Curt Wechsler, The World Can't Wait: June 2009 Archives

Murat Kurnaz

"In the Wrong Place for a Long Time"

Murat is getting on with his life. But he cannot forget the 
prisoners who remain in Guantanamo. And he will not rest 
until leaders who commit illegal acts are punished. 
If I could recommend one book on injustice and torture, 
it would be his powerful account, 

these people were cleared of any wrongdoing four years 
ago. Screw "summer recess", release Uighurs now.

Supreme Court delays decision

We still torture:
The new evidence from Guantánamo

By Luke Mitchell

Luke Mitchell is a senior editor of Harper's Magazine.

We face the temptation to believe that an election can "change everything"--that the stark contrast between Barack Obama and George W. Bush recapitulates an equally stark contrast between the present and the past. But political events move within a continuum, and they are driven by many forces other than democratic action, including the considerable power of their own momentum. Such is the case with the ongoing American experiment with torture.

Exclusive: Top CIA lawyers to face legal complaints over roles in interrogation program


Published: June 29, 2009 RAW STORY

Watch: During press conference, Bruce Fein says Obama 'shuts his eyes' to 'open confessions' of war crimes

A grassroots coalition will file complaints today with the Washington, D.C. bar against two Central Intelligence Agency lawyers for their involvement in authorizing the use of controversial interrogation techniques against detainees in US custody.

Velvet Revolution, a coalition of over 150 grassroots groups, will register complaints against CIA lawyers Jonathan M. Fredman and John A. Rizzo. Fredmen, who is currently counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, served as the Associate General counsel for the CIA from 2001-2004. Rizzo is the current Acting General Counsel for the CIA but is retiring this month. His nomination to become full General Counsel has been held up for years over his alleged role in enabling the CIA's controversial interrogation program.

DC lawyer and activist Kevin Zeese, along with a former Reagan administration Associate Attorney General Bruce Fein, held a press conference this morning at the National Press Club in which they discussed the complaints they will be filing later today.

The complaints to be filed against Fredmen and Rizzo describe the role both men played in authorizing the CIA to use techniques generally considered torture against detainees in US custody, captured during the Bush administration.

says she wouldn't change what she did

AP Photo
AP Photo/Vicki Smith

Abu Ghraib scandal haunts W.Va. reservist

KEYSER, W.Va. (AP) -- More than two years since leaving her prison cell, the woman who became the grinning face of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal spends most of her days confined to the four walls of her home.

Former Army reservist Lynndie England hasn't landed a job in numerous tries: When one restaurant manager considered hiring her, other employees threatened to quit.

She doesn't like to travel: Strangers point and whisper, "That's her!"

In fact, she doesn't leave the house much at all, limiting her outings mostly to grocery runs.

"I don't have a social life," she says. " ... I sit at home all day."

She's tried dyeing her dark brown hair, wearing sunglasses and ball caps. She even thought about changing her name. But "it's my face that's always recognized," she says, "and I can't really change that."

England hopes a biography released this month and a book tour starting in July will help rehabilitate an image indelibly associated with the plight of the mistreated prisoners.

Why Isn't the Justice Department Enforcing the Convention Against Torture?
By DAPHNE EVIATAR 6/28/09 The Washington Independent

Marcy Wheeler made a great point on Friday that's worth following up on. President Obama's declaration to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention Against Torture tosses the responsibility for developing "effective policies and programs for stopping torture" to the State Department, asking it to "solicit information from all of our diplomatic missions around the world ..."

But the President's speech seemed primarily aimed at stopping torture abroad, which is presumably why he's called on the State Department to get involved. But what about torture committed by our own government?


"The Obama administration is considering forgoing legislation and issuing an executive order that would authorize the president to incarcerate some terrorism suspects indefinitely, White House officials said Friday..."

