Original LinK: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/5/17/732512/-Torture-News-Roundup:-Cheneys-Screwed
By Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse
This past week, there were several reports discussing Cheney’s role in Bush’s torture program. Alone they may not be considered sufficient to convict him, but this is just one week. I constructed a little timeline of what we learned this week. These reports indicate more key documents will be released, and provide a good starting point of witnesses for the special prosecutor to question. Now that it is clear that torture was used to fabricate evidence to support Bush’s illegal war in Iraq, more connections will be drawn between the dots from years ago and today.
My timeline starts on the flip.
This is a new weekly series with editors Valtin, Meteor Blades and Patriot Daily.
Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse's diary :: ::
Evidence of Cheney’s Torture Leadership
2002-2003: Offices of Cheney and Rummy ordered intelligence officials to find Iraq-al Qaeda links at Guantanamo and other prison camps.
The head of the Criminal Investigation Task Force at Guantanamo from 2002-2005 confirmed to McClatchy that in late 2002 and early 2003, intelligence officials were tasked to find, among other things, Iraq-al Qaida ties, which were a central pillar of the Bush administration's case for its March 2003 invasion of Iraq.
"I'm aware of the fact that in late 2002, early 2003, that (the alleged al Qaida-Iraq link) was an interest on the intelligence side," said retired Army Lt. Col. Brittain Mallow, a former military criminal investigator. "That was something they were tasked to look at."
He said he was unaware of the origins of the directive, but a former senior U.S. intelligence official has told McClatchy that Cheney's and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's offices were demanding that information in 2002 and 2003. The official, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the matter, requested anonymity.
January – February 2002: VP office ordered torture be continued on compliant prisoner al-Libi.
So furious was this effort that on one particular detainee, even when the interrogation team had reported to Cheney's office that their detainee "was compliant" (meaning the team recommended no more torture), the VP's office ordered them to continue the enhanced methods. The detainee had not revealed any al-Qa'ida-Baghdad contacts yet. This ceased only after Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under waterboarding in Egypt, "revealed" such contacts. Of course later we learned that al-Libi revealed these contacts only to get the torture to stop.
Narrowing down al-Libi torture to 2002.
Wilkerson didn’t specify a timeline for the torture of al-Libi, but he did write that manufacturing the "smoking gun" was the context for the Bush administration’s top-level deliberations in "April and May of 2002″ about adopting an "enhanced interrogation" program for use on Abu Zubaydah, then the senior-most al-Qaeda captive in CIA custody. Al-Libi, however, was in CIA custody at the end of 2001 and rendered to Egypt for torture in or around January 2002.
However, a February 2002 intelligence report says al-Libi "was intentionally misleading the debriefers" about claims regarding "Iraqi support for al Qaeda’s work with illicit weapons." Thus, al-Libi was tortured prior to the February 2002 report which stated that "Ibn al-Shaykh has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may be describing scenarios to the debriefers that he knows will retain their interest."
April – May 2002: Col. Wilkerson, Powell’s COS, says Bush administration authorized tortured months before DOJ memos.
Likewise, what I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002--well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion--its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa'ida.
This is key: The WH "authorization" of torture prior to the issuance of the DOJ torture memos shows that putative defendants Bush and Cheney can not rely on the defense of advice of counsel that they included in the law to CYA.
April 2003: VP office suggested waterboarding Iraqi prisoner who qualified for regular POW status but was suspected of having information to establish link between al-Qaeda and Saddam, so Dickie wanted waterboarding: In April 2003, "Bush White House officials suspected" the Iraqi might have the info because "Muhammed Khudayr al-Dulaymi was the head of the M-14 section of Mukhabarat, one of Saddam’s secret police organizations. His responsibilities included chemical weapons and contacts with terrorist groups."
Duelfer will not disclose who in Washington had proposed the use of waterboarding, saying only: "The language I can use is what has been cleared." In fact, two senior U.S. intelligence officials at the time tell The Daily Beast that the suggestion to waterboard came from the Office of Vice President Cheney. Cheney, of course, has vehemently defended waterboarding and other harsh techniques, insisting they elicited valuable intelligence and saved lives. He has also asked that several memoranda be declassified to prove his case. (The Daily Beast placed a call to Cheney’s office and will post a response if we get one.)
See also, Gitmo general Miller also told Iraq WMD search team to torture.
