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Archive for the ‘Torture’ Category

Conyers Slams Authors Of Torture Memos, Announces Hearings

TPM Muckraker

Justin Elliott | February 19, 2010, 5:44PM

In a statement this afternoon, [Friday], House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) says that the Justice Department torture memo report released today makes “plain that those memos were legally flawed and fundamentally unsound, and may have been improperly influenced by a desire to tell the Bush White House and the CIA what it wanted to hear.”

Conyers, who posted the DOJ documents on his Web site, continued:

“The Office of Legal Counsel has a proud tradition of providing independent, high quality legal advice to the executive branch. The materials released today make clear that the lawyers who wrote the torture memos did not live up that tradition.”

He announced the committee will hold hearings on the matter.

Here’s the full statement:

“For years, those who approved torture and abuse of detainees have hidden behind legal memos issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel,” Conyers said. “The materials released today make plain that those memos were legally flawed and fundamentally unsound, and may have been improperly influenced by a desire to tell the Bush White House and the CIA what it wanted to hear.”The Office of Legal Counsel has a proud tradition of providing independent, high quality legal advice to the executive branch,” Conyers continued. “The materials released today make clear that the lawyers who wrote the torture memos did not live up that tradition. While the Department ultimately concluded that the lawyers did not breach their minimum professional obligations, I certainly hold top lawyers at OLC to a higher standard than that, as all Americans should.

“Given the serious nature of the issues raised in this report, the Committee intends to hold hearings on these matters in the very near future.”

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Thanks To Obama’s Rejection Of Torture, Abdulmuttalab Has Been Providing Intel On Al Qaeda

Think Progress- By Matt Duss at 12:35 pm

President Obama’s counter-terrorism approach — especially his decision to publicly reject torture — received a huge vindication yesterday with the news that the FBI has been working with the family of the failed Christmas Day bomber, Umar Farouq Abdulmuttalab, and that “Abdulmuttalab has been cooperating with authorities and sharing intelligence since last Thursday”:

The agents and key family members arrived in back in the US on January 17th. The family members met with officials from the Justice Department and the FBI to plan a way forward.

“One of the principal reasons why his family came back is because they had complete trust in the US system of justice and believed that Umar Farouq would be treated fairly and appropriately,” the senior official said. “And that they would be as well.”

The FBI and Abdulmuttalab’s family approached the subject and “gained his cooperation. He has been cooperating for days,” the official said.

A key point here is that there is very little chance that Abdulmuttalab’s family would have agreed to cooperate with the U.S. government in getting Abdulmuttalab to talk if they suspected that he was in any danger of being tortured. This is a clear example of how President Obama’s bringing U.S. counter-terrorism practices back within the rule of law is making Americans safer.

A federal official told the New York Times that “the intelligence gained has been disseminated throughout the intelligence community,” and “the best way to get him to talk was working with his family.”

ABC also reported that “Abdulmuttalab was talking to FBI agents on Saturday, at the same time Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, issued the Republican response to the president’s weekly address, decrying Abdulmuttalab’s presence in the criminal justice system.”

It’s ironic that that Abdulmuttalab was providing information at the very moment conservatives were hyperventilating about the administration’s terrorism approach. The case also indicates that Obama’s decision to try the terrorist in criminal court has not served to cut off any information the U.S. could glean from Abdulmuttalab, as many critics have claimed. As CAP’s Ken Gude recently wrote, “The facts are clear: Criminal courts are a far tougher and more reliable forum for prosecuting terrorists than military commissions”:

The record of recent terrorism investigations demonstrates that interviews with terrorists who have attorneys have produced “an intelligence goldmine.”

False assumptions are driving the debate about the tools available to fight terrorism. President Obama needs to cut through the noise and use the tough and proven criminal justice system as a vital weapon in the fight against Al Qaeda.

Fortunately, it seems the president is doing just that.

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CIA Man Who Claimed Waterboarding Worked Admits He Was Wrong

TPM Muckraker

Rachel Slajda | January 27, 2010, 9:33AM

In his new book, the former CIA operative who made the bombshell — and thoroughly debunked — claim that a terrorism suspect was made to talk after one waterboarding session has admitted he was wrong.

John Kiriakou made waves, and supplied the pro-torture crowd with ammunition, when he told ABC News in December 2007 that al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah gave information that prevented dozens of terrorist attacks after being waterboarded once, for about 30 seconds.

The claim was full of holes, and ABC admitted so, quietly. For one, Zubadayah was actually waterboarded at least 83 times, according to a Justice Department memo. And Kiriakou, the head of the man’s capture team, was not present for his interrogation and instead relied on reports.

Kiriakou admits he was wrong on the second-to-last page of his new book, titled “The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror,” according to Foreign Policy.

“What I told [ABC reporter] Brian Ross in late 2007 was wrong on a couple counts,” he wrote.

“I suggested that Abu Zubaydah had lasted only thirty or thirty-five seconds during his waterboarding before he begged his interrogators to stop; after that, I said he opened up and gave the agency actionable intelligence,” he wrote. But “I wasn’t there when the interrogation took place; instead, I relied on what I’d heard and read inside the agency at the time.”

“Now we know,” Kiriakou goes on, “that Zubaydah was waterboarded eighty-three times in a single month, raising questions about how much useful information he actually supplied.”

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John Yoo

ACLU Sues Justice Department On Torture Report

TPM Muckraker

Zachary Roth | January 25, 2010, 9:08AM

The ACLU filed suit Friday in a bid to force the Justice Department to release its internal report on torture.

The long-awaited report from the department’s Office of Professional Ethics considers whether DOJ lawyers like John Yoo broke ethics rules in writing the memos that approved torture.

In November, Attorney General Eric Holder testified that it would likely be out by the end of the month. At that time, the department said it was going through the normal review process.

In December, the ACLU had filed a FOIA request for the report.

ACLU lawyer Jameel Jaffer said in a press release:

Under the Bush administration, the Office of Legal Counsel issued a series of memos intended to permit interrogators to use methods that the United States had previously described as war crimes. As a result of those memos, hundreds of prisoners were abused and tortured, and some were even killed during the course of interrogations. The public has a legitimate interest in knowing whether the authors of the memos violated ethical rules as well as the criminal laws, and in ensuring that those who wrote the memos, as well as those who authorized torture, are held accountable. The release of the ethics report is long overdue.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Massachusetts could elect senator who supports waterboarding

RAW STORY- By John Byrne
Monday, January 18th, 2010 — 9:16 am

The Republican state senator vying to fill the Senate seat recently vacated by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) says he doesn’t believe waterboarding — where a suspect is effectively temporarily drowned — is torture.

State senator Scott Brown’s candidacy has taken Massachusetts by storm and political analysts by surprise. Until recently, Democratic state attorney Martha Coakley was considered a shoe-in for the position. But Massachusetts independents have apparently grown so frustrated with Democrats in Congress, and so tepid on Coakley’s candidacy, that they may send a Republican to the Senate who seems to contravene many of the state’s apparently liberal ideals.

At a press conference in early January, for example, Brown said that the US should continue to employ waterboarding against terrorist suspects, a technique considered torture for which the US executed Japanese soldiers during World War II.

Speaking of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, the Nigerian attempted “Christmas bomber,” Brown said that the would-be terrorist should be subject to “our rules of engagement and laws of war,’’ and not be tried in civilian courts.

Noted the Boston Globe, “Brown asserted that waterboarding does not constitute torture, but he did not specifically say Abdulmutallab should be subjected to waterboarding.

MORE HERE

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By Paul Craig Roberts | OpEdNews | January 5, 2010

I had just finished reading the uncensored edition of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s book, In The First Circle (Harper Perennial, 2009), when I came across Chris Hedges article, “One Day We’ll All Be Terrorists” (Truthdig, Dec. 28, 2009). In Hedges’ description of the US government’s treatment of American citizen Syed Fahad Hashmi, I recognized the Stalinist legal system as portrayed by Solzhenitsyn.

