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Criminal Prosecution and Accountability


The US is still Executing Teens and Locking Kids Up for Life

 

By Dave Lindorff


The United States never misses an opportunity to castigate other countries for “uncivilized” behavior, and certainly there is enough of that to go around almost anywhere you look in the world. But there’s plenty of it here in the U.S. too.


Italy 1, CIA Torturers 0

Forza Italia! After years of appeals, Italy's highest court has upheld the conviction of 23 Americans involved in a CIA kidnapping of a man off the street in Milan, whom the CIA shipped to Egypt to be brutally tortured.  This ruling could result in Italy demanding their extradition.  For, you see, the 23 are living comfortably in the United States.  They look just like decent people.  They blend in.  I don't advise Italy to kidnap (or "rendition") these Americans just because President Obama says that's legal.  But I do encourage Italy to demand extradition.  And I hope that one or another of them will be so good as to seek sanctuary in an Ecuadorean Embassy, just to see how many heads explode in Washington as people try to determine what they're supposed to think of that.

For background on this case, sadly still relevant, here's something I wrote on November 6, 2010:

One Place to Cut Spending: Kidnapping and Torture

By David Swanson

I know it seems like more of a noble sacrifice to cut spending on things people less fortunate than ourselves need, but can somebody explain to me why it wouldn't be at least that noble to eliminate the budget of the CIA, which serves no one?

The Washington Post and the Obama administration have been busy telling us that it's legal to kidnap people and send them to countries that torture. They may call it "renditioning" to nations that use "enhanced interrogation techniques," but a new book details what this means in English.

A man was walking near his home in Milano, Italy, and was stopped and questioned by a policeman. When they had been engaged in conversation for some minutes, the side door of a van parked behind the man crashed open with a thunderous sound, two extremely large and strong men grabbed the civilian and hauled him inside, and the door slammed shut three seconds after it had opened, as the van accelerated and the two men hit and kicked their victim repeatedly in the dark of the van's interior, pounding his head, chest, stomach, and legs. They stopped. They stuffed a gag in his mouth and put a hood over his head, as they cinched cords tight around his wrists and ankles. Hours later they threw him into another vehicle. An hour later they took him out, stood him up, cut his clothes off, shoved something hard up his anus, stuck a diaper and pajamas on him, wrapped his head almost entirely with duct tape, and tossed him in an airplane.

The torture he received when he got where he was going left him nearly dead, prematurely aged, and barely able to walk. It was US-sponsored and Egyptian administered. And it is described in all of its almost unbearable detail in Steve Hendricks' "A Kidnapping in Milan: The CIA on Trial."

Believe it or not, most of this book is enjoyable. Hendricks knows the United States and Italy and how to write about one for readers in the other. His remarks on Italian culture are outdone only by his background on Muslim terrorism, his account of who this kidnapping victim was, and the inclusion of dialogue picked up by Italian wiretaps of terrorism suspects' private conversations. But just as terrific reading are Hendricks' histories of the practice of rendition, of the use of torture, of U.S.-Italian relations, of domestic Italian terrorism, and of modern Egypt.

Not to ruin the punch line -- and this has long been public knowledge -- the kidnapping, transporting, imprisoning, and torturing of this man and many others is paid for with U.S. tax dollars. I'm sure it all sounds very important and rational given how demonically evil Muslims are supposed to be. But how do you justify the dozens of CIA agents living it up in Italy's most luxurious hotels while plotting this operation? And how do you rationalize the damage done to U.S. relations with Italy? Of course, Italians quickly discovered that the CIA was behind this crime. It would have been harder to track them if they'd worn neon signs on their chests. They used cell phones and frequent flyer accounts that were easily identified, not to mention names and addresses similar to their real ones. Hendricks describes their methods as Keystone Kommandoism.

