods used to coerce what Lifton terms, “thought reform.” Further research into the Fellowship leaves one wondering if Family leader, Doug Coe, has overlooked the other seven methods. It appears not.)     

Brownback was placed in a weekly prayer cell by “the shadow Billy Graham” — Doug Coe, Vereide’s successor as head of the Fellowship. The group was all male and all Republican. It was a “safe relationship,” Brownback says. Conversation tended toward the personal. Brownback and the other men revealed the most intimate details of their desires, failings, ambitions. They talked about lust, anger and infidelities, the more shameful the better — since the goal was to break one’s own will. The abolition of self; to become nothing but a vessel so that one could be used by God.

They were striving, ultimately, for what Coe calls “Jesus plus nothing” — a government led by Christ’s will alone. In the future envisioned by Coe, everything — sex and taxes, war and the price of oil — will be decided upon not according to democracy or the church or even Scripture. The Bible itself is for the masses; in the Fellowship, Christ reveals a higher set of commands to the anointed few. from Rolling Stone (2006) — God’s Senator: Who Would Jesus Vote For? Meet Sam Brownback

If you’ve made it this far, you might also be interested in these:

The Wall Street Journal: Mark Sanford’s Once-Secret Wall Street Deal –

Despite the impression given by his aw-shucks mea culpa today, South Carolina’s Mark Sanford isn’t new to furtive dealings. The governor, a long-time darling of the GOP, was criticized heavily in 2005 for secretly trying to orchestrate a sale of the state’s largest asset, a massive 70-year-old utility named Santee Cooper….

The Post & Courier (Charleston, SC) Sanford weighed utility privatization — Wall Street firm was asked to assess value of Santee Cooper

Gov. Mark Sanford’s office orchestrated the hiring of an investment bank to determine how much Santee Cooper would fetch in a sale that would privatize the state-owned utility, according to newly obtained documents and a former board chairman. Sanford has denied for months that he is interested in privatizing the Moncks Corner-based power business, and has said the study was undertaken to see how Santee Cooper stacks up against other utilities. But Graham Edwards, former chairman of Santee Cooper, said Thursday that the governor proposed selling the utility in a November 2003 meeting held to discuss the utility’s contributions to the state’s General Fund….

Howard Rich: Obama’s Chilling Effect on Capitalism

LA Times: (Sept. 2002)  Showing Faith in Discretion The Fellowship, which sponsors the National Prayer Breakfast, quietly effects political change. It acts with the blessing of many in power.

Ben Daniel: Dysfunction in the Fellowship Family 

The Fellowship Foundation, a secretive organization of wealthy and powerful American political, religious, and business leaders, would rather that you not be aware of its existence.

The Fellowship Foundation is an organization that goes by many names, but members mostly call it “the Fellowship,” or just “the Family.” It is a loose, worldwide affiliation of mostly wealthy, mostly powerful, mostly men, using the Mafia as an organizational model. Preaching a simple gospel of “Jesus plus nothing,” and, being adverse to institutionalized forms of Christianity (even shunning the name “Christian”), the Fellowship eschews organized churches, choosing instead to build strong relationships in the community of small cell groups.

Harpers: (March 2003) Jesus plus nothing: Undercover among America’s secret theocrats

The organization has operated under many guises, some active, some defunct: National Committee for Christian Leadership, International Christian Leadership, the National Leadership Council, Fellowship House, the Fellowship Foundation, the National Fellowship Council, the International Foundation. These groups are intended to draw attention away from the Family, and to prevent it from becoming, in the words of one of the Family’s leaders, “a target for misunderstanding

Heritage Foundation This is but one of the many organizations that work as an “invisible hand” in promoting the agenda of the Fellowship. Here is a tiny handful of others, which I’ll add to if and when I have the time or inclination:

The National Association of Evangelicals

Values Voter Summit  This site is an excellent resource for Fellowship members, as the lists of speakers at this annual event are heavily seeded with the names/causes/organizations of the politicians, media figures, corporate leaders and Christian leaders that work (albeit invisibly, for the record) in concert with the Fellowship’s mission. :

2009 Roster of Values Voter Summit speakers: Rep. Michele Bachmann, Dr. Ted Baehr, Stephen Baldwin, Gary Bauer, Glenn Beck, Ken Blackwell, Rep. Roy Blunt, Rep. John Boehner, Gov. Jeb Bush, Herman Cain, Kirk Cameron, Dr. Ergun Caner, Rep. Eric Cantor, Sen. Tom Coburn, Sen. John Cornyn, Jim Daly, Sen. Jim DeMint, Lou Dobbs, Ed Feulner, Sean Hannity, David Horowitz, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Brit Hume, Dr. Ken Hutchenson, Terry Jeffrey, Gov. Bobby Jindal, Rush Limbaugh, Frank Luntz, Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCullough, Ed Meese, Kate O’Beirne, Bill O’Reilly, Gov. Sarah Palin, Star Parker, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Rep. Mike Pence, Tony Perkins, Gov. Rick Perry, Carrie Prejean, Gov. Mitt Romney, Joel Rosenberg, Lila Rose, Phyllis Schlafly, Gary Sinise, Ben Stein, Mark Steyn, Fred Thompson, Eduardo Verastegui, Don Wildmon. (see also the rosters for 2008 and 2007).

Focus on the Family Action

American Values

Family Research Council (see also FRC Blog and FRC/Washington Watch Radio)

One News Now

Mapping America

American Family Association

Young America’s Foundation

The Leadership Institute

In the Fight/Matt Friedeman