|" The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed."
on: December 17, 2012, 02:48:30 pm
Started by LeftDemocrat - Last post by LeftDemocrat
update, Dec 2012, from Andy Worthington, really one of the best people in the world, on the Bush-era torture regime
None of [the Bush-era officials involved in torture] should be immune from prosecution, because torture is illegal under U.S. domestic law and is prohibited under the terms of the UN Convention Against Torture, which the United States, under Ronald Reagan, signed in 1988 and ratified in 1994. As Article 2.2 states, unequivocally, “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”
However, the architects of the torture program didn’t care, and still don’t care, because for them the disgraceful memos written by Yoo were designed to be a “golden shield,” a guarantee that, whatever they did, they were covered, because they had legal advice telling them that torture was not torture.
Barack Obama came into office promising to ban the use of torture. His administration released the second Yoo and Bybee “torture memo” and three later “torture memos” from 2005 as part of a court case in April 2009. That, however, was the end of the Obama administration’s flirtation with accountability. In court, every avenue that lawyers have tried to open up has been aggressively shut down by the government, citing the “state secrets doctrine,” another “golden shield” for torturers, which prohibits the discussion of anything the government doesn’t want discussed, for spurious reasons of national security.
The only other opportunity to stop the rot came three years ago, when an internal DoJ ethics investigation concluded, after several years of diligent work, that Yoo and Bybee were guilty of “professional misconduct” when they wrote and signed the memos. That could have led to their being disbarred, which would have been inconvenient for a law professor at UC Berkeley (Yoo) and a judge in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Bybee). It also might well have set off ripples that would have led to Bush and Cheney and their lawyers.
However, at the last minute a long-time DoJ fixer, David Margolis, was allowed to override the report’s conclusions, claiming that both men were guilty only of “poor judgment,” which, he alleged, was understandable in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and which carried no sanctions whatsoever.
Thwarted in the United States, those seeking accountability have had to seek it elsewhere: in Spain; in Poland, where one of the CIA’s “black sites” was located; and in Italy, where 23 Americans — 22 CIA agents and an Air Force colonel — were convicted in November 2009, in a ruling that was upheld on appeal in September this year, of kidnapping an Egyptian cleric, Abu Omar, and rendering him to Egypt, where he was tortured.
The United States has refused to extradite any of the men and women convicted in Italy, but the ruling is a reminder that not everyone around the world believes in Yoo’s and Bybee’s “golden shield.”
Most recently, lawyers seeking accountability have tried pursuing Bush in Canada. Last September, prior to a visit by the former president, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) submitted a 69-page draft indictment to Attorney General Robert Nicholson, along with more than 4,000 pages of supporting material setting forth the case against Bush for torture.
When that was turned down, the lawyers launched a private prosecution in Provincial Court in Surrey, British Columbia, on behalf of four Guantánamo prisoners — Hassan bin Attash, Sami el-Hajj, Muhammed Khan Tumani, and Murat Kurnaz (all released, with the exception of bin Attash) — on the day of Bush’s arrival in Canada.
That avenue also led nowhere because the attorney general of British Columbia swiftly intervened to shut down the prosecution. Undeterred, however, CCR and CCIJ last week tried a new approach on behalf of those four men who, as Katherine Gallagher of CCR explained in the Guardian, “are all survivors of the systematic torture program the Bush administration authorized and carried out in locations including Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantánamo, and numerous prisons and CIA ‘black sites’ around the world.”
The new approach taken by the lawyers was to file a complaint with the UN Committee Against Torture, in which the four men “are asking one question: how can the man responsible for ordering these heinous crimes openly enter a country that has pledged to prosecute all torturers regardless of their position and not face legal action?”
As Gallagher explained, “Canada should have investigated these crimes. The responsibility to do so is embedded in its domestic criminal code that explicitly authorizes the government to prosecute torture occurring outside Canadian borders. There is no reason it cannot apply to former heads of state, and indeed, the convention has been found to apply to such figures including Hissène Habré [the former president of Chad] and Augusto Pinochet.”
