April 2009 Archives
Wednesday 29 April 2009
A detainee is escorted at Guantanamo Bay Prison in Cuba. (Photo: Getty Images)
Â Â Â Â Madrid - A Spanish judge on Wednesday opened an investigation into an alleged "systematic programme" of torture at the US Guantanamo Bay detention camp, following accusations by four former prisoners.
Â Â Â Â Judge Baltasar Garzon will probe the "perpetrators, the instigators, the necessary collaborators and accomplices" to crimes of torture at the prison at the US naval base in southern Cuba, he said in his ruling, a copy of which was seen by AFP.
There are some very smooth and swarmly torture advocates (CIA plants?) making the rounds this week. Are these guys the CIA operatives and plants in mainstream media we have been hearing about? They sure are real dedicated to being punching bags for torture. Scott Shane (CIA plant?) says it was all a mistake on Terry Gross' Fresh Air today; "New York Times reporter Scott Shane covers national-security issues from the newspaper's Washington bureau. He's been covering the release of the torture memos, and he talks to Fresh Air host Terry Gross about what the documents reveal -- and what the fallout may be": NPR's "Fresh Air" today, Reporter Scott Shane On 'Torture Memo' News. Cliff May (CIA plant?) minces words, evades and dissembles before withering debate with comedian John Stewart; The Daily Show in 3 clips of about 7 mins apiece:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||M - Th 11p / 10c|
|Cliff May Unedited Interview Pt. 1|
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||M - Th 11p / 10c|
|Cliff May Unedited Interview Pt. 2|
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||M - Th 11p / 10c|
|Cliff May Unedited Interview Pt. 3|
Published: April 28, 2009Â
Updated 9 hours agoÂ
Ruling strikes major blow to Bush/Obama position on state secrets
A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday to reinstate an ACLU lawsuit against a Boeing subsidiary that allegedly helped the CIA transport terror war prisoners to so-called black sites where they were tortured. The Obama administration had argued the case's very existence would endanger national security and pressed the court to dispose of it.
"Today's ruling demolishes once and for all the legal fiction, advanced by the Bush administration and continued by the Obama administration, that facts known throughout the world could be deemed 'secrets' in a court of law," said Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project, in a media advisory.
"In a 26-page ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the federal government failed to document how the lawsuit would reveal state secrets, sending the case back to San Jose U.S. District Judge James Ware for further proceedings,"reported Mercury News. "Ware dismissed the lawsuit last year, concluding that litigation over the controversial flight program could prompt the disclosure of CIA secrets."
It's not going to go away,â€¨However much you might want it to.
It's not going to go away,
the acts of sexual humiliation, the "stress positions," the
"walling,"â€¨the months, years of solitary confinement, the "waterboarding,"
the photos of the pyramid of naked bodies, the wired, hooded man
on a box,â€¨the man cowering from an attacking dog, the man dragged by a leash,
These are not going to go away.
the attempts to legalize, the Geneva Conventions deemed "quaint,"â€¨"if
it does not result in serious physical injury," "organ failure," "death,"
the lies of Condoleeza Rice, "the United States does not engage in
torture,"â€¨the lies of Donald Rumsfeld, "a few bad apples,"â€¨the lies of George
W. Bush,Â "We do not torture."
These are not going to go away.
the torture testimonies of prisoners negating fair trials,â€¨the
calls for accountability from institutions and persons of integrityâ€¨are not
going to go away.
Oh, yes, we know, we know,â€¨We face so many problems right now.
Many of those you will address and some will be solvedâ€¨Through
your brilliance and commitment.
But this, this will not be solved, and this will not go away;
This destruction of our reputation as a nation of laws,â€¨These
sickening, heinous, inhuman acts done in your name and our names,â€¨This criminal
betrayal of America,
This is not going to go away.
INVESTIGATE, INDICT, IN THE NAME OF JUSTICE, IN THE NAME OF
Mary O'Leary McGlinnÂ
posted at themcglynn.com/theliberal.netÂ
Many of the tourists from other countries who happened upon the scene expressed strong sympathies with World Can't Wait's message, were glad to see the action, and gave words of encouragement.
