Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pinochet judge seeks criminal probe of Bush 'torture lawyers'

Spanish official says arrest warrants 'highly probable'

Six Bush-era officials responsible for crafting the legal justifications permitting the military prison at Guantanamo Bay are the subject of a potential Spanish criminal probe which could place the men under serious risk of arrest if they travel outside the United States.

"[Spanish newspaper] Público identifies the targets as University of California law professor John Yoo, former Department of Defense general counsel William J. Haynes II (now a lawyer working for Chevron), former vice presidential chief-of-staff David Addington, former attorney general and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, now a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and former Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith," noted Scott Horton at Harper's.

He called them Bush's "torture lawyers."

On March 17, Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, published an editorial in the Washington Note which accused Bush officials of knowingly holding innocent men in Guantanamo Bay for years.

"The case was sent to the prosecutor’s office for review by Baltasar Garzón, the crusading investigative judge who indicted the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet," reported the New York Times. "The official said that it was 'highly probable' that the case would go forward and could lead to arrest warrants."

If the judge decides to open an investigation, it will be the first such legal action outside the United States, the private Cadena Sur radio said.

The Association for the Dignity of Prisoners, which filed the case, said the six should be taken to task for virtually authorizing torture at the center, where more than 800 men and teenagers have passed through since it opened in January 2002.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ex-Official: Bush Tortured After 9/11

A former State Department lawyer tells The Associated Press that the Bush administration panicked after 9/11 and tortured prisoners.

Former President George W. Bush denied anyone was tortured. But Vijay Padmanabhan is at least the second insider to publicly describe as torture the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" used by the U.S.

Padmanabhan was the department's chief counsel on Guantanamo litigation. He says it was "foolish" for the Bush administration to declare that detainees were beyond the reach of U.S. and international laws and the Geneva Conventions.

He told the AP Friday that "Guantanamo was one of the worst overreactions of the Bush administration."

Last week, another former official in the Bush State Department publicly criticized the administration for its Guantanamo policies.

Lawrence B. Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, said many detainees locked up in the prison camp were innocent swept up by U.S. forces unable to distinguish enemies from noncombatants

"There are still innocent people there," Wilkerson told The Associated Press. "Some have been there six or seven years."

The British and Torture


One of the problems for the U.S. Government in releasing Guantanamo detainees has been that, upon release, they are free to talk to the world about the treatment to which they were subjected. When the Bush administration agreed to release Australian David Hicks after almost 6 years in captivity, they did so only on the condition that he first sign a documenting stating that he was not abused and that he also agree -- as The Australian put it -- to an "extraordinary 12-month gag order that prevent[ed] Hicks from speaking publicly about the actions to which he has pleaded guilty or the circumstances surrounding his capture, interrogation and detention," a gag order which "also silence[d] family members and any third party."

Last month, in response to increasing pressure in Britain over reports of British resident Binyam Mohamed's deterioration in Guantanamo, the Obama administration released him back to Britain. Ever since, he has been detailing the often brutal torture to which he was subjected over several years, torture in which British intelligence officials appear to have been, at the very least, complicit. As a result, despite the efforts of both the British Government and the Obama administration to keep concealed what was done to Mohamed, the facts about his treatment have emerged and a major political controversy has been ignited.

That's because torture is illegal in Britain, as it is in the United States. But unlike the United States: Britain hasn't completely abandoned the idea that even political officials must be accountable when they commit crimes; their political discourse isn't dominated and infected by the subservient government-defending likes of David Ignatius, Ruth Marcus, David Broder and Stuart Taylor demanding that government officials be free to commit even serious war crimes with total impunity; and they don't have "opposition leaders" who are so afraid of their own shadows and/or so supportive of torture that they remain mute in the face of such allegations.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Detainees' Accounts Confirm White House Authorized Torture

A leaked report by the International Committee of the Red Cross on treatment of detainees held at CIA "black sites" describes a variety of interrogation techniques which the report says "constituted torture." UC-Berkeley journalism professor Mark Danner, who has published excerpts from the report in a lengthy article for the New York Review of Books, told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Tuesday that he regards the detainees' accounts as completely credible.

Danner pointed out that the fourteen prisoners interviewed by the Red Cross had been "kept rigorously isolated throughout their detention" and "had no chance to compare their stories," and yet their accounts were "strikingly similar in almost every minute detail."

Maddow commented that the similarity of the stories also implies that "this was a very organized situation. This is not rogue CIA officers taking the gloves off and deciding what to do in the moment. "

"What do we know about the level of coordination between officials at these black sites and officials in Washington?" she asked.

Danner replied that "the interrogators were in constant touch with their superiors at CIA headquarters" and were getting authorization for every interrogation technique. "The chain of decision-making ... is very well-established," he emphasized. "These weren't rogue officers."

"The director of Central Intelligence at the time [in 2002] ... was George Tenet, who was traveling across the river every day to principals' meetings at the White House," Danner continued.

"The principals' committee includes the National Security Adviser, then Condoleezza Rice; the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld; Secretary of State Colin Powell; the then-Attorney General, John Ashcroft," Danner noted, "all of whom were briefed on this day by day -- not least because George Tenet apparently was worried that he would get stuck with this and he wanted to be sure that he had explicit confirmation that these procedures could go forward."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Red Cross Report

The International Committee of the Red Cross concluded in a secret report that the Bush administration's treatment of al-Qaeda captives "constituted torture," a finding that strongly implied that CIA interrogation methods violated international law, according to newly published excerpts from the long-concealed 2007 document.
Shame on the Red Cross for keeping this report secret. Their claims of doing it to maintain neutrality don't hold water.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Destroyed CIA Tapes Showed Torture

Some Destroyed CIA Tapes Showed "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques"

In new court documents filed today, the Justice Department acknowledged that twelve of the destroyed CIA interrogation tapes depict "enhanced interrogation techniques" -- what most people call torture -- the ACLU announced in a press release.