Interrogator says Khadr was told he’d likely be raped in U.S.

By CAROL ROSENBERG
May 6 2010

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — To get teen terror suspect Omar Khadr to cooperate, a former U.S. Army interrogator testified Thursday, he told the wounded Canadian a “fictitious” tale of an Afghan youth who was gang-raped in an American prison and died.

“We’d tell him about this Afghan gets sent to an American prison and there’s a bunch of big black guys and big Nazis,” said the former interrogator who was since convicted of detainee abuse and was identified in court only as Interrogator No. 1.

Under Pentagon ground rules, reporters covering the hearing are not allowed to include the interrogator’s real name in their dispatches from Guantanamo. Canadian newspapers have published the name, however, and his testimony in other cases is available at the McClatchyDC.com website and elsewhere.

Interrogator No. 1 also gave an on-the-record interview with The Toronto Star in 2008 and his name was widely published in accounts of his court martial in September 2005.

The interrogators told Khadr that the Afghan – “a poor little kid … away from home, kind of isolated” – had been sent to the U.S. prison away because the interrogators were disappointed with his truthfulness, Interrogator No. 1 said. When patriotic American prisoners discovered the Afghan was a Muslim, praying five times a day, they raped him in their rage over the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Interrogator No. 1 said Khadr, who was 15 and badly wounded at the time, was told.

Khadr’s attorneys called Interrogator No. 1 to bolster Khadr’s claim that he was abused while in U.S. custody and their motion before a military judge that any confessions he made during his captivity should be considered coerced and not admissible.

Khadr, now 23, had specifically claimed in an affidavit outlining abuse that he was threatened with rape. On Tuesday, a medic identified as Mr. M testified that he once found Khadr chained by his arms to the door of his cage-like cell, hooded and in tears. That too tracked allegations included in Khadr’s affadavit.

According to court testimony, Interrogator No. 1 was attached to the 519 MP Battalion, which guarded prisoners at Bagram air base in Afghanistan in 2002. Three years later, Interrogator No. 1 pleaded guilty to three acts of detainee abuse on another captive at Bagram in December 2002.

Interrogator No. 1 said he questioned Khadr as many as 25 times over 100 hours before the teen was sent to Guantanamo for more interrogations.

According to earlier testimony, Interrogator 1 questioned Khadr the first time on a stretcher while he was still under sedation on July 29, 2002, hours after the 15-year-old was released from an U.S. Army combat hospital and life-saving surgery. He denied under questioning from defense counsel Barry Coburn that he ever threatened Khadr directly with rape.

Instead, he said, a group of U.S. interrogators dreamed up the “fictitious” Afghan rape story to utilize authorized “Love of Freedom” and “Fear Up” techniques designed to break particularly uncooperative prisoners. “It’s never about the detainee,” Interrogator No. 1 said, explaining how he used it. “It’s to make the individual … afraid of American prisons.”

U.S. troops captured Khadr two weeks before his first formal interrogation, near dead and shot twice through the back during a Special Forces raid on a suspected al Qaida stronghold near Khost, Afghanistan.

Another former interrogator, who was acquitted by a court martial of detainee abuse charges, testified Wednesday that Khadr was first questioned just two days after he was wounded at the field hospital at Bagram. That interrogator, Damien Corsetti, said Khadr was tethered to a heart monitor. Soldiers held a tin of chewing tobacco to his gaping chest wound and saw that it could fit inside.

Defense attorneys argue that the military mistreated Khadr and created a coercive environment that should disqualify the truthfulness and reliability of his later confessions that he threw a hand grenade that killed U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, 28.

Prosecutors defend the youth’s treatment and say he subsequently boasted voluntarily, and truthfully, to FBI agents conducting a criminal terror trial investigation that he threw the grenade and also planted land mines in Afghanistan meant to kill American soldiers and earn him $1,500 a head.

Veteran prosecutor Jeff Groharing, now a Justice Department attorney who got the case as a Marine major, sought on follow-up questioning to make clear that Interrogator No 1 was gleaning information from the Canadian for “actionable intelligence” in the Afghanistan combat zone – not for a future criminal prosecution.

Interrogator No. 1 said he wanted to know about the location of weapons and mines to assist the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan. His intelligence reports at the time noted that Khadr had thrown a grenade that killed a fellow U.S. soldier but Interrogator 1 said he wasn’t seeking a confession.

He also said that he didn’t think the rape tale made Khadr any more cooperative or truthful and that he only started spilling al-Qaida secrets after U.S. troops went back to the scene of his capture in Khost, Afghanistan, and recovered a video of showing a young Khadr being taught how to assemble Soviet anti-tank mines.

Khadr, wearing the white uniform of a cooperative captive, watched the proceedings intently. Interrogator No. 1, in blue jeans and sporting a pony tail, testified by video hookup from Arizona. on a video monitor. Source

Khadr legal team turns down plea offer from U.S

Khadr Routinely Trussed Up In Cage, Hearing Told

Prosecuting A Tortured Child: Obama’s Guantánamo Legacy

Reporters banned from Trial

TORONTO

— Three Canadian journalists are being barred from Guantanamo Bay, where they have been covering pre-trial war-crimes hearings for Omar Khadr, the Pentagon said Thursday.

The reporters for the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, and Canwest News Service breached a ban on identifying a witness, according to the Pentagon.

“Your reporters published the name of a witness whose identity was protected in court,” a letter handed to the journalists stated.

“As a result of these violations, these individual reporters are barred from returning to cover future military commissions proceedings.”

For the past eight days, Khadr’s defence lawyers have been trying to establish the Canadian was tortured into making incriminating statements.

Among the witnesses was a former interrogator at Bagram prison in Afghanistan, where Khadr was taken after his capture in July, 2002.

The man testified Thursday to scaring Khadr by telling the badly wounded 15-year-old a “fictitious” story of an Afghan boy in U.S. custody who was gang-raped and died.

The Pentagon wanted him identified only as Interrogator No. 1 and forbade reporting his name, which has been widely available through his previous prosecution and conviction for detainee abuse.

He has also previously given an interview to the Star.

Toronto Star reporter Michelle Shephard, who has written a book on Khadr and his family, called the decision “ridiculous.”

The paper’s editor, Michael Cooke, denounced the ban.

“This is grossly unfair,” Cooke said. “The Star will object to this decision.”

Also barred were the Globe and Mail’s Washington correspondent, Paul Koring, and Canwest’s Steven Edwards.

Canwest vice-president Scott Anderson said from Ottawa he had not yet had a chance to talk about the issue with Edwards.

“It’s critical that we find out what happened here,” Anderson said.

“Obviously there was some misunderstanding on one side or another.”

Globe foreign editor, Stephen Northfield, said the paper “would appeal this decision.”

The New York-based American Civil Liberties Union condemned the Pentagon’s ruling as “absurd” and “nonsensical,” saying it would discourage reporting on the internationally condemned military commissions.

“No legitimate government interest is served by suppressing information that is already well known,” said Jameel Jaffer, the union’s deputy legal director.

“We strongly urge the Defence Department to reconsider its rash, draconian and unconstitutional decision to bar these four reporters from future tribunals.”

Carol Rosenberg, a reporter from the American newspaper, the Miami Herald, who has extensive experience covering the commissions, was also told she may not return.

Rosenberg declined to discuss the situation, referring calls to the Herald’s managing editor, who did not immediately return a call for comment.

The ban does not extend to the media outlets, only to the reporters involved.

However, media organizations themselves could be barred should there be “future violations,” the letter warns.

The letter also states the reporters can appeal the decision to the deputy assistant secretary of defence for media operations.

The hearings have wrapped up — it was not immediately clear when they will resume — and the media on the U.S. naval base were all expected to leave Friday.

Khadr’s trial — he is accused of throwing a grenade that killed an American soldier and blinded another — had been due to start in July.

Source

UN official calls for release of former child combatant from Guantanamo

5 May 2010 – A United Nations envoy today reiterated her call for the immediate release of the last child soldier still being held in Guantanamo Bay, voicing concern that his case has been brought to trial under a United States military commission and that he has been charged with war crimes.

Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen, was arrested in Afghanistan in 2002 when he was 15 years old. He has been in US custody for the last seven years, having spent much of his time in solitary confinement.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, called on the Governments of Canada and the US to respect the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and release Mr. Khadr into Canadian custody.

The Optional Protocol aims to increase the protection of children during armed conflicts. It requires that all States parties “take all feasible measures” to ensure that members of their armed forces under the age of 18 do not take a direct part in hostilities, and reminds nations that children under 18 are entitled to special protection and so any voluntary recruitment under the age of 18 must include sufficient safeguards.

Ms. Coomaraswamy today urged Canada and the US to treat Mr. Khadr as a child soldier and undertake efforts to rehabilitate him.

“Like other children abused by armed groups around the world who are repatriated to their home communities and undergo re-education for their reintegration, Omar should be given the same protections afforded these children,” she emphasized.

“Trying young people for war crimes with regard to acts committed when they are minors could create a dangerous international precedent,” the official warned. Source

Recent

Judge dismisses scores of Guantanamo habeas cases

Drone Pilots Could Be Tried for ‘War Crimes’

US Senate votes to ban big bank ‘bailouts’

Canada: McTeer accuses Tories of putting women’s lives at risk

TIME SQUARE BOMB HOAX, Israeli Intel Group Shows It’s Hand

May Day protests draw millions worldwide

Can You Pass The Iran Quiz

NATO troops kill Again! This time three Afghan women

Testing the Limits of Freedom of Speech: Ernst Zundel Speaks Out

Pilot cleared of 9/11 accusations, gets compensation

Khadr legal team turns down plea offer from U.S

Update added May 1 2010  At the bottom of the page

April 28 2010

Omar Khadr was to attend a pre-trial hearing in Guantanamo Bay Wednesday afternoon, hours after his lawyers turned down a purported deal that would see their client serve five years in a U.S. prison as a trade-off for pleading guilty.

The 23-year-old Khadr has been in U.S. custody since he was 15 years old, after being captured in Afghanistan and accused of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier.

The case involving Khadr — a Canadian citizen and son of Ahmed Said Khadr who died in a 2003 battle — will serve as a test run for the U.S. military justice system, which is supposed to process the remaining Guantanamo detainees so Washington can shut down the controversial prison.

In a case that has taken many twists and turns over the years, Khadr is now at a pre-trial stage, in which his lawyers are trying to have key evidence — a video that appears to show a young Khadr learning how to build an IED — thrown out on the grounds that it was not obtained properly.

Under the U.S. Military Commissions Act of 2009, evidence that is obtained through cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of a prisoner is not admissible.

Khadr’s lawyers say that under these rules, the video should not be allowed as evidence.

He appeared in a military courtroom on Wednesday morning, but his hearing was pushed back to the afternoon after the prosecution and defence teams acknowledged they needed more time to review the rules for the military court.

CTV’s Lisa LaFlamme said they did not receive copies of the 281-page set of rules until late Tuesday evening.

“Strange as it sounds, on the eve of these very significant — crucial, in fact — pre-trial hearings, there was, in fact, no rulebook for the defence to even operate under,” LaFlamme told CTV News Channel from Guantanamo Bay on Wednesday morning.

The timing of the rulebook’s release was unprecedented, according Denny LeBoeuf, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union. It called into question the fairness of the process, she said.

Such rules are usually released months before they come into effect so that lawyers have ample time to study them.

“There is no set of circumstances like this,” LeBoeuf told The Canadian Press from New Orleans.

“This would literally never happen, not in the most be-knighted backwoods court you can imagine. It would simply never happen.”

The hearing will proceed after Khadr’s lawyers apparently rejected a plea deal from U.S. prosecutors, LaFlamme said earlier on Wednesday.

“Prosecutors have offered a sentence of five years — either here in Guantanamo Bay if it is not closed, or in a U.S. prison — if Khadr pleaded guilty to war crimes offences.”

“The defence turned down that offer. They had been talking, in fact the defence openly discussed yesterday the fact that plea bargain negotiations were ongoing.”

The fact that Khadr has received a plea offer may suggest that the prosecution isn’t confident it could get a conviction on the murder, LaFlamme said. Source

8 years he has been in prison.

If anything he should have been released years ago.

He has been in prison since he was 15.

Even if a soldier did die and if and that is a big IF, he did do it. It would be self defense. After all who did the invading. Oh that’s right the US and NATO invaded Afghanistan on the grounds that they had something to do with 9/11 which as we all well know, is a crock of bull to begin with.

Well for every Afghan that died at the hands of soldier I suppose all of the soldiers should be put on trial for murder as well.  Those soldiers who injured thousands  should also be put on trial for assault causing bodily harm as well .  That would be fair don’t you think?

The kid didn’t go to the US and kill anyone. The US went to Afghanistan and killed and injured  a whole lot of innocent people.

Pre planed,  Pre mediated Murder by the US Government and friends.

To many things were fabricated about 9/11 even many of the Hijackers were found alive and well at home. So they invented Hijackers even.

The miraculous passport that survived the massive flames from the plane crash. Probably forged. Like the document about Iraq getting Uranium from Africa. A lot of fake stuff was invented.

The buildings were brought down by a demolition team, which would have taken  some time to prepare for.

If anyone came to my country and invaded it, I would kill them too given the opportunity.

That does not make me a terrorist. that just means I would defend my country. Self Defense.

Khadr may not have been in his home country Canada, but his life certainly was being threatened. Self defense.

The US and NATO should not be in Afghanistan to start with. There is absolutely no legitimate, legal reason to be there.

They were sent there to get a pipeline built.  That is the only reason they went and invaded the country. Well they got their pipeline.

Now the country is so messed up it’s horrifying and horror grows each an every day. Don’t believe other wise or you are being gullible.

Life has not improved for those in Afghanistan. They have more addiction to heroin, more poverty and more unemployment. They certainly are not safer. Innocent civilians are being killed by the invading  NATO/US forces  all the time.

Who should really be on trial is those who lied and manipulated their way into the invasion in the first place, they are the real criminals not the 15 year old who probably killed no one.  One thing about the US they will find and fabricate lies to prosecute innocent victims. They are very good at that.

The real criminals have killed over a million and half people all based on lies and fabrications.

9/11 was not perpetrated by anyone in Afghanistan or Iraq.

If you believe it was, then  have I got a deal for you, some really awesome real-estate on Mars for sale. Prime property worth millions. I will sell it to you for a good price.  How about $10,000 an acre. That is a bargain,  it is actually worth much more.

So if you are gullible enough to believe the 9/11 myth then land deal is just right up you alley.

Oh yes it would make lovely vacation spot. Warm, Sunny and lot  of open space, so  get you prime real-estate now before it is all sold out.

No weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq either. Now that I think about it. I digress.

There are however a lot of graves. A lot of sorrow. A lot of hate towards the US/NATO forces for all the killing and maiming of families, friends, relatives, children included etc.

If you surrendered  back then well you probably would have been murdered. About 3,00o were slaughtered after they gave themselves up.

Surrendering was and is still  not an option for anyone in Afghanistan. You are either killed, imprisoned for years with out trial and tortured. Some options right?

Afghan Massacre Convoy Of Death

All the people in Afghanistan that have killed any US soldier or NATO soldier are defending their country. Self Defense. They are guilty only of defending their country. After all who invaded who?

Why has no one in the US who created all the lies to start the wars never been prosecuted for Torture, Human rights violations, Mass murder and War crimes?

Where is the real justice in this world?

Why: War in Iraq and Afghanistan

(Afghanistan ) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Fake Al Qaeda, Fake Passports, Fake planes

War “Pollution” Equals Millions of Deaths

Earlier updates.

May 1 2010  Updates

U.S. army officer testifies to changing Khadr report

Khadr’s defence teams presses for identities of 3 officers

Recent

Full El Al flight took off on 9/11 from JFK to Tel Aviv

US violates UN law by threatening Iran

Canada unfairly blocked British MP George Galloway, court hears

Ukrainian Government in Action: Egg Throwing? Smoke Bombs? Wrestling?

