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American troops made substantial errors and did not strictly follow rules for avoiding casualties during an air assault on Taliban fighters last month, a U.S. defense official said, underscoring a central quandary for President Barack Obama's new Afghan counterinsurgency campaign.
The defense official said Wednesday that a military investigation faulted some of the actions of American troops in air strikes May 4 that killed dozens of Afghan civilians in Farah province.
"Errors were made" in the attack, the official acknowledged on condition of anonymity, discussing one of the preliminary findings on an incident that has strained relations between Washington and Kabul and bred deep resentment among the Afghan people. Civilian deaths in Afghanistan have also enraged Muslims worldwide.
Though the probe looked into the events in early May, commanders for well over a year have focused considerable attention on the problem. It looms as large as ever as the Obama administration streams 21,000 troops into Afghanistan to try to regain momentum in the faltering war.
The new U.S. commander in eastern Afghanistan was asked about the issue at a news conference on his first day Wednesday, when he only took two questions. Maj. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, responded that he planned to use close air support for troops only when needed to protect them and to complete the mission. And he said air strikes would be used carefully.
The nominee for top commander in Afghanistan was asked about it at his confirmation hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill. Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal told senators: "This is a critical point. It may be the critical point. This is a struggle for the support of the Afghan people." Read more.
Convicted federal judge says he will resign next year
Juan A. Lozano, Associated Press | Dallas Morning News
A convicted federal judge told President Barack Obama in a letter Tuesday that he would resign from the bench in June 2010, nearly a year after he begins serving prison time for lying about the sexual abuse of two assistants.
U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent would draw a full salary of $174,000 a year and benefits until the resignation takes effect, said his lawyer, Dick DeGuerin. Kent decided on the delay so his wife could retain her medical benefits, DeGuerin said. He said Kent's wife has serious medical problems.
The resignation was submitted a week after denial of Kent's request to retire on disability due to depression – which would have meant full salary for the rest of his life. By resigning, he gets nothing after next year.
DeGuerin said Kent, 59, is resigning to avoid the "spectacle" of an impeachment process by Congress.
The lawyer also said it would probably take a year for the impeachment process to be completed in Congress and, "with him resigning, it's not necessary."
The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on the matter today. Read more.
General Motors Corp. took a key step toward its downsizing on Tuesday, striking a tentative deal to sell its Hummer brand to a Chinese manufacturer, while also revealing that it has potential buyers for its Saturn and Saab brands.
China's Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co. said Tuesday afternoon that it reached an agreement to acquire the brand from GM for an undisclosed ammount. The Detroit automaker had announced Tuesday morning that it had a memorandum of understanding to sell the brand of rugged SUVs, but it didn't identify the buyer.
Sichuan Tengzhong deals in road construction, plastics, resins and other industrial products, but Hummer would be its first step into the automotive business.
GM said the sale will likely save more than 3,000 U.S. jobs in manufacturing, engineering and at various Hummer dealerships. Tengzhong said it will assume GM's existing agreements with Hummer dealers.
"We will be investing in the Hummer brand and its research and development capabilities, which will allow Hummer to better meet demand for new products such as more fuel-efficient vehicles in the U.S," Chief Executive Yang Yi said in a statement.
As part of the proposed transaction, Hummer will continue to contract vehicle manufacturing and business services from GM during a transitional period. For example, GM's Shreveport, La., assembly plant would continue to contract to assemble the H3 and H3T through at least 2010, GM said. AM General LLC in Mishawaka, Ind., makes the larger H2 under contract for GM. Read more.
Obama's Health Care Reformist
'This Week' Spotlight: Obama Health Care Reform Adviser Ezekiel Emanuel Dishes About His Love of Baking, His Brother Rahm's Political Savvy and What Scares Him the Most About The Health Care Reform Effort
By Jennifer Parker | ABCNews.com
Dr. Ezekiel "Zeke" Emanuel, special health adviser to the president's budget director, has emerged as a key behind-the-scenes player for what could be the biggest overhaul of the nation's health care system in the past two decades.
With lawmakers working in earnest this week to craft health care legislation, Emanuel admits he often thinks about what could go wrong.
