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A Plea to Obama from Father of Detainee

By Del Quentin Wilber, Washington Post

The father of a detainee at a U.S. military prison in Afghanistan sent a letter (PDF) this week to President Obama pleading for his son's release, writing that "my heart aches when I consider the terrible and degrading treatment he has been forced to endure."

The letter comes a week after a federal judge ruled that the man, Amin al-Bakri, may challenge his detention in a federal lawsuit. Bakri, 39, is a Yemeni who was captured by U.S. authorities in Thailand in 2002, his lawyers say. He is being held at the U.S. military prison at Bagram air base.

America's Moment of Truth on Torture

JURIST Guest Columnist Benjamin Davis of the University of Toledo College of Law says that three memos written by the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel in the Bush administration authorizing specific interrogation techniques amounting to torture need to be disclosed and should not be held back for fear of political reprisals....


Rather than mid-April being only a key date for tax filings, it is quickly becoming a moment of truth on torture for America.

On April 16, 2009 the Obama Administration will have to file a submission in court and decide whether to publicly disclose under a Freedom of Information Act request three memos written by the Office of Legal Counsel in the previous administration that authorized specific interrogation techniques that are torture. Published reports suggest that a battle is roiling in the highest levels of the government about publicly releasing those memos as well as the Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility’s allegedly scathing review of the lawyering of the memos' key architects. It is also reported that the nominations of Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel and Dean Harold Hongju Koh to be the United States Department of State Legal Adviser are being threatened or held hostage by members of the Senate who are strongly resisting the release of the memos and the review, threatening to “go nuclear.”

D.C. Circuit Court Decision Refuses to Allow Advance Notice Before a Guantánamo Detainee is Transferred

From Center for Constitutional Rights

Decision Would Increase the Risk of Illegal Transfers to Torture

Washington, DC. - Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued its opinion in Kiyemba v. Obama. The Court vacated the district court decision, which had required the government to give thirty days advance notice before an individual is transferred from Guantánamo. The Court held that it could not test the Executive’s promise not to transfer someone to a country where he could be tortured.

In response, Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Emi MacLean, issued the following statement:

Red Cross Report Now Posted Online

PDF here.

Commentary by Raw Story here.

UC Berkeley: John Yoo's Job is Safe

UC Berkeley: John Yoo's Job is Safe
By Robert Gammon | East Bay Express

UC Berkeley law school Dean Christopher Edley has reaffirmed his position that the tenured job of notorious law professor John Yoo is safe. In an op-ed published in the Contra Costa Times over the weekend, Edley repeated his stance from last year that there is basically nothing that the university can do unless Yoo is convicted of a crime. Edley's piece came in response to a CC Times and Oakland Tribune editorial that expressed concerns that the university intended to punish the man who enabled torture. Great. So now both of our East Bay mainstream dailies desperately want to protect the right of a professor to authorize torture, as does the University of California. We certainly live among the truly courageous, don't we?

Red Cross Report: Medical Officers 'Participated in Torture'

Red Cross Report: Medical Officers 'Participated in Torture'
By Diane Sweet | Raw Story

A confidential report by the International Committee of the Red Cross has revealed that medical officers and health personnel supervised, and in some cases assisted as detainees were deprived of food, exposed to extreme temperatures, and subjected to waterboarding. A copy of the 2007 report was posted on a magazine web site Monday night. The report quotes one medical official telling a detainee: "I look after your body only because we need you for information."

The new details of alleged CIA interrogation practices are contained in a 43-page volume written by ICRC officials who were given unprecedented access to the CIA's'high-value detainees' in 2006.

New Report: Generals Knew About Guantanamo Torture, Lied to Congress Hotlist

By mcjoan

Yet more information is trickling out on the BushCo torture regime. Via Jeralyn, the Seton Hall Law Center for Policy and Research (the watchdogs on the bogus released-prisoners-turned-terrorist numbers) have issued a new report [pdf] on the FBI and DoD role in torture at Guantanamo.

From the press release:

READ THE REST

 

Holder and Powell Ain’t Misbehavin’

Holder and Powell Ain’t Misbehavin’
By Ray McGovern

I used to take a certain pride by association with prominent Bronxites who have “made it.” Cancel that for Attorney General Eric Holder and former secretary of state Colin Powell.

Why would they want to whitewash torture, given what blacks have suffered at the hands of torturers in this country and abroad?

And why is it that they seem to value more their entrée into a privileged white-dominated ruling class than doing the right thing? How else to explain their stunning reluctance to hold torturers accountable and thus remove the stain of torture from our nation’s soul and reputation?

What’s Holding Holder?