Why did Duelfer reject waterboarding? Duelfer found the suggestion "reprehensible" and also unlawful:
However the justice department had only approved that such techniques could applied to terrorism cases. "Our debriefings were not as yet terrorism-related," he said.
2004: Cheney Intervened in CIA Inspector General's Torture Probe: The May 2004 CIA Inspector General Report by John Helgerson concluded that the "interrogation program" violated the International Convention Against Torture. Not surprising, given that report implicated CIA interrogators in at least 3 prisoner deaths and referred 8 criminal cases of alleged homicide, abuse and misconduct to DOJ.
Mayer added that Cheney routinely "summoned" Inspector General Helgerson to meet with him privately about his investigation, launched in 2003, and soon thereafter the probe "was stopped in its tracks." Mayer characterized Cheney’s interaction with Helgerson as highly unusual.
"Cheney loomed over everything," the former CIA officer told Mayer. "The whole IG’s office was completely politicized. They were working hand in glove with the White House."
But Mayer said Cheney's intervention in Helgerson's probe proved that as early as 2004 "the Vice President's office was fully aware that there were allegations of serious wrongdoing in the [torture] Program." Helgerson has denied that he was pressured by Cheney.
How Prisoners Were Tortured
Little Known Military Thug Squad Still Brutalizing Prisoners at Gitmo Under Obama.
Citing documents, interviews and megamedia reports, this article discusses "harrowing details" of the "torture inside and outside Guantánamo" as uncovered by the Spanish investigation:
Among them: "blows to [the] testicles;" "detention underground in total darkness for three weeks with deprivation of food and sleep;" being "inoculated ... through injection with 'a disease for dog cysts;'" the smearing of feces on prisoners; and waterboarding.
A March 2005 memo written by a lawyer who visited prisoner Omar Deghayes at Guantánamo describes torture of threatening to leave Deghayes in a room with large snakes that were shown to him and recounted how Deghayes witnessed one prisoner sodomized at Bagram:
"One day they took me to a room that had very large snakes in glass boxes. The room was all painted black-and-white, with dim lights. They threatened to leave me there and let the snakes out with me in the room. This really got to me, as there were such sick people that they must have had this room specially made."
...Deghayes was eventually moved to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, where he was beaten and "kept nude, as part of the process of humiliation due to his religion." U.S. personnel placed Deghayes "inside a closed box with a lock and limited air." He also described seeing U.S. guards sodomize an African prisoner and alleged guards "forced petrol and benzene up the anuses of the prisoners."
The memo includes more accounts of Deghayes’ torture, including smearing the feces of another prisoner onto his face, beatings by a knee to his nose, forcing water up his nose with a high pressure hose until he was suffocating and forcing pepper spray into his eyes and pushing a finger into his eye.
A medical examination cited in the Spanish investigation confirmed that Deghayes suffered from blindness of the right eye, fracture of the nasal bone and fracture of the right index finger, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder and "profound" depression.
The articles also discusses how the Spanish investigation may "for the first time place an intense focus on a notorious, but seldom discussed, thug squad deployed by the U.S. military to retaliate with excessive violence to the slightest resistance by prisoners at Guantánamo."
The Immediate Reaction Force (IRF) teams are called the "Black Shirts of Guantánamo" by human rights lawyers representing prisoners. Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the "man credited with eventually "Gitmoizing" Abu Ghraib and other U.S.-run prisons", issued a Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta at Guantánamo in 2003.
The IRF teams, on paper, are supposed to be emergency response teams of 5 military police officers used as a "forced-extraction team" to extract a prisoner from a cell who is combative or resistant. The team members are "dressed in full riot gear" that prisoners and their attorneys describe as "Darth Vader" suits and "each officer is assigned a body part of the prisoner to restrain: head, right arm, left arm, left leg, right leg."
However, in reality, according to prisoners and lawyers, the IRFs can not be separated from the torture. The "'Black Shirts' of Guantanamo routinely terrorize prisoners, breaking bones, gouging eyes, squeezing testicles, and 'dousing' them with chemicals."
While much of the "torture debate" has emphasized the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" defined by the twisted legal framework of the Office of Legal Council memos, IRF teams in effect operate at Guantánamo as an extrajudicial terror squad that has regularly brutalized prisoners outside of the interrogation room, gang beating them, forcing their heads into toilets, breaking bones, gouging their eyes, squeezing their testicles, urinating on a prisoner's head, banging their heads on concrete floors and hog-tying them -- sometimes leaving prisoners tied in excruciating positions for hours on end.
