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Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents

 

By Dave Lindorff


An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.

Teaching Torture

Michael Collins
Texas School District(s) Allow Male Administrators to Paddle Female Students

Sometimes keeping up with our societal decline becomes a bit too much. For example:

SPRINGTOWN, Texas — Like many schools in Texas, “spare the rod and spoil the child” might be considered the motto at Springtown High School.

But when two teenage girls there reportedly suffered bruises after being paddled by male assistant principals, some parents complained. They weren’t upset about the punishment itself, but instead that the school violated the policy requiring an educator of the same sex as the student to dole out the paddling. Associated Press, September 24 2012

The school board for Sprigtown, Texas responded by expanding official policy to allow male administrators to paddle female students. There were no restrictions on prurient motives or sexual arousal by male administrators while administering the structured beatings. AP failed to report any serious questioning of the process save those by People Opposed to Paddling Students, a Texas-wide organization opposed to corporal punishment. Seventy-five percent of Texas school districts allow paddling as punishment, some for minor offenses up the line of disciplinary. (Image:  The Faculty)

Italy court affirms convictions of 23 Americans in CIA case

ROME — The Associated Press

Italy's highest criminal court on Wednesday upheld the convictions of 23 Americans in the kidnapping of an Egyptian terror suspect as part of the CIA's extraordinary rendition program.

The ruling marks the final appeal in the first trial anywhere in the world involving the CIA's practice of abducting terror suspects and transferring them to third countries where torture is permitted.

The 23 Americans all were convicted in absentia following a three-and-a-half-year trial, and have never been in Italian custody. They risk arrest if they travel to Europe and one of their court-appointed lawyers suggested that the final verdict would open the way for the Italian government to seek their extradition.

`'It went badly. It went very badly,” lawyer Alessia Sorgato said. `'Now they will ask for extradition.”

The Americans and two Italians were convicted last year of involvement in the kidnapping of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, from a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003 — the first convictions anywhere in the world against people involved in the CIA's practice of abducting terror suspects and transferring them to third countries where torture was permitted. The cleric was transferred to U.S. military bases in Italy and Germany before being moved to Egypt, where he says he was tortured. He has since been released.

Those convicted include the former Milan CIA station chief, Robert Seldon Lady, whose original seven-year sentence was raised to nine years on appeal. The other 22 Americans, all but one identified by prosecutors as CIA agents, face seven-year terms.

Previous Italian governments had declined to act on prosecutors' request to extradite the American suspects, most of whom had court-appointed lawyers the defendants never met. While some of the defendants in the case were known figures attached to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Milan, many of those named in the trial are believed to have been aliases, impeding any formal extradition.

Among those whose sentence was upheld was Air Force Col. Joseph Romano, who was head of security at the Aviano Air Force base where the Egyptian cleric was driven from Milan before being taken by plane to Germany and eventually Egypt.

Romano's lawyer, Cesare Bulgheroni, said he would appeal the verdict to the EU human rights court in Strasbourg on the basis that Romano was never formally notified of the charges against him, and that lower courts had rejected some witnesses. Romano was one of only two Americans who received permission to hire his own lawyer during the original trial.

The court also ordered new appeals trials for five Italian intelligence agents, including the former head of military intelligence, Nicolo Pollari. They had been acquitted by lower courts because of state secrets.

During the original trial, three other Americans were acquitted: the then-Rome CIA station chief Jeffrey Castelli and two other diplomats formerly assigned to the Rome Embassy. Prosecutors appealed the acquittal, as they can in Italy. The appeal is still pending in Milan.

Nazi Human Drugging Experiments at Guantanamo Must Not Be Prosecuted While We're Looking Forward

Nonetheless, there's this:

Long-held claims by the former detainee David Hicks that he was drugged against his will have been backed by evidence from a prominent attorney, independent investigations and previously secret reports.

Details of the mistreatment of the former Guantanamo Bay inmate were set to emerge publicly for the first time in the Australian government's proceeds of crime action against him - until the government abandoned its case. It would have been Mr Hicks's first day in a properly constituted court. But Commonwealth prosecutors decided that their case to seize revenue from his book about his Guantanamo experience would not stand up.

