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DC Events Tonight, 7 PM and Tomorrow in DC: Phyllis Bennis Speaks Tonight; Lincoln Memorial Action Tomorrow
Phyllis Bennis of the Institute For Policy Studies will be speaking at American University’s WARD HALL (Ward 1 – T Floor) tonight, February 11th at 7 PM.
Come to hear Phyllis, a leading peace advocate, talk about peace efforts with a new U.S. administration.
Sponsored by Witness Against Torture and American University’s Amnesty International chapter.
Thursday, February 12 - 8am
As part of the 100 Days Campaign, we have been holding a daily vigil from 11am-1pm, Monday thru Friday, at the White House.
On February 12 at 8 a.m, we will gather for a presence at the Lincoln Memorial. Every year since the Memorial was dedicated, dignitaries, diplomats, and citizens have assembled in the chamber to honor Abraham Lincoln on the day of his birth.
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.
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: 202-514-2001 AskDOJ@usdoj.gov
Last year, Senators Edward Kennedy, Patrick Leahy, and Arlen Specter, introduced the State Secrets Protection Act, which would severely limit the use of the "state secrets" claim. Please call and ask them to reintroduce this bill right away:
Kennedy, 202-224-4543; Leahy, 202-224-4242; Specter, 202-224-4254.
In the House, Congress members Nadler, Petri, Conyers, Delahunt, and Lofgren have just reintroduced the State Secrets Protection Act. Ask your Congress member to sign on: 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 Marjorie Cohn, Jurist
Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian residing in Britain, said he was tortured after being sent to Morocco and Afghanistan in 2002 by the U.S. government. Mohamed was transferred to Guantánamo in 2004 and all terrorism charges against him were dismissed last year. Mohamed was a victim of extraordinary rendition, in which a person is abducted without any legal proceedings and transferred to a foreign country for detention and interrogation, often tortured.
Mohamed and four other plaintiffs are accusing Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. of flying them to other countries and secret CIA camps where they were tortured. In Mohamed’s case, two British justices accused the Bush administration of pressuring the British government to block the release of evidence that was “relevant to allegations of torture” of Mohamed.
From Center for Constitutional Rights
February 10, 2009, WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, attorneys for torture victims abused in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere in Iraq asked the federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to affirm a lower court ruling letting the lawsuit proceed to trial against CACI International Inc. and overturn as premature the summary judgment granted to L-3.
The court heard arguments in Saleh v. CACI et al., the federal litigation brought by Iraqis against the publicly-traded companies, CACI International Inc. and L-3 over human rights abuses committed in Iraq.
Filed in June 2004, Saleh v. CACI et al. charged the companies with torture and other heinous and illegal acts while they provided interrogation and translation services, respectively, at detention facilities in Iraq, including Abu Ghraib.
Obama Administration Maintains Bush Position on 'Extraordinary Rendition' Lawsuit
From Jake Tapper and Ariane de Vogue | ABCNews.com | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
The Obama Administration today announced that it would keep the same position as the Bush Administration in the lawsuit Mohamed et al v Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc.
The case involves five men who claim to have been victims of extraordinary rendition -- including current Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed, another plaintiff in jail in Egypt, one in jail in Morocco, and two now free. They sued a San Jose Boeing subsidiary, Jeppesen Dataplan, accusing the flight-planning company of aiding the CIA in flying them to other countries and secret CIA camps where they were tortured.
By Dave Lindorff
The similar calls by Senate Judiciary Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and House Judiciary Chair Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the crimes of the Bush/Cheney administration are potentially a terrible idea, but one that could turn out to be an excellent one, if handled correctly.
It would be a terrible idea if a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was just another 9-11-type body. That commission turned out to be worse than nothing, given that it was manipulated by the Bush administration to be toothless and that it ended up covering up more than it uncovered. Aside from the behind the scenes manipulation, the biggest problem with the 9-11 commission, though, was that is was not linked to any attempt to prosecute official wrong-doing.
NEW YORK – The Justice Department today repeated Bush administration claims of "state secrets" in 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 interrogated under torture. The Bush administration intervened in the case, inappropriately asserting the "state secrets" privilege and claiming the case would undermine national security. Oral arguments were presented today in the American Civil Liberties Union's appeal of the dismissal, and the Obama administration opted not to change the government position in the case, instead reasserting that the entire subject matter of the case is a state secret.
The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU:
Gitmo Detainee’s ‘Genitals Were Sliced With A Scalpel,’ Waterboarding ‘Far Down The List Of Things They Did’
Can we perhaps finally move beyond the stupid waterboarding discussion? Is that possible?
