Mar 28 2009
Jason Leopold reported today that the Senate Armed Services Committee is very close to releasing — “possibly as early as next week” — its 200 page, 2000 footnote
… voluminous report on the treatment of detainees held in U.S. custody and the interrogations methods they were subjected to, according to Defense Department and intelligence sources, who described the report as the most detailed account to date of how the Bush administration and Defense Department implemented interrogation methods widely regarded as torture.
Levin and the SASC’s investigation is a gold mine of information about how the Bush administration implemented its torture program. Both the documents produced by the investigation, and the declassified 19-page summary released by Sen. Levin last year contained important new information, such the details surrounding John Yoo’s drafting of the torture memos.
Mar 23 2009
The Sunday Weekly Torture “Round-up” is intended to be a new regular feature at Daily Kos, capturing stories on the ongoing torture scandal, especially those that might otherwise escape notice. At the same time, we will strive to present an overview of important new developments in the drive to hold the U.S. government responsible for its war crimes, in addition to covering stories concerning torture from other countries, as time and space permit. (Alas, the U.S. has no monopoly on this hideous practice.)
The editors for the WTR are myself, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, and Meteor Blades and we will rotate each week. Interesting or important news or tips concerning torture or civil liberties issues bearing upon it can be emailed to any of these individuals.
There were many new developments this week: the CIA announced it would withhold a list describing 1000s of documents related to the destruction of videotapes depicting torture; an ex-Bush administration official told of administration indifference to evidence of innocence for the great bulk of “enemy combatants”; a major lawsuit against Pentagon contractors accused of torture was allowed to proceed; a “released” Guantanamo hunger striker was refused more humane prison conditions, and more.
Mar 18 2009
The news that AIG executives were to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses (maybe as high as $450 million!), even after a $170 billion dollar bailout, has fueled a populist revolt not seen since the initial shock of the economic crisis hit Americans last October. When Obama Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told American Insurance Group CEO, Edward M. Liddy, that government loans to AIG might be renegotiated as a result, Liddy responded with “grave concern” over the firm’s ability to retain “talented staff.”
Talented in rip-off, that is. But former New York governor and supposed scourge of Wall Street, Elliot Spitzer, is reporting over at Slate that the outrage in the media over the bonuses is a diversion. (H/T Inky99 at Daily Kos.) Not that they aren’t an outrage, the scandal misses the larger crime: the siphoning off of billions of taxpayer dollars to a handful of companies, who insured their highly risky investments with AIG. These companies have received hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout money. Now they are to receive 100% on the dollar reimbursement for their losses from AIG. Spitzer comments:
Mar 17 2009
As even a commenter at The Daily Show’s website put it, Jon Stewart’s interview tonight with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George W. Bush, General Richard Myers, was “one of the most fawning, sycophantic interviews I have ever seen Jon Stewart do.”
There is no transcript or link to the interview yet. It’s too fresh. From my memory, the interview began with Stewart lauding the sacrifice of U.S. troops, and it also ended the same way. A few days after electrifying much of the blogosphere with a critical interview with CNBC financial host Jim Cramer, Stewart showed how he can cower when faced with someone with real power, and not a small-time media crony like Cramer.
General Myers was promoted to the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs only two weeks before 9/11, after having served as vice chair under President Clinton. As a loyal military man under the evil Bush/Cheney regime, he helped organize the “shock and awe” invasion of Iraq that produced hundreds of thousands of deaths and a million or more refugees, all under the guise of a bogus search for supposed weapons of mass destruction.
Mar 12 2009
According to the New York Times, Obama administration Attorney General Eric holder announced today he would appoint a new “special envoy” on Guantanamo, former assistant secretary of state for European affairs in the Bush Administration, Daniel Fried.
Also on Wednesday, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. named two government lawyers with national security experience as staff directors of task forces set up by President Obama to analyze detention issues.
J. Douglas Wilson, a senior federal prosecutor in California, is to lead an analysis of guidelines for interrogation and transfer of detainees to other countries. Brad Wiegmann, a senior Justice Department national security lawyer, is to help lead a task force charged with recommending the legal rules for detention of future terrorism suspects.
Mar 10 2009
David Rose at the British paper The Mail got the scoop that was former Guanatanamo prisoner Binyam Mohamed’s “world exclusive” post-release interview. Entitled “How MI5 colluded in my torture: Binyam Mohamed claims British agents fed Moroccan torturers their questions”, the article presents a brief biography of Mr. Mohamed’s troubled life, including the experience of racial prejudice in the United States (Binyam is Ethiopian-born), abandonment by his father, and later the adoption of his mother’s religion, Islam.
