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Congressman Jerrold Nadler Calls for a Special Prosecutor for Torture

Congressman Jerrold Nadler has just publicly asked that the Attorney General appoint a special prosecutor. Please THANK HIM, and please ask him and ask your congress member to jointly send to Eric Holder the letter that Nadler and 55 other congress members sent to Michael Mukasey requesting a special prosecutor last summer, or an updated version thereof. Or ask your representative or senator to simply make a public statement like Nadler's.

Here is a release from Nadler's office:

Judge Wants to Keep Gitmo Case Alive

Judge wants to keep Gitmo case alive
By Al Goodman | CNN | April 17, 2009

A Spanish judge moved Friday to keep alive an investigation into six former Bush administration officials for alleged torture of prisoners at the U.S. detention camp for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay. Cuba.

He acted just hours after prosecutors urged the case to be dropped, according to a court document.

The President Ties His Own Hands on Terror

The President Ties His Own Hands on Terror
The point of interrogation is intelligence, not confession.
By Michael Hayden and Michael B. Mukasey | WSJ

The Obama administration has declassified and released opinions of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) given in 2005 and earlier that analyze the legality of interrogation techniques authorized for use by the CIA. Those techniques were applied only when expressly permitted by the director, and are described in these opinions in detail, along with their limits and the safeguards applied to them.

The release of these opinions was unnecessary as a legal matter, and is unsound as a matter of policy. Its effect will be to invite the kind of institutional timidity and fear of recrimination that weakened intelligence gathering in the past, and that we came sorely to regret on Sept. 11, 2001.

Proponents of the release have argued that the techniques have been abandoned and thus there is no point in keeping them secret any longer; that they were in any event ineffective; that their disclosure was somehow legally compelled; and that they cost us more in the coin of world opinion than they were worth. None of these claims survives scrutiny.

Tortured Logic: Obama Writes Off Old Crimes While Promoting New Outrages

Tortured Logic: Obama Writes Off Old Crimes While Promoting New Outrages
By Chris Floyd | Empire Burlesque

In the overblown, self-regarding prose that has become his trademark, Obama lauds himself and his administration for their fealty to the "rule of law" in releasing the memos. But of course, the "rule of law" also dictates that those who have planned, ordered and committed torture be prosecuted. The law has no special dispensation for crimes that might be "too disturbing" to prosecute. And so his ringing conclusion -- "we have taken steps to ensure that the actions described within them never take place again" -- rings completely hollow. How will failing to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes deter any future perpetrator in high office? The latter will know that their crimes will be "too disturbing" to prosecute -- in much that same way that the biggest fraudsters on Wall Street today are "too big to fail," and must be allowed to escape the consequences of their actions.

I have little to say at the moment on the details of the Bush torture memos released by the Obama Administration, beyond what I have been writing for many years now about these sickening practices, and what they say about America's bipartisan, imperial elite, which countenanced them, and often openly championed them. (I think my first piece on America's torture system was written in early spring 2002 -- a column printed in the Moscow Times, drawn from readily available stories in the mainstream press. America's willing practice of torture as an official policy has been open knowledge for almost the entire decade. But I will admit the bit about using putting insects into the torture box of a wounded, deranged captive was new.)

Barack Obama is being given great credit for releasing the memos, although as the president himself points out in his statement, their release was actually required by law. I suppose it's true that the United States government has become so degraded that we must be surprised and glad when a president actually obeys the law when it suits him, but I must say that I can't find any great cause for rejoicing -- especially as Obama's statement immediately and definitely ruled out prosecuting any of the direct perpetrators of these criminal actions.

Torture Memos Said CIA Could Use Insects and Severely Beat Detainee

Torture Memos Said CIA Could Use Insects and Severely Beat Detainee
By Jason Leopold | The Public Record

CIA interrogators were given legal authorization to slam an alleged "high-value" detainee's head against a wall, place insects inside a “confinement box” to induce fear, and force him to remain awake for 11 consecutive days, according to a closely guarded Aug. 1, 2002 legal memo released publicly by the Justice Department for the first time Thursday.

Russ Feingold's Reaction

Russ Feingold's Reaction
By Marc Ambinder | The Atlantic

From the office of Sen. Russ Feingold, a suggestion that the administration is open to future prosecution. Do know that Feingold and other key members of Congress have been formally briefed on this, so he presumably is not thinking wishfully here:

Personal Torture Laws: Your Tax Dollars at Work

By David Swanson

On August 1, 2002, then-Assistant Attorney General of the United States Jay Bybee sent an 18-page official memorandum from the Office of Legal Counsel to the Acting General Counsel of the CIA John Rizzo. Such memos are treated as laws within our government, not opinions, not theories, not briefings, but laws. They are secret laws, but in many cases there's not much risk of us ordinary schmucks who don't know the laws violating them, at least not without also violating public laws that are tougher and more comprehensive. These secret laws tend to consist of permissions to violate the public laws in particular ways. They are crazy laws, because they advise violating the real laws and purport to serve as protection for the claim that the violator did so in "good faith." Nonetheless, they are as much laws as anything passed by Congress, if not more so, since they do not come with presidential signing statements but at most a snide remark scribbled by Donald Rumsfeld.

Obama, Seeing Darkness, Conjures Up the Mists of Time

By Dave Lindorff

Back in 1965, as a 15-year-old kid, I had a chance to spend half a year as a student at a boy’s gymnasium (high school) in Darmstadt, the cultural capital of the German state of Hesse, which had the distinction of having been one of a handful of cities in Germany (Dresden was another) that were selected by the Allies to test out the terror tactic of firebombing. The town was chosen for incendiary bombardment precisely because it had no military value and thus, no air defenses (and because it consisted mostly of wooden structures). With Germany still wreaking horrific damage on the Allied bomber fleet, this made it an inviting target.

Documents Show Red Cross Told Powell Iraqi Prisoners Were Tortured

By Jason Leopold, The Public Record

In March 2003, after Iraqi troops captured several U.S. soldiers and let them be interviewed on Iraqi TV, senior Bush administration officials expressed outrage over this violation of the Geneva Convention.

"If there is somebody captured," President George W. Bush told reporters on March 23, 2003, "I expect those people to be treated humanely. If not, the people who mistreat the prisoners will be treated as war criminals."

No one in the Bush administration, however, acknowledged the extent of their own violations of rules governing humane treatment of enemy combatants. Nor did the U.S. news media offer any context, ignoring the U.S. handling of Afghan War captives at Guantanamo Bay in 2002 and the fact that the U.S. military also had paraded captured Iraqi soldiers before cameras.

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
By JENNIFER LOVEN and DEVLIN BARRETT, Associated Press

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.

THE ABSOLUTE PROHIBITION OF TORTURE AND NECESSARY AND APPROPRIATE SANCTIONS

By Jordan J. Paust

From Valparaiso University Law Review

With permission of the author

PDF.

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.

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