A Book: “The Shepherd’s Granddaughter” to remain in Toronto schools

Blowout: BP’s deadly oil rig disaster

Haitians worry free food distribution halted too soon

Goldman Sachs profited from market crash

UK: AWOL soldier, Joe Glenton loses sentence appeal

Israel threatens Syria with war

Philippines: Arrests, Torture, and the Presidential Election

War Veteran Jesse Huff Commits suicide outside VA Hospital

The 2nd Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in south Iceland

Arrest of Israeli officer leading organ trafficking ring

Experts fear human trafficking more widespread

ElBaradei: Gaza, world’s largest jail

Published in: on April 29, 2010 at 4:14 am  Comments Off on Khadr legal team turns down plea offer from U.S  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Senate Report Links Bush to Detainee Homicides; Media Yawns

By Glenn Greenwald
December 15, 2008

The bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee report issued on Thursday — which documents that “former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior U.S. officials share much of the blame for detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba” and “that Rumsfeld’s actions were ‘a direct cause of detainee abuse‘ at Guantanamo and ‘influenced and contributed to the use of abusive techniques … in Afghanistan and Iraq'” — raises an obvious and glaring question:  how can it possibly be justified that the low-level Army personnel carrying out these policies at Abu Ghraib have been charged, convicted and imprisoned, while the high-level political officials and lawyers who directed and authorized these same policies remain free of any risk of prosecution?   The culpability which the Report assigns for these war crimes is vast in scope and unambiguous:

The executive summary also traces the erosion of detainee treatment standards to a Feb,. 7, 2002, memorandum signed by President George W. Bush stating that the Geneva Convention did not apply to the U.S. war with al Qaeda and that Taliban detainees were not entitled to prisoner of war status or legal protections.

“The president’s order closed off application of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment,” the summary said.

Members of Bush’s Cabinet and other senior officials participated in meetings inside the White House in 2002 and 2003 where specific interrogation techniques were discussed, according to the report.

The policies which the Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously concludes were authorized by Bush, Rumsfeld and several other top Bush officials did not merely lead to “abuse” and humiliating treatment, but are directly — and unquestionably — responsible for numerous detainee murders.  Many of those deaths caused by abusive treatment have been formally characterized as “homicides” by autopsies performed in Iraq and Afghanistan (see these chilling compilations of autopsy findings on detainees in U.S. custody, obtained by the ACLU, which reads like a classic and compelling exhibit in a war crimes trial).

While the bulk of the attention over detainee abuse has been directed to Guantanamo, the U.S., to this day, continues to imprison — with no charges — thousands of Iraqi citizens.  In Iraq an Afghanistan, detainee deaths were rampant and, to this day, detainees continue to die under extremely suspicious circumstances.  Just yesterday, there was yet another death of a very young Iraqi detainee whose death was attributed to quite unlikely natural causes.

The U.S. military says a detainee has died of an apparent heart attack while in custody at a U.S. detention facility in Baghdad.

Monday’s statement says the 25-year-old man was pronounced dead by doctors at a combat hospital after losing consciousness at Camp Cropper. . . .

The U.S. military is holding thousands of prisoners at Camp Cropper near the Baghdad airport and Camp Bucca in the southern desert.

For years, it has been common to attribute detainee deaths to “heart attacks” where the evidence makes clear that abusive interrogation techniques and other inhumane treatment — the very policies authorized at the highest levels of the U.S. government — were the actual proximate cause of the deaths.  This deceptive practice was documented in this fact-intensive report — entitled:  “Medical Investigations of Homicides of Prisoners of War in Iraq and Afghanistan” — by Steven H. Miles, Professor of Medicine and Bioethics at the University of Minnesota:

It is probably inevitable that some prisoners who reportedly die of “natural causes” in truth died of homicide. However, the nature of Armed Forces’ medical investigations made this kind of error more likely. The AFME reported homicide as the cause of death in 10 of the 23 death certificates released in May 2004. The death of Mohamed Taiq Zaid was initially attributed to “heat”; it is currently and belatedly being investigated as a possible homicide due to abusive exposure to the hot Iraqi climate and deprivation of water.

Eight prisoners suffered “natural” deaths from heart attacks or atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Threats, beatings, fear, police interrogation, and arrests are known to cause “homicide by heart attack” or life-threatening heart failure. People with preexisting heart disease, dehydration, hyperthermia, or exhaustion are especially susceptible. No forensic investigation of lethal “heart attacks” explores the possibility that these men died of stress-induced heart attacks. There are a number of reports of “heart attack” following harsh procedures in rounding up noncombatants in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A typically sketchy US Army report says, “Detainee Death during weekend combat …. Army led raid this past weekend of a house in Iraq … an Iraqi who was detained and zip-locked (flexi-cuffed with plastic bands tying his wrists together) died while in custody. Preliminary information is that the detainee died from an apparent heart attack.” Sher Mohammad Khan was picked up in Afghanistan in September 2004. Shortly thereafter, his bruised body was given to his family. Military officials told journalists that he had died of a heart attack within hours of being taken into custody. No investigation, autopsy, or death certificate is available.

Or consider this:

Adbul Kareen Abdura Lafta (also known as Abu Malik Kenami) was admitted to Mosul prison on December 5, 2003 and died 4 days later.[20,21] The short, stocky, 44-year-old man weighed 175 pounds. He was never given a medical examination, and there is no medical record. After interrogation, a sandbag was put over his head. When he tried to remove it, guards made him jump up and down for 20 minutes with his wrists tied in front of him and then 20 minutes more with his wrists bound behind his back with a plastic binder. The bound and head-bagged man was put to bed. He was restless and “jibbering in Arabic.” The guards told him to be quiet.

The next morning, he was found dead. The body had “bloodshot” eyes, lacerations on his wrists from the plastic ties, unexplained bruises on his abdomen, and a fresh, bruised laceration on the back of his head. US Army investigators noted that the body did not have defensive bruises on his arms, an odd notation given that a man cannot raise bound arms in defense. No autopsy was performed. The death certificate lists the cause of death as unknown. It seems likely that Mr. Kenami died of positional asphyxia because of how he was restrained, hooded, and positioned. Positional asphyxia looks just like death by a natural heart attack except for those telltale conjunctival hemorrhages in his eyes.

There are countless other episodes like this of human beings in American custody dying because of the mistreatment — authorized by Bush, Rumsfeld and others — to which we subjected them.  These are murders and war crimes in every sense of the word.  That the highest level Bush officials and the President himself are responsible for the policies that spawned these crimes against humanity have been long known to anyone paying minimal attention, but now we have a bipartisan Senate Report — signed by the presidential nominee of Bush’s own political party — that directly assigns culpability for these war crimes to the President and his policies.  It’s nothing less than a formal declaration from the Senate that the President and his top aides are war criminals.
***
This Report was issued on Thursday.  Not a single mention was made of it on any of the Sunday news talk shows, with the sole exception being when John McCain told George Stephanopoulos that it was “not his job” to opine on whether criminal prosecutions were warranted for the Bush officials whose policies led to these crimes.  What really matters, explained McCain, was not that we get caught up in the past, but instead, that we ensure this never happens again — yet, like everyone else who makes this argument, he offered no explanation as to how we could possibly ensure that “it never happens again” if we simultaneously announce that our political leaders will be immunized, not prosecuted, when they commit war crimes.  Doesn’t that mindset, rather obviously, substantially increase the likelihood — if not render inevitable — that such behavior will occur again? Other than that brief exchange, this Senate Report was a non-entity on the Sunday shows.

Instead, TV pundits were consumed with righteous anger over the petty, titillating, sleazy Rod Blagojevich scandal, competing with one another over who could spew the most derision and scorn for this pitiful, lowly, broken individual and his brazen though relatively inconsequential crimes.  Every exciting detail was vouyeristically and meticulously dissected by political pundits — many, if not most, of whom have never bothered to acquaint themselves with any of the basic facts surrounding the monumental Bush lawbreaking and war crimes scandals.  TV “journalists” who have never even heard of the Taguba report — the incredible indictment issued by a former U.S. General, who subsequently observed:  “there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimesThe only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account” — spent the weekend opining on the intricacies of Blogojevich’s hair and terribly upsetting propensity to use curse words.

The auction conducted by Blagojevich was just a slightly more flamboyant, vulgar and reckless expression of how our national political class conducts itself generally (are there really any fundamental differences between Blagojevich’s conduct and Chuck Schumer’s systematic, transparent influence-peddling and vote-selling to Wall Street donors, as documented by this excellent and highly incriminating New York Times piece from Sunday — “A Champion of Wall St. Reaps the Benefits”)?  But Blagojevich is an impotent figure, stripped of all power, a national joke.  And attacking and condemning him is thus cheap and easy.  It threatens nobody in power.  To the contrary, his downfall is deceptively and usefully held up as an extreme aberration — proof that government officials are held accountable when they break the law.

The media fixation on the ultimately irrelevant Blagojevich scandal, juxtaposed with their steadfast ignoring of the Senate report documenting systematic U.S. war crimes, is perfectly reflective of how our political establishment thinks.  Blagojevich’s laughable scheme is transformed into a national fixation and made into the target of collective hate sessions, while the systematic, ongoing sale of the legislative process to corporations and their lobbyists are overlooked as the normal course of business.  Lynndie England is uniformly scorned and imprisoned while George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld are headed off to lives of luxury, great wealth, respect, and immunity from the consequences for their far more serious crimes.  And the courageous and principled career Justice Department lawyer who blew the whistle on Bush’s illegal spying programs — Thomas Tamm — continues to have his life destroyed, while the countless high-level government officials, lawyers and judges who also knew about it and did nothing about it are rewarded and honored, and those who committed the actual crimes are protected and immunized.

Just ponder the uproar if, in any other country, the political parties joined together and issued a report documenting that the country’s President and highest aides were directly responsible for war crimes and widespread detainee abuse and death.  Compare the inevitable reaction to such an event if it happened in another country to what happens in the U.S. when such an event occurs — a virtual media blackout, ongoing fixations by political journalists with petty scandals, and an undisturbed consensus that, no matter what else is true, high-level American political figures (as opposed to powerless low-level functionaries) must never be held accountable for their crimes.

UPDATE:  Here — from July of this year — is one of the more remarkable quotes of the Bush era; it’s from Nancy Pelosi, who was explicitly briefed on the CIA’s torture program in 2002:

Q:  You’ve ruled against impeaching George Bush and Dick Cheney, and now Kucinich is trying to pass that. Why do you insist on not impeaching these people, so that the world and America can really see the crimes that they’ve committed?

PELOSI: I thought that impeachment would be divisive for the country. . . . If somebody had a crime that the President had committed, that would be a different story.

It’s not like there’s any evidence that Bush committed any crimes or anything, said Pelosi.  From Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side (h/t Hume’s Ghost)

One year of the Afghan prison operation alone cost an estimated 100 million, which Congress hid in a classified annex of the first supplemental Afghan appropriation bill in 2002. Among the services that U.S. taxpayers unwittingly paid for were medieval-like dungeons, including a reviled former brick factory outside of Kabul known as “The Salt Pit.” In 2004, a still-unidentified prisoner froze to death there after a young CIA supervisor ordered guards to strip him naked and chain him overnight to the concrete floor. The CIA has never accounted for the death, nor publicly reprimanded the supervisor. Instead, the Agency reportedly promoted him.

Those Blagojevich tapes sure are disgusting, aren’t they?  Let’s study those some more.

UPDATE II:  Well worth reading on the various implications of the Senate report are Dan Froomkin, Scott Horton, and Andrew Sullivan (scroll down for multiple posts).

Source

Cheney admits authorizing detainee’s torture

Blame Bush policies for detainee abuse: U.S. Senate report

Cheney admits authorizing detainee’s torture

Outgoing VP says Guantanamo prison should stay open until end of terror war, but has no idea when that might be.

By David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
December 15 2008

Monday, outgoing Vice President Dick Cheney made a startling statement on a nation-wide, televised broadcast.

When asked by ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl whether he approved of interrogation tactics used against a so-called “high value prisoner” at the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison, Mr. Cheney, in a break from his history of being press-shy, admitted to giving official sanctioning of torture.

Video is from ABC’s World News, broadcast Dec. 15, 2008.

“I supported it,” he said regarding the practice known as “water-boarding,” a form of simulated drowning. After World War II, Japanese soldiers were tried and convicted of war crimes in US courts for water-boarding, a practice which the outgoing Bush administration attempted to enshrine in policy.

“I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the agency in effect came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn’t do,” Cheney said. “And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it.”

He added: “It’s been a remarkably successful effort, and I think the results speak for themselves.”

ABC asked him if in hindsight he thought the tactics went too far. “I don’t,” he said.

The prisoner in question, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who the Bush administration alleges to have planned the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is one of Guantanamo’s “high value targets” thus far charged with war crimes.

Former military interrogator Travis Hall disagrees with Cheney’s position.

“Proponents of Guantanamo underestimate what a powerful a propaganda tool Guantanamo has become for terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, despite several Department of Defense studies documenting the propaganda value of detention centers,” he said in a column for Opposing Views.

“For example, West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center has monitored numerous Al Qaeda references to Guantanamo in its recruitment propaganda materials,” continued Hall. “Improvements to Guantanamo’s administration of judicial mechanisms will not make its way into Al Qaeda propaganda. Nothing short of closing Guantanamo will remove this arrow from its quiver.”

President-elect Barack Obama has promised to close the prison and pull US forces out of Iraq. Cheney, however, has a different timeline for when Guantanamo Bay prison may be “responsibly” retired.

“Well, I think that that would come with the end of the war on terror,” he told ABC.

Problematic to his assertion: Mr. Bush’s “war on terror” is undefinable and unending by it’s very nature, and Cheney seems to recognize this as fact.

Asked when his administration’s terror war will end, he jostled, “Well, nobody knows. Nobody can specify that.”

Source

Pleading Guilty after Torture-Did you really do it?

Torture for torture’s sake

Senate Report Links Bush to Detainee Homicides; Media Yawns

Media Search in the US

Write your local paper and denounce any possible planned pardons for crimes committed in the “war on terror”. Here are some sample letters and talking points you can follow.

Published in: on December 16, 2008 at 9:59 pm  Comments Off on Cheney admits authorizing detainee’s torture  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Blame Bush policies for detainee abuse: U.S. Senate report

December 11 2008

US soldier in guard tower over looking military-run Camp Delta prison in Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base, June 27, 2006

US soldier in guard tower over looking military-run Camp Delta prison in Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base (file)

A U.S. Senate report has concluded that Bush administration policies led directly to the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The bipartisan report, issued Thursday by the Senate Armed Forces Committee, says the authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques conveyed the message that it was “okay” to mistreat detainees in U.S. custody.

The Bush administration, which has not yet commented on the report, has repeatedly said detainees in U.S. custody are treated humanely, and that because they are enemy combatants, and not prisoners-of-war, they are not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

The report says harsh interrogation tactics, such as waterboarding, began to be used after President George Bush determined that the Geneva Conventions – the minimum standards for humane treatment – did not apply to al-Qaida or Taliban suspects.

Donald Rumsfeld  (3 June, 2006)

Donald Rumsfeld (file)

The report also says former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques at the Guantanomo Bay detention center, was a direct cause of abusive techniques, including forced nudity, stress positions and the use of military working dogs, at detention centers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A Defense Department spokesman, Colonel Gary Keck, said today Pentagon officials have not yet reviewed the report. He says numerous reviews of detention operations have all found there was never any policy that condoned or tolerated abuse.

Senate Armed Forces Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Democrat, criticized senior officials for trying to pass responsibility for abuses at U.S. detention facilities to lower-ranking officers.

The ranking Republican, John McCain, said the policies that led to the abuses are wrong, and must never be repeated.

Source

Panel blames White House, not soldiers, for abuse
By PAMELA HESS
December 11 2008

WASHINGTON

The physical and mental abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was the direct result of Bush administration detention policies and should not be dismissed as the work of bad guards or interrogators, according to a bipartisan Senate report released Thursday.

The Senate Armed Services Committee report concludes that harsh interrogation techniques used by the CIA and the U.S. military were directly adapted from the training techniques used to prepare special forces personnel to resist interrogation by enemies that torture and abuse prisoners. The techniques included forced nudity, painful stress positions, sleep deprivation, and until 2003, waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning.

The report is the result of a nearly two-year investigation that directly links President Bush’s policies after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, legal memos on torture, and interrogation rule changes with the abuse photographed at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq four years ago. Much of the report remains classified. Unclassified portions of the report were released by the committee Thursday.

Administration officials publicly blamed the abuses on low-level soldiers_ the work “of a few bad apples.” Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., called that “both unconscionable and false.”