But the article’s most sensational sections describe his torture by Pakistani, Moroccan, and U.S. officials, who all the while were in collaboration with British intelligence services, who not only were feeding them questions, but also withholding exculpatory evidence as well. The torture was horrendous:
Mar 05 2009
There has been plenty of controversy on the issue of conducting a Congressional or independent investigation into the interrogations policy and torture activities of the Bush administration over the last seven or eight years.
One of the primary worries by those who oppose a “truth and reconciliation”-style investigation is that it would preempt possible prosecutions, or at worst, be a cover-up of some of the worst crimes involved. Those who favor such an investigation believe that is only with a broad investigation will all the information really be unearthed.
The hearing today by the Senate Judiciary Committee — “Getting to the Truth Through a Nonpartisan Commission of Inquiry” — chaired by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), was called to explore options for investigating past torture and counter-terrorism policy. The committee called six witnesses, some for, some against such an investigation. But a close look at the backgrounds and affiliations of even most of the pro-investigation witnesses should give us deep pause, and ask what kind of commission are we being set up for?
Mar 03 2009
Two stories from today’s news highlight the hubris of the U.S. executive branch as regards its assumed right to conduct unrestrained surveillance of its citizens, and engage in torture in violation of all laws.
Both Emptywheel at Firedoglake and Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com have done a stellar job tracking the Cheneyesque descent (H/T EW) of the Obama Justice Department when it comes to the question of executive privilege over classified material, especially when it comes to the courts. We already have witnessed the spectacle of the U.S. pressuring a British court on the suppression of documents in the Binyam Mohamed case.
Mar 02 2009
The producers of a unique documentary sent me a DVD copy of their independent documentary, “The Warning.” They hoped they would get a good review, and they needn’t have worried.
“The Warning,” written, produced, and directed by Joseph P. Sottile, consists entirely of interviews with five well-known liberal authors (see below). Rather than questions and answers, the interviewees are allowed to speak for themselves. Occasionally, they even read appropriate selections from their works.
But rather than a boring word fest, the seriousness of the work gives it a riveting feel. The subject is nothing less than the descent of the United States into a ruthless totalitarian state, which relies on state torture, an imperial executive, widespread surveillance, the conscious use of fear-laden propaganda, a docile press, and the influence of a radical Christian core of believers to spread the program in institutions throughout civil society.
Feb 22 2009
Crossposted from Daily Kos
What follows below was transcribed from a PDF of the original document (or a copy of same), posted on the website of Senator Carl Levin, Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. It, along with a wealth of other documentation, was used in preparing the SASC’s highly critical report late last year on interrogations and detainee treatment, which concluded that high officials bore responsibility for the mistreatment and torture of prisoners under U.S. control.
The document below constitutes the minutes from a meeting held at Guantanamo in early autumn, 2002. It is presented with minimal editorial comment, as I believe it speaks for itself. So far as I know, no other transcription of this document, minus certain excerpts, has ever been published or posted before. It is done so here as a public service, to promote the position that prosecution of the government’s torture crimes is of paramount importance.
Feb 17 2009
The UK Guardian, which has been right on top of the Binyam Mohamed drama unfolding in the British courts, delivered another bombshell article this morning in London. “Whitehall devised torture policy for terror detainees,” the headline reads, “MI5 interrogations in Pakistan agreed by lawyers and government.”
The British High Court resumed their hearing of Binyam’s request for documents to prove his torture, as part of the legal proceedings against him at Guantanamo. Previously, the British judges had ruled that what they called “powerful evidence” suppressed relating to the torture of Mohamed by the U.S. and their proxy torturers in Morocco, where Mohamed had been sent as part of the Bush Administration’s policy of “extraordinary rendition.” The judges then revealed that they had been told by the British Foreign Minister, David Milibrand, that the requested documents could not be released, or U.S.-UK intelligence relations would be affected.
Feb 13 2009
Scott Horton has followed up on the UK Guardian story, which I also wrote on last night, describing how Reprieve attorney Clive Stafford Smith, whose organization is helping defend Guantanamo detainee and British resident Binyam Mohamed, had information he was sending to President Obama on Mohamed’s torture censored by the U.S. Department of Defense.
At Daily Kos, a number of readers were incredulous at the claims I, and by implication, Stafford Smith was making about Obama being kept out of the information loop, suggesting that I was prone to conspiracy theories, or a dupe for grandstanding by Mohamed’s attorneys. Some suggested either the Guardian or myself or both had completely misunderstood the situation.
But Horton, who has been following this story carefully, and is known to have excellent sources, reported on the Guardian article much as I had, and added this: