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Major Charles Burney Confirms Torture Was Carried Out to Get False Iraq-al Qaeda Link

Major Charles Burney Confirms Torture Was Carried Out to Get False Iraq-al Qaeda Link
By Jim White | Oxdown Gazette

...it becomes clear that torture was carried out with the intention of getting a false connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.

The Senate Armed Services Committee report does a very good job of describing the process by which Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld drove prisoner interrogation techniques into the realm of torture. The report also provides us with confirmation that one of the underlying reasons for torture was to provide a link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein just prior to the invasion of Iraq.

A former psychiatrist in the US Army, Major Charles Burney, provided very clear evidence to the Senate investigators on the reasons for torture and on the intentional disregard for warnings from SERE trainers that torture would not work.

Rachel Maddow Interviews Philip D. Zelikow

Dissent Within the Bush Administration on Torture

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and

Hillary Clinton Questions Dick Cheney's Credibility

Hillary Clinton Questions Dick Cheney's Credibility
By David Chalian | ABCNews

Hillary Clinton stepped directly into the middle of this week's political fray when she questioned former Vice President Dick Cheney's credibility on the torture memos recently released by the Obama administration.

Congressman Dana Rohrbacher, R-Calif., took up Dick Cheney's cause today and pressed Secretary of State Clinton to urge the Obama administration to declassify and release documents he believes demonstrate the success of the enhanced interrogation techniques employed during the Bush administration

A Closer Look at Obama's "New" Position on Torture Prosecutions

A Closer Look at Obama's "New" Position on Torture Prosecutions
By Jeremy Scahill | RebelReports.com

As the Senate releases a new report showing top down orders for torture, the Obama Administration faces increased calls for prosecutions. Will Obama allow it or will there be a bipartisan whitewash commission?

The big news today is that the Senate Armed Services Committee has released a declassified report on the treatment of detainees in US custody. (Download the full report [PDF])

Society of American Law Teachers Talks Torture to President Obama

SALT Letter to Obama | Media With Conscience

President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The Society of American Law Teachers—SALT-- applauds the long awaited release of four additional operational memos on interrogation methods, issued by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) during the prior administration. The release of these documents demonstrates a courage and fortitude that honors the United States and the restoration of the rule of law. But acknowledging the actions taken is not enough.

New Report: Bush Officials Tried to Shift Blame for Detainee Abuse to Low-Ranking Soldiers

New Report: Bush Officials Tried to Shift Blame for Detainee Abuse to Low-Ranking Soldiers
By Sen. Carl Levin, D-MI | Huffington Post

Today we're releasing the declassified report of the Senate Armed Services Committee's investigation into the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody. The report was approved by the Armed Services Committee on November 20, 2008 and has, in the intervening period, been under review at the Department of Defense for declassification.

John Perry: Obama's Betrayal of Justice

John Perry: Obama's Betrayal of Justice

The OLC "Torture Memos": Thoughts From A Dissenter

The OLC "torture memos": thoughts from a dissenter
By Philip Zelikow | Foreign Policy

I first gained access to the OLC memos and learned details about CIA's program for high-value detainees shortly after the set of opinions were issued in May 2005. I did so as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's policy representative to the NSC Deputies Committee on these and other intelligence/terrorism issues. In the State Department, Secretary Rice and her Legal Adviser, John Bellinger, were then the only other individuals briefed on these details. In compliance with the security agreements I have signed, I have never discussed or disclosed any substantive details about the program until the classified information has been released.

Don't Let Torture, Injustice Go Unpublished

Don't let torture, injustice go unpunished
By Dylan Schneider | Salt Lake Tribune Via High Road for Human Rights Advocacy Project

There are still 241 detainees awaiting trial or release at Guantanamo Bay. While President George W. Bush's Cabinet irrevocably tarnished our international reputation in a variety of ways, perhaps the most shocking part of his legacy is the continued acceptance of torture through the refusal to hold accountable those responsible for it.

High school history courses have taught us the infamous names of ruthless dictators such as Pinochet, Lenin, Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot, who inflicted terror and oppression on people without regard to international or domestic law. Those who chose to stand up and oppose their abuses of power disappeared and were systematically murdered or tortured.