That is true, and it will be interesting to see how the UN Committee Against Torture responds.
on: December 17, 2012, 02:34:52 pm
Started by LeftDemocrat - Last post by LeftDemocrat
This story is from two years ago, but it's of a piece with the above post.
Obama and GOPers Worked Together to Kill Bush Torture Probehttp://www.motherjones.com/politics/2010/12/wikileaks-cable-obama-quashed-torture-investigation
A WikiLeaks cable shows that when Spain considered a criminal case against ex-Bush officials, the Obama White House and Republicans got really bipartisan.
—By David Corn
Dec. 1, 2010
In its first months in office, the Obama administration sought to protect Bush administration officials facing criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies the that governed interrogations of detained terrorist suspects. A "confidential" April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid to the State Department—one of the 251,287 cables obtained by WikiLeaks—details how the Obama administration, working with Republicans, leaned on Spain to derail this potential prosecution.
The previous month, a Spanish human rights group called the Association for the Dignity of Spanish Prisoners had requested that Spain's National Court indict six former Bush officials for, as the cable describes it, "creating a legal framework that allegedly permitted torture." The six were former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; David Addington, former chief of staff and legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney; William Haynes, the Pentagon's former general counsel; Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense for policy; Jay Bybee, former head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel; and John Yoo, a former official in the Office of Legal Counsel. The human rights group contended that Spain had a duty to open an investigation under the nation's "universal jurisdiction" law, which permits its legal system to prosecute overseas human rights crimes involving Spanish citizens and residents. Five Guantanamo detainees, the group maintained, fit that criteria.
Soon after the request was made, the US embassy in Madrid began tracking the matter. On April 1, embassy officials spoke with chief prosecutor Javier Zaragoza, who indicated that he was not pleased to have been handed this case, but he believed that the complaint appeared to be well-documented and he'd have to pursue it. Around that time, the acting deputy chief of the US embassy talked to the chief of staff for Spain's foreign minister and a senior official in the Spanish Ministry of Justice to convey, as the cable says, "that this was a very serious matter for the USG." The two Spaniards "expressed their concern at the case but stressed the independence of the Spanish judiciary."
Two weeks later, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and the embassy's charge d'affaires "raised the issue" with another official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The next day, Zaragoza informed the US embassy that the complaint might not be legally sound. He noted he would ask Cándido Conde-Pumpido, Spain's attorney general, to review whether Spain had jurisdiction.
On April 15, Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), who'd recently been chairman of the Republican Party, and the US embassy's charge d'affaires met with the acting Spanish foreign minister, Angel Lossada. The Americans, according to this cable, "underscored that the prosecutions would not be understood or accepted in the US and would have an enormous impact on the bilateral relationship" between Spain and the United States. Here was a former head of the GOP and a representative of a new Democratic administration (headed by a president who had decried the Bush-Cheney administration's use of torture) jointly applying pressure on Spain to kill the investigation of the former Bush officials. Lossada replied that the independence of the Spanish judiciary had to be respected, but he added that the government would send a message to the attorney general that it did not favor prosecuting this case.
The next day, April 16, 2009, [Spanish] Attorney General Conde-Pumpido publicly declared that he would not support the criminal complaint.
... Still, this did not end the matter. It would still be up to investigating Judge Baltasar Garzón—a world-renowned jurist who had initiated previous prosecutions of war crimes and had publicly said that former President George W. Bush ought to be tried for war crimes—to decide whether to pursue the case against the six former Bush officials. That June—coincidentally or not—the Spanish Parliament passed legislation narrowing the use of "universal jurisdiction." Still, in September 2009, Judge Garzón pushed ahead with the case.
The case eventually came to be overseen by another judge who last spring asked the parties behind the complaint to explain why the investigation should continue. Several human rights groups filed a brief urging this judge to keep the case alive, citing the Obama administration's failure to prosecute the Bush officials. Since then, there's been no action. The Obama administration essentially got what it wanted. The case of the Bush Six went away.