“The message from top officials was clear; it was acceptable to use degrading and abusive techniques against detainees,” Levin said.

Arizona Republican and former prisoner of war Sen. John McCain, called the link between the survival training and U.S. interrogations of detainees inexcusable.

“These policies are wrong and must never be repeated,” he said in a statement.

Lawrence Di Rita, a senior aide to former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld at the time the Abu Ghraib and other abuses took place, disputed the report.

“This oddly timed report provides no evidence that contradicts more than a dozen other investigations that found that there was no systematic or widespread detainee mismanagement,” Di Rita told The AP. “A relatively small number of people abused detainees, and they were brought to justice in criminal or civil proceedings.”

The report comes as the Bush administration continues to delay and in some cases bar members of Congress from gaining access to key legal documents and memos about the detainee program, including an August 2002 memo that evaluated whether specific interrogation techniques proposed to be used by the CIA would constitute torture.

That memo, written by Jay Bybee, then-chief of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, was guided in part by an assessment of the psychological effects of resistance survival training on U.S. military personnel. The CIA provided that document to his office, Bybee told the Senate Armed Services Committee in an October letter, obtained by The Associated Press.

Source

A little History Did you know That:

Torture was taught by CIA; Declassified manual details the methods used in Honduras; Agency denials refuted

By Gary Cohn, Ginger Thompson, and Mark Matthews,
January 27 1997

WASHINGTON — A newly declassified CIA training manual details torture methods used against suspected subversives in Central America during the 1980s, refuting claims by the agency that no such methods were taught there.

“Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual — 1983” was released Friday in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by The Sun on May 26, 1994.

The CIA also declassified a Vietnam-era training manual called “KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation — July 1963,” which also taught torture and is believed by intelligence sources to have been a basis for the 1983 manual.

Torture methods taught in the 1983 manual include stripping suspects naked and keeping them blindfolded. Interrogation rooms should be windowless, dark and soundproof, with no toilet.

“The ‘questioning’ room is the battlefield upon which the ‘questioner’ and the subject meet,” the 1983 manual states. “However, the ‘questioner’ has the advantage in that he has total control over the subject and his environment.”

The 1983 manual was altered between 1984 and early 1985 to discourage torture after a furor was raised in Congress and the press about CIA training techniques being used in Central America. Those alterations and new instructions appear in the documents obtained by The Sun, support the conclusion that methods taught in the earlier version were illegal.

A cover sheet placed in the manual in March 1985 cautions: “The use of force, mental torture, threats, insults or exposure to inhumane treatment of any kind as an aid to interrogation is prohibited by law, both international and domestic; it is neither authorized nor condoned.”

The Sun’s 1994 request for the manuals was made in connection with the newspaper’s investigation of kidnapping, torture and murder committed by a CIA-trained Honduran military unit during the 1980s. The CIA turned over the documents — with passages deleted — only after The Sun threatened to sue the agency to obtain the documents.

Human rights abuses by the Honduran unit known as Battalion 316 were most intense in the early 1980s at the height of the Reagan administration’s war against communism in Central America. They were documented by The Sun in a four-part series published from June 11 to 18, 1995.

Unmistakable similarities
The methods taught in the 1983 manual and those used by Battalion 316 in the early 1980s show unmistakable similarities.

The manual advises an interrogator to “manipulate the subject’s environment, to create unpleasant or intolerable situations.”

In The Sun’s series, Florencio Caballero, a former member of Battalion 316, said CIA instructors taught him to discover what his prisoners loved and what they hated.

“If a person did not like cockroaches, then that person might be more cooperative if there were cockroaches running around the room,” Caballero said.

In 1983, Caballero attended a CIA “human resources exploitation or interrogation course,” according to declassified testimony by Richard Stolz, then-deputy director for operations, before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in June 1988.

The “Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual — 1983” suggests that the interrogator show the prisoner letters from home to convey the impression that the prisoner’s relatives are suffering or in danger.

In The Sun’s series, Jose Barrera, a former member of Battalion 316 who said he was taught interrogation methods by U.S. instructors in 1983, recalled using the technique:

“The first thing we would say is that we know your mother, your younger brother. And better you cooperate, because if you don’t, we’re going to bring them in and rape them and torture them and kill them,” Barrera said.

The manual suggests that prisoners be deprived of food and sleep, and made to maintain rigid positions, such as standing at attention for long periods.

Ines Consuelo Murillo, who spent 78 days in Battalion 316’s secret jails in 1983, told The Sun that she was given no food or water for days, and that to keep her from sleeping, one of her captors entered her room every 10 minutes and poured water over her head.

Mark Mansfield, a CIA spokesman, declined to comment on the manuals. However, asked about agency policy on the use of force and torture, he referred to Stolz’s 1988 testimony before the Senate intelligence committee.

In testimony declassified at The Sun’s request, Stolz confirmed that the CIA trained Hondurans.

“The course consisted of three weeks of classroom instruction followed by two weeks of practical exercises, which included the questioning of actual prisoners by the students.

“Physical abuse or other degrading treatment was rejected, not only because it is wrong, but because it has historically proven to be ineffective,” he said.

Beyond that reference, Mansfield said only: “There are still aspects of the review process that need to be completed. For that reason, it would not be appropriate to comment.”

He was referring to an internal CIA investigation ordered in 1995, after publication of The Sun series on Battalion 316, to determine whether CIA officials acted improperly in Honduras during the 1980s.

The Clinton administration promised more than a year ago that CIA, State Department and Defense Department documents relevant to the time of Battalion 316’s abuses would be turned over to Honduran government human rights investigators. To date, no CIA documents have been sent to the Hondurans.

A truth confirmed
The Honduran judge overseeing his country’s human rights investigation welcomed the release of the CIA training manuals.

“These manuals confirm a truth we in Honduras have known for a long time: that the United States was involved in encouraging the abuses of the Honduran military,” said Judge Roy Medina. “They were trying to stop communism. But the methods they used are not acceptable in civilized societies.”

In releasing the training manuals, the CIA declined to say whether either document was used in Honduras. However, a declassified 1989 report prepared for the Senate intelligence committee, obtained earlier by The Sun, says the 1983 manual was developed from notes of a CIA interrogation course in Honduras.

The most graphic part of the 1983 manual is a chapter dealing with “coercive techniques.”

The manual discourages physical torture, advising interrogators to use more subtle methods to threaten and frighten the suspect.

“While we do not stress the use of coercive techniques, we do want to make you aware of them and the proper way to use them,” the manual’s introduction states. The manual says such methods are justified when subjects have been trained to resist noncoercive measures.

Forms of coercion explained in the interrogation manual include: Inflicting pain or the threat of pain: “The threat to inflict pain may trigger fears more damaging than the immediate sensation of pain. In fact, most people underestimate their capacity to withstand pain.”

A later section states: “The pain which is being inflicted upon him from outside himself may actually intensify his will to resist. On the other hand, pain which he feels he is inflicting upon himself is more likely to sap his resistance.

“For example, if he is required to maintain rigid positions such as standing at attention or sitting on a stool for long periods of time, the immediate source of pain is not the ‘questioner’ but the subject himself.” ” After a period of time the subject is likely to exhaust his internal motivational strength.”

Inducing dread: The manual says a breakdown in the prisoner’s will can be induced by strong fear, but cautions that if this dread is unduly prolonged, “the subject may sink into a defensive apathy from which it is hard to arouse him.”

It adds: “It is advisable to have a psychologist available whenever regression is induced.”

Getting a confession: Once a confession is obtained, “the pressures are lifted enough so that the subject can provide information as accurately as possible.” The subject should be told that “friendly handling will continue as long as he cooperates.”

Solitary confinement and other types of sensory deprivation: Depriving a subject of sensory stimulation induces stress and anxiety, the manual says. “The more complete the deprivation, the more rapidly and deeply the subject is affected.”

It cites the results of experiments conducted on volunteers who allowed themselves to be suspended in water while wearing blackout masks. They were allowed to hear only their own breathing and faint sounds from the pipes. “The stress and anxiety become almost unbearable for most subjects,” the manual says.

Hypnosis and drugs: The 1983 manual suggests creating “hypnotic situations,” using concealed machinery, and offers ways of convincing a subject that he has been drugged. Giving him a placebo “may make him want to believe that he has been drugged and that no one could blame him for telling his story now,” the manual says.

Arrest: The most effective way to make an arrest is to use the element of surprise, achieving “the maximum amount of mental discomfort.”

“The ideal time at which to make an arrest is in the early hours of the morning. When arrested at this time, most subjects experience intense feelings of shock, insecurity and psychological stress and for the most part have difficulty adjusting to the situation.”

Cells: Prisoners’ cells should have doors of heavy steel. “The slamming of a heavy door impresses upon the subject that he is cut off from the rest of the world.”

The manual says “the idea is to prevent the subject from relaxing and recovering from shock.”

The 1983 manual suggests that prisoners be blindfolded, stripped and given a thorough medical examination, “including all body cavities.”

Substantial revisions
Between 1984 and 1985, after congressional committees began questioning training techniques being used by the CIA in Latin America, “Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual — 1983” underwent substantial revision.

Passages were crossed out and written over by hand to warn that the methods they described were forbidden. However, in the copy obtained by The Sun, the original wording remained clearly visible beneath the handwritten changes.

Among the changes was this sentence in the section on coercion: “The use of most coercive techniques is improper and violates policy.”

In another, the editor crossed out descriptions of solitary confinement experiments and wrote: “To use prolonged solitary confinement for the purpose of extracting information in questioning violates policy.”

A third notation says that inducing unbearable stress “is a form of torture. Its use constitutes a serious impropriety and violates policy.” And in place of a sentence that says “coercive techniques always require prior [headquarters] approval,” an editor has written that they “constitute an impropriety and violate policy.”

To an instruction that “heat, air and light” in an interrogation cell should be externally controlled is added “but not to the point of torture.”

Disturbing questions
The 1983 interrogation manual was discussed at a closed hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in June 1988. Then-Sen. William S. Cohen said that the interrogation manual raised disturbing questions, even with the revisions. Cohen is now the secretary of defense.

“No. 1, I am not sure why, in 1983, it became necessary to have such a manual,” Cohen said, according to a transcript declassified at The Sun’s request. “But, No. 2, upon its discovery, why we only sought to revise it in a fashion which says, ‘These are some of the techniques we think are abhorrent. We just want you to be aware of them so you’ll avoid them.’

” There’s a lot in this that troubles me in terms of whether you are sending subliminal signals that say, ‘This is improper, but, by the way, you ought to be aware of it.’ ”

KUBARK manual
A second document obtained by The Sun, the 1963 KUBARK manual, shows that, at least during the 1960s, agents were free to use coercion during interrogation, provided they obtained approval in advance.

It offers a list of interrogation techniques, including threats, fear, “debility, pain, heightened suggestibility and hypnosis, narcosis [use of drugs] and induced regression.”

Like the 1983 manual, the KUBARK manual describes the effectiveness of arresting suspects early in the morning, keeping prisoners blindfolded and taking away their clothes.

“Usually his own clothes are taken away,” the manual explains, “because familiar clothing reinforces identity and thus the capacity for resistance.” The KUBARK manual also cautions against making empty threats, and advises interrogators against directly inflicting pain.

It contains one direct and one oblique reference to electrical shocks.

The introduction warns that approval from headquarters is required if the interrogation is to include bodily harm or “if medical, chemical or electrical methods or materials are to be used to induce acquiescence.”

A passage on preparing for an interrogation contains this advice: “If a new safehouse is to be used as the interrogation site, it should be studied carefully to be sure that the total environment can be manipulated as desired. For example, the electric current should be known in advance, so that transformers or other modifying devices will be on hand if needed.”

An intelligence source told The Sun: “The CIA has acknowledged privately and informally in the past that this referred to the application of electric shocks to interrogation suspects.”

While it remains unclear whether the KUBARK manual was used in Central America, the 1963 manual and the 1983 manual are similar in organization and descriptions of certain interrogation techniques and purposes.

The KUBARK manual is mentioned in a 1989 memorandum prepared by the staff of the Senate intelligence committee on the CIA’s role in Honduras, and some members of the intelligence community during that period believe it was used in training the Hondurans. One said that some of the lessons from the manual were recorded almost verbatim in notes by CIA agents who sat in on the classes.

Source

How the CIA Taught the Portuguese to Torture

By CHRISTOPHER REED

May 21 2004

For several days in the early summer of 1974, I had open access to a strange and terrible prison near Lisbon, then empty because of the coup that April which ended 48 years of fascist dictatorship in Portugal. My prison time in Caxias was a never forgotten experience, but I did not expect the memories to return so vividly today — at the instigation of the United States.

My recollections pose the question of whether Caxias was a beginning of the American prison gulag, the lawless penal control stretching today from Guantanamo in Cuba, to the Middle East, Afghanistan and clandestine activities in Colombia, the Philippines, and other places unknown, as well as the suspected proxy torture havens like Syria. When did political prisoners across the world begin to answer not to their peers, but to Uncle Sam?

The prison of Caxias (Cuh-SHI-ash in Portuguese) was run by the secret police, the Pide (International Police for the Defence of the State), who were so feared by the Portuguese, pedestrians would cross to the opposite side of the street to pass its unmarked offices in Lisbon. Caxias was an old fortress near the sea, but inside was a modern torture chamber using the latest coercion techniques — devised by the US Central Intelligence Agency.

For decades in Caxias, thousands of political prisoners, mostly communists and socialists, were admitted for systematic torture and then released. Why were these known subversives, who had dedicated their lives to destroying the dictatorship, allowed to return to freedom? Because the success of the Pide’s state-of-the-art imported torture techniques meant that their previous lives were now irrelevant. In the Pide’s words, they had been “taken off the chess board”. Their lives, old and new, were destroyed.

My guide to Caxias was an Edinburgh-trained Portuguese psychiatrist, who for a mercifully short time had been a prisoner there himself. He told me that released prisoners, especially the communists — regarded as the toughest ones to crack — would often not go home. They would instead travel in the opposite direction from their families, take a simple job, or fall into alcoholism, even change their names; such were their new lives as mental zombies, created by coercion. (This was confirmed by another psychiatrist I interviewed who treated Caxias victims.)

Central to the torture was sleep deprivation, a newish discovery enshrined in a 128-page secret manual produced by the CIA in July 1963 called Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation. I was told several times at Caxias that the Pide’s methods came from the CIA, although I did not knowingly see a copy of Kubark (the word is a code name for the agency itself). However, Portugal is and was a member of Nato, and as its secretive communist party was regarded as the nation’s most dangerous security threat, and the Cold War rumbled on, there seems no doubt that the US intelligence agency, ordered to fight communism everywhere, was the source. It also had the latest information on “coercive interrogation.”

This becomes plainer on perusal of the Kubark manual, which was declassified in 1997 when the Baltimore Sun threatened a suit under the US Freedom of Information Act. It clearly describes what I saw as the methods at Caxias, and read about in the Pide’s internal reports during my 1974 prison visits.

In chapter nine of Kubark, titled Coercive Counterintelligence Interrogation of Resistant Sources, it recommends sleep and sensory deprivation to produce the “DDD syndrome” of “debility, dependence, and dread” in “interrogatees.” (Note the dehumanisation of that word.) Victims could be reduced to compliance in a matter of hours or days, it said, but then warned against “applying duress past the point of irreversible psychological damage.” This sentence confirms what the Pide were doing.

The objective of CIA interrogation, as Kubark repeatedly emphasises, was information, hence the warning. But how conveniently this assisted the Pide, who were less interested in their victims’ information, than in their destruction. Caxias adopted Kubark, but deliberately took its methods to the extreme it warned against. But as the mind torturers’ manifesto carefully remarks: “The validity of the ethical arguments about coercion exceeds the scope of this paper.”

Complying with the manual’s recommendations, the sound-proofed Caxias cells contained no distractions. Walls and ceilings were white but scuff marks remained — they were excellent sources to stimulate the hallucinations that prisoners experienced after the first few days of sleeplessness. The light, as Kubark urges, was weak, artificial, and its source invisible. Huge concealed air-conditioner-heaters could turn the room in minutes from icy cold to a desert scorch.