According to General Miller’s SOP memo, all of the actions of the IRF teams should be videotaped. In 2005, there were "reportedly 500 hours of video; the ACLU attempted to force their release, but they never have been produced." A former IRF member stated that cameras were present for IRFing, but usually the camera was not turned on or was pointed at the ground. However, one lawyer, Stafford Smith, who also represents Binyam Mohamed, says that he can "confirm that there is photographic evidence."
A US soldier, Sgt. Sean Baker, was ordered to participate in IRF training drill in January 2003 as an uncooperative prisoner. However, IRF members believed that he was a real prisoner. Sgt. Baker described the IRF physical assault:
They grabbed my arms, my legs, twisted me up and, unfortunately, one of the individuals got up on my back from behind and put pressure down on me while I was face down. Then he -- the same individual -- reached around and began to choke me and press my head down against the steel floor. After several seconds, 20 to 30 seconds, it seemed like an eternity because I couldn't breathe. When I couldn't breathe, I began to panic and I gave the code word I was supposed to give to stop the exercise, which was 'red.' ... That individual slammed my head against the floor and continued to choke me. Somehow I got enough air. I muttered out: 'I'm a U.S. soldier. I'm a U.S. soldier.'
Sgt. Baker said his head was slammed once more, and after groaning "I'm a U.S. soldier" one more time, "I heard them say, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa,' you know, like ... he was telling the other guy to stop."
CBS and the New York Times later reported that while all such drills are routinely videotaped, the military can not find the tape. "Baker was soon diagnosed with traumatic brain injury. He began suffering seizures, sometimes 10 to 12 per day."
In April of this year, a 21-year-old Guantánamo prisoner called Al-Jazeera and described in an interview a recent IRF assault of beatings and tear gas.
Hersh: Children sodomized at Abu Ghraib, on tape.
"Debating about it, ummm ... Some of the worst things that happened you don't know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib ... The women were passing messages out saying 'Please come and kill me, because of what's happened' and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It's going to come out."
The method of torturing children as a means to vicariously torture their parents to get information has been discussed by Yoo:
In 2005, John Yoo Argued Pres. Bush Had Legal Power to Torture Children by Crushing Testicles. (audio tape at link of debate that was a little inaudible so included youtube vid below)
During a debate in Chicago, John Yoo said that presidential powers include the right to order the torture of suspects, including their children.
This is a text transcript excerpt of this exchange between International Human Rights expert Doug Cassel and John Yoo:
Doug Cassel: If the president deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?
John Yoo: No treaty.
Doug Cassel: Also no law by Congress -- that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo...
John Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.
Yoo says 3 years later, no law prevents Bush from ordering crushing a child’s testicles or raping infant to pressure terrorist suspect. Given that this is how Bush Team interpreted the law, it is understandable when Sen. Whitehouse says the torture yet to be revealed will be shocking.
[In 2008], John Yoo and David Addington, the nation's architects for torture, were given several chances, testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee, to condemn the very idea of torturing the children of detainees as a way of extracting information.
In several public fora heretofore, Yoo has insisted that no law -- neither domestic nor international -- prevents the president from authorizing the crushing of a child's testicles or the raping of an infant as a way of exerting pressure upon a terrorist suspect.
This week Valtin and I both discussed how one of the common means of sleep deprivation is the use of stress positions: My diary is Sleep Deprivation = Stress Position = Torture. Valtin’s diary is called Torture: What’s in a Name? It Was Never Just "Sleep Deprivation".
Bush’s Torture Experiment
Valtin digs into The Zubaydah Torture "Experiment": Connections to al-Libi?
Zubaydah told the Red Cross that he heard or he suspected the CIA was trying things out on him. Today's statement by Soufan at the Senate Judiciary hearing is powerful corroborating evidence that there was experimentation going on (for more evidence, see just below). It seems likely that Abu Zubaydah was a primary subject of JPRA/SERE’s reverse-engineering of torture techniques, using the paradigm of psychologist and former American Psychological Association president Martin Seligman's theory of "learned helplessness."
Others agree with Valtin that there are many reasons to be suspicious of the reported al-Libi suicide.
The torture of al-Libi is prime example that torture produces unreliable evidence, perhaps only fit for trumping up grounds for war:
The story of the detainee, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, became a major embarrassment for the Bush administration after disclosures in 2004 that he had been the principal source for widely cited claims by the White House that Saddam Hussein had provided chemical- and biological-weapons training for Al Qaeda operatives. After the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Libi recanted his entire story, asserting that he had made it up in order to stop his abusive treatment by interrogators in Egypt—where he had been shipped by the CIA under the agency's controversial "extraordinary rendition" program.