Hashmi has been held in solitary confinement going on three years. Guantanamo’s practices have migrated to the Metropolitan Correction Center in Manhattan where Hashmi is held in the Special Housing Unit. His access to attorneys, family, and other prisoners is prevented or severely curtailed. He must clean himself and use toilet facilities on camera. He is let out of solitary for one hour every 24 hours to exercise in a cage.

Hashmi is a US citizen but his government has violated every right guaranteed to him by the Constitution. The US government, in violation of US law, is also subjecting Hashmi to psychological torture known as extreme sensory deprivation. The bogus “evidence” against him is classified and denied to him. Like Joseph K. in Kafka’s The Trial, Hashmi is under arrest on secret evidence. As the case against him is unknown or non-existent, defense is impossible.

Read more…

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For OpEdNews: Jason Leopold – Writer

This report was originally published on Truthout.org

Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t

During his 36-minute speech upon accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway Thursday, President Barack Obama explained to an audience of 1,000 how the United States has a “moral and strategic interest” in abiding by a code of conduct when waging war – even one that pits the US against a “vicious adversary that abides by no rules.”

“That is what makes us different from those whom we fight,” Obama said. “That is a source of our strength. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America’s commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions. We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor those ideals by upholding them not just when it is easy, but when it is hard.”

however , Obama’s high-minded declaration rang hollow in light of fresh reports that his administration continues to operate secret prisons in Afghanistan where detainees have allegedly been tortured and where the International Committee for the Red Cross has been denied access to the prisoners.

Obama has substituted words for action on issues surrounding torture since his first days in office nearly one year ago. Last June, on the 25th anniversary of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Obama said the US government “must stand against torture wherever it takes place” and that his administration “is committed to taking concrete actions against torture and to address the needs of its victims.”

Read more…

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by Bob Egelko, The San Francisco Chronicle, Dec 8, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO – The Obama administration has asked an appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing former Bush administration attorney John Yoo of authorizing the torture of a terrorism suspect, saying federal law does not allow damage claims against lawyers who advise the president on national security issues.

[John Yoo is accused of authorizing the torture of a terror suspect. (AP)]
John Yoo is accused of authorizing the torture of a terror suspect. (AP)

Such lawsuits ask courts to second-guess presidential decisions and pose “the risk of deterring full and frank advice regarding the military’s detention and treatment of those determined to be enemies during an armed conflict,” Justice Department lawyers said Thursday in arguments to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Continues >>

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Pakistanis skeptical about a new one billion dollar US embassy

By T9 Times Articles

Posted on 19 Aug 2009 at 1:18am GMT

The Pakistani government is suspicious of a nearly one billion dollar U.S. plan to expand the American embassy in Islamabad, a senior Pakistani official told The Media Line.

Following reports earlier this week that the scheduled $945.2 million expansion of the U.S. embassy in Islamabad was to include the deployment of up to 1,000 U.S. Marines to the Pakistani capital, a highly-placed official in the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said the government is increasingly sceptical of the U.S. plan and intends to raise the issue with Richard Holbrooke, U.S. President Barack Obama’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Well, here we go again, the 2nd. largest embassy on the planet, only to be exceeded by “Fortress America” in Baghdad. I suppose that “suspicious” could be called a vast understatement, when considering the secrecy and then the final unveiling four years later, of an embassy that actually serves as a military installation.

The Military Petrochemical Agrocorporate Fusion Energy Complex is obviously still Hell bent on “the long war” and will go to any lengths to pursue their efforts to control Middle Eastern oil.

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Morning Star Online, Thursday 05 November 2009

by Paul Haste

Prosecutor Armando Spataro speaking in court in Milan

Prosecutor Armando Spataro speaking in court in Milan

An Italian court’s conviction of 23 CIA agents for extraordinary rendition has been hailed by human rights campaigners as a “historic repudiation” of the US intelligence agency’s crimes.

The agents, including one alleged to have been a CIA station chief in Milan, were given jail sentences ranging up to eight years for the crime of kidnapping Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr and secretly transporting him to Egypt to be tortured.

Mr Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was snatched in Milan on 17 February 2003 in a joint operation between the CIA and Italian military intelligence.

Continues >>

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