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Greenwald: U.S. Is Bound By Treaty to Prosecute Torture Crimes
By Susie Madrak | Salon.com | Jan. 18, 2009
It seems fairly easy -- even for those overtly hostile to the basic rules of logic and law -- to see what conclusions are compelled by these clear premises:
Bush administration officials from Vice President Dick Cheney on down signed off on using harsh interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists after asking the Justice Department to endorse their legality, The Associated Press has learned.
The officials also took care to insulate President Bush from a series of meetings where CIA interrogation methods, including waterboarding, which simulates drowning, were discussed and ultimately approved....
The meetings were held in the White House Situation Room in the years immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks. Attending the sessions were Cheney, then-Bush aides Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.
SUMMARY OF PRELIMINARY MEMORANDUM OF THE JUSTICE ROBERT H. JACKSON CONFERENCE ON FEDERAL PROSECUTION OF WAR CRIMINALS
Propelling prisoners' heads into concrete walls by means of towels wrapped around their necks, savage beatings with fists and rifles that left prisoners crippled, hanging prisoners by the arms with their arms strung up behind them, depriving prisoners of sleep for weeks on end, which has been thought the worst torture possible for 500 years, causing prisoners to freeze -- sometimes to death, and waterboarding are but a partial list of the torture methods ordered by America's highest officials. In the "Preliminary Memorandum of the Justice Robert H. Jackson Conference on Federal Prosecutions of War Criminals," law school Dean Lawrence Velvel, the founder of the Jackson Conference, details the full spectrum of tortures performed in wholesale combinations -- not one torture by itself -- on detainees around the world. His Preliminary Memorandum is a precursor to a formal legal complaint to be filed with the Justice Department this spring.
A 28-year-old US Army medic has been sentenced by a US military court in Germany to life in prison with the possibility of parole for his role in murdering four Iraqi prisoners in 2007.
The US military court in Vilseck, Germany, on Friday evening, Feb. 20, found Sgt. Michael Leahy guilty of murder for his role in the execution-style killings of four Iraqi detainees.
The nine-member jury convicted Leahy, one of four soldiers charged in the slayings, of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. His rank will be reduced to private and he will be dishonorably discharged from the Army.
Another US soldier, Steven Ribordy, in October was sentenced to eight months in prison for his role in the killings as part of a plea deal.
Obama backs Bush: No rights for Bagram prisoners
By NEDRA PICKLER and MATT APUZZO, AP
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration, siding with the Bush White House, contended Friday that detainees in Afghanistan have no constitutional rights.
In a two-sentence court filing, the Justice Department said it agreed that detainees at Bagram Airfield cannot use U.S. courts to challenge their detention. The filing shocked human rights attorneys.
"The hope we all had in President Obama to lead us on a different path has not turned out as we'd hoped," said Tina Monshipour Foster, a human rights attorney representing a detainee at the Bagram Airfield. "We all expected better."
By Mohamed Farag Bashmilah, Huffington Post
From October 2003 until May 2005, I was illegally detained by the U.S. government and held in CIA-run "black sites" with no contact with the outside world. On May 5, 2005, without explanation, my American captors removed me from my cell and cuffed, hooded, and bundled me onto a plane that delivered me to Sana'a, Yemen. I was transferred into the custody of my own government, which held me -- apparently at the behest of the United States -- until March 27, 2006, when I was finally released, never once having faced any terrorism-related charges. Since my release, the U.S. government has never explained why I was detained and has blocked all attempts to find out more about my detention.
Cross-party group of British politicians writes to US president as David Miliband defends himself over Mohamed case
By Richard Norton-Taylor, guardian.co.uk
A cross-party coalition of MPs and human-rights campaigners has written to Barack Obama calling on him to publish secret documents that allegedly contain evidence of US and British complicity in torture.
The move came as David Miliband, the foreign secretary, defended his position on the Guardian website over the suppression of evidence of the torture of Binyam Mohamed, the former UK resident held in Guantánamo Bay.
"Far from suppressing evidence, it was our efforts that got documents disclosed to Mr Mohamed's lawyers," Miliband wrote. He was referring to the handing over of 42 US intelligence documents to Mohamed's lawyers for the purposes of a secret military trial in the US.
(Or will his torture just be mentioned in passing, as below?)
Bush's "icy smile" enraged Iraq shoe-thrower
By Khalid al-Ansary
BAGHDAD, Feb. 19, 2009 (Reuters) — An Iraqi reporter who hurled his shoes at George W. Bush said in the past he had videotaped himself practicing the Arab insult to use against the president whose "icy smile" had filled him with uncontrollable rage.
Muntazer al-Zaidi said on Thursday at the start of his trial in Baghdad on charges of assaulting a foreign leader that he took a recording of his shoe-throwing training two years ago and had hoped to accost Bush in Jordan but this did not take place.
Zaidi, who was hailed across the Middle East by critics of the Iraq invasion and who also called Bush a "dog," told the court he had acknowledged making a training film under interrogation after his arrest at a Baghdad news conference.
British authorities are searching for a missing suitcase that reportedly contains highly sensitive documents relating to the Iraq War.
