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Posted by Solly Mack in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Dec 01st 2010, 04:53 PM
From El País (Spain)

"One of the biggest objectives at the US Embassy in Madrid over the past seven years has been trying to get the criminal case dropped against three US soldiers accused of the killing of a Spanish television cameraman.

According to a batch of secret cablegrams obtained by EL PAÍS through Wikileaks, US diplomats held a host of meetings about the case with then-Deputy Prime Minister María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, the then-ministers of justice and foreign affairs, Juan Fernando López Aguilar and Miguel Ángel Moratinos, as well as Attorney General Cándido Conde-Pumpido and High Court prosecutor Javier Zaragoza.

On May 25, 2007, US Ambassador Eduardo Aguirre, who served in Madrid between 2005-2008, wrote to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice days before her visit to Spain to tell her that the Zapatero government "has been helpful behind the scenes in getting the case appealed by the Spanish prosecutor." Aguirre recommended that Rice should express "continued US government concern" about the case when she met with Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Foreign Minister Moratinos. "We want continued vigilance and cooperation by the government of Spain until the case is dropped," Aguirre wrote.

Couso's family filed a complaint with the High Court the month after he was killed. The US Embassy didn't concern themselves during the first year of the case because they saw it moving at a snail's pace through the judicial system. But when High Court Judge Santiago Pedraz began pushing his investigation, Embassy personnel began to move. On July 22, 2004, the US chargé d'affaires Robert Manzanares spoke to then-Secretary of State Bernardino León to deliver a letter from then-US Defense Secretary Colin Powell addressed to Moratinos concerning the Couso prosecution. On October 19, 2005, Pedraz issued international arrest warrants for Gibson, Wolford and De Camp. In explaining his initiative, Pedraz said it was the only way he could get the three soldiers to testify because he wasn't getting any cooperation from the US Justice Department."

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Posted by Solly Mack in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Dec 01st 2010, 10:17 AM

JUNE 2009



"One recent irritant in bilateral relationship is are the efforts by some investigating judges - invoking "universal jurisdiction" - to indict former USG officials for their allegedly involvement in torture at GTMO (Ref D)."

March 28, 2009

Spanish Court Weighs Inquiry on Torture for 6 Bush-Era Officials

A Spanish court has taken the first steps toward opening a criminal investigation into allegations that six former high-level Bush administration officials violated international law by providing the legal framework to justify the torture of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, an official close to the case said.

The case, against former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and others, was sent to the prosecutor’s office for review by Baltasar Garzón, the crusading investigative judge who ordered the arrest of the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. The official said that it was “highly probable” that the case would go forward and that it could lead to arrest warrants

Spain can claim jurisdiction in the case because five citizens or residents of Spain who were prisoners at Guantánamo Bay have said they were tortured there. The five had been indicted in Spain, but their cases were dismissed after the Spanish Supreme Court ruled that evidence obtained under torture was not admissible.

The National Court in Madrid, which specializes in international crimes, assigned the case to Judge Garzón. His acceptance of the case and referral of it to the prosecutor made it likely that a criminal investigation would follow, the official said.

March 29, 2009

Spanish judge to hear torture case against six Bush officials

The case is bound to threaten Spain's relations with the new administration in Washington, but Gonzalo Boyé, one of the four lawyers who wrote the lawsuit, said the prosecutor would have little choice under Spanish law but to approve the prosecution.

"The only route of escape the prosecutor might have is to ask whether there is ongoing process in the US against these people," Boyé told the Observer. "This case will go ahead. It will be against the law not to go ahead."

The officials named in the case include the most senior legal minds in the Bush administration. They are: Alberto Gonzales, a former White House counsel and attorney general; David Addington, former vice-president Dick Cheney's chief of staff; Douglas Feith, who was under-secretary of defence; William Haynes, formerly the Pentagon's general counsel; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, who were both senior justice department legal advisers.

