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Torture


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.

Bradley Manning's treatment was cruel and inhuman, UN torture chief rules

From The Guardian:

The UN special rapporteur on torture has formally accused the US government of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Bradley Manning, the US soldier who was held in solitary confinement for almost a year on suspicion of being the WikiLeaks source.

Juan Mendez has completed a 14-month investigation into the treatment of Manning since the soldier's arrest at a US military base in May 2010. He concludes that the US military was at least culpable of cruel and inhumane treatment in keeping Manning locked up alone for 23 hours a day over an 11-month period in conditions that he also found might have constituted torture.

"The special rapporteur concludes that imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence," Mendez writes.

'But That Would Be Torture!'

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

I just received an object lesson into how easily we Americans are able to compartmentalize our principles and our sense of basic human decency.

 

My father, David Lindorff Sr., who is 89 (and an occasional contributor to ThisCantBeHappening!), recently took a bad fall, hitting the back of his head on the bedpost and suffering a concussion that has temporarily left him with some periods of confusion. In the rehab facility where he was recovering, he would sometimes, when he was tired and half-asleep, get confused about his location, and would try to climb out of the hospital bed he was in, putting him at risk of another serious fall. 

 

A Festival of Conscience in New York


Festival of Conscience is being run in conjunction with the play, "Another Life", about the collective trauma post-9/11, greed, war and the ensuing U.S. torture program. Both events are produced by Theater Three Collaborative, Inc. in residence at the Irondale Center, Fort Greene, Brooklyn; March 8-24, 2012.

Tickets:  http://www.irondale.org/Anotherlife.html

The goal of this three-week series is to foster meaningful dialogues across disciplines to address the most pressing questions facing us today:  What kind of nation have we become?  What kind of country do we want to be?

Festival of Conscience Calendar of Events

 

Darius Rejali presents: Torture & Democracy

Thursday, March 8

One of the United States foremost experts on torture discusses his latest book, Torture and Democracy, whichwon the 2007 Human Rights Book of the Year Award from the American Political Science Association, and the state of the US torture program ten years after 9/11.

 

Blackwater Revisited, Conversations of Privatization, Torture, and War From the Front Lines

Friday, March 9

From the front lines in the fight against Blackwater and Abu Ghraib, lawyer Susan Burke, who brought suits against private contracting firms for their role in the torture program, and Donovan Webster, journalist and author who accompanied Susan to Iraq to take testimony from torture survivors talk about their experience.

 

Tortured and Torturers

Saturday, March 10

Tortured and torturers: a contrasting discussion on how soldiers came to torture, and the consequences for both the victims and the perpetrators. The event will feature Zeke Johnson, National Security Director of Amnesty International and Joshua Phillips, author of None of Us Were Like This Before: Americans Soldiers and Torture, the story of American soldiers who tortured in Iraq.

 

Faith and Terror, Part 1

Tuesday, March 13

Religious leaders, journalists and activists come together for a two-part discussion about consciousness, belief, torture, and resistance. Join the National Religious Campaign Against Torture’s Director of Program Coordination John Humphries and New York St. Mary’s Episcopal Reverent Earl Kooperkamp for dialogue about faith, torture, and the religious communities response to torture and war in the shadow of 9/11.

 

South of the Constitution: Ten Years at Guantanamo

Wednesday, March 14

Lawyers representing Guantanamo detainees and Amnesty International discuss and debate Guantanamo today. The event features Tom Parker, National Security Director, Amnesty International, DC, and Baher Azmy, Legal Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights.

 

Intersection

Thursday, March 15

Activists and authors discuss the intersections of torture, militarism, and the prison-industrial complex.

 

The War On Terror Comes Home

Friday, March 16

Lawyers, family members, and community leaders discuss how the war on terror has affected Arab Americans, and what is being done to change it. Leading the evening is Pardiss Kebriaei, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights currently working against the backlash of the domestic war on terror.

 

Occupy Movement Presents: A History of Non-Violent Resistance

Saturday, March 17

The Occupy Movement premiere a new documentary on the history of nonviolent resistance created for Occupy by videographer Paul McIsaac, plus performance by the high school students from Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Bailey’s Café arts initiative.

 

Women and Resistance

Tuesday, March 20

In conjunction with Women’s History Month, Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin and eco-feminist Ynestra King will lead a discussion with prominent women’s anti-war activists on women's role in the movements’ against militarism, nuclear weapons, war, and torture.

 

Mark Danner presents: Torture and the Forever War

Wednesday, March 21

Mark Danner Presents: Torture and the Forever War. Writer and Berkeley professor Mark Danner talks about the permanent "new normal" when it comes to human rights and torture in the post-9/11 era.

 

Faith and Terror, Part 2

Thursday, March 22

Religious leaders, journalists and activists come together for a two-part discussion about consciousness, belief, torture, and resistance.  Rabbi Simkha Weintraub of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, author David Swanson, and activist and CUNY professor Ramzi Kassem talk about the faith-based response to torture and the recent Witness Against Torture actions in Washington DC.

 

A Decade of Torture and Law

Friday, March 23

International human rights leaders Gabor Rona of Human Rights First, Jonathan Hafetz, of Seton Hall Law, and Alexander Abdo of the ACLU leads the night with the highs and lows in the legal battles against torture.

 

Closing Evening and Reception

Saturday March 24

In the finale of ‘Another Life’, playwright and producer Karen Malpede sits with Larry Siems, author of The Torture Report to discuss her inspiration, research, and motivations in developing and producing the play. Reception to follow.

The US and Its Dark Passenger

 

By John Grant

 

I could have been a vicious raving monster who killed and killed and left towers of rotting flesh in my wake. Instead, here I was on the side of truth, justice and the American way. Still a monster, of course, but I cleaned up nicely afterward, and I was OUR monster, dressed in red, white and blue 100 percent synthetic virtue.
 
-Jeff Lindsay
Dearly Devoted Dexter

 


I teach creative writing in a maximum security prison in Philadelphia. During the week I scour two thrift shops for 35-cent paperbacks that I haul in to stock a small lending library I created for inmates. Amazingly, the prison had no library.

Drones and Special Forces Invite Payback: Time for a Return to Sanity and Peace

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

The attacks and attempted attacks this week on Israeli embassy personnel in Georgia, India and Thailand should serve as a serious warning to the people of both Israel and the US that there will be an increasingly heavy price to pay for the kind of government-sponsored terror that both countries have long practiced, and that too many Americans and Israelis have mindlessly cheered on.

 

The technology of terror has become so wide-spread, and the materials needed to construct magnetically-attached  car bombs, cell-phone detonators, armor-piercing IEDs, diesel/fertilizer bombs and the like, so accessable at consumer shops, hardware stores and local junkyards, that any government, and even any relatively savvy non-government group, can assemble and employ them.

Rights Group Submits Declaration Detailing Torture to Spanish Court after Judge Issues Order to Proceed with Guantánamo Torture Investigation

Document Highlights Treatment of Acknowledged Torture Victim

Mohammed al Qahtani, Helps Set Stage for Prosecution of Bush Administration Officials

February 8, 2012, New York and Madrid – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) submitted a declaration to a Spanish court detailing the torture of Mohammed al Qahtani, who has been detained without charge or trial at Guantánamo since 2002. The submission follows Spanish Investigating Judge Pablo Ruz Gutierrez’s recent order to proceed with the probe into the U.S. torture program.

Mr. al Qahtani was the victim of the “First Special Interrogation Plan,” a regime of aggressive interrogation techniques amounting to torture personally authorized by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.  Mr. al Qahtani is the only prisoner held at Guantánamo Bay the U.S. has officially admitted to torturing. Mr. al Qahtani’s treatment, much of which is described in detail in the declaration through his own words, includes 48 days of sleep deprivation, 20-hour interrogations, forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, physical force, prolonged stress positions, and prolonged sensory overstimulation. In addition, the document details the effects of the interrogation, which included Mr. al Qahtani’s severe emotional distress, inability to control his bladder, and visual and auditory hallucinations. Time Magazine obtained and published a detailed log of his interrogations in 2005.