Shift Possible on Terror Suspects' Detention

Published: June 26, 2009

2004 CIA Inspector General Torture Report's Release Is Delayed AGAIN

By SPENCER ACKERMAN 6/26/09 12:51 PM

It was supposed to be a magical day: the day when, in response to an agreement reached in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Obama administration will declassify animportant document in the history of its predecessor's apparatus of torture. I refer to the 2004 inquest undertaken by ex-CIA Inspector General John Helgerson into the CIA's interrogations and detentions programs. The Bush administration released an almost-totally-redacted version in May 2008, and despite the Obama administration's pledge to disclose a more-detailed version of the document, it punted the disclosure a week ago Friday to today. "We can only hope that this delay is a sign that the forces of transparency within the Obama administration are winning over the forces of secrecy and that the report will ultimately be released with minimal redactions," ACLU attorney Amrit Singh said last week. "The CIA should not be permitted to use national security as a pretext for suppressing evidence of its own unlawful conduct."

Yeah, if only. The Obama administration won't release the document today. According to the ACLU, it's asked for a three-day reprieve. ACLU's consented. Game Day is now supposed to be July 1.

Politics Daily contributor Delia Lloyd discusses some new developments with  human rights expert Philippe Sands... click here.


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hear director and writer Paul Haggis, whose films include Crash and In the Valley of Elah speak out at a press conference in West Hollywood May 21, 2009:

The real question is: Does the right to habeas corpus have any meaning if the courts can't order the prisoners released? 

Navanethem Pillay calls for help in recovery from "one of the worst ordeals that a human being can face. The physical and mental scars of torture are excruciating, the effect on families devastating, and there are often long-term socio-economic effects, including a stigma that can be extremely hard to erase. Victims of torture must be compensated and cared for -- for as long as it takes to enable them once again to lead a relatively normal life."

U.N. Human Rights Chief Criticizes Handling of Detainees


"Who Are We?"...

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asks Bob Herbert in an op-ed to The New York Times:

Published: June 22, 2009

Policies that were wrong under George W. Bush are no less wrong because Barack Obama is in the White House.

One of the most disappointing aspects of the early months of the Obama administration has been its unwillingness to end many of the mind-numbing abuses linked to the so-called war on terror and to establish a legal and moral framework designed to prevent those abuses from ever occurring again.

The president deserves credit for unequivocally banning torture and some of the other brutal interrogation techniques that spread like a plague in the Bush administration's lawless response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But other policies that offend the conscience continue.

Americans should recoil as one against the idea of preventive detention, imprisoning people indefinitely, for years and perhaps for life, without charge and without giving them an opportunity to demonstrate their innocence.

Government Submits Evidence Tossed in 2008 War Crimes Case

By DAPHNE EVIATAR 6/23/09 The Washington Independent
A guard tower at the Guantanamo detention center. (

A guard tower at the Guantanamo detention center. (

The United States is relying on evidence obtained by torture to prove that it can continue to imprison indefinitely a young man arrested as an adolescent in Afghanistan six and a half years ago, according to documents filed with a federal district court.

Mohammed Jawad may have been as young as 12 years old when he was seized by Afghan police and turned over to U.S. authorities in December 2002, according to a recent letter from the Afghan attorney general, who is requesting his return. Jawad is accused of throwing a hand grenade into a U.S. military vehicle and injuring two servicemen and their translator. But the primary evidence against him -- his own confessions -- were obtained by torture. Although the U.S. military commission created by President George W. Bush eventually charged him with war crimes for the attack in October 2007 -- almost six years after the crime -- a judge ruled in October 2008 that because they were tortured, his confessions were unreliable and inadmissible.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Detainee Wins Right To Push Legal Claim

Law Tribune File Photo
New Haven attorney Jonathan Freiman said the Bush administration lawyer who wrote memos justifying harsh interrogation techniques was involved in making policy and not simply providing 'neutral analysis of the law.'

Torture and Truth

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...torture is always... an "undoing of civilization," and, probably more reliably than anything, it foretells the descent of a civilization into barbarism. The power of the state that tortures may be increasingly fictional, but the degradation of its civilization is real. 

