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Justice Department Releases Bush Administration Torture Memos

Justice Department Releases Bush Administration Torture Memos | ACLU Press Release
Bradbury And Bybee Memos Are Released In Response To Long-Running ACLU Lawsuits

In response to litigation filed by the American Civil Liberties Union under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Justice Department today released four secret memos used by the Bush administration to justify torture. The memos, produced by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), provided the legal framework for the CIA's use of waterboarding and other illegal interrogation methods that violate domestic and international law.

Administration to Release Bush-era Interrogation Memos

Administration to release Bush-era interrogation memos | CNN

The Obama administration released four Bush-era memos on terror interrogations Thursday.

Also on Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder said that CIA officials will not be prosecuted for waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics that had been sanctioned during the Bush administration.

The memos, written by a top Justice Department lawyer, provided legal guidance to the entire executive branch, including the intelligence agencies, on permissible "enhanced interrogation techniques" that could be used against suspected terrorists taken into custody.

"My judgment on the content of these memos is a matter of record," President Obama said Thursday.

No Charges Against CIA Officials for Waterboarding

No Charges Against CIA Officials for Waterboarding
Attorney General Eric Holder Won't Prosecute CIA Officials for Harsh Interrogations, Waterboarding
By Jennifer Loven and Devlin Barrett | ABCNews

Seeking to move beyond what he calls a "a dark and painful chapter in our history," President Barack Obama said Thursday that CIA officials who used harsh interrogation tactics during the Bush administration will not be prosecuted.
The government released four memos in which Bush-era lawyers approved in often graphic detail tough interrogation methods used against 28 terror suspects. The rough tactics range from waterboarding — simulated drowning — to keeping suspects naked and withholding solid food.Even as they exposed new details of the interrogation program, Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, offered the first definitive assurance that those CIA officials are in the clear, as long as their actions were in line with the legal advice at the time.

Obama said the nation must protect the identity of CIA contractors and employees "as vigilantly as they protect our security."

"We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history," the president said. "But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past."

Holder told the CIA that the government would provide free legal representation to CIA employees in any legal proceeding or congressional investigation related to the program and would repay any financial judgment.

"It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department," Holder said.

More Torture Memos Released, Along With Announcement That Torturers Won't Be Prosecuted

New memo from Jay Bybee: PDF. This purports to give "legal" permission to engage in various detailed torture techniques against Abu Zubaydah. We know what was done from the ICRC report and other sources, and that it produced nothing of value. We know why the CIA detroyed the 92 tapes. But here is the authorization from the "Justice" department. The man who wrote it is now a federal appeals judge on the 9th circuit. If he is not impeached, Congress will essentially cease to exist as a branch of our government. ASK CONGRESS TO IMPEACH BYBEE.

Bradbury Memos:
Memo 1.
Memo 2.
Memo 3.

Early announcement was in NY Times.

And Obama tells torturers they will not be prosecuted:
Below is AP story and statements from DOJ and POTUS

No charges against CIA officials for waterboarding

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration on Thursday informed CIA officials who used waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics on terror suspects that they will not be prosecuted, senior administration officials told The Associated Press.

CIA Has 3,000 Docs on Torture Tapes

CIA Has 3,000 Docs on Torture Tapes
By Jason Leopold | Consortium News | March 21, 2009

The CIA has about 3,000 documents related to the 92 destroyed videotapes that showed “war on terror” detainees being subjected to harsh interrogations, the Justice Department has disclosed, suggesting an extensive back-and-forth between CIA field operatives and officials of the Bush administration.

The Justice Department said the documents include “cables, memoranda, notes and e-mails” related to the destroyed CIA videotapes. Those tapes included 12 that showed two “high-value” prisoners undergoing the drowning sensation caused by waterboarding and other brutal techniques that have been widely denounced as torture.

Abu Ghraib Victims Can Sue Interrogators

By William Fisher, The Public Record

In a ruling that could have widespread implications for government contractors overseas, a federal court has concluded that four former Abu Ghraib detainees, who were tortured and later released without charge, can sue the U.S. military contractor who was involved in conducting prisoner interrogations for the Pentagon in Iraq.

U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee, appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1998, denied a motion to dismiss the detainees’ claims by the contractor, CACI International. The Arlington, Virginia-based company is a major contractor to the Defense Department.