If Garzón decided to go further and issued arrest warrants against the six, it would mean they would risk detention and extradition if they travelled outside the US. It would also present President Barack Obama with a serious dilemma. He would have either to open proceedings against the accused or tackle an extradition request from Spain.

April 29, 2009

Spanish court opens investigation of Guantánamo torture allegations

A court in Spain has today opened an investigation into torture allegations against US military personnel at the Guantánamo detention centre.

Judge Baltasar Garzón, an investigating magistrate at the National Court in Madrid, said he would investigate allegations made by four detainees who were held at the centre and later released without charges, according to a court document quoted by the Spanish press.

The torture allegations include "sexual abuse", "beating" and the throwing of fluids into prisoners' eyes.

A recent decision by the Obama administration to release documents about Guantánamo helped the judge conclude that a police investigation, which could lead to criminal charges, was necessary.

November 30, 2010

Wikileaks: US pressured Spain over CIA rendition and Guantánamo torture

US officials tried to influence Spanish prosecutors and government officials to head off court investigations into Guantánamo Bay torture allegations, secret CIA "extraordinary rendition" flights and the killing of a Spanish journalist by US troops in Iraq, according to secret US diplomatic cables.

Among their biggest worries were investigations pursued by the magistrate Baltasar Garzón, who US officials described as having "an anti-American streak".

A major worry was a torture case brought by a Spanish non-governmental organisation against six senior Bush administration officials, including the former attorney general Alberto Gonzales.

Senator Mel Martinez, a former Republican party chairman, and the US embassy's charge d'affaires visited the Spanish foreign ministry to warn the investigation would have consequences. "Martinez and the charge underscored that the prosecutions would ... have an enormous impact on the bilateral relationship," the officials reported.

April 7, 2010

Profile: Judge Baltasar Garzon

Mr Garzon came to worldwide attention in the late 1990s, when the former Chilean military ruler Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London on his initiative.

He was acting under Spain's principle of universal jurisdiction, which holds that some crimes are so grave that they can be tried anywhere regardless of where the offences were committed.

Mr Garzon has also initiated other high-profile cases. In 2003 he compiled a 692-page indictment which called for the arrest of 35 men, including Osama Bin Laden, for their alleged membership of a terrorist group. That number was later increased to 41.

Eighteen were found guilty of belonging to an al-Qaeda cell and sentenced to long prison terms.

Baltasar Garzón's own 'legal' troubles...

April 25, 2010

Charismatic judge who pursued Spain's fascist assassins finds himself on trial

The crowd gathered outside Madrid's national court was loud and angry. "The world has been turned upside down," they cried. "The fascists are judging the judge!" Some carried photographs of long-dead relatives, killed by rightwing death squads in Spain's brutal civil war in the 1930s. Others bore placards bearing the name of the hero they wanted to save, the controversial "superjudge" Baltasar Garzón.

The irony of that will be lost on few. The only man to have been punished because of Franco's crimes will be Judge Garzón himself. "If that happens, the reaction will be furious," warns one of the demonstrators outside the National Court, who meet there every day at 8pm. "The assassins will have won."

May 11, 2010

Judge Baltasar Garzón seeks leave of absence from Spanish court

The high-profile judge who indicted Augusto Pinochet and Osama bin Laden is seeking to take a leave of absence as he awaits trial on charges of abuse of authority, a court official said today.

Judge Baltasar Garzón has asked for a seven-month assignment as an adviser at the international criminal court in The Hague, said the official at the National Court, where Garzón works.

Garzón is not resigning, and his departure will not affect the case against him in Spain for having launched a probe of Spanish civil war atrocities that were covered by an amnesty, the official said, on condition of anonymity in line with court policy.

Garzón received a job offer at the international criminal court from Luis Moreno Ocampo, an Argentine who is chief prosecutor at the court, the official said.