Katherine Gallagher, a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitution Rights, said, “This declaration details the severe psychological and physical trauma suffered by Mr. al Qahtani as a result of the brutal treatment he was subjected to at Guantánamo through techniques that are in direct violation of the Geneva Convention and the Convention Against Torture. That the high-level U.S. officials alleged to be responsible for this criminal conduct, including Donald Rumsfeld and Geoffrey Miller, continue to enjoy impunity domestically is a stain on the U.S. system of justice.  We hope that this declaration will provide valuable evidence for use in holding these officials accountable in Spain, a venue that is willing to investigate torture.”

The declaration, compiled from Mr. al Qahtani’s own accounts by his attorney at CCR, provides a thorough description of his treatment in response to Judge Ruz’s request for more information about the program. Former CCR attorney Gitanjali Gutierrez conducted client interviews with Mr. al Qahtani during 27 trips to Guantánamo between December 2005 and November 2009.  The declaration identifies Major General Geoffrey Miller as responsible for both authorizing and implementing the interrogation techniques used on Mr. al Qahtani that led to his torture.  Miller was the commander of Guantánamo and was later implicated in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal after being appointed Deputy Commanding General of Detention Operations in Iraq.

Wolfgang Kaleck, Secretary General of the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), which joined CCR in providing a dossier outlining Geoffrey Miller’s liability for torture to Judge Ruz last year, said  “The way the United States has dealt with established torture claims has been appalling. Those claims are now in the hands of the Spanish judiciary. Today’s submission before Judge Ruz greatly adds to the evidence previously presented against Geoffrey Miller and we hope the judge will act on it.”  

The case, which Judge Ruz inherited from Judge Baltasar Garzón, has been ongoing since April 2009, when Garzón opened a preliminary investigation into what he termed “an authorized and systematic plan of torture and ill-treatment on persons deprived of their freedom without any charge and without the basic rights of any detainee…” The investigation stemmed from a previous court case in which four former Guantánamo detainees at the center of the case were found to have been tortured. That investigation concluded that facts of the case related to violations under the Spanish Penal Code, the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions, the Convention Against Torture, the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Organic Law of the Judicial Power (article 23.4.) Judge Ruz’s recent order was precipitated, in part, by a decision to proceed with the investigation after the U.S. and U.K. governments failed to respond to letters rogatory issued by the Spanish court that requested information about any domestic investigations in those countries.

Details about the ongoing case in Spain and the full declaration are available here and here, respectively. Information about on-going litigation in U.S. courts related to Mr. al Qahtani is available here: http://www.ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/al-qahtani-v.-bush%2C-al-qahtani-v.-gates.

CCR filed cases against Donald Rumsfeld in Germany and France, and released a Bush Torture Indictment, under the Convention Against Torture, ready to be tailored to the specific laws of any of the 147 signatory countries to the Convention Against Torture where he may travel.  CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo in the U.S. for the last 10 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country to represent the men at Guantanamo, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation. Among other Guantánamo cases, the Center represents the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking justice in international courts.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org and follow @theCCR.

Mumia: The Picture!

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

Something very small and yet enormous happened this past week.

 

On Feb. 2, two women who have been fighting for the freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal, filmmaker/professor Johanna Fernandez and National Lawyers Guild Heidi  Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, visited Abu-Jamal, as each has done in the past, but this time, because he has been moved off of death row, for the first time since 1995, he was able to greet them with a hug--free of leg shackles and handcuffs.

 

For the first time too, since 1995, there is a photo to record that seemingly mundane and ordinary event.

 

Aldermen Back Resolution Declaring Chicago A ‘Torture-Free Zone’

From CBS:

CHICAGO (CBS) – A City Council committee has endorsed a resolution that would declare Chicago a “Torture-Free Zone.”

As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, the Committee on Human Relations held a hearing Thursday morning to discuss a resolution that would declare “the Mayor and the City Council of the City of Chicago stand firm against all forms of torture and inhuman treatment, and hereby proclaim Chicago to be a torture-free zone.”