Although hotel security kept non-Republicans out of the convention proceedings, as Yoo rose to speak to his audience of several hundred, their welcoming applause was disrupted suddenly by thundering chants: demonstrators had discovered a (non-see-thru) glass wall between the auditorium and the street, and aimed their voices straight into the room: "TORTURE IS A WAR CRIME! JAIL JOHN YOO!" "GUANTANAMO GUANTANAMO! WAR CRIMES, WAR CRIMES.... ABU GHRAIB, ABU GHRAIB! WAR CRIMES, WAR CRIMES...." For all of Yoo's 30-minute talk, dismayed College Republicans had to listen to their "hero" against a constant echoing string of truthful, powerful chants.
Raw StoryÂ April 26th, 2009
Another voice has joined the chorus calling for federal judge and 'torture memo' author Jay Bybee to either resign or be impeached.
John Podesta, who oversaw Obama's transition team and was former president Clinton's chief of staff, said Sunday that "a simple matter would be to remove [Bybee] from office." Support for impeachment from Podesta, who heads the Center for American Progress Action, a think tank with close ties to the Obama administration, could foreshadow support for such a step from the president himself.
"There's still a lot we don't know, about how this all took place, how this went up and down the chain of command... Based on what we know now, it would indicate that the Department of Justice would be derelict in its duties to not follow the evidence where it might lead and initiate some sort of criminal investigation. Both of those who perpetrated it and those who ordered it -- the relationship between the lawyers who were assisting part of a criminal conspiracy. Because that's what we're talking about here. A criminal conspiracy to violate the U.S. law against torture." -
Carolyn Patty Blum, emeritus law professor at Berkeley School of Law and expert on international human rights law
by Daphne Eviatar,Â The Washington Independent
|Obama Tells Lawmakers In Private Meeting He Won't Support Torture Probe|
By Jason Leopold
The Public RecordÂ Â Â
|Thursday, 23 April 2009Â|
|President Barack Obama has backtracked on statements he made earlier this week in which he indicated he was open to a 9/11-type commission to investigate the Bush administration's use of torture, telling lawmakers at a meeting at the White House Thursday he now doesn't support the idea.|
THE MOVING TARGETÂ blog Â April 21, 2009Â
I have just returned fromÂ a debate on presidential power at Chapman University Law School.
In retrospect, the event should more properly have been called "The Trial of John Yoo."
And strikingly, it was Yoo who cast himself in the role of defendant.
UPDATE: AP coverage of event
Mike Morice, center, and other members of World Can't Wait group perform a live waterboarding demonstration outside the Spanish Consulate in Manhattan to urge prosecution in Spain of the alleged involvement of Bush administration officials in the torture of terror suspects, Thursday, April 23, 2009 in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) - AP
The WORLD CAN'T WAIT called a public gathering at the Spanish Consulate to the United Nations today,Â April 23rdÂ with a message from people here: PROSECUTE the torture team!Â
While a group gathers outside the Consulate,Â aÂ delegationÂ will deliver a letter to the people ofÂ
AÂ waterboarding demonstration will also take place.
SIGN the letter to the Spanish people here.
|April 22, 2009Â | News covering the UN and the world|
The UN and various human-rights organizations have indicated they will investigate the policy of controversial interrogation tactics and torture, approved by George W. Bush administration officials and executed by CIA agents, if the Barack Obama administration refuses to pursue them. Consensus exists among various human-rights lawyers that interrogation techniques approved by Bush administration officials amount to a violation of international law, and recent memos declaring approval for the techniques eases the way for those investigations. Many of the interrogation techniques, adopted from a handbook designed for military training, were torture methods used by the Communists during the Korean War -- methods whose history, legality and efficacy were neither revealed nor researched by any U.S. government officials when those techniques were approved.Â The Washington PostÂ (4/22)Â ,Â The New York TimesÂ (4/21)
RAW STORYÂ April 21, 2009
Whereas 65 concerned United States citizens gathered on April 18, 2009 at the Chapman University School of Law, Kennedy Hall; and
Jay S. Bybee has been the forgotten man among the legal architects of the torture policies of the George W. Bush administration.