No doubt some of these CIA bunglers and butchers were outsourced and untrained, but they also believed they were above the law. They thought they had immunity. Italian law enforcement thought otherwise. For decades during the Cold War, the CIA kept an army and caches of weapons in Italy to be used if communists were ever able to gain significant political power. A long list of abuses has come to light and no one ever been held accountable. Magistrate Armando Spataro, like many Italians, adored the United States. When reporters asked him why he had indicted two dozen CIA agents, Spataro said he was opposing lawlessness, not his beloved United States. He warned of following the path of Mussolini. He pointed out that Italy had defeated domestic terrorists with the rule of law. He showed that the new U.S. lawlessness was just encouraging terror. His record of prosecuting leftist terrorists and his indictment for terrorism of the victim himself of the U.S. kidnapping made claims of bias difficult to pin on Spataro. The approach resorted to by the U.S. media was -- to the extent possible -- to ignore the whole thing, especially when Spataro won convictions of the agents tried in absentia.

The Italian legal system is one thing, its government in Rome quite another. The latter will never ask the United States to extradite the convicts unless the U.S. president requests it first, just as the United States would never kidnap a man in Italy without telling the Italian president and the Italian spy service first. So, none of the culprits are behind bars, but they are unable to live in or travel to Europe. And a strong signal has been sent about the likelihood of Italy tolerating more such crimes. This is the sort of message Nancy Pelosi would have sent by impeaching Bush even if the Senate had not convicted him.

Hendricks tracked down most of the scofflaws. They're spread around the United States engaged in a variety of work, most of them completely unknown to the public. The man chiefly responsible, on the other hand, is undergoing a public rehabilitation and it about to open a presidential library, while the man responsible for the continued practice and for the freedom of his predecessor has two more years in the White House.

Italy court affirms convictions of 23 Americans in CIA case

ROME — The Associated Press

Italy's highest criminal court on Wednesday upheld the convictions of 23 Americans in the kidnapping of an Egyptian terror suspect as part of the CIA's extraordinary rendition program.

The ruling marks the final appeal in the first trial anywhere in the world involving the CIA's practice of abducting terror suspects and transferring them to third countries where torture is permitted.

The 23 Americans all were convicted in absentia following a three-and-a-half-year trial, and have never been in Italian custody. They risk arrest if they travel to Europe and one of their court-appointed lawyers suggested that the final verdict would open the way for the Italian government to seek their extradition.

`'It went badly. It went very badly,” lawyer Alessia Sorgato said. `'Now they will ask for extradition.”

The Americans and two Italians were convicted last year of involvement in the kidnapping of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, from a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003 — the first convictions anywhere in the world against people involved in the CIA's practice of abducting terror suspects and transferring them to third countries where torture was permitted. The cleric was transferred to U.S. military bases in Italy and Germany before being moved to Egypt, where he says he was tortured. He has since been released.

Those convicted include the former Milan CIA station chief, Robert Seldon Lady, whose original seven-year sentence was raised to nine years on appeal. The other 22 Americans, all but one identified by prosecutors as CIA agents, face seven-year terms.

Previous Italian governments had declined to act on prosecutors' request to extradite the American suspects, most of whom had court-appointed lawyers the defendants never met. While some of the defendants in the case were known figures attached to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Milan, many of those named in the trial are believed to have been aliases, impeding any formal extradition.

Among those whose sentence was upheld was Air Force Col. Joseph Romano, who was head of security at the Aviano Air Force base where the Egyptian cleric was driven from Milan before being taken by plane to Germany and eventually Egypt.

Romano's lawyer, Cesare Bulgheroni, said he would appeal the verdict to the EU human rights court in Strasbourg on the basis that Romano was never formally notified of the charges against him, and that lower courts had rejected some witnesses. Romano was one of only two Americans who received permission to hire his own lawyer during the original trial.

The court also ordered new appeals trials for five Italian intelligence agents, including the former head of military intelligence, Nicolo Pollari. They had been acquitted by lower courts because of state secrets.

During the original trial, three other Americans were acquitted: the then-Rome CIA station chief Jeffrey Castelli and two other diplomats formerly assigned to the Rome Embassy. Prosecutors appealed the acquittal, as they can in Italy. The appeal is still pending in Milan.