CIA Torture Exemption 'Illegal'


CIA torture exemption 'illegal' | BBC

US President Barack Obama's decision not to prosecute CIA agents who used torture tactics is a violation of international law, a UN expert says.

The UN special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, says the US is bound under the UN Convention against Torture to prosecute those who engage in it.

Mr Obama released four "torture memos" outlining harsh interrogation methods sanctioned by the Bush administration.

Mr Nowak has called for an independent review and compensation for victims.

"The United States, like all other states that are part of the UN convention against torture, is committed to conducting criminal investigations of torture and to bringing all persons against whom there is sound evidence to court," Mr Nowak told the Austrian daily Der Standard.

The memos approved techniques including simulated drowning, week-long sleep deprivation, forced nudity, and the use of painful positions.

Doorstep of torture - Appoint Bipartisan Commission

Doorstep of torture - Appoint Bipartisan Commission
Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Via High Road for Human Rights Advocacy Project

Four memos released last week describe in banal detail interrogation methods that rely on physical punishment and intimidation, things like waterboarding, cramped confinement, slaps to the face and sleep deprivation. The memos, from President George W. Bush's Justice Department to the Central Intelligence Agency, say that if interrogators observe certain limits, these techniques do not amount to torture under U.S. law.

That the U.S. government would countenance anything like torture in a system of secret CIA prisons for alleged al-Qaida terrorists would be shocking news, except that others have reported this long ago. However, these memos confirm, as if any more evidence were needed, that the nation must squarely face this dark stain on its moral reputation.

As we have argued before, the president should appoint a bipartisan commission to fully air the details and assign responsibility. It should not, however, undertake criminal prosecutions. That is the responsibility of the Justice Department.

President Obama argued when he authorized the release of the memos that "...at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past." We disagree. Without accountability, the rule of law is meaningless.

US Iraq Casualties Rise to 71,598

US Iraq Casualties Rise to 71,598
Compiled by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com

US military occupation forces in Iraq under Commander-in-Chief Obama suffered 23 combat casualties in the week ending April 21 as the official total rose to at least 71,598. The total includes 34,648 dead and wounded from what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and more than 36,950 dead and medically evacuated (not updated since Feb. 28) from "non-hostile" causes.*

The actual total is over 100,000 because the Pentagon chooses not to count as "Iraq casualties" the more than 30,000 veterans whose injuries-mainly brain trauma from explosions and PTSD - diagnosed only after they had left Iraq.**

Senior Bush figures Could Be Prosecuted For Torture, Says Obama

Senior Bush figures could be prosecuted for torture, says Obama
President says use of waterboarding showed US had 'lost moral bearings' as Dick Cheney says CIA memos showed torture delivered 'good' intelligence
By Ewan MacAskill and Robert Booth | Guardian UK

Senior members of the Bush administration who approved the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation measures could face prosecution, President Obama disclosed today.

He said the use of torture reflected America "losing our moral bearings".

He said his attorney general, Eric Holder, was conducting an investigation and the decision rested with him. Obama last week ruled out prosecution of CIA agents who carried out the interrogation of suspected al-Qaida members at Guantánamo and secret prisons around the world.

Are Members of Congress (and Maybe Even the President) Being Blackmailed?

By Dave Lindorff

For some time now, many Americans have wondered how Congress, the elected body that the nation’s Founding Fathers saw as the bulwark of liberty, could have been so thoroughly unwilling to, or incapable of challenging the dictatorial power-grabs and the eight-year Constitution wrecking campaign of the Bush/Cheney administration.

There has been speculation on both the far left and the far right, and even among some in the apolitical, cynical middle of the political spectrum, that somehow the Bush/Cheney administration must have been blackmailing at least the key members of the Congressional leadership, most likely through the use of electronic monitoring by the National Security Agency (NSA).

U.S. Lacks Capacity to Win Over Afghans

U.S. Lacks Capacity to Win Over Afghans
By Gareth Porter | IPS

President Barack Obama and other top officials in his administration have made it clear that there can be no military solution in Afghanistan, and that the non-military efforts to win over the Afghan population will be central to its chances of success.

The reality, however, is that U.S. military and civilian agencies lack the skills and training as well as the institutional framework necessary to carry out culturally and politically sensitive socio-economic programmes at the local level in Afghanistan, or even to avoid further alienation of the population.

