By Bob Woodward
Washington Post Staff Writer
The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantánamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a “life-threatening condition.”
“We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani,” said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution.
Crawford, a retired judge who served as general counsel for the Army during the Reagan administration and as Pentagon inspector general when Dick Cheney was secretary of defense, is the first senior Bush administration official responsible for reviewing practices at Guantánamo to publicly state that a detainee was tortured.
Crawford, 61, said the combination of the interrogation techniques, their duration and the impact on Qahtani’s health led to her conclusion. “The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his… Continue reading
Saturday January 10, 2009
One of the many sad ironies of the Bush era that is rapidly and mercifully drawing to a close is that after the president created a “central front in the war on terror” by invading Iraq, the amount of “terrorism” in the world skyrocketed. I call it the Bush Bubble:
At first, the administration seemed a little embarrassed by this result, and it engaged in various attempts, which I’ve documented over the years and summarized here, at disguising the increase. Interestingly, the public face for many of those shenanigans was John Brennan, formerly head of the National Counterterrorism Center and currently Obama’s transition intelligence adviser and pick for the newly created position of deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism.
In July 2005, announcing a new web-accessible database of terrorism incidents compiled by the RAND corporation and available at tkb.org, Brennan said, “We’re trying to be as open and transparent to the public as possible.”
That lasted a little over two years. Funding was withdrawn from the project on March 31, 2008, probably because people like me were using the analytical tools on the site to produce embarrassing graphs like the one above. Note that the data used in that graph was accessed a couple of months before the site’s demise, and the decrease shown for 2007 may reflect incomplete data. The government’s own figures, put out by the National Counterterrorism Center but going back only to 2004, show an increase in… Continue reading
Among the men about to undergo military trials at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba,
is the self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind.
By Peter Finn
Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
The military judge overseeing proceedings against five of the men accused of
planning the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks signed an order designed to protect classified
information that is so broad it could prevent public scrutiny of the most important
trial at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, according to lawyers and human rights groups.
The protective order, which was signed on Dec. 18 by Judge Stephen R. Henley,
an Army colonel, not only protects documents and information that have been
classified by intelligence agencies, it also presumptively classifies any information
"referring" to a host of agencies, including the CIA, the FBI and
the State Department. The order also allows the court in certain circumstances
to classify information already in the public domain and presumptively classifies
"any statements made by the accused."
Three of the accused, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed
mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, are defending themselves and, under the order,
anything they say during the course of the trial could be shielded from the
"These rules turn the presumption of openness on its head, making what
is perhaps the most important trial in American history presumptively closed
to the public and the press," said Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism
counsel at Human Rights Watch. "If these rules applied in all cases, there
would be no such thing as an open trial in… Continue reading
by Peter Dale Scott
January 7, 2009
Paulson’s Financial Bailout
It is becoming clear that the bailout measures of late 2008 may have consequences at least as grave for an open society as the response to 9/11 in 2001. Many members of Congress felt coerced into voting against their inclinations, and the normal procedures for orderly consideration of a bill were dispensed with.
The excuse for bypassing normal legislative procedures was the existence of an emergency. But one of the most reprehensible features of the legislation, that it allowed Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to permit bailed-out institutions to use public money for exorbitant salaries and bonuses, was inserted by Paulson after the immediate crisis had passed.
According to Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vermont) the bailout bill originally called for a cap on executive salaries, but Paulson changed the requirement at the last minute. Welch and other members of Congress were enraged by “news that banks getting taxpayer-funded bailouts are still paying exorbitant salaries, bonuses, and other benefits.”1 In addition, as AP reported in October, “Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. questioned allowing banks that accept bailout bucks to continue paying dividends on their common stock. `There are far better uses of taxpayer dollars than continuing dividend payments to shareholders,” he said.”2
Even more reprehensible is the fact that since the bailouts, Paulson and the Treasury Department have refused to provide details of the Troubled Assets Relief Program spending of hundreds of billions of dollars, while the New York Federal Reserve has… Continue reading
by Bill Van Auken
World Socialist Web Site
With his choice of Admiral Dennis Blair as director of national intelligence, President-elect Barack Obama has now named three recently retired four-star military officers to serve in his cabinet. This unprecedented representation of the senior officer corps within the incoming Democratic administration is indicative of a growth in the political power of the US military that poses a serious threat to basic democratic rights.
