October 2010 Archives

Use of child soldiers:

Rebel groups like Sudan's Justice and Equality Movement, shown in this video frame, use child soldiers. The United States will exempt four governments from penalties for doing so. [Al Jazeera]

In a brief and little-noticed announcement on Monday, the White House said Barack Obama, the president, had decided to exempt Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan and Yemen from the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008, which prohibits funding for foreign governments' militaries if they recruit or use child soldiers...

Thanks to an October 2001 opinion by John Yoo and Robert J. Delahunty,  the legal floodgates were opened to implementation of martial law, evidenced by transformation of the Coast Guard from a federal policing agency into a domestic military force:


Earlier this month, the United States Coast Guard upheld its self-declared status as a 'special' branch of the military with the ability to prosecute civilians in military tribunals. This startling declaration, unreported in the media, came in a Decision on Appeal related to the case of Lieutenant Eric Shine, a commissioned Naval officer in the Merchant Marines and a graduate of Kings Point Military Service Academy, and was penned by the Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard...

Download an interview with Eric Shine about his case, the Coast Guard and the open implementation of martial law here

Photo c/o Global Research

Lawyers say the once-secret logs stand apart from other reports about the Iraqi security agencies because the accounts of mistreatment are recorded -- and sometimes corroborated -- by the Americans themselves.

"It's not as if, if we didn't have these documents, we wouldn't know that torture was widespread," said Matthew Pollard, who works as a legal adviser for Amnesty International, a human rights group which repeatedly warned that abuse was widespread in Iraq. "What's new is confirmation -- in their own documents -- that they didn't dispute that."

see Who's to blame for torture? Lawyers probe logs

practicing torture, part I

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State routine


"Torture is an ongoing practice, an institution with an extensive infrastructure, a training process, rituals of initiation, and its own set of values. - Rebecca Gordon

guilty of "ultimate" war crime

"To initiate war of aggression... 
is not only an international crime; 
it is the supreme international crime, 
differing only from other war crimes
in that it contains within itself 
the accumulated evil of the whole." 

- Justice Robert H. Jackson, 
chief prosecutor for the United States
at the Nuremberg Trials

Iraq - Ubaity - DetaineesPhotograph: Jehad Nga/Corbis

UN Demands Obama Investigate

The UN's chief investigator on torture, Manfred Nowak, has called on President Obama to order a full investigation of US forces' involvement in torture, summary executions and war crimes. 

Nowak said the US had an obligation "whenever they expel, extradite or hand over any detainees to the authorities of another state to assess whether or not these individuals are under specific risk of torture. If this assessment is not done, or authorities hand over detainees knowing there is a serious risk of them being subjected to torture, they violate article 3 of the UN convention that precludes torture."

Frago 242

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A frago is a "fragmentary order" which summarises a complex requirement. This one, issued in June 2004, about a year after the invasion of Iraq, orders coalition troops not to investigate any breach of the laws of armed conflict, such as the abuse of detainees, unless it directly involves members of the coalition. Where the alleged abuse is committed by Iraqi on Iraqi, "only an initial report will be made ... No further investigation will be required unless directed by HQ".

new WikiLeaks release

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documents describe Iraqis torturing Iraqi detainees, sometimes using electrocution, electric drills and in some cases even executing detainees...

US military knew of the abuses, the documents suggest, but reports were sent up the chain of command marked "no further investigation"...

image-118443-galleryV9-yjgy.jpgThe Suffering of Civilians

The war logs show that the victims of the Iraq war are not only soldiers and insurgents, but mainly civilians. This photo shows an Iraqi girl squatting among blood stains on the side of a street in Tal Afar on Jan. 18, 2005. She has just lost her parents. US soldiers opened fire on their car after it failed to stop and came toward the troops, despite warning shots. According to the report of the operation, the car did not react to a stop signal. The soldiers shot first at the tires and then at the car itself. The mother and father died, but the four children survived.