Mr Hicks's lawyers would have used new evidence from US authorities that would then have become public. By dropping the case, the shutters have been brought down on what happened, and some documents are to be kept secret.

The Sun-Herald understands that these documents were expected to shed light on the appalling treatment of detainees. The Sun-Herald has also been given affidavits that were to be presented in court confirming that Mr Hicks had been drugged against his will.

Other investigations show that Guantanamo Bay detainees, including David Hicks, were forced to take high dosages of the controversial anti-malaria drug mefloquine despite showing no signs of the disease, an unprecedented practice that has been likened to ''pharmacologic waterboarding'' by a US military doctor.

Questions have been raised about whether the mass administration of the drug to detainees was a secret, illegal experiment after a medical journal article last month by an army doctor, Major Remington Nevin, highlighted the ''inappropriate use'' of the drug, asking if its use had been motivated by its psychotic side effects. The US Centre for Disease Control has issued a warning against the use of mefloquine on anyone suffering psychiatric disturbances or having a history of depression. Dr Nevin has also warned that high doses of the drug can cause brain injuries.

Evidence including previously secret reports and witnesses including a Guantanamo guard, and New York lawyer, Josh Dratel, support Mr Hicks's claims that he was drugged. Mr Dratel, who has top secret security clearance from the US Department of Justice and has acted for a number of detainees including Mr Hicks, was to give direct evidence of the ''non-therapeutic'' drugging. In an affidavit prepared for the trial, Mr Dratel revealed that US prosecutors had admitted that Mr Hicks's claims that ''guards had forced him to eat a meal which contained a sedative before they read him the charges'' were true. He was told it had been done to protect the officers from his reactions.

Former Guantanamo guard Brandon Neely also supplied an affidavit for the trial saying that detainees were regularly beaten for refusing to take the medications.

Mr Neely has also said that the doctors never told the detainees what drugs they were being given.

No Accountability for Torturers

By Marjorie Cohn

The Obama administration has closed the books on prosecutions of those
who violated our laws by authorizing and conducting the torture and
abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody. Last year, Attorney General Eric
Holder announced that his office would investigate only two incidents,
in which CIA interrogations ended in deaths. He said the Justice
Department “has determined that an expanded criminal investigation of
the remaining matters is not warranted.” With that decision, Holder
conferred amnesty on countless Bush officials, lawyers and
interrogators who set and carried out a policy of cruel treatment.

Tenth Anniversary of John Yoo/Alberto Gonzales Torture Memos

Click to download image: share it on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
I’ve got to confess… when I connected to World Can’t Wait in 2006, some prisoners at Guantanamo had been tortured for four years. I had other things on my mind and, probably more important, people to blame for the crimes of our government.

The blame game was easy, and disguised responsibility for the evil being done in my name. But it didn’t close Guantanamo. Or release survivors of that hellhole. 

Bahrain: British arms used to crush peaceful demonstrators as regime’s sadistic torturer allowed to attend Olympics

As efforts to ban the notorious torturer, Nasser bin Ahmad from attending the London Olympics continue, it has transpired that the UK Government has ignored several requests and pleas supported by irrefutable evidence against him. Despite the Foreign Secretary’s assertion that anyone proven to have engaged in torture would not be granted a visa, the Alkhalifa dictators have boasted of sending one of the most sadistic torturers Bahrain has seen to London. There are now mounting fears for the lives of three prominent detainees who had testified that Nasser, the son of Bahrain’s dictator, had personally tortured them. Sheikh Mohammad Habib Al Miqdad, Sheikh Mirza Al Mahroos and Mohammad Hassan Jawad said that Nasser had hurled verbal abuses as he punched and kicked them in the Spring of 2011.

The Egyptian Torture Chief Who Knew Too Much?

Omar Suleiman has died, apparently in Cleveland, Ohio, while undergoing medical tests, with no cause of death reported.

Suleiman personally oversaw the torture of al Libi that successfully elicited the false claim that Iraq was tied to al Qaeda.  Al Libi himself died under suspicious circumstances.

Is Suleiman on any of Obama's kill lists? 

Do not let the body leave.

Get an autopsy at once.

No "Muslim sea burial."