Those symptoms are brought on, of course, not just by the torture but by society's reaction to it. The interrogator faces his choice when the order to torture comes down from on high. The people face their choice when reports of what he did are made public, as is happening. If the people choose denial, the pathology of torture tends to reproduce itself in the society at large. -
 Jonathan Schell 

The Incredible Lightness of Gitmo Hearings

By DAPHNE EVIATAR 6/20/09 The Washington Independent

There are few light moments in the habeas corpus cases of Guantanamo detainees, given that most of these men have been holed away in cells or cages for years without charge or even a chance to see the evidence against them. Generally, not so funny.

Which makes this exchange captured by Adam Serwer at The American Prospect all the more precious. Serwer was at the court hearing Friday of Mohamed Jawad, accused of throwing a grenade at a U.S. military vehicle in Afghanistan when he was somewhere between 12 and 14 years old. After being imprisoned and tortured in an Afghan prison (according to a U.S. military judge), Jawad eventually landed at Guantanamo Bay, where he's spent the last seven years -- approximately one-third of his life.

The hearing itself, Serwer notes, was mostly about legal procedure and scheduling. But it did include this:

[T]here was an amusing exchange between the judge and a lawyer from the DoJ who tried to explain that she had a scheduling conflict with one of the dates the judge had set. "I'm going on vacation that week," the lawyer explained. The judge paused and stared at the lawyer. "He's been incarcerated for a very long time," she said.

No word yet on whether the lawyer changed her vacation plans.

UPDATE: Report delayed, again. So no photos, no report, no 
accountability, no justice.

Come back to this site for updates and look for more commentary from other sources soon: Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Center for Constitutional Rights, ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, Amnesty, Consortium News, Cage Prisoners, Andy Worthington, Candace Gorman, etc.

Obama-backed Bill to Ban Release of Bush-Era Torture Photos Passes Senate

By Jeremy Scahill

In a move that didn't receive much attention, the Senate on Wednesday passed by unanimous consent the Graham-Lieberman bill, which seeks to make it illegal to make public any images of US prisoner abuse and torture from the Bush era. Specifically, the bill bans the release of images "taken between September 11, 2001 and January 22, 2009 relating to the treatment of individuals engaged, captured, or detained after September 11, 2001, by the Armed Forces of the United States in operations outside of the United States." The Obama White House supports this outrageous legislation whose sole purpose is to make it illegal to reveal the truth about US torture. 

At one point, this legislation was tacked on to the war supplemental bill passed by the House on Tuesday, but was removed (for purely tactical reasons) when too many Congressional Democrats objected. Now, it exists as stand-alone legislation (following a deal cut between Obama and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham). Whether or not it passes the House (at this point it seems unlikely), Obama is telling his Republican buddies he's got their backs:

Graham said at a Judiciary Committee hearing that he had received assurance from White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel "that the president will not let these photos see the light of day."

"The people involved in Abu Ghraib and other detainee abuse allegations have been dealt with," Graham said, arguing against the release of the photographs. "Every photo would become a bullet or IED used by terrorists against our troops."


After receiving the White House promise, Graham agreed to release a "hold" on key legislation, including the $106 billion war funding measure.

Before the Senate vote, Graham told his colleagues from the Senate floor that President Obama "would sign ... an executive order" classifying the photographs unless Congress acted to prevent their release.

Once again, why do we even have a Congress anymore? Why even have votes? Why carry on with this charade when the Emperor can simply issue decrees?

Supreme Court nominee Sotomayor's views on executive power are in question, but Berkeley Boalt Hall Dean's homage to another contender falls right in line with his protection of unitary executive theorist John Yoo. Should we be surprised? 

Jodi Hilton for The New York Times

Elena Kagan explicitly endorsed the president's authority to indefinitely detain.

