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Guest Post by Lawrence Wilkerson: Some Truths About Guantanamo Bay
By Lawrence Wilkerson | Washington Note
Lawrence B. Wilkerson was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell and is chairman of the New America Foundation/U.S.-Cuba 21st Century Policy Initiative.
There are several dimensions to the debate over the U.S. prison facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba that the media have largely missed and, thus, of which the American people are almost completely unaware. For that matter, few within the government who were not directly involved are aware either.
The first of these is the utter incompetence of the battlefield vetting in Afghanistan during the early stages of the U.S. operations there. Simply stated, no meaningful attempt at discrimination was made in-country by competent officials, civilian or military, as to who we were transporting to Cuba for detention and interrogation.
This was a factor of having too few troops in the combat zone, of the troops and civilians who were there having too few people trained and skilled in such vetting, and of the incredible pressure coming down from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and others to "just get the bastards to the interrogators".
When Torture is “Torture”
by Scott Horton, Harper's
One moment still serves to define the Bush Administration’s relationship with the press. On April 29, 2006, comedian Stephen Colbert addressed the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, with President Bush present, and ripped into the press corps (“I have nothing but contempt for these people,” he uttered at one point, creating a bond with his television audience but drawing embarrassed recognition and no laughter from the correspondents present).
Over the last five years, you people were so good—over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn’t want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. … And then you write, Oh, they’re just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. First of all, that is a terrible metaphor. This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg!”
A new report by a journalist who has seen a secret 2007 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross concludes:
Ray McGovern: A Nation of Torturers
Matt Daloisio of the 100 Days Campaign filed this report at the campaign's half-way mark.
We have passed the mid-point of the 100 Days, and the campaign continues to be quite busy! Here is a brief update on how things have been, and how you can get involved. Follow the campaign here which is updated daily.
100 DAYS VIGIL – THE UIGHURS - CONGRESSIONAL OUTREACH - MEDIA – SPEAKERS
& FILMS – DAY 100 (come to dc!) - 10 WAYS TO GET INVOLVED
100 DAYS VIGIL
As the seasons change, more and more folks are coming by our Monday – Friday, 11am-1pm, vigil in front of the White House. In the last few
weeks we have seen Joe Biden, Joe the Plumber, and the Prime Minister of Japan (just to name a few). We maintain a solemn presence in orange
Appeals Court Refuses To Revisit Decision Ordering Defense Department To Release Prisoner Abuse Photos
Photos Depict Abuse By U.S. Personnel At Facilities In Afghanistan And Iraq
NEW YORK – A federal court rejected a Bush administration request to reconsider a decision that ordered the Department of Defense to release photographs depicting the abuse of detainees by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected the government's request to have the full appeals court rehear a decision from last September ordering the release of the photos as part of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit seeking information on the abuse of prisoners held in U.S. custody overseas.
The Obama administration, which has not taken a position on the litigation, has 90 days to appeal to the Supreme Court if it chooses to challenge the September order.
By David Swanson
As with the evidence that Bush, Cheney, and gang intentionally lied us into a war, or the evidence of illegal and unconstitutional spying, each time a major new piece of evidence of torture emerges, it is impossible not to hope that this is the one that will compel the Justice Department or Congress or the courts or the American people to act decisively. Certainly I hope that, right now, the day after Mark Danner reported on a report from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
By MARK DANNER
ON a bright sunny day two years ago, President George W. Bush strode into the East Room of the White House and informed the world that the United States had created a dark and secret universe to hold and interrogate captured terrorists. Keep Reading in New York Times. And read more in New York Review of Books.
The Obama administration is trying to protect top Bush administration military officials from lawsuits brought by prisoners who say they were tortured while being held at Guantanamo Bay.
The Justice Department argued in a filing Thursday with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that holding military officials liable for their treatment of prisoners could cause them to make future decisions based on fear of litigation rather than appropriate military policy.
The Obama administration said Friday that it is abandoning one of President George W. Bush's key phrases in the war on terrorism: enemy combatant.
But that won't change much for the detainees at the U.S. naval base in Cuba — Obama still asserts the military's authority to hold them. Human rights attorneys said they were disappointed that Obama didn't take a new stance.
The Justice Department said in legal filings that it will no longer use the term "enemy combatants' to justify holding prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
"This is really a case of old wine in new bottles," the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has been fighting the detainees' detention, said in a statement. "It is still unlawful to hold people indefinitely without charge. The men who have been held for more than seven years by our government must be charged or released."
In another court filing Thursday criticized by human rights advocates, the Obama administration tried to protect top Bush administration military officials from lawsuits brought by prisoners who say they were tortured while being held at Guantanamo Bay.
The Obama administration's position on use of the phrase "enemy combatants" came in response to a deadline by U.S. District Judge John Bates, who is overseeing lawsuits of detainees challenging their detention. Bates asked the administration to give its definition of whom the United States may hold as an "enemy combatant."
