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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.
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.
U.S. Releases Secret List of Nuclear Sites Accidentally
By William J. Broad | NYTimes
The federal government mistakenly made public a 266-page report, its pages marked “highly confidential,” that gives detailed information about hundreds of the nation’s civilian nuclear sites and programs, including maps showing the precise locations of stockpiles of fuel for nuclear weapons.
The publication of the document was revealed Monday in an online newsletter devoted to issues of federal secrecy. That set off a debate among nuclear experts about what dangers, if any, the disclosures posed. It also prompted a flurry of investigations in Washington into why the document had been made public.
On Tuesday evening, after inquiries from The New York Times, the document was withdrawn from a Government Printing Office Web site.
Several nuclear experts argued that any dangers from the disclosure were minimal, given that the general outlines of the most sensitive information were already known publicly.
“These screw-ups happen,” said John M. Deutch, a former director of central intelligence and deputy secretary of defense who is now a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It’s going further than I would have gone but doesn’t look like a serious breach.”
But David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington that tracks nuclear proliferation, said information that shows where nuclear fuels are stored “can provide thieves or terrorists inside information that can help them seize the material, which is why that kind of data is not given out.” Read more.
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.
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.
GRANNIES SAY: LET'S GET BARACK - BACK ON TRACK
by Joan Wile
Everybody's talking about Sonia Sotomayor. The country's abuzz about the torture memos. About Cheney, Pelosi, Swine flu, and GM and Chrysler's bankruptcies.
All well and good -- these are important matters.
But, where is the outrage about the continuing, even escalating, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? These are the most urgent issues of our time, and they've slipped into the dustbin of newsworthy topics.
Except for the peace grandmothers. We seem to be the only organized group actively and currently protesting the wars. Why is that, I wonder? I guess we are the wise ones, after all. Why haven't many others, those probably far more enlightened than we, seen the growing catastrophe if we don't get out of these hell holes and get out soon, no, not soon, NOW.
Navy Vet Honored, Foiled Israeli Attack
By Ray McGovern
What’s the difference between murder and massacre?
The answer is Terry Halbardier, whose bravery and ingenuity as a 23-year-old Navy seaman spelled the difference between the murder of 34 of the USS Liberty crew and the intended massacre of all 294.
The date was June 8, 1967; and for the families of the 34 murdered and for the Liberty’s survivors and their families, it is a “date which will live in infamy” — like the date of an earlier surprise attack on the U.S. Navy.
The few, the proud, the poor, the desperate, the criminal, the old, the young, the brainwashed, and the autistic.
It might be terrible times for so many companies suffering through a global economic meltdown, but in the war zone, there seems to be no recession in sight. In fact, with "Obama's war" in the expanding Afghanistan/Pakistan theater of operations revving up, there's likely to be money to the horizon, bases to build, and ever more troops to supply. As it happens, the management of KBR, formerly a part of Halliburton and the main builder and supplier of American bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, is feeling in the pink.
KBR is, of course, little short of notorious. The darling of the neocons and Dick Cheney's baby -- in his pre-Vice Presidential days he was the CEO of its then-parent corporation, Halliburton -- it was one of the prime winners of the Bush administration's privatization sweepstakes. Think of it as the Blackwater of construction companies. But somehow, despite hatfuls of charges against the company for a laundry list of alleged misdeeds as well as for war profiteering, it recently announced that revenues in the first quarter of 2009 were actually up 27% -- to a hefty $3.2 billion. Moreover, according to the Financial Times, "KBR's backlog of projects grew 8% last year and sales rose 33%. KBR has $1 [billion] in cash, no debt, and is looking for acquisitions." Its stock is doing swimmingly; it's managing to make the transfer from Republican to Democratic Washington; and its CEO William Utt states confidently, "We know we can withstand any length of this crisis -- or depth."
Journalist Pratap Chatterjee knows KBR intimately. He's checked out its military dining halls, spent time with some of its 50,000 workers, and interviewed its officials. He's also written a remarkable book on KBR and its former parent, Halliburton's Army: How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War. Now he follows both companies into a strangely cleansed future of oil and war. Tom
Is Halliburton Forgiven and Forgotten?