As head of the US military’s Pacific command in 1999-2000, Blair was distinguished by his efforts to solidarize the Pentagon with the military of Indonesia as it carried out butchery in East Timor, effectively vetoing the half-hearted human rights concerns voiced by the Clinton administration.
Before tapping Blair, Obama named former Marine Gen. James Jones as his national security adviser and former Army chief of staff Gen. Erik Shinseki as secretary of veterans affairs. It is also reported that the incoming administration may ask retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden to stay on as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The Washington Post last Saturday described this concentration of former senior officers in the administration as “an unusual trend for a Democratic administration and one that has surprised both political camps.”
The appointments follow the announcement that Robert Gates, Bush’s defense secretary, will stay on at the Pentagon, where multiple “transition teams” are at work to assure that continuity is maintained in America’s ongoing wars of aggression and that the immense power of the military remains unchecked.
Earlier… Continue reading
TSA Head Disputes Claim, Tells 60 Minutes Measures Are Necessary Because "This
Is A War"
Dec. 21, 2008
(CBS) If you’re one of the millions heading home for the holidays by airplane,
you may be dreading the long lines and intrusive searches that a trip through
an airport checkpoint can mean these days.
Since 9/11, $40 billion has been spent to beef up airport security, with most
of it going to hire 50,000 screeners who enforce rules often considered annoying
Travelers feel so hassled by the screeners that their bosses at TSA, the Transportation
Security Administration, have launched an image makeover and a public relations
campaign to convince the public that there’s a good reason for the inconveniences
Go to a checkpoint and you’ll find passengers bellyaching about the undressing,
the unbuckling, and the taking off of their shoes – which they don’t have to
do in Europe or even Israel, where airline security is especially tight.
There’s a lot of stress, and griping about having to pack their little liquids
into baggies. They resent that each and every traveler is treated like a possible
terrorist, even little old ladies.
When correspondent Lesley Stahl asked Kip Hawley, the outgoing head of TSA,
if all this is really necessary, he wanted us to know that the terrorist threat
has not gone away.
“This is war. These people are trying to kill us. They got on the planes
in September 11th, 2001, killed 3,000 people. And… Continue reading
Stephen C. Webster
A career Army officer who survived the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, claims that no evacuation was ordered inside the Pentagon, despite flight controllers calling in warnings of approaching hijacked aircraft nearly 20 minutes before the building was struck.
According to a time-line of the attacks, the Federal Aviation Administration notified NORAD that American Airlines Flight 77 had been hijacked at 9:24 a.m. The Pentagon was not struck until 9:43 a.m.
On behalf of retired Army officer April Gallop, California attorney William Veale has filed a civil suit against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and former US Air Force General Richard Myers, who was acting chairman of the joint chiefs on 9/11. It alleges they engaged in conspiracy to facilitate the terrorist attacks and purposefully failed to warn those inside the Pentagon, contributing to injuries she and her two-month-old son incurred.
“The ex-G.I. plaintiff alleges she has been denied government support since then, because she raised ‘painful questions’ about the inexplicable failure of military defenses at the Pentagon that day, and especially the failure of officials to warn and evacuate the occupants of the building when they knew the attack was imminent” said Veale in a media advisory.
Gallop also says she heard two loud explosions, and does not believe that a Boeing 757 hit the building. Her son sustained a serious brain injury, and Gallop herself was knocked unconscious after the roof collapsed onto her office.
The suit also named… Continue reading
By Joe Dwinell
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Three families who have vowed to hold the airlines and Massport responsible for failing to stop the Sept. 11 terrorists have to wait until March to find whether they’ll get their day in court.
Manhattan federal Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein yesterday delayed his decision on setting a trial date, saying he must decide first on a defendant motion to have FBI and CIA agents testify about the increased terror threat in the weeks before the attacks.
Plaintiff attorney Donald A. Migliori called the motion a ploy to “politicize” the case.
Migliori is representing the families of terror victims Sara Low, 28, a resident of Arkansas who was a Boston-based airline attendant; Mark Bavis, 31, of West Newton, a pro hockey scout; and Barbara Keating, 72, of Palm Springs, Fla., a native of Framingham.
He said the families are blaming Massport, American Airlines [AMR], United Airlines and security companies who allowed terrorists onboard Flight 11 and Flight 175 on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, armed with box cutters and pepper spray.
