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US president-elect Barack Obama on Friday nominated two Washington heavyweights to key intelligence positions, vowing to break with controversial "war on terror" practices.
Obama picked retired admiral Dennis Blair as his director of national intelligence and former White House chief of staff Leon Panetta to head the Central Intelligence Agency.
"Good intelligence is not a luxury. It is a necessity," Obama said as he unveiled his choices for the key posts, vowing to abide by the Geneva Convention pledging the United States would not use torture.
Vice President Dick Cheney said Thursday that he sees no reason for President George W. Bush to pre-emptively pardon anyone at the CIA involved in harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists. "I don't have any reason to believe that anybody in the agency did anything illegal," he said.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Cheney also said that Bush has no need to apologize for not foreseeing the economic crisis.
"I don't think he needs to apologize. I think what he needed to do is take bold, aggressive action and he has," Cheney said. "I don't think anybody saw it coming."
REPORT NAMES 30 BUSH OFFICIALS COMPLICIT IN TORTURE
President Bush and his aides repeatedly ignored warnings that their torture plans were illegal from high State Department officials as well as the nation’s top uniformed legal officers, the Judge Advocates General of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, a new published report states.
“These warnings of illegality and immorality given by knowledgeable and experienced (government) persons were ignored by the small group of high Executive officers who were determined that America would torture and abuse its prisoners and who had the decision-making power to secretly require this to be done,” said Lawrence Velvel, chairman of the “Steering Committee of the Justice Robert H. Jackson Conference On Planning For The Prosecution of High Level American War Criminals.” Velvel is a noted reformer in the field of American legal education.
End torture & indefinite detention, and stop extraordinary rendition by the U.S. Government
KEY BRIDGE (Virginia Side)
SUNDAY, JANUARY 18, 2009
SUNSET (4:30 TO 6:00)
Sponsored by Northern Virginians for Peace & Justice, the Torture Abolition and Survivors Coalition and the Washington Peace Center. Vigil to be held in triangle park at the foot of Key Bridge, across from the Marriott. Handicapped accessible. Nearest Metro stop: Rosslyn, on the Orange/Blue line. Contact Moya Atkinson at 703-941-3707, firstname.lastname@example.org
ANTI-TORTURE ACTIVISTS TO FAST AND RALLY SUNDAY TO CALL ON OBAMA TO CLOSE GUANTANAMO AND BAN TORTURE IMMEDIATELY
Witness Against Torture
WASHINGTON — On Sunday, January 11 — the seven-year anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantanamo — more than 200 human rights advocates will join 60 people who are beginning a nine-day fast to encourage President-Elect Barack Obama to keep his promise to shut down Guantanamo and end torture in his first days of office.
At DuPont Circle Park at 12:45 pm, human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, The Center for Constitutional Rights, and September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, will call for an end to the Bush policies, justice for the detainees, and accountability for possible U.S. crimes. 150 demonstrators wearing orange jumpsuits and hoods will have a prisoner procession to dramatize the plight of the detainees still at Guantanamo.
"I am fasting," says Malachy Kilbride of the Washington Peace Center, "to symbolically join the prisoners, who are starved for justice."
This is encouraging - I hope it's right: insiders fear torture prosecutions.
By Dave Lindorff
Last week, a US federal district judge, Henry Kennedy, ruled in favor of a case brought by the survivors of the crew of the USS Pueblo, a spy ship captured by the North Korean Navy in 1968, who were held prisoner by North Korea for 11 months, and who were reportedly tortured in captivity. The judge awarded the men $65 million in damages from the state of North Korea.
Now I’m happy for the plaintiffs. Torture is flatly banned under international law, and nobody should be tortured under any conditions (whatever Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia may think). But let’s not ignore the irony of this ruling. In general, the federal courts have been incredibly reluctant about making such rulings against the US government for doing the same thing that North Korea did, or even worse.
Cageprisoners presents Two Sides, One Story, a tour of the UK that brings those on opposite sides of wire at Guantanamo together for the first time.
Christopher Brandon Arendt, a former guard at the detention camp, will be speaking about his experiences in guarding suspected terrorists and bringing new insight into the way the US administration's detention policy has affected both soldiers and prisoners.
Also for the first time, the former Guantanamo detainee and current Al Jazeera journalist, Sami Muhyideen El-Haj, will be speaking with Moazzam Begg as they both reflect on life at the prison on the other side of the wire from Chris.
