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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,
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."
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.”
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 | Check site & your local listings for other dates, times
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."
Here's video of Powell.
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.
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.
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
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.
Spanish prosecutors may decide this week whether to press ahead with a probe into six former Bush administration officials in connection with the torture of detainees at the U.S. military's Guantanamo Bay prison, court sources said.
The criminal investigation into the officials, who include ex-U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, would likely focus on whether they violated international law by providing a legal justification for the torture.
Spanish prosecutors were asked to review the case by Baltasar Garzon, a High Court judge who came to world prominence when he issued an international warrant for the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998.
Note: This article was broadcast on ABC World News this evening. The video of the broadcast is not available on ABC's website.
In what may turn out to be a landmark case, a Spanish court has started a criminal investigation into allegations that six former officials in the Bush administration violated international law by creating the legal justification for torture in Guantanamo Bay.
The officials named in the 98-page complaint include former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who once famously described the Geneva Conventions as "quaint" and "obsolete."
Others include John Yoo, a former Justice Department lawyer who wrote the so-called "torture memo" that justified waterboarding and other extreme interrogation methods for terror suspects.
Also named are: former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith; former General Counsel for the Department of Defense William Haynes II; Jay S. Bybee, formerly of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel; and David S. Addington, former chief of staff and legal advisor to former Vice President Dick Cheney.
By ANDREW O. SELSKY, AP
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A former State Department lawyer responsible for Guantanamo-related cases said Friday that the Bush administration overreacted after 9/11 and set up a system in which torture occurred.
Vijay Padmanabhan is at least the second former Bush administration official to publicly label "enhanced interrogation techniques" as torture. He said the administration was wrong in its entire approach when it sent detainees to the remote Navy base and declared it out of reach of any court.
"I think Guantanamo was one of the worst overreactions of the Bush administration," Padmanabhan told The Associated Press. He said other overreactions included extraordinary renditions, waterboarding that occurred at secret CIA prisons and "other enhanced interrogation techniques that would constitute torture."
One of the problems for the U.S. Government in releasing Guantanamo detainees has been that, upon release, they are free to talk to the world about the treatment to which they were subjected. When the Bush administration agreed to release Australian David Hicks after almost 6 years in captivity, they did so only on the condition that he first sign a documenting stating that he was not abused and that he also agree -- as The Australian put it -- to an "extraordinary 12-month gag order that prevent[ed] Hicks from speaking publicly about the actions to which he has pleaded guilty or the circumstances surrounding his capture, interrogation and detention," a gag order which "also silence[d] family members and any third party."
Longer version with more detail and advice: HERE.
For Meetings with Congress Members and Senators
During April 4-19, 2009, Recess
Adjust to your communities’ priorities and to fit your representative and senators. Make the case to them of the necessary trade-off in defunding war in order to fund human needs. Make alliances with activist groups wishing to pressure elected officials on domestic funding needs and workers’ rights.
Oppose Escalation of War in Afghanistan and Pakistan
A bipartisan group of fourteen members of Congress recently wrote to the president asking him to reconsider his proposal to send more troops to Afghanistan. Your representative and senators should send similar letters, and should include opposition to missile strikes or the introduction of troops into Pakistan.
From Public Record: Senate Committee Report to Reveal New Details Implicating Bush Officials in Torture
By Jason Leopold, Public Record
While Congress has focused primarily on the country’s economic turmoil and the lavish bonuses paid to Wall Street executives, a Senate Armed Services Committee report currently in the process of being declassified will force lawmakers to shift gears.
The Armed Services Committee will release--possibly as early as next week—its voluminous report on the treatment of alleged terrorist detainees held in U.S. custody and the brutal interrogation techniques they were subjected to, according to Defense Department and intelligence sources who described the report as the most detailed account to date of the roles senior Bush administration and Defense Department officials played in implementing a policy of torture at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and other detention centers.
It’s a sign of how much the Bush administration skewed America’s moral compass that we are currently facing the possibility that the only way to bring the torturers to account is through a “Nonpartisan Commission Of Inquiry” -- essentially, a toothless truth and reconciliation commission -- of the type proposed by Sen. Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal again found himself carrying the Republican mantle opposite a primetime appearance from President Barack Obama on Tuesday, saying Republicans must be ready to defy the president when they disagree with his policies. He also joked about his widely panned response to Obama's address to Congress last month.
"We are now in the position of being the loyal opposition," Jindal said at a Republican congressional fundraising dinner that only by coincidence fell on the same night as Obama's news conference. "The right question to ask is not if we want the president to fail or succeed, but whether we want America to succeed."
By Jason Leopold, Consortium News
In 2005, after pushing out the Justice Department lawyer who had overturned President George W. Bush’s claimed authority to abuse “war on terror” prisoners, his administration reinstated key elements of the memos granting Bush virtually unlimited powers over the detainees, according to a list of still-secret documents.
According to knowledgeable sources, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has hired John Kiriakou, the former CIA official who assisted with the 2002 capture of al-Qaeda detainee Abu Zubaydah and who said the detainee was tortured, as an investigator. Kiriakou, a CIA counterterrorism official from 1998 to 2004, will start work this week, focusing on the Middle East and South Asia for the committee.
Mr. Cheney, What About This 'Executive Assassination Squad'?
By John Nichols | The Nation
An elite assassination squad run out of the vice president's office? That certainly sounds like an interesting point at which to begin an official inquiry. And since the vice president is so willing to talk about his time in office--as evidenced by his recent media appearances--why not invite him up to Capitol Hill to engage in it? Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich has a suggestion that might get the ball rolling. Kucinich has asked New York Congressman Edolphus Towns, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to begin an immediate investigation into Hersh's allegations.