Getty Images

documents also suggest "hundreds" of civilians were killed at US military checkpoints after the invasion in 2003... US kept records of civilian deaths, despite previously denying it.

Much more on war logs here

"Indonesia's Abu Ghraib"

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Torture video reveals Indonesia's Abu Ghraib on eve of Obama visit

The video reveals indisputably Indonesian security force brutality, and raises serious questions about the Obama administration's decision to embrace cooperation with Indonesian security forces engaged in active and ongoing torture.
message from a reader:

"I leave you with the Verdict scene from 'Judgement At Nuremberg'. You might consider playing it on an endless loop in front of Boalt Hall: 

"As a prosecutor, Justice Jackson believed the evidence supported convictions of the defendants on the offenses charged. But Jackson wanted even more for the proceedings to be fair, and seen as fair. He did not want convictions for the sake of convictions... 

John Yoo too deserves a fair trial, a trial denied his victims. Then he should be fired, disbarred and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
UPDATE: Khadr pleads "guilty"

CNN reports Clinton-Cannon meeting on plea deal

Canadian defendant Omar Khadr attends his hearing in the courthouse for the U.S. military war crimes commission at the Camp Justice compound on Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba, Wednesday, April 28, 2010. - Canadian defendant Omar Khadr attends his hearing in the courthouse for the U.S. military war crimes commission at the Camp Justice compound on Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba, Wednesday, April 28, 2010. | THE CANADIAN PRESS
the plea deal will not only end the military commission process for Khadr, but will enable the US to avoid the shame of placing a child soldier on trial. "The administration that claims they want to restore human rights is making history with prosecuting a child soldier in war crimes for the first time since World War II. [Military commissions] are completely incapable of providing a fair trial. Anyone who's accused of a terrorism crime should be prosecuted in US courts." - ACLU Human Rights Program researcher Jennifer Turner, c/o Nadia Prupis at truth-out.org
illustration c/o The Globe and Mail
Premiering at Ojai Film Festival, film blames Condi Rice for torture

Our investigative documentary presents a very different picture of Rice's life and record in government than the one she has been touting on chat shows and her tour to publicize the first of three books for which Random House has paid her $4.5mn. Please encourage friends and colleagues to attend the Ojai film festival screenings, or to download the film at www.indiesdirect.com/americanfaust. - Sebastian Doggart

200px-BraveNewWorld_FirstEdition.jpgDaily Cal columnist Robert King calls former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to account and reflects on President Obama's intervention on that criminal's behalf:

As the boundaries of power get stretched, people in control have a hard time reverting to their previous level of authority. As their successors take over, this expanded jurisdiction constitutes the base line of the incoming regime, and the cycle starts over again. It's especially cyclical if the new regime isn't much different than the previous one...

If Ashcroft's abuses of power are excused, it will further illustrate that our leaders don't have to adhere to the same standards as everyone else. We will be one step closer to the point where the illusory American dystopia will become non-fiction.

Saying 'No' to Torture

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When the topic of torture enters the room, it arrives as a stranger. We are afraid of it. We can't look at it in the eyes. We want to close our ears to hear anything else. Suddenly, we no longer have a choice to ignore it, and we know all at once why we are apprehensive: it is a mirror of ourselves,  our estrangement, our fear of one another. - Stephanie, Metta Center for Nonviolence
UPDATE: CodePink renews pressure for accountability, disrupts book event (video).

Fresh from a sit-down with torture accommodator Barrack Obama, war criminal Rice visits her visions of American imperialism on the City of Peace.  

Location: Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel, 999 California St. (at Mason)
Time: 11 a.m. check-in, noon program, 1 p.m. book signing
Cost: $15 members, $30 non-members, $7 students (with valid ID). Premium (copy of Rice's new book and seating in the first few rows) $60 members, $80 non-members.
Also know: Attendees may be subject to search. Underwritten by the Koret Foundation as part of the Principles of a Free Society Series.


The Mark Hopkins Hotel is located approximately 1.5 miles from the home of the United Nations Charter.

