Friday, December 03, 2010

Obama White House Pressured Spain to Drop Bush Torture Prosecution

So this explains explains why the Spanish prosecutions never materialized.
...Mel Martinez, an ex-Republican Party chairman, along with a US embassy charge d'affaires, met with Spanish Foreign Minister Angel Lossada to discuss the prosecution. They reportedly told the foreign minister that the case "would have an enormous impact" on US-Spanish relations.

"Here was a former head of the GOP and a representative of a new Democratic administration (headed by a president who had decried the Bush-Cheney administration's use of torture) jointly applying pressure on Spain to kill the investigation of the former Bush officials," writes Corn. "[A]s this WikiLeaks-released cable shows, Gonzales, Haynes, Feith, Bybee, Addington, and Yoo owed Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thank-you notes."
Not this is surprising in the least, but at least it's good to see this sleazy, disgusting behavior brought out (thanks to wikileaks).

Monday, November 01, 2010

Absolute Immunity for Ashcroft?

Turley: Obama administration attempt to set new precedent is 'disgusting'

A Supreme Court ruling could grant "absolute immunity" to former US Attorney General John Ashcroft and set a dangerous precedent in a 9/11-related lawsuit, according to George Washington University constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley.

The high court agreed Tuesday to hear a case where Ashcroft can be sued for misusing federal laws to hold a US citizen without charging him.

In an aggressive response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Ashcroft promised that he would use material witness warrants to hold suspects without necessarily charging them with a crime. In 2003, Abdullah al-Kidd, a US citizen, was detained while boarding a plane for Saudi Arabia.

To obtain the warrant, the Justice Department incorrectly told judges that al-Kidd had purchased a one-way first class ticket.

Al-Kidd says he was treated as a terrorist during his time in detention. He maintains that he was strip-searched and interrogated without a lawyer.

The Ninth Circuit has said the suit can go forward while the Obama administration argues that officials like Ashcroft are immune from such lawsuits.

Turley told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann Monday that the government wants to set a precedent of absolute immunity for government officials.

"They are going to have to pitch this to the hard right of the court to support one of the most abusive Attorney Generals in history and what will be left is truly frightening," said Turley, a liberal professor who has been a frequent critic of Republicans. "This is a case as you've mentioned where false statements were given to a court to obtain a warrant, a person was held without access to a lawyer, held in highly abusive conditions and you also have an Attorney General who was virtually gleeful during that period about his ability to round up people."

"This was a time as you know that the material witness rationale was being used widely and rather transparently to simply hold people."

Turley notes that Ninth Circuit Judge Milan Smith wrote in his opinion (.pdf) that "this is what the framers fought against."

"This is what the framers were talking about. Arbitrary detention. And, my God, you now have the Obama administration arguing that you can't possibly hold the Attorney General libel for such an egregious and horrible act," explained Turley.

....And when you pile it up, it truly is frightening. The administration has already said it will not investigate torture. It will not prosecute torture. It has already dismissed dozens of cases including cases for victims of torture."

"Now it is saying that even people that order abuses, that clearly should have know that there are abuses cannot be held liable," Turley continued.

"I've got to tell you I find it a disgusting act to try to create this type of precedent and I promise you this precedent will bare a horrible fruit and this will be repeated because what president Obama and his administration are going to do for this court," he concluded.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Judge Andrew Napolitano: Bush Should Have Been Indicted

Fox News' senior judicial analyst made some surprising remarks Saturday that may go against the grain at his conservative network.

In a interview with Ralph Nader on C-SPAN's Book TV to promote his book Lies the Government Told You, Judge Andrew Napolitano said that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney should have been indicted for "torturing, for spying, for arresting without warrant."

The judge believes that it is a fallacy to say that the US treats suspects as innocent until proven guilty. "The government acts as if a defendant is guilty merely on the basis of an accusation," said Napolitano.

Nader was curious about how this applied to the Bush administration. "What about the more serious violations of habeas corpus," wondered Nader. "You know after 9/11 Bush rounded up thousands of them, Americans, many of them Muslim Americans or Arabic Americans and they were thrown in jail without charges. They didn't have lawyers. Some of them were pretty mistreated in New York City. You know they were all released eventually."

"Well that is so obviously a violation of the natural law, the natural right to be brought before a neutral arbiter within moments of the government taking your freedom away from you," answered Napolitano.

Monday, June 07, 2010

"Doctors group says Bush Administration conducted medical experiments on detainees"

A new report by the watchdog group Physicians for Human Rights alleges Monday that the Bush Administration experimented on terrorism suspects during their enhanced interrogation program put in force starting in 2002.

The group's review, which examined Bush-era documentation, asserts that the administration violated laws set up in the wake of the Holocaust to prevent medical testing on prisoners of war. (Nazi doctors sometimes experimented on their prisoners.)

The report states that, "Medical personnel were required to monitor all waterboarding practices and collect detailed medical information that was used to design, develop and deploy subsequent waterboarding procedures."

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Bush Admits to Committing a Warcrime

George W. Bush's casual acknowledgment Wednesday that he had Khalid Sheikh Mohammed waterboarded -- and would do it again -- has horrified some former military and intelligence officials who argue that the former president doesn't seem to understand the gravity of what he is admitting.