Judge Baltasar Garzón suspended over Franco investigation

May 14, 2010

The stellar career of the crusading Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón may have come to an abrupt end today after he was suspended from his post as an investigating magistrate at Madrid's national court.

The higher council of judicial power, which oversees Spain's judges, temporarily suspended Garzón while the supreme court tries him on charges of distorting the law by opening an investigation into crimes against humanity carried out by the Franco regime.

"It will come into effect as soon as he is told," the council's spokeswoman, Gabriela Bravo, said this morning.

Judges and co-workers later lined up outside the national court to say goodbye to the man whose investigations into Latin American dictators, including Augusto Pinochet of Chile, had turned the court into a key player in global human rights

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Posted by Solly Mack in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun Nov 28th 2010, 04:19 PM
Today's leaks

"Clashes with Europe over human rights: American officials sharply warned Germany in 2007 not to enforce arrest warrants for Central Intelligence Agency officers involved in a bungled operation in which an innocent German citizen with the same name as a suspected militant was mistakenly kidnapped and held for months in Afghanistan. A senior American diplomat told a German official “that our intention was not to threaten Germany, but rather to urge that the German government weigh carefully at every step of the way the implications for relations with the U.S.” "




CIA Arrest Warrants Strain US-German Ties

"Lyle L. was probably the only person who would have had reason to be concerned about this request until now because he was the only member of the CIA team that allegedly abducted Masri who could be identified by his real name. But now the German investigators are in the process of uncovering the identities of the remaining CIA kidnappers, an effort that will further strain an already tense German-American relationship."

Germany Issues Arrest Warrants for 13 CIA Agents in El-Masri Case

"Lebanese-born German citizen Khaled el-Masri claims he was abducted in Macedonia at the end of 2003. After being handed over to the CIA and flown to Afghanistan, he claims to have been tortured and accused of collusion with the Sept. 11 hijackers. He says he was held for four months before being released without any charges on a roadside in Albania."


'They beat me from all sides'

"A German car salesman says that a year ago he was kidnapped in Europe, beaten and flown to a US-controlled jail in Afghanistan. Now the German government is collecting evidence to back up his story. James Meek hears Khaled el-Masri's account of life in America's secret offshore prison network."

CIA Flying Suspects To Torture?

"Khaled el-Masri was born in Kuwait, but he now lives in Germany with his wife and four children. He became a German citizen 10 years ago. He told 60 Minutes he was on vacation in Macedonia last year when Macedonian police, apparently acting on a tip, took him off a bus, held him for three weeks, then took him to the Skopje airport where he believes he was abducted by the CIA.

"They took me to this room, and they hit me all over and they slashed my clothes with sharp objects, maybe knives or scissors," says el-Masri.

"I also heard photos being taken while this was going on - and they took off the blindfold and I saw that there were a lot of men standing in the room. They were wearing black masks and black gloves."

El-Masri says he was injected with drugs, and after his flight, he woke up in an American-run prison in Afghanistan. He showed 60 Minutes a prison floor plan he drew from memory. He says other prisoners were from Pakistan, Tanzania, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. El-Masri told 60 Minutes that he was held for five months and interrogated by Americans through an interpreter. "

ACLU Statement: Khaled El-Masri

"I was dragged across the floor and my blindfold was removed. I saw seven or eight men dressed in black and wearing black ski masks. One of the men placed me in a diaper and a track suit. I was put in a belt with chains that attached to my wrists and ankles, earmuffs were placed over my ears, eye pads over my eyes, and then I was blindfolded and hooded. After being marched to a plane, I was thrown to the floor face down and my legs and arms were spread-eagled and secured to the sides of the plane. I felt two injections, and I was rendered nearly unconscious. At some point, I felt the plane land and take off again. When it landed again, I was unchained and taken off the plane. It felt very warm outside, and so I knew I had not been returned to Germany. I learned later that I was in Afghanistan.