“My clients are adamant it will go to trial,” said Migliori. He said these last three plaintiffs have kept up the fight fora public trial and an open archive for all to study the national nightmare, as 3,000 other victims’ cases have been settled.
The lead attorney for the airlines could not be reached yesterday.
Hellerstein said he will set a trial date March 2, once he rules on if the CIA and FBI should be called into the case.…Continue reading
December 10, 2008
By AMY WESTFELDT, Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK — Two dozen family members of Sept. 11 victims signed a letter
Wednesday saying they don’t believe in the fairness of the military trials of
five men charged with orchestrating the terrorist attacks, and some suggested
their opinions cost them attendance at the proceedings.
While the family members who attended this week’s proceedings at Guantánamo
Bay Naval Base in Cuba expressed support for the tribunals, they also said "that
many of us do not believe these military commissions to be fair, in accordance
with American values, or capable of achieving the justice that 9/11 family members
and all Americans deserve," according to the letter released by the American
Civil Liberties Union.
Robin Theurkauf, whose husband was killed at the World Trade Center, said she
wanted to attend the proceedings but was denied a spot in a lottery for family
"I testified for the defense in the (Zacarias) Moussaoui trial,"
Theurkauf said, referring to the convicted Sept. 11 conspirator. "I think
I was skipped over because of that."
Lorie Van Auken, whose husband Kenneth was killed at the trade center, also
wanted to attend the hearings. She has been a prominent critic of the Guantánamo
proceedings, accusing the government of using torture to coerce confessions.
"It could be that they didn’t want the critical voices to be heard,"
Van Auken said.
Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, said Wednedsay that five family
members from a pool of 113… Continue reading
By Paul Craig Roberts
December 05, 2008
The US government
does not have a monopoly on hypocrisy, but no other government can match the
hypocrisy of the US government.
It is now well documented and known all over the world that the US government
tortured detainees at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo and that the US government has
had people kidnaped and “rendentioned,” that is, transported to
third world countries, such as Egypt, to be tortured.
Also documented and well known is the fact that the US Department of Justice
provided written memos justifying the torture of detainees. One torture advocate
who wrote the DOJ memos that gave the green light to the Bush regime’s
use of torture is John Yoo, a Vietnamese immigrant who somehow secured a US
Justice Department appointment and a tenured professorship at the University
of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. John Yoo is the best case
against immigration that I know.
Members of Berkeley’s city council believe that Yoo should be charged
with war crimes. The US government has charged lesser offenders than Yoo with
war crimes. Yoo helped the DOJ achieve the Bush regime’s goal of finding
a way around the torture prohibitions of both US statutory law and the Geneva
The way around the law that Yoo provided for the sadistic Bush regime was closed
down by the US Supreme Court, which voided Yoo’s arguments, and Yoo’s
torture memo was rescinded by the Department of Justice. Nevertheless, Yoo’s
obvious… Continue reading
by Michael Parenti
December 7, 2008
Author’s website: www.michaelparenti.org.
Barack Obama is on record as advocating a military escalation in Afghanistan.
Before sinking any deeper into that quagmire, we might do well to learn something
about recent Afghan history and the role played by the United States.
Less than a month after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center
and the Pentagon, US leaders began an all-out aerial assault upon Afghanistan,
the country purportedly harboring Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist
organization. More than twenty years earlier, in 1980, the United States intervened
to stop a Soviet “invasion” of that country. Even some leading progressive
writers, who normally take a more critical view of US policy abroad, treated
the US intervention against the Soviet-supported government as “a good
thing.” The actual story is not such a good thing.
Some Real History
Since feudal times the landholding system in Afghanistan had remained unchanged,
with more than 75 percent of the land owned by big landlords who comprised only
3 percent of the rural population. In the mid-1960s, democratic revolutionary
elements coalesced to form the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). In 1973,
the king was deposed, but the government that replaced him proved to be autocratic,
corrupt, and unpopular. It in turn was forced out in 1978 after a massive demonstration
in front of the presidential palace, and after the army intervened on the side
of the demonstrators.
The military officers who took charge invited the… Continue reading
December 1, 2008
Reporting by Zaa Nkweta
Bruce Fein: Army to deal with potential domestic "civil unrest
and crowd control"
Watch this brief news video at TheRealNews.com.