By David Swanson
If we can move beyond torture, do we not have a responsibility also to think for a moment about the obvious fact that torture is not the cruelest thing we do? Torture offends us, in part, because the torturer is not at risk, but neither are most pilots dropping bombs. And how exactly does the risk taken by ground troops mitigate the suffering of those they wound, kill, and terrorize? Hanging someone by the wrists offends us, and yet we might rather have it done to us than be kept in 23-hours-a-day isolation for a decade, a practice that is part of our accepted justice system. Clearly our morality is a scrambled hodge-podge of reactions that could use some improvement.
Lieutenant-Colonel Yvonne Bradley, an American military lawyer, will step through the grand entrance of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London tomorrow and demand the release of her client - a British resident who claims he was repeatedly tortured at the behest of US intelligence officials - from Guantánamo Bay. Bradley will also request the disclosure of 42 secret documents that allegedly chronicle not only how Binyam Mohamed was tortured, but may also corroborate claims that Britain was complicit in his treatment.
By PAMELA HESS
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration will not prosecute CIA officers who participated in harsh interrogations that critics say crossed the line into torture, CIA Director-nominee Leon Panetta said Friday.
Asked by The Associated Press if that was official policy, Panetta said, "That is the case."
It was the clearest statement yet on what Panetta and other Democratic officials had only strongly suggested: CIA officers who acted on legal orders from the Bush administration would not be held responsible for those policies. On Thursday, he told senators that the Obama administration had no intention of seeking prosecutions for that reason.
Panetta, in an interview with the AP after a second day of confirmation hearings with the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that he arrived at that conclusion even before he began meeting with CIA officials.
When President Obama signed executive orders to end torture and shut down Guantanamo, did he leave open the controversial rendition policy of kidnapping foreigners abroad? We host a debate between human rights attorneys Michael Ratner and Scott Horton.
Obama Supports Bush Secrecy About U.S.-Sponsored Torture
By Daphne Eviatar | Washington Independent
The Obama administration may have just failed the first big test of its promises to end unwarranted government secrecy.
According to a decision issued Wednesday by the High Court in Great Britain, the court will not publish its summary of the alleged torture of Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed because the U.S. government threatened to end intelligence cooperation with the British if it did.
Mohamed, a lawful U.K. resident, claims he was seized by U.S. agents in Pakistan and tortured before being “extraordinarily rendered” to Morocco to be tortured some more.
Clive Stafford Smith, director of Reprieve, the legal charity and human rights group which acted for Mohamed, said last night: "The US is under a legal duty to investigate the crime of torture, not to suppress evidence that it happened ... For the foreign secretary to give in to these illegal demands by the Bush administration is capitulation to blackmail, pure and simple."
The government was accused last night of hiding behind claims of a threat to national security to suppress evidence of torture by the CIA on a prisoner still held in Guantánamo Bay.
An unprecedented high court ruling yesterday blamed the US, with British connivance, for keeping the "powerful evidence" secret, sparking criticism from lawyers, campaigners and MPs, who claimed the government had capitulated to American bullying.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney warned that there is a “high probability” that terrorists will attempt a catastrophic nuclear or biological attack in coming years, and said he fears the Obama administration’s policies will make it more likely the attempt will succeed.
In an interview Tuesday with Politico, Cheney unyieldingly defended the Bush administration’s support for the Guantanamo Bay prison and coercive interrogation of terrorism suspects.
And he asserted that President Obama will either backtrack on his stated intentions to end those policies or put the country at risk in ways more severe than most Americans — and, he charged, many members of Obama’s own team — understand.
Call President Obama and Attorney General Holder and tell them:
1. You support the Executive Order to Shut Down Guantanamo.
2. You request that, as a first and immediate step, the Obama administration should drop the Bush administration's appeal of Judge Urbina's order to release the 17 Uighurs into the United States.
White House: 202-456-1111
Attorney General: 202-353-1555
By Jason Leopold, http://www.consortiumnews.com
Amid grassroots pressure to hold senior Bush administration officials accountable for torture and other crimes, an influential Democratic senator said President Barack Obama and Congress have no choice but to mount a serious investigation because to do nothing would invite a repetition of the abuses.
“We need to follow this thing into those dense weeds and shine a bright light into what was done,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, said in a speech at Brown University on Saturday. “We can paper it over if we choose, but the blueprint is still lying there for others to do it all over again. It’s important that we not let this moment pass.”
Whitehouse’s remarks were made at two-day medical conference sponsored by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which has called for an investigation into the Bush administration’s use of interrogation techniques that have been widely regarded as torture.
