I was one of those folks, and today I am at the United Nations to confront the government responsible for torturing me. It is the first time that the UN Committee Against Torture has heard directly from one of the 779 men and boys detained at Guantánamo since 2002. The committee members are in Geneva to review the US government's compliance with the global ban on torture, and I am here to remind them that not a single person who designed, authorized, executed or oversaw the torture of Gitmo detainees has been prosecuted...
The Director of Civil Liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society parts the smokescreen of legalistic justifications employed by sign-off lawyers to ratify surveillance decisions that play havoc with morality:
To understand surveillance, you must also free your mind from traditional definitions of other words, including "target," "relevant," "incidental." As cryptographer Matt Blaze once said, crafting a question to get meaningful answers from the NSA is a lot like crafting a wish to get a genie to give you what you actually want. The agency is warping language in order to make rules mean something very different from what ordinary people would take them to mean.
Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights & Labor Tom Malinowski was grilled by members of the Committee Against Torture today, as part of a periodic review of government compliance with torture statutes. The United States delegation waffled on whether geographic boundaries limit application of the torture ban.
Committee member Alessio Bruni took particular issue with the U.S. failure to register detainees:
"Any place where a person is deprived by his or her person's liberty regardless of whether it is a legal or known place of detention becomes a secret place of detention if the person is arrested, is not properly registered there as a detainee... And in this connection I would like to know which are the regulations concerning the detention facility used by the CIA to hold people on a short-term or transitory basis? Are these detainees registered there?"
Drones and Targeted Killing
A talk by Marjorie Cohn
Professor, Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Former President, National Lawyers Guild
Friday, November 7, 7:30 pm
First Baptist Church, 305 N. California Ave
Sponsored by the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center
By refusing to prosecute Bush-era officials for their culpability in major human rights abuses such as the CIA program and Abu Ghraib, President Obama is not just failing to enforce justice but is essentially guaranteeing that such abuses will happen again in the future. His administration has demonstrated that even if government officials perpetrate the most heinous crimes imaginable, they will still be able to rely on their peers to conceal their wrongdoing and protect them from prosecution. This not only erodes the rule of law, it also helps create a culture of impunity that will inevitably give rise to such actions once again.
-- Murtaza Hussain, c/o The Intercept
When presidential power is used to extend empire, to spread violence or to bomb sovereign nations, it always seems permissible to Congress and the corporate media. But using presidential power to help people, to close Guantánamo, "dramatically" upsets the controlling interests in Congress and the media...
Congressional restrictions aside, Commander-In-Chief does as he pleases
According to the Gitmo authorities, there's also no such thing as 'force-feeding' at the base [Guantanamo concentration camp] -- only 'enteral feeding.' Recently, they decided there was also no such thing as a 'hunger strike' going on -- only 'longterm non-religious fasts.'
"..implementing or proposing any changes "is the furthest thing from my mind." -- new Guantanamo commander Rear Admiral Kyle Cozad
new Joint Task Force emblem includes razor wire surrounding camps
A university that allows a war criminal to teach constitutional and international law courses to the next generation of lawyers and judges under prejudice of "academic freedom" is protecting war crimes. Faced with the challenge of moral relativism popularized in today's schools, will students find the courage to speak out against the crimes of their government?
For the president to officially admit that men were tortured in the name of national security is one thing. For him to justify those actions, and attempt to induce sympathy or even exculpate those who were in charge of designing and implementing a torture program - in the name of all Americans - is reprehensible.
-- Professor Falguni A. Sheth, Hampshire College
The failure of President Obama to seek a more rational foreign policy is a disquieting but important lesson: those pressing for a lawful, constitutional government that resolves international conflicts instead of initiating them have far more work to do and cannot rely on the promises -- falsely given -- by politicians from any political party.. Both parties remain committed to imperialism and the wars that accompany them...
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Events & Calendars
Important ReadingPhysicians for Human Rights
Broken Laws, Broken Lives
NLG White Paper
ON THE LAW OF TORTURE...
The President's Executioner
Detention and torture in Guantanamo