European Parliament criticises failure to investigate CIA torture and renditions, calls for ‘transparent’ inquiry in UK

Today the European Parliament adopted by an overwhelming majority a new resolution condemning the role of European states in the CIA's secret detention and torture programme.
 
The Parliament criticises member states for failing to fulfil their obligation to investigate serious human rights violations connected with the CIA programme, pointing out that previous investigations have been hampered by lack of transparency, prevalence of political interests, restriction of victims' right to effective participation, and lack of rigorous investigative techniques.
 
In the wake of the abandonment of the UK’s Gibson Inquiry into the mistreatment of detainees in the ‘War on Terror’, the report “calls on the UK to conduct [a future] inquiry with due transparency, allowing the effective participation of victims and civil society.”
 
The Parliament calls on Romania and Lithuania, in particular, to reopen investigations in the light of new evidence produced by Reprieve. In Poland, where a prosecutorial investigation is still ongoing after several years, the Parliament has deplored the lack of official communication on the scope, conduct and state of play of the investigation.
 
Rapporteur Hélène Flautre MEP noted that until now, progress had been made difficult by a "miasma of secrecy, footdragging and obfuscation" in countries involved in the programme, but said she hoped that the Parliament would be able to assist in inspiring action.
 
Reprieve investigator Crofton Black said: “This comprehensive statement shows that Europe – including the UK – has failed to come to terms with its key role in the CIA’s programme of torture and rendition.  Countries including Britain, Romania and Lithuania have failed to carry out the necessary inquiries into the part they played in some of the worst human rights abuses of the war on terror.”
 
ENDS
 
Notes to editors
 
1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 427 1082 / donald.campbell@reprieve.org.uk
 
2. More information on the new evidence produced by Reprieve on Romania’s and Lithuania’s involvement in the CIA programme can be found on Reprieve’s website:
http://reprieve.org.uk/press/2012_09_10_new_rendition_data_european_parliament


http://reprieve.org.uk/articles/CSCRomania
 
3. Regarding the UK Government’s Detainee Inquiry, initially established under Sir Peter Gibson before being halted in early 2012 in the face of criticisms over its lack of power and independence, the European Parliament today “Notes the criminal investigation launched in the UK on renditions to Libya, and welcomes the decision to continue the wider inquiry into the UK’s responsibility in the CIA programme once the investigation has been concluded; calls on the UK to conduct this inquiry with due transparency, allowing the effective participation of victims and civil society.”

4. Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives.  Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 15 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, assisting over 70 prisoners facing the death penalty around the world, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’ Follow Reprieve on twitter: @ReprieveUK; if you were forwarded this release, sign up to join our press mailing list.

Reprieve logoReprieve
PO Box 52742

London EC4P 4WS
Tel: 020 7353 4640
Fax: 020 7353 4641
Website: www.reprieve.org.uk
Twitter: @ReprieveUK

Reprieve is a charitable company limited by guarantee; Registered Charity No. 1114900 Registered Company No. 5777831 (England) Registered Office 2-6 Cannon Street London EC4M 6YH; Chair: Ken Macdonald QC; Patrons: Alan Bennett, Julie Christie, Martha Lane Fox, Gordon Roddick, Richard Rogers, Ruth Rogers, Jon Snow, Marina Warner, Vivienne Westwood

Survivor of US Military Rape in Japan Allowed to Pursue Perpetrator in US Courts

By Ann Wright

In a landmark case, on September 6, 2012, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Circuit Court Judge gave standing to an Australian woman to collect a Japanese civil judgment against a former US Navy sailor for raping her in Japan ten years ago.

Perpetrator Given Honorable Discharge and Left Japan without informing Japanese Court

A civil judgment by a Tokyo court in 2004 ordered sailor Bloke T. Deans to pay ¥3 million yen in damages to Catherine Jane Fisher as compensation for emotional and physical harm from the rape.  However, despite knowing of the Japanese court case against Deans, the US Navy issued Deans an honorable discharge and allowed Deans to leave Japan without informing the Japanese court or Ms. Fisher.