By Jason Leopold, The Public Record
President Barack Obama and Congress have no choice but to investigate the Bush administration’s directive to torture suspected terrorists, despite the fact that lawmakers are now dealing with more pressing issues, such as the economy and unemployment, said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in a speech to more than 400 students Saturday.
“We need to follow this thing into those dense weeds and shine a bright light into what was done,” Whitehouse, the Democratic senator from Rhode Island, told students at Brown University. “We can paper it over if we choose, but the blueprint is still lying there for others to do it all over again. It’s important that we not let this moment pass.”
That's the case made here.
By Larry Beinhart, Smirking Chimp
Credit where credit is due. The TV show 24 is probably the most significant piece of political drama in the last decade.
On one hand, it is very likely that Barack Obama got elected because America had already had a serious black presidential candidate (one season) and two black presidents (one season each). And he was always the most decent guy in the room. Often, the only decent guy in the room. Just like Obama.
On the other hand, there's torture.
* Terrorists are going to nuke Los Angeles in three hours.
* Agent Jack Bauer has a suspect who knows where the bomb is.
* If Jack Bauer tortures the suspect, he can force him to say where it is, get there in two hours and fifty-nine minutes, stop the bomb, and save ten million people.
* What should, what must, Jack Bauer do?
That's a no-brainer. Clip the electrodes to his balls and turn on the juice.
By Julio Godoy, IPS
BERLIN, Feb 2 (IPS) - Now that former U.S. president George W. Bush is an ordinary citizen again, many legal and human rights activists in Europe are demanding that he and high-ranking members of his government be brought before justice for crimes against humanity committed in the so-called war on terror.
"Judicial clarification of the crimes against international law the former U.S. government committed is one of the most delicate issues that the new U.S. president Barack Obama will have to deal with," Wolfgang Kaleck, general secretary of the European Centre for Human and Constitutional Rights told IPS.
U.S. justice will have to "deal with the turpitudes committed by the Bush government," says Kaleck, who has already tried unsuccessfully to sue the former U.S. authorities in European courts. "And, furthermore, the U.S. government will have to pay compensation to the innocent people who were victims of these crimes."
One reason Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was forced to resign was the growing support for a bill in the House that read in its entirety:
Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary shall investigate fully whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to impeach Alberto R. Gonzales, Attorney General of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors.
Obama lets CIA keep controversial renditions tool
By Greg Miller, Chicago Tribune
WASHINGTON — The CIA's secret prisons are being shuttered. Harsh interrogation techniques are off-limits. And Guantanamo Bay will eventually go back to being a wind-swept naval base on the southeastern corner of Cuba.
But even while dismantling these discredited programs, President Barack Obama left an equally controversial counterterrorism tool intact.
Under executive orders issued by Obama last week, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, or the secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the U.S.
By John Byrne, RawStory
Attorneys for US citizen Jose Padilla -- who was convicted of material support for terrorist activities in 2007 -- say that high-level Bush Administration officials knew their client was being tortured during the time he was held an enemy combatant in a South Carolina brig, because of the command structure and that then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld employed in approving harsh interrogation tactics.
Rumsfeld approved the harsh interrogation techniques early in Bush's presidency. In Iraq, a cheat sheet titled "Interrogation Rules of Engagement," revealed that some of them required the Iraq commanding general's approval.
By Jim Naureckas, FAIR
Looking back on the good old days when we all supported torture, Richard Cohen writes today in the Washington Post (1/27/09):
"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there." So goes an aphorism that needs to be applied to the current debate over whether those who authorized and used torture should be prosecuted. In the very different country called September 11, 2001, the answer would be a resounding no.
Back then, a Post poll gave George W. Bush an approval rating of 92 percent, which meant that almost no one thought he was on the wrong course. At the same time, questions about the viability of torture were very much in the air. Alan Dershowitz was suggesting the creation of torture warrants--permission from a court to, in effect, break some bones....
Doing so would avoid this sort of crazy discussion:
Close Torture Loopholes, Physicians' Group Urges
By William Fisher, Inter Press Service
NEW YORK - While applauding President Barack Obama's recent executive orders banning torture and other harsh interrogation practices, medical authorities are calling attention to a little-reported section of the Army's Field Manual on Interrogation that they say still allows the use of tactics that can constitute torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under U.S. and international law.
The suspect section of the Manual is known as Annex M, which allows the use of sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, and isolation, termed "separation" in the Manual. Obama's executive orders directed all government agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), to follow the manual for interrogations.