One Nobel Laureate Blasts Another -- And They’re Both Americans

 

By Dave Lindorff


There are two US presidents who have won the Nobel Peace Prize. Now one of those Nobel laureate leaders is accusing the other, though without naming him, of actions that qualify as war crimes and impeachable crimes against the US Constitution.


Ecuador (What the Hell Took So Long?) Stops Sending Troops to the School of the Americas

We have some exciting news to share with you! The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, his Minister of Defense and other high-ranking Ecuadoran officials met with members of the SOA Watch Delegation. We are delighted that we can inform you that earlier today, President Correa started the meeting at the Presidential Palace in Quito, Ecuador, by announcing that Ecuador will no longer send its soldiers to the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC). This is a tremendous victory for the human rights community across the Americas!

The press in Latin America has already picked up the story. Click here for the coverage of the announcement in Spanish.

We are extremely happy about this new development that will give us additional momentum in our efforts to shut down the SOA for good and to end U.S. militarization in the Americas. Stay tuned for a detailed report back from the delegation and from the meeting with President Correa in the next couple days.

Let's celebrate the resistance to militarization in the Americas!

Alison, Becca, Hendrik, Lisa, Marlin, Nico, Pablo and Father Roy
The SOA Watch staff

Visit SOAW.org for updates from SOA Watch!

Canadian Watchdog clears troops, slams brass in Afghan torture case

From The Globe and Mail:

A military watchdog has rendered its long-awaited verdict on transfers of Canada’s battlefield prisoners to torture-prone jails in Afghanistan, saying eight soldiers can’t be held responsible because they were largely kept in the dark by senior Canadian Forces brass.

The Military Police Complaints Commission fought a losing battle with Defence Minister Peter MacKay and the rest of the Harper government as it tried to investigate allegations the military knew the detainees it turned over to Afghan officials would face abuse and mistreatment.

Mr. MacKay’s Conservatives battled the watchdog in court and succeeded in significantly limiting the scope of its investigation. The Defence Minister also refused to extend the term of the original chair of the commission so he could finish his probe.

We've come a long way from the Magna Carta to legalizing torture and "kill lists"!

Friday June 15, 2012, happened to be the 797th anniversary of the day certain feudal barons in England confronted King John and asked him to guarantee a "charter of liberties" which eventually became the Magna Carta. So it was an appropriate day in June 2012: Torture Awareness Month, to think about the legal issues that have emerged with Eric Holder's and other Obama lawyers' equating of "due process" with the latest CIA and Pentagon "baseball cards kill list". Passers-by marked the Magna Carta anniversary from 11 am to 1 pm outside the Federal Courthouse in Minneapolis by taking a look at our well-footnoted display of visual panels tracing this once-proud history and contemplating some of the hard legal questions that naturally arise.   

The ACLU has brought an active FOIA lawsuit seeking release of the recent Office of Legal Counsel memo that, according to Attorney General Holder, somehow gamely opines that "due process" can be any process that we do.  It does not have to be "judicial process" but can instead be a CIA or Pentagon Power-Point as long as it's carefully and secretly compiled and put on glossy baseball cards.  But some of us who didn't go to Harvard or Yale might question the soundness of this new-fangled targeted killing doctrine that seems to turn the Magna Carta on its head!

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/49024523/120611%20TORTURE-TIMELINE-COMPLETE-LARGE-FILE.pdf
 

Supreme Court OKs Torture on U.S. Soil (or anywhere else)

Or at least makes sure no one can be punished for it.  From Wired:

The Supreme Court on Monday let stand a lower court decision that said federal officials cannot be sued for damages for the torture of Americans on U.S. soil.

Without comment, the justices set aside a petition (.pdf) from Jose Padilla, the so-called “dirty bomber.” Padilla claims high-ranking Defense Department officials and others are liable for developing “the global detention and interrogation policies” that paved the way for his torture while he was secretly held without charges at a Navy brig in South Carolina for more than three years.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in January ruled that the judiciary had no role in the matter.

Special factors do counsel judicial hesitation in implying causes of action for enemy combatants held in military detention. First, the Constitution delegates authority over military affairs to Congress and to the president as commander in chief. It contemplates no comparable role for the judiciary. Second, judicial review of military decisions would stray from the traditional subjects of judicial competence. Litigation of the sort proposed thus risks impingement on explicit constitutional assignments of responsibility to the coordinate branches of our government.