"What scares me is we get it wrong and we don't create something that's going to be sustainable, that has some major defects in it," Emanuel said recently in an exclusive interview with ABC News. "Establishing an exchange that is unstable, creating a more Byzantine bureaucracy, not actually ending up getting costs under control and just fueling health care inflation. Those things would be disastrous."
Even worse, Emanuel said, would be to do nothing about a health care system he calls 'unsustainable" and "really, really dangerous."
Eldest Emanuel Brother Steps Into Spotlight
Emanuel is the eldest brother of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, 49, and Hollywood talent agent Ari Emanuel,48, no strangers to the media spotlight.
But when Zeke Emanuel, 51, was tapped by the Obama administration to be special health adviser to budget director Peter Orszag in February, the renowned medical ethicist, oncologist and policy wonk became the go-to guy for stakeholders who want a say in the Obama administration's effort to reform the nation's health care system. Read more.
Matt Taibbi starts out very well:
Everywhere I go I keep hearing people say, “How come Obama is letting X happen or Y happen, how come he’s letting his underlings do Z? It seems so unlike him!” It reminds me of the way people view leaders in Russia. Going back centuries, Russian peasants wrote impassioned letters to the Tsar, sure he was completely unaware that his Grand Dukes were all thieves and his okhranka agents were rapists and torturers. Now that Obama’s on the scene a lot of Americans are demonstrating a similar public desire to believe in the good king. Obama seems so decent and intelligent, it’s hard to imagine that his act is just a big sales job, that he’s really just a smooth-talking shill for a bunch of Wall Street bankers and Pentagon generals. So people tend to scramble for the exculpatory explanation: he’s being tricked, he’s unaware, his hands are tied, and so on.
And then loses it:
Note: 21:25 - I found the headline had been re-written to: "Dick Cheney's Role in CIA Interrogations Comes into Focus"
Update: 22:34 - This article, formerly the lead article on ABCNews' home page, is no longer there, and is not in their politics section, either. The link, however, is still working.
Dick Cheney as vice president conducted secret briefings for lawmakers in 2005 aimed at defending harsh interrogations as their methods were coming under congressional scrutiny, according to current and former government officials.
The secret briefings followed the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal and public revelations about the CIA's rendition and interrogation program, current and former officials with ties to Congress and government intelligence told The Associated Press.
One official with direct knowledge of a March 8, 2005, meeting on the CIA's interrogation program said the briefing was run by Cheney in the situation room at the White House, a secure meeting room. The official said CIA officers were on hand to provide details.
The official said it was not unusual for Cheney to lead such briefings, as he was an aggressive champion of Bush administration national security policies and periodically conducted or sat in on meetings with members of Congress at the White House. The official asked not to be identified because the meeting was secret.
Another Cheney briefing occurred in October 2005 for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., around the time he had won overwhelming Senate support for banning cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment for all U.S. prisoners, The Washington Post reported in its Wednesday editions. Two other briefings took place in October and November 2005, according to the Post.
The briefings add to questions about the role Cheney played in the creation, approval and conduct of the CIA's interrogation program, either directly or through his powerful chief of staff, David Addington.
The Cheney briefings were among 40 conducted for members of Congress by Bush administration officials between 2002 and 2009. Read more.
By David Swanson
Is irony even the word for this? The president created a new online "open government" system in which people were free to brainstorm and vote proposals up or down. Far and away the leading proposal in the category of "Legal and Policy Challenges" as of the scheduled end of brainstorming was End Imperial Presidency. You can still find it, but it's been removed from that category and from the list of all proposals. Unless you have the direct link to it, you cannot find it, and when you do you can no longer vote for it. It has a label at the top with a closed lock and the words "pending moderator approval." When voting was scheduled to end on the 28th, this proposal was at the top in its category and ranked #3 over all.