The US federal government has made strong preparations for "continuity
of government" in the event of a national catastrophe. A full army brigade
is now on active duty within domestic borders, and the Bush administration has
issued a directive which allows the president to coordinate all three branches
of the federal government in such an event. The Real News spoke to Bruce Fein.
Bruce Fein is the founder of the American Freedom Agenda, that works to restore
constitutional checks and balances. He served in the US Justice Department under
President Reagan and has been an adjunct scholar with the American Enterprise
Institute, a resident scholar at the Heritage Foundation, a lecturer at the
Brookings Institute, and an adjunct professor at George Washington University.
He is an adviser to Ron Paul.
U.S. Army prepares to invade U.S. corbettreport.
Context of ‘1992-2000: Secret Continuity of Government Exercises Prepare for
Terrorist Threat’ – HistoryCommons.org
BACK TO THE BUNKER – washingtonpost.com
TRANSCRIPT: US prepares for "continuity of government"
ZAA NKWETA, TRNN: With recent warnings of potential terrorist attacks coming
from US authorities, civil liberty proponents are growing increasingly concerned
about preparations the federal government is making for a potential emergency
situation. As of October, a full army brigade is on active duty within the United
States to deal… Continue reading
INTRODUCTION UPDATE, continued:
Furthermore, a House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Press Release states:
In February 2008, Dr. Katz sent an e-mail stating “Shh! — Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1000 suicide attempts per month among the veterans we see in our medical facilities. Is this something we should (carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?”
[911truth.org Ed.: Note that Katz says here, "...among the veterans we see in our facilities..." This does not count the veterans who couldn't get appointments, whose families tried to commit them before they killed themselves but were turned away, or who were too mentally ill to even seek help...]
See also, “Committee chairman accuses VA of criminal negligence,” in USAToday, May 6, 2008. And from the Rand Corporation, “One In Five Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Suffer from PTSD or Major Depression: Nearly 20 percent of military service members who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan — 300,000 in all — report symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder or major depression, yet only slightly more than half have sought treatment, according to a new RAND Corporation study.” Or this excellent article at The Nation, “On Veterans Day, Don’t Forget About the War” by independent journalist and author, Aaron Glantz, editor of www.warcomeshome.org. Or this new article from the San Francisco Chronicle, “Bases brace for surge in stress-related disorders,” which states: “Some 15,000 soldiers are heading home to this sprawling base after spending more than a year at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and military health officials are bracing for a surge in brain injuries and psychological problems among those troops.…Continue reading
JURIST Contributing Editor Mary Ellen O’Connell of Notre Dame Law School and panel colleagues at a recent Washburn University School of Law symposium on “The Rule of Law and the Global War on Terrorism” offer their consensus on the appropriate way forward on critical issues in international law and policy that will confront President Barack Obama’s Administration when it takes office on January 20, 2009…
Within hours of the attacks of 9/11 the Bush Administration decided to treat the attacks as part of a worldwide war–a new kind of war that would free the Administration to re-write the rules. A “global war on terrorism” was declared and new rules for the targeting, detention and trials of persons suspected of acts of terrorism or membership in terrorist organizations were created. Seven years later, upon the election of a new president, there is an intense debate under way in the United States as to what to do about the “global war” and the laws and institutions resulting from it.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey expressed his views at a meeting of the Federalist Society November 20 and had this to say about the future:
The next Administration will have the opportunity to review the institutions and the legal structures that this Administration has relied upon in keeping the nation safe over the past seven years. I am neither so proud as to think that the next Administration will be unable to make improvements, nor so naÃ¯ve as to think that the policy choices,… Continue reading
November 21, 2008
By William Glaberson
New York Times
A federal judge issued the Bush administration a sharp setback on Thursday, ruling that five Algerian men have been held unlawfully at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp for nearly seven years and ordering their release.
It was the first hearing on the government’s evidence for holding detainees at Guantánamo. The judge, Richard J. Leon of Federal District Court in Washington, said the government’s secret evidence in the case had been weak: what he described as “a classified document from an unnamed source” for its central claim against the men, with little way to measure credibility.
“To rest on so thin a reed would be inconsistent with this court’s obligation,” Judge Leon said. He urged the government not to appeal and said the men should be released “forthwith.”
The habeas corpus case was an important test of the administration’s detention policies, which critics have long argued swept up innocent men and low-level foot soldiers along with hardened fighters and terrorist commanders.