But the release Thursday of several additional memos by the Justice Department puts Bybee, then an assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, front and center. He is the author of anÂ August 2002 memo, to CIA General Counsel John Rizzo, concluding that waterboarding, among other enhanced interrogation techniques, did not meet the legal definition of torture.
Bad news for anyone hoping that President Obama might still be open to the possibility of prosecution of high-level Bush officials: It ain't gonna happen.
That much was close to being certain before the torture memos were released Thursday. But the statement from Obama released with those shocking memos included this sentence: "In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution."
By singling out CIA interrogators to assure them they will not be subject to federal prosecution, I thought perhaps he was leaving room for future prosecution of higher ups. Given that he released such explosive materials almost without redactions, I thought perhaps he might allow himself to be influenced by shifting popular sentiment.
Nope: Obama's right-hand man, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel,Â explicitly rejectedÂ that possibility this morning on ABC's This Week. Emanuel said that the president believes Bush officials "should not be prosecuted either and that's not the place that we go." Not that that should surprise anyone: Obama said as much from almost his first day in office, when heÂ told reportersÂ he wasn't interested in a proposed Capitol Hill "truth commission."
That commission, of course, still hasn't happened, as our elected representatives reach across the aisle to block any prosecution suggestions.
RepublicanÂ Sen. Lindsey GrahamÂ ofÂ South Carolina: "I think it would be disaster to go back and try to prosecute a lawyer for giving legal advice that you disagreed with to aÂ former president."
Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskillÂ of Missouri: "I don't think we want to look in the rearview mirror."
It ain't gonna happen.
Well no, not by Obama. Its up to us.
(Unrelated audio is the falungun club doing a presentation nearby.)
Fire John Yoo and World Can't Wait spoke to hundreds of new students and their families about John Yoo's tenure at UC Berkeley Law (formerly Boalt Hall) demonstrating and providing information about Bush's "Architect of Torture" teaching United States Constitutional Law at the UC Berkeley. Cal Day is a big outdoor celebration centered at historic Sproul Plaza where all the student groups and departments gift food and other stuff, meet and greet the families. John Yoo is perhpas the leading US advocate of torture today. As White House legal counsel under former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Jay "bugs" Bybee, Yoo legally "authorized" torture and actively worked to confuse and distort the law of torture through his notorious torture memos. UC Berkeley Law Dean Edley is dissembling when he says he cannot do anything except defend Yoo's Academic Freedom of speech. Dean Edely has a right to - and a responsibility to - take a public stand against John Yoo perpetuating torture. Yoo participated in and sometimes led the formulation and development of a broad system of torture and Crimes Against Humanity.
Welcome to UC Berkeley!
The FJY blogger coordinating on cell phone from the Sproul Hall steps
I am not a constitutional lawyer. I think most non-lawyers would be surprised to find that a vast majority of U.S. constitutional law is mind-numbingly boring.
But a good friend from law school whoÂ isÂ a bona fide constitutional law expert has repeatedly assured me that Yoo's so-called "Torture Memo" is undeniably false, and that Yoo is effectively guilty of professional misconduct. Had the Torture Memo been submitted to a court, Yoo's failure to even addressÂ Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. SawyerÂ (1952)Â would have violatedÂ Rule 3.3(a)(2) of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which prohibits lawyers from "knowingly . . . fail[ing] to disclose to the tribunal legal authority in the controlling jurisdiction known to the lawyer to be directly adverse to the position of the client and not disclosed by opposing counsel." On grounds of professional misconduct alone, Yoo could--and should--be fired from Berkeley Law.
DeLong's reasoning is solid, but the arguments about academic freedom are extraneous. Repeat after me:Â OLC memos are not academic scholarship. "Academic freedom" is not the same thing as "immunity for academics." Yoo is guilty of professional misconduct, and is probably criminally liable as well. Giving arguments about "academic freedom" the time of day is far too generous, in my opinion.