Court: Chinese at Guantanamo Can't Be Freed in U.S.
From Bill Mears | CNN
Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday he will travel to the Guantanamo detention center next week as a "first step" in a process to determine what to do with detainees held there. Holder told reporters after a speech on civil rights that he will make the trip to Cuba on Monday with the Justice Department's point man on counterterrorism, Matt Olsen. Spokesman Dean Boyd termed the trip "the beginning of a review process." Holder told reporters review of the Guantanamo detainees' individual cases has begun and officials are "making progress," but he declined to be more specific.
Cageprisoners is deeply concerned by today’s House of Lords’ decision in the case of Abu Qatadah that deportation of foreign nationals to countries which practice torture was not a bar to their removal.
In reversing the decision of the Court of Appeal, the House of Lords has effectively sanctioned the deportation of Abu Qatadah and other foreign nationals to countries where the only evidence of wrongdoing against them has been obtained through torture. Both the Special Immigrations Appeal Commission ! (SIAC) and the Court of Appeal have accepted that the only evidence against Abu Qatadah has been extracted from the torture of his co-defendants in Jordan and that there is no other genuine evidence against him.
Cageprisoners view the decision as a major setback for human rights and the rule of law.
Cageprisoners spokesman, Moazzam Begg, stated:
Obama is uniquely positioned to restore America’s moral standing on this issue. For the victims, and for this nation, he must pursue possible crimes committed on his predecessor’s watch.
By Diane McWhorter, USA Today
With former vice president Dick Cheney taunting the torture-renouncing Obama team for "turning the other cheek" to terrorists, it's a bit surreal that punt remains on the list of the new president's potential responses to the "enhanced interrogation" carried out under his predecessor. Yet at his news conference on Monday, even in the wake of Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy's vigorous calls for a truth commission, President Obama was still signaling his preference to "get it right moving forward" rather than look back at any possible criminal wrongdoing by the Bush-Cheney government.
Former Bush Administration official John Yoo has temporarily traded his job on the law faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, for a teaching gig in more conservative Orange County, CA.
Yoo, one of the architects of the Bush policy on torture, is spending this semester as a visiting professor at the relatively new Chapman University School of Law, which opened in 1995, reports the Los Angeles Times.
By Jason Leopold, Public Record
A key line in George W. Bush’s defense against war crimes charges has weakened with the disclosure that an internal Justice Department watchdog has concluded that the legal advice, which cleared the way for Bush’s policies on torture and other abuse of detainees, was tainted by political influence.
An investigation by H. Marshall Jarrett, head of the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, reached “damning” conclusions about numerous cases of “misconduct” in the advice from John Yoo and other lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush administration, according to legal sources familiar with the report’s contents.
From a comment Jason Leopold posted on my Facebook page:
In two weeks or so, Carl Levin, chair of the Armed Services will be releasing a declassified version of his report on torture that took place at Gitmo and Iraq and Afghanistan. It will include confessions like the one you cite here in the link, David. Levin's declassified report will make the most hardened person squirm. It's that scathing and it is clear that crimes were committed and Levin is blunt in who is culpable and should be held accountable. What will Obama and the DOJ do when its released is the question I ask.
Clive Stafford Smith, director of the legal charity Reprieve, said: "With each twist and turn, it becomes obvious that the US and the UK have to release this information."
The Foreign Office (FCO) solicited the letter from the US State Department that forced British judges to block the disclosure of CIA files documenting the torture of a British resident held in Guantánamo Bay, the Observer can reveal.
The letter said that the release of papers relating to Binyam Mohamed would damage future intelligence sharing between the two countries.
As “closing Guantanamo” looms as one of President Obama’s most visible campaign promises (backed up with executive orders to complete the task within a year), more and more snapshots emerge as to what has been happening in the little sliver of American society at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. And in what was once a rarity, soldiers who have served there are now coming forward to tell their stories.
Ron Paul: What If? ... The American People Learn the Truth!
Statement of Congressman Ron Paul
February 12, 2009
Human Rights Organization Organizing Call-in Week Beginning February 17 to Urge Congress to Fully Investigate Past Abuses
Human Rights Organization Organizing Call-in Week Beginning February 17 to Urge Congress to Fully Investigate Past Abuses
Amnesty International Members to Urge Their U.S. Senators to Push for Accountability in the War on Terror
WASHINGTON - February 12 - Amnesty International members and other activists will be burning up the phone lines during the week of February 17 to urge their senators to fully investigate the U.S. government's abuses in the war on terror and hold accountable those responsible. The human rights organization is calling on President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to create an independent and impartial commission to examine the use of torture, indefinite detention, secret renditions and other illegal U.S. counterterrorism policies.
This has been a uniquely bad week for civil libertarians. The Obama Administration appears to be rushing to dispel any notions that Obama will fight for civil liberties or war crimes investigations. After Eric Holder allegedly assured a senator that there would be no war crimes investigation and seemed to defend Bush policies, Harvard Law Dean Elena Kagan, Obama’s Solicitor General nominee, reportedly told a Republican senator that the Administration agreed with Bush that we are “at war” and therefore can hold enemy combatants indefinitely. In the meantime, Obama himself seemed to tie himself in knots when asked about investigating war crimes and leading democrats are again pushing for a symbolic “truth commission.” I discussed these issues in this segment of Countdown this week.