Aired February 10, 2009
The Obama administration said Friday that it would abandon the Bush administration’s term “enemy combatant” as it argues in court for the continued detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in a move that seemed intended to symbolically separate the new administration from Bush detention policies.
But in a much anticipated court filing, the Justice Department argued that the president has the authority to detain terrorism suspects there without criminal charges, much as the Bush administration had asserted. It provided a broad definition of those who can be held, which was not significantly different from the one used by the Bush administration.
By Jeremy Gantz, Raw Story
Like most Americans, you've probably seen the infamous Iraqi prisoner abuse photographs.
The American Civil Liberties Union wants you to be able to see more, and is demanding that the Obama administration release additional photos depicting abuse of prisoners by U.S. forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Despite a unanimous federal appeals court panel ruling last year that ordered the Bush administration to do just that, the outgoing administration asked the full court to rehear the case. But the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has yet to do so, according to a statement released Tuesday by the ACLU.
Sneering with contempt, the unrepentant Bush attorney has challenged "Obama's antiwar base" to read his infamous memos closely. So I did.
By Gary Kamiya, Salon
You have to give John Yoo credit for chutzpah. The disgraced author of the so-called torture memo was back in the news last week, when the Obama administration released seven more secret opinions, all but one written in whole or in part by Yoo and fellow Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) lawyer Jay Bybee, arguing that the Bush administration had the right to override the Constitution as long as it claimed to be fighting a "war on terror." Professor Yoo, who I am embarrassed to say holds a tenured position at the law school of my alma mater, the University of California at Berkeley, was already known as the official who provided a legal fig leaf behind which the Bush administration tortured inmates at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. His legal misdeeds are widely known, but now they have been exposed chapter and verse. Among the new memos is one written in 2001, in which Yoo and co-author Robert J. Delahunty advised the U.S. that the Posse Comitatus Act, which forbids the Army to be used for law enforcement, and the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, do not apply to domestic military operations undertaken during a "war on terror." READ THE REST.
CIA Confirms 12 of 92 Videotapes Destroyed Showed Prisoners Tortured
By Jason Leopold | Truthout
Heavily redacted government documents filed in a New York federal court Friday afternoon say the CIA destroyed 12 videotapes that specifically showed two detainees being tortured.
The documents were filed in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. In December 2007, the ACLU filed a motion to hold the CIA in contempt for its destruction of the tapes in violation of a court order requiring the agency to produce or identify all records requested by the ACLU. That motion is still pending.
On Monday, the Justice Department revealed in court documents that the CIA destroyed 92 interrogation videotapes, which is now the subject of a criminal probe. According to Friday's court documents, 90 tapes relate to one detainee and two tapes relate to another detainee.
In a letter filed Friday in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, Acting US Attorney Lev Dassin said a complete list of summaries, transcripts or memoranda related to the videotapes would be filed with the court by March 20.
"The government is needlessly withholding information about these tapes from the public, despite the fact that the CIA's use of torture - including waterboarding - is no secret," said Amrit Singh, staff attorney with the ACLU. "This new information only underscores the need for full and immediate disclosure of the CIA's illegal interrogation methods. The time has come for the CIA to be held accountable for flouting the rule of law."
John Yoo authored the Bush memos on torture and suspending civil liberties. But an upcoming Justice Department report could contain new revelations—perhaps that the memos were written to provide legal cover for programs already in place....Yoo is also the target of a civil lawsuit brought by Jose Padilla....Yoo’s defense rests on highly technical arguments of immunity, directly contradicting the basic position taken by the United States in the London accords of 1945 that a defense of immunity would not be available to officials involved in the abuse of prisoners.
A new Justice Department report could contain a bombshell that would spell fresh legal trouble for top Bush officials. The report may link controversial memos on civil liberties and torture—written by Justice Department lawyer John Yoo—directly to the White House, putting Yoo and other Bushies in the crosshairs of criminal prosecution.
The ongoing political crisis in Sudan is expected to worsen in the face of a rash of threats and warnings following the indictment last week of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
The beleaguered Sudanese president has threatened to expel diplomats from Khartoum and throw out more humanitarian organisations - in addition to the 13 that were run out of town last week - in retaliation for the indictment.
At the same time, there is considerable speculation that some, or all, of the 30 African countries who are state parties (of a total of 108) to the Rome Statute that created the ICC, may decide to pull out, threatening the virtual collapse of the world's key criminal court.
Guantanamo Under Obama
by Stephen Lendman
As The New York Times reported on January 22, Barack Obama signed Executive Orders (EOs) banning torture and "directing the CIA to shut what remains of its network of secret prisons and ordering the closing of the Guantanamo detention camp within a year, government official said."
The closure EO is titled: "Executive Order -- Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities."
