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Trial Overseer Cites 'Abusive' Methods Against 9/11 Suspect
By Bob Woodward, Washington Post
The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a "life-threatening condition."
"We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani," said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. "His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that's why I did not refer the case" for prosecution.
"YES, WE CAN" CLOSE GUANTANAMO IN 100 DAYS
Witness Against Torture, a grassroots group dedicated to closing Guantanamo and ending torture, is heartened by the announcement from unnamed members of Barack Obama's transition team that the new President will sign an executive order to close Guantanamo on January 21st, his first full day in office.
But members of the group, which marked the seventh anniversary of the Guantanamo prison with a demonstration on Sunday, January 11th , are alarmed that carrying out this order is likely to be a year-long process, or longer. "Guantanamo must be closed not just on paper, but in reality. And for the 250 men still there, it has already been seven years too long," remarks Frida Berrigan, an organizer with Witness Against Torture.
Washington, DC. January 13th, 2009
By Matthew W. Daloisio
With news breaking of a possible executive order coming from President Obama on January 21st to close Guantanamo, 30 fasters met @ 7am this morning for reflection, which began with a poem written from the Guantanamo Prison. While some have insisted that the work is now done, Guantanamo will be closed in one years, we are trying to ask ourselves how it must feel to be one of the 250 men still in prison, learning of at least another year behind bars. While we are heartened by potential early steps towards Guantanamo's closure, our work is far from done.
Our vigil today was a procession in jumpsuits and hoods from DuPont
Circle to the Obama transition Headquarters
(http://100dayscampaign.org/photos) and we heard from a reporter later in the day, that the motorcade we saw (and that saw us) was in fact, Obama’s.
You can see videos, and read blogs about the day(s) at:
Torture in Manhattan for 28-year-old Muslim American Sayed Fahad Hashmi
By Nat Hentoff, Village Voice
For the past year, a 28-year-old Muslim American student, Sayed Fahad Hashmi—the first person extradited to the United States from Britain to face charges of terrorism—has been held at the Manhattan Correctional Center under conditions of confinement that are the very definition of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishment."
Sharp rise in number of Gitmo detainees on hunger strike:
The number of inmates on hunger strike at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility has risen sharply to 42 -- eight more than last week, officials said Monday at the US-run "war-on-terror" prison.
"We have 42 hunger strikers," said Captain Pauline Storum, spokesperson for the facility, who said the figure includes 31 detainees being force-fed.
There are roughly 250 inmates detained at Guantanamo.
Last Friday there were just 34 inmates who refused food, of whom 25 were forcibly fed.
Officials at Guantanamo said a detainee is classified as being on hunger strike after going for three consecutive days without eating.
US military authorities said forced feedings begin after a detainee either has gone three weeks without a meal, has fallen below 85 percent of his ideal body weight, or if a doctor has recommended it as a medical necessity to preserve an inmate's life.
Lt Col Darrel Vandeveld gives his first interview since quitting the US military after witnessing mistreatment of inmates and crucial evidence being withheld from defence lawyers at Guantanamo Bay. Security correspondent Gordon Corera reports.
Psychiatrist Justin Frank, author of Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President, says the trail of destruction wrought by Bush over the last eight years is the direct consequence of handing a man with a destructive personality profile tremendous power.
George Bush’s presidency is the culmination of a lifelong history of sadistic practices that he must deny in order to maintain his fragile psychological equilibrium. Since childhood, Bush was labeled a bad child, a troublemaker, and a delinquent. He stuck firecrackers into frogs and exploded them; he shot and wounded his little brothers with a b-b gun; he branded fraternity pledges at Yale with red-hot coat hangers; he mocked others and was a verbal bully, irreverent about anything serious.
By Staff, Think Progress
In an interview with Brit Hume that aired today on Fox News Sunday, President Bush admitted that he personally authorized the torture of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He said he personally asked "what tools" were available to use on him, and sought legal approval for waterboarding him:
BUSH: One such person who gave us information was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. … And I’m in the Oval Office and I am told that we have captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the professionals believe he has information necessary to secure the country. So I ask what tools are available for us to find information from him and they gave me a list of tools, and I said are these tools deemed to be legal? And so we got legal opinions before any decision was made.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said he is interested in revealing the origins and sweep of the Bush administration's controversial interrogation program and is willing to sponsor legislation if necessary to release many of the documents about the program. Scores of secret documents have been assembled for the Senate Intelligence Committee's bipartisan investigation into the CIA's destruction of videotapes that showed U.S. interrogators conducting waterboarding of two terrorism suspects. Wyden, a Senate confidant of Obama's, wants to declassify many top-secret documents that would reveal how the program came to be, whether severe methods have been effective in yielding useful intelligence, and what the legal arguments were for allowing them.
By Robert Parry, www.consortiumnews.com
With only 10 days left before George W. Bush leaves office, the Washington Establishment – and its chief mouthpiece the Washington Post – are trying to stymie any meaningful accountability for the outgoing administration and thus cover up for their own complicity in Bush’s crimes and incompetence.
The latest example is the Post’s front-page article on Jan. 10 which offers a one-sided defense of torture in the guise of discussing how President-elect Barack Obama is under pressure over his expressed goal of prohibiting abusive interrogation of detainees in the “war on terror.”
The Post article presents those interrogation policies as an undisputed success, even quoting Vice President Dick Cheney as something of an unbiased expert in declaring that the harsh tactics “have been absolutely essential to maintaining our capacity to interfere with and defeat all further attacks against the United States.”
By John Byrne, Raw Story
Ten percent of captives at the US Guantanamo Bay prison -- many of whom have never been charged of a crime -- are having their heads velcroed to chairs and forced to take in nutritional supplements by a tube forcibly inserted through their noses by US guards.
Twenty-five captives who've starved themselves for weeks are being fed through tubes in their noses, the US military admitted Thursday. Thirty detainees are currently on a hunger strike.
A lawyer for 17 Yemeni men told a Miami Herald reporter Thursday that the hunger strike was partly in response to the US decision to release Osama Bin Laden's driver Salim Hamdan in November. Hamdan was charged with supporting terrorism and was held just shy of his 66-month sentence; many of those on the hunger strike have never been charged with a crime.
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.