Ben Wizner, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer representing Padilla, said the high court’s move gives the government a blank check “to commit any abuse in the name of national security, even the brutal torture of an American citizen in an American prison.”

National Week of Action Against Torture - June 2012

gitmo2012_protesters_at_whThe National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) is joining with a national coalition of religious and human rights groups in a National Week of Action Against Torture, Guantanamo and the NDAA. Co-sponsoring organizations are listed below. 

Share this promotional video to encourage others to join us in June.

Friday, June 22: National Call-in Day to the White House & Congress

Saturday, June 23: National Tweet-in Day to the White House & Congress

Sunday, June 24: DC March Against Torture, Guantanamo & NDAA - Coalition Demonstration

tam2012_june24signup

Solidarity events being planned for Chicago and San Francisco (details TBA)

Tuesday, June 26: International Day in Support of Victims of Torture tam2012_registervigil

List of co-sponsoring organizations (as of 5/25/12):
Amnesty International
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
Witness Against Torture

 America Come Home
American Civil Liberties Union

Anti-War.com
Bellevue/NYU Center for Survivors of Torture
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Center for Constitutional Rights
CODEPINK
Council on American Islamic Relations
Dorothy Day Catholic Worker
Liberty Coalition
Midwest Antiwar Mobilization
NC Stop Torture Now
Pax Christi USA
PEN American Center
Physicians for Human Rights
Rabbis for Human Rights-North America
Refuge Media Project
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition
United Nations Association - USA East Bay Chapter
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
WarIsACrime.org
War Criminals Watch
World Can't Wait

See the list of other NRCAT Torture Awareness Month activities

Victim of Torture and CIA Rendition Gets His First Day in Court — in Europe

By Jamil Dakwar, Director, Human Rights Program at ACLU
 

Tomorrow, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), Europe's top human rights court based in Strasbourg, France, will hear arguments in El-Masri v. "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia." Tomorrow's hearing marks the first case to come before the court against a European nation for complicity in the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program.

The case was brought against Macedonia by the Open Society Justice Initiative on behalf of Khaled El-Masri. El-Masri, a German citizen, who was abducted by Macedonian authorities at a border crossing in December 2003 and held incommunicado for 23 days. He was then handed over to CIA operatives who drugged, hooded, and strip-searched him before putting him on a secret flight to Afghanistan where he was secretly held, tortured and abused for about four months, only for the U.S. government to realize that they had the wrong person. Instead of acknowledging their mistake and sending him back to Germany with an apology, CIA operatives put El-Masri on another secret flight and dumped him on a hill in Albania, leaving him to make his own way home to Germany.

READ THE REST.

Gory Glory at Fordham Commencement (Be There, If You Can)

Honoring a ‘Terror War’ Architect

May 12, 2012

Editor Note: In this season of graduations – and the rush to bestow honorary degrees on the “great and powerful” – one ironic moment will play out at Fordham University, where Jesuits are giving top billing among its honorees to White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan, notes Fordham grad (and ex-CIA analyst) Ray McGovern.

 

By Ray McGovern

Bush & Associates Found Guilty of Torture

http://mathaba.net/news/?x=630404

 

So then Who in the Hell Are We?

 

By Dan De Walt

 

“This is not a reflection of who we are or what we stand for.” 

       -- Jeff Gearhart, Wall-Mart general counsel, on the firm’s Mexico bribery 

 

[Torture] “is not the norm.” 

       -- Mike Pannek, Abu Ghraib prison warden.

 

“This is not who we are.” 

       -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the US massacre of 16 Afghan villagers.

 

“This is not who we are.” 

Court rejects torture-related case against Bush lawyer

By Terry Baynes, Reuters, via dailypress.com

(Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday ruled that John Yoo, a former legal counsel to the Bush administration, is immune from a lawsuit by an American citizen convicted on terrorism charges who said he was tortured at a military jail in South Carolina.

Jose Padilla, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison in 2007, had accused Yoo of helping to formulate policies under which those designated as "enemy combatants" by the U.S. government were interrogated and detained.

The San Francisco-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision which had allowed the suit to proceed.