The Story of Mitchell Jessen & Associates: How Psychologists in Spokane, WA, Helped Develop the CIA’s Torture Techniques

The Story of Mitchell Jessen & Associates: How a Team of Psychologists in Spokane, WA, Helped Develop the CIA’s Torture Techniques
By Amy Goodman | Democracy Now! | Watch video

We broadcast from Spokane, Washington, less than three miles from the headquarters of a secretive CIA contractor that played a key role in developing the Bush administration’s interrogation methods. The firm, Mitchell Jessen & Associates, is named after the two military psychologists who founded the company, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. Beginning in 2002, the CIA hired the psychologists to train interrogators in brutal techniques, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and pain. We speak with three journalists who have closely followed the story. [includes rush transcript]

Guests:

Mark Benjamin, National correspondent for Salon.com.

Katherine Eban, Investigative reporter and writer for several national publications. Her July 2007 article for Vanity Fair, “Rorschach and Awe.”

Karen Dorn Steele, a local investigative reporter who covered Mitchell and Jessen for The Spokesman-Review. She won a George Polk Award for a 1994 newspaper series on squandered money in the $50 billion Hanford Nuclear Reservation cleanup, the nation’s most polluted nuclear weapons production site.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re on the road in Spokane, Washington, less than three miles from the headquarters of a secretive CIA contractor that played a key role in developing the Bush administration’s interrogation methods. The firm, Mitchell Jessen & Associates, is named after the two military psychologists who founded the company, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.

Beginning in 2002, the CIA hired the psychologists to train interrogators in brutal techniques, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and pain. Both of the men had years of military training in a secretive program known as SERE—Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape—which teaches soldiers to endure captivity in enemy hands. Mitchell and Jessen reverse-engineered the tactics taught in SERE training for use on prisoners held in the CIA’s secret prisons.

The declassified torture memos released last week relied heavily on the advice of Mitchell and Jessen. In one memo, Justice Department attorney Jay Bybee wrote, quote, “Based on your research into the use of these methods at the SERE school and consultation with others with expertise in the field of psychology and interrogation, you do not anticipate that any prolonged harm would result from the use of the waterboard.”

President Holds Open Door For Prosecutions of Bush Officials For Interrogation Policies, Truth Commission

President Holds Open Door For Prosecutions of Bush Officials For Interrogation Policies, Truth Commission
By Jake Tapper | ABCNews

Note: This Article Was Taken Down From ABCNews' Front Page In Less Than 2 Hours. "No news here, folks, move along."
Update: This was the lead story on ABC World News Tonight on 04/21/2009.

ABC News' Jake Tapper, Sunlen Miller and Yunji de Nies report:

President Obama suggested today that it remained a possibility that the Justice Department might bring charges against officials of the Bush administration who devised harsh interrogation policies that some see as torture.

He also suggested that if there is any sort of investigation into these past policies and practices, he would be more inclined to support an independent commission outside the typical congressional hearing process.

Both statements represented breaks from previous White House statements on the matter.

While the Bush-era memos providing legal justifications for enhanced interrogation methods "reflected us losing our moral bearings," the president said, he also that he did not think it was "appropriate" to prosecute those CIA officers who "carried out some of these operations within the four corners of the legal opinions or guidance that had been provided by the White House."

But in clear change from language he and members of his administration have used in the past, the president said that "with respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that is going to be more of a decision for the Attorney General within the parameters of various laws and I don’t want to prejudge that. I think that there are a host of very complicated issues involved there."

The Torture Debate -- It's About Time

The Torture Debate -- It's About Time
By Harry Shearer | Huffington Post

Several years too late, we've been dragged kicking and screaming into what a democratic republic should be engaged in: a public debate on whether such a nation is ever well-advised to engage in the torture of captives. Of course, the motives adduced are always the best--we've been attacked, the government has to protect the country--but it's not the proclaimed motives that separate the most admirable countries in the world from the most despised, but the behavior in pursuit of those motives.

Torturing Judge Bybee: Make Him Eat His Own Words

By Dave Lindorff

If the day comes that Congress finally does its duty and begins an impeachment effort against 9th Circuit Federal Appeals Judge Jay Bybee, the former Bush assistant attorney general who in 2002 authored a key memo justifying the use of torture against captives in the Afghanistan invasion and the so-called “War on Terror,” it would be fitting punishment to watch him squirm as his own words as a judge were played back to him.