Such furniture as there was, mostly a table and a few chairs, was rounded at the edges to prevent a prisoner trying to kill himself by running his head into them, as some had tried. Cell ceilings contained speakers which broadcast loud and terrifying sounds, or sometimes the cries and sobs of their wives or children. The Pide had recorded these and played them from a central “studio” which I saw.

Meals came at random, deliberately. An apparent breakfast might arrive at 4 pm; dinner in the middle of the night. No clocks or watches were allowed. Oh yes — and cells had no beds. The record for prisoner sleeplessness was a young engineer, a communist, kept awake for a full month. He committed suicide upon his release.

How can you keep someone awake for weeks? My psychiatrist friend sat me at the plastic-topped table and asked me to pretend to nod off. I closed my eyes — to be jerked out of it by a sharp but penetrating metallic series of sounds. He had taken out an escudo coin and simply rapped it on the table top. Astonishingly, this was usually sufficient, and guards took turns through the endless hours. Another method was to throw a mug of icy water in a prisoner’s face. And of course the tape recordings were always available.

In former times the Pide was notorious for brutal torture. But it mellowed under its benevolent CIA guides; violence was eschewed. I saw a report on a Pide officer demoted for striking a prisoner, thus renewing his resistance. As Kubark-CIA says: “Direct physical brutality creates only resentment, hostility, and further defiance.” The report on the Pide officer complained that his violence had “set back the treatment.” Caxias prisoners were not left naked and suffered no systematic sex coercion. That came years later — in 1983 when the CIA updated Kubark and recommended stripping prisoners and keeping them blindfolded. Presumably the additon of sexual manipulation is the latest thinking among US torture intellectuals.

The 1983 manual, enthusiastically used by CIA clients in the vicious “contra” war against Central American leftist nationalists in President Reagan’s years, was changed in 1985 after unfavourable publicity. An inserted page stated: “The use of force, mental torture, threats, insults, or exposure to inhumane treatment of any kind as an aid to interrogation is prohibited by law both internationally and domestically; it is neither authorised nor condoned.” But as they say, what goes around, comes around.

Source

Outsourcing Torture
The secret history of America’s “extraordinary rendition” program.

By Jane Mayer
February 14 2005

On January 27th, President Bush, in an interview with the Times, assured the world that “torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture.” Maher Arar, a Canadian engineer who was born in Syria, was surprised to learn of Bush’s statement. Two and a half years ago, American officials, suspecting Arar of being a terrorist, apprehended him in New York and sent him back to Syria, where he endured months of brutal interrogation, including torture. When Arar described his experience in a phone interview recently, he invoked an Arabic expression. The pain was so unbearable, he said, that “you forget the milk that you have been fed from the breast of your mother.”

Arar, a thirty-four-year-old graduate of McGill University whose family emigrated to Canada when he was a teen-ager, was arrested on September 26, 2002, at John F. Kennedy Airport. He was changing planes; he had been on vacation with his family in Tunisia, and was returning to Canada. Arar was detained because his name had been placed on the United States Watch List of terrorist suspects. He was held for the next thirteen days, as American officials questioned him about possible links to another suspected terrorist. Arar said that he barely knew the suspect, although he had worked with the man’s brother. Arar, who was not formally charged, was placed in handcuffs and leg irons by plainclothes officials and transferred to an executive jet. The plane flew to Washington, continued to Portland, Maine, stopped in Rome, Italy, then landed in Amman, Jordan.

During the flight, Arar said, he heard the pilots and crew identify themselves in radio communications as members of “the Special Removal Unit.” The Americans, he learned, planned to take him next to Syria. Having been told by his parents about the barbaric practices of the police in Syria, Arar begged crew members not to send him there, arguing that he would surely be tortured. His captors did not respond to his request; instead, they invited him to watch a spy thriller that was aired on board.

Ten hours after landing in Jordan, Arar said, he was driven to Syria, where interrogators, after a day of threats, “just began beating on me.” They whipped his hands repeatedly with two-inch-thick electrical cables, and kept him in a windowless underground cell that he likened to a grave. “Not even animals could withstand it,” he said. Although he initially tried to assert his innocence, he eventually confessed to anything his tormentors wanted him to say. “You just give up,” he said. “You become like an animal.”

A year later, in October, 2003, Arar was released without charges, after the Canadian government took up his cause. Imad Moustapha, the Syrian Ambassador in Washington, announced that his country had found no links between Arar and terrorism. Arar, it turned out, had been sent to Syria on orders from the U.S. government, under a secretive program known as “extraordinary rendition.” This program had been devised as a means of extraditing terrorism suspects from one foreign state to another for interrogation and prosecution. Critics contend that the unstated purpose of such renditions is to subject the suspects to aggressive methods of persuasion that are illegal in America—including torture.

Arar is suing the U.S. government for his mistreatment. “They are outsourcing torture because they know it’s illegal,” he said. “Why, if they have suspicions, don’t they question people within the boundary of the law?”

Rendition was originally carried out on a limited basis, but after September 11th, when President Bush declared a global war on terrorism, the program expanded beyond recognition—becoming, according to a former C.I.A. official, “an abomination.” What began as a program aimed at a small, discrete set of suspects—people against whom there were outstanding foreign arrest warrants—came to include a wide and ill-defined population that the Administration terms “illegal enemy combatants.” Many of them have never been publicly charged with any crime. Scott Horton, an expert on international law who helped prepare a report on renditions issued by N.Y.U. Law School and the New York City Bar Association, estimates that a hundred and fifty people have been rendered since 2001. Representative Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts and a member of the Select Committee on Homeland Security, said that a more precise number was impossible to obtain. “I’ve asked people at the C.I.A. for numbers,” he said. “They refuse to answer. All they will say is that they’re in compliance with the law.”

Although the full scope of the extraordinary-rendition program isn’t known, several recent cases have come to light that may well violate U.S. law. In 1998, Congress passed legislation declaring that it is “the policy of the United States not to expel, extradite, or otherwise effect the involuntary return of any person to a country in which there are substantial grounds for believing the person would be in danger of being subjected to torture, regardless of whether the person is physically present in the United States.”

The Bush Administration, however, has argued that the threat posed by stateless terrorists who draw no distinction between military and civilian targets is so dire that it requires tough new rules of engagement. This shift in perspective, labelled the New Paradigm in a memo written by Alberto Gonzales, then the White House counsel, “places a high premium on . . . the ability to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists and their sponsors in order to avoid further atrocities against American civilians,” giving less weight to the rights of suspects. It also questions many international laws of war. Five days after Al Qaeda’s attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Vice-President Dick Cheney, reflecting the new outlook, argued, on “Meet the Press,” that the government needed to “work through, sort of, the dark side.” Cheney went on, “A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we’re going to be successful. That’s the world these folks operate in. And so it’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective.”

Source

The Maher Arar His Story

Bush refuses to support UN over anti-torture pact

By Toby Harnden
July 25 2002

America last night refused to back a United Nations protocol against torture because of fears that it could allow international monitors to visit terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

An official said the administration wanted to stop a vote at the UN Economic and Social Council so that negotiations on wording adopted in Geneva in April could be reopened.

European Union officials, who support the protocol, said it appeared that Washington would climb down from this position and abstain from the protocol, which would then be adopted by other countries.

A European diplomat said that rejecting the protocol outright would have placed America in the company of “the torturing countries” such as Cuba, Iran, China and Nigeria and the Bush administration was reluctant to do that. “It is another US-EU difference, but I don’t think the Americans are going to go and push this one to a head,” he said.

But this latest quarrel between America and its allies, including Britain, at the UN will fuel accusations of unilateralism and bad faith being levelled at President George W Bush with increasing vehemence. Human rights pressure groups have argued that the protocol is essential to enforce the Convention Against Torture, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1984 and came into force four years later.

“A vote against the optional protocol would be a disastrous setback in the fight against torture,” said Martin MacPherson, of Amnesty International. Rory Mungoven, of Human Rights Watch, said renegotiating “will mean a kiss of death” to the protocol.

US opposition to the Kyoto protocol on global warming, another on biological weapons and the International Criminal Court has strained transatlantic relations since Mr Bush took office.

The anti-torture pact has been ratified by 130 countries, including America. Its signatories agreed to ban torture and refrain from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners.

But senior figures in the Bush administration – most notably in the Pentagon – have argued that the protocol could lead to intrusive inspections of the American detention camp at Guantanamo Bay.

More than 550 prisoners from 39 countries, including Britain, are in custody at the US naval base on the eastern edge of Cuba though they have not been charged with any offence. Diplomats, police and intelligence agents from Britain, Yemen, Bahrain, Spain, Denmark, France and other countries have been allowed to visit detainees and the International Committee for the Red Cross has a permanent presence there.

The White House was stung by international criticism of the treatment of the detainees and was particularly enraged by coverage of the issue in the British tabloid press.

US officials believe that UN monitors would be likely to be extremely hostile to America and could create more bad publicity.

The protocol, establishing an international system of inspecting prisons and other places of detention, was put forward by Costa Rica and gained support from the EU and many Latin American, Caribbean and African countries. Mr Mungoven said there were safeguards in the protocol that meant the UN would notify governments before inspections were made, allow them to respond to any findings and ensure that reports were kept secret.

Only countries that eventually ratified the amendment would be subject to inspections. “It’s an optional system,” he said. “The US doesn’t have to buy into it.”

Source

Legal Scholars Outraged by Talk of Blanket Pardons

SHC adjourns petition seeking return of Dr Aafia Siddiqui

December 6 2008

KARACHI:

The hearing of a constitutional petition filed for return of Dr Aafia Siddiqui from US custody was adjourned to a date to be fixed later by the office of the court here on Friday by a division bench of the Sindh High Court (SHC) comprising Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali and Justice Dr Qamaruddin Bohra.

When the petition filed by human rights activists Muhammad Imran and Intekhab Alam Suri came up for hearing, the bench inquired from the petitioner that whether he has complied with all objections raised by the office of the court.

Iqbal Aqeel, counsel for petitioner sought a week’s time to comply with the same at which the bench put off further proceedings.

The petitioner prayed to the court to direct Pakistani authorities to arrange safe return of Dr Aafia Siddiqui from US prison where she was lodged after being shifted from the Guantanamo Bay prison and charged with attacking US military personnel.

Source

There is still no information on where her children are.

Where are they?

For the US to Provide Humane Prison Conditions for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui Petition

The Persecution of Syed Fahad Hashmi and Aafia Siddiqui

Sindh High Court issues notice to respondents in Aafia Siddiqui case

Last Guantanamo trial of Bush era is delayed

Published in: on December 11, 2008 at 9:23 pm  Comments Off on SHC adjourns petition seeking return of Dr Aafia Siddiqui  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Last Guantanamo trial of Bush era is delayed

December 10 2008

By Jane Sutton

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba

A U.S. military judge on Wednesday indefinitely delayed the January trial of a young Afghan captive, leaving the future course of justice at the Guantanamo prison camp in the hands of President-elect Barack Obama.

Defendant Mohammed Jawad had been set to go to trial at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba on January 5 on charges of throwing a grenade that injured two U.S. soldiers and their Afghan interpreter at a bazaar in Kabul in December 2002.

His was the last trial scheduled to start before Obama takes office on January 20. Obama has said he will close the Guantanamo detention center and move the prisoners’ terrorism trials into the regular U.S. civilian or military courts.

Human rights groups have urged him to issue an executive order immediately upon taking office, halting the tribunals that have been widely condemned by rights activists, foreign leaders and military defense lawyers.

In the seven years since President George W. Bush first authorized the tribunals, military juries have convicted only two prisoners on terrorism charges and a third pleaded guilty in an agreement that limited his sentence to nine months.

A military judge, Army Col. Stephen Henley, indefinitely postponed Jawad’s trial on Wednesday to give prosecutors time to appeal his earlier decision to throw out much of the evidence.

Henley had ruled that Jawad’s confession to Afghan government authorities was obtained through death threats that constituted torture and that his subsequent confession to U.S. interrogators was fruit of that torture.

The judge ruled that neither could be admitted as evidence against Jawad, who was drugged and only 16 or 17 years old at the time of his arrest in Afghanistan. Jawad was turned over to U.S. forces and sent shortly afterward to Guantanamo.

A hearing is still scheduled at Guantanamo on Friday for a young Canadian captive, Omar Khadr, who is accused of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan in July 2002. His trial is scheduled to start on January 26, a date now in doubt because of the change in the U.S. administration.

CONFUSION IN HIGH PROFILE CASE

No further hearings have been set for the most high-profile case among the 17 pending at Guantanamo, that of five al Qaeda suspects charged with orchestrating the September 11 attacks.

The five, including self-described mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, came to the Guantanamo courtroom on Monday ready to hand the Bush administration a major victory in its final days by confessing to the mass murders that prompted its war on terrorism.

What stopped them was confusion over whether the murky tribunal rules allowed the defendants to plead guilty to charges that could lead to their execution and whether their treatment at U.S. hands had left them sane enough to do it.

All five said they were tortured, though details have not been made public. A decision is still pending on whether two of them, Ramzi Binalshibh and Mustafa Ahmed al Hasawi, are mentally competent to act as their own attorneys and carry out their plans to confess.

“Each one of these individuals has some problems because of what we did to them,” said Army Maj. Jon Jackson, the military lawyer appointed to defend Hawsawi.

The defense lawyers said the confusion over whether the tribunal rules allow guilty pleas in death penalty cases illustrates why the trials should be moved into the regular courts where the rules have been long tested.

They said they were confident Obama would pull the plug on the Guantanamo tribunals, which are formally known as military commissions.

“What you saw was the death throes of the commissions,” said Michael Berrigan, deputy chief defense counsel for Guantanamo. “Everybody knows why — it’s not justice.”

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Source

Pleading Guilty after Torture-Did you really do it?

Omar Khadr witness withdrawn to `cover up’ abuse: defence

U.S. acknowledges it held 12 juveniles at Guantanamo Bay prison

Scandal of six held in Guantanamo even after Bush plot claim is dropped

Sindh High Court issues notice to respondents in Aafia Siddiqui case

CIA Torture Tactics Endorsed in Secret Memos

Pleading Guilty after Torture-Did you really do it?

Coercion and Military Law
Does a Plea After Torture Stand?
By Spencer Ackerman
December 8 2008

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the architect of the 9/11 attacks whom the U.S. tortured, attempted to plead guilty on Monday four co-defendants to their roles in the 2001 conspiracy that killed almost 3,000 Americans. Civil libertarians wondered whether his proferred plea would be compromised by the fact of his torture and the dubious constitutionality of the military tribunals hearing the cases.

The senior counterterrorism adviser for Human Rights Watch, Jennifer Daskal, said in a statement issued by the organization that the attempted pleas by Mohammed and the other co-defendants should not be accepted before an investigation. “In light of the men’s severe mistreatment and torture, the judge should require a full and thorough factual inquiry to determine whether or not these pleas are voluntary,” said Daskal, who is at Guantanamo Bay observing the proceedings.

According to the 2006 Military Commissions Act, which governs the tribunals, evidence obtained through coercive means is inadmissible. “A statement obtained by use of torture shall not be admissible in a military commission,” states Sec. 948r, subsection B. Subsequent sections of the act, however, permits a judge to determine the admissibility of certain evidence “in which the degree of coercion is disputed,” particularly in the case of evidence obtained before passage of a 2005 law meant to safeguard the human rights of detainees.

Stacy Sullivan, another counterterrorism adviser with Human Rights Watch, said the Military Commissions Act is unclear on what happens if a guilty plea is allegedly coerced from a detainee. “It’s not clear whether a judge can accept the plea or if there has to be a jury” empaneled to accept it, she said. If the act requires the empanelment of a jury for a pretrial hearing, it would create a new complication to a process fraught with difficulty since its inception.

U.S. Army Col. Steven Hendley, the presiding judge in the case, said he would hold a separate hearing to determine whether he can, in fact, accept the pleas, Sullivan said.

Pakistani forces captured Mohammed, one of Al Qaeda’s most important operatives, in March 2003 in Rawalpindi. The CIA took custody of him shortly thereafter and placed him in an undisclosed location to interrogate him outside U.S. law and without access to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which monitors prisoners of war and detainees worldwide. In testimony to the Senate intelligence committee in February, Michael Hayden, director of the CIA, confirmed that CIA interrogators waterboarded Mohammed, meaning they forced water into his nostrils and mouth to restrict his breathing in an attempt to coerce Mohammed into answering their questions. Before the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S. considered the interrogation method to be uncontroversially felonious.

