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By Dave Lindorff
Enough is enough. It’s time to free John Walker Lindh, poster boy for George Bush’s, Dick Cheney’s and John Ashcroft’s “War on Terror,” and quite likely first victim of these men’s secret campaign of torture.
Lindh is in the seventh year of a 20-year sentence for “carrying a weapon” in Afghanistan and for “providing assistance” to an enemy of the United States. The first charge is ridiculously minor (after all, it’s what almost everyone in Texas does everyday). The second is actually a violation of a law intended for use against US companies that trade with proscribed countries on a government “no trade” list like Cuba or North Korea. Ordinarily, violation results in a fine for the executives involved.
Underscoring Obama’s new stance on the issue, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters: "the president determined the concept didn't seem altogether workable in this case."...At a congressional hearing Thursday, Holder told lawmakers that he would not "permit the criminalization of policy differences. However, it is my responsibility as the attorney general to enforce the law. "If I see wrongdoing, I will pursue it to the full extent of the law," Holder said....Conyers has also said that Holder should appoint a special prosecutor to conduct a probe simulataneously....But at the White House meeting Thursday, attended by Republican and Democratic lawmakers, including Pelosi and Rep. John Boehner, Obama said he would not support any attempt to investigate the Bush administration’s “war on terror” policies. Whether Congress decides to act in defiance of Obama's wishes remains to be seen.
"I will not permit the criminalization of policy differences. However, it is my responsibility as attorney general to enforce the law. It is my duty to enforce the law. If I see evidence of wrongdoing I will pursue it to the full extent of the law," Holder said.
Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress on Thursday he won't play "hide and seek" with secret memos about harsh interrogations of terror suspects and their effectiveness. In testimony before the House Appropriations Committee, Holder said he's willing to release as much information as possible about the interrogations.
Several members of the committee pressed him about the Justice Department's release last week of four long-secret legal memos detailing the harsh techniques used on some detainees during the Bush administration.
"It is certainly the intention of this administration not to play hide and seek, or not to release certain things," said Holder. "It is not our intention to try to advance a political agenda or to try to hide things from the American people."
Bybee seems to be against corporal punishment, but has no problem with slamming prisoners against walls, locking people in boxes and simulating drowning.
Jay Bybee authored one of the most chilling of the four Bush-era torture memos declassified last week by the Obama administration. Bybee signed the August 2002 memo in his capacity as a Deputy Attorney General working in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department. Now he is a federal judge sitting on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the largest appellate court in the US (Remember, Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid helped him get there).Following the disclosure of the memos and Bybee’s role in developing legal strategies for justifying the torture of prisoners, activists launched a campaign to demand that Rep. John Conyers, chair of the Judiciary Committee, hold a hearing to determine whether grounds exist for Bybee’s impeachment. As the Center for Constitutional Rights points out:
Jonathan Turley on Rachel Maddow: "Obama is obstructing justice"
Obama Plays Hamlet; Shredders Hum
By Ray McGovern
Well, well. The New York Times has finally put a story together on the key role played by two faux psychologists in helping the Bush administration devise ways to torture people. We should, I suppose, be thankful for small favors.
Apparently, a NY Times exposé requires a 21-month gestation period. The substance of the Wednesday’s lead story on torture had already appeared in an article in the July 2007 issue of Vanity Fair.
Katherine Eban, a Brooklyn-based journalist who writes about public health, authored that article and titled it “Rorschach and Awe.” It was the result of a careful effort to understand the role of psychologists in the torture of detainees in Guantanamo.
Reservists Might Be Used in Afghanistan To Fill Civilian Jobs
By Karen DeYoung | Washington Post
Military reservists may be asked to volunteer to fill many of the hundreds of additional U.S. civilian positions in Afghanistan called for in the Obama administration's strategy for that nation and neighboring Pakistan, officials said yesterday.
Although the State Department is still recruiting agronomists, engineers, accountants and other experts for Afghanistan, "pressure coming from the president for action is making us consider that some of the people might come from the reserves," one senior administration official said.
European prosecutors are likely to investigate CIA and Bush administration officials on suspicion of violating an international ban on torture if they are not held legally accountable at home, according to U.N. officials and human rights lawyers.
Many European officials and civil liberties groups said they were disappointed by President Obama's opposition to trials of CIA interrogators who subjected terrorism suspects to waterboarding and other harsh tactics. They said the release last week of secret U.S. Justice Department memos authorizing the techniques will make it easier for foreign prosecutors to open probes if U.S. officials do not.
A newly released document indicates that the CIA proposed using waterboarding, a controversial interrogation technique that simulates drowning, on terror suspect Abu Zubaydah three months before the Justice Department approved the harsh interrogation technique.
The document, released today by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence provides a detailed narrative of the history of the Bush administration's attempts to authorize so-called harsh interrogation techniques.
"...the most detailed timeline yet for how the CIA's harsh interrogation program was conceived and approved at the highest levels in the Bush White House. The new timeline shows that Rice played a greater role than she admitted last fall in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee....But even the new timeline has yet to resolve the central question of who inside the Bush administration first broached the idea of using waterboarding and other brutal tactics against terror detainees..."
Then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice verbally OK'd the CIA's request to subject alleged al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah to waterboarding in July 2002, a decision memorialized a few days later in a secret memo that the Obama administration declassified last week.
Part I. Introduction
A grievous, shameful and dangerous state of affairs permeates the movements of opposition in the U.S. Their outlook and politics have collapsed into passive acquiescence and even overt criminal complicity with the policies and actions of the ruling class, and are doing so by promoting the deadly illusion that the election of Barack Obama is bringing progressive change.
This is bullshit, it’s knowable, and it must change.
Some basic reality of Obama’s first 80 days:
- Obama has escalated the illegal war in Afghanistan with an additional 21,000 troops.
- Obama has expanded the war into Pakistan areas, using troops and unmanned drones.
- Obama has extended the deadline for withdrawing troops from Iraq to 2010—and even that date may be extended by the Pentagon.
- Obama said he plans to leave 35,000-50,000 troops plus 50,000-100,000 mercenaries in Iraq after that, effectively continuing the illegal occupation.
- Obama said he would close Guantanamo within 1 year, yet prisoners there are still being force fed with tubes shoved down their throats.
- Obama approved $60 million to double the size of Bagram prison in Afghanistan.
- Obama’s Justice Department has defended the Bush policy of illegal warrantless wiretapping and asserted far broader claims of executive branch immunity than even the Bush regime.
...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.
Dissent Within the Bush Administration on Torture
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
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])
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.