A Convenient Death as al-Libi would have been star witness in a "case against those who built the bogus case for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the Bush Administration has long been eager to have him disappear."
See also, Two Experts Cast Doubt On Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi’s "Suicide".
Bush and Powell used the recanted, tortured evidence of al Libi’s claim.
Although the Defense Intelligence Agency questioned it at the time, former President George W. Bush cited al Libi's claim in an October 2002 address, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell used in his February 2003 speech to the United Nations.
Cheney sourced his CBW claim to Guantanamo prisoners, but al Libi was in CIA custody, not Guantanamo.
"No postwar information has been found that indicates CBW training occurred, and the detainee who provided the key prewar reporting about this training recanted his claims after the war," a September 2006 Senate Intelligence Committee report said.
The Purposes or Uses of Tortured Evidence
A nice overview of how torture was used to obtain evidence to support Iraq war is provided by Rachel Maddow, showing the dots connecting the torture information we now know with the WH’s prior drumbeat to go to war:
Here is some of what we learned this past week about what was the real purpose of torturing suspected terrorists:
(1) Nontorture or regular "interview" interrogations yielded crucial national security information.
Ex-FBI interrogator says harsh methods didn't work.
Ali Soufan, testifying to a Senate panel behind a screen to hide his identity, said his team's non-threatening interrogation approach elicited crucial information from al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, including intelligence on "dirty bomb" terrorist Jose Padilla.
While experts have said all along that torture does not yield reliable information, we now have proof that this specific torture program by Bush did not provide intelligence to protect national security. In fact, the Bush Team stopped the regular intelligence interrogations that did in fact yield crucial intelligence in favor of using torture that yielded false, unreliable evidence.
So, what was the real purposes of torture?
(2) Bush/Cheney used torture in desperate attempt to provide evidence to support their BS grounds for Iraq War.
Powell aide says torture helped build Iraq war case.
Finding a "smoking gun" linking Iraq and al Qaeda became the main purpose of the abusive interrogation program the Bush administration authorized in 2002, a former State Department official told CNN on Thursday.
(3) Torture used to obtain facts for 9/11 Commission Report.
Raw Story reported this week that 9/11 Commission findings were based on evidence obtained from torture. I blogged this last March -- 9/11 Report Facts Obtained From Tortured Prisoners.
There is a reason Zelikow knew that torture happened under Bush’s program. He directed the 9/11 Commission that used torture evidence before he later became counselor to Rice. So, I am glad that he testified this week about the memo he wrote in 2006 to oppose Bush’s torture policies, but also would like him to publicly testify about the use of torture evidence by the 9/11 Commission.
See also, " Much of the information in the report of the 9/11 Commission was provided through more than 30 sessions of torture of detainees."
The Torture Photos
Jason Leopold: EXCLUSIVE: Documents Describe Prisoner Abuse Photos Obama is Withholding (Including Apparently Bagram Photos). (Article includes links to 5 pdf files.)
...U.S. Army soldiers in Afghanistan took dozens of pictures of their colleagues pointing assault rifles and pistols at the heads and backs of hooded and bound detainees and another photograph showed two male soldiers and one female solider pointing a broom to one detainee "as if I was sticking the end of a broom stick into [his] rectum," according to the female soldier’s account as told to an Army criminal investigator.
About 31 digital photographs contained on a compact disc discovered in June 2004 during an office clean-up at Bagram Airfield also depicted the corpse of "local national" who died from "apparent gunshot wounds" and uniformed U.S. soldiers from the Second Platoon of the 22nd Infantry Battalion stationed at Fire Base Tycze and Dae Rah Wod (DRW) kicking and punching prisoners whose heads were covered with "sand bags" and blindfolds and hands were "zipped-tied," according to a U.S. Army criminal investigation.
Photos worse than Abu Ghraib or "not particularly sensational"?
The photographs, which have been described as more explicit than those that came out of Abu Ghraib -- as one anonymous member of Congress told the Washington Post, 'When they are released, there will be a major outcry for an investigation by a commission or some other vehicle -- were downplayed by Obama as "not particularly sensational" but nonetheless necessary to keep under wraps.