Brennan Befuddled By the 'Why' Behind Terrorism

Not Explaining the Why of Terrorism

May 2, 2012

Exclusive: President Obama signed a U.S.-Afghan strategic agreement on May 1, committing U.S. combat forces to withdraw by the end of 2014 while leaving behind U.S. counter-terrorism teams for another decade. But Obama and his aides still duck a full debate over the causes of terrorism, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

John Brennan, President Obama’s chief adviser on counter-terrorism, has again put on public display two unfortunate facts: (1) that the White House has no clue as to how to counter terrorism; and (2) (in Brennan’s words) “the unfortunate fact that to save many innocent lives we are sometimes obliged to take lives.”

Real Politics Must be in the Streets: The Constitutional Crimes of Barack Obama

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

As we slog towards another vapid, largely meaningless exercise in pretend democracy with the selection of a new president and Congress this November, it is time to make it clear that the current president, elected four years ago by so many people with such inflated expectations four years ago (myself included, as I had hoped, vainly it turned out, that those who elected him would then press him to act in progressive ways), is not only a betrayer of those hopes, but is a serial violator of his oath of office. He is, in truth, a war criminal easily the equal of his predecessor, George W. Bush, and perhaps even of Bush’s regent, former Vice President Dick Cheney.

 

Let me count the ways:

 

Canadian Lawyers Brief the Committee Against Torture on Canada's Failure to Prosecute George W. Bush

CANADA: Briefing to CAT on the Failure to Prosecute George W. Bush for Torture
From Lawyers against the War
 
Lawyers against the War (LAW) is a Canada-based committee that advocates for adherence to
international humanitarian law and against impunity for violators. LAW engages in education,
produces legal analyses and has participated in legal actions to hold members of the Bush
administration accountable for torture and other grave crimes.  
 
Introduction: Visits to Canada by George W. Bush
 
George W. Bush (Bush) was President of the United States of America and Commander in Chief
of the U.S. Armed Forces from January 20, 2001 to January 20, 2009. Evidence indicates that
during his term in office, Bush authorized, directed, supervised, failed to supervise or otherwise
was a party to the widespread and systemic use of torture by the U.S. and is therefore an alleged
torturer.
 
As a party to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment
or Punishment (Convention)1 Canada has an obligation to take effective measures to prevent and
punish torture. A significant part of that duty obliges Canada to ensure that alleged torturers such
as Bush do not receive safe haven from prosecution for torture in Canada. This report chronicles
Canada’s failure to enforce Canadian law and adhere to Convention duties triggered by visits to
Canada by Bush.  
 
Since his term as president of the U.S. and commander in chief of the U.S. Armed Forces came
to an end, Bush has entered Canada on a number of occasions including, but not limited to, visits
to:    
• Calgary in the province of Alberta on March 28, 2009,
• Toronto in the province of Ontario on May 29, 2009,  
• Edmonton in the province of Alberta on October 20, 2009,
• Saskatoon in the province of Saskatchewan on October 21, 2009,
• Montreal in the province of Quebec on October 22, 2009,  
• Surrey in the province of British Columbia on October 20, 2011.  
 
This report is focused on visits by Bush to Calgary Alberta on March 28, 2009 and to Surrey
British Columbia on October 20, 2011. The law and principles cited in this report apply to all
visits to Canada by Bush and others members of the former Bush administration who have been
accused on reasonable grounds of criminal involvement in torture.  
 
On both occasions LAW sent letters to the Prime Minister and ministers of Justice, Immigration,
Public Safety, and Foreign Affairs advising them of Canada’s legal duties to take effective
measures to prevent and punish the torture authorized and directed by the Bush administration
and to ensure that Bush not receive safe haven in Canada from prosecution for torture.  LAW2
advised of the obligation to bar Bush, as an alleged torturer, from entering Canada pursuant to
the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.  
 
LAW advised Canadian officials of the legal obligation to “…arrest the alleged torturer [Bush]
and to carry out proper criminal investigations, as provided for in Article 6, and to submit the
case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution, as stipulated in Article 7(1)”3
once the jurisdictional requirements of the Article 5 of the Convention against Torture and other
Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention)4 were satisfied by Bush’s
presence in Canada.
 
