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Archive for May 7th, 2009

By John Byrne | The Raw Story, May 6, 2009

United States interrogators killed nearly four dozen detainees during or after their interrogations, according a report published by a human rights researcher based on a Human Rights First report and followup investigations.

In all, 98 detainees have died while in US hands. Thirty-four homicides have been identified, with at least eight detainees — and as many as 12 — having been tortured to death, according to a 2006 Human Rights First report that underwrites the researcher’s posting. The causes of 48 more deaths remain uncertain.

The researcher, John Sifton, worked for five years for Human Rights Watch. In a posting Tuesday, he documents myriad cases of detainees who died at the hands of their US interrogators. Some of the instances he cites are graphic.

Most of those taken captive were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. They include at least one Afghani soldier, Jamal Naseer, who was mistakenly arrested in 2004. “Those arrested with Naseer later said that during interrogations U.S. personnel punched and kicked them, hung them upside down, and hit them with sticks or cables,” Sifton writes. “Some said they were doused with cold water and forced to lie in the snow. Nasser collapsed about two weeks after the arrest, complaining of stomach pain, probably an internal hemorrhage.”

Continued >>

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Is a Cheney Cover-Up Scandal Brewing?

By Nick Baumann and David Corn, Mother Jones. Posted May 7, 2009.

Cheney may responsible for deep-sixing an important torture memo — an act that could be a crime. Will Dems bring the truth to light?

Who in the George W. Bush White House tried to shred a memo challenging the use of torture?

On April 21, Philip Zelikow, who was counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during the Bush administration, revealed on Foreign Policy‘s “Shadow Government” blog that he wrote a memo in 2005 disputing the conclusions of Bush Justice Department lawyers that torture was legal. The existence of such a memo was a surprise. But Zelikow also disclosed that the “White House attempted to collect and destroy all copies of my memo.”

This story is not over. Zelikow tells Mother Jones that he doesn’t know for sure who in the White House ordered the suppression of his memo, but he says that his “supposition at the time” was that the office of Vice President Dick Cheney was behind the cover-up. In an email exchange with Mother Jones, Zelikow notes that Cheney’s office did not have the authority to request that his memo be deep-sixed: “They didn’t run the interagency process. Such a request would more likely have come from the White House Counsel’s office or from NSC staff.” But that request did not reach him in written form. “It was conveyed to me, and I ignored it,” Zelikow recalls. But he suspected that Team Cheney was probably behind it.

Zelikow, who is scheduled to testify before a Senate judiciary subcommittee on Tuesday Wednesday, also notes that his memo was not the only one raising questions about the administration’s legal rationale supporting so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques”: “There were a number of papers, mainly arguing for alternative legal frameworks.” But his memo, he adds, was “a more direct assault on [the Bush Justice Department’s] own interpretation of American law.”

(UPDATE: The Senate judiciary subcommittee just formally announced the testimony, which will be on Wednesday, not Tuesday, as earlier reports had indicated.)

Congressional Democrats are already seeking any surviving copies of Zelikow’s memo. They might now also want to request these other papers. (No such documents have been declassified or released so far.)

Cheney’s office was reportedly the hub of the Bush administration’s torture program. And Neil Kinkopf, a law professor at Georgia State University, who served in the Clinton administration’s Office of Legal Counsel, notes, “People in the White House — Dick Cheney for example; David Addington, his legal adviser — didn’t want the existence of dissent to be known. It’s not hard to imagine David Addington playing very hardball internal politics and not only wanting to prevail over the view of Zelikow but to annihilate it. It would be perfectly consistent with how he operated.”

MORE HERE

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During the same historic week in which marriage equality was passed in Maine, the Republicans — the self-proclaimed party of emancipation and “the liberty tree” — attempted to derail hate crimes legislation with some political trickery that succeeded in allowing Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh to accuse the Democrats of protecting pedophiles. Stay with me on this.

Rep. Steve King (R-Batshittia) introduced an amendment to the hate crimes bill calling for the term “sexual orientation” to exclude “pedophiles” even though the bill specifically defines sexual orientation as “consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality.” Pedophelia, as everyone knows, is nonconsensual no matter who engages in it.

Not only was King insinuating the derogatory stereotype that homosexuals are pedophiles, but his amendment would’ve further validated this stereotype by writing it into the legal record. By the way, Joe the Plumber — another very serious leader of the Republican Party — advanced the same stereotype this week when he said that he’d never let his “gay friends” anywhere near his kids. Classy. Nevertheless, King making this kind of distinction is sort of like amending civil rights legislation with: “the term ‘African Americans’ shall not include anyone who rapes white women.” It elevates a stereotype while denying one exists. Pretty slick — in a creepy, sinister kind of way.

Obviously, the point of King’s amendment was neither to help to separate the LGBT community from nonconsensual sexual deviants, nor was it designed to make sure pedophiles weren’t covered under the hate crimes law. King’s intention was absolutely to trick Democrats into voting against the amendment — and they did — thus allowing the Republicans to say that Democrats are with the pedophiles.

So the Republicans are seeking a way out of their current mess by defining the Democrats as the party of pedophilia, even though the GOP’s previous attempts to paint the Democrats as the pro-terrorist, anti-American party failed miserably to prevent landslide Democratic victories in the last two general elections.

But of course King’s stupid amendment trick allowed Sean Hannity to repeat throughout his Tuesday night show things like, “Is it safe to say that Democrats were willing to protect pedophiles?” Limbaugh, meanwhile, remarked that the Democrats are “carving out protection for perverts.” This from a guy who successfully wiggled out of a legal situation involving the possession of prescription E.D. meds (not in his name) during a stag trip to a destination apparently known for sexual tourism.

(more…)

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