Waterboarding, a form of controlled drowning, is "unequivocably torture", said retired Brigadier General David R. Irvine, a former strategic intelligence officer who taught prisoner of war interrogation and military law for 18 years.

"As a nation, we have historically prosecuted it as such, going back to the time of the Spanish-American War," Irvine said. "Moreover, it cannot be demonstrated that any use of waterboarding by U.S. personnel in recent years has saved a single American life."

Irvine told the Huffington Post that Bush doesn't appreciate how much harm his countenancing of torture has done to his country.

"Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed," Bush told a Grand Rapids audience Wednesday, of the self-professed 9/11 mastermind. "I'd do it again to save lives."

But, Irvine said: "When he decided to do it the first time, he launched the nation down a disastrous road, and we will continue to pay dearly for the damage his decision has caused.

"We are seen by the rest of the world as having abandoned our commitment to international law. We have forfeited enormous amounts of moral leadership as the world's sole remaining superpower. And it puts American troops in greater danger -- and unnecessary danger."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Red Cross Confirms 'Second Jail' at Bagram, Afghanistan

The US airbase at Bagram in Afghanistan contains a facility for detainees that is distinct from its main prison, the Red Cross has confirmed to the BBC.

Nine former prisoners have told the BBC that they were held in a separate building, and subjected to abuse.


The spokesman was responding to a question from the BBC about the existence of the facility, referred to by many former prisoners as the Tor Jail, which translates as "black jail".


In recent weeks the BBC has logged the testimonies of nine prisoners who say they had been held in the so-called "Tor Jail".

They told consistent stories of being held in isolation in cold cells where a light is on all day and night.

The men said they had been deprived of sleep by US military personnel there.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Setting the Stage for Torture

George W. Bush’s White House stage-managed the Justice Department’s approval of torture techniques by putting pliable lawyers in key jobs, guiding their opinions and punishing officials who wouldn’t go along, according to details contained in an internal report that recommended disciplinary action against two lawyers.

Though the recently released report by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility concentrated on whether lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee deserved punishment for drafting and signing 2002 memos that permitted brutal interrogations of suspected terrorists, the report also revealed how the White House pulled the strings of Yoo, Bybee and others.

The report puts into sharper focus what former Vice President Dick Cheney meant when he told an ABC News interviewer on Feb. 14 that he has spoken out loudly against the Obama administration’s revised counter-terrorism policies to disrupt possible punishments of Yoo, Bybee and CIA interrogators.

“I thought it was important for some senior person in the administration to stand up and defend those people who’d done what we asked them to do,” Cheney said.

A little-noticed subplot in the OPR’s 289-page report was how the Bush administration got the legal opinions that it wanted from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which advises the President and the Executive Branch on the limits of their legal powers.

An important first step for the White House was to make sure that the work on legal opinions regarding harsh interrogations was done by a lawyer like Yoo who already held extreme views on the powers of a President during wartime.

Even then, however, the White House did not leave it to Yoo to decide what limits should be put on the CIA’s interrogation techniques or what parameters should circumscribe President Bush’s power during the “war on terror.”

For instance, John Bellinger, a lawyer at the National Security Council, told the OPR that Yoo was “under pretty significant pressure to come up with an answer that would justify” the interrogation program.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Ill. judge won't toss torture suit naming Rumsfeld

CHICAGO (AP) -- A federal judge refused Friday to dismiss a civil lawsuit accusing former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of responsibility for the alleged torture by U.S. forces of two Americans who worked for an Iraqi contracting firm.

U.S. District Judge Wayne R. Andersen's ruling did not say the two contractors had proven any of their claims. But it did say they had alleged enough specific mistreatment to warrant hearing evidence of exactly what happened.

Andersen said his decision "represents a recognition that federal officials may not strip citizens of well settled constitutional protections against mistreatment simply because they are located in a tumultuous foreign setting."

Monday, March 01, 2010

Torture Roundup

1) The complete Bush admin lawyer gang who signed off on torture:
* John Ascroft
* Alberto Gonzales
* Larry Thompson
* Jim Comey
* Jay Bybee
* Daniel Levin
* Steven Bradbury
* Michael Chertoff
* Tim Flanigan
* David Addington
* Scott Muller
* John Bellinger
* John Rizzo
* John Yoo
* Patrick Philbin
* (Probably) Jennifer Koester
* Adam Ciongoli

2) On Abu Zubaydah's coffin/mock burial torture.

3) NYTimes editorials on torture have been good:

The Torture Lawyers

Yes, It Was Torture, and Illegal

4) War Criminal John Yoo Has a Public Email Address in case anyone is interested:

The comments in his recent column are a good read. Though, how disgusting to see him gloat about his being cleared by the OPR, and how even more disgusting he is not in jail but rather has a newspaper column to spread his foulness.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dick Cheney, Inhuman Monster and Former Vice-President of the USA, Admits His Complicity in War-Crimes

So the former vice-president has just confessed to a war crime. I repeat: the former vice-president has just confessed to a war crime.

There is no statute of limitations for such a crime; and the penalty under law is either the death penalty or a prison sentence for life: (snip)

The question is therefore not if, but when, he is convicted as a war criminal - in his lifetime or posthumously.

In fact, the attorney general of the United States is legally obliged to prosecute someone who has openly admitted such a war crime or be in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention on Torture. For Eric Holder to ignore this duty subjects him too to prosecution. If the US government fails to enforce the provision against torture, the UN or a foreign court can initiate an investigation and prosecution.

These are not my opinions and they are not hyperbole. They are legal facts. Either this country is governed by the rule of law or it isn't. Cheney's clear admission of his central role in authorizing waterboarding and the clear evidence that such waterboarding did indeed take place means that prosecution must proceed.

Cheney himself just set in motion a chain of events that the civilized world must see to its conclusion or cease to be the civilized world. For such a high official to escape the clear letter of these treaties and conventions, and to openly brag of it, renders such treaties and conventions meaningless.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Complaint Filed Against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al

International Arrest Warrants Requested
January 20, 2010 "Information Clearing House" - -Professor Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign, U.S.A. has filed a Complaint with the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (I.C.C.) in The Hague against U.S. citizens George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, and Alberto Gonzales (the “Accused”) for their criminal policy and practice of “extraordinary rendition” perpetrated upon about 100 human beings. This term is really their euphemism for the enforced disappearance of persons and their consequent torture. This criminal policy and practice by the Accused constitute Crimes against Humanity in violation of the Rome Statute establishing the I.C.C.

The United States is not a party to the Rome Statute. Nevertheless the Accused have ordered and been responsible for the commission of I.C.C. statutory crimes within the respective territories of many I.C.C. member states, including several in Europe. Consequently, the I.C.C. has jurisdiction to prosecute the Accused for their I.C.C. statutory crimes under Rome Statute article 12(2)(a) that affords the I.C.C. jurisdiction to prosecute for I.C.C. statutory crimes committed in I.C.C. member states.

The Complaint requests (1) that the I.C.C. Prosecutor open an investigation of the Accused on his own accord under Rome Statute article 15(1); and (2) that the I.C.C. Prosecutor also formally “submit to the Pre-Trial Chamber a request for authorization of an investigation” of the Accused under Rome Statute article 15(3).

For similar reasons, the Highest Level Officials of the Obama administration risk the filing of a follow-up Complaint with the I.C.C. if they do not immediately terminate the Accused’s criminal policy and practice of “extraordinary rendition,” which the Obama administration has continued to implement.

The Complaint concludes with a request that the I.C.C. Prosecutor obtain International Arrest Warrants for the Accused from the I.C.C. in accordance with Rome Statute articles 58(1)(a), 58(1)(b)(i), 58(1)(b)(ii), and 58(1)(b)(iii).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Four US soldiers cast doubt on Gitmo ’suicides’

By Daniel Tencer

Four members of a US military intelligence unit assigned to Guantanamo Bay are questioning the government's official version of the deaths of three detainees in the summer of 2006.

The soldiers are offering a very different version of events than the one provided by the official report carried out by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service. Their stories suggest the three inmates may not have killed themselves -- or, at least, not in the way the US military claims.

"All four soldiers say they were ordered by their commanding officer not to speak out, and all four soldiers provide evidence that authorities initiated a cover-up within hours of the prisoners’ deaths," reports Scott Horton at Harper's magazine.

According to the US Navy, Gitmo detainees Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi and Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani were found hanged in their cells on June 9. 2006. The US military initially described their deaths as "asymmetrical warfare" against the United States, before finally declaring that the deaths were suicides that the inmates coordinated among themselves.

But a report from Seton Hall University Law School, released last fall, cast doubt on almost every element of the US military's story. It questioned, for example, how it would have been possible for the three detainees to have stuffed rags down their throats and then, while choking, managed to raise themselves up to a noose and hang themselves.

Army Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman told Harper's magazine that he was made aware of the existence of a secret detention center at Guantanamo, nicknamed by some of the guards "Camp No," because "No, it doesn't exist." According to Hickman, it was generally believed among camp guards that the facility was used by the CIA.

Hickman also said there was a van on site, referred to as the "paddy wagon," which was allowed to come in and out of the main detention area without going through the usual inspection. On the night of the three detainees' deaths, Hickman says he saw the paddy wagon leave the area where the three were being detained and head off in the direction of Camp No. The paddy wagon, which can carry only one prisoner at a time in a cage in the back, reportedly made the trip three times.

Hickman says he saw the paddy wagon return and go directly to the medical center. Shortly after, a senior non-commissioned officer, whose name Hickman didn't know, ordered him to convey a code word to a petty officer. When he did, the petty officer ran off in a panic.

Both Hickman and Specialist Tony Davila told Harper's that they had been told, initially, that three men died as a result of having rags stuffed down their throats. And in a truly strange turn of events, the whistleblowers say that -- even though by the next morning it had become "common knowledge" that the men had died of suicide by stuffing rags down their own throats -- the camp commander, Col. Michael Bumgarner, told the guards that the media would "report something different."