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

UK in the hot seat for participating in program retained by the Obama administration:

The 'Bright Line Rule': New Papers Detail FBI, CIA Wrangling


WASHINGTON -- Newly released documents show the FBI interviewed a naked, chained terror suspect back in 2002 as the bureau struggled with the CIA over how to treat high-value prisoners.

Details of the interrogation were contained in documents released late Friday as part of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, and Judicial Watch...

NOTE: New York Times blog with link to documents here.

Obama signs law blocking release of torture photos

By Daniel Tencer
Thursday, October 29th, 2009 RAW STORY

gitmoprotest Obama signs law blocking release of torture photos

President Barack Obama received a great deal of media attention on Wednesday for signing a historic hate-crimes bill into law. But, on the same day, the US president also signed a Homeland Security spending bill that received far less attention, even though it effectively blocks efforts by activists to reveal photos of detainee abuse in US custody.

"We are disappointed that the president has signed a law giving the Defense Department the authority to hide evidence of its own misconduct, and we hope the defense secretary will not take advantage of that authority by suppressing photos related to the abuse of prisoners," Jameel Jaffer, national security director for the ACLU, said in a statement.

see also It's Official: Democrats Support Torture

New Law Could Allow Military Commissions to Continue Indefinitely

In signing the Defense Authorization Act, which, among other things, amends the laws governing military commissions, President Obama confirmed Wednesday that he plans to keep the controversial military commissions alive. The effect is to deny at least some suspected terrorists -- now called "unprivileged enemy belligerents" -- the right to a trial in a civilian federal court. And though Obama has promised to use the commissions sparingly, the new law sets up a parallel justice system that could outlive the Obama administration and leave an indelible stamp on its legacy.

see also The Lawyers Who Would Torture 

It makes you wonder what some people actually learn in law school, and what they hope to do with their law degree. - David A. Love

Human Rights Lawyer Reveals Vast Extent of CIA Torture Program Published 29 Oct 2009

Listen to this segment | the entire program

CIATime Magazine is reporting that there "was little surprise among Afghanistan experts" at the recent New York Times report claiming that Afghan President Karzai's brother is on the CIA payroll. It has been referred to in Afghanistan as an "open secret." Now some members of Congress are asserting that the Central Intelligence Agency may have lied to them at least five times since 2001. Among the instances of alleged deception are the CIA's failure to disclose to Intelligence committees, that terrorism suspects were being tortured. Another instance involved its secret assassination program for top Al Qaeda leaders. The findings are the result of an investigation following a briefing by CIA Director Leon Panetta in July. Meanwhile, a human rights lawyer investigating the story of CIA torture, has discovered that the CIA's international detention program was far more extensive than previously thought, reaching all the way from Thailand to Afghanistan, Jordan to Poland and many countries in between. The CIA's program was extremely secretive, had fewer prisoners, and subjected them to much worse torture, compared to a military detention program that was more overt.

GUEST: John Sifton, Director of One World Research, former researcher with Human Rights Watch



Jay Bybee: Well, we know why he's recused from the rendition case ...

Dan Levine, Legal Pad 

Ninth Circuit Judge Jay Bybee isn't participating in a critical case about the state secrets privilege.

The appeals court decided today to hear en banc a civil lawsuit brought by one of the victims of extraordinary rendition, the practice of kidnapping terror suspects and flying them to foreign prisons. The defendant is a Boeing subsidiary which operated the flights. An earlier Ninth Circuit panel had allowed the suit to proceed, saying it could not be quashed solely on the federal government's claim that it would jeopardize state secrets.

Bybee, who has come under intense criticism for signing the so-called Torture Memos when he worked in the Ashcroft Justice Department, was recused from the en banc vote. So was Judge Stephen Reinhardt, a liberal leader whose wife works for the ACLU in Los Angeles; the civil liberties group represents the plaintiff. Other judges recused from the case are Margaret McKeown, Ronald Gould, Milan Smith Jr. and Sandra Ikuta. We're guessing professional ties to Boeing, especially for McKeown and Gould, since they have Seattle roots. Any readers want to fill in the blanks?

more here

by Sam Provance, October 23 2009, Consortium News

I realized something when wrestling with whether or not I should say or do anything as opposed to nothing at all like everyone around me. And it is this; this world does not exist for me alone. Who am I to put my own interests, health and welfare before everyone else?