Once off the plane, I was shoved into the back of a vehicle. After a short drive, I was dragged out of the car, pushed roughly into a building, thrown to the floor, and kicked and beaten on the head, the soles of my feet, and the small of my back. I was left in a small, dirty, cold concrete cell. There was no bed and one dirty, military-style blanket and some old, torn clothes bundled into a thin pillow. I was extremely thirsty, but there was only a bottle of putrid water in cell. I was refused fresh water."

El-Masri v Tenet

October 14, 2010

"The lawsuit charged that former CIA Director George Tenet violated U.S. and universal human rights laws when he authorized agents to abduct Mr. El-Masri, beat him, drug him, and transport him to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan. The corporations that owned and operated the airplanes used to transport Mr. El-Masri are also named in the case. The CIA continued to hold Mr. El-Masri incommunicado in the notorious "Salt Pit" prison in Afghanistan long after his innocence was known. Five months after his abduction, Mr. El-Masri was deposited at night, without explanation, on a hill in Albania."

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Posted by Solly Mack in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun Nov 28th 2010, 02:23 PM
"It (Washington) also wanted to know about plans by UN special rapporteurs to press for potentially embarrassing investigations into the US treatment of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay."

"Plans and intentions of member states or UN Special Rapporteurs to press for resolutions or investigations into US counterterrorism strategies and treatment of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan or Guantanamo. -- Degree of coordination by and among human rights agencies, especially between the UN Human Rights Council, the OHCHR..."

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Posted by Solly Mack in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Nov 17th 2010, 03:45 PM
By Scott Horton (Harper's)

In response to sharp public criticism, the Department of Defense modified its Field Manual on intelligence interrogation, (PDF) taking pains to note that many practices associated with Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo were illegal. Observers have, however, continued to criticize the manual’s Appendix M—a series of harsh measures that may be authorized under special circumstances for limited periods of time by senior commanders. Now fourteen prominent figures from the intelligence community, each well known for his expertise in interrogations, have written to Defense Secretary Gates raising objections to Appendix M.

Stuart Herrington, a retired Army colonel, notes that “separation” appears to have been confused with “isolation”

By contrast, Appendix M appears to contemplate that severely abusive techniques may be associated with “separation,” including the use of earmuffs and pitch-black goggles for periods of up to 12 hours, as well as a sleep-deprivation regime under which a prisoner is allotted no more than 4 hours of sleep a day for up to 30 days. The interrogators call these techniques “ineffective” and “counterproductive.” “The use of sensory deprivation techniques, extreme isolation and stress positions is likely to lead to false information, facilitate enemy recruitment, and further erode the reputation of the United States,” they write.

The letter is also drawing support from human-rights advocates. Calling Appendix M a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Human Rights First has issued a report (PDF) backing up the interrogators. “In addition to opening the door to abuse, Appendix M also takes a valuable interrogation approach, ‘separation,’ and puts it out of reach in situations where it could be employed effectively (and humanely),” the human-rights organization states.

The U.S. Army Field Manual on Interrogation: A Strong Document in Need of Careful Revision

Changes in the 2006 Manual that Open the Door to Abuse

Deleted Language

Some of the protections explicitly articulated in the 1992 version of the manual do not
appear in the 2006 version. Language outlawing two abusive tactics — the use of stress
positions, and sleep manipulation — has been removed from the new manual.

Indeed, the 1992 manual defines physical torture to include “forcing an individual to stand,
sit, or kneel in abnormal positions for prolonged periods of time.”5 And it lists “abnormal
sleep deprivation” as an example of “mental torture.”6

The fact that these explicit prohibitions have been stripped from the new manual raises
troubling questions about whether the U.S. intends to green-light the use of tactics it once
clearly regarded as torture.