C/o Berkeley Law "In the News", 

Chris Edley Praises Former Colleague and Possible Supreme Court Pick Elena Kagan

The New York Times, May 17, 2009 by Eric Lichtblau

"There were some important issues on which Elena took centrist or even center-right positions, but it was never clear whether she was pressing her own views or merely carrying water for her boss on the Domestic Policy Council, Bruce Reed," said Christopher Edley Jr., who worked with Ms. Kagan at the White House.... "Regardless," Mr. Edley said, "everyone admired her brilliance and effectiveness. She'd be a real force on the court." 

Yoo, Bybee Rendition Memo Drafted Specifically For Zubaydah's Torture

by Jason Leopold

Tuesday, 16 June 2009 

Two weeks before U.S. and Pakistani intelligence agents captured Abu Zubaydah, an alleged top al-Qaeda official, in Pakistan in March 2002 and whisked him off to a secret CIA "black site" prison in Thailand where he was brutally tortured, the Department of Justice prepared a legal memorandum for George W. Bush stating he could ignore a law that prohibited the transfer of prisoners to countries that engage in torture.

The March 13, 2002 memo specifically offered up ways in which government officials could avoid legal liability if prisoners like Zubaydah were tortured.

"To fully shield our personnel from criminal liability, it is important that the United States not enter in an agreement with a foreign country, explicitly or implicitly, to transfer a detainee to that country for the purpose of having the individual tortured," the memo says. "So long as the United States does not intend for a detainee to be tortured post-transfer, however, no criminal liability will attach to a transfer. Even if the foreign country receiving the detainee does torture him."

Whoever, knowing that an offense has been committed, receives, relieves, comforts or assists the offender in order to hinder or prevent his apprehension, trial or punishment, is an accessory after the fact; one who knowing a felony to have been committed by another, receives, relieves, comforts, or assists the felon in order to hinder the felon's apprehension, trial, or punishment. - U.S.C. 18

White House: Obama will keep promise to conceal detainee abuse photos


Published: June 16, 2009 

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs refused to say if President Barack Obama would sign an executive order to prevent the release of detainee abuse photos Tuesday. Earlier in the day, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters that he had reason to believe Mr. Obama was considering such an order.

"I have reason to believe they are looking at that as a way to resolve this situation," Hoyer (D-Md.) said.

At Tuesday's White House briefing, spokesman Gibbs said, "All I'm going to say on this is that the president has committed to all interested parties that he intends to do what is necessary to keep those photos from being released and that he intends to keep that commitment."

The White House correspondent pressed for more: "Did he give Hoyer a reason to believe?"

"I won't get into any private conversations," Gibbs responded.

On Friday, Republican Senator Lindsey Grahamcalled for "a commitment from the White House that President Obama would issue an executive order classifying the photos as secret should that be needed to keep them under wraps," the New York Times reported.

"The sooner we do this, the better," Mr. Graham said.

The Times story added, "In order to ease Democratic concerns, the president on Thursday sent Congress a letter saying he would take 'every legal and administrative remedy'' to keep the photos sealed. Mr. Graham, who has warned that release of the photos could incite anti-American attacks overseas, said he just wanted the president to go a little further and make an explicit promise of an executive order."

This video is from C-SPAN, broadcast June 16, 2009.

Decision Allowing Yoo Lawsuit to Continue Carries Narrow Implications

Civil Rights Lawyers Hopeful District Court Ruling Could Be Persuasive

By DAPHNE EVIATAR The Washington Independent 6/16/09 
Jose Padilla is escorted to a Florida courtroom in 2007 (Photo: Florida

Jose Padilla is escorted into a Florida courtroom in 2007 (Photo: Florida Southern District Court)

Since U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ruled late Friday in San Francisco that former "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla can proceed with his lawsuit against "torture memo" author John Yoo, the decision has been interpreted by many in the media as a broad vindication of detainees' rights to sue former Bush administration officials.