The judge also ruled that a sixth Algerian man was being lawfully detained because he was a facilitator for Al Qaeda, arranging travel for others to fight the United States, and planned to become a fighter himself.
The six men are among a group of Guantánamo inmates who won a 5-to-4 Supreme Court ruling in June that the detainees had a constitutional right to seek their release in federal court. The decision said a 2006 law unconstitutionally stripped them of their right to contest their imprisonment in habeas corpus lawsuits.…Continue reading
Refuse to Tolerate Torture
By Linda Rigas
November 18, 2008
Posted at FireJohnYoo.org
Excerpts from Scott Horton’s Justice After Bush: Prosecuting An Outlaw Administration in Harper’s Magazine.
This administration did more than commit crimes. It waged war against the law itself. It transformed the Justice Department into a vehicle for voter suppression, and it also summarily dismissed the U.S. attorneys who attempted to investigate its wrongdoing. It issued wartime contracts to substandard vendors with inside connections, and it also defunded efforts to police their performance. It spied on church groups and political protestors, and it also introduced a sweeping
surveillance program that was so clearly illegal that virtually the entire senior echelon of the Justice Department threatened to (but did not in fact) tender their resignations over it. It waged an illegal and disastrous war, and it did so by falsely representing to Congress and to the American public nearly every piece of intelligence it had on Iraq. And through it all, as if to underscore its contempt for any authority but its own, the administration issued more than a hundred carefully crafted “signing statements” that raised pervasive doubt about whether the president would even accede to bills that he himself had signed into law.
No prior administration has been so systematically or so brazenly lawless. [...] Indeed, in weighing the enormity of the administration’s transgression against the realistic prospect of justice, it is possible to determine not only the crime that calls most clearly for prosecution but also the crime that is most likely to be successfully prosecuted.…Continue reading
By Randall Mikkelsen
Nov 7, 2008
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The FBI tracked about 108,000 potential terrorism threats
or suspicious incidents from mid-2004 to November 2007, but most were found
groundless, a Justice Department review found on Friday.
The department’s office of inspector general gave the figure in an audit of
the FBI’s terrorism case-tracking system, called Guardian, launched in 2002
after the September 11 attacks.
"The FBI determined that the overwhelming majority of the threat information
documented in Guardian had no nexus to terrorism. However, as a result of information
reported in Guardian the FBI initiated over 600 criminal and terrorism-related
investigations from October 2006 to December 2007," the inspector general’s
The report did not discuss the result of the investigations.
FBI policy requires that each threat or suspicious incident reported by the
public or other government agencies and law enforcement officers be reviewed
to determine whether there is a link to terrorism.
The report expressed concern over delays in the development of a related system,
called E-Guardian, for sharing terrorism-related information with local law
enforcement. It said the automated Guardian system had improved since it was
first implemented, and the number of incidents tracked had grown dramatically.
FBI spokesman John Miller said the agency had implemented steps to resolve
concerns and it accepted recommendations made by the inspector general.
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
West Virginia Department of Education
October 21, 2008
BUCKHANNON, W.Va. – John Feal, founding president of the FealGood Foundation and a demolition expert who worked at Ground Zero following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, will bring his message to Upshur County students and residents on Friday, Oct. 24. Feal and up to seven other first responders will meet with students at Buchannon Upshur High School beginning at 8:30 a.m. The group will meet with the community later in the day.
Feal, like 70 percent of 9/11 workers, suffers from post-9/11 illnesses. One of his feet had to be amputated after being crushed by an eight-ton steel beam. He also suffers from a respiratory syndrome called World Trade Center Cough and posttraumatic stress disorder.
Feal agreed to visit West Virginia after some Buckhannon-Upshur High School students contacted him via e-mail after watching a documentary in health educator Mateal Poling’s class. The documentary, Save the Brave, chronicles the daily struggles of 9/11 Ground Zero workers in the seven years since the attacks. Greg Quibell, one of the men featured, died of his injuries the day before the film’s premiere in New York.
“You have no idea how excited they were when Feal replied — me too,” Poling said. “It is hard to imagine that these kids were only first and second graders on 9/11, but thanks to Feal’s efforts, our students are starting to have a better understanding of the profound effects of that day.”
Feal said he is “humbled and honored to meet such amazing Americans.”
“They are a reflection of the teacher who has taught them well,” Feal said.…Continue reading