On the occasion of Bush’s visit to Surrey British Columbia, Canada was also advised of the duty
to arrest and prosecute the former president once he entered the country by letter and legal brief
sent jointly by the Canada-based Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) and the New
York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and by a letter and legal brief from Amnesty
International Canada (Amnesty). CCIJ and CCR sent a 69 page draft indictment backed up by
some 4,000 pages of evidence of the widespread and systemic torture used by the U.S. under the
command of Bush in U.S. controlled prisons around the world.5 Amnesty’s letter calling on
Canada to arrest and prosecute Bush was accompanied by a 27 page legal brief outlining the
evidence of torture, Bush’s complicity, and Canada’s legal duty to arrest and prosecute Bush. 6  

READ THE REST: PDF.

Torture on Trial

Cases come in by the thousands from all over the world. A man was beaten and whipped. A woman was beaten and raped. A boy was hooded with three empty sand bags in 100-degree heat all day, starved, beaten, and kept in stress positions. Alleged suicide victims had their hands tied behind their backs, had boot prints on their heads, or turned out to have been electrocuted. There are torture victims covered with cigarette burns, and torture victims with no visible injuries. They need the expert assistance of doctors and lawyers to heal, to win asylum, and to create any sort of accountability in courts of law.

I’ve participated in countless nonviolent protests of torture, including congressional lobbying, panels and seminars, online petition writing, bird-dogging of politicians and judges and professors. I’ve met victims and told their stories and reviewed their books. But I had never spent a day with a crowd of lawyers and doctors who deal with the medical and court struggles arising out of torture cases, not until I attended a conference in February at American University in Washington, DC, entitled “Forensic Evidence in the Fight Against Torture.”

The doctors, lawyers, and others attending and speaking at the conference were from the United States and many other countries. It was not lost on them that they were addressing something different from a “natural” disaster. In their public comments and private discussions I found universal agreement that torture has gained dramatically greater, world-wide public acceptance during the past decade, and that the United States has been the leader in promoting that greater acceptance. While Juan Mendez, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, pointed his finger at Hollywood movies and TV shows in which harsh interrogation techniques succeed in aiding crime solvers, several experts independently told me that by granting legal immunity to torturers, the United States has led by example.

It may be hard to recall that a mere decade ago torture was almost universally condemned here, and had been almost universally condemned in the Western world for centuries (racist exceptions for slavery excluded). By 2004, 43 percent of U.S. respondents to a Pew Research Center survey were saying that torture was often or sometimes justified to gain key information. By 2009, 49 percent said so. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs found that public support for torture increased in the United States from 27 percent in 2004 to 42 percent in 2010. AP-GfK polling found U.S. public support for torture at 38 percent in 2005, increasing to 52 percent by 2009.

That was the society I left behind as I entered the conference rooms of AU’s Washington College of Law to join an international gathering of professionals who still viewed torture as the evil it had been considered by the authors of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which included an absolute ban on “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Jack Straw Faces Legal Action for Playing Bit Part in U.S. Torture Program, the Architects of Which Have Books to Sell You

From BBC:

A Libyan military commander is taking legal action against Jack Straw, to find out if the ex-foreign secretary signed papers allowing his rendition.

Abdel Hakim Belhadj claims CIA agents took him from Thailand to Gaddafi-led Libya, via UK-controlled Diego Garcia.

His lawyers have served papers on Mr Straw after the Sunday Times reported claims that he allowed this to happen.

UK ministers have denied any complicity in rendition or torture and Mr Straw did not comment further.

He said he could not do so because of the ongoing police investigation into the UK's alleged role in illegal rendition.

Earlier this month, the BBC revealed that the UK government had approved the rendition of Mr Belhadj and his wife - Fatima Bouchar - to Col Muammar Gaddafi's regime, though it was unclear at what level.

On 15 April, the Sunday Times published an article, which quoted sources as alleging Mr Straw had personally authorised Mr Belhadj's rendition to Libya.

On Tuesday, Mr Belhadj's lawyers - Leigh Day & Co - served papers on Mr Straw, referencing the article and seeking his response to allegations that he was complicit in torture and misfeasance in public office.

The civil action is against Mr Straw personally - Mr Belhadj's lawyers believe it is the first time legal action of this kind has been taken against a former foreign secretary.

Mr Belhadj and his wife allege Mr Straw was complicit in the "torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, batteries and assaults" which they say were perpetrated on them by Thai and US agents, as well as the Libyan authorities.