In fact, the ruling's implications are narrower than that, and could also be appealed. But, still, the opinion has heartened some civil rights lawyers because it rejects many of the claims made by former Bush officials that they're not liable for their actions formulating policy in the "war on terror." That could persuade judges hearing other claims against former officials as well. The ruling also allows the civil case to move forward against John Yoo, and could in the process reveal significant new information not only about Yoo, but about his interaction with the White House, and exactly how he reached the legal conclusions that he did. That information could, in turn, be used against him in future criminal or congressional proceedings.

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50 Human Rights logoInternational day for Victims of TortureUN logo

Message of UN Secretary-General
Background Information
Voluntary Fund
Press Releases
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

"This is a day on which we pay our respects to those who have endured the unimaginable. This is an occasion for the world to speak up against the unspeakable. It is long overdue that a day be dedicated to remembering and supporting the many victims and survivors of torture around the world."

Secretary-General Kofi Annan

O. Roth artwork
Artwork by Octavio Roth

roadblocks to justice

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News this weekend that Jose Padilla has the right to sue torture lawyer John Yoo is no thanks to the Obama administration.

In case you missed it, this weekend brought good news and bad news on the accountability-for-torture front.

First the good news: Convicted "terrorist" Jose Padilla -- who in 2002 was declared an "illegal enemy combatant" by the Bush administration and imprisoned on a Navy brig, where he languished for more than three years on the grounds that he planned to unleash a "dirty bomb" on U.S. soil (only for said charge to later disappear in favor of a totally different charge) -- has been given the green light to sue notorious torture lawyer John Yoo.

"The decision issued late Friday by a judge in San Francisco allowing a civil lawsuit to go forward against a former Bush administration official, John C. Yoo, might seem like little more than the removal of a procedural roadblock," wrote New York Times reporter John Schwartz on Saturday.

"But lawyers for the man suing Mr. Yoo, Jose Padilla, say it provides substantive interpretation of constitutional issues for all detainees and could have a broad impact."


CIA Continues To Suppress Information From Detainee Tribunals With Heavy Redactions

CONTACT: (212) 549-2666;

NEW YORK - The CIA today released still-highly redacted documents in which Guantánamo Bay prisoners describe abuse and torture they suffered in CIA custody. The documents were released as part of an American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking uncensored transcripts from Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) that determine if prisoners held by the Defense Department at Guantánamo qualify as "enemy combatants." In previously released versions of the documents, the CIA had removed virtually all references to the abuse of prisoners in their custody; the documents released today are still heavily blacked out but include some new information.

Former Gitmo detainee describes prison ordeal
Information Clearing House 
June 15, 2009

Former Guantanamo inmate Lakdhar Boumediene told FRANCE 24 in an exclusive interview about his seven-year ordeal in the US prison camp, where his protestations of innocence were met with escalating brutality from interrogators.
June is Torture Awareness Month.

Torture on Trial - Introduction
Stand up against torture by hosting 
a DVD house party/special screening 
of Link TV's documentary.
sign the letter to Attorney General Holder here.

Bill of Rights Defense Committee - Working with communities to uphold the Bill of Rights

Obstruction of justice

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"The pictures are not going to be released," an emphatic Reid told reporters? Pictures depicting the commission of a federal crime being suppressed by congress? This is the text book definition of Obstruction of justice which would make Reid and any others that vote for this or promote it in any way an accomplice to the actual crime. So can congress legally commit a federal crime by majority rule? Sounds a lot like some third world dictatorship. Certainly not the high ideals this country used to stand for. The rule of law, and our constitution are sooooo pre911-STILL. We are so far around the bend now that even congress can openly flaunt and break the law simply by mob rule (i.e. voting for it). This is a continuation of the horrible Bush Jr. presidency. Now that's change you cannot believe in. - comment by thromulese to:

Reid: Torture pix won't be released

More 'sickening' truths about torture soon to be revealed


Published: June 11, 2009 RAW STORY 
Updated 2 hours ago 

A crucial CIA Inspector General's report from May 2004 is expected to reveal some long-hidden truths about the Bush administration's use of torture.