NYT: Bush's cover-up of abuse turning into Obama's cover-up

By Ron Brynaert,  RAW STORY
 Monday, October 26th, 2009

obama+bush NYT: Bushs cover up of abuse turning into Obamas cover upIt's been said with regards to the Watergate scandal and the Nixonian presidency that the cover-up was worse than the crime. A month after Nixon resigned, his successor, President Gerald Ford pardoned him, and many observers believed his technically-less-than-one-term administration never recovered from that action.

"The cover-up continues," a New York Times editorial declared on Sunday.

"The Obama administration has clung for so long to the Bush administration's expansive claims of national security and executive power that it is in danger of turning President George W. Bush's cover-up of abuses committed in the name of fighting terrorism into President Barack Obama's cover-up," the editorial argues.

A British court recently ruled that the country should release U.S. intelligence information on the alleged torture of a man held in several overseas prisons, despite concerns it could harm intelligence-sharing with the United States.


WASHINGTON -- A coalition of mega-bands and singers outraged that music -- including theirs -- was cranked up to help break uncooperative detainees at Guantanamo Bay is joining retired military officers and liberal activists to rally support for President Barack Obama's push to shutter the Navy-run prison for terrorist suspects in Cuba...

President Dalia Grybauskaite calls for an official investigation:
"Lithuania has to clean up, accept responsibility, apologize, and promise that it will never happen again"...

if only the United States would do the same. As home of the chief architect of the current torture state, UC Berkeley would be a good place to start an accounting. To repudiate accommodation for war criminal John Yoo. To stand up to degradation of ethical values. Law school dean Edley draws the line for dismissal at "commission of a criminal act which has led to conviction in a court of law". Academic Senate president Christopher Kutz stipulates that "you need something more than simply incompetence to revoke a professor's tenure." Are these truly acceptable standards?  

Lawyers for the Uighurs told the court that the lower court decision now under review presents a fundamental question of "whether it is for the prisoner to justify release or the jailer to justify imprisonment."


Two Uighur detainees at Guantanamo hold the prison camp's first self-styled public protest for visiting journalists on June 1, 2009, in this photo cleared for release by the U.S. Department of Defense.


AFP story here

Torture not "polite"

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"Congress's definition of torture in those laws - the infliction of severe mental or physical pain - leaves room for interrogation methods that go beyond polite conversation." -  John Yoo

Torture Quote Round-Up

brought to you by the Information Clearing House Newsletter.

Bybee's Final Fate In Conyers' Hands Now


Sun Oct 18, 2009 at 08:44:15 AM PDT

Believe it or not this past week Judge Bybee, aka the Torture Memos Author, was given a big pass by the Ninth Circuit's Judicial Council. Apparently without even looking back at the entire Torture Memo fiasco or its ongoing costs the Council issued it's ruling.

The complaint was "dismissed for failure to allege judicial conduct prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts" because the misconduct that was its subject occurred before Bybee became a circuit judge.

Lest any American forgets, this is a Lifetime appointment to one of the most powerful courts in our nation and all that stands between the chief architect of the Bush Torture Excuses and his seat representing Americas ideals of democracy.

"...secrecy is being used to prevent political embarrassment about torture rather than to protect national security." - Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty
Saturday, October 17th, 2009 RAW STORY

Britain will appeal against a court ruling ordering it to publish secret US intelligence documents related to the alleged torture of a former Guantanamo Bay inmate, it said.

Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian-born British resident, was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 on suspicion of links to extremists and spent six-and-a-half years in US custody in Morocco, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.

His lawyers are seeking the release of information they say will show that Britain knew he was being tortured during his time in US custody in Morocco, a claim which is strongly denied by officials here.