They are seeking damages from Mr Straw for the trauma involved.

U.S. Supreme Court Says You Can't Sue Other Nations or Foreign Corporations for Torturing You Either

From Bloomberg:

Torture Suits Against Companies Blocked by Top U.S. Court

 
The U.S. Supreme Court limited the reach of a law that protects American citizens from torture in other countries, ruling that victims can sue only individuals, not organizations or corporations.

The justices unanimously threw out a suit filed against the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian Liberation Organization by the relatives of Azzam Rahim, an American allegedly tortured and murdered in the West Bank during the 1990s.

Video: Aafia Siddiqui and America’s Disappeared – Andy Worthington Speaks at a Protest at the US Embassy in London

By Andy Worthington

On Saturday March 31, I was delighted to be asked to speak at a demonstration outside the US Embassy marking the 9th anniversary of the disappearance of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who vanished with her three children in Karachi on March 30, 2003. It took nearly five and a half years until she reappeared in Afghanistan, where she was arrested by Afghan soldiers, and where, after apparently trying and failing to shoot at the US soldiers to whose custody she had been transferred, she was flown to the United States — rendered, one might say — where she was tried in New York, and, in September 2010, sentenced to 86 years in prison. (Click on the image to make it full-size).

I have written about Aafia Siddiqui’s case on many occasions, and have also spoken about her at several demonstrations and other meetings, but her story never becomes any easier in the telling, as it is so full of holes, involves rumours of her torture, the disappearance of two of her children for many years, and the presumption that her third child, a baby boy, was killed at the time of her disappearance. It also remains opaque and troubling because of the strange circumstances of her capture in 2008, her odd trial, and that hugely draconian sentence. Her alleged role as an al-Qaeda operative remains shadowy, and her current situation remains a source of alarm, as she is held in Carswell, in Fort Worth, Texas, a Federal Medical Center that provides specialized medical and mental health services to female offenders, but that has a terrible reputation for the abuse of the women held there.

The demonstration, which was organised by the Justice for Aafia Coalition, featured several other speakers, whose videos can be found here, and as many of them were speaking eloquently and at length about Dr. Siddiqui’s case, I took the opportunity to explain how she was one of many dozens of “high-value detainees” subjected to extraordinary rendition and torture in the Bush years, and to mention not only how there has been no accountability for those who authorised the program, but also how there has never been an official account of who was held.

We do, however, know that some of the many dozens of prisoners ended up in Guantánamo in September 2006, after years in secret CIA prisons, and I took the opportunity to talk about one of these men, Abu Zubaydah, the first of the “high-value detainees,” for whom the torture program was specifically developed. Zubaydah’s capture took place almost exactly a year before Dr. Siddiqui’s capture, and at the protest I drew on the various elements of this story that I described in my recent article, Ten Years of Torture: On Anniversary of Abu Zubaydah’s Capture, Poland Charges Former Spy Chief Over “Black Site”.

Below is another short video of Lt. Col. Lorraine Barlett, a member of the US Army Judge Advocate General Corps, who is currently serving as a defense counsel with the Office of Military Commissions, representing a Saudi prisoner, Ghassan al-Sharbi, who was charged under President Bush in 2008, but then had those charges dropped. He has not been charged again under President Obama. I was meeting Lt. Col. Barlett, and had suggested meeting at the rally, where I thought she would meet some interesting people, and be well-received, and I will be writing an article about her client in the near future. In the meantime, you can support his release via this Facebook page.

on Rattlesnakes

Render to Caesar, Extraordinarily

April 6, 2012

Exclusive  Consortiumnews.com Editor's Note: On Good Friday, Christians observe the brutal torture and crucifixion of Jesus at the hands of Roman occupiers, but many modern Christians don’t mind when it’s “their” side doing the extraordinary renditions of alleged subversives to be tortured and sometimes killed, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern notes.

By Ray McGovern

Some of us pause on Good Friday to mark the torture and death of a high-value detainee rendered, extraordinarily, to Roman occupiers.

Although the charges against Jesus of Nazareth were trumped up, the Romans decided to err on the safe side by going to the “dark side.” They applied enhanced torture techniques with the ultimate hanging.

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