The former detainees allege multiple violations of U.S. law, including torture, war crimes and civil conspiracy.


By Jordan J. Paust

From Valparaiso University Law Review

With permission of the author


Will Obama Block Release of Key Bush-era Torture Memos?

Jeremy Scahill reviews the question here.

The memos may be released tomorrow or not or released in highly redacted form, in which case an impeachment of Jay Bybee would be an ideal forum in which to demand to see the blacked-out parts of his memo.

Marcy Wheeler pins down what they are afraid to release in: It’s Not the Water-Boarding, It’s the Blows to the Head.

Torture-Backing Propagandist Furious at Spanish Effort to Enforce the Law


Nice that Fox News couldn't find a talking head in Spain who could stick to their talking points.



Guantanamo Detainee Claims Abuse

Guantanamo detainee claims abuse | al Jazeera

An inmate in the US prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has told Al Jazeera that he has been beaten while in custody and had tear gas used on him after refusing to leave his cell.

Mohammad al-Qaraani, a Chadian national, said in a phone call to Al Jazeera that the alleged ill-treatment "started about 20 days" before Barack Obama became US president and "since then I've been subjected to it almost every day".

"Since Obama took charge he has not shown us that anything will change," he said.

On his second day in office, Obama ordered the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison, which has been heavily criticised by rights groups over reports of ill-treatment of detainees.

Guantanamo detainee claims abuse

Guantanamo detainee claims abuse | al Jazeera

An inmate in the US prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has told Al Jazeera that he has been beaten while in custody and had tear gas used on him after refusing to leave his cell.

Mohammad al-Qaraani, a Chadian national, said in a phone call to Al Jazeera that the alleged ill-treatment "started about 20 days" before Barack Obama became US president and "since then I've been subjected to it almost every day".

"Since Obama took charge he has not shown us that anything will change," he said.

On his second day in office, Obama ordered the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison, which has been heavily criticised by rights groups over reports of ill-treatment of detainees.

Obama Tilts to CIA on Memos

Obama Tilts to CIA on Memos
Top Officials at Odds Over Whether to Withhold Some Details on Interrogation Tactics
By Evan Perez and Siobhan Gorman | WSJ

Leon Panetta, the CIA director, has been described by some officials as initially favoring release, then later pulling back from that view. Other officials say Mr. Panetta always favored releasing only legal outlines. Making those details public, one official said, would make CIA officials disinclined to take any risks in the future.

Editorial note: Gee whiz, does that mean that the CIA is worried that it would have to abide by international treaties to which the US is a signatory, and therefore, the treaties are part of our Constitution, in the future? Just asking...

Recruitment and Torture

Anatomy of Bush's Torture 'Paradigm'

Anatomy of Bush's Torture 'Paradigm'
By Ray McGovern

The prose of the recently leaked report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on torture seems colorless. It is at the same time obscene — almost pornographic.

The 41-page ICRC report depicts scenes of prisoners forced to remain naked for long periods, sometimes in the presence of women, often with their hands shackled over their heads in "stress positions" as they are left to soil themselves.

The report's images of sadism also include prisoners slammed against walls, locked in tiny boxes, and strapped to a bench and subjected to the drowning sensation of waterboarding.

How could it be that we Americans tolerate the kind of leaders who would subject others to systematic torture — yes, that’s what the official report of the international body charged with monitoring the Geneva agreements on the treatment of prisoners concludes — torture.

ICRC's Damning Expose of US Torture

ICRC's Damning Expose of US Torture
by Stephen Lendman

On March 12, Mark Danner, in a New York Times op-ed and The New York Review of Books, wrote about the ICRC's revelations of "US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites." He said George Bush (in 2007) "informed the world that the United States had created a dark and secret universe to hold and interrogate captured 'terrorists,' " - at locations outside America, Guantanamo and elsewhere.

Operated by the CIA, it "used an alternative set of procedures....designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution and our treaty obligations. The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively and determined them to be lawful."

We must confront the torturers who acted in our name

By Robyn Blumner, St. Petersburg Times

Let's see, a U.S. court successfully convicted the son of the brutal former president of Liberia, Charles Taylor, of torturing his father's political opponents. But we're going to leave it to a Spanish judge to go after our own Torquemadas?