Mohammed was moved to Guantanamo Bay in Sept. 2006. It is unknown what sort of treatment he has received from interrogators or jailers after the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act.

The pleas appear to be the result of frustration over the fairness of the commissions process. “All of you are paid by the U.S. government. I’m not trusting any American,” Mohammed told the tribunal, according to The New York Times. McClatchy reported that the five detainees — Mohammed, his nephew Ammar al Baluchi, his deputy Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Al Qaeda trainer Walid bin Attash and Saudi detainee Mustafa al-Hawsawi — crafted their joint pleading during a rare meeting Nov. 4 that was sanctioned by Guantanamo Bay officials. Later Monday, Mohammed, al-Baluchi and bin Attash abruptly announced they would postpone entering their pleas until the competency of bin al-Shibh and al-Hawsawi to plead guilty — something Hendley questioned that morning — could be determined.

Sullivan said that basic circumstances of the military commissions give reason to suspect that the confessions are coerced — coerced either by the administration or by Mohammed. “These guys have been subjected to seven years of detention, much in secret CIA detention facilities,” Sullivan said. “We know they’ve been seriously abused and tortured. If these guys were before a real judicial process, not one that’s made up and fundamentally unfair, there would be a full hearing into what kind torture and abuse went on and whether [the pleadings] are voluntary.” She pointed out that only after Mohammed announced his refusal to cooperate with the commissions did his four co-defendants refuse their defense counsel, raising the specter of whether Mohammed coerced their pleadings.

Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, blasted the commissions from Guantanamo Bay, where he is observing the tribunals. “No one should be surprised that a system that allows for serial torture and abuse and holds detainees for years without charging them or granting them access to attorneys has led the defendants to capitulate and seek to plead guilty,” Romero said in a statement released by the ACLU. “Anyone who believes that this is a victory for American justice is sadly mistaken. History will show that any guilty pleas in these proceedings were the result of an inhumane, unjust process designed to achieve a foregone conclusion.”

It is unclear why Mohammed and his accomplices pleaded guilty. The U.S. has signaled its attention to seek the death penalty for all five defendants in the 9/11 conspiracy case, and so one explanation is that they are daring the U.S. to put them to death, a gambit designed to grant them the exalted status of “martyr” in some extremist circles. Another is that some measure of coercion compelled the pleadings.

Aitan Goelman, a former federal prosecutor for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings, said he was unsurprised by the confessions given the detainees’ evident pride at having pulled off the attacks. “It’s not really an adversarial process if both sides are intent on proving the same thing,” Goelman said, adding that despite the “unprecedented nature” of the military commissions it was unclear to him how the pleadings could have been coerced.

The commissions have been fraught with controversy from the beginning. Several military lawyers have quit or sought reassignment from the commissions out of concerns over their basic fairness. “The military commissions are fundamentally at odds with American ideals of fairness, due process, the rule of law and justice,” said U.S. Air Force Reserve Maj. J.D. Frakt, a legal defense counsel at Guantanamo. He made his remarks in a video released Monday by the ACLU to pressure President-elect Barack Obama to keep his stated promise of closing Guantanamo Bay.

Nor was it clear that the confessions represented a moment of closure for families of the victims of 9/11. Reached on Monday afternoon, Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband Ronald died in the World Trade Center, said she had not heard of the pleadings and wanted to know whether the administration gave Mohammed anything in return for his admission of guilt. She did, however, say that she hoped any information about the attacks that remains classified pending Mohammed’s trial “would be swiftly released.”

Sullivan blasted the commissions as inadequate to heal the U.S.’ psychic wounds from 9/11. “When you have a confession in a process that has lost all its integrity [and] that no one believes in, the confession doesn’t have any meaning,” she said. “If we had a guilty plea in a judicial process that was real, then we’d be welcoming the guilty plea. But before a sham, that’s not very meaningful.”

Source

ACLU’s Romero Reacts to KSM Plea

Torture Might Doom Khalid Shaikh Mohammed’s, Four Others 9-11 Guilty Plea

Even More Total Insanity from Guantanamo Today

9-11 Detainees Hold Off on Guilty Pleas

Amnesty on KSM

John Lear
Son of Bill Lear
Founder, creator of the Lear Jet Corporation
More than 40 years of Flying
19,000+ Total Flight Time

One Can’t do the impossible.

These people are well educated and well informed.

They like everyone else want the truth. They know that what the public was told was not what really happened.  Pilots for Truth

They are speaking out to the American people not on behalf of those who took down the buildings. We still don’t know who actually was behind 9/11. We may never know the truth.

Those who hide the truth of course are behind it.

So who has lied to the World?

People died because of the Bush Administrations lies.

People went to two war because of the Bush Administrations lies.

Over a million people have died because of lies.

Now they torture people to back up their lies.

One has to see the truth before more die needlessly.


Legal Scholars Outraged by Talk of Blanket Pardons

Whether Bush Can Grant His Administration Pre-emptive Pardons on Torture, a Dicey Area of the Law
By Daphne Eviatar

December 8 2008

In his Nov. 16 interview on CBS’s “60 minutes,” President-elect Barack Obama reiterated his pledge to shut down Guantanamo Bay and end U.S.-sponsored torture. Both actions would be “part and parcel of an effort to regain America’s moral stature in the world,” he said.

Obama’s advisers are similarly encouraging him to look to the future and avoid the appearance of seeking vengeance for past practices. But many legal experts insist it’s as important not to let those responsible for diminishing America’s moral stature get away scot-free.

“When we speak about accountability, we’re not talking about vengeance,” lawyer and writer Scott Horton told at a packed forum on torture at New York University School of Law last week. “We’re really talking about the future.” President George W. Bush “has set a precedent that we cannot let stand.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who also attended the forum, added: “Accountability is one of the most important questions before the country. It’s critical to preventing a recurrence of the lawbreaking that clearly has been done [by this administration].”

Liberal lawyers and civil rights advocates have been calling for prosecutions, even impeachment, of Bush officials tied to torture for years. Elizabeth Holtzman, a former Democratic congresswoman, published “The Impeachment of George W. Bush” in 2006. Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, published his book, “The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book,” in September. Others have published volumes of evidence implicating Bush officials in potentially criminal conduct . Among the most influential are Jane Mayer’s “The Dark Side,” Phillipe Sands’ “Torture Team” and “The Torture Papers,” a collection of administration documents on detainee abuses edited by Karen Greenberg, executive director of the Center on Law and Security at NYU, and Joshua Dratel, a prominent defense attorney who represents detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

But as the administration nears its end, the debate over what Obama should do about officials who authorized torture, humiliation or systematic abuse of detainees as part of the “war on terror” has become more urgent. (The NYU forum attracted so much interest that hundreds of vociferous supporters of prosecution were denied entry into the auditorium because of fire-code restrictions.)

Even as the pressure on Obama to take action grows, some prominent legal experts are urging restraint.

In a Nov. 26 Op-Ed in the Washington Post, Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith, director of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Dept. from 2003-2004, urged the incoming administration to let bygones be bygones. The decisions to use waterboarding or other forms of torture on terrorist suspects should not be prosecuted as criminal actions, he argued. Instead, they were wartime policy decisions that shouldn’t be second-guessed by lawyers. “[T]he greater danger now is that lawyers will become excessively cautious in giving advice and will substitute predictions of political palatability for careful legal judgment,” he wrote.

But what if President Bush pardoned himself and all other officials who authorized abusive interrogations of prisoners? Would that render the torture-accountability debate moot?

In August, Stuart Taylor Jr., a Brookings Institute fellow and columnist for Newsweek and the National Journal, argued that the president should issue a blanket pardon — and leave it to a non-prosecutorial truth commission to set the record straight for posterity.

Atty. Gen Michael Mukasey, however, has insisted repeatedly that neither investigations nor pardons are needed, because everyone in the administration was acting on the advice of Justice Dept. lawyers — and thus did nothing wrong.

As the debate over accountability heats up, the possibility of Bush issuing a blanket pardon increases — and that outrages lawyers and legislators who would see such a move as a flagrant abuse of executive power.

In November, Nadler, the congressman, introduced a House resolution urging the president not to pardon officials who authorized torture and potential lawbreaking. Since then, Democrats.com has been circulating a petition on the Internet to collect signatures of those who support the resolution. So far, almost 50,000 have signed it.

But legal experts say that neither the resolution nor the petition would have any legal effect on the matter.

“Congress can’t control the pardon power,” said New York University law professor David Golove, an expert on executive power. “For practical purposes, there are no clear limits.”

The breadth of the president’s pardon power has been challenged before, particularly after President Abraham Lincoln pardoned former confederate officials who swore an oath of loyalty to the Union. But in Ex Parte Garland, the Supreme Court spelled out just how far-reaching the president’s power is.

The pardon power “clothe[s] the president with the power to pardon all offenses, and thereby to wash away the legal stain and extinguish all the legal consequences of treason — all penalties, all punishments, and everything in the nature of punishment,” the court ruled.

Accordingly, if Bush pardoned administration officials accused of authorizing torture — say, Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, former Cheney chief of staff Richard Addington or former Justice Dept. lawyer John Yoo, to name a few frequently mentioned possibilities — legal experts say the pardons would be extremely difficult to challenge in court. The fact that none of these men have been convicted of anything makes no difference.

The Confederates pardoned by Lincoln hadn’t been indicted or tried, either. Similarly, President Jimmy Carter preemptively pardoned draft evaders during the Vietnam War when he took office in 1976. Even the Watergate-plagued Richard Nixon, pardoned by Gerald Ford in 1974, was never convicted of a crime.

Could Bush pardon himself?

That’s legally dicey. Although it’s never been done before, nothing in the Constitution specifically prevents it.

“I do not believe that a president can issue a pardon of himself,” said Holtzman, a panelist at the NYU forum. “I believe that would be an abuse of the pardon power.”

Some say that pardoning administration officials whose actions you signed off on would also be an abuse of power. Allowing a president to do that may set a precedent that’s even more destructive, say some legal experts, because it would remove any incentive for future presidents to follow the law.

“One of the most effective potential weapons to assure that a runaway executive does not violate the rule of law is that the people who carry out the president’s wishes are themselves subject to legal jeopardy,” said Golove.

In that regard, the U.S. presidency is similar to the British system. Although by law the English king could do no wrong, his ministers could, explained Golove. “So the way you controlled the crown was by threatening to bring criminal prosecutions against those who carry out his orders.”

That’s been the case in the United States as well. “So to allow the president to pardon those people is to remove to a considerable extent the incentive for the executive branch to follow the law,” contended Golove. “I see this as a terrible problem.”

Carolyn Patty Blum, emeritus professor at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, agrees. “Bush doesn’t really need to pardon himself if he preemptively pardons others, because then no one has an incentive to talk about his role.”

Some commentators, such as Taylor, have argued that a blanket pardon would still allow for the appointment of a truth commission along the lines of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It could be easier for such a body to learn what really happened because participants wouldn’t face jail for participating.

But Blum, a consultant to the International Center for Transitional Justice, which specializes in accountability for human-rights abuses, disagrees. “[Our] institutional experience working with truth commissions around the world is that the opposite happens. Once people feel they are already protected, they don’t have any incentive to come forward.”

In South Africa, she noted, people were pardoned only after they testified truthfully about their crimes.

Pardons for administration officials would not necessarily close down the inquiry, however. A pardon wouldn’t stop victims of torture from suing U.S. officials, for example, and revealing the truth — although federal government officials can claim all sorts of immunities that would make such cases difficult to pursue in the United States. And a pardon would not prevent another country, or an international tribunal, from investigating and prosecuting war crimes and other violations of international law.

“Hitler could not pardon himself and the Nazi general staff for war crimes committed during World War II,” said Golove. “Even if he could have pardoned them under German law, that wouldn’t have had any effect at the Nuremberg Tribunal.”

As Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights noted at the NYU forum, “You cannot pardon war crimes and torture. Maybe here, but they’re not going to walk so freely in Europe.”

The center and prosecutors abroad have already sought to bring administration officials to trial in Germany, France, Italy and Spain, among other countries. Although charges probably wouldn’t land any U.S. officials behind bars, it could at least put a crimp in their travel plans — and prompt investigations that might further tarnish the Bush legacy.

Source

Omar Khadr witness withdrawn to `cover up’ abuse: defence

Lt.-Cmdr. Bill Kuebler, Omar Khadr's U.S. Lawyer, speaks with Canada AM from CTV studios in Washington on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008.
Lt.-Cmdr. Bill Kuebler, Omar Khadr’s U.S. Lawyer

Khadr witness withdrawn to `cover up’ abuse: defence
December 7 2008

The American government has withdrawn a witness against Omar Khadr in an effort to hide evidence of its mistreatment of the Canadian during his detention at Guantanamo Bay, his Pentagon-appointed lawyer says.

The special agent had been slated to testify at Khadr’s war-crimes trial next month about a self-incriminating statement the prisoner gave in December 2004.

Khadr’s legal team maintains the statement was coerced and wanted to question the U.S. Defence Department agent about the statement.

Lt.-Cmdr. Bill Kuebler, who is defending Khadr before a military commission, said the government is trying to cut off defence probing of his abuse by U.S. authorities.

“It’s a shocking concession by the government that effectively (says) the things that Omar relates about his mistreatment in 2003 and 2004 are true, otherwise they wouldn’t be seeking to side-step the issue by withdrawing this witness,” Kuebler said from Washington.

“It corroborates or confirms that . . . this kid was absolutely traumatized and mistreated by U.S. government authorities and now the U.S. government is trying to continue to cover that up.”

Marine Maj. Jeff Groharing, who is prosecuting Khadr, confirmed the withdrawal of the witness but did not offer an explanation.

Khadr was held at the infamous Bagram prison following his capture in Afghanistan in July 2002 at the age of 15, before being shipped to Guantanamo Bay.

In questioning by intelligence agents during his detention, Khadr related details of the firefight that left him badly injured and an American soldier dead.

He made several incriminating statements, which he disavowed in February 2003, when he was finally allowed to talk to Canadian officials.

Khadr, now 22, claims in an affidavit that his recantation sparked reprisals from his captors, including sleep deprivation, being held in stress positions and kept in isolation.

His lawyers argue their client was clearly afraid of what would happen if he didn’t say what his interrogators wanted him to say — hence the incriminating statement in December 2004.

“A key 2004 statement allegedly taken from Mr. Khadr as much as acknowledges that an inculpatory statement had to be dragged out of him,” their legal submissions state.

“Mr. Khadr expressed fear of retribution for his initial unwillingness to say what the agents wanted to hear, expressing his hope that his `other interrogator would not be mad at him’ for initially failing to confess.”

The defence had planned to make Khadr’s treatment during his entire captivity from July 2002 until December 2004 an issue in his trial but corroborating documentation related to the earlier time frame has been lost.

“Evidence is out there to suggest that the reason we don’t have (earlier) materials . . . is that the government was in the process of systematically destroying such information to prevent its use in legal proceedings,” Kuebler said.

Source

Ontario lawyers call on Prime Minister to ask U.S. to return Omar Khadr

Opposition parties renew calls to bring Khadr home

Fidel Castro has offered to speak with Barack Obama

Cuban President Fidel Castro

(Enrique Marcarian/Reuters)

December 5 2008

Fidel Castro, the former President of Cuba, has offered to talk to Barack Obama, in Havana’s latest overture to the US President elect. ”With Obama, talks could happen anywhere he wants,” the former head of the Communist regime wrote in the latest of a series of columns he has published in state-run media since falling ill in 2006.

His remarks follow an offer from his brother, President Raul Castro, to meet Mr Obama “on neutral ground” to try to end the 40 year long conflict between the two countries.

If taken up it would be the first meeting in half a century between the leaders of Cuba and the US. The head of the Communist regime and a US president have not come face to face since the island’s revolution in 1959.

Fidel Castro’s offer to meet came with a warning for Mr Obama.

“He should remember the carrot-and-stick approach will not work with our country,” he wrote. “The sovereign rights of the Cuban people are not negotiable.”

Mr Obama has said he is open to talks with the Cuban government, and will consider easing Us sanctions. After taking office in January, he plans immediately to lift all restrictions on family travel and financial remittances to the island.