New York Times
April 19, 2009
The Torturers' Manifesto
To read the four newly released memos on prisoner interrogation written by George W. Bush's Justice Department is to take a journey into depravity.
Their language is the precise bureaucratese favored by dungeon masters throughout history. They detail how to fashion a collar for slamming a prisoner against a wall, exactly how many days he can be kept without sleep (11), and what, specifically, he should be told before being locked in a box with an insect -- all to stop just short of having a jury decide that these acts violate the laws against torture and abusive treatment of prisoners.
In one of the more nauseating passages, Jay Bybee, then an assistant attorney general and now a federal judge, wrote admiringly about a contraption for waterboarding that would lurch a prisoner upright if he stopped breathing while water was poured over his face. He praised the Central Intelligence Agency for having doctors ready to perform an emergency tracheotomy if necessary.
These memos are not an honest attempt to set the legal limits on interrogations, which was the authors' statutory obligation. They were written to provide legal immunity for acts that are clearly illegal, immoral and a violation of this country's most basic values.
What's "Insect Jay" Bybee Doing These Days? Sitting on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Glad You AskedBy:Â Jane HamsherÂ Thursday April 16, 2009Â
President Obama deserves huge applause for releasing theÂ OLC torture memos, as do the people in the Administration who fought for it. It's a brave move certain to bring down right wing howler monkeys crying about threats to national security, but a huge step toward restoring the rule of law in the United States.
While at the Office of Legal Counsel,Â Jay BybeeÂ wrote the "insect memo" to authorize the torture on Abu Zubaydah, an Al Qada operative captured in Pakistan in 2002. His experience became George Bush's prime example for the efficacy of and need for torture. From Bush's 2006 speech:
We knew that Zubaydah had more information that could save innocent lives, but he stopped talking. As his questioning proceeded, it became clear that he had received training on how to resist interrogation. And so the CIA used an alternative set of procedures. These procedures weredesigned to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution, and our treaty obligations.Â The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively andÂ determined them to be lawful.
The New York Times reports that there will be no Spanish probe of US officials...
Harvard Law Record
Issue date:Â 4/16/09Â
Major General Antonio Taguba called for an independent commission to investigate war crimes committed by senior members of the Bush Administration in remarks in Ames Courtroom on Tuesday, April 14. The event was sponsored by Physicians for Human Rights and the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School.
Taguba, who was pressured to resign by the Bush Administration in 2007 following the 2004 leak of his report detailing abuses by U.S. armed forces in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, declared in the preface of the 2008 Physicians for Human Rights publication "Broken Laws, Broken Lives," that, "there is no longer any doubt as to whether the [Bush] administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."
While the Obama Administration has "reaffirmed its commitment to valuing human rights and international law" by officially closing CIA black sites and the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Taguba insisted that "there are a lot of stories that have yet to be told."
This video is from CNN'sÂ American Morning, broadcast Apr. 14, 2009.
photo: Father Vitale atÂ National Day of Protest: Close Guantanamo and End U.S. Torture Policies Everywhere, Market and Powell Streets in San Francisco, Sunday January 11)
Click here to see Fr. Louie's Tour Schedule!Â (in San Leandro April 18; see calendar in right hand column this page for details)
from THE CHRONICLES of a BLAWGIRL
a blawg by julie anne ines
10 APRIL 2009 10:51 AM
Friday April 10th, WORLD CAN'T WAIT and friends protested the continued employment of War Criminal John Choon Yoo by the dean of Berkeley Law, Christopher Edley.Â
The venue for this action was Chevron Auditorium atÂ
Professor Yoo's infamous "torture memos"Â ignored various laws and legal precedents and presented a justification for torture and illegal detention. They stated that in time of war the president as commander-in-chief could ignore international and domestic laws against torture. Yoo created an unprecedented "definition" of torture out of whole cloth that was then used by the Bush regime to torture and kill detainees in the so-called "war on terror."