Both Britain and the US spoke out against the ruling.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he was "deeply disappointed" and warned the judgment could cause the United States to limit the information it shared with Britain in future.

"We are deeply disappointed that the House voted to give the Defense Department the authority to hide evidence of its own misconduct, and we hope the Senate will not follow suit." - Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project

House passes legislation to cover-up torture photos

By Kenneth J. Theisen

The Democrat-led Congress has once again taken a step to continue the fascist trajectory begun by the Bush regime. On October 15, 2009 the U.S. House of Representatives passed a homeland security appropriations bill with an amendment attached that would grant the Department of Defense (DOD) the authority to continue suppressing photos depicting the abuse of prisoners held in U.S. custody in hellhole prisons overseas. Previously released photos have caused world-wide outrage at the crimes of the U.S. government.

The amendment, which was introduced by Senator Joseph Lieberman, would allow DOD to exempt the photos from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The photos were previously ordered released by a federal appeals court as part of an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) FOIA lawsuit.

The ACLU has been seeking the release of the photos and other records related to detainee abuse through FOIA litigation initiated in 2004 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. That court ordered the release of the photos in a June 2005 ruling that was affirmed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeal in September 2008. After initially indicating that it would not appeal the Second Circuit decision and would release the photos, the Obama administration abruptly reversed its position in May 2009 and asked the Supreme Court to hear an appeal. The Supreme Court is expected to conference on whether it will hear the Obama administration appeal of the Second Circuit ruling on October 30, 2009.

Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project had this to say about the recent House action to cover up the crimes of the U.S. government, "We are deeply disappointed that the House voted to give the Defense Department the authority to hide evidence of its own misconduct, and we hope the Senate will not follow suit...The last administration's decision to endorse torture undermined the United States' moral authority and compromised its security. The failure of the current administration to fully confront the abuses of the last administration will only compound these harms." 

But the Obama administration has repeatedly gone out of its way to cover up the abuses of the Bush regime. This has included the failure to pursue prosecutions, or even investigations, of the top criminals in the Bush regime for their numerous crimes. Over and over, Obama's Department of Justice has gone to court to suppress the revelations of the crimes of the Bush administration.  It has used arguments of "national security," "state secrets," and "executive privilege" to keep the dirty secrets of the regime from becoming public. This amendment is just the latest attempt to hide the truth from the people of the world. Supporters of Obama should ask themselves why the Obama administration has deliberately taken its cover-up actions on so many occasions.  Is this the change they expected when they voted for Obama?

To learn more about the ACLU's activities to reveal the crimes of the Bush regime in its FOIA lawsuits, see

see also Torture cover-up continues: the latest strategy

Disbar John Yoo for Torture

An ethics complaint has been filed with the State Bar of Pennsylvania, raising ethics concerns surrounding the performance of former Office of Legal Counsel lawyer John Yoo in his official capacity.  The complaint--on which University of California administrators have hinged the possibility of Yoo's dismissal from the law school--remains pending.  Sign this letter today to demand a robust and thorough inquiry.

Judge Confirms Detainee Tortured to Make False Confessions

by: Andy Worthington, t r u t h o u t | Report

Guantanamo Bay prisoner.
(Photo: sfar / flickr)

    A declassified ruling by a federal court judge reveals that Fouad al-Rabiah, an innocent Kuwaiti prisoner who was ordered released from Guantanamo last week, was brutally tortured into making false confessions by US interrogators and repeatedly threatened until he confessed to terrorist activities he was not involved. 

release the OPR report

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Watch Alliance for Justice's new film:
Tortured Law

Stance Follows Presidential Declaration That Torture Is Illegal

    Morning prayer for detainees in Camp 4 of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility (Zuma Press)

Morning prayer for detainees in Camp 4 of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility (Zuma Press)

When he took office, President Obama made clear that torture is illegal and that the United States would not abuse detainees in its custody. He immediately ordered the CIA as well as the rest of the U.S. government to adhere to the rules set out in the Army Field Manual, which forbid the torture, abuse or humiliation of prisoners.