According to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, "This report is sort of the big kahuna in terms of what we have been waiting to see from the government's own files on torture. That report, which is long and has been described by people who have seen it as 'sickening,' apparently stopped the torture program in its tracks."

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) recently warned in a speech on the floor of the Senate that almost everything we think we know about the Bush administration's torture program is wrong.

"There has been a campaign of falsehood about this whole sorry episode," Whitehouse stated. "We've been misled about nearly every aspect of this program. ... Measured against the information I've been able to get access to, the storyline that we have been led to believe ... is false in every one of its dimensions."


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Statement from website:

When the last administration decided it wanted to break the law, it turned principally to John Yoo, a bright young attorney in the Office of Legal Counsel.  Yoo drafted and oversaw the drafting of legal memos that would give the administration the green light to torture, to deny due process to detainees at home and abroad, and to deploy the military for operations within the territorial United States.  Yoo's positions had no basis in law or fact.  As an attorney, he had a legal obligation to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States, an ethical obligation to refrain from advancing frivolous or fraudulent legal positions, and a moral obligation to safeguard the notions of liberty and justice held sacred in the United States.  Yoo failed in each of these duties and as a result  he should no longer be allowed to practice law.

We are young attorneys.  In 2005, while many of us we were still in law school, we read the first of Yoo's infamous memos.  Even then, the positions asserted were obviously contrary to much of what we already knew about the text and structure of the Constitution, and appeared to fly in the face of the international laws and norms that we were just learning about.  Four years and several revealing memos later--including Yoo's "monument to executive supremacy and the imperial presidency"--the legal folly and dire consequences of the memos have become still more clear.  

Yoo did more than justify torture or violate international law.  He revealed the dangerous if often hidden truth that the law itself, in the hands of a lawyer, can be rendered meaningless, or worse, used as truncheon against the same people it is meant to shield.  Surely, many members of the last administration should be judged for their actions, and further investigations are necessary, but Yoo represents the singular danger that occurs when a lawyer comes untethered from his legal, ethical, and moral duties and serves instead the whim of his client.  We believe that when this happens, injustice is the natural and necessary outcome. And we plan to hold John Yoo to account for it.

Sign the letter here.

Lieberman and Graham wage their own private cover-up war


by Larisa Alexandrovna, June 10, 2009 RAW STORY

Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have threatened all-out Congressional thermonuclear war over any additional release of detainee abuse photos. In a joint statement to the press, the duo is claiming that concern for national security is the impetus for such an aggressive move:

"We will employ all the legislative means available to us including opposing the supplemental war spending bill and attaching this amendment, which was unanimously adopted by the Senate, to every piece of legislation the Senate considers, to be sure the President has the authority he needs not to release these photos and any others that would jeopardize the safety and security of our troops.

"The release of the photos will serve as propaganda and recruiting tool for terrorists who seek to attack American citizens at home and abroad. We should strive to have as open a government as possible, but the behavior depicted in the photos has been prohibited and is being investigated. The photos do not depict anything that is not already known. Transparency, and in this case needless transparency, should not be paid for with the lives of American citizens, let alone the lives of our men and women in uniform fighting on our behalf in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

"Let it clearly be understood that without this legislation the photos in question are likely to be released. Such a release would be tantamount to a death sentence to some who are serving our nation in the most dangerous and difficult spots like Iraq and Afghanistan. It is this certain knowledge of these consequences of having the photos released that will cause us to vote against the supplemental and continue our push to turn our important amendment into law."

Let us assume for a moment that both Lieberman and Graham are in fact genuinely concerned about our national security and it is for this reason they are pursuing such drastic censorship measures.

Against the backdrop of this assumption, I think it fair to explain to both Senators the reasons the public is demanding the release of these photos.


David Speaks Out...

WASHINGTON, DC - The lead attorney for the Kuwaiti detainees atGuantanamo Bay today called on Congress to delay the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor until the Obama administration's commitment to the rule of law and compliance with Supreme Court decisions is examined.