From May 28 Protests Demanding Release of the photos & Prosecution of the War Criminals Responsible:
Director Paul Haggis speaking West Hollywood City
War Criminals Watch, World Can't Wait, and other groups that worked on May protests (Code Pink, Progressive Democrats, the National Lawyers Guild and West Hollywood City Hall) and the many newly active people who came forward helped shape and develop outrage about the US torture state. The protests received local TV coverage in most cities, national coverage on Democracy Now and CNN, and we hear that photos ran over and over on Russian TV.
Press report, New York, May 29: Thursday, as World Can't Wait protested in 16 cities to demand that the Obama administration release the torture photographs, and prosecute the war crimes of the Bush regime, charges re-surfaced that the suppressed photos contradict President Obama's statement on May 12 that they are "not particularly sensational."
General Antonio Taguba, who investigated the 2004 Abu Ghraib torture scandal for the Bush administration, told The Daily Telegraph: "These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency." US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the White House responded with denials, prompting further confirmations and details from those who have seen the photos that they include extreme sexual humiliation of detainees.
In New York, protesters gathered on 42nd Street, with dozens donning orange jumpsuits, representing detainees in US detention facilities. They walked silently into the hall of Grand Central Station, and up both sides of the west staircase, where they unfurled a banner saying "Release the Torture Photographs" and held photos believed to be part of the 2,000 involved in the controversy. Spontaneous applause went through the crowds of commuters, as thousands of cell phones snapped images.
America has lost her soul, and so has her president.
A despairing country elected a president who promised change. Americans arrived from every state to witness in bitter cold Obama’s swearing-in ceremony. The mall was packed in a way that it has never been for any other president.
The people’s good will toward Obama and the expectations they had for him were sufficient for Obama to end the gratuitous wars and enact major reforms. But Obama has deserted the people for the interests. He is relying on his non-threatening demeanor and rhetoric to convince the people that change is underway.
The change that we are witnessing is in Obama, not in policies. Obama is morphing into Dick Cheney.
Obama has not been in office four months and already a book could be written about his broken promises.
But he also acknowledged the decision could be influenced by a political reaction prompted by the company's ties to the previous U.S. administration of George W. Bush and his vice president, Dick Cheney -- a former Halliburton chairman and CEO. "In some respects, we find ourselves at a crossroads of anti-big business, anti-war, anti-Bush-Cheney that people associate with KBR," Utt said. "While we can't change who was the former chairman of our former parent who was a former VP of the United States, we can at least bring back the debate to facts."
KBR Inc expects profit margins on the next round of U.S. military logistics contracts to rise as they are split between different companies, the engineering and services company's chief executive said on Tuesday.
KBR is competing with Fluor Corp and DynCorp International for the next Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, or LOGCAP IV, and expects to find out whether it has won one of two contracts for Afghanistan in July.
But Chief Executive William Utt said the previous LOGCAP contract, which includes food, mail, laundry and trucking among other services, was the lowest-margin business KBR had.
"If you start taking the scale away, generally people's margins are going to go up, particularly as we approach more traditional government contracting margins," Utt told the Reuters Global Energy Summit in Houston. Read more.
Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden purportedly issued another statement Wednesday, saying U.S. policy in Pakistan has generated "new seeds of hatred and revenge against America."
Zeroing in on the conflict in Pakistan's Swat Valley, where Pakistan's troops are taking on Taliban militants, the message asserts that President Obama is proving that he is "walking the same road of his predecessors to build enmity against Muslims and increasing the number of fighters, and establishing more lasting wars."
Al-Jazeera, the Arabic-language TV network that aired the message, said the statement was "a voice recording by bin Laden," and a CNN analysis said the voice does indeed sound like the leader of the terrorist network that attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.
The remarks -- which would be bin Laden's first assessment of Obama's policy -- were believed to have been recorded several weeks ago at the start of a mass civilian exodus because of fighting in northwestern Pakistan.
The speaker cites strikes, destruction and Obama's "order" to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari "to prevent the people of Swat from implementing sharia law."
"All this led to the displacement of about a million Muslim elders, women and children from their villages and homes. They became refugees in tents after they were honored in their own homes," the message says. Read more.
President Barack Obama reiterated that Iran may have some right to nuclear energy — provided it takes steps to prove its aspirations are peaceful.