British Complicity in Rendition and Torture Pre-dates 9/11

CAGEPRISONERS

A new report by Cageprisoners into the involvement of British authorities in torture and rendition details alarming findings that are too recurrent to ignore. Today Cageprisoners publishes, Fabricating Terrorism II: British Complicity in Renditions and Torture, which highlights 29 cases of individuals who have been subjected to renditions or torture with recurrent allegations of the direct involvement of the British officials even before 9/11.

Strongly reminiscent of the case of former Guantanamo prisoner Binyam Mohamed, the report details the experiences of Farid Hilali, who, years prior to the 'War on Terror' in 1998, was first tortured in Dubai, UAE and then rendered to Morocco where he was further abused – all with the knowledge and collusion of British intelligence officials.

Spokesman for Cageprisoners, Moazzam Begg, said of the report,

Torture Claims Shadow U.S. War on Terror

Torture claims shadow U.S. war on terror
By Jonathan Mann | CNN

U.S. President Barack Obama met with his NATO allies in Strasbourg, France on Friday to talk about his plans for the war in Afghanistan, his "front line in the war on terror."

But the U.S. war on terror has some dark secrets and Obama hasn't really wanted to talk about them.

In Spain, a crusading judge named Baltasar Garzon is reviewing the case of several men who say they were tortured at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In Washington, Senator Patrick Leahy has been asking similar questions that people around the world want answered:

Did the U.S. really torture prisoners, did it secretly transfer some to other countries specifically to be tortured and did senior officials authorize it?

Leahy says: "We can't turn the page unless we first read the page."

Conyers Wants Holder to Appoint a Special Counsel to Probe Bush Crimes

Conyers Wants Holder to Appoint a Special Counsel to Probe Bush Crimes
By Jason Leopold | The Public Record

On Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers quietly released the final draft of an extensive report he first unveiled in January documenting the Bush administration’s “unreviewable war powers” and the possible crimes committed in implementing those policies.

In order to determine whether Bush officials broke laws, Conyers has recommended that Attorney General Eric Holder appoint a special prosecutor to launch a criminal inquiry to investigate, among other things, whether “enhanced interrogation techniques” used against alleged terrorist detainees violated international and federal laws against torture.

“The Attorney General should appoint a Special Counsel to determine whether there were criminal violations committed pursuant to Bush Administration policies that were undertaken under unreviewable war powers, including enhanced interrogation, extraordinary rendition, and warrantless domestic surveillance,” Conyers’s report says. “In this regard, the report firmly rejects the notion that we should move on from these matters.”

Guantánamo at Home

Guantánamo at Home
By Jeanne Theoharis | The Nation

Two days after being sworn in as the forty-fourth president of the United States, Barack Obama signed three executive orders, banning torture, requiring the CIA to use the same methods as the military in interrogating terror suspects, shutting down the network of secret CIA prisons and shuttering the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, within a year. "What the cynics fail to understand," the president proclaimed in his inaugural address, "is that the ground has shifted beneath them."

But where exactly has the ground shifted? The places of focus--and much of the furor against Bush's terror politics over the past few years--are outside our nation's borders, in distant lands and faraway prisons. The problem of torture and other human rights violations in America's "war on terror" has been framed as a problem that happens largely beyond our shores. The underlying assumption is that if Guantánamo detainees were to be tried on United States soil and in federal courts (as many groups demand), such egregious abuses would not occur.

An Arrest Warrant for al-Bashir, Could Bush Be Next?

An Arrest Warrant for al-Bashir, Could Bush Be Next?

Three Bagram Detainees Can Challenge Their Imprisonment, Judge Rules

Three Bagram Detainees Can Challenge Their Imprisonment, Judge Rules
By William Fisher | The Public Record

In what could become an historic decision, a Federal judge has ruled that non-Afghan citizens rendered by the U.S. to Bagram prison in Afghanistan have a constitutional right to challenge their detention in American civilian courts.

The decision by Federal Judge John Bates was a stunning rejection of unlimited power for the executive branch of government espoused by former President George W. Bush and his successor, President Barack Obama.

Inquiry into torture allegations announced

By Ian Cobain, The Guardian

MPs are to undertake the most far-reaching inquiry into Britain's role in human rights abuses in decades as allegations mount to suggest that officials repeatedly breached international law.

The Commons foreign affairs select committee will examine Britain's involvement in the detention, transfer and interrogation of prisoners held during the so-called war on terror. Among the matters to be examined later in the year are allegations, reported in the Guardian over the past two years, that British intelligence officers colluded in the torture of Britons held in Pakistan and Egypt.

‘Holy Hell’ Over Torture Memos

Attorney General Eric Holder wants to release classified Bush-era interrogation memos. But U.S. intel officials are fiercely lobbying the White House to block him from moving forward.
Michael Isikoff, Newsweek

A fierce internal battle within the White House over the disclosure of internal Justice Department interrogation memos is shaping up as a major test of the Obama administration's commitment to opening up government files about Bush-era counterterrorism policy.

DOJ Watchdog 'Revising' Report Critical Of John Yoo's Legal Work On Torture

DOJ Watchdog 'Revising' Report Critical Of John Yoo's Legal Work On Torture
By Jason Leopold of The Public Record | Consortium News

Before leaving office, senior Bush administration lawyers secured changes in a Justice Department watchdog agency’s report that reportedly was sharply critical of legal opinions granting President George W. Bush sweeping powers, including the right to abuse “war on terror” captives.

In a letter to two U.S. senators, the Justice Department said the changes to the report by the Office of Professional Responsibility followed comments from then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey, then-Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip and the Office of Legal Counsel, which was still run by Steven Bradbury, one of three lawyers who had been singled out for criticism in OPR's initial draft.

National Geographic Explorer: Inside Guantanamo - Watch This Sunday, April 5th

National Geographic Explorer: Inside Guantanamo | Watch This Sunday, April 5th | Check site & your local listings for other dates, times

ACLU Demands Obama Release Torture Memos

ACLU demands Obama release torture memos | Raw Story

The American Civil Liberties Union has called on the Obama administration to end debate ahead of a approaching court deadline in their Freedom of Information Act case which seeks the release of three Office of Legal Counsel memos that are believed to have authorized torture of prisoners in CIA custody.

The memos were written by Stephen Bradbury in May 2005 when he was a lawyer at the Justice Department.

On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that Obama officials are hotly debating whether to release the memos. White House Counsel Gregory Craig and Attorney General Eric Holder are apparently in favor of releasing the memos "as quickly as possible to distance the new administration from the most controversial policies of the Bush years."

Leahy Bails on 'Truth Commission' Plan

Leahy Bails on 'Truth Commission' Plan
By Charlotte Dennett | Consortium News

So now, it seems, the wrecked economy – complements of the Bush administration -- is becoming the excuse for congressional inaction after eight years of unremitting malfeasance by the Bush administration.

Consortium Editor’s Note: The U.S. government seems paralyzed at the prospect of holding ex-President George W. Bush and other senior officials accountable for war crimes, even as Spanish investigative judge Baltasar Garzon initiates an inquiry under international law regarding torture sanctioned by Bush’s lawyers.

In this guest essay, investigative journalist and former candidate for Vermont attorney general, Charlotte Dennett, describes a meeting with Sen. Patrick Leahy in which he acknowledges the failure of his plan for a “truth commission”:

Those of you following the George W. Bush prosecution trail will be interested to know that Patrick Leahy’s “truth commission” is a no-go. I was in a meeting with Leahy and four other Vermonters on Monday when he broke the news to us.

Rachel Maddow Interviews Gen. Colin Powell on Discussions Within The Principals Committee Meetings

Rachel Maddow Interviews Gen. Colin Powell on Discussions Within The Principals Committee Meetings

Obama, War Crimes and Defending the Status Quo

Obama, war crimes and defending the status quo
By Alan James Strachan, Ph.D. | Online Journal

Turley states, "It is just as bad to prevent the investigation and prosecution of a war crime as its commission because you become part of it." He later remarks, "This is the most well-defined and publicly known crime I have seen in my lifetime. There is no debate about it. There is no ambiguity. It is well known. You've got people involved who have basically admitted the elements of a war crime that we are committed to prosecuting. We don't need a truth and reconciliation commission because we are already reconciled to the rule of law. There is nothing to reconcile to. What the people have to reconcile are the people who broke the law. They need to reconcile with the law. And he [Obama] happens to be having a debate with one of those people as if they are talking about some quaint notion of policy."

President Obama recently delivered a stinging rebuke to former Vice President Cheney on the issue of torture.

President Obama: Small `Change' and the Mendacity of `Hope'

By Dave Lindorff

We are witnessing one of the fastest betrayals of the Democratic Party base in modern memory, as President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party leadership in the Senate slither away from a crucial constituency, the labor movement, and from support of labor’s key legislative agenda item: passage of a bill, “The Employee Free Choice Act,” which would restore a measure of fairness to labor relations.

Spanish Court Considers Trying Former US officials

Spanish court considers trying former US officials
By Paul Haven, AP Press Writer | Yahoo!News

A Spanish court has agreed to consider opening a criminal case against six former Bush administration officials, including former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, over allegations they gave legal cover for torture at Guantanamo Bay, a lawyer in the case said Saturday.

Human rights lawyers brought the case before leading anti-terror judge Baltasar Garzon, who agreed to send it on to prosecutors to decide whether it had merit, Gonzalo Boye, one of the lawyers who brought the charges, told The Associated Press.

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