By Debra Sweet
August 24, 2009
CIA Torture Report to be Released
The release of the long-anticipated CIA report, quashed since 2006 by the Bush regime, and then postponed several times by the Obama administration, is set for Monday August 24. It’s been leaked. Newsweek and the Guardian UK, “Bombshell report on CIA interrogations is leaked” report the CIA used mock executions to terrorize detainees through threatening the use of pistols and electric drills.
It’s reported that the Attorney General