A Week Against Torture

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Reports and videos from "Berkeley Says NO To Torture" coming in... check here for posts.

holding the "torture" line

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[click image, c/o neufneuf]
Obama has disappointed the left on many, many things. This is just one more. But it may be the one with the longest historical reach, i.e. a reach across generations who will wonder what happened to rights as citizens, constitutional checks and balances, and the role of the presidency as but one branch of government. - RYVIEWPOINT
At the Festival du Nouveau Cinema: Luc Cote and Patricio Henriquez, (right) are the filmmakers behind the new documentary You Don't Like the Truth, 4 Days Inside Guantanamo.

At the Festival du Nouveau Cinema: Luc Cote and Patricio Henriquez, (right) are the filmmakers behind the new documentary You Don't Like the Truth, 4 Days Inside Guantanamo.

Photograph by: Marie-France Coallier, The Gazette

New film, which revolves around video of [Omar] Khadr's interrogation at Guantanamo Bay between Feb. 13 and 16, 2003, is a compelling recounting of his case. 

Preview here

John Ashcroft(AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

On September 4th, Obama's determination to sweep war crimes under the rug was challenged by the Ninth Circuit Court, in a lawsuit seeking to hold former Attorney General John Ashcroft personally responsible for improper arrest of a Muslim US citizen. The Supreme Court has now agreed to hear an appeal by the defense for the above case to be thrown out. Will their ruling enable yet another cover-up?

KABUL - A detainee being held by troops from the NATO-led force in Afghanistan was found dead in his holding cell, and an investigation is underway, the force said in a statement on Monday.

The man was captured during a military operation by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on Saturday and was "found dead" the following day in his cell in Kandahar province, ISAF said in a statement...

Prisoner abuse and deaths of detainees while in the custody of foreign troops is a sensitive subject for many Afghans after U.S. troops beat to death two prisoners in 2002 at the old Bagram prison at the U.S. Bagram Air Base north of Kabul.

REUTERS story here

The University of Pennsylvania psychologist whose research "formed the psychological underpinnings of the Bush administration's torture program" has been granted a $31-million no-bid Army contract to provide "resilience training" to US soldiers.


Dr. Martin Seligman is "most famous for his work in the 1960s in which he was able to psychologically destroy caged dogs by subjecting them to repeated electric shocks with no hope of escape. The dogs broke down completely and ultimately would not attempt to escape through an open cage door when given the opportunity to avoid more pain. Seligman called the phenomenon 'learned helplessness.'"

Special Report: Detainee Experimentation Program Revealed

For the past seven months, Truthout reporter Jason Leopold and contributor Jeffrey Kaye investigated the origins of a little-known directive issued in March 2002 by former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz that severely weakened protections implemented decades ago against human subject research and experimentation conducted by the Department of Defense (DoD).

This directive, "Protection of Human Subjects and Adherence to Ethical Standards in DoD-Supported Research," was issued about a month after President George W. Bush stripped "war on terror" detainees of traditional prisoner-of-war protections under the Geneva Conventions. It limited safeguards against research and experimentation to "prisoners of war."

Drawing on interviews with more than 15 former military and intelligence officials and ethical scholars, Leopold's and Kaye's investigation found that the Wolfowitz directive became the legal document the DoD used to support a top-secret interrogation program at Guantanamo where psychologists and interrogators experimented on ways to glean information from unwilling detainees to measure levels of stress and to achieve "deception detection."

Click Here to Read the Special Report

the Giant John Yoo Debate

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Protests and Speeches Mark Berkeley's First Annual "Say No to Torture" Week

by: Nadia Prupis, t r u t h o u t | Report

As the heat rose in Berkeley, California, this week, so did the temperament of the students, faculty and organizations that formed the city's first "Say No to Torture" week, a seven-day call to action created by World Can't Wait, Progressive Democrats of America, and several other groups. The week was developed in response to the recent surfacing of evidence of torture used abroad by US forces, with Berkeley feeling a particularly personal stake in the effort as the home of law professor and alleged war criminal John Yoo...