We believe this unique tour and gathering comes at historic juncture in the midst of the 'War on Terror' at a much needed time.
The tour begins on 11th January 2009, at Friends Meeting House, Euston, London, to mark the seventh anniversary since the first transfers of prisoners to Guantanamo Bay.
By Jason Leopold, The Public Record
An e-mail written by a senior FBI agent in Iraq in 2004 specifically stated that President George W. Bush had signed an Executive Order approving the use of military dogs, sleep deprivation and other tactics to intimidate Iraqi detainees.
The FBI e-mail--dated May 22, 2004--followed disclosures about abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison and sought guidance on whether FBI agents in Iraq were obligated to report the U.S. military’s harsh interrogation of inmates when that treatment violated FBI standards but fit within the guidelines of a presidential Executive Order.
By David Swanson
"It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners."
— Albert Camus
Washington Post editorial writer Ruth Marcus has joined the side of the executioners and provided a clear example of how that is respectably done in our time and place.
Her recent column begins:
"Should Bush administration officials be put on trial for crimes such as authorizing torture?"
Nations Wary of Taking in Detainees
By Meraiah Foley and Mark McDonald, New York Times
SYDNEY, Australia - Australia said Friday it was unlikely to agree to U.S. requests to accept detainees from the prison at Guantánamo Bay as Washington moves to close the notorious camp. Britain also signaled reluctance to take in significant numbers of former Guantánamo prisoners and said on Friday that Washington had not asked it to do so.
[A U.S. flag flies above a razorwire-topped fence at the "Camp Six" detention facility at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in this December 10, 2008 file photo. (Reuters/Mandel Ngan/Pool)]A U.S. flag flies above a razorwire-topped fence at the "Camp Six" detention facility at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in this December 10, 2008 file photo. (Reuters/Mandel Ngan/Pool)
Australia's acting prime minister, Julia Gillard, said the Bush administration has twice approached Australia about taking prisoners from Guantánamo.
By Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Marvin, US Army Special Forces (Retired), Author of "Expendable Elite - One Soldier's Journey Into Covert Warfare"
Immediately after commanding the memorial tribute at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, in honor of President John F. Kennedy on the day he was assassinated, I volunteered for Special Forces. Knowing how much my best friend, Green Beret SFC Gerard V. Parmentier, admired the just slain President, inspired this action.
Dennis Loo has the story.
The internment and severe interrogation of 13-year-old Omar Khadir at Guantanamo Bay raises serious ethical issues. His interrogators at the notorious camp have used snarling dogs against him. He was also placed in "stress positions," upended and used as a human mop to clean the floor. The U.S. forces were convinced he had thrown a grenade that killed an American soldier.
Omar Khadir, originally hailing from Canada, is one of the 19 Guantanamo prisoners charged with war crimes. His fellow prisoner, Mohammed Jawad, an Afghan, is a year younger. These two of the lot were juveniles at the time of their alleged offenses, it may be noted.
Note: This report is 3 months old, but is re-published for its' first hand account of US treatment of Iraqi detainees. ~Chip :)
This story was written in the early days of September, 2008; about the night that I encountered questionable treatment of Iraqi prisoners, while flying in a U.S. Army CH-47 helicopter from Fallujah, to Balad, Iraq.
I have delayed publishing it, but more revelations today about the authorized torture and abuse of prisoners in Iraq by Bush Administration officials caused us to make the decision to release this.
Groups want Obama to investigate Bush for war crimes
But prosecution would be difficult
By Marissa Taylor | Freep.com | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
Emboldened by a Democratic win of the White House, civil libertarians and human-rights groups want the incoming Obama administration to investigate whether the Bush administration committed war crimes. They don't just want low-level CIA interrogators, either. They want President George W. Bush on down.
In the past eight years, administration critics have demanded that top officials be held accountable for a host of expansive assertions of executive powers, from eavesdropping without warrants to detaining suspected enemy combatants indefinitely at the Guantánamo Bay military prison.
By Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian/UK
Lawyers for a British resident held at Guantánamo Bay have accused Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, of signing a "flagrantly false" affidavit to avoid having to disclose evidence of torture.
In a sworn affidavit to a district court in Washington, Gates says the US authorities have provided Binyam Mohamed's lawyers and the British government with all the information they possess relating to Mohamed's treatment while held in secret prisons. Gates declared his affidavit to be the truth "under penalty of perjury".