The abusive techniques authorized by Appendix M include:

• Extreme isolation – Appendix M does explicitly prohibit sensory deprivation,
however it explicitly permits the use of goggles, blindfolds, and earmuffs to
physically cut off detainees from each if it is deemed “expedient.”7

• Sleep manipulation – for reasons not articulated by the appendix, sleep
manipulation is authorized alongside separation. Interrogators are permitted to
limit detainees to four hours of sleep over any 24-hour period. This limit,
however, is open to manipulation as it could be interpreted to permit interrogators
to bookend the detainee’s rest around a 40-hour interrogation period. And there is
no prohibition against stringing these 40-hour sessions along indefinitely—for a
period of months or even years—as long as it is approved by the combat
commander every 30 days.8

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Posted by Solly Mack in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Nov 17th 2010, 03:03 PM
by Joanne Mariner

"Last week saw a few more steps toward the banalization of torture. On Monday night, it was former President George W. Bush on television, acknowledging his personal responsibility for ordering the waterboarding of Al Qaeda suspects in CIA custody.

On Tuesday, it was the Department of Justice, announcing that Acting US Attorney John Durham would not pursue criminal charges for the CIA's destruction of videotapes showing the abusive interrogation of terrorism suspects.

And on Wednesday, it was the op-ed page of the New York Times , with an apparently unrelated item: an opinion piece about an arms control treaty currently awaiting ratification by the Senate. A co-author of the piece was John Yoo, who, during his tenure with the Bush administration at the Justice Department, was the author of legal memos purporting to justify torture.

Taken together, these episodes send an ugly but resounding message: Senior U.S. officials face no real consequences for the crime of torture. Not only do they seem immune from prosecution in a court of law, they are even welcome on the op-ed pages of elite publications."

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Posted by Solly Mack in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Nov 17th 2010, 08:08 AM

November 2010

Guantánamo Bay detainees: How the settlement came about

"After being released from detention at Guantánamo Bay, former inmates brought civil claims against intelligence agencies and ministers, claiming that they were complicit in their unlawful imprisonment and the abuse they received while in captivity.

But their hopes were dashed when the high court allowed MI5 and MI6 to suppress evidence relating to their detention under "closed material procedure", with the agencies claiming that the evidence could jeopardise national security.

The former detainees appealed against that decision earlier this year, and were successful. The court of appeal ruled in May that, had MI5 and MI6 succeeded in suppressing the evidence, it would amount to "undermining one of {common law's} most fundamental principles".

Government officials told the Guardian at the time that the men were likely to be offered out-of-court settlements, as that would be preferable to embarrassing evidence of the security and intelligence agencies' complicity in abuse being exposed."

July 2010

PM moves to ensure courts will no longer be able to disclose evidence about British complicity in torture

David Cameron today ordered an unprecedented inquiry into evidence and allegations of British complicity in the torture and abuse of terror suspects.

But he immediately moved to ensure the courts would no longer be able to disclose damning evidence which, he implied, (*) could jeopardise intelligence sharing with the US.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: "An inquiry into British complicity in torture is welcome and overdue but this announcement leaves room for fears that government is bending towards the security establishment.

"They wouldn't be in this mess but for all the excuses for secret stitch-ups instead of open justice. This inquiry can only be credible with the broadest remit, the most public proceedings possible and by full engagement with victims, witnesses and lawyers. Any attempt to exempt intelligence from legal scrutiny is an attempt to exempt the security services from the rule of law."

* Evidence of torture 'buried by ministers' (February 2009) The government was accused last night of hiding behind claims of a threat to national security to suppress evidence of torture by the CIA on a prisoner still held in Guantánamo Bay.

An unprecedented high court ruling yesterday blamed the US, with British connivance, for keeping the "powerful evidence" secret, sparking criticism from lawyers, campaigners and MPs, who claimed the government had capitulated to American bullying.

Two senior judges said they were powerless to reveal the information about the torture of Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian-born British resident, because David Miliband, the foreign secretary, had warned the court the US was threatening to stop sharing intelligence about terrorism with the UK.