In a BBC interview broadcast Tuesday, Obama also restated plans to pursue direct diplomacy with Tehran to encourage it to set aside any ambitions for nuclear weapons it might harbor.
Iran has insisted its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity. But the U.S. and other Western governments accuse Tehran of seeking atomic weapons.
"Without going into specifics, what I do believe is that Iran has legitimate energy concerns, legitimate aspirations. On the other hand, the international community has a very real interest in preventing a nuclear arms race in the region," Obama said.
The comments echo remarks Obama made in Prague last month in which he said his administration would "support Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy with rigorous inspections" if Iran proves it is no longer a nuclear threat.
Iranian state television described the news as Obama recognizing the "rights of the Iranian nation," a phrase typically used to refer to Iran's nuclear program. Read more.
Washington Didn't Want You to See this Guantanamo Photo
Star journalist captures landmark protest hours before a suicide puts heat on Obama
by Michelle Shephard | Common Dreams
A Guantanamo Bay detainee committed suicide late Monday just hours after two Chinese Muslim captives staged the detention centre's first public protest, increasing the pressure on U.S. President Barack Obama to outline his plan of how he will close the offshore prison.
Yemeni Muhammad Ahmad Abdallah Salih, 31, is the first prisoner to die since the White House changed hands four months ago. His suicide follows weeks of criticism from both ends of the political spectrum over the fate of the remaining 240 Guantanamo detainees.
News of the suicide was emailed to the media just as a flight bringing journalists from Guantanamo landed in Maryland. The press had been at the U.S. naval detention centre for the war crimes court hearing of Canadian Omar Khadr.
Khadr, 22, is accused of war crimes, including the murder of a U.S. soldier during a firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002.
Hours after Khadr's brief hearing Monday, fewer than a dozen journalists on the trip, including a Toronto Star reporter, witnessed a rare unscripted moment on the base when two Uighur (pronounced Wee-gur) detainees managed to hold an impromptu protest.
The group was at an Oceanside prison known as "Camp Iguana," where 16 Uighur and one Algerian detainee are imprisoned. Read more.
Last month, 60 Members of the House of Representatives, including 51 Democrats, voted against the war supplemental for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. But this week, when the House is expected to consider the agreement of a House-Senate conference on the war funding, the supplemental could well be defeated on the floor of the House - if most of the 51 anti-war Democrats stick to their no vote - which they might, if they hear from their constituents.
The key thing that's changed is the Treasury Department's insistence that the war supplemental include a $100 billion bailout for the International Monetary Fund - a bailout for European banks facing big losses in Eastern Europe, the international version of the Wall Street bailout.
A Child At Guantánamo: The Unending Torment of Mohamed Jawad
By Andy Worthington | AndyWorthington.co.UK
In all the recent hysteria about the supposed dangers posed by the remaining 240 prisoners at Guantánamo, it has been easy to forget that sensible appraisals of the number of individuals with any meaningful connection to terrorism have long indicated that no more than a few dozen of those still held should be regarded as any kind of significant threat, and that therefore the prison still holds over 200 prisoners who, at best, were low-level Taliban soldiers with a strong dislike of US foreign policy, and, at worst, should never have been held at all.
To listen to Dick Cheney, or to some serving politicians who are prone to similar hyperbole, you would think that every one of the remaining 240 prisoners is just itching to return to the fictional battlefield conjured up in last week’s conveniently leaked Pentagon report about recidivism rates (PDF), which, while published uncritically by the New York Times, has been comprehensively trashed by reporters for the New American, FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), Firedoglake and many other media outlets. Read more.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney says there was “never any evidence” that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq played any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
“On the question of whether or not Iraq was involved in 9/11, there was never any evidence to prove that,” Cheney said during an interview Monday night with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren.
“There was some reporting early on, for example, that Mohammed Atta had met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official,” Cheney said. “But that was never borne out.”
In a 2003 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Cheney said that “the Czechs alleged that Mohamed Atta, the lead attacker, met in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official five months before the attack.”
But Cheney added, “We’ve never been able to develop any more of that yet, either in terms of confirming it or discrediting it. We just don’t know.”