The Supreme Court, in an historic decision one year ago this week, upheld the right of Guantanamo detainees to the writ of habeas corpus. Yet, despite the Supreme Court's admonition that the detainees be given "prompt hearings," only a handful of these cases have been heard because of the government's stall tactics, delays and determined resistance.

"I am writing to ask that you schedule a Judiciary Committee hearing on the Obama Administration's failure to comply with Boumediene v. Bush, in which the Supreme Court upheld the right of Guantanamo detainees to the writ of habeas corpus, before you schedule a Committee hearing on the confirmation of President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court," attorney David Cynamon wrote today in a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

The Obama administration, which promised to restore the rule of law and depart from the Bush administration's legacy on detainee issues, has so far failed on both counts, according to Cynamon.

"The Bush Administration Department of Justice did everything in its power to delay and obstruct the habeas cases from proceeding in federal court. This was disappointing but not surprising," Cynamon wrote. "What has been surprising is that the Obama Justice Department has maintained the same policy of delay and obstruction."

that the government is so desperate to conceal?

Graham, Lieberman threaten Senate shut down over abuse photo bill


Published: June 9, 2009 
Updated 5 hours ago 

In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-C.T.) threatened to shut down the Senate by blocking any further legislation unless their bill preventing the release of any further detainee abuse photos is passed.

Both men said they fear more disclosure would trigger heightened violence against Americans overseas.

"Both Senators said they were alarmed that a House-Senate conference committee on the supplemental war spending bill appears poised to eliminate language -- inserted by the two Senators -- that would block public disclosure of detainee abuse photos," reported Roll Call. "The $90-billion-plus bill has been held up, in part, because House Democratic leaders have said they do not have the votes to pass it with the detainee photo provision included, because many liberal lawmakers have balked at the language."

Politico's Glenn Thrush noted: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who initially said she'd support the amendment, which was also pushed by Connecticut Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, now thinks it's 'likely' the measure will be stripped in a conference committee."

"The question over the release of the photos is one of two key issues that is jamming up final consideration of a major, emergency spending bill to fund the war in Iraq, efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan and prepare for the H1N1 flu," reported Fox.

Huffington Post reported Monday night: "People can't believe that this is a reality, a possible reality that the detainee photos amendment will be taken out of the bill," Graham said, shortly before The Huffington Post confirmed that it was. He and Lieberman are determined to vote against the war supplemental without the photos amendment. "And," he said "I think we'll carry a lot of people with us."

The Congressional war supplemental also contains a $108 billion infusion for the International Monetary Fund, which would act like a credit line for the IMF in case member countries need emergency loans that exceed the institution's resources. As such, the money is not considered an immediate budget expense.

With AFP.

Obama's Detention Dilemma: Administration Sends Mixed 


By DAPHNE EVIATAR 6/9/09, The Washington Independent
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) (WDCpix)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) (WDCpix)

The transfer of former "high-level" Guantanamo Bay detainee Ahmed Ghailani to a federal prison in New York on Tuesday highlights the dilemma President Obama faces over what to do with the 240 detainees remaining at the Guantanamo Bay prison, as well as any others he claims will need to be detained indefinitely without trial in the future.

see also Prolonged Indefinite Detention Already Widespread 

and Obama risks creating "future Guantanamos"

American News Project video investigates how the federal 
judge got his position in the first place, and asks what is to 
be done about it.


Stuck at Guantánamo, Uighurs demand freedom

A federal judge has ordered the release of 17 Uighurs, Chinese Muslims, from the Guantánamo detention camp. But they're still there, and on Monday they staged a protest for visiting journalists.


GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- A group of Muslims from China awaiting a court-ordered release staged a self-styled protest inside their prison camp Monday, waving signs demanding their freedom written in crayon on their Pentagon-issued art supplies.

''We are the Uighurs,'' said one sign. ``We are being oppressed in prison though we had been announced innocent.''