In a scathing judgment, Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones said the evidence, and what MI5 knew about it, must remain secret because according to Miliband, the American threats meant "the public of the United Kingdom would be put at risk

November 2010

UK justice secretary wants intelligence material from MI5 and MI6 suppressed by courts

The work of Britain's security services will be permanently hidden from court hearings under plans designed to prevent a repeat of the million-pound payouts this week to Guantánamo Bay detainees.

A government green paper, which the justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, yesterday told MPs would be published next summer, will contain specific proposals designed to prevent the courts from releasing the kind of information that has emerged from recent Guantánamo cases in the English courts. "It will absolutely eliminate the process happening again," a well-placed Whitehall official claimed last night.

Ministers and officials are planning a system whereby if intelligence material is relevant to a court case, it would be seen and heard in secret hearings and withheld from interested parties and their lawyers.

The settlement has stopped the disclosure to the high court of previously secret documents showing that former ministers, including Tony Blair and Jack Straw, were closely involved in the decision-making process that led to suspects being abducted and "rendered" to Guantánamo.

February 2010

Torture is a crime, not a state secret

"There are two important things to remember when analysing Miliband and the White House's arguments concerning the "intelligence" released on the treatment of Ethiopian-born British resident Binyam Mohamed while he was in US custody.

First, the seven-paragraph summary details that the interrogation practices endured by Mohamed while in American custody during 2002 constituted "at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment". It reveals nothing besides the fact the US and its proxies resorted to barbarous methods to extract information from captives they believed were al-Qaida terrorists.

Second, far more damning information on Mohamed's torture was published last year by a US court. In November 2009, US District Judge Gladys Kessler granted the habeus corpus petition of Gitmo detainee Farhi Saeed Bin Mohammed – another indicator of the cross-Atlantic return of the rule of law. The prisoner had been held indefinitely without charge at Guantánamo Bay since 2002, based partly on Mohamed's confessions to US interrogators. There was one problem, however: US interrogators coerced Mohamed's allegations against Mohammed through torture. "The government does not challenge Petitioner's evidence of Binyam Mohamed's abuse," Kessler wrote in her decision. It's important to note that the "abuse" Mohamed says he endured during his detention included having his genitals slashed by a razor.

In short order, the information the British court ordered released yesterday was neither intelligence nor secret. What it did show, however, was what we already knew. The US had systematically tortured detainees it deemed terrorists without due process, and British intelligence was complicit."

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Posted by Solly Mack in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Nov 16th 2010, 08:51 PM
"It is an incongruous setting for talk about homegrown radicalism, drone attacks and whether the West has become complacent about terrorism.

While the presentations are officially “not for attribution,” speakers are happy to talk if tracked down poolside or standing in line at the Lido deck’s expanse of buffets.

Oversimplified, the message includes a warning that terrorism is growing among what they believe is a complacent public, that agents are more “risk adverse,” which could hurt intelligence gathering and that lawyers who fight for the human rights of terrorism suspects and unfair criticism by the “left wing media” are putting the U.S. at risk.

Discussions could become animated, as neither intelligence leader was immune to controversy. Hayden, a retired Air Force general and longest serving director of the NSA, was at the heart of the warrantless surveillance controversy. Under Goss’s leadership in 2005, the CIA destroyed videos of the harsh interrogation techniques of terrorism suspects."

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Posted by Solly Mack in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Mon Nov 15th 2010, 08:11 PM
Course, we already knew that. Principals Committee and Top Bush Advisors Approved 'Enhanced Interrogation'

and Ed Rendell thinks Powell should be WH chief of staff.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday that he has "no interest" in government service in response to a recently televised suggestion by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell that President Barack Obama name Powell as White House chief of staff.