Cheney said Monday that former CIA Director George Tenet brought to the Bush White House information pertaining to potential links between the hijacker and Iraq as “it became available.” But Cheney pointed out that Tenet “did say and did testify that there was an ongoing relationship between al Qaeda and Iraq, but no proof that Iraq was involved in 9/11.” Read more.
Refusal to declassify CIA memos about its interrogation practices involving detainee is "foolish ... deeply unfair and sets a dangerous precedent," former Vice President Dick Cheney said at an NPC luncheon Monday.
He said President Obama "has the authority to declassify anything he wants to. I hope he will. It needs to be out there (and) would serve a public purpose and enlighten the debate."...
During questioning, Cheney said while there was no evidence that Iraq's Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., "I still think there was a strong case for war. The president made the right call. ... Any administration that doesn't deal with the (terroism) threat, I don't think is doing its job." Read more.
It is fairly unusual for the immediate past President or Vice President of the United States to attack the standing Administration. Some pundits describe it as a violation of protocol. That is not of particular relevance to this commentary.
Dick Cheney’s attack against the Administration needs to be understood at both the political / psychological level as well as at the level of new right-wing politics in the era of Obama. At the psychological level, think about a barking dog. In a contest with other dogs, the one that considers itself the top dog must insist on getting the last bark before any silence is tolerated. Cheney wants the last bark. He simply cannot help himself. This has been true throughout the eight years of the Bush / Cheney administration. When compromise or even silence would have been the proper and more diplomatic course, one could count on Cheney to open his mouth. He could also always be counted upon to twist the facts in such a calm, yet decisive way, that one could not help but wonder about the truth.
In Cheney’s recent attack dog appearance in defense of torture it was fascinating to watch him become the defender of the Central Intelligence Agency. One does not have to be a great historian to remember that Cheney was a constant opponent and degrader of the CIA, but when it was convenient, Cheney was able to flip the script and become the defender of his former adversaries. It was also interesting to watch Cheney suggest, despite ALL evidence to the contrary, that President Obama does not wish to talk about terrorists.
Let’s add to this Cheney’s slight of hand when it came to attacking former Secretary of State Colin Powell. When asked about Powell’s political affiliations, Cheney - very calmly - suggested that he did not even know that Powell still considered himself a Republican. Unless Cheney has morphed from an attack dog into Rip Van Winkle he would have to have known that Powell remains a Republican, but clearly the facts do not matter here. The objective is the sound-bite, the insult and the impression left in the minds of the listener. Read more.
What's the Administration's specific aim in bailing out GM? I'll give you my theory later.
For now, though, some background. First and most broadly, it doesn't make sense for America to try to maintain or enlarge manufacturing as a portion of the economy. Even if the U.S. were to seal its borders and bar any manufactured goods from coming in from abroad--something I don't recommend--we'd still be losing manufacturing jobs. That's mainly because of technology.
When we think of manufacturing jobs, we tend to imagine old-time assembly lines populated by millions of blue-collar workers who had well-paying jobs with good benefits. But that picture no longer describes most manufacturing. I recently toured a U.S. factory containing two employees and 400 computerized robots. The two live people sat in front of computer screens and instructed the robots. In a few years this factory won't have a single employee on site, except for an occasional visiting technician who repairs and upgrades the robots.
Factory jobs are vanishing all over the world. Even China is losing them. The Chinese are doing more manufacturing than ever, but they're also becoming far more efficient at it. They've shuttered most of the old state-run factories. Their new factories are chock full of automated and computerized machines. As a result, they don't need as many manufacturing workers as before. Read more.
Last month, a little-known company where Summers served on the board of directors received a $42 million investment from a group of investors, including three banks that Summers, Obama’s effective “economy czar,” has been doling out billions in bailout money to: Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley. The banks invested into the small startup company, Revolution Money, right at the time when Summers was administering the “stress test” to these same banks.
A month after they invested in Summers’ former company, all three banks came out of the stress test much better than anyone expected -- thanks to the fact that the banks themselves were allowed to help decide how bad their problems were (Citigroup “negotiated” down its financial hole from $35 billion to $5.5 billion.)