Another: ``We need to freedom.''

The U.S. government has for months been seeking a nation to offer asylum to some 17 Uighurs with Chinese citizenship who fear persecution and perhaps torture if they are returned to their communist-controlled homeland.

Attorney General Eric Holder has said he was willing to resettle some in the United States. But some members of Congress have rebelled, casting them as terrorists and creating a deadlock on the future of the men whom a federal judge ordered released from these remote prison camps in October 2008.

Instead, the military moved the men to a small razor-wire ringed compound called Camp Iguana, away from the 220 foreign captives here still held as enemy combatants. As detainees approved for release, they have been receiving increasingly greater liberties -- such as weekly telephone calls, takeout fried chicken and pizza and a wooden hut set aside to serve as a mosque.

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ScienceDaily (June 2, 2009) -- New research findings by Dr Metin Başoğlu, Head of Section of Trauma Studies at King's College London and the Istanbul Centre for Behaviour Research and Therapy, examines the psychological impact of war captivity, 'cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment' (CIDT) and physical torture. Findings revealed that being held captive in a hostile and life-threatening environment, deprivation of basic needs, sexual torture, psychological manipulations, humiliation, exposure to extreme temperatures, isolation, and forced stress positions appear to cause more psychological damage than physical torture.

This study at its essence concerns the question of what constitutes torture, is published on line in the April issue of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. Başoğlu writes that a priori assumptions of a distinction between torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments have led some to argue that the latter are associated with less mental suffering than torture and therefore more acceptable in exceptional circumstances.

The research looks at the different risk factors associated with PTSD in former detainees, reporting that captivity experience in a war setting was associated with 2.8 times greater risk of PTSD in comparison to being detained by state authorities in someone's own country, possibly due to the greater perceived threat to life in a war setting. Additionally, being held captive by an enemy was a stronger risk factor for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than the actual experience of torture itself. PTSD was also associated with CIDT and sexual abuse but not with physical torture.

Obama Administration Ratchets Up Showdown With Federal Court

By DAPHNE EVIATAR 6/1/09 9:35 AM

Ratcheting up the showdown between the Obama administration and the judiciary that began in March, the Justice Department on Friday insisted to a federal judge (pdf)    in San Francisco that it had no right to sanction the government for repeatedly defying the court's order.

The government brief was filed in the case of Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Obama, the controversial case I've been following in which the Obama administration has repeatedly refused to comply with court orders to allow the plaintiff in the case -- a now-defunct Islamic charity that says it was spied on without a warrant by the federal government -- to use the document that apparently proves it was indeed the victim of the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program.

Although the Justice Department has repeatedly argued that the "state secrets privilege" requires the case to be dismissed, the court has ruled that it doesn't. Instead, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker has ruled, the court can provide Al-Haramain and its lawyers access to the document using standard federal court procedures to protect the evidence from public disclosure. The document is critical because without it, the defunct charity can't proceed with its lawsuit, and it can't prove that the National Security Agency under the Bush administration violated the law.

That's not a good enough reason for the Obama administration to allow the group access to the document, according to the Justice Department. President Obama has only authorized access to such classified information on a "need-to-know" basis, the government argues, so the government  "cannot be sanctioned for its determination that plaintiffs do not have a need-to-know classified information."

That argument seems to beg the question of who gets to decide what the plaintiff "needs to know" -- Walker has already ruled, repeatedly, that the plaintiff does "need to know" the information, as it's the only way for the organization to find out if it was spied on by the government in violation of federal law.

This case has outraged advocates for open government (and attentive bloggers like Marcy Wheeler and Glenn Greenwald), who say it's a direct violation of Obama's promises not to classify or otherwise conceal government information unnecessarily.

We'll be watching to see how the judge responds to this latest government maneuver, but the ultimate question -- who gets to decide whether a private party suing the government "needs to know" particular classified information -- could well end up before the Supreme Court.

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This page is a archive of recent entries in June 2009.

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