...White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters on Wednesday, while also adding, dubiously, that, "the President believes that the release of these photos will also provide a disincentive for detainee abuse investigation."
Photos prove torture not limited to Abu Ghraib and of torture dating back to 2001-2005.
The new photographs of alleged abuse were taken at the same prison and six other locations, and promised to be as offensive the originals which led to a series of prosecutions of US military personnel.
...The images relate to more than 400 separate cases involving alleged prisoner abuse between 2001 and 2005.
One picture showed a prisoner hung up upside down while another showed a naked man smeared in excrement standing in a corridor with a guard standing menacingly in front of him. Another prisoner is handcuffed to the window frame of his cell with underpants pulled over his head.
Others yet to be released reportedly show military guards threatening to sexually assault a detainee with a broomstick and hooded prisoners on transport planes with Playboy magazines opened to pictures of nude women on their laps.
Iraqis shrug off concerns over photos of U.S. abuse.
While President Barack Obama argues that releasing photos of U.S. soldiers abusing detainees could incite violence against American troops abroad, a prominent Iraqi leader called for their publication and others cast doubt on the U.S. administration's warnings.
Far from dominating the news as it did in Washington on Wednesday, the photo controversy has attracted almost no attention from the Iraqi news media. Even in Baghdad neighborhoods known as insurgent hotbeds, residents reacted to news of the photos with a collective shrug.
...Darraji didn't know there were more pictures of abuse by U.S. soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad and elsewhere until a reporter told him on Friday, and he said he doubted that their release would provoke more attacks.
"Nothing would happen," he said. "This is a very old issue, and we Iraqis have seen much worse than just photos."
How Bush’s Torture Program Was Created & Implemented
CIA Contractors Played Big Role In Interrogations.
Congressional testimony this week showed that private CIA contractors were a driving force behind harsh interrogations. Although there are lawsuits against military contractors involved in detainee abuse, there has been far less legal action against contractors who worked for the CIA.
...In 2006, Congress passed a bill called the Military Commissions Act that includes a provision immunizing contractors from lawsuits. Some lawyers believe that provision is unconstitutional, but no court has weighed in on the law.
Bush team retaliated and kicked out government official who opposed his torture program.
Zelikow painted a picture of a small team of dissidents within the Bush administration who argued against the administration’s interrogation policies.
...But after they submitted the paper, top Bush administration officials apparently didn’t like what they saw. According to Zelikow, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld not only disavowed the memo, but also retaliated against his subordinate, Gordon England, stripping him of jurisdiction over detainee issues.
Investigations & Prosecutions
Dickie Flips on Georgie.
CHENEY: I certainly, yes, have every reason to believe he knew -- he knew a great deal about the program. He basically authorized it. I mean, this was a presidential-level decision. And the decision went to the president. He signed off on it.
Talk about irony and backfiring. Dickie’s desperate attempts to prove torture worked in order to nix prosecutions should now result in the list of charges expanding to include Iraq War. Things not looking good for Dickie, so he whips out the torture worked meme to seek jury nullification. Dickie may have fired a blank here too.
Feingold Says Cheney’s Got Nutin’.
Russ Feingold said explicitly that he’d seen the CIA docs that Dick Cheney wants declassified, and claimed they aren’t the bombshell Cheney has been promising.
Feingold didn’t contest Cheney’s claim that the docs will prove that torture extracted important information. He merely said they won’t prove torture was "necessary" or prove that "they were the best way to get information out of detainees." We’ll have to see the docs ourselves to know precisely what Feingold meant. It’s an important moment.
There’s more. White House To Declassify "Holy Grail" Torture Report That Could Undercut Cheney.
Specifically: The White House has decided to declassify and release a classified 2004 CIA report about the torture program that is reported to have found no proof that torture foiled any terror plots on American soil — directly contradicting Cheney’s claims. The paper cites "allies" of the White House as a source.
What does the CIA’s IG report say? (This is heavily redacted version provided to ACLU via litigation.)
Although some useful information was produced, the report concluded that "it is difficult to determine conclusively whether interrogations have provided information critical to interdicting specific imminent attacks," according to the Justice Department’s declassified summary of it.
tahoebasher3 reports on the Executive Branch Accountability Act of 2009 introduced by Cong. Tammy Baldwin in H.Res. 417. This is more bad news for Dickie, should it be enacted into law. The measure requires a full investigation of Bush/Cheney administration officials for alleged crimes, Affirm that it is the sole legal right of Congress to declare war, and criminalize lying to Congress and the American public about the reasons for going to war, among many other mandates.