Or How to Stay Out of Sight While Profiting From the War in Iraq
By Pratap Chatterjee
The Houstonian Hotel is an elegant, secluded resort set on an 18-acre wooded oasis in the heart of downtown Houston. Two weeks ago, David Lesar, CEO of the once notorious energy services corporation Halliburton, spoke to some 100 shareholders and members of senior management gathered there at the company's annual meeting. All was remarkably staid as they celebrated Halliburton's $4 billion in operating profits in 2008, a striking 22% return at a time when many companies are announcing record losses. Analysts remain bullish on Halliburton's stock, reflecting a more general view that any company in the oil business is likely to have a profitable future in store.
There were no protestors outside the meeting this year, nor the kind of national media stakeouts commonplace when Lesar addressed the same crew at the posh Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Houston in May 2004. Then, dozens of mounted police faced off against 300 protestors in the streets outside, while a San Francisco group that dubbed itself the Ronald Reagan Home for the Criminally Insane fielded activists in Bush and Cheney masks, offering fake $100 bills to passers-by in a mock protest against war profiteering. And don't forget the 25-foot inflatable pig there to mock shareholders. Local TV crews swarmed, a national crew from NBC flew in from New York, and reporters from the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal eagerly scribbled notes.
Now the 25-foot pigs are gone and all is quiet on the western front.
Taguba Said He Saw Video of Male Soldier Sodomizing Female Detainee
Written by Jason Leopold | The Public Record
In 2007, shortly after he was forced into retirement, Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba, made a startling admission. During the course of his investigation into the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib Taguba said he saw “a video of a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee.”
Taguba told New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh that he saw other graphic photos and videos as well, including one depicting the “sexual humiliation of a father with his son, who were both detainees.”
The video, as well as photographs Taguba said he saw of U.S. soldiers allegedly raping and torturing Iraqi prisoners, remains in the possession of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID).
Taguba noted in his voluminous report on the abuses at Abu Ghraib that the photographs and rape video were being withheld by the CID because of their e “extremely sensitive nature” and the Army's ongoing criminal probe.
Taguba's report on the widespread abuse of prisoners did say, however, that he found credible a report that a soldier had sodomized “a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick.”
The video and photographs Taguba described to Hersh were "not made public in any of the subsequent court proceedings, nor has there been any public government mention of it.” Read more.
Americans need to be afraid, very afraid. If President Barack Obama has his way, the country will soon be at serious risk of terrorist attacks coordinated by Muslim men held in maximum security prisons from where no-one has ever escaped.
These inmates possess superhuman strength and cunning. Even in solitary confinement, they might recruit fellow inmates to the cause of al Qaeda and incite riots. They might succeed where the worst of the worst American criminals failed - break out and disappear, seamlessly blending into the community. Next thing you know — a mushroom cloud.
Such scenarios come to mind when one follows the debate over Obama’s plan to close the infamous detention center at Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. naval base on the eastern tip of Cuba, and move some of the inmates to prisons in the United States.
This has prompted expressions of dismay both from the political right and from Obama’s fellow Democrats in Congress, and the language used in the debate has taken on a surreal quality. Phrases like “releasing dangerous terrorists into our neighborhoods” and “relocating terrorists to American communities” convey the impression that Guantanamo detainees will wander the streets, shopping for sandals and guns.
“To … bring the worst of the worst terrorists inside the United States would be the cause for great danger and regret in the years to come,” according to former Vice President Dick Cheney. “We have to make sure that streets and neighborhoods don’t think that they’re going to be the repository of Guantanamo prisoners,” warned Barbara Mikulski, a Democratic Senator.
A group of Republican congressmen drafted a “Keep terrorists out of America Act” early in May. America, for the purposes of the act, means American prisons.
It is ironic that politicians in the U.S., which holds more people behind bars than any other country, profess to have so little faith in a system that costs billions to run and includes high-security “supermax” institutions where dangerous inmates spend all but four hours a week in their cell. Read more.
The United States has made a new request for Australia to accept a group of detainees from Guantanamo Bay for resettlement, a government spokeswoman said on Saturday.
