Torture

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, escalated a behind-the-scenes dispute with the CIA by publicly accusing the spy agency of secretly searching a Senate computer system, an act she said undermines congressional intelligence oversight and may have violated the law.

The expanding dispute has opened a rift between the CIA and the Senate committee that oversees it and often has defended it. Already, some CIA officers could face criminal prosecution as a result of a Justice Department investigation of the incident.

“I have grave concerns that the CIA search may well have violated the separation of powers principles,” Feinstein said on the Senate floor. “I am not taking it lightly.”

I haven’t decided, yet, how I feel about this. On one hand, she’s saying something, and from what I understand they deleted documents that could have resulted in further shaming the Bush/Cheney two-man torture team.

On the other hand, I don’t remember her ever complaining about the rest of us being spied on.

So, I’m still inclined to refer to her as “the odious DiFi”.

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US the biggest threat to world peace in 2013 – poll

The US has been voted as the most significant threat to world peace in a survey across 68 different countries. Anti-American sentiment was not only recorded in antagonistic countries, but also in many allied NATO partners like Turkey and Greece. A global survey conducted by the Worldwide Independent Network and Gallup at the end of 2013 revealed strong animosity towards the US’s role as the world’s policeman. Citizens across over 60 nations were asked: “Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?”

The US topped the list, with 24 percent of people believing America to be the biggest danger to peace. Pakistan came second, with 8 percent of the vote and was closely followed by China with 6 percent. Afghanistan, Iran, Israel and North Korea came in joint fourth place with 5 percent of the vote.

The threat from the US was rated most highly in the Middle East and North Africa, those areas most recently affected by American military intervention. Moreover, the survey showed that even Americans regard their country as a potential threat with 13 percent of them voting the US could disrupt global status quo. Latin America expressed mixed feelings towards its northerly neighbor, with Peru, Brazil and Argentina all flagging the US as the most dangerous country.

Sounds about right. Using our military to protect the interests of oil companies and the wealthy is never going to win us a bunch of friends, and the GOP threatening to crash the global economy every few months just adds (real) insult to (real) injury. We’ve got to find a way to crash public opinion about all the RW crap Faux Noose (and plenty of others) is selling them.

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…Cheney won’t be prosecuted for ordering torture.

WASHINGTON — After five years of often bitter internal debate, the Justice Department concluded in a report released Friday that the lawyers who gave legal justification to the Bush administration’s brutal interrogation tactics for terrorism suspects used flawed legal reasoning but were not guilty of professional misconduct.

The report, rejecting harsher sanctions recommended by Justice Department ethics lawyers, brings to a close a pivotal chapter in the debate over the legal limits of the Bush administration’s fight against terrorism and whether its treatment of Qaeda prisoners amounted to torture.

The lead torturer’s Cheney’s out? “I was acting on the advice of my lawyer.”

It sucks, but there it is.

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Assymmetrical Self-Gagging

Seton Hall has a new report out today on the purported suicides of three Gitmo detainees–Yassar Talal Al Zahrani, Mani Shaman Turki Al Habardi Al Tabi, and Ali Abdullah Ahmed–who all died on June 10, 2006. The report catalogs the many reasons to doubt that these men engaged–as the government claimed when they died–in asymmetrical warfare by committing suicide all at the same time. As the report describes, for the three detainees to have really committed suicide, they would have all had to have done the following:

  • Braided a noose by tearing up their sheets and/or clothing
  • Made mannequins of themselves so it would appear to the guards that they were asleep in their cells
  • Hung sheets to block the view into the cells, a violation of SOPs
  • Tied their feet together
  • Tied their hands together
  • Shoved rags in their mouths and down their throats
  • Hung the noose from the metal mesh of the cell wall and/or ceiling
  • Climbed up on to the sink, put the noose around their necks and released their weight, resulting in death by strangulation
  • Hung dead for at least two hours completely unnoticed by guards

In other words, the cover story the government has offered to explain why all three of these detainees died at the same time doesn’t make any sense.

Now as it happens, just last week the Obama Administration filed an argument saying two of these detainees, Zahrani and Ahmed, could not sue the government for their treatment because the parts of the Millitary Commissions Act that prohibit court review of detention remains in place, in spite of the Boumedienne decision that threw out the habeas restrictions. Here’s that filing.