John Yoo is morally and legally guilty of all the crimes committed as a result of his legal memos.Â If the dean continues to protect John Yoo he is not protecting academic freedom, free speech, due process or other ideals, but he is protecting a war criminal.Â He is sanctioning the crimes of Yoo and others in the Bush regime and sending a clear message to the world that war crimes and other crimes against humanity are okay as long as they are done in the interests of U.S. imperialism.Â Is this the message that the community wants to come out of Berkeley?Â
and Â Â
Medical personnel committed a "gross breach of medical ethics" by taking part in torture in GuantÃ¡namo, a leaked International Committee of the Red Cross document has revealed.
The 40-page confidential report, written in 2007, describes how medical staff working for the CIA monitored prisoners' vital signs to make sure they did not drown while being subjected to waterboarding, during which water is poured over a cloth placed over a person's nose and mouth.
Medical personnel were also said to be present when prisoners were shackled in a "stress standing position". The detainees were "monitored by health personnel who in some instances recommended stopping the method of ill-treatment, or recommended its continuation, but with adjustments", according to the report.
The Red Cross concluded: "The alleged participation of health personnel in the interrogation process and, either directly or indirectly, in the infliction of ill-treatment constituted a gross breach of medical ethics and, in some cases, amounted to participation in torture and/or cruel inhuman or degrading treatment."
The first test of the Obama Administration's detention policy to reach the Supreme Court was filed Monday, symbolically bearing theÂ titleÂ Kiyemba v. Obama.Â It is a case that, at aÂ minimum, couldÂ shape the future of 17 Chinese Muslim prisoners still at Guantanamo Bay although cleared for release, but its impact could reach far wider.
More broadly, however, what is at stake ultimately could be the fate ofÂ many if not mostÂ of the more than 240 prisoners still at Guantanamo, who might have to remain confined there or somewhere else even if the government decides that they are not dangerous enemies.
And, in that broad sense, the new case tests just what the Supreme Court meant last June, inÂ Boumediene v. Bush, when it recognized a constitutional right for Guantanamo detainees to challenge their confinement, and decreed that release from that imprisonment is one remedy that was to remain available.
President Obama's Department of Justice had said that it planned to release still more secret torture memos written by notorious UC Berkeley law professor John Yoo. But now there is word that the administration may go back on that promise. According to the New York Times and Newsweek, high-ranking Obama adviser John Brennan is leading a campaign within the White House to keep the memos under wraps. And journalist/human rights attorney Scott Horton is also reporting that top Republican Senators are blackmailing the administration, promising to block key legal appointments if the president makes the memo public.
At the same time, the New York Review of Books last night published the entire International Red Cross report on torture. Previously only parts of the damaging report had been made public. The full report demands investigations and prosecutions of the people responsible for torturing up to 14 prisoners it examined. Remember, it was Yoo who gave the Bush administration legal authority to torture people. Presumably, Yoo would be a target of the Red Cross' investigation demand, which is all the more reason for why the Berkeley law professor's work should be released.
-- Robert Gammon
Dean Edley continues to defend John Yoo, on the basis of "academic freedom". But that is not what this is about.
These lyrics to "Guantanamero" are from the point-of-view of a male prisoner
...guantanamera means "of Guantanamo (female)". "Guantanamero" means "of Guantanamo (male).
Last night, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow interviewed former Secretary of State Colin Powell.UnlikeÂ manyÂ journalists, Maddow asked him about -- and pressed him repeatedly on -- his role in approving torture against detainees. Specifically, she asked him about reports that he was among nineÂ White House "principals" who approved tortureÂ techniques so specifically that "interrogation sessions were almost choreographed."
Powell refused to acknowledge his role in these meetings, and claimed ignorance aboutlong-released legal memosÂ that specifically authorized torture. Choosing his words carefully, he would say only that, "at least from the State Department standpoint," it was important to stand by the Geneva Conventions. Powell also questioned whether tactics like sleep deprivation, stress positions, or waterboarding were "criminal" -- despiteÂ specific U.S. statutesÂ andÂ international lawÂ forbidding torture:
MADDOW: If there was a meeting though at which senior officials were saying, were discussing and giving the approval for sleep deprivation, stress positions, waterboarding. Were those officials committing crimes when they were giving their authorization?