How MI5 Colluded In My Torture: Binyam Mohamed Claims British Agents Fed Moroccan Torturers Their Questions
MI5 directly colluded in the savage 'medieval' torture in Morocco of Binyam Mohamed, the Guantanamo inmate who was last week released to live in Britain.
The revelation came as Mohamed broke his silence about the full horror of his seven years in detention in a compelling interview with The Mail on Sunday.
Documents obtained by this newspaper - which were disclosed to Mohamed through a court case he filed in America - show that months after he was taken to Morocco aboard an illegal 'extraordinary rendition' flight by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, MI5 twice gave the CIA details of questions they wanted his interrogators to put to him, together with dossiers of photographs.
At the time, in November 2002, Mohamed was being subject to intense, regular beatings and sessions in which his chief Moroccan torturer, a man he knew as Marwan, slashed his chest and genitals with a scalpel.
Ex-UN prosecutor: Bush may be next up for International Criminal Court
By Stephen C. Webster | Raw Story
An ex-UN prosecutor has said that following the issuance of an arrest warrant for the president of Sudan, former US President George W. Bush could -- and should -- be next on the International Criminal Court's list.
The former prosecutor's assessment was echoed in some respect by United Nations General Assembly chief Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua, who said America's military occupation of Iraq has caused over a million deaths and should be probed by the United Nations.
"David Crane, an international law professor at Syracuse University, said the principle of law used to issue an arrest warrant for [Sudanese President] Omar al-Bashir could extend to former US President Bush over claims officials from his Administration may have engaged in torture by using coercive interrogation techniques on terror suspects," reported the New Zealand Herald.
In a California federal court, President Obama's Justice Department is defending former Bush official John Yoo, author of the so-called "torture memo."
Yoo is being sued by Jose Padilla, currently serving 17 years in prison for conspiring to provide support to Islamist extremists. Padilla's lawyers say that Yoo's memos on interrogation policies led to his detention and torture.
The Obama Justice Department moved to dismiss the case before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White.
The CIA destroyed a dozen videotapes of harsh interrogations of terror suspects, according to documents filed Friday in a lawsuit over the government's treatment of detainees. The 12 tapes were part of a larger collection of 92 videotapes of terror suspects that the CIA destroyed. The extent of the tape destruction was disclosed through a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against the government.
Heavily redacted papers filed in the case indicate a dozen destroyed tapes show so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques."
The CIA's enhanced interrogation methods are secret, but they once included waterboarding, which simulates drowning.
Today is a good moment to give some thought to one of the worst remaining legacies of the Bush era, the prison where that administration's grotesque offshore detention policies -- the beatings, the torture, the works -- were first put into play, the prison that has yet to go away. And as Karen Greenberg, the Executive Director of the Center on Law and Security at the New York University School of Law and the author of a striking new book, The Least Worst Place, Guantanamo's First 100 Days, points out, it's not, as you might expect, Guantanamo, but our grim prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
CIA Director Leon Panetta says agency employees who took part in harsh interrogations of terrorism suspects are not in danger of being punished.
Panetta delivered that message to CIA employees in an e-mail Thursday, reiterating what he told Congress last month. He said then that he would oppose prosecutions of any CIA employee who adhered to their legal guidance on interrogations.
He sent the message after the Senate Intelligence Committee announced its review of the CIA's interrogation and detention program under President George W. Bush.
The committee will look at how the CIA decided whom to interrogate, whether it told Congress the truth about the program and whether it was legal. It will also try to determine whether the harsher methods the CIA used elicited valuable intelligence.
Senate Panel Reaches Terms For Probe of CIA Detentions
By Joby Warrick | Washington Post
The Senate intelligence committee reached an agreement yesterday on the framework of a wide-ranging review of the CIA's past treatment of terrorism detainees, even as members acknowledged that the bulk of the panel's work will be conducted in secret.
The committee's Democratic and Republican leaders settled on a blueprint for a year-long probe that will examine the agency's detention and interrogation of about 100 suspected al-Qaeda operatives held in secret overseas prisons between 2002 and 2006. Panel members last week confirmed their intention to conduct such an inquiry.
GOP senator would support probe of 'shocking' anti-terror memos
By Rachel Oswald | Raw Story
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) said he was opposed to any Truth Commission tasked with investigating Bush administration abuses, but that he could support criminal investigations into political appointees who authored the controversial OLC memos.
Speaking at Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-VT) Wednesday hearing on exploring the possibilities of setting up a nonpartisan Truth Commission, Specter, a moderate in his party who has supported past Senate inquiries into polices of the Bush administration, said:
“I would not mind looking backward if there’s reason to do so. If we have evidence of torture – go after it. If there’s reason to believe that these Justice Department officials have knowingly given the president cover for practices they know not to be right or sound – go after them. Some of the [OLC] opinions are more than startling, they’re shocking. If [OLC counsel] did that knowingly…it sounds to me that it may fall within criminal conduct.