The request is the first by President Barack Obama's administration, which plans to close down the detention camp in Cuba within the next year.
Media reports have said the request involves a group of Uighurs from China's largely Muslim western province of Xinjiang. Beijing has reportedly been pressing Washington to return them to China, but U.S. officials have expressed concerns about their likely treatment there. Read more.
The Obama Administration told the Supreme Court Friday that 17 Uighur men forcibly brought to Guantanamo Bay by the American military seven years ago are "free to leave" but have no right to come to the United States.
The Uighurs are Muslims from western China, though they allegedly attended training camps in Afghanistan affiliated with the East Turkestan Indpenendence Movement, a group which is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and denies China's sovereignty over the largely Muslim region of Xinjiang.
In a brief urging the high court not to hear an appeal from the 17 men, the Justice Department said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit acted correctly earlier this year when it overturned a district court judge's order that the men be brought to the U.S. for release.
"Petitioners would like the federal courts to order that they be brought to the United States, because they are unwilling to return to their home country. But they have no entitlement to that form of relief," the brief submitted by Solicitor General Elena Kagan said. "As this Court has recognized repeatedly, the decision whether to allow an alied abroad to enter the United States, and if so, under what terms, rests exclusively in the political Branches."
To persuade the justices to reject the case, the Obama Administration cited appropriations legislation passed in both the House and Senate this month seeking to restrict the administration's ability to release or transfer prisoners from Guantanamo to the U.S. The Justice Department's attempt to use the legislation to block legal relief for the Uighurs is notable because White House officials were unhappy with the measures, which could effectively tie President Barack Obama's hands if he were to sign them into law. The House and Senate bills presently await a conference committee expected to convene next week.
The brief says the U.S. Government is actively pursuing diplomatic options to resettle the Uighurs, who officials have said cannot be sent back to China because of that country's record of mistreatment of Uighur dissidents and militants. Read more.
Supreme Court asked to weigh in on detainee photos
By Bill Mears | CNN
The Obama administration is turning to the Supreme Court as it seeks to block public release of photos apparently depicting abuse of suspected terrorists and foreign soldiers in U.S. custody.
Justice Department lawyers late Thursday told a federal appeals court in New York -- the same one on which high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor sits -- to hold off a ruling ordering release of the material, saying they plan to ask the justices to hear their case.
The government said it would proceed "absent intervening legislation" from Congress.
The "motion to recall" comes after President Obama ordered government lawyers this month to object to the court-ordered release of photos depicting the mistreatment of prisoners held in Iraq and Afghanistan, reversing an earlier White House decision. The Pentagon had been set to release hundreds of photos in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU -- which filed the initial lawsuit for disclosure -- has criticized the administration's about-face, saying it "makes a mockery" of Obama's campaign promise of greater transparency and accountability, and damages efforts to hold accountable those responsible for abusing prisoners.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in September that the photos must be released. The president now says doing so "would pose an unacceptable risk of danger to U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq." Sotomayor has served on that court since 1998 but was not involved in that particular appeal....The government has until June 9 to file its initial appeal with the Supreme Court. Read more.
The United Nations has released a new report on accountability for human rights abuses by the United States, focusing mostly on transgressions during the Bush administration's so-called war on terror. In a word, accountability in the U.S. has been "deplorable."
The May 26, 2009, report by Australian law professor Philip Alston, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, does praise the United States for establishing compensation payments for civilians accidentally killed by U.S. forces in the heat of battle. But Alston quickly adds the following: "However, there have been chronic and deplorable accountability failures with respect to policies, practice and conduct that resulted in alleged unlawful killings -- including possible war crimes -- in the United States' international operations."
A summary from the report follows below. But the body of the document doesn't pull any punches either. Read more.
DOJ: Two Former Military Officials Charged with Participating in Scheme to Steal Large Quantities of Fuel from U.S. Army in Iraq
WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment today charging Robert Young, 56, a former captain in the U.S. Army, and Robert Jeffery, 55, a former master chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy, with conspiracy and theft of government property in connection with a scheme to steal large quantities of fuel from the U.S. Army in Iraq, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente for the Eastern District of Virginia.