Of course, for his pains and his moral rectitude, Judge Baltasar Garzón was subsequently the subject of a witch hunt initiated by Spanish McCarthyists, namely, by a shadowy group called Manos Limpias (which has been described as "far-right") and the Falange (falangistas = fascists, in Spain)
. Garzón has been prevented from working as a judge in Spain since May 2010, being presently suspended from office due to trumped up charges. Garzón has stated that he will appeal to the Constitutional Court of Spain against his expulsion from the judiciary. It's possible, of course, that Garzón was only pretending to start a prosecution of Bush-Cheney crimes as a kind of publicity stunt for his own career, but if so, he paid a heavy price, being shut out of the very halls of justice that he had previously haunted. The International Commission of Jurists
considers that his short-lived inquiry did not justify disciplinary action, let alone criminal prosecution, adding that the prosecution of judges for carrying out their professional work was "an inappropriate and unwarranted interference with the independence of the judicial process".
The investigation of the six Busheviks
was assigned to Judge Eloy Velasco who chose not to pursue it stating that Spain cannot investigate the case unless the U.S. intends not to conduct its own investigation into the matter. (source: Wikipedia)
As the above article in Mother Jones
mentioned, some of the incriminating evidence against the Busheviks
came from Wikileaks. Today, Judge Baltasar Garzón is currently head of Julian Assange's legal team.
on: November 27, 2012, 07:36:59 pm
Started by LeftDemocrat - Last post by LeftDemocrat
With the recent ruling in court, citizens sustaining a vigilant watch over the watchers have been vindicated
. Videotaping of police conduct is part of your First Amendment rights!
Supreme Court rejects plea to ban taping of police in Illinoishttp://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-supreme-court-rejects-plea-to-prohibit-taping-of-police
By Jason Meisner, Tribune reporter
November 26, 2012
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal of a controversial Illinois law prohibiting people from recording police officers on the job.
By passing on the issue, the justices left in place a federal appeals court ruling that found that the state's anti-eavesdropping law violates free-speech rights when used against people who audiotape police officers.
A temporary injunction issued after that June ruling effectively bars Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez from prosecuting anyone under the current statute. On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit against Alvarez, asked a federal judge hearing the case to make the injunction permanent, said Harvey Grossman, legal director of the ACLU of Illinois.
Illinois' eavesdropping law is one of the harshest in the country, making audio recording of a law enforcement officer — even while on duty and in public — a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Public debate over the law had been simmering since last year. In August 2011, a Cook County jury acquitted a woman who had been charged with recording Chicago police internal affairs investigators she believed were trying to dissuade her from filing a sexual harassment complaint against a patrol officer.
Judges in Cook and Crawford counties later declared the law unconstitutional, and in February, the McLean County state's attorney cited flaws in the law when he dropped charges against a man accused of recording an officer during a traffic stop.
Alvarez argued that allowing the recording of police would discourage civilians from speaking candidly to officers and could cause problems securing crime scenes or conducting sensitive investigations.
But a federal appeals panel ruled that the law "restricts far more speech than necessary to protect legitimate privacy interests."
Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has said he would favor a change allowing citizens to tape the police and vice versa.
Meanwhile, several efforts to amend the statute in Springfield have stalled in committee amid heavy lobbying from law enforcement groups in favor of the current law.
Tribune reporter Liam Ford firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune
Ominous, how the police are seeking a blanket protection to videotape the citizenry, at the same time as they're lobbying for a law that says we can't videotape them! Just another power grab from the boys in blue of Chicago, fair city.
on: November 14, 2012, 06:14:39 am
Started by LeftDemocrat - Last post by LeftDemocrat
Obama administration lets Rumsfled off the hook for torture regime in Iraq
excerpt from transcript provided by DemocracyNow, from an interview with Glenn Greenwald:
NERMEEN SHAIKH, DemocracyNow: I want to turn to another case having to do with the use of torture in Iraq. Last week, a federal appeals court dismissed a lawsuit against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for his role in crafting policies that led to torture in Iraq. In an 8-to-3 decision, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled two American citizens allegedly tortured at a U.S. military base have no right to sue Rumsfeld and other U.S. officials. The plaintiffs, Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel, were reportedly arrested and tortured after collaborating with the FBI in an investigation of their employer in Iraq, the private security company Shield Group Security. The company subsequently revoked the men’s credentials for entering Iraq’s so-called Green Zone, effectively barring them from the safest part of the country. Shortly after, they were arrested and detained by U.S. troops at Camp Cropper, where they faced physical and psychological torture. The two men were eventually released and never charged with a crime. Last Wednesday’s decision overturns two previous court rulings allowing the case to proceed. The Obama administration has followed the Bush administration in seeking the lawsuit’s dismissal. Glenn Greenwald, your response to these developments?http://www.democracynow.org/2012/11/14/as_bradley_manning_offers_guilty_plea#transcript
GLENN GREENWALD: Well, unfortunately, this is an extremely common development. Of all the institutions that have so profoundly failed in their duties in the aftermath of 9/11—the Congress, the media, the citizenry, to some extent—the federal judiciary is probably the most disgraceful, because they are supposed to be the court of last resort, the branch that is designed to hold officials in the executive branch accountable.
And to me, the most extraordinary fact of the 9/11 era is not that no government officials who committed these egregious crimes or torture and warrantless eavesdropping, rendition, invasions, have been held accountable—that is an amazing fact. The more amazing fact is that not a single victim of the war-on-terror abuses have been allowed even to have their day in court, let alone to achieve justice. In each and every case, the courthouse doors have been slammed in their face by having courts invoke either claims of radical secrecy or government immunity, the idea that our government officials are immune from the law, from any consequences, even when they commit the most egregious crimes. That, I think, is what history will view as the most profound failure in the wake of 9/11.
Sounds like more of right-winger Obama's crusade against whistleblowers. Two white guys blew the whistle on a mercenary private contractor working for the Bush-Cheney regime, and instead of rewarding the whistleblowers, the Bush-Cheney regime via Rumsfeld, shut them out, roughed them up, tortured them and let them go as a warning to the next bunch of whistleblowers, to let it be known Bush-Cheney have the back of their henchmen.
Obama's Justice Dept sees nothing wrong with what Rumsfeld did. Bodes ill for the future.
on: October 05, 2012, 11:07:27 am
Started by LeftDemocrat - Last post by LeftDemocrat
Of the four U.S. prisons considered for the transfer, it is apparently Thomson, Illinois that will win the bid.
Here's the skinny, according to AP:
Thomson Prison In Illinois To Be Purchased By Federal Government For $165 Million
By Sophia Tareen 10/02/12
The sale of the facility in the tiny Illinois village of Thomson has been stalled for years. Most recently, Virginia Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who heads a key House subcommittee overseeing the federal Bureau of Prisons, objected to the purchase because he believed terrorism suspects would be housed there. The Obama administration, which supports the sale, has vowed that won't happen and federal law now prohibits any transfers from Guantanamo Bay to Thomson.
Durbin reasserted that vow Tuesday, saying transfers from Guantanamo Bay must be housed in a military facility and that Thomson, 150 miles west of Chicago, would not be equipped to serve that purpose. He added that getting someone like Wolf to sign off is a longstanding courtesy but not a legal necessity. Illinois leaders repeatedly tried to meet with Wolf to change his mind but were unsuccessful, the Democrat said.
Instead, the Department of Justice moved on its own authority – and on the Bureau of Prisons' behalf – and filed paperwork Tuesday in federal court to transfer the sale to the federal system.
"We have deep reservations about proceeding without the support of all our appropriators. Department leadership requested multiple meetings with you to discuss the Thomson purchase, to dispel the concerns you have had with the acquisition, and to explain how the facility would be used," Attorney General Eric Holder wrote in a letter Tuesday to Wolf. "Unfortunately, you declined those requests. ... Under these circumstances, the Administration has decided to proceed with the purchase."
He explained that $151 million would come from the department's assets forfeiture fund, $9 million from the Bureau of Prison's salaries and expenses account and $5 million from the bureau's modernizations and repair account. He said no money would be taken from four other prisons scheduled to open in Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia and New Hampshire.
Spokesmen with the Justice Department and Bureau of Prisons didn't immediately have further details.
Wolf immediately blasted the move calling it "deeply troubling" and an "unprecedented directive to ... circumvent Congress."
"I am concerned that this purchase will set in motion the administration's plan to close the terrorist detention facility in Guantanamo Bay by transferring terrorist detainees to U.S. maximum security prisons, like Thomson," he said in a statement.