Image Source: Michael Restrepo/Staff/The Daily Californian/Berkeley Demonstrates Against Torture


I believe that art can represent a permanent accusation, the only means we, as artists, have at our disposal to keep alive an idea that should never burn out: that we must never accept the unacceptable, and that any group, people or nation, if it loses its moral compass, can descend into violence and succumb to the horrors of barbarism. -- Fernando Botero

SF Weekly writer manages to turn a baseball catchphrase into something sinister...  

c/o Alex Friedrich, Katie Broadwell reports:


Katie Broadwell/TommieMedia

Dramatic stuff

TommieMedia reports how demonstrators hit St. Thomas School of Law yesterday to criticize two participants in a panel discussion -- St. Thomas law professor Robert Delahunty, and University of California-Berkeley law professor John Yoo -- whose legal memos to the Bush Administration they say condoned torture and facilitated its use during the War on Terror.

Continue reading →

Resolution Passed by the Berkeley City Council declares Oct. 10-16, 2010 as "Berkeley Says NO To Torture Week"

Drawing together the actions of many communities - political, legal and campus groups, notable voices from the worlds of culture and art, the health professions, and from religious faiths across the board, people of all ages and walks of life will take part in a memorable week of conscience and community in action against the crime of torture.

Checks for donations in any amount, or to reserve your all-week $100 Guest Pass for all public events, can be mailed to Week Against Torture, 2140 Shattuck Ave. Suite 207, Berkeley, CA 94704.
Write check out to NLGSF [National Lawyers Guild SF Chapter] with"No Torture" in the memo line.

Organizers are grateful for Fernando Botero's statement of support for the Week (this internationally acclaimed artist offers a powerful vision of the atrocities of torture in the 56 paintings and drawings of The Abu Ghraib Series, his extraordinary gift to the permanent collection of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive).

Today, Profs. John Yoo and Robert Delahunty, two authors of the infamous "torture memos" that justified extreme interrogation techniques under the Bush administration, [spoke] at St. Thomas Law School... see 'Torture memo' authors should be held to account.

Law Professor Peter Erlinder denounces the duplicity of the current President who allows war criminals to walk free, and reminds us:

"Profs. Yoo and Delahunty could, in theory, be arrested in Minnesota today, just as Chuckie Taylor [son of former Liberian President, prosecuted for torture] was arrested when he stepped off the plane in Miami." 

The case held extraterritorial torture applicable to US officials. Activists in Minneapolis, and Berkeley CA, will continue to fight for just that.


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Stone-Walled by Obama Justice Department

DOJ Picket 10-1-10

Saturday, October 2, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- "Shut Down Guantanamo, Meet with Us! We Demand Justice, Meet with Us!" A group of fifteen anti-torture activists picketed the Obama Justice Department this afternoon.

After meeting with the Justice Department's Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison on June, 15 2010 to discuss the Obama administration's controversial record on detention issues, a coalition of human rights advocates were promised further dialogue with the Department. However they have been denied any further meeting, despite repeated requests. No one at the Justice Department responded to the multiple follow up letters and phone calls.

"This is the kind of treatment that compels us to the streets, to direct action, to witness and organize for justice instead of lobbying for it. This is why we are laying the ground work for a twelve day fast and daily vigil in January 2011," says Matt Daloisio, an organizer with Witness Against Torture. "January 11 is the date in 2002 that the first 'enemy combatants' were brought to Guantanamo. We will demonstrate and fast each day through January 22--the day of broken promises, when President Obama signed the executive order closing Guantanamo and ending torture in 2009."

UC Berkeley Billboard

press conference, protest, photos, video, reports

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Events & Calendars

War Criminals Watch Events

Important Reading

Physicians for Human Rights
Broken Laws, Broken Lives

NLG White Paper

The President's Executioner

Detention and torture in Guantanamo

About this Archive

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