Thursday, December 12, 2019

CIA torture program

It was interesting to go back through the old posts on this blog about the CIA torture program in light of the new film, The Report, which can be seen on Amazon Prime.

One of the early posts on this blog resulted in a debate in the comments about the ethics and efficacy of torture, which the 2014 Senate torture report (PDF link) and the film resolve decisively against torture.  The CIA torture program was ineffective and unethical.

Jeremy Scahill's interview with Daniel Jones about the CIA program and the Senate investigations and report is quite illuminating, and highly recommended listening, as is the podcast associated with the film.

A couple other items of interest:

Jason Leopold's exposure of an accidentally leaked draft letter from John Brennan to Dianne Feinstein apologizing for hacking the Senate investigation.

Senator Mark Udall's questioning of CIA general counsel Caroline Krass during her Senate confirmation hearing.

New York Times book review of Frank Rizzo's memoir, Company Man, which confirms that George W. Bush was not briefed on the torture program but was a "stand-up guy" by lying and claiming that he was.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

The Phoenix Lights, 1945

From John Keeling, by way of the May 2019 Fortean Times (p. 28):
In 1945 a jittery American public was mistaking Venus for Japan’s FU-GO balloon bombs on an alarmingly regular basis. 9,000 of the 30 ft balloons with incendiary bomb payloads had been launched against the US in the hope of causing large-scale forest fires and spreading terror....On June 6th, Phoenix and several other Arizona communities had their first ‘Jap balloon’ panic. Telephone lines to the press, police department, sheriff’s office and weather bureau were reportedly jammed....Luke Field and Williams Field fliers, checking the object from planes, were able to report back definitely that there was no balloon where reported. And Phoenix Junior college’s 5 inch refractor telescope clearly identified the object as Venus. According to the Associated Press, Tucson had the same experience, with Davis-Monthan fliers being ‘sent to cut down the invader.’

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Books read in 2018

Not much blogging going on here still, but here's my annual list of books read for 2018.
  • Charles Arthur, Cyber Wars: Hacks that Shocked the Business World
  • Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington, The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South
  • Mary Beard, SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome
  • Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, and Hal Roberts, Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics
  • Ronen Bergman, Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations
  • Rebecca Burns and David Dayen, Fat Cat: The Steve Mnuchin Story
  • John Carreyrou, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
  • Graydon Carter, George Kalogerakis, and Kurt Andersen, Spy: The Funny Years
  • Stephen Ellis, This Present Darkness: A History of Nigerian Organized Crime
  • Jason Fagone, The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America's Enemies
  • Paul French, City of Devils: The Two Men Who Ruled the Underworld of Old Shanghai
  • Diego Gambetta, Codes of the Underworld: How Criminals Communicate
  • Robert M. Gates, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War
  • Atul Gawande, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
  • David Golumbia, The Politics of Bitcoin: Software as Right-Wing Extremism
  • Richards J. Heuer Jr. and Randolph H. Pherson, Structured Analytic Techniques for Intelligence Analysis
  • Michael Isikoff and David Corn, Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump
  • Sarah Jeong, The Internet of Garbage
  • Steven Johnson, Farsighted: How We Make the Decisions That Matter the Most
  • Louise M. Kaiser and Randolph H. Pherson, Analytic Writing Guide
  • Chuck Klosterman, But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past
  • Susan Landau, Listening In: Cybersecurity in an Insecure Age
  • Peter T. Leeson, WTF?! An Economic Tour of the Weird
  • Jeffrey Lewis, The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States
  • Michael Lewis, The Fifth Risk
  • Liliana Mason, Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity
  • Nick Mason, Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd (new updated 2017 edition)
  • Tim Maurer, Cyber Mercenaries: The State, Hackers, and Power
  • Jefferson Morley, The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton
  • Roger Naylor, The Amazing Kolb Brothers of Grand Canyon
  • Helen Nissenbaum, Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life
  • Ellen Pao, Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change
  • Dana Richards, editor, Dear Martin/Dear Marcello: Gardner and Truzzi on Skepticism
  • Louis Rossetto, Change Is Good: A Story of the Heroic Era of the Internet (1st edition, #1453, Kickstarter)
  • David E. Sanger, The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age
  • Eli Saslow, Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist
  • Harold Schechter, The Pirate (Amazon Prime Reading "Bloodlands Collection")
  • Harold Schechter, Little Slaughterhouse on the Prairie (Amazon Prime Reading "Bloodlands Collection")
  • Harold Schechter, The Brick Slayer (Amazon Prime Reading "Bloodlands Collection")
  • Harold Schechter, Panic (Amazon Prime Reading "Bloodlands Collection")
  • Harold Schechter, Rampage (Amazon Prime Reading "Bloodlands Collection")
  • Harold Schechter, The Pied Piper (Amazon Prime Reading "Bloodlands Collection")
  • Natasha Dow Schüll, Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas
  • Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson, The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life
  • P.W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking, LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media
  • Ali Soufan, Anatomy of Terror: From the Death of Bin Laden to the Rise of the Islamic State
  • Robert Timberg, The Nightingale's Song (bio of John McCain, James Webb, Oliver North, Robert McFarlane, and John Poindexter)
  • Mick West, Escaping the Rabbit Hole: How to Debunk Conspiracy Theories Using Facts, Logic, and Respect
  • Rick Wilson, Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever
  • Michael Wolff, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House
  • Bob Woodward, Fear: Trump in the White House
  • Tim Wu, The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age
I made some progress on a few other books:
  • Herbert Asbury, The Barbary Coast: An Informal History of the San Francisco Underworld (will probably finish today)
  • Andrew Jaquith, Security Metrics: Replacing Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt
  • Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander, Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking
Top for 2018:  Singer and Brooking, Bergman, Balko and Carrington, Gawande, Carreyrou, Sanger, Simler and Hanson, Soufan, Isikoff and Corn, Fagone, French, Schüll, Michael Lewis, Mason, Benkler et al., West, Wu, Saslow, Naylor. I didn't care for the Klosterman book at all--quick read, but a waste of time.

(Previously: 2017201620152014201320122011201020092008200720062005.)