U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, the Kentucky Republican who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, concurred.
"This back-door move by the Obama Administration to open Thomson and reject the will of Congress and the American people is dangerously irresponsible, and will be met with the full and unfettered opposition of the Appropriations Committee," he said in a statement.
Thomson prison was built in 2001. But budget troubles kept it from fully opening and its 1,600 cells housed fewer than 200 inmates before the facility was closed in preparation for a sale. The last inmates were moved out in 2010.
The Bureau of Prisons first proposed buying the prison in 2009. At that time, the proposal included using some of the prison for transfers from Guantanamo Bay. That idea was dropped after vocal public opposition.
Federal appraisals on the value of Thomson have varied, but an average of three appraisals in 2012 was $220 million. Federal officials have said that building a new prison instead of buying Thomson would cost about $400 million and take years.
Illinois officials estimated the state could get the money by the end of the year.
Either way, for Gitmo prisoners or not, the prison-industrial-complex gets bigger.
on: October 05, 2012, 10:58:47 am
Started by LeftDemocrat - Last post by LeftDemocrat
The argument in favor of indictment and prosecution carries on, under the leadership of no less than Ramsey Clark, at IndictBushNow.org
There is a petition for you to sign at IndictBushNow.org
On the Wikipedia entry for Ramsey Clark, there is a description of the genesis of this project, that developed out of the impeachment movement.
VoteToImpeach : Advocating the impeachment of George W. Bushhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramsey_Clark
Type Political advocacy
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Key people Ramsey Clark (founder)
Focus Impeachment of Bush Administration members
Members reported over 1,000,000 signatories
Dissolved Jan. 20, 2009, converted to http://IndictBushNow.org
In 2002, Clark founded "VoteToImpeach", an organization advocating the impeachment of George W. Bush and several members of his administration. For the duration of Bush's terms in office, Clark sought, unsuccessfully, to bring Bush to stand trial for impeachment. Clark was an opponent of both the 1991 and 2003 Persian Gulf Wars. He is the founder of the International Action Center, which holds significant overlapping membership with the Workers' World Party. Clark and the IAC helped found the protest organization A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism).
As early as March 19, 2003, the New Jersey newspaper and website The Independent took note of Clark's efforts to impeach Bush and others, prior to the start of the Iraq War. The paper noted that "Clark said there is a Web site, www.votetoimpeach.org, dedicated to collecting signatures of U.S. citizens who want President George W. Bush impeached, and that approximately 150,000 have signed to impeach, he said." A conservative magazine, The Weekly Standard, stated in an article dated February 27, 2004, "...Ramsey Clark's VoteToImpeach.org is a serious operation", and noted the group had run full-sized newspaper advertising on both coasts of the U.S. though the Standard also went on to describe them as also being a "angry petition stage."
Clark's speech to a counter-inauguration protest on January 20, 2005 at John Marshall Park in Washington D.C. was broadcast on the radio/TV program Democracy Now hosted by Amy Goodman, with Clark stating that "We’ve had more than 500,000 people sign on 'Vote to Impeach.' ” The San Francisco Bay Guardian listed the website as one of three "Impeachment links", alongside afterdowningstreet.org and impeachpac.org.
The organization, under Clark's guidance, drafted its own articles of impeachment against President Bush, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft. The document argues that the four have committed, "...violations and subversions of the Constitution of the United States of America in an attempt to carry out with impunity crimes against peace and humanity and war crimes and deprivations of the civil rights of the people of the United States and other nations, by assuming powers of an imperial executive unaccountable to law and usurping powers of the Congress, the Judiciary and those reserved to the people of the United States."
Votetoimpeach.org (as of 8 February 2007) claimed to have collected over 852,780 signatures in favor of impeachment.
After the Bush Administration left office in January, 2009, the website was redirected to IndictBushNow.org. That website asks for "the prosecution of Bush, Cheney and others for their criminal acts" and solicits donations for this purpose.
It doesn't look like there's been an update to their IndictBush.org website, however, since December of last year.
Let's hope something happens, before this trail goes completely cold.
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”