But when it comes to those tortured during the Bush administration, the Obama administration refuses to say that Bush officials violated existing law. In fact, in litigation over the torture and abuse of detainees that in some cases may have resulted in their deaths, the Obama administration has surprisingly endorsed the same legal positions as its predecessor, insisting that there is no constitutional right to humane treatment by U.S. authorities outside the United States, and that victims of torture and abuse and their survivors have no right to compensation or even an acknowledgment of what occurred.

John Yoo to moderate American Enterprise Institute panel,

Obama's statement accepting the Nobel is as misleading as his remarks to the CIA last April 16th when he praised the Agency and hailed the U.S. as "a nation of laws" when today  it is, in fact, the world's principal law-breaker. The fact is, the charismatic new president appears to see the world through the dark glasses of the CIA and has aligned himself with the Agency's imperialist agenda. Given Obama's past employment, this is not that odd.
Obama's Fictional Nobel Prize Statement
by Sherwood Ross

now there's real change (not)

House Bill Allows Coerced Testimony and Hearsay in Military Commissions


The National Defense Authorization Act, passed yesterday by the House of Representatives, includes a largely overlooked provision that modifies the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which allows the government to try certain terror suspects -- now called "unprivileged enemy belligerents" instead of the Bush-era term, "unlawful enemy combatants" -- in military proceedings rather than Article III federal courts. The purpose of using a special court is primarily to deny defendants some of the protections that federal courts provide, such as the right to exclude coerced testimony and hearsay...

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Reena Flores reports on the campus protests regarding UC Berkeley and Boalt Hall Law School professor John Yoo, against whom numerous human rights organizations and Berkeley activists are demanding...

Wilner v. NSA

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Did the NSA Wiretap Gitmo Defense Lawyers?


That's one of the questions coming up in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit being argued today by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of 23 lawyers who believe they may have been wiretapped without a warrant by the National Security Agency during the Bush administration. But the government won't answer the question.

The NSA authorized its warrantless wiretapping program shortly after September 11, 2001.

After defense lawyers representing Guantanamo detainees discovered they might have been wiretapped, CCR challenged the practice in a lawsuit in New York in May 2007. But the government refused to say whether it wiretapped the lawyers or not, citing national security concerns. The federal district court sided with the government, ruling that the NSA could refuse to either confirm or deny the existence of any related records because to do so "would reveal information about the NSA's capabilities and activities."

The case is Wilner v. NSA and it's being argued before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals today.

Legal Case Filed Against 4 U.S. Presidents and 4 UK Prime Ministers

By The Brussels Tribunal 

October 08, 2009 "
Information Clearing House" -- MADRID: Today the Spanish Senate, acting to confirm a decision already taken under pressure from powerful governments accused of grave crimes, will limit Spain's laws of universal jurisdiction. Yesterday, ahead of the change of law, a legal case was filed at the Audiencia Nacional against four United States presidents and four United Kingdom prime ministers for commissioning, condoning and/or perpetuating multiple war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Iraq.
This case, naming George H W Bush, William J Clinton, George W Bush, Barack H Obama, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Anthony Blair and Gordon Brown, is brought by Iraqis and others who stand in solidarity with the Iraqi people and in defence of their rights and international law.

There's a lot of misinformation out there on this topic... Conspiracy to commit torture continues, as a legal matter, as long as its members are still trying to accomplish its objectives - regardless of when they committed their last overt act.* 

OPR Report on Torture Memos Still Incomplete

By Joe Palazzolo | October 6, 2009 MAIN JUSTICE

John Yoo (Berkeley)

John Yoo (Berkeley)

The release of a long-awaited ethics report on the conduct of former Justice Department lawyers who authorized the use of harsh interrogation appears to be a ways off.

Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday the department is waiting for additional comments from "some of the lawyers who were involved." The former Office of Legal Counsel lawyers under scrutiny already missed a May deadline for submitting their responses.

Speaking with reporters at Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, Holder said he expected the report to be cleared for release relatively soon. In June, he said the report, now more than four years in the making, would be ready in a "matter of weeks."