Has statute of limitations expired re state bar proceedings against Yoo? People have asked why did the OPR engage in delay and conduct a 5-year investigation? Well, Yoo is a member of Pennsylvania bar that has a 4-year SL for complaints. Yoo wrote the memos in 2002 and 2003. This is 2009.
Obama has not provided carte blanche immunity: Some here at DK appear to think otherwise, but here is Obama’s immunity standard:
The issue has attracted scrutiny because of President Obama's statement April 22 that those involved would be immune from prosecution if they "carried out some of these operations within the four corners of legal opinions or guidance that had been provided from the White House."
We already know that even the BS torture guidelines were violated. Findings of noncompliance are set forth in the 2004 CIA OIG secret report, and may also be documented in 2005 CIA videotaped study by CIA lawyers. We’ll be hearing more soon:
To assess whether interrogators complied with the department's guidance, Senate intelligence committee investigators are interviewing those involved, examining hundreds of CIA e-mails and reviewing a classified 2005 study by the agency's lawyers of dozens of interrogation videotapes, according to government officials who said they were not authorized to be quoted by name. Officials familiar with the Justice Department's inquiries into policymaking on detainees during the Bush administration said Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has not ruled out conducting a similar investigation.
... Portions of the CIA inspector general report that have been made public and an account of detainees' experiences by the International Committee of the Red Cross highlight other potential excesses: the punching and beating of at least nine detainees in ways that appeared to go beyond authorized abdominal and facial "slaps"; the extended confinement of at least one detainee in a box so small that he had to crouch despite approval only for seated confinement; the slamming of detainees into firm walls, instead of the authorized pushing into a "false" wall that gave way; and the shackling of detainees' arms to overhead hooks or pipes, requiring that the prisoners stand for days at a time, despite the apparent absence of clear, written authorization by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel for such shackling before 2005.
Government officials familiar with the CIA's early interrogations say the most powerful evidence of apparent excesses is contained in the "top secret" May 7, 2004, inspector general report, based on more than 100 interviews, a review of the videotapes and 38,000 pages of documents. The full report remains closely held, although White House officials have told political allies that they intend to declassify it for public release when the debate quiets over last month's release of the Justice Department's interrogation memos.
Leahy to Bybee: Why Won’t a Federal Judge Testify before Senate Judiciary Committee?
Since he has declined through his lawyers to testify before the Committee, I assume he has no exonerating information to provide. ...Apparently the only people he has not explained his actions to are the people who granted him a lifetime appointment to the Federal Bench, and the American people through their elected representatives in the Senate.
See also, "During his 2003 confirmation hearing, Bybee declined to answer questions about his work in the Legal Counsel's office."
Lawyer argues the "case against William J. Haynes unfounded": Torture lawyer Haynes recommended defense secretary "authorize" torture, but opposed waterboarding. Another lawyer wrote this article to defend his friend (and perhaps client) who may face state bar proceedings. Aside from personal statements attesting to Haynes "highest integrity" as fine lawyer, the article cites prior investigations finding "no evidence of torture":
Nearly two years later, capping 11 major investigations prompted by prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, a bipartisan panel headed by former Defense Secretaries James Schlesinger and Harold Brown found "no evidence of a policy of abuse promulgated by senior officials or military authorities." A later examination of 24,000 Guantanamo interrogations, including scrutiny of al-Khatani's, found "no evidence of torture or inhumane treatment ...."
What About Lustration? While I disagree with this blogger’s proposal of lustration as an alternative to criminal prosecutions, I do like the idea of lustration as an additional penalty. That is, torturers would be prohibited by law from holding future government offices, and some nongovernmental jobs, such as universities.
There is, however, another possibility – one that steers a middle course between criminally prosecuting the torturers and letting them off the hook completely: lustration. Derived from the Latin word "lustratio," meaning "purification by sacrifice or by purging," lustration refers to a transitional-justice process in which individuals involved in government misconduct are legislatively prohibited from holding certain governmental and non-governmental posts for a specified amount of time.
The Pelosi CIA Briefing: The Goppie Faux Issue of Dem Complicity in Torture: The GOP argue that Pelosi was complicit in any torture and war crimes by Bush because she did not violate the law by publicly revealing or stopping Bush’s illegal torture plans. However, the question is who participated in the creation, implementation, authorization or torture of prisoners? Pelosi did none of this. If Pelosi is complicit, then so are all the Goppies, including Sen. Lindsay Graham, who insists that waterboarding was a "mistake" but not a crime. This is the point of this GOP strategy, not to get Pelosi investigated, but to show that there should be no investigation because everyone, including the public, were complicit in these crimes.