Droning on... and on, across whole countries... with secret military & CIA programs...

In Air America: Under the Imperial Eye, Chris Floyd reports on the recent revelation that Iraq's supposedly "sovereign airspace" is constantly under surveillance by a network of drones operated by the State Department. Apparently the only reason this news came to light is because of a publicly available government appeal for private bids on the project. Neither we nor Iraqis were meant to know:

"Iraqis were outraged this week to find they are being spied upon by a fleet of American drones hovering constantly in their supposedly sovereign skies, long after the supposed withdrawal of American forces."

'People Power' Pries Abu-Jamal from Punitive Administrative Custody

 

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

He’s out!

Credit ‘people power’ for getting internationally known inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal sprung from his apparently punitive, seven-week placement in ‘The Hole.’

For the first time since receiving a controversial death sentence in 1982 for killing a Philadelphia policeman, the widely acclaimed author-activist finds himself in general population, a prison housing status far less restrictive than the solitary confinement of death row.

Inmates in general population have full privileges to visitation, telephone and commissary, along with access to all prison programs and services, all things denied or severely limited to convicts on death row waiting to be killed by the state.

Correction: Rare Admission of Mistake in Mumia Case

 

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

I made a mistake.

An article I wrote recently for TCBH about the Pennsylvania prison system’s latest punitive assault on now ex-death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal (unnecessarily continuing his solitary confinement) contained a factual misstatement.

Most journalists consider any inaccuracy an error, regardless of how small.

The Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists calls for admitting “mistakes” and correcting them promptly.

Video: Watch John Yoo Badly Lose a Debate

Leslie Harris was there and wrote this report.

N.C. Human Rights Group Report on Torture Flights

Human rights group calls on state to probe alleged 'torture flights'

19 January 2012 - A North Carolina human rights group is calling on state officials to investigate and stop alleged CIA missions originating in Johnston County that involve illegal torture.

North Carolina Stop Torture Now delivered a University of North Carolina School of Law report Wednesday to the governor, attorney general and others that claims the Central Intelligence Agency relies on Smithfield-based Aero Contractors Ltd. to provide planes and pilots to transport prisoners overseas from the Johnston County Airport for secret interrogation using torture techniques.

Sadism in the Cell: Thanks to a Vindictive Prison System, Abu-Jamal is Still in 'The Hole'

 

By Linn Washington, Jr.


Those intent on tormenting now ex-death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal have done it again, this time perhaps even exceeding their past efforts to painfully harass this man widely perceived as a political prisoner. 

Feds Sued For 'Torture Tape' Of So-Called 20th Hijacker

From WPIX:

Now, the Center for Constitutional Rights claims to have evidence of mistreatment of at least one detainee, Mohammed Al-Qahtani. He was believed to have been recruited by Al Qaeda to be one of the enforcers aboard the four hijacked planes on 9/11. He failed to join the 19 other terrorists because he was refused entry into the U.S. days earlier. He was subsequently hunted down, arrested in Afghanistan, and detained at the Guantanamo Bay compound. He has never gone to trial.

The human rights group claims Qahtani was tortured and subjected to "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" and that the Center's lawyers have seen videotape that proves it. The group has filed suit in federal court, demanding that the government release the tape for the public to see.

White House and State Department are in No Position to Issue Credible Denials Regarding Spying Charges

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

I wouldn’t want to be Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, the 28-year-old former US Marine just recently sentenced to death by a court in Iran after being convicted of being an American spy.

 

Hekmati, who was born in Arizona to Iranian exile parents, and who grew up in Michigan, is being defended by President Obama, whose White House spokesman Tommy Vietor, declared, “Allegations that Mr. Hekmati either worked for, or was sent to Iran by the CIA are false.” The White House, not content with that denial, went on to trash the Iranian government and legal system, with Vietor adding, “The Iranian regime has a history of falsely accusing people of being spies, of eliciting forced confessions, and of holding innocent Americans for political reasons.”

 

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