Bush shoe-thrower tells of ordeal
By Ernesto Londoño, Financial Times
Muntadar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush of the US during a Baghdad press conference last week, spent his first days behind bars believing his family and colleagues would shun him, the man's brother said yesterday.
Those guarding the 29-year-old journalist at a detention centre in Baghdad's high security Green Zone forced him to watch a television channel run by Sunni extremists loyal to Saddam Hussein. They told him it was the only outlet in the world applauding his act, the journalist's brother, Oday al-Zaidi, said yesterday after being allowed to visit him on Sunday.
Prisoners can be tried in civilian courts with due process or freed to European nations offering to accept them. Watch this Michael Ratner video.
European nations consider taking Guantanamo detainees
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Half dozen European countries are considering resettling detainees from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a gesture to the incoming Obama administration, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
Citing senior European officials and U.S. diplomats, the newspaper said European officials have put out tentative feelers to President-elect Barack Obama's team. But Obama advisers said they could only discuss the issue after the January 20 inauguration.
Sen Durbin Questions AG Mukasey on Torture & War Crimes Prosecution
The Institute for Public Accountability issued this press release on Pardons and Accountability.
Parry, editor of ConsortiumNews.com, a reader-supported investigative webpage, has written a number of pieces about accountability for White House officials. He wrote: "During George W. Bush's presidency alone, language has been routinely twisted to justify everything from aggressive war to torture. Those two international crimes were turned into 'preventive war' and 'alternative interrogation techniques.'"
The Current Detainee Population of Guantánamo: An Empirical Study
By Benjamin Wittes and Zaahira Wyne | Brookings Institution
Introduction - The following report represents an effort both to document and to describe in as much detail as the public record will permit the current detainee population in American military custody at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba. Since the military brought the first detainees to Guantánamo in January 2002, the Pentagon has consistently refused to comprehensively identify those it holds. While it has, at various times, released information about individuals who have been detained at Guantánamo, it has always maintained ambiguity about the population of the facility at any given moment, declining even to specify precisely the number of detainees held at the base.
Rumsfeld's "authorisation of aggressive interrogation techniques and subsequent interrogation policies and plans approved by senior military and civilian officials conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees in U.S. military custody," the report said. The report added that Rumsfeld's authorisation of aggressive interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo Bay "was a direct cause of detainee abuse there."
By Coleen Rowley and Ray McGovern
"First, let's kill all the lawyers" may have made sense in that Shakespearian scene, but there is a far simpler solution to the legal ambiguities regarding what to do now about the torture approved by President George W. Bush. We suggest this variant: First, let's have the lawyers review their notes from Criminal Justice 101.
The professor whom Coleen Rowley had for that course at the University of Iowa was the consummate curmudgeon. He kept repeating himself. It is now clear why. The old fellow hammered home the basic purposes of the criminal justice system and the various kinds and degrees of criminal intent. For Rowley, 24 years as a FBI special agent and attorney helped make it all real.
By David Rose, Vanity Fair
George W. Bush defended harsh interrogations by pointing to intelligence breakthroughs, but a surprising number of counterterrorist officials say that, apart from being wrong, torture just doesn't work. Delving into two high-profile cases, the author exposes the tactical costs of prisoner abuse.
A bipartisan congressional report traces the U.S. abuse of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib to President George W. Bush’s Feb. 7, 2002, action memorandum that excluded “war on terror” suspects from Geneva Convention protections.
The Senate Armed Services Committee’s report said Bush’s memo opened the door to “considering aggressive techniques,” which were then developed with the complicity of then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Bush’s National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and other senior officials.
By Dave Lindorff
A month before he takes office, it has become the conventional wisdom in our conventional media that Barack “No Drama” Obama will not seek or even allow any prosecution of Bush administration officials for crimes committed over the past eight years—not even for authorizing and promoting the illegal use of torture on captives of America’s wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and “terror.”
I'll close down Guantanamo in two years, says Obama
By Paul Thompson, Evening Standard
BARACK Obama has said he plans to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre and mark a "clear end" to torture in the US within two years of becoming president.
The president-elect told Time magazine he hopes to restore the balance between US security needs and the country's constitution.
In an interview with Time magazine, Mr Obama listed a series of benchmarks his team had set during his presidential campaign. Asked how voters would know whether his administration was succeeding in two years, he said: "On foreign policy, have we closed down Guantanamo in a responsible way, put a clear end to torture and restored a balance between the demands of our security and our constitution?"