I’ve leave it to the lawyers to assess the merits of the suit. But this report makes it clear that the government may have reason to want to avoid discovery in this suit.

Addendum: Perversely, one of the three victims had been cleared for release earlier that month.

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This is going beyond ridiculous. These guys are obviously scrambling to cover their tracks. Check out this series of events…

UK Judges Compare Binyam Mohamed’s Torture to That of Abu Zubaydah

Binyam Mohamed is a British resident, seized in Pakistan in April 2002, who was held in Pakistani custody, supervised by US agents, until July 2002, when he was sent by the CIA to be tortured for 18 months in Morocco, and was tied in with a “dirty bomb plot” that never even existed . After his ordeal in Morocco, he spent four months in the CIA’s “Dark Prison” in Kabul, and was then flown to Guantánamo in September 2004.

For the last 15 months, Mohamed has watched as two British High Court judges have tried to release to the public information conveyed by the US intelligence services to their British counterparts regarding his torture in Pakistan, prior to his rendition to Morocco.

In this, they have been thwarted, time and again, by the British foreign secretary, David Miliband, who has repeatedly argued that the disclosure of a seven paragraph, 25-line summary of these documents, compiled by the judges themselves, would threaten Britain’s intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States.

Binyam Mohamed was still in Guantánamo, facing a trial by military commission, when the judges first attempted to make their summary available to the public last August . In the months that followed, the US Justice Department dropped its claim that he was involved in a “dirty bomb plot,” the military commission charges were also dropped, and in February of this year, in a clear attempt by both the British government and the Obama administration to keep a lid on the leaking torture story, he was fast-tracked to the top of the pile of cases being reviewed by the Obama administration’s interagency Task Force, and released in the UK.


From rendition to torture to false charges to military commission to free man. If that is not the anatomy of an abused justice system, it would be hard to find a better example.

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Commission finds Church covered up child sex abuse

The Roman Catholic Church and the police in Ireland systematically colluded in covering up decades of child sex abuse by priests in Dublin, according to a scathing report released Thursday.

The cover-ups spanned the tenures of four Dublin archbishops and continued through to the mid-1990s and beyond, even after the church was beginning to admit to its failings and had professed that it was confronting abuse by its priests.

But rather than helping the victims, the church was concerned only with “the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the church, and the preservation of its assets,” said the 700-page report, prepared by a group appointed by the Irish government and called the Commission of Investigation Into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin.

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expectations of democracy

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Government Admits Guantánamo Detainee Mohammed al Qahtani’s Torture Videotaped

October 5, 2009, New York – The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) learned today of the existence of video and audio tapes of the abusive interrogations of client Mohammed al Qahtani, the victim of the “First Special Interrogation Plan” personally overseen by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

“After the intense scrutiny of the government’s torture and interrogation of Mr. al Qahtani, it is shocking that the government has hidden the existence of these tapes from the public for so many years,” said CCR Attorney Gitanjali S. Gutierrez. “The government’s interrogation of him has been the topic of multiple military, Justice Department and congressional investigations. These tapes should have been acknowledged long ago.”

Until recently, the Government had adamantly denied that any U.S. personnel engaged in acts of torture during Mr. al Qahtani’s interrogation, but on January 14, 2009, Military Commission Convening Authority Susan Crawford conceded that by subjecting Mr. al Qahtani to systematic 20-hour interrogations, prolonged sleep deprivation, 160 days of severe isolation, forced nudity, sexual and religious humiliation, and other aggressive interrogation tactics, the government had engaged in acts of torture.

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The more Dick Cheney defends torture, the more we Americans must end our tortured ambivalence. Either we are above using the same interrogation practices that police states use, or we are not.

I couldn’t agree more.

The rot in our national morality is evident in a June poll by the Associated Press, which found that 52 percent of Americans said torture was sometimes or often justified to obtain information from terror suspects. An April CNN poll found that even though 60 percent of Americans thought harsh techniques including waterboarding constituted torture, 50 percent approved of them. A Washington Post/ABC News Poll was almost evenly split between Americans who say we should never use torture (49 percent) and should use torture in some cases (48 percent).

Disgusting, cowardly, immoral…

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