A Spanish court has targeted former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as well former Justice Department lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee -- who is now a federal appellate judge -- along with three other administration lawyers, in an investigation into the torture of five Spanish residents who were prisoners at Guantanamo.

America is Simply Losing It Folks

By Dave Lindorff

Reading the latest AP report on how American citizens are being snatched up, detained and deported (sic) by the Immigration and Naturalization Service has reminded me just what a screwed up place this country has become.

Ever since September 11, 2001, the country has simply lost it.

` Remember back then, no sooner had the dust settled over Lower Manhattan, than the INS and other police agencies began rounding up thousands of people with Muslim sounding names, or even with non-Muslim sounding names but Muslim-looking faces, and locking them away in federal and county detention centers, with no access to lawyers. People who were here on grants of asylum because of political persecution in their home countries were being shipped home to likely torture and death, without any hearings.

The Half-Life of Torture

Legal opinions signed by 9th Circuit Judge Jay Bybee helped pave the way for alleged torture during President Bush's war on terror

Dan Levine,

The Recorder

9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jay Bybee
Image: Jason Doiy/The Recorder

Six weeks before Gen. Augusto Pinochet overthrew the Chilean government in 1973, Jay Bybee, a 19-year-old Mormon missionary, disembarked in windswept Punta Arenas, nearly 2,000 miles south of Santiago.

"It was a place where you lean on a 45-degree angle to walk around the corner, and then if you don't change your angle, you fall flat," then-mission-president Roland Glade remembers. "It was a place you send somebody who knows what they're doing."

Bybee wasn't afraid to practice his Spanish, and he entertained by imitating Chicago, New York and "New Joisey" accents, fellow missionary David Magnusson said. After the coup, the missionaries learned to allow enough time to proselytize and make it home before the military curfew.

Why Doesn't CIA Director Leon Panetta Want Torture Investigations?

By John Sifton, The Daily Beast

Leon Panetta's attempt to suppress the issue of CIA torture is turning Bush's policy into the Obama administration's dirty laundry.

CIA Interrogation Tapes Predated Torture Memo

CIA Interrogation Tapes Predated Torture Memo
By Jason Leopold | The Public Record

The CIA began videotaping interrogations of two alleged “high value” terrorist detainees in April 2002, four months before Bush administration attorneys issued a memo clearing the way for CIA interrogators to use “enhanced interrogation techniques,” the Justice Department disclosed in court documents.

However, in a letter to a federal court judge Thursday, the Justice Department only agreed to provide details on the harshest interrogations of prisoner Abu Zubaydah that occurred in August 2002 – after the Bush administration's lawyers had provided the legal cover for waterboarding and other brutal tactics.

100 Days Campaign: Event on April 30th, DC

Many of you have participated in Witness Against Torture Actions in the past...many of us have spent time together during these 100 days.
Can we come together once again in dramatic fashion, on behalf of those men who remain in prison? Will you join us?

It's simple really....
the men in Guantanamo know we are acting in solidarity with them

The Obama administration needs to know that situation at Guantanamo today remains as unacceptable as it was on Jan. 20th.

Witness Against Torture (WAT) is looking for some folks who are willing to risk arrest in DC on April 30th in an action to call attention to the plight of the 60 men at Guantanamo who have been cleared for release but still languish there.

A hard history lesson on torture

By San Francisco Chronicle

This country's shameful use of torture on terrorism suspects is forcing an uncomfortable question on Washington. Is it time to forgive and forget - or should Congress probe the past, come what may?

Oddly, it's the Obama team that wants to turn away from the past. The White House is all for erasing Bush-era torture treatments, but it's balking at a chance to dig into a sorry chapter of history.

This charge may sound harsh. After all, President Obama said he would end overseas "black site" prisons where terrorist suspects were detained. He's disavowed torture and pledged to shut down the gulag mother ship in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Military Imperialism and War Crimes

Military Imperialism and War Crimes
By Dick Overfield | Op Ed News

The big question facing all Americans, and particularly Republicans, is whether we have the courage as a nation to face what we have done and set it right. Listening to Limbaugh, George F. Will, William Kristol, Glenn Beck and other influential Rebublicans, it is very clear their moral bearings have been irreversibly lost.

What we must have now is an unambiguous and forceful signal from President Obama and Democrats of every stripe that we are not going to simply stand by in obtuse, silent denial and watch other nations do what we know is our moral responsibility.

'These People Fear Prosecution': Why Bush's CIA Team Should Worry About Its Dark Embrace of Torture

'These People Fear Prosecution': Why Bush's CIA Team Should Worry About Its Dark Embrace of Torture
By Liliana Segura | AlterNet

The New Yorker's Jane Mayer discusses the fallout from the Red Cross' shocking report on CIA torture and its serious legal implications.

On the night of April 6, a long-secret document was published -- in its entirety for the first time -- that provided a clear, stark look at the CIA torture program carried out by the Bush administration.

Ethnic Kurds File Class Action in Baltimore Against Chemical Makers

Ethnic Kurds file class action in Baltimore against chemical makers
Ben Mook | Maryland Daily Record

Five survivors of the 1988 poison gas attacks of ethnic Kurds in Iraq have filed a class action lawsuit in Maryland claiming three American companies and the government of Iraq violated the Geneva Convention by using mustard and nerve gasses to kill tens of thousands of people.

Filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, the lawsuit says the companies supplied the regime of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with the chemical precursors and compounds needed to make the poison gases used in the six-month long “Operation Anfal.”

CIA Claims to Close Secret Prisons But Promises to Imprison People Somewhere Else and Oppose Prosecuting Past Crimes

CIA shuts down its secret prisons

The US has stopped running its global network of secret prisons, CIA director Leon Panetta has announced.

"CIA no longer operates detention facilities or black sites," Mr Panetta said in a letter to staff. Remaining sites would be decommissioned, he said.

The "black sites" were used to detain terrorism suspects, some of whom were subjected to interrogation methods described by many as torture.

President Obama vowed to shut down the facilities shortly after taking office.

The Bush administration allowed the CIA to operate secret prisons on the territory of allied countries in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa, according to media reports.

During his first week as president, Mr Obama ordered the closure of the black sites, as well as the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, as part of an overhaul of US detainee policy.

Key issue

CIA Bars Contractors From Doing Interrogations

CIA bars contractors from doing interrogations
By Pam Benson | CNN

CIA Director Leon Panetta has carried through on his pledge to prohibit independent contractors from conducting interrogations of terror suspects.

In a message to agency employees on Thursday, Panetta said he had notified the congressional oversight committees about the current CIA policy regarding interrogations.

Besides discontinuing the use of contractors, the director outlined in the message other steps taken in response to executive orders issued by President Obama in January.

The harsh interrogation techniques authorized by the Bush administration will no longer be used. Panetta said questioning of suspected terrorists will follow the approaches authorized in the Army Field Manual.

Fed Judges Are Fed Up

Fed judges are fed up
By Josh Gerstein | Politico

Judge Sullivan, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Clinton and to local courts by Republican presidents, has indicated deep misgivings about what has transpired at Guantanamo. “I mean, this Guantanamo issue is a travesty. It ranks up there with the internment of Japanese-American citizens years ago,” the judge said at last week’s hearing. “It's a horror story in the American system of jurisprudence.” Kollar-Kotelly expressed her ire in two recent orders castigating the government for repeatedly ignoring deadlines she had set to produce evidence to lawyers for four Kuwaiti prisoners at Guantanamo. She said she had “lost all confidence” in a DOJ attorney assigned to the case. And in the Miami case, Judge Gold said, "It’s more than just mistakes. Important safeguards were not met." Two prosecutors involved in the case have been reassigned.

Appeals Court Says Uighurs Won't Get 30-Day Notice

Appeals court says Uighurs won't get 30-day notice | Google News

A federal appeals court on Tuesday overturned a judge's decision to give Chinese Muslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay a 30-day notice of where the U.S. government will send them when they are released.

A federal judge had ordered the government to give a month's notice before releasing nine Uighurs (pronounced WEE'-gurz) so they could challenge the decision of where to send them.

The Uighurs at Guantanamo are no longer regarded as enemy combatants by the United States. But U.S. authorities have rejected calls by China to return the detainees, citing fears of persecution.

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