It was as an Appeals Court Judge Bybee, sitting on a case being heard in 2006 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, that he wrote the following words:

If Nixon Had Been Tried for War Crimes

IF NIXON HAD BEEN TRIED FOR WAR CRIMES
By Nick Mottern

The following is an excerpt from a talk by Nick Mottern on April 19, 2009 delivered after receiving a Peace and Justice Award from the WESPAC Foundation in White Plains, NY.

I asked (several friends) what they would like me to speak about today, and the consensus was: Tell people why you do peace and justice work. I will get to that in the course of my remarks.

I want to address a fundamental issue facing us right now: President Obama has said that people who have committed torture

during the Bush/Cheney years will not be prosecuted. He said: “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past...we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.”

I would like to make two points.

Pundits Whitewash Torture

Pundits Whitewash Torture
By Marcus Baram | Media Channel

On the Sunday morning news programs, several pundits went out of their way to either endorse waterboarding and other techniques endorsed in the torture memos - or to dismiss the idea of holding their authors responsible.

On ABC News’ “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” George Will echoed several Bush officials when he criticized the release of the memos, saying “The problem with transparency is that it’s transparent for the terrorists as well.” Will expressed concern about the cost of letting “the bad guys” know what techniques, such as waterboarding, will be used on them. He went on to add, as noted by HuffPost’s Jason Linkins, that “intelligent people of good will” believe the President of the United States can do whatever he wants to “defend the country.”

Official: Obama Doesn't Want Interrogation Charges

Official: Obama doesn't want interrogation charges
By Douglass K. Daniel | Yahoo! News

President Barack Obama does not intend to prosecute Bush administration officials who devised the policies that led to the harsh interrogation of suspected terrorists, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said Sunday.

Obama last week authorized the release of a series of memos detailing the methods approved under President George W. Bush. In an accompanying statement, he said "it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice, that they will not be subject to prosecution." He did not specifically address the policymakers.

Asked Sunday on ABC's "This Week" about the fate of those officials, Emanuel said the president believes they "should not be prosecuted either and that's not the place that we go."

Why Obama Needs to Reveal Even More on Torture

Why Obama Needs to Reveal Even More on Torture
By Robert Baer | Time

Despite the outcry it has prompted, the Administration was absolutely right to declassify the Department of Justice-CIA interrogation memos. The argument that the letters compromise national security does not hold water. As noted in the memos, the interrogations techniques are taken from the military's escape and evasion training manuals, known as SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) — which in turn were taken from Chinese abusive interrogations used on our troops during the Korean War. If there is any doubt the techniques were already in the public domain, released detainees have more than detailed the abuse interrogation techniques they were subjected to.

But Obama should not stop there. The memos justify abusive interrogations by the completely discredited "ticking time-bomb" defense — that if we don't torture a suspect when we know there is an imminent threat, we stand to lose many, many American lives. But what ticking bomb? In one memo it states that it was thanks to waterboarding 9/11's mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (who was, according to the memo, subjected to the procedure 183 times) that we learned about a "Second Wave" of attacks. There has been little heard since about the "Second Wave," so without more documents declassified, it can be assumed that KSM made it up to stop the waterboarding. In another memo, it is noted that senior Al Qaeda member Abu Zubaydah was tortured into admitting KSM was the 9/11 mastermind. The memo does not note that early on KSM freely admitted his role in an interview with al-Jazeera. (View pictures of life inside Guantanamo.)

Van Jones: The Face of Green Jobs

Van Jones: The Face of Green Jobs
Meet Obama’s environmental evangelist. By Chadwick Matlin | The Big Money

Years before it was announced that Van Jones, the premier green-jobs advocate in the country, was headed to the White House, it was clear that Van Jones was headed to the White House. Thomas Friedman devoted an entire 2007 column to Jones, writing of his lofty goals, "I would not underestimate him." Jones muscled his way through Congress to get a Green Jobs Act passed in 2007 and then lavished praise on Nancy Pelosi and now-Labor Secretary, then-Rep. Hilda Solis. Pelosi returned the favor with a rave book blurb for Jones' 2008 best-seller The Green Collar Economy, writing that Jones possessed "sparkling intelligence, powerful vision, and deep empathy." When he wasn't running his fix-poverty, fix-the-planet nonprofit in Oakland, Calif., he was seeding Obama's transition team with ideas for an all-encompassing environmental/labor/energy/economic plan that would push the country toward a green future. After The New Yorker ran a glowing yet thorough profile of Jones in January, his ascendancy was complete. By the time the green-jobs-heavy stimulus bill passed, Jones may as well have been in the White House, since his philosophy had infected the place.