The report explores whether legal advice in the interrogation memos, which have since been rescinded, met professional standards required of Justice Department lawyers. The Office of Professional Responsibility's initial findings are said to be harshly critical of Jay Bybee, the former head of the Office of Legal Counsel, and John Yoo, a former deputy...

*see Prosecuting Torture: Is Time Really Running Out?

On October 5, World Can't Wait joined with Cindy Sheehan and others from National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, Witness Against Torture, Activist Response Team, Vets for Peace, Code Pink in a protest of about 500 people in front of the White House. Former Colonel Ann Wright and Medea Benjamin joined us directly from a flight back from Afghanistan and spoke about the conditions there.

Watch video:

We brought the "Museum of Torture" and displayed for the media a little taste of the crimes still being carried out in our names. 61 people were arrested in an act of civil disobedience, after chaining themselves to the fence of the White House (many wearing orange jumpsuits). It was a very eye-catching display, attracting media coverage:

Washington Post  Free Speech Radio News  CBS    UPI   CNN   David Swanson: We Were Arrested for Speaking  ABC  WIBW

While the administration held a press conference outside about healthcare, we marched to the fence and chanted as loud as possible " Stop the Torture State!" and "Healthcare not Warfare!" Robert Gibbs' first question, because of this noise, was about why we were out there protesting. He answered, "that's the first I heard there wereprotesters."

The whole debate over the war and occupation needs to shift. This isn't about a "new strategy." It's about an illegitimate, 
immoral war that needs to end as soon as possible; not expanded in a surge of troops or drones. 

What we need is a surge of resistance. Join us in the streets in righteous protest against these continuing crimes. 

Whether or not you can join us in the streets, please 
donate today. This is actually the most crucial political act you can make right now. Read some of the statements people have sent here.

Government admits filming torture of Gitmo inmate 

By Stephen C. Webster

Monday, October 5th, 2009 THE RAW STORY

The United States government admitted on Monday that the torture of a Saudi man alleged to be part of the 9/11 plot was recorded on video, according to court documents procured by the Center for Constitutional Rights.

The tapes, allegedly showing the torture of Mohammed al Qahtani, 31, have long been kept under wraps, but a discovery motion for video of his interrogations led the court to acknowledge their existence and order their release.

"The videotapes the government is required to produce will reveal the time period at the end of three months of intensive solitary confinement and isolation that immediately preceded the implementation of the 'First Special Interrogation Plan,' a regime of systematic torture techniques approved by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for use against Mr. al Qahtani," claimed a CCR media advisory.

Lawyers with the Center for Constitutional Rights have represented Qahtani since 2005. The accused 9/11 plotter has been a Guantanamo inmate since 2002.

According to Susan Crawford, convening authority at the Office of Military Commissions, "We tortured Qahtani."

Prof. Chomsky speaks at rally

By: Kamil Dada, The Stanford Daily

Speakers demand U.S. officials be held accountable for 'war crimes'

About 200 students and Bay Area activists gathered in White Plaza Sunday evening to listen to renowned intellectual Noam Chomsky speak about war crimes. The rally focused on holding U.S. officials - in particular, Hoover Fellow and political science Prof. Condoleezza Rice - accountable for their actions during the years of the Bush administration.

Supreme Court Preview Part II, John Yoo's Revenge?

john-yoo(The following is the second in a multi-part series on the upcoming Supreme Court Term)

c/o ThinkProgress

Few names are more associated with the worst abuses of the Bush Administration -- its callous disregard for human rights, its treatment of the Constitution as opinion, its belief that presidents, or at least conservative presidents, are really kings -- than former Bush OLC deputy John Yoo.  Yet while Yoo is most famous for his at-best professionally incompetent claims that it's legal for the United States to torture, Yoo's first love was always limitless Presidential power.  Two cases this Term will reveal just how many of the justices share Yoo's passion.

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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

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

Curt Wechsler, The World Can't Wait: September 2009 is the previous archive.

Curt Wechsler, The World Can't Wait: November 2009 is the next archive.

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