Pelosi accuses CIA of lying in torture timeline.
Democrats quickly closed ranks behind the speaker. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, made clear whom she believes.
Questions About Whether CIA Briefed Congress as Claimed.
There is now increasing uncertainty as to what "briefings" were actually provided to whom. The CIA claims it also briefed members of the Senate on all details of what was taking place. But fmr. Sen. Bob Graham says those briefings were either not as informative as the CIA now claims or did not take place at all. James Fallows, writing for The Atlantic, reports: "Graham says that some of the briefings in which he was allegedly filled in about waterboarding and related techniques never occurred."
What's Behind CIA Decision To Release Torture Briefings Document?
The fact that the CIA released the document on the briefings in response to a request last month from Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee, has received less focus than it should have.
...But Hoekstra may not have been the only one who was motivated by politics. As The Politico reported today, several top Senate Democrats have essentially accused the CIA of being all too ready to comply with Hoekstra's request, releasing the documents in order to deflect attention away from the agency's own unquestioned role in carrying out torture, just as the debate over possible prosecutions is heating up.
GOP Senator Roberts Won’t Say Whether Descriptions Of Torture Briefings Are Accurate.
This is key, because Roberts could help settle a major dispute at the heart of the torture wars: The question of what Senator Rockefeller was told about waterboarding and when he was told it.
The CIA briefing docs say that Rockefeller was first briefed on the use of waterboarding on February 4th, 2003, along with Roberts. But in a statement to Politico’s Glenn Thrush, Rockefeller’s office categorically denied this, saying that he wasn’t present and wasn’t told about waterboarding until seven months later, at another briefing in September of 2003 which also included Roberts.
Congress’s Torture Bubble: Let’s not forget Bush violated law by limiting any briefing to gang of 4.
It is unlawful for the executive branch to limit notification, as it did here, to the Gang of Four. There is no such entity recognized in the National Security Act. Federal law does provide, however, for notification of fewer lawmakers than the full intelligence committees, but only when "extraordinary circumstances affecting vital interests of the United States" are at stake. Under those very limited situations, the notification may be to the "Gang of Eight," which includes the majority and minority leadership of the House and Senate, in addition to the intelligence committee leaders.
It should be noted that there is a legal argument that the interrogation program was merely foreign intelligence "collection," and not "covert action" at all, because it was used to elicit information that already existed in the minds of the detainees. In that case, there is no exception in the law for Gangs of Four or Eight, and every member of the two committees should have been notified.
Status of Guantánamo Prisoners
There were two measures floated this week that some prisoners may be provided with trials and others will be held indefinitely without trials: Reformed military commissions and a new national security court. The revised military trials would not allow evidence obtained from torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading interrogation methods, limit the use of hearsay evidence and allow the prisoner more "latitude in selecting counsel."
The second measure involves imprisoning terror suspects indefinitely without trials by using new national security court instead of civil courts or military commissions.
The Obama administration is weighing plans to detain some terror suspects on U.S. soil -- indefinitely and without trial -- as part of a plan to retool military commission trials that were conducted for prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
...The idea of a new national security court has been discussed widely in legal circles, including by Bush administration Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Neal Katyal, a former Georgetown law professor and now Obama Justice Department official.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, at a hearing last month, hinted at the administration's deliberations, saying that there were "50 to 100 [detainees] probably in that ballpark who we cannot release and cannot trust, either in Article 3 [civilian] courts or military commissions."
Why The Administration Wants To Preserve Hearsay Evidence.
Why might the government want to preserve the hearsay evidence? It's obvious, in a way: there will be statements made by detainees about their identity and intentions that, due to the circumstances by which they were obtained, would never be introduced in a federal court. But if the government were to legally confirm that information, using, say, intercepts or other testimony, allowing limited hearsay in the military commissions might give them the opportunity to introduce the statements as confirmed by a second a source. To critics, this will smack of an administration wanting it both ways -- a way to get rid of the taint of torture but keep some of the evidence that was originally derived from it.
Hearsay by Any Other Name Would Not Smell as Sweet or why admission of hearsay evidence is different with military commissions even though "current rules are nearly indistinguishable from those of the International Criminal Court."
