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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.

After Torture, Resurrection

After Torture, Resurrection
By Ray McGovern

Three years ago, Easter dawned on Crawford, Texas, for the many friends of justice and peace who were gathered there to celebrate new hope.

Rev. Joseph Lowery gave an inspired message that morning, in what turned out to be a warm-up for his Benediction at the Inauguration of our new president in January 2009.

Camp Casey that Easter 2006 was a relatively quiet occasion to reflect and celebrate new life and one another. The best known resident of Crawford had decided to avoid the crowd assembling there, opting instead to spend Easter at Camp David in the mountains of Maryland. There troublesome questioners could be kept farther away—I mean people like Cindy Sheehan, who would not stop asking why our sons and daughters were being killed and maimed in an unnecessary war.

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.


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