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BBC | Friday 13 March 2009

A UK resident freed from Guantanamo Bay has said he would not have faced torture or extraordinary rendition but for British involvement in his case.

binyam-mohamed-released-f-001

US interrogators told him, “This is the British file and this is the American file,” Binyam Mohamed, 30, told the BBC in his first broadcast interview.

He said he wanted to see ex-President George Bush put on trial and, if there were evidence, former UK PM Tony Blair.

The UK says it does not condone torture, but will examine any claims.

The US has dropped all charges against Mr Mohamed.

BBC News reporter Jon Manel, who conducted the interview at a secret location, said that Mr Mohamed looked “very thin” and claimed to be suffering from health problems.

Mr Mohamed, who spoke to the media against the advice of his psychiatrist because he wanted people to know what happened to him, described his return to the UK last month.

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More OLC Memos To Come?

Some followup by the New York Times on the Bush-era OLC memos released yesterday by the Justice Department…

Department officials have told the paper that they may soon release more secret opinions about counter-terror tactics. Those that contain classified information will need to be cleared with other government agencies before they can be released.

Separately, some Democrats are jumping on the controversial memos to bolster their argument for a commission to look into the Bush administration’s counter-terror policies.

Senate Judiciary chair Pat Leahy, who has called for such a commission, put out a statement Monday that praised the Justice Department for releasing “some of these long-secret opinions.” But it also argued that a “fuller review of these policies” by the new Obama team was needed.

And Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said: “These memos appear to have given the Bush administration a legal blank check to trample on Americans’ civil rights. We need to get to the bottom of what happened at O.L.C. and ensure it never happens again.”

Also, the Times picks up on that footnote in the Steven Bradbury memo that we highlighted earlier. Reports the paper:

In a footnote to Mr. Bradbury’s Jan. 15, 2009, memorandum sharply criticizing Mr. Yoo’s work, Mr. Bradbury signaled that he did not want his repudiation of the legal reasoning employed by Mr. Yoo to be used against Mr. Yoo as part of the ethics probe.Mr. Bradbury wrote that his retractions were not “intended to suggest in any way that the attorneys involved in the preparation of the opinions in question” violated any “applicable standards of professional responsibility.”

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Photo- HuffPo

Photo- HuffPo

Bush turns down greeter position at a Dallas hardware store.

Think Progress- By Ben Armbruster at 10:50 am

Earlier this month, Elliott’s Hardware store in Dallas offered former President Bush a job as a part-time greeter. “We think it would be a great fit for him as he settles back into life in Dallas,” the store’s owner said. Bush showed up at the store on Friday “lookin’ for a job,” he said to some of Elliott’s employees. Bush ended up turning down the offer but continued on his quest for “flashlights and batteries.” Watch a local Dallas news report:

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Dem Senators To DOJ: How’s That Report On Torture Opinions Coming?

Looks like it’s not just journalists who are interested in the progress of that DOJ report into whether Bush administration lawyers shaded their opinions on the legality of harsh interrogation methods in order to please the White House.

In the wake of Newsweek‘s story from over the weekend that a draft of the report criticizes several top Bush officials, including John Yoo, Democratic senators Dick Durbin and Sheldon Whitehouse, both of whom sit on the Judiciary committee, have sent a letter to Marshall Jarrett, who heads the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility and is overseeing the report.

In the letter, the senators, who wrote to Jarrett last year requesting the investigation, note that, according to Newsweek, a draft of the report was submitted in the final weeks of the Bush administration. They ask for an update on the status of Jarrett’s probe by February 23.

They also suggest that they’ll take action if the evidence shows that DOJ lawyers shaped their opinions to conform to the White House’s views, writing:

Our intelligence professionals should be able to rely in good faith on the Justice Department’s legal advice. This good faith is undermined when Justice Department attorneys provide legal advice so misguided that it damages America’s image around the world and the Justice Department is forced to repudiate it. If the officials who provide such advice fail to comply with professional standards, they must be held accountable in order to maintain the faith of the intelligence community and the American people in the Justice Department.”

As we noted before, it’s not clear that the report will ultimately be released to the public. But at least some in Congress appear to be taking it seriously.

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Gibbs: We’re Mulling Rove Subpoena

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was just asked at a briefing about Congress’s subpoena, issued yesterday to Karl Rove, seeking his testimony on the US Attorneys firings.

Gibbs replied that the White House counsel’s office “is studying those issues and will advise us when they have a recommendation.”

As we reported earlier, the ball is now largely in President Obama’s court as to whether Rove can continue to defy Congress’s subpoena.

We’ll keep you posted.

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Saudi Prince: Bush Left “Sickening Legacy” In Middle East

DONNA ABU-NASR | January 24, 2009 02:41 PM EST | AP

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia’s ex-ambassador to Washington said former President George W. Bush left a “sickening legacy” in the Middle East and warned that U.S.-Saudi relations would be at risk if the Obama administration doesn’t change America’s policy in the region.

Prince Turki al-Faisal’s unusually tough words were the latest blunt assessment by the Saudi royal family that prospects for Arab-Israeli peace are growing dim unless dramatic policy changes are made.

Turki said he strongly promoted the Arab-Israeli peace process in his decades as a public servant. But after Israel’s three-week assault in the Gaza Strip, the prince said, “these pleas for optimism and co-operation now seem a distant memory,” he said in a Financial Times op-ed published Friday.

The kingdom has resisted calls for a holy war against Israel, “but every day this restraint becomes more difficult to maintain,” he added.

The comments followed a warning from King Abdullah on Monday that his 2002 Arab-Israeli peace initiative won’t remain on the table forever.

“America is not innocent in this calamity,” said Turki, who is the chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh. “Not only has the Bush administration left a sickening legacy in the region, but it has also, through an arrogant attitude about the butchery in Gaza, contributed to the slaughter of innocents.”

The impassioned comments are a departure from the oil-rich kingdom’s normally diplomatic rhetoric toward the U.S., its longtime ally. The Bush family has had strong ties with the Saudi royal family, and Turki’s harsh public comments about Bush were rare.

Analysts say the king had to send a clear message after Israel’s assault in Gaza left almost 1,300 Palestinians dead. A cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, which rules Gaza, was in its sixth day Saturday.

MORE HERE

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Cheney: Bush should have pardoned Libby

CNN- updated 1:03 p.m. EST, Thu January 22, 2009
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former President George Bush should have pardoned Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Dick Cheney said after stepping down as vice president this week.

“He was the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice, and I strongly believe that he deserved a presidential pardon. Obviously, I disagree with President Bush’s decision,” Cheney told Stephen F. Hayes of the Weekly Standard, a leading conservative Washington magazine.

Libby, Cheney’s former chief of staff, was convicted of obstructing a federal investigation into the revelation that Valerie Plame Wilson was a CIA agent.

He was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $250,000. Bush commuted the sentence, which he called “excessive.” But he did not pardon Libby, much to the aggravation of many influential conservatives.

Unlike a presidential pardon, which wipes a person’s crimes off the books, Bush’s commutation of Libby‘s sentence only means that he does not have to serve the prison sentence. He is still considered guilty of the crime of which he was convicted.

MORE HERE

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