However he said he would not support lifting the four decade old trade embargo until Cuba releases all political prisoners. An independent human rights group has said that there are 219 prisoners of conscience on the island.

Before the US elections last month, Fidel Castro praised Mr Obama as intelligent and humanitarian.

Raul, who replaced his ailing brother in 2006, has said several times he was willing to talk to the US.

In his most recent interview, with left wing actor Sean Penn in the US magazine The Nation, he suggested they meet in Guantanamo Bay, the site of the prison camp and where the US maintains a naval base considered by Cuba as a violation of its sovereignty

Source

Published in: on December 5, 2008 at 12:52 pm  Comments Off on Fidel Castro has offered to speak with Barack Obama  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Harper ‘lies’ about coalition details

PM ‘shameful’ in portraying crisis as national unity issue, former NDP leader says

December 3, 2008

Former NDP leader Ed Broadbent speaking in Toronto Wednesday.

Former NDP leader Ed Broadbent speaking in Toronto Wednesday. (CBC)

To save his own government, Stephen Harper is deliberately trying to deceive Canadians about the facts surrounding a proposed Liberal-NDP coalition, former NDP leader Ed Broadbent said Wednesday.

In an interview with CBC News in Toronto, a furious Broadbent had harsh words for the prime minister, saying Harper was also trying to pit English Canada against Quebecers in his attempt to discredit the proposed coalition to replace him if the Conservative minority government falls.

“I’ve never seen the leader of a Conservative party, certainly not Bob Stanfield, certainly not Joe Clark, lie — I choose the word deliberately — the way Mr. Harper has,” Broadbent said.

The former NDP leader, who helped negotiate Monday’s deal between the New Democrats and the Liberals with the support of the Bloc Québécois, said Harper also lied when he said the three opposition leaders refused to sign their agreement in front of a Canadian flag because Gilles Duceppe, a Quebec sovereigntist, objected.

In fact, there were at least two flags present at Monday’s signing ceremony, as well as a painting of the Fathers of Confederation.

Broadbent said Harper is conducting a “shameful operation” by trying to turn certain defeat in the House of Commons into a national unity crisis.

“I’m concerned I have a prime minister who lies to the people of Canada and knows it,” Broadbent said. “It’s one thing to exaggerate. It’s another to deliberately tell falsehoods.”

The former NDP leader also accused Harper of lying about the details of the proposed coalition, including his charge that the Bloc Québécois is a formal partner and that six Bloc MPs would be offered Senate positions under the coalition government.

The Bloc has said it will support the Liberal-NDP coalition for 18 months in the House of Commons, but none of its members will sit in a cabinet led by Stéphane Dion as prime minister and a Liberal as finance minister.

“They make it up,” he said of Harper’s Conservatives, who have been quick to label the proposal a “separatist coalition.”

“They lie. They pay people to destroy things.”

Clark, Stanfield ‘would have done the proper thing’

Broadbent said he understood how some Canadians are furious to watch politicians fighting while the economy continues to be battered.

“I have no doubt that is how they see it in the short run, but we are doing what should be done in a parliamentary democracy,” he said.

“They’re trying to turn a serious economic situation into a political crisis. We will say we objected because there is a serious economic situation for Canadians.”

The opposition’s proposed economic stimulus package, Broadbent said, contains similar measures to ones planned by U.S. president-elect Barack Obama in the wake of the global economic crisis.

“Other countries are doing it and we should be doing it here,” he said.

He said Harper was betraying the honourable legacy of past party leaders by continuing to delay a confidence vote in the House of Commons. The prime minister pushed back the confidence motion brought by the opposition parties until next Monday and could delay a vote indefinitely by proroguing Parliament.

“I had, my predecessors had a sense of integrity. Bob Stanfield, a Conservative, Joe Clark, a Conservative, had a sense of integrity,” Broadbent said.

“They would have done the proper thing. If we lost the confidence, then we would accept that and have to resign.”

Source

Day denies report of 2000 coalition plot with Bloc

Former Alliance leader once told reporters, ‘I’m not big on labels’

December 3, 2008

Federal Trade Minister Stockwell Day denied on Wednesday he was aware of a secret plan in 2000 for him to take power through a formal coalition between the Bloc Québécois, the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives.

Trade Minister Stockwell Day speaks during Wednesday's question period in Ottawa.

Trade Minister Stockwell Day speaks during Wednesday’s question period in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The Globe and Mail reported on Wednesday that well-known Calgary lawyer Gerry Chipeur, who identified himself as an associate of Day’s and the now-defunct Alliance, sent a written offer to the Bloc and Joe Clark’s Progressive Conservatives before the votes were counted on election day on Nov. 27, 2000.

The 2000 election saw Jean Chrétien’s Liberals win another majority government before the 2004 reunification of the two conservative parties that now comprise Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.

The paper said Chipeur’s letter proposed a coalition between the Alliance, the PCs and the Bloc, while a separate document discussed contents of a potential throne speech.

Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe held up the letter during Wednesday’s question period while grilling the former Alliance leader over the alleged plan, as well as over the Conservatives’ apparent willingness to form a coalition with the separatist party in 2004.

“Will he admit that in 2004, and in 2000, he was prepared to make such a deal with the Bloc?” Duceppe told the House.

The Conservatives have lambasted Stéphane Dion’s Liberals for entering into a proposed Liberal-NDP coalition government with the support of the Bloc if Harper’s minority government were to fall, portraying the pact as undemocratic and a threat to national unity.

Day replied that the report was a “complete fabrication” and that he had never seen the letter, never endorsed it and would never sign such a deal.

“It would be against my very DNA to do a coalition deal with socialists, and it would absolutely go against my heart and the heart of Canadians to do a deal with separatists,” Day told the House on Wednesday, in reference to the current proposed coalition.

In an interview with the Globe, Chipeur played down the importance of the offer, saying he never discussed the matter with Day or with other MPs, and was simply getting ready in the event of a minority government.

But in July 2000, Day indicated a willingness to form political ties with the Bloc if it meant ousting the federal Liberals from power. He said his party’s position was “to be open to anybody who’s interested in a truly conservative form of government.”

“I’m not big on labels,” Day told reporters at the time when asked about a possible coalition to oust Chrétien’s Liberals.

“If there are people who embrace the views of the Canadian Alliance and believe we need a federal government that is limited in size, that respects the provinces and that wants lower taxes, I’m not interested where they may have been in the past politically.”

Source

A Blast from the Past

Prime Minister Stephen Harper responds to a question from newly elected Liberal leader Stephane Dion (background) during Question Period in the House of Commons. (CP PHOTO/Tom Hanson)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper responds to a question from newly elected Liberal leader Stephane Dion (background) during Question Period in the House of Commons. (CP PHOTO/Tom Hanson)

Tories blasted for handbook on paralyzing Parliament
May 18 2007

The Harper government is being accused of a machiavellian plot to wreak parliamentary havoc after a secret Tory handbook on obstructing and manipulating Commons committees was leaked to the press.

Opposition parties pounced on news reports Friday about the 200-page handbook as proof that the Conservatives are to blame for the toxic atmosphere that has paralyzed Parliament this week.

“The government’s deliberate plan is to cause a dysfunctional, chaotic Parliament,” Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale told the House of Commons.

New Democrat Libby Davies said the manual explodes the Tories’ contention that opposition parties are to blame for the parliamentary constipation.

“So much for blaming the opposition for the obstruction of Parliament,” she said.

“Now we learn, in fact, that the monkey wrench gang have had a plan all along and not just any plan, a 200-page playbook on how to frustrate, obstruct and shut down the democratic process.”

Bloc Quebecois MP Monique Guay said the manual demonstrates the government’s “flagrant lack of respect” for the democratic process.

The opposition demanded that the manual, given to Tory committee chairs, be tabled in the House of Commons.

Peter Van Loan, the government’s House leader, ignored the demand and continued to insist that the Tories want the minority Parliament to work.

He again blamed the opposition parties for its recent dysfunction. He cited various justice bills which have been stalled by opposition MPs in committees for up to 214 days.

“The opposition pulls out every stop they can to obstruct (the justice agenda) and then they get upset when a matter gets debated for two hours at committee,” he scoffed.

But Van Loan’s arguments were weakened by the leak of the manual. The government was so embarrassed and annoyed by the leak, that, according to a source, it ordered all committee chairs to return their copies of the handbook, apparently in a bid to determine who broke confidence.

The handbook, obtained by National Post columnist Don Martin, reportedly advises chairs on how to promote the government’s agenda, select witnesses friendly to the Conservative party and coach them to give favourable testimony. It also reportedly instructs them on how to filibuster and otherwise disrupt committee proceedings and, if all else fails, how to shut committees down entirely.

Some of those stalling tactics have been on display this week.

Tory MPs on the information and ethics committee stalled an inquiry into alleged censorship of a report on the treatment of Afghan detainees. They debated the propriety of the witness list for more than five hours while two critics of the government’s handling of the matter cooled their heels in the corridor.

The official languages committee has been shut down all week after Tory chair Guy Lauzon cancelled a hearing moments before witnesses were to testify about the impact of the government’s cancellation of the court challenges program. All three opposition parties voted to remove Lauzon from the chair but the Tories are refusing to select a replacement, leaving the committee in limbo.

Tories have also launched filibusters to obstruct proceedings in the Commons agriculture and procedural affairs committees and a Senate committee study of a Liberal bill requiring the government to adhere to the Kyoto treaty on greenhouse gas emissions.

The previous Liberal regime also tried to control the conduct of committees. Former prime minister Jean Chretien even faced a mini-rebellion during his final months in office from backbenchers who chafed at being told what to say and do at committee. They demanded the right to choose their own committee chairs.

But Davies, a 10-year parliamentary veteran, said the Tories have taken manipulation to extremes she’s never seen before.

“They’ve codified it. They’ve set it down. They’ve given instructions.”

Both Davies and Goodale agreed that the recent dysfunction may be part of a long term Tory strategy to persuade voters that minority Parliaments don’t work, that they need to elect a majority next time.

But Goodale predicted the ploy won’t work because Canadians will realize that the Tories are the “authors of this stalemate.”

Goodale said the manual also demonstrates that the government is in the grip of an “obsessive, manipulative mania,” run by a prime minister who has “a kind of control fetish” in which there can’t be “one comma or one sentence or one word uttered without his personal approval.”

Source

They can lie all they want but the truth is coming out. The Present Conservatives have been manipulative and lieing for some time. They are not really conservatives anyway.

The Alliance took them over.

So really what Canadians have is an Alliance Government, not Conservative Government.

The Alliance is just a right wing nightmare.

Similar to George Bush and his Republicans.

Nothing to worry about now is there?

Canadians really need to wake up and stop looking through those rose colored glasses and take a long hard look at what is really happening in their country.

Canadian Leaders Fighting tooth and nail

Prime Minister Harper officially endorses North American Union!

Stephen Harper lied about Cadman Tape

Stephen Harper hid the actual cost of the War

Harper has done nothing to get this kid our of Guantanamo Bay. I guess he must think it is alright to keep this child in prison and torture is just fine.

Ontario lawyers call on Prime Minister to ask U.S. to return Omar Khadr

Judge right about Guantanamo Bay, we’ve had ‘enough’

November 21 2008

“Seven years … is enough.” With those words Thursday, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ordered the release of five Algerians held at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since January 2002. A conservative appointed by President George W. Bush, Leon also delivered a forceful indictment of the administration’s detention decisions and provided indisputable proof of the importance of allowing federal judges to evaluate the secret evidence the government used to justify detentions.

The case, known as Boumediene v. Bush, yielded the first ruling in a habeas corpus proceeding involving Guantanamo detainees. It first came before Leon in 2004, and, at that time, he read the law as not allowing detainees federal court review.

The Algerians appealed and ultimately prevailed this summer when the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling empowering federal judges to review the government’s basis for detaining people on the naval base.

In Boumediene, the government relied on a single classified document from an unnamed source. Justice Department lawyers were unable to convince Leon of the validity of the detentions, even though they were held to a low standard of proof. Leon concluded the document did not prove that the men, captured in Bosnia in 2002, were planning to travel to Afghanistan to fight U.S. forces. The fact that there was no corroborating evidence and that there was little information to help the judge assess the reliability of that source doomed the government’s case.

“To allow enemy combatantcy to rest on so thin a reed would be inconsistent with this Court’s obligation … to protect petitioners from the risk of erroneous detention,” he wrote. He ordered the five Algerians freed “forthwith,” but left the details to the government and did not specify where the men should be sent. He declined to order the release of a sixth man, concluding that the government had provided corroborating evidence that he was an al-Qaida operative.

In another extraordinary move, Leon urged the Justice Department not to appeal his order that the five be freed, saying: “Seven years of waiting for our legal system to give them an answer to their legal question is enough.”

The government needs the legal flexibility to hold those it believes are terrorism threats but against whom there is not enough evidence to bring traditional criminal charges. But what Leon revealed in his ruling is the utter travesty that is holding people with virtually no evidence – and certainly no evidence that can reasonably be considered reliable.

The Justice Department should heed the judge’s call and refrain from an appeal. It should work with the departments of State and Defense to find a suitable third country for these detainees. And it should not wait for another judicial rebuke before releasing others who are being held on the basis of feeble or questionable evidence.

Source

U.S. acknowledges it held 12 juveniles at Guantanamo Bay prison

November 16 2008

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The U.S. has revised its count of juveniles ever held at Guantanamo Bay to 12, up from the eight it reported in May to the United Nations, a Pentagon spokesman said Sunday.

The government has provided a corrected report to the UN committee on child rights, according to navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon. He said the U.S. did not intentionally misrepresent the number of detainees taken to the isolated base in southeast Cuba before turning 18.

“As we noted to the committee, it remains uncertain the exact age of many of the juveniles held at Guantanamo, as most of them did not know their own date of birth or even the year in which they were born,” he said.

A study released last week by the Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas concluded the U.S. has held at least a dozen juveniles at Guantanamo, including a Saudi who committed suicide in 2006.

“The information I got was from their own sources, so they didn’t have to look beyond their own sources to figure this out,” said Almerindo Ojeda, director of the centre at the University of California, Davis.

Rights groups say it is important for the U.S. military to know the real age of those it detains because juveniles are entitled to special protection under international laws recognized by the United States.

Eight of the 12 juvenile detainees identified by the human rights centre have been released, according to the study.

Two of the remaining detainees are scheduled to face war-crimes trials in January.

Canadian Omar Khadr, now 21, was captured in July 2002 and is charged with murder for allegedly throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. special forces soldier. Mohammed Jawad, an Afghan who is about 24, faces attempted murder charges for a 2002 grenade attack that wounded two U.S. soldiers.

The study identified the only other remaining juvenile as Muhammed Hamid al Qarani of Chad.

The Saudi who hanged himself with two other detainees in 2006, Yasser Talal al-Zahrani, was 17 when he arrived at Guantanamo within days of the military prison opening in January 2002, according to the study.

About 250 prisoners remain at Guantanamo on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida or the Taliban.

Guantánamo’s Children: Military and Diplomatic Testimonies

camp_iguana.jpg

Camp Iguana,  the facility where a few of Guan-
tánamo’s children were once imprisoned. Photo:
The Miami Herald.

For the purposes of the present Convention, a child means
every human being below the age of eighteen years unless
under the law applicable to the child,  majority  is attained
earlier
(UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 1)

On April 25, 2003, Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers held a news briefing at the Pentagon. At that briefing, Secretary Rumsfeld was asked about the juveniles in Guantanamo. Rumsfeld took the opportunity to complain about “this constant refrain of the juveniles, as though there’s a hundred of children in there”. Secretary Rumsfeld’s complaint raises a very good question. Exactly how many children have been seized and taken to Guantánamo?

1. Eleven Children Recognized by the Department of Defense

Two documents released by the U.S. Department of Defense identify 11 Guantánamo prisoners that were under the age of 18 at the time they were seized. These documents are:

  • List of individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from January 2002 through May 15, 2006
  • Measurements of Heights and Weights of Individuals Detained by the Department ofon March 16, 2007.

Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba posted

The first of these documents provides dates of birth for these prisoners; the second presents in-processing dates for many of them. The following table summarizes the information gathered from these two sources. Here DD and MMM stand, respectively, for day and month unknown.1

NAME ISN DATE OF BIRTH IN-PROCESSING DATE AGE
ABDUL QUDUS 0929 DD MMM 88 07 FEB 02 13 – 14
ASSAD ULLAH 0912 DD MMM 88 23 MAR 03 14 – 15
NAQIB ULLAH 0913 DD MMM 88 07 FEB 03 14 – 15
MOHAMMED OMAR 0540 DD MMM 86 12 JUN 02 15 – 16
MUHAMMED HAMID AL QARANI 0269 DD MMM 86 09 FEB 02 15 – 16
SHAMS ULLAH 0783 DD MMM 86 28 OCT 02 15 – 16
OMAR AHMED KHADR 0766 19 SEPT 86 28 OCT 02 16
YUSSEF MOHAMMED MUBARAK AL SHIHRI 0114 08 SEPT 85 16 JAN 02 16
MOHAMED JAWAD 0900 DD MMM 85 18 DEC 02 16 – 17
YASSER TALAL AL ZAHRANI 0093 22 SEPT 84 21 JAN 02 17
ABDUL SALAM GHETAN 0132 14  DEC  84 17 JAN 02 17

The fact that two of these prisoners were seized as children was also acknowledged by the State Department. Indeed, in its response to a question from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, the State Department stated that

“Mr. [Omar] Khadr and Mr. [Mohamed] Jawad are currently the only two individuals captured under the age of 18 that the U.S. Government has chosen to prosecute under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (See United States Written Response to Questions Posed by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Answer to Question 12(c)).”

Also consistent with these claims are the results of a bone scan analysis cited at Mr. Jawad’s trial by military commission.  In-processed in Afghanistan on December 18, 2002, Mohamed Jawad was subsequently transferred to Guantánamo on or about February 6, 2003 . (see United States of America vs. Mohammed Jawad, D-012 Ruling on Defense Motion to Dismiss–Lack of Personal Jurisdiction: Child Soldier)

2. Mohammed Ismail: A Twelfth Child Recognized by Military Officials

On February 2003, Lt. Col. Larry C. James, chief Guantánamo psychologist, flew to Afghanistan to bring three boys to the base. There they were held in Camp Iguana, a facility built especially for them in order to segregate them from the adult population of the prison (Fixing Hell, pp. 34-49). According to Captain James Yee, the Muslim chaplain who tended to the religious instruction of the Camp Iguana inmates, their first names were Assadulah, Naqibullah, and Ismail (For God and Country, pp. 93-96).2

The three boys remained in Guantánamo “for about a year” . Then, on January 29, 2004, the Department of Defense announced that three children had been released from Guantánamo, where they were “housed in a separate facility modified to meet the special needs of juveniles” .

On February 7, 2004 the Guardian published an article identifying these children as Assad Ullah, Naqib Ullah, and Mohammed Ismail. The first two of these children are included in the table in Section 1; the third one is not. Consequently, we can identify a twelfth Guantánamo prisoner that was captured as a minor. He is Mohammed Ismail.

Independent confirmation for this identification is provided by the fact that both Mohammed Ismail and Naqib Ullah were in-processed on 07 FEB 03 (both Lt. Col. James and Capt. Yee write that Naqib Ullah and Ismail arrived on the same day).

If Mohammed Ismail was seized as a juvenile in 2003, then he could not have been born in 1984, as the Departement of Defense claims in its 2006 list of prisoners; Mohammed Ismail must have been born later.

In its January 29, 2004 announcement of the release of the children, the Department of Defense indicated that medical tests performed after they were seized determined that “all three juveniles were under the age of 16″. Consequently, the date of birth for Mohammed Ismail given in the DoD list of prisoners must be amended to read “after 07 FEB 87”, which would be the date of his 16th birthday.

3. How Many Children Have Been Seized and Taken to Guantánamo?

On May 13, 2008, the U.S. State Department answered in writing, through its Bureau of Democracy Human Rights and Labor, a questionnaire from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. In its answer to this questionnaire, the Bureau wrote that

“In the entirety of its existence, the Guantanamo Bay detention facility has held no more than eight juveniles, their ages ranging from 13 to 17 at the time of their capture (See United States Written Response to Questions Posed by the Committee onthe Rights of the Child, Answer to Question 12(a)).”

Yet, in light of the discussion above, the Guantánamo Bay detention facility has held no less than 12 individuals, their ages ranging from 13 to 17 at the time of their seizure. They are listed in the table below.

NAME ISN DATE OF BIRTH IN-PROCESSING DATE AGE
ABDUL QUDUS 0929 DD MMM 88 07 FEB 02 13 – 14
ASSAD ULLAH 0912 DD MMM 88 23 MAR 03 14 – 15
NAQIB ULLAH 0913 DD MMM 88 07 FEB 03 14 – 15
MOHAMMED ISMAIL 0930 after 07 FEB 87 07 FEB 03 15 or less
MOHAMMED OMAR 0540 DD MMM 86 12 JUN 02 15 – 16
MUHAMMED HAMID AL QARANI 0269 DD MMM 86 09 FEB 02 15 – 16
SHAMS ULLAH 0783 DD MMM 86 28 OCT 02 15 – 16
OMAR AHMED KHADR 0766 19 SEPT 86 28 OCT 02 16
YUSSEF MOHAMMED MUBARAK AL SHIHRI 0114 08 SEPT 85 16 JAN 02 16
MOHAMED JAWAD 0900 DD MMM 85 18 DEC 02 16 – 17
YASSER TALAL AL ZAHRANI 0093 22 SEPT 84 21 JAN 02 17
ABDUL SALAM GHETAN 0132 14  DEC  84 17 JAN 02 17

It follows that the State Department underreported, to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, the number of prisoners seized as children and transferred subsequently to Guantánamo. The figure reported to the U.N. committee does not even match the information made public by the Department of Defense .

4. What Do We Know About These Individuals?

Eight of the individuals mentioned in the table above have now been released.
  • Two are currently facing military trials as the first individuals in history to be charged with war crimes committed as children (Omar Ahmed Khadr and Mohamed Jawad).
  • One apparently killed himself in his Guantánamo cell (Yasser Talal al Zahrani).
  • One is still in Guantánamo, where he has repeatedly tried to kill himself (Muhammed Hamid al Qarani).

5. Could There Be More?

The information contained in the table in Section 3 is based solely on American military and diplomatic sources. They are corroborated, however, by a variety of international sources. The in-processing dates for the ten prisoners mentioned in Section 1, for example, is confirmed by the information about flight records presented in The Journey of Death, a report on “extraordinary renditions” prepared by the British charity Reprieve. And extant prisoner testimonies are also consistent with the information presented above.

As a matter of fact, if we were to incorporate the testimonies of former prisoners, the Red Cross, and other international sources, then, according to Reprieve (personal communication), the total number of individuals detained as juveniles and transferred to Guantánamo would exceed 46.

International testimonies on Guantánamo’s children will be analyzed in a subsequent report.

Source

Judge tosses detainee confession of Mohammed Jawad citing torture

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) — A U.S. military judge barred the Pentagon Tuesday from using a Guantanamo prisoner’s confession to Afghan authorities as trial evidence, saying it was obtained through torture.

Army Col. Stephen Henley said Mohammed Jawad’s statements “were obtained by physical intimidation and threats of death which, under the circumstances, constitute torture.”

Jawad’s defense attorney, Air Force Maj. David Frakt, told The Associated Press that the ruling removes “the lynchpin of the government’s case.”

Guantanamo’s chief prosecutor, Army Col. Lawrence Morris, said he recognized how the judge made his decision and needed to study the ruling before making more comments.

Jawad, who was still a teenager at the time, is accused of injuring two U.S. soldiers with a grenade in 2002. He allegedly said during his interrogation in Kabul that he hoped the Americans died, and would do it again.

But Henley said Jawad confessed only after police commanders and high-ranking Afghan government officials threatened to kill him and his family — a strategy intended to inflict severe pain that constitutes torture.

“During the interrogation, someone told the accused, ‘You will be killed if you do not confess to the grenade attack,’ and, ‘We will arrest your family and kill them if you do not confess,’ or words to that effect,” Henley wrote in response to a defense motion to suppress the evidence. “It was a credible threat.”

Frakt said the ruling is a “further disintegration of the government’s case,” and that the Afghans’ descriptions of Jawad’s confession were never credible to begin with. He also praised the judge for “adopting a traditional definition of torture rather than making one up.”

The judge said torture includes statements obtained by use of death threats to the speaker or his family, and that actual physical or mental injury is not required. “The relevant inquiry is whether the threat was specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering upon another person within the interrogator’s custody or control,” Henley wrote.

Hina Shamsi, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, welcomed the ruling, but alleged “evidence obtained through torture and coercion is pervasive in military commission cases that, by design, disregard the most fundamental due process rights, and no single decision can cure that.”

Tuesday’s ruling comes a few weeks after Jawad’s former Guantanamo prosecutor, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, quit after what he described as a crisis of conscience over the ethical handling of cases at the U.S. base.

He said evidence he saw — some of which was withheld from defense attorneys — suggested Mohammed Jawad may have been drugged before the 2002 attack.

Source

Ontario lawyers call on Prime Minister to ask U.S. to return Omar Khadr

Ontario lawyers call on Prime Minister to ask U.S. to return Omar Khadr

Les avocats de Khadr contestent que Harper prétende n'avoir d'autre choix

Guantanamo Bay: Obama’s options

November 12 2008

Guantanamo Bay has been widely condemned by international rights groups [GALLO/GETTY]

Barack Obama, the US president-elect, has said repeatedly that he will shut down the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and is now faced with decisions about how to proceed.

Rights groups have urged Obama to move swiftly once he begins his White House term in January.

The detention and treatment of prisoners held at the US facility has been widely condemned by international rights groups and the UN and EU.

It has held more than 750 captives from around the world since opening in 2002, including many who were captured during the US “war on terror” that followed the attacks on the US of September 11, 2001.

Around 250 prisoners remain in the camp – most held without charge or trial – including 50 or so that have been cleared for release but cannot be returned to their home countries, the US government says, for fear of torture and persecution.Two, including Osama bin Laden’s former driver, have already faced full military tribunals, set up by the Bush administration to try the detainees, but widely condemned as unfair by rights groups.

Aides to Obama say he remains committed to closing Guantanamo and trying the remaining detainees.

“President-Elect Obama said throughout his campaign that the legal framework at Guantanamo has failed to successfully and swiftly prosecute terrorists, and he shares the broad bipartisan belief that Guantanamo should be closed,” Denis McDonough, an advisor to Obama on foreign policy, said in a statement on Monday.

There are several options now on the table for the new administration.

1. Trying detainees using a new US legal system

Obama has considered proposing a new court system to try the Guantanamo detainees and has appointed a committee to decide how such a court would operate, recent media reports have said.

The US has faced widespread criticism over
its treatement of detainees [GALLO/GETTY]

How specifically that system would operate remains unclear.”There is no process in place to make that decision until his [Obama’s] national security and legal teams are assembled,” McDonough said.

But the idea of setting up a separate legal system for the detainees has already drawn some criticism, and invited comparisons to the military tribunals set up by the Bush administration.

“There would be concern about establishing a completely new system,” Adam Schiff, a Democratic member of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee and former federal prosecutor, said.

“And in the sense that establishing a regimen of detention that includes American citizens and foreign nationals that takes place on US soil and departs from the criminal justice system – trying to establish that would be very difficult.”

2. Criminal trials in the US

Obama aides have also said Guantanamo’s remaining detainees could be prosecuted in federal criminal courts.

Doing so in the US would grant the detainees legal rights equivalent to those of citizens, thus creating a host of problems for prosecutors.

More than 750 prisoners have been held at the detention centre since 2002 [GALLO/GETTY]

Evidence gathered through military interrogation or from intelligence sources could be thrown out.Defendents would also have the right to confront witnesses, which means undercover CIA officers or informants might have to take the stand, jeopardising their identities and revealing classified intelligence tactics.

The idea of bringing alleged terrorists onto US soil has also proved controversial.

Last year, the US senate overwhelmingly passed a non-binding bill opposing bringing detainees to the United States.

John Cornyn, a Republican senate judiciary committee member, says it would be a “colossal mistake to treat terrorism as a mere crime”.

“It would be a stunning disappointment if one of the new administration’s first priorities is to give foreign terror suspects captured on the battlefield the same legal rights and protections as American citizens accused of crimes,” he said.

3. Trials in the US military court-martial system

Use of the US military’s court-martial system is another possible option to try Guantanamo detainees.

Could the US use its own military justice system
to try detainees? [GALLO/GETTY]

“The court martial system could be adapted very easily by congress – I think that’s by far the better option,” Scott Silliman, a law professor at Duke University and director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, told Al Jazeera.A US federal trial, like the case brought against Zacarias Moussaoui, who was convicted of conspiring to kill US citizens in the September 11 attacks, could be drawn out over several years.

However, courts-martial, which unlike federal trials can take place outside the US, but maintain a higher standard of evidence than that of the current military tribunals used by the Bush administration.

But critics have also said that the higher standard of evidence could create problems for the prosecuting teams similar to that in criminal trials.

Silliman, however, says the US has much to gain from the system, in terms of credibility, for holding detainees to the same standards as its own military forces.

4. Repatriation

For the detainees which the government maintains no evidence of criminality, Obama advisers told the Associated Press news agency on Monday that they would probably be returned to the countries where they were captured for continued detention or rehabilitation.

The outgoing administration contends this is easier said than done.

“We’ve tried very hard to explain to people how complicated it is,” Dana Perino, a spokeswoman for the White House, says. “When you pick up people off the battlefield that have a terrorist background, it’s not just so easy to let them go.”

Some governments have denied that the Guantanamo prisoners are in fact their citizens, while others have been reluctant to agree to US requests to imprison or monitor former Guantanamo detainees.

The Bush administration says talks with Yemen for the release of around 90 Yemeni detainees into a rehabilitation programme have so far been fruitless.

5. Resettlement in other countries

At least 50 of Guantanamo’s inmates have already been cleared for release but the US government says they cannot be returned to their home countries for fear of torture and persecution.

Human Rights groups have called for a swift closure of Guantanamo Bay [AFP]

The US state department and international human rights groups have urged third-party countries to accept these Guantanamo prisoners.In Berlin on Monday, five rights groups issued a joint call to European governments to grant humanitarian resettlement and protection to detainees from China, Libya, Russia, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan, among others.

“This would have a double effect: helping to end the ordeal of an individual unlawfully held in violation of his human rights, and helping end the international human rights scandal that is Guantanamo,” Daniel Gorevan, who manages Amnesty International’s “Counter Terror with Justice” campaign, said.

Analysts have said international governments might be more willing to negotiate on this issue with an Obama administration because the president-elect has spoken out against unilateral US action, and is less likely to have as strict requirements.

6. Keeping Guantanamo open

The likelihood of keeping the Guantanamo Bay detention facility open is an apparently a slim one in part, because of the negative publicity the Obama administration would receive.

The facility has been condemned by the UN, the EU, and numerous human rights groups, and many in the US argue that the camp is also a liability.

Even George Bush acknowledged in 2006 he would “like to close” it.

“Guantanamo Bay, for most people is a lightning rod for everything that’s wrong with the United States,” Silliman says. “I’m not sure Obama would be able to back away from his campaign pledge.”

Were it to remain open, the US congress would be likely to have to pass a new law to keep the detainees there, and push through humanitarian and legal changes.

Another alternative is for the US to work with other countries to create jointly-operated detention facilities.

Whatever the plan the new administration pursues, Silliman says Obama isn’t likely to push through changes on January 21 – his first day in office.

“We should not expect it to take place in the first couple of weeks of his administration, or even in the first couple months,” he says.

“All of this is going to take time.”

Source

Barack Obama: Hope for America, but maybe not for the world?

November 7 2008

Barack Obama has run perhaps the best organized and most inspiring of presidential campaigns in US political history. He has risen above sleazy political tactics, challenged stereotypes, eschewed divisiveness, focused on issues that are important to Americans, and maintained his poise and principles in the face of tremendous pressure from his opponents. It has been truly awe-inspiring and admirable.

There is little wonder that almost 53% of American voters and perhaps a larger percentage of the world population have found themselves strongly attracted to Barack Obama. He has become a shining beacon of “hope” and “change” for a country in a crisis of self-confidence, and a world participating vicariously through the blown up “reality-TV” of American presidential elections.

Without taking anything away from the greatness of Obama’s achievement, and the historical importance of this event for American culture and identity, I feel constrained to point out that those who think an Obama presidency will improve the way that the United States has been engaging with the world may need to take a reality-check.

I say this as one who instinctively likes Barack Obama, has tremendous respect and admiration for him, shares with him the same alma mater, has close friends and relatives all across the United States, and has followed the campaign speeches, events and reporting on the US election with pathological interest.

I am addressing this article only to those who are already aware of the many ways in which the United States has been uniquely responsible for undermining international law, stability, peace and prosperity in the World. Those who are offended that I could even make such a suggestion should investigate elsewhere, and read no further.

The insight I share is a simple one: nothing that Barack Obama has done or promised gives rise to the “hope” that an Obama presidency will usher in the “change we need” in the world. The gloomy conclusion comes from asking a series of questions, and for each one recognizing the answer to be “no he won’t”:

  1. Will president Obama allow the United States to recognise the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC)? The ICC is the preeminent global mechanism for holding egregious human rights violators to account, when they are able to escape being held to account by national jurisdictions. It is a mechanism championed by Europe and enthusiastically adopted by much of the world, but almost fatally undermined by the United States formal renouncing in 2002, and keeping a clutch of countries that depend on US support away from it – Sri Lanka being amongst that number.
  2. Will president Obama bring the United States into the Kyoto protocol or at least an equivalent and sufficient compact on responding to Global Warming? The United States with less than four percent of the global population is responsible for more a quarter of the annual emissions that cause global warming – by far the highest per-capita pollution rate. The negative consequences of Global warming will be borne disproportionately by the poor of the world who have benefited the least from the industrial activities over the last hundred years that have brought about the problem.
  3. Will president Obama bring the United States back in to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia, or an acceptable equivalent? President George Bush in 2002 withdrew the US from the 1972 ABM treaty, because Russia could no longer compete in the arms race. This withdrawal from the treaty and subsequent plans for missile deployments in countries close to Russia has been the principal reason for souring relations with Moscow. It has begun a new version of the cold war, with attendant threats to the security of the world. (Georgia being the first bit of grass to get trampled as the Elephants position them-selves in the fight).
  4. Will president Obama reverse the longstanding US policy of blindly supporting Israel as it continues to deny the people of Palestine a just return of their lands and the right to a dignified existence in their own territory? Israel routinely receives upwards of 2 billion dollars in military aid alone from the US each year (together with about another one billion in non-military aid, Israel receives one sixth of the US foreign aid budget each year), and at the U.N. Security Council the US routinely exercises its veto power in favour of Israel anytime the rest of the world tries to even voice their concern about the injustice. This unprincipled support has been the chief recruiting sergeant in the Middle East for Al Qaida-style organizations, which are undermining stability and peace in the world.
  5. Will president Obama choke off the still strong political and military support by the US for the utterly corrupt, repressive, authoritarian Saudi Arabian regime? The Saudi regime is amongst the most corrupt and repressive in the world. That regime and US support for it remains the second most important driver of Al Qaida recruitment. It monopolises the massive wealth from oil revenues for the aggrandizement of a small circle of family, friends, and multinational oil companies, denying much of the local population even a semblance of fair share and perpetuates that injustice by repressive laws, restricted freedoms and denial of democracy.
  6. Will president Obama after closing down the Guantanamo Bay prison camp (even McCain would) apologise and pay compensation to those who can’t be charged — the large number of innocent people yanked in there by mercenary schemes, tortured, and denied any semblance of justice for now almost 7 years? Guantanamo Bay prison has — in large screen technicolour, brazenly and shamelessly — flouted numerous international covenants on civil, political and human rights. Since it’s inception in January 2002, Guantanamo Bay prison has shown the middle finger to the universal values of civilised cultures and made these values seem cheap, subservient, and disposable when inconvenient. Such an iconic prison camp that ends with unrepentant impunity will have terribly undermined the power of these values to shape the world.
  7. Will president Obama change the US position in 2001, when it became the only country to oppose the international UN treaty on curbing the flow of small arms? This treaty – spearheaded by Sri Lankan Jayantha Dhanapala, then under-secretary-general to Kofi Anan – aimed to provide some simple global standards and tracing methods to curtail the illicit flow of small arms in the world (much of them manufactured and sold by the US). These weapons expand the power of organized crime, fuel militia gangs, arm child soldiers (including those of the LTTE in Sri Lanka), and are estimated by the UN to kill at least half a million people each year.
  8. Will president Obama withdraw US intransigence at World Trade talks (which have been failing to reach consensus since the Doha round in 2001)? The US (which together with the EU spends more than 100 billion dollars per year on farm subsidies) wants to continue denying farmers from poor countries the same access to the markets of very rich nations, as has been secured for multinationals from those countries into the markets of the poor? Even the global western institutions such as the IMF and World Bank admit openly that this lack of symmetry in trade access is one of the principle causes of poverty in the African continent, the poorest region of the world.

I have considered here only a few of the burning questions of the world. I think they highlight the bleakness of this grand “change” in America, in terms of having a positive effect on the way that American power is wielded in the world. With a George Bush presidency, there was at least no illusion about the selfish abuse of military and institutional power by the United States. An Obama presidency that continues these wolfish tendencies in sheep’s clothing will not make the world a better place.

The election of Barack Obama is shrouded in the illusion that US engagement in the world will now be moral and benevolent. But the time for that has not yet arrived, and is not likely to arrive until US economic and military power diminishes more significantly. For those who were listening, Barack Obama has in fact been threatening the world, by the trade, military and foreign policy positions that he has articulated consistently throughout his campaign – and there is no reason to think he didn’t mean what he said.

Has Barack Obama offered “hope” for Americans? Resoundingly “Yes!” But the hope that President Obama offers Americans is not hope for the world.

Source

Can he stop the war mongering that has become embedded in America?

Can he eliminate the corruption in the American political system?
The American self serving agenda has seeped into every corner of the world. Whether is be Free Trade or the Financial Crisis.  It has seeped into the IMF and World Bank. It has slithered into every aspect of the planet. Corporations are as corrupt as the MOB. They hold too much power over Governments and people.

Free Trade agreements, the IMF and World Bank help promote their agenda of cheap slave labour,  massive profits and the ability to pollute world wide. They promote privatization of services such as water, education and health care. This all for profit and to the demise of the people.  Oddly enough the because of the Financial Crisis many countries have had to borrow money from the IMF and World Bank and are now at the mercy of their dictatorial agenda.

They of course are apparently seen as the good guys helping out those poor countries in need,  when in fact they are just as usual, promoting more  privatization of their resources. How sweet it is to be in their grasp. Well for the corporations that is, not for the people of the country that had to borrow money. I bet their Cooperate mouths are just watering at the prospect of more profits, at the expense of the countries who were forced to turn to the IMF and World Banks.

Farmers in India who have committed suicide or lost their farms may have something to say about the IMF loan given to India. They sure helped them now didn’t they? The International Monetary Fund was promoting an agenda all right. A corporate agenda, not that of “actually helping the country or it’s people”.

Iceland had to raise their Interest rates to a whopping 18 percent, while the rest of the institutions are lowering them. That was one of the stipulations in the IMF loan, they will receive from the IMF. There is something fishy in that, isn’t there? Gorden Brown treating them as a terrorist is just way out there.  There certainly is something rather strange about it all. One has to wonder what the true agenda is?

A few years back it was well known what was going on. Africa is one of the victims. A classic example of IMF and World Bank pretending to be nice.

A little History Lesson on The World Bank and IMF in Africa

The US Government can whine all they want, they don’t have money for Health Care and Social programs but in fact, if the War machine were ended they would have enough and more to lift many out of poverty and fund social programs.
The total of America’s military bases in other people’s countries in 2005, according to official sources, was 737.

The 612 billion war budget is not necessary either.

Instead they have working toward World Domination via  Military Dominance, Free Trade agreements, IMF and the World Bank.  They have pandered to Corperate Greed and Profiteering.  Which in the end causes more poverty, more pollution, more war, more corruption, more death,  more cheap slave labour, more profiteering for the greedy and more hatred towards the United States of America.

NATO and the United Nations have done little to stop the Fascist Agenda.  If anything they have enabled the US.

Should they end the Aid to Israel ? Well much of the aid is earmarked for weapons for one and it destabilizes the Middle East.

Can Obama sort through all of this and find ways to improve the life of US Citizens and the rest of the World?

Sure he could.  It will take time and political will.

Will he and the Government of the US do anything is another story.

The rest of the world also needs to work with Obama to end the War Machine and Cooperate Corruption however.

The Enablers around the world, must also make it clear their agenda of World Domination must end.

Enough is Enough.

If the leaders in the World are to promote anything is should be to improve the lives of it’s citizens,  not the profiteers and war mongers.

Cleaning up the media that sifts out “propaganda” to the American public would also go a long way to helping as well. The American people have the right to know the truth. So does the rest of the world.

The propaganda machine has worked it’s way into much of the media around the world as well.

People want the “truth” not “propaganda” and “lies”.







CIA officers could face trial in Britain over torture allegations

Attorney General to investigate abuse claims

By Robert Verkaik

October 31 2008

Senior CIA officers could be put on trial in Britain after it emerged last night that the Attorney General is to investigate allegations that a British resident held in Guantanamo Bay was brutally tortured, after being arrested and questioned by American forces following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington in 2001.

The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has asked Baroness Scotland to consider bringing criminal proceedings against Americans allegedly responsible for the rendition and abuse of Binyam Mohamed, when he was held in prisons in Morocco and Afghanistan.

The development follows criticism of US prosecutors by British judges who have seen secret evidence of torture committed against Mr Mohamed, including allegations his torturers used a razor blade to repeatedly cut his penis. The Attorney’s investigation is expected to include allegations that MI5 colluded in Mr Mohamed’s rendition. Mr Mohamed, 30, an Ethiopian national and British resident, was arrested in Pakistan in 2002, when he was questioned by an MI5 officer.

On Tuesday, Government lawyers wrote to the judges hearing Mr Mohamed’s case against the UK government in the High Court. In the letter they said “the question of possible criminal wrongdoing to which these proceedings has given rise has been referred by the Home Secretary to the Attorney general for consideration as an independent minister of justice”. Baroness Scotland has been sent secret witness statements given to the court and public interest immunity certificates for the proceedings.

Mr Mohamed, 30, accuses MI5 agents of lying about what they knew of CIA plans to transfer him to a prison in north Africa, where he claims he was subjected to horrendous torture. Mr Mohamed, who won asylum in the UK in 1994, has been charged with terrorism-related offences. He awaits a decision on whether he is to face trial at the US naval base. He is officially the last Briton at Guantanamo. Last night his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, said: “This is a welcome recognition that the CIA cannot just go rendering British residents to secret torture chambers without consequences, and British agents cannot take part in US crimes without facing the music. Reprieve will be making submissions to the Attorney General to ensure those involved, from the US, Pakistan, Morocco, Britain, are held responsible.”

Richard Stein, of Leigh Day, representing Mr Mohamed in the High Court proceedings, said: “Ultimately the British Government had little choice once they conceded that a case had been made that Binyam Mohamed was tortured. The Convention Against Torture imposes an obligation on signatory states to investigate torture.”

In August two judges ruled allegations of torture were at least arguable and that MI5 had information relating to Mr Mohamed that was “not only necessary but essential for his defence”.

The judges have read statements and interviews with Mr Mohamed between 28 and 31 July, 2004 when he says he was forced to confess to terrorism. The judges said: “This was after a period of over two-and-a-half years of incommunicado detention during which Binyam Mohamed alleges he was tortured.”

He was first held in Pakistan in 2002, where a British agent interrogated him; he was then sent to Morocco by the CIA and allegedly tortured for 18 months. He was rendered to the secret “Dark Prison” in Afghanistan, where his torture is alleged to have continued. Since September 2004, he has been in Guantanamo Bay.

Source

Published in: on October 31, 2008 at 9:10 am  Comments Off on CIA officers could face trial in Britain over torture allegations  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

17 Chinese Released from Guantánamo Bay


The Inconvenient Existence of Abdel al Ghizzawi

On Tuesday U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ordered the release of 17 Chinese Uighur Muslims from Guantánamo Bay and most likely caused a near-riot in the White House. His order highlights the increasingly muddled nature of the facility’s existence and, if carried out, holds the potential for an avalanche of bad publicity at a very bad time for the President.

First and most importantly, consider the people behind the paper. The Uighurs and one Abdel al Ghizzawi were all found not to be enemy combatants at the same time by tribunals formed under the Military Commissions Act (MCA). The political repercussions must have been obvious because new, more compliant tribunals subsequently ruled that the very same evidence actually made them enemy combatants. The Uighurs were treated as a single group because, um, they are Uighurs (a completely irrelevant similarity under the circumstances) and al Ghizzawi was split off. The Uighurs ended up before Urbina and ordered released. Al Ghizzawi ended up before John Bates and was told he did not even merit medical attention.

In other words, undesirable findings can be reversed by simply convening a more friendly panel (the MCA was presumably written by avid golfers), and the foregone conclusions dressed up as rulings get wildly different treatment in the justice system. Judges have no case law or precedent to guide them, no philosophy to draw on or judicial framework for interpretation. They go by nothing more than their own sense of what seems right, and preside over courts that exist in a jurisprudential vacuum. Lawyers who attempt to work in this system are almost completely blind to what might be effective, and their understandable frustration is hard to miss.

For instance, al Ghizzawi is represented by H. Candace Gorman, who clarified several points for me via email while I was writing this post. She also has shown astonishing persistence in her pro bono efforts to obtain some semblance of justice. However, a quick look at her ongoing chronicle shows just how much she has had to make her approach up as she goes along. I suspect “improvised” ranks just above “incompetent” in the Adjectives You Don’t Want Characterizing Your Defense category, but in this case what other choice is there?

Al Ghizzawi and others languish in Guantánamo because of politics. Election day is less than a month away and there are barely over a hundred days left in the President’s term. Released detainees could create a political disaster on the former and a legal one after the latter. Think about what happens on November 4th if the Uighurs are released in the next week or two. They will be on American soil and probably giving interviews – imagine the news value of a group from the fabled, mythical Gitmo showing up at the end of election season. I suspect there would be tremendous curiosity over what they had to say about their time in U.S. custody. A rigged system declared them noncombatants, so the story of their incarceration without a shred of evidence would look very bad. Maybe not for the immediate aftermath of the capture, but as years dragged on it would be clear they were kept not because of risks to national security but because of their direct experience of administration policy. Based on the limited information we have I imagine we would hear about extended periods of isolation, sleeplessness, sensory deprivation, extremes of cold and heat, stress positions and other abuses. Done individually or at moderate levels they might not seem so bad, but strung together in succession, done with the intent of finding the fabled 79.9 degrees and related on TV by the actual victim it would generally be seen as torture. The result: widespread revulsion at the Republicans’ preferred approach to detainees.

Also, the President clearly must hear the clock ticking. Once he hands over the keys to his successor he will no longer be able to have the Justice Department file emergency appeals, have the Vice President breathe down someone’s neck or make life for a reluctant bureaucrat sufficiently unpleasant as to make a career change look like a good idea. Considering his historic unpopularity he probably should not expect to have any surrogates going to the wall for him either. He will, for all intents and purposes, go into exile. If he cannot shut down or compromise avenues of prosecution right now he will have to rely on the good will of the citizenry and the forbearance of the next players in Washington to keep him from answering for his actions. Both are possible, perhaps likely, but how reassuring is that? Better to crush it now. Expect fireworks.

Pruning Shears

Enemy Combatant is just an invention of the Bush administration. There in actuality, is no such thing. It is not the view of the rest of the world. It is merely a bogus invention to remove the rights of prisoners held there.
If anything they are Prisoners of War that should be protected by the Geneva Convention.
Guantanamo Bay is one of the worst Human Rights Violations conjured up by the Bush administration.

Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War

Adopted on 12 August 1949 by the Diplomatic Conference for the Establishment of
International Conventions for the Protection of Victims of War, held in Geneva
from 21 April to 12 August, 1949
Published in: on October 10, 2008 at 1:39 am  Comments Off on 17 Chinese Released from Guantánamo Bay  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,