The fact that the banks invested in the company just a few months after Summers resigned suggests the appearance of corruption, because it suggests to other firms that if you hire Larry Summers onto your board, large banks will want to invest as a favor to a politically-connected director.
Last month, it was revealed that Summers, whom President Obama appointed to essentially run the economy from his perch in the National Economic Council, earned nearly $8 million in 2008 from Wall Street banks, some of which, like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, were now receiving tens of billions of taxpayer funds from the same Larry Summers. It turns out now that those two banks have continued paying into Summers-related businesses. Read more.
The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn't covered and I saw [name withheld] who was wearing a military uniform, putting his [male appendage] into the little kid's [anus] ... and the female soldier was taking pictures."
...I suspect that the "danger" that preoccupies the ruling Establishment is not that confronted by the troops (about whom that Establishment cares little), but rather the danger potentially posed by those troops if enough of them escape the mental dungeon of official indoctrination and take a good, critical look at the people, institutions, and causes for which they're hired to kill and die.
The eyewitness account provided by Abu Ghraib inmate Kasim Mehaddi Hilas, describing one of numerous episodes of sexual abuse by U.S. interrogators, including rape, homosexual rape, sexual assaults with objects including a truncheon and a phosphorescent tube, and other forms of sexual abuse and humiliation of detainees.
We need to dispense immediately with the idea that releasing the second batch of photos depicting torture and other abuse at Abu Ghraib and six other installations would create an unacceptable danger to U.S. troops in the region.
Though it seem callous of me to point out as much, we should recognize that people who enlist in the military are paid, trained, and equipped to confront danger. We should also recognize that we do the cause of liberty no favors if we make it easier to invade and occupy foreign countries; indeed, we ought to do everything we can to accentuate the difficulty of carrying out criminal enterprises of that sort. Read more.
In the face of the Obama administration's refusal to release a reported 2,000 more photographs of detainee abuse - in spite of being ordered by a federal court to do so - torture opponents in fifteen (15) U.S. cities held visible protests to demand that the government make the photos public. These protests called for prosecution of those who ordered, legally justified, and carried out torture in US detention and secret prisons during the Bush years.
In San Francisco, protesters rallied outside the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals courthouse to call for prosecution, impeachment, and disbarment of "Torture Judge" Jay Bybee. Bybee's 2003 lifetime appointment to the federal bench was his reward from George Bush for Bybee's work as head of the Office of Legal Counsel. There, Bybee issued the 2002 torture memo which authorized torture including waterboarding, walling, sleep deprivation and other horrific techniques.
On May 28, National Day of Resistance to U.S. Torture, the San Francisco Bay Area World Can’t Wait chapter, along with members of the San Francisco National Lawyers Guild’s Committee Against Torture, Code Pink, the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, and National Accountability Network gathered at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. This protest added to the National Day’s demands our call to publicly repudiate the lifetime appointment of Torture Judge Jay Bybee to the federal bench.
About thirty people rallied outside the court, raising the demand to disbar and prosecute Bybee for codifying specific torture tactics and for giving high Bush administration officials immunity protections from both civil and criminal suit. San Francisco’s was one of six (6) protests on this National Day focused on Bybee – protests were going on also in Pasadena, Anchorage, Honolulu, Fresno, and Portland, Oregon.
A super-sized banner reading “Torture is a War Crime! Release the Torture Photos! Prosecute the War Criminals!” lined one corner of the courthouse in downtown San Francisco. The “Bush and Bybee Museum of Torture” was nearby – an exhibit which included the fourteen torture methods Bybee authorized in an August 2002 memo: sleep deprivation, stress positions, waterboarding, forced nudity, cramped confinement in a dark space, water dousing, wall standing, walling, facial slaps, abdominal slaps, insects placed in a confinement box, facial holds, attention grasps, and dietary manipulation. Read more.
A federal judge ordered the United States on Monday to publicly reveal unclassified versions of its allegations and evidence justifying the continued imprisonment of more than 100 detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay.