A female FBI officer tortured a suspect in the Mumbai terrorist attacks by performing a sex act on him during interrogation, it has been claimed.
By Ben Leach, Telegraph
Fahim Ansari is accused of helping to plan the attacks in which 173 people were killed in November.
His lawyer, Ejaz Naqvi, has filed legal papers with Mumbai magistrate's court, claiming the "white woman" removed all his clothes and showed him pornographic films.
In the papers, he claims that three foreigners, including the woman, sexually abused him, causing him "severe itching and wounds" on his body, including his genitals.
Mr Ansari, a devout Muslim, claims this amounts to torture because it is against his religion, The Sun newspaper has reported.
Rights Groups Release Documents Obtained in FOIA Case Relating to Secret Detention, Extraordinary Rendition, and Torture Program
New Evidence of DOD Cooperation with CIA Ghost Detention Program
February 12, 2009, New York and Washington, DC-Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit confirm Department of Defense involvement in the CIA's ghost detention program, revealed three prominent human rights groups today. The groups - Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) - today released documents obtained from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and U.S. Department of State (DOS), resulting from their lawsuit seeking the disclosure of government documents that relate to secret detention, extraordinary rendition, and torture.
--Tell Justice Department Not to Coverup Torture With "State Secrets" Claim
--Support New Legislation Just Introduced in Both Houses
On Monday the new U.S. Justice Department urged a federal appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan for its role in the extraordinary rendition program. Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen was brought on behalf of five men who were kidnapped and secretly transferred to U.S.-run prisons or foreign intelligence agencies overseas where they were tortured. The Bush administration asserted the "state secrets" privilege, claiming the case would undermine national security. The Obama administration has now done the same, arguing that the president can block prosecutions at will because commissions can serve as a substitute.
Last Wednesday, Britain's High Court of Justice ruled evidence in the U.K. civil case of Binyam Mohamed, one of the plaintiffs in the Jeppesen case, must remain secret because of U.S. threats to cut off intelligence sharing. On Saturday Britain's Telegraph reported that "Mohamed’s genitals were sliced with a scalpel and other torture methods so extreme that waterboarding, the controversial technique of simulated drowning, 'is very far down the list of things they did'." On Sunday Britain's Daily Mail reported that Mohamed "was identified as a terrorist after confessing he had visited a 'joke' website on how to build a nuclear weapon. ... [He] admitted to having read the 'instructions' after allegedly being beaten, hung up by his wrists for a week and having a gun held to his head in a Pakistani jail."
Please phone and Email Attorney General Eric Holder right now to ask him not to coverup torture and prevent prosecutions. Ask him instead to appoint a special prosecutor: 202-514-2001 AskDOJ@usdoj.gov
In the House and Senate, Congress members Nadler, Petri, Conyers, Delahunt, and Lofgren, and Senators Leahy, Specter, Feingold, McCaskill, Whitehouse and Kennedy have just reintroduced the State Secrets Protection Act, requiring court review of any "state secrets" claims. Ask your Congress member and senators to sign on and to encourage the Attorney General to appoint a Special Prosecutor: 202-224-3121.
Senator Russ Feingold has requested a classified briefing to explain the "state secrets" claim. Encourage him to pursue the matter and to encourage the Attorney General to appoint a Special Prosecutor: Feingold, (202) 224-5323.
By Andrew Kenney, The Herald
SMITHFIELD — North Carolina Stop Torture Now took its case to the Johnston County Board of Commissioners last week.
On Monday, about 25 members of the group held a vigil outside the courthouse. Later, they asked commissioners to end the county airport’s role in alleged “extraordinary rendition” flights by Aero Contractors Ltd.
Stop Torture Now claims that Aero Contractors flies terror suspects around the globe for torture and interrogation at CIA “black sites” and in Third World countries. The group asked commissioners to require the Johnston County Airport Authority to sign an anti-rendition-flight pledge. Under the pledge, the authority would bar the use of the airport for rendition flights and refer the matter to law enforcement.
Human rights committee calls Miliband and Smith for questioning over torture claims
By The Guardian
David Miliband has been asked to join Jacqui Smith in appearing before parliament's human rights committee amid growing concern that the government may have breached international law by colluding in the alleged torture of British citizens in Pakistan.
MPs and peers from the joint committee on human rights (JCHR) have also asked the attorney general, Lady Scotland, to explain by the end of next week what action she has taken to investigate allegations of "possible criminal wrongdoing by the intelligence and security service personnel" in Pakistan.
The question is being starkly framed now: Who runs this country?
Newly Released Documents Show That U.S. Prisoners Were Killed By Torture Within Two Days of Rumsfeld's Authorization
Read this. NOW can we stop the damn "waterboarding" debate and talk about the sorts of torture primarily engaged in by our taxpayer funded murderers?