Powell also addressed the controversial waterboarding interrogation technique that gained a level of infamy during the Bush administration, saying he wouldn't support the practice now. (Meaning Powell supported torture during the Bush administration)

"The president of the United States, who has a responsibility to protect the American citizens, felt that, in that circumstance, waterboarding was appropriate, and as he clearly said, approved it and takes responsibility for the approval of it," Powell said. "I think subsequently, as you kind of go down the years and take a look at what has happened over the years, I think it could now be called torture." (Now? Snort)

"But the president of the United States is the one that is responsible for our safety and at that time the one thing we were most concerned about is to make sure we get everything we need to prevent another 9/11 attack," he said.

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Posted by Solly Mack in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Mon Nov 15th 2010, 07:44 PM
"Ministers appear to have decided on the advice of the security services that they could not afford to risk the exposure of thousands of documents in open court on how the US ,with the co-operation of the UK, undertook illegal acts such as extraordinary rendition to interrogate terrorist suspects, including some alleged to have links with the Afghan Taliban.

The high court, according to ITN, has been notified that a settlement had been reached between the lawyers, but the exact amounts may never be known. The government will announce today simply that the payments are to be made and that it is in the national interest that the cases are not brought to court so as to protect the security services methods from scrutiny.

Today's payments pave the way for an independent inquiry into British involvement in torture and the degree to which MI6 knowingly took information extracted by torture by the Americans.

Those detainees understood to be in line for settlements include Binyam Mohamed, Bisher al-Rawi, Jamil el-Banna, Richard Belmar, Omar Deghayes, Moazzam Begg and Martin Mubanga. One allegation is that the British government knew they were being illegally transferred to Guantánamo Bay but failed to prevent it."

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Posted by Solly Mack in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sat Nov 13th 2010, 08:24 PM
The old adage held that if they couldn't get you for the crime, they would get you for the coverup. But this week, it was revealed that both the crime and the coverup will go permanently unpunished. Which suggests that everything in between will go unpunished as well.


The U.S. flirtation with torture is not locked in the past or in the black sites or prisons at which it occurred. Now more than ever, it's feted on network television and held in reserve for the next president who persuades himself that it's not illegal after all.


It has taken this issue from a legal question to a matter of personal taste. What we choose to define as torture is now just another policy disagreement, like extending the Bush tax cuts or picking a caterer. This is precisely the kind of sliding-scale ethical guesswork the rule of law should preclude.


Yet having denied any kind of reckoning for every actor up and down the chain of command, we are now farther along the road toward normalizing and accepting torture than we were back in November 2005, when President Bush could announce unequivocally (if falsely) that "The United States of America does not torture. And that's important for people around the world to understand." If people around the world didn't understand what we were doing then, they surely do now. And if Americans didn't accept what we were doing then, evidently they do now. Doing nothing about torture is, at this point, pretty much the same as voting for it. We are all water-boarders now.
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Posted by Solly Mack in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sat Nov 13th 2010, 03:51 PM
Former U.S. president George W. Bush should be prosecuted for allowing torture, a Danish centre for torture victims said Friday, reacting to the ex-commander-in-chief's recently released memoirs.

"Especially with waterboarding, Bush tried to hollow out the definition of torture, and he further approved of the United States violating the (international) ban on torture," Tue Magnussen, the advocacy co-ordinator at the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT), wrote in an opinion piece published in the online edition of the Politiken daily.

From Politiken

Tue Magnussen says:

"The litmus test on whether Obama will take a break with torture, is not only the exposed closing Guantanamo camp, but also whether there will be prosecution of Bush, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and then-Vice President Dick Cheney for their commitment to the harsh interrogation techniques, since 11. September and the war on terror has failed one of the most fundamental human rights, prohibition of torture"

The opinion piece has already been translated for you.(using Google) Not great - but you get the gist.

This is the original language article from Politiken
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Posted by Solly Mack in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Nov 12th 2010, 10:03 AM
Juan Mendez is the new United Nations special rapporteur on torture. Juan Mendez was tortured by electrical shocks in the 70's. He is the first special rapporteur on torture to have been tortured himself.

Mr. Mendez takes over for Manfred Nowak

Interview with Juan Mendez.