There is one difference: all of the fact-finders at the ICC are professional judges, while all but one of the fact-finders in a military commission are laypersons. And, of course, the ICC only admits hearsay because it assumes that professional judges, unlike laypersons, can objectively assess its reliability and probative value. But hey, why split hairs?
Lawyer: Gitmo prisoner slashed wrist, hurled blood: 4 prisoners have committed suicide, but government says many "incidents" are not actual suicide attempts but "self-harm incidents" used to "gain attention."
A Yemeni held at Guantanamo slashed his wrist and hurled the blood at his lawyer during a meeting at the prison, the attorney said Monday, describing the incident as a suicide attempt by a psychologically troubled man who should be returned home immediately for treatment.
Adnan Latif used a piece of veneer from a table to saw through a vein in his wrist, holding his arms down beneath the table to disguise his actions from the attorney, an interpreter and guards watching the meeting Sunday over a video monitoring system, lawyer David Remes said.
...A prison spokesman, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brook DeWalt, confirmed the incident but said Latif's injuries were minor and the prisoner was in no danger. He said the incident would not be categorized as an attempted suicide.
"It's a form of self harm, but it is clearly not classified as a suicide attempt," DeWalt said. "It's a minor injury."
... Four prisoners have killed themselves at the base and lawyers claim there have been numerous attempts. The military says many incidents are not actual suicide attempts but merely "self-harm incidents" intended to gain attention.
UK Government Lies Exposed; Spy Visited Binyam Mohamed In Morocco.
On Friday, reiterating a well-worn but disputed argument that releasing the summary would cause "real harm to the national security and international relations of the United Kingdom," Foreign Secretary David Miliband again sought to prevent the judges from releasing the summary, but in today’s Mail on Sunday, David Rose reports that Binyam Mohamed has now stated that a British spy — or a "mole," as Rose calls him — was sent by the British authorities to Morocco in September 2002, in an attempt "to persuade him that giving intelligence to the British would end his ordeal."
"It was one of my lowest points," Mohamed told Rose. "The really bad stuff [the torture which included having his penis regularly cut by razorblades] had already been going on for weeks. I thought he was a friendly face who might get the British to help me — but it was just another way of putting on pressure."
Protesters slam Rice Ex-U.S. official denounced as ‘war criminal’ outside U of C talk.
Calgary resident Jason Devine has a message for Condoleezza Rice — she’s not welcome in this city.
"Calgary is not, and should not be, a haven for war criminals," he says. "These people are demeaning the concept of democracy."
Democrats maneuver to block Guantánamo captives from U.S. soil.
New legislation by Senate Democrats would fund the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, but it would block the transfer of any of the detainees to the United States.
...The Senate bill appears to favor paying foreign governments to accept the prisoners. It's by no means certain that other countries will prove willing to accept many Guantánamo detainees, especially if the United States is unwilling.
House Democratic leaders weighed in Wednesday with a plan that would block any release of Guantánamo detainees within the United States but that would allow them to be shipped to the U.S. to stand trial or to serve their sentences.
Stanley McChrystal: Linked to Torture.
For the past year, McChrystal has been director of the Pentagon's Joint Staff. More pertinently, for five years before that, he was commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, a highly secretive operation that hunted down and killed key jihadist fighters, including, most sensationally, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.
Last fall, Bob Woodward reported in the Washington Post that JSOC played a crucial, unsung role in the tactical success of the Iraqi "surge." Using techniques of what McChrystal called "collaborative warfare," JSOC combined intelligence intercepts with quick, precision strikes to "eliminate" large numbers of key insurgent leaders.
This appointment will not be without controversy. McChrystal's command also provided the personnel for Task Force 6-26, an elite unit of 1,000 special-ops forces that engaged in harsh interrogation of detainees in Camp Nama as far back as 2003. The interrogations were so harsh that five Army officers were convicted on charges of abuse. (McChrystal himself was not implicated in the excesses, but the unit's slogan, which set the tone for its practices, was "If you don't make them bleed, they can't prosecute for it.")
Thanks for help with this edition of WTR to Valtin and Meteor Blades.
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Bloggers Against Torture oppose torture and cruel, inhuman & degrading treatment of all persons, whether they be prisoners at Guantanamo, Bagram or CIA black sites; immigrants; civilians, or prisoners in civilian prison systems. Most members support investigation & prosecution of Bush officials for war crimes & torture.