Iran President Triggers UN Conference Walkout

Iran president triggers UN conference walkout
By Harvey Morris at the United Nations, Tobias Buck in Jerusalem and Reuters in Geneva | Financial Times

United Nations officials on Monday tried to save an anti-racism summit in Geneva after some delegates walked out in response to a speech by Mahmoud Ahmadi-nejad, the Iranian president, describing Zionist rule in Israel as racist.

”Following World War II they resorted to military aggressions to make an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering,” Mr Ahmadinejad told the conference, speaking through a translator.

Peter Gooderham, British ambassador, condemned the Iranian leader’s ”offensive and inflammatory comments” that prompted the temporary walk-out. Delegates said they would return after he had finished speaking.

Is Eric Holder a Gonzalez-like Lackey?

Is Eric Holder a Gonzalez-like Lackey?
By tremayne | Open Left

Attorney General Eric Holder during his confirmation hearing:

I understand that the attorney general is different from every other cabinet officer. Though I am a part of the president's team, I am not a part of the president's team in the way that any other cabinet officer is. I have a special and unique responsibility. There has to be a distance between me and the president. The president-elect said when he nominated me that he recognized that, that the attorney general was different from other cabinet officers. I think if you look at my record, if you look at my career and the decisions that I have made, I have shown that I have the ability and, frankly, the guts to be independent of people who have put me in positions.

How do we square this statement with the President's announcement that those who waterboarded terrorism suspects, among other torture techniques, would not be prosecuted? By issuing such a statement it appears President Obama is the "legal decider" and he has decided, in explicitly political terms, that "nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past."

I will not describe what could be gained as others have done an eloquent job but I would like to point out that seeking justice for wrongly injured people is not "retribution" as the President put it.

Lawyers Group Targets Ex-Pentagon Counsel For Sanctioning Torture

Lawyers Group Targets Ex-Pentagon Counsel For Sanctioning Torture
By William Fisher | The Public Record

Lawyers who reject President Barack Obama’s decision not to seek prosecution of officials who may have participated in the torture of terror-suspect prisoners are seeking justice through another avenue: Sanctions against government lawyers who created the “enhanced interrogation” policies of former President George W. Bush.

Their first target is former Defense Department General Counsel William J. Haynes II. The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) has filed a complaint against Haynes, asking the State Bar of California to investigate him and revoke his status as Registered In-House Counsel. Haynes is now an attorney with Chevron Corp. in San Ramon, Calif.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a similar complaint is being prepared in Pennsylvania against former Justice Department lawyer John C. Yoo, the University of California Berkeley law professor, for his role in drafting the legal guidelines that approved enhanced interrogation techniques including waterboarding during his service in the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) during the Bush Administration.

How Obama Excused Torture

How Obama Excused Torture
by Bruce Fein | Daily Beast

Former Reagan Justice Department official Bruce Fein writes that Obama's decision to release CIA memos without prosecuting Bush administration officials flouts his constitutional duty.

On Thursday, April 16, in response to a lawsuit initiated by the American Civil Liberties Union, President Barack Obama released four redacted Office of Legal Counsel memoranda from the Bush administration to the CIA justifying torture or cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment. (The CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques were modeled on the Chinese Communist coercive brainwashing program against Americans captured in the Korean War to induce false confessions.) Each memorandum hedged its conclusions with substantial caveats, such as the absence of judicial precedents and concessions that reasonable persons could dispute their exculpatory conclusions. The memoranda were later renounced as bad law.

Obama has set a precedent of whitewashing White House lawlessness in the name of national security that will lie around like a loaded weapon ready for resurrection by any commander in chief eager to appear “tough on terrorism” and to exploit popular fear.

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