The Justice Department had been filing unclassified versions of its legal documents under seal, so that they could only be seen by judges, attorneys and government officials. Attorneys for the detainees were able to share the documents with their clients and witnesses who would agree to rules restricting the information's disclosure.
Department officials said the practice was necessary to protect national security after they discovered that some unclassified records mistakenly contained some classified information. The department had said the documents were only sealed temporarily while they could be more carefully reviewed for classified information.
Attorneys for the detainees said the secrecy made it harder for them to prepare for upcoming hearings and that some witnesses would not agree to the court's secrecy rules. The Associated Press, The New York Times and USA Today had joined the fight, arguing that the government was keeping valuable information from the public that has a right to monitor the legal process.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan sided with the detainees' attorneys and the media, saying the public has a right to access the records. Read More.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney is usually very careful at choosing his words.
Perhaps not so today. In a speech Monday at the National Press Club, continuing along familiar themes of terrorism, Guantanamo and his hatred for The New York Times, Cheney spoke defensively of the administration’s practice of water-boarding detainees.
“I don’t believe we tortured,” Cheney remarked, noting that the interrogation techniques approved by the Bush administration were vetted by White House lawyers. They didn’t cross a “red line,” he said.
And then he delivered the whopper: “There were three people who were water-boarded…. It was well-done.”
The former vice president also made an odd comment about detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay.
He framed their detention as a choice between two options: either we imprison them, or we kill them.
“We need Guantanamo… If we didn’t have it, we’d need to (invent) it,” Cheney remarked. “If you don’t have a place to hold these people, the only other option is to kill them.”
“We don’t operate that way,” he added.
The Democratic Party power structure's least favorite ex-President is speaking out of school again. Jimmy Carter has some strong words about President Obama's decision to fight the release of thousands of photos that reportedly show further US abuse and torture of prisoners and has weighed in on the debate over prosecuting former Bush administration officials for torture. In an interview to be broadcast tonight on CNN, Carter says this about Obama's position on the release of new torture photos: Read more.
Why'd Obama switch on detainee photos? Maliki went ballistic
By Nancy A. Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers
President Barack Obama reversed his decision to release detainee abuse photos from Iraq and Afghanistan after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki warned that Iraq would erupt into violence and that Iraqis would demand that U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq a year earlier than planned, two U.S. military officers, a senior defense official and a State Department official have told McClatchy.
In the days leading up to a May 28 deadline to release the photos in response to an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit, U.S. officials, led by Christopher Hill, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told Maliki that the administration was preparing to release photos of suspected detainee abuse taken from 2003 to 2006.
When U.S. officials told Maliki, "he went pale in the face," said a U.S. military official, who along with others requested anonymity because of the matter's sensitivity.
The official said Maliki warned that releasing the photos would lead to more violence that could delay the scheduled U.S. withdrawal from cities by June 30 and that Iraqis wouldn't make a distinction between old and new photos. The public outrage and increase in violence could lead Iraqis to demand a referendum on the security agreement and refuse to permit U.S. forces to stay until the end of 2011. Read more.
The campaign for accountability regarding the use of torture has bogged down and become a diversion of attention from the fact that more than two hundred war fifty crimes were committed during the administration of George W. Bush, many of which continue in the present. Because Americans remain unaware of some of the most heinous crimes that imperil the survival of international legal restraints on uncivilized governmental behavior, something more than a focus on torture and waterboarding is needed to galvanize public opinion to demand accountability.
U.S.: NGOs Oppose Nearly 100-Billion-Dollar Pledge to IMF
By Danielle Kurtzleben | IPS
A broad coalition of civil society groups, as well as some U.S. lawmakers, is fighting what they call a "blank cheque" from the U.S. to expand funding for the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
On May 22, the Senate passed a 91.3 billion-dollar-wartime spending bill that included 108 billion dollars for the Washington-based Fund. The bill will now have to be reconciled in a conference committee between the Senate and the House of Representatives whose own version omitted any IMF funding.
The funding was the U.S. part of a larger package agreed by the G20 leaders at their April meeting in London, where they pledged to provide 1.1 trillion dollars in additional funding to the IMF.