POWELL:Â You're asking me a legal question. I mean, I don't know that any of these items would be considered criminal.Â And I will wait for whatever investigations that the government or the Congress intends to pursue with this.
Throughout the interview, Powell shirked any responsibility to account for his actions by deferring to hypothetical "investigations" or pointing to the unreleased -- and possibly non-existent -- "written record" of these meetings as providing the ultimate final word. As Maddow pointed, it's unclear whether any such investigationsÂ will ever take place. Watch it:
Powell has gotten credit in the pastÂ for supposedly "breaking" with the Bush administrationon the issue of torture. However, his refusal to even acknowledgeÂ centuries-long definitions of tortureÂ is a discouraging indication that he is more concerned withÂ protecting himself legallyÂ than getting to the truth of America's national disgrace.
District Court Decision Could Have Far-Reaching Consequences for Prisoners Held by U.S. in Afghanistan
In a groundbreaking ruling today that directly contradicts the Bush and Obama administration's insistence that detainees held by the U.S. government at the Bagram prison in Afghanistan have no right to challenge their detention in U.S. courts, a federal judge ruled on Thursday that in fact, they do.
U.S. District Court Judge John Bates ruled that the four men -- all foreign nationals captured by U.S. forces outside Afghanistan and sent there to be incarcerated at a prison on the U.S.-run Bagram air base -- have the same rights as prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, who were similarly sent there by U.S. forces from other countries.
AsÂ I've written before, the Bagram prison -- which is fast turning intoÂ Obama's GitmoÂ -- has many of the same attributes as the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay. That's just what the lawyers for the four detainees there argued.Â Although the Obama administration had, like the Bush administration before it, argued forcefully that Bagram detainees have no constitutional rights and therefore no rights to challenge their detention in U.S. courts, Bates -- a conservative judge appointed by former President George W. Bush -- today disagreed.
"The writ of habeas corpus plays a central role in our constitutional system as conceived by the Framers," wrote Judge Bates. "Indeed, 'the Framers deemed the writ to be an essential mechanism in the separation-of-powers scheme,' " he wrote, quoting the Supreme Court's recent decision in Boumediene v. Bush, which gave Guantanamo detainees habeas corpus rights, "that, as Alexander Hamilton observed, was vital to the protection of individuals against the very same arbitrary exercise of the government's power to detain that is alleged by petitioners here."
Although all four of the detainees in the case were captured outside Afghanistan and have been held at Bagram for more than six years, Bates ruled that one of the men, who is an Afghan citizen, may not be entitled to habeas corpus review because of the "practical obstacles in the form of friction with the host country." He ordered the lawyers to file additional briefs with the court addressing those issues.
"The Bottom Line", SFGate.com
More discomfort for San Ramon's Chevron Corp. and its chief corporate counsel, William J. Haynes II.
Spanish prosecutors areÂ considering whether to bring criminal chargesÂ against Haynes, the Defense Department's former general counsel, and other members of the Bush administration, for their connection to detainee abuses at Guantanamo Bay.
Haynes, as weÂ itemized in December, figures prominently in a criticalÂ Senate Armed Services committee reportÂ on the subject. Earlier this month, the San Francisco chapter of the leftistÂ National Lawyers GuildÂ called on the State Bay of California to disbar, suspend or otherwise sanction Haynes for his reported role. We're seeking comment from Haynes and/or Chevron.
Two other Bay Area-connected figures are also targets of the Spanish probe: UC Berkeley law professor, John Yoo, the author of numerous memos on interrogation techniques when he was Justice Department counsel, and Jay S. Bybee, another former Justice Department official who is now a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Probably of most immediate concern to Haynes is whether to risk traveling abroad, where he could be served with an arrest warrant should the Spanish court choose to proceed.
March 30 2009Â |Â
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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