On Bush and his: 'the lawyers told me so'...

JUAN MENDEZ: Mr Bush hides behind the fact that he is not a lawyer and he has this folksy you know kind of cute way of say, well the lawyers told me it was legal, as if he didn't know that it's immoral. You know? Immoral and illegal. I mean he can't really hide behind his lawyers.

I mean he was very hypocritical of him to say something like that. I mean it's been so clearly established that those memos were, they don't even deserve the name of legal memos because they are completely flawed from the legal reasoning. But even worse they are morally flawed as well.


On waterboarding (torture) being a crime.


JUAN MENDEZ: I don't think there is any question, any serious question. I mean it's a question of severity. If you think that waterboarding is not severe mistreatment you don't really know what waterboarding is. But you know if just with the definition that it's designed to create a sensation of asphyxia, you can tell that it's severe. There's just no other way.

I mean if you then redefine upwards the severity standard to say that it's only severe if it's organ failure or death, then you know you're really very clearly distorting the sense of the words and you know words have to be interpreted in treaty language, they have to be interpreted in their plain meaning and their plain meaning couldn't be more clear in the case of waterboarding.

You can listen to the entire interview here.

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Posted by Solly Mack in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Nov 04th 2010, 10:42 AM
June 2010

George Bush admitted yesterday that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was waterboarded by the US, and said he would do it again "to save lives".

-Don't worry, he prayed on it. In an era of zero accountability it is of little surprise that the former President would come out and admit his role in the torture of suspected criminals. In his speech, Bush also defended the decision to go to war with Iraq in 2003. He said ousting Saddam Hussein "was the right thing to do and the world is a better place without him". Making the world a 'better place', we are asked to believe, was Bush's great legacy.-

"Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed," the former president told a business audience in Grand Rapids, Michigan. "I'd do it again to save lives."


"Still, the official U.S. denials of torture continued until earlier this month when Bush acknowledged in an interview with ABC-TV that he knew about and approved "enhanced interrogation" of detainees, including "waterboarding" or simulated drowning.

"As a matter of fact," Bush added, "I told the country we did that. And I told them it was legal. We had legal opinions that enabled us to do it."

The president added, "I didn't have any problems at all trying to find out what Khalid Sheik Mohammed knew."

Bush also said in the interview that he had been aware of several meetings his national security advisers held to discuss "enhanced interrogation" methods.

"In a stunning admission to ABC news Friday night, President Bush declared that he knew his top national security advisers discussed and approved specific details of the CIA's use of torture. Bush reportedly told ABC, "I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved." Bush also defended the use of waterboarding".

More info

Cheney's admissions


How I know Cheney did confess to water boarding


Cheney Defends U.S. Use Of Waterboarding



CHENEY: I was a big supporter of waterboarding. I was a big supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques that...

They have both - repeatedly - admitted to war crimes and they're still not in prison.

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Posted by Solly Mack in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Nov 03rd 2010, 01:27 PM
to find. Especially when there's nothing there to find. In fact, doesn't matter if there is no 'there' there. Because the GOP is also good at framing the issue and putting others on the defensive.

Impeachment can be used properly - for correcting corruption and crimes in office (that inherently has political consequences due to the very nature of impeachment - which can be good because it exposes the corruption and the crimes) - and it can be used improperly - as an attack tool to hobble a President.

The GOP has already shown it has no problem using impeachment improperly.

One of the arguments against impeaching Bush/Cheney was that it would be seen as 'revenge' and the GOP would THEN (after said impeachment) go after the next Democratic President. Implication being that if Bush/Cheney aren't faced with possible impeachment, then a Democratic President won't be either. Others argued that the GOP will go after a Democratic President regardless - so might as well do the right thing - because the GOP has no problem using impeachment as an attack tool.(which has already be proven with Clinton) of impeaching Obama is reminding me of past conversations...

I need more coffee

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Solly Mack
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