No Accountability for Torturers

By Marjorie Cohn

The Obama administration has closed the books on prosecutions of those
who violated our laws by authorizing and conducting the torture and
abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody. Last year, Attorney General Eric
Holder announced that his office would investigate only two incidents,
in which CIA interrogations ended in deaths. He said the Justice
Department “has determined that an expanded criminal investigation of
the remaining matters is not warranted.” With that decision, Holder
conferred amnesty on countless Bush officials, lawyers and
interrogators who set and carried out a policy of cruel treatment.

It's Not Just the LAPD: The Big Lie About Police Brutality is That it's Not Rampant

 

By Dave Lindorff


Police brutality is in the news, thanks to the widespread availability of amateur video.

We've seen scene after scene of police beating the crap out of, and even shooting and killing unarmed or minimally dangrous students, women, old men and crazy people, many of them after they have been handcuffed and checked for weapons.

Kafkaesque Parole Practices Ruin Lives

 

By Linn Washington, Jr. 

 

The perplexing predicament confronting Daryl Brooks could confound writers Albert Camus and Franz Kafka, two authors acclaimed for their works about individuals subjected to surreal forms of injustice.

Brooks, a community activist in Trenton, New Jersey, is facing a Kafkaesque return to prison because some NJ state parole personnel charged him with committing a parole violation that top NJ Parole Board officials contend is not actually a violation.

A Shift in the Zeitgeist? Hitchhiker Finds Drivers Suddenly More Willing to Give a Lift

 

By Dave Lindorff


Sometimes a journalist just has to go with the story, even if it’s going all wrong. 


The Secret Scheme To Sabotage Abu-Jamal's Appeal Rights

 

By Linn Washington, Jr.


Mumia Abu-Jamal, the internationally recognized American political prisoner, thwarted a Philadelphia judge’s secretive court order that could have eliminated his future appeal rights when he filed a last- minute motion on August 23rd challenging that order sentencing him to life-without-parole.

Welcoming a Warmonger to Town on Wednesday

Wow, it's been a while, but protests of war makers in Charlottesville will be back big time next Wednesday. It seems like ages since we protested John Yoo, or even since our threatened protest of Dick Cheney scared him out of coming to town. But opportunity is knocking and a massive nonviolent protest is sure to answer.

How could it not? On Wednesday, Charlottesville will host a man who has escalated war in Afghanistan and continued it in the face of overwhelming public opposition. He's invented a new kind of war using drones and launched such wars in numerous nations, building intense hostility toward the United States. He keeps a list of "nominees" for murder. On the list are adults and children, Americans and non-Americans. He holds meetings with his staff on Tuesdays to decide whom to kill next, and then kills them. He'll have one of these Terror Tuesday meetings the day before his visit to our town.

Goldman Sachs Free to Keep Stealing

 

Goldman Sachs Free to Keep Stealing

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Goldman again got off scot-free. On August 9, the Justice Department dropped criminal fraud charges. Evidence the equivalent of enough firepower to sink a carrier battle group was buried and forgotten. More on what happened below.

 

Voter ID Laws Expose GOP Vote Fraud Scheme

 

By Linn Washington


Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, the same conservative Republican who recently cut 70,000 from receiving their meager welfare payments in order to cut government costs, is ready to spend millions of bucks to implement a voter suppression scheme that evidence indicates is a blatant partisan measure designed to help Mitt Romney gain a presidential election victory.

Guilty Conscience or Cynical Ploy? Architect of Too-Big-to-Fail Banks Says It Was a ‘Mistake’

 

By Dave Lindorff


Imagine for a moment what would happen if former President George W. Bush were to give an interview on television and declare that his invasion of Iraq, and the ensuing nine years of death and mayhem that resulted from that war, had been the wrong thing to do. Imagine if he were to say of that decision, “Mistakes were made.”


Citizens Protest PA Prison Expansion At Graterford Prison

 

By John Grant


About 50 people converged on Tuesday afternoon July 17 along Route 29 in Montgomery County near the Graterford State Prison to declare their opposition to the building of more prisons and the expansion of existing prisons like Graterford in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Graterford is already a massive institution.

Iran Should Take the United States to Court

…the Islamic Republic has a strong case which could prevent war 

By Franklin Lamb

This observer’s best ever (and shortest) job  involved  “ sort of” representing Iran before The Hague based International Court of Justice back in the ancient history days of 1980 following the American hostage events when the US government sued the new Islamic Republic of Iran before the ICJ  under Articles 22 (2), 24, 25, 26, 27 and 29 of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations as well as Article 111 (4) of the 1955Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights (USA/Iran).

When reality outstripped satire at the Tony Blair mad-hatters banquet

The Iraq war will follow Blair wherever he goes. He lied, bullied, manoeuvred and deceived in order to get his way. But some now say that's in the long past and we should "get over it".


By Lindsey German
Stop the War Coalition
12 July 2012


Tony Blair joins the protest outside his comeback banquet at Arsenal football stadium. Picture by Matthew Aslett. See more pictures here...

The Blairs and the Milibands in their finery for the Arsenal banquet.

LITTLE did I think while watching the BBC’s TwentyTwelve about the London Olympics on Tuesday night that just 24 hours later reality would outstrip satire. Yet Ed Miliband’s announcement that his new policy review adviser is to be none other than Tony Blair, giving advice on the Olympic legacy, does just that.

Even at this late stage, Blair could perhaps secure a place in the comedy about the Olympics preparations, giving advice on security to the harassed character played by Hugh Bonneville, who in this week's episode was shot in the leg with a starting pistol.

Blair’s new position was announced at a Labour Party jamboree at the Arsenal Emirates stadium last night. The great and the good paid up to £500 a ticket to hear the good news.

The Emirates was an apt venue, and one in which Blair will surely have felt at home, given his forays into war in the Middle East, backed all the while by the Gulf States, who are a by word for reaction in the region.

I was one of those demonstrating outside the giant stadium to remind the guests that their main speaker was a war criminal. The organiser of the event, his henchman Alistair Campbell, helped to ‘sex up’ the September 2002 dossier that dishonestly claimed that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that could hit British interests ‘in 45 minutes.’

Campbell repeatedly used his journalistic talents to spin his and Blair’s way to war, regardless of the consequences.

Whoever told Miliband that rehabilitating Blair was a good idea has obviously forgotten the deep and lasting hatred and contempt that millions of people in Britain feel for him.

Give Tony Blair the boot: Protest 11 July

Stop the War Coalition
Bulletin 10 July 2012

    Email: office@stopwar.org.uk
    Tel: 0207 561 9311
    www.stopwar.org.uk
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/STWuk

The attempt to rehabilitate Tony Blair’s public image continues unabated. After editing the Evening Standard he will now be appearing on Wednesday 11 July alongside Ed Milliband at a dinner to promote British sport at the Arsenal Emirates Football Stadium. Help give him the welcome he deserves: War Criminals are not welcome here... or anywhere except at the International Criminal Court facing charges for war crimes. Please help spread the word in every way you can. And sign the TONY BLAIR NOT WELCOME HERE e-petition: http://bit.ly/MXrS33

War Criminals Not Welcome Here
Protest Wednesday 11 July 5.30pm
Main Entrance: Arsenal Emirates Stadium
London N5 1BU

Nearest tube Holloway, Arsenal or Finsbury Park.
How to get there: http://bit.ly/MXjWyK
Facebook event: http://on.fb.me/MXk0yB
For details and updates: http://bit.ly/MXnrFE

* E-PETITION: Make sure you sign the TONY BLAIR NOT WELCOME HERE e-petition:
http://bit.ly/MXrS33
* SEE Lindsey German: Why war criminal Tony Blair's comeback plan must be stopped in its tracks:
http://bit.ly/Ng4RqT
* SEE: Nowhere safe for Tony Blair as yet another attempt to arrest him for war crimes:
http://bit.ly/LoamA8

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Julian Assange and What is at Stake

For two weeks now, Julian Assange has been at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, while he awaits the government's decision to offer him political asylum.  Dennis Loo wrote about Assange's role in challenging the US empire, published just before the asylum request.

He ends with a challenge to us all:

One Nobel Laureate Blasts Another -- And They’re Both Americans

 

By Dave Lindorff


There are two US presidents who have won the Nobel Peace Prize. Now one of those Nobel laureate leaders is accusing the other, though without naming him, of actions that qualify as war crimes and impeachable crimes against the US Constitution.


Forgotten Casualties of the Vietnam War

 

By John Grant


Charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets in the Indy 500.
- Apocalypse Now

Supreme Court Ruling Rights Wrongs on Juvenile Lifers

 

By Linn Washington, Jr.


Anita Colon was crying when she received the telephone call, but the caller knew hers were tears of joy.

The caller was her brother dialing her from a prison in Pennsylvania, where he is one of 480 persons serving a life-without-parole sentence for a crime ending in homicide, committed while they were teens.

Canadian Watchdog clears troops, slams brass in Afghan torture case

From The Globe and Mail:

A military watchdog has rendered its long-awaited verdict on transfers of Canada’s battlefield prisoners to torture-prone jails in Afghanistan, saying eight soldiers can’t be held responsible because they were largely kept in the dark by senior Canadian Forces brass.

The Military Police Complaints Commission fought a losing battle with Defence Minister Peter MacKay and the rest of the Harper government as it tried to investigate allegations the military knew the detainees it turned over to Afghan officials would face abuse and mistreatment.

Mr. MacKay’s Conservatives battled the watchdog in court and succeeded in significantly limiting the scope of its investigation. The Defence Minister also refused to extend the term of the original chair of the commission so he could finish his probe.

Talk Nation Radio: Contempt, Congress, and Elizabeth Holtzman on How to Prosecute George W. Bush

The political parties in Washington, D.C., have switched sides for the moment.  Now the Democrats accept presidential power abuses, while the Republicans are outraged, selectively, by a few of them.  Host David Swanson gives his thoughts.  Guest Elizabeth Holtzman discusses the possibility of creating a climate of accountability by prosecuting George W. Bush.  Holtzman was a member of Congress and of the House Judiciary Committee that voted for articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon.  She proposed the bill that required review of state secrets claims, as well as the bill that created a special prosecutor -- a law that was allowed to lapse following Kenneth Starr's abuse of it.  She was there for the creation of FISA.  She has brought Nazi war criminals to justice.  She was a leading advocate for impeaching George W. Bush.  Liz Holtzman's new book, co-authored with Cynthia Cooper, is called Cheating Justice: How Bush and Cheney Attacked the Rule of Law and Plotted to Avoid Prosecution, and What We Can Do About It.  In the book, and in this interview, Holzman builds a case that Bush and his vice president Dick Cheney went out of their way to carefully protect themselves from prosecution but nonetheless left themselves open to it.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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Wimps, Rendell and Ruination

 

By Linn Washington, Jr.


A new book by former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell is another display of this man’s savvy proclivity for self-promotion.

However, irrespective of the monstrous ego of this man known in Philadelphia as "Fast Eddy," Rendell is on target with the alarmingly accurate title of that book: A Nation of Wusses: How America’s Leaders Lost the Guts to Make Us Great.

Flawed justice for terror suspects

By BENJAMIN G. DAVIS, Toledo Blade

On Sept. 11, 2001, I lost a friend from high school who had gone to the World Trade Center in New York City that day to make a speech. I cannot imagine the depth of the pain suffered by the families of the 9/11 victims.

I share their frustration with the delays in bringing the alleged perpetrators of the attacks to justice. Most recently, those delays have afflicted the military commission at Guantanomo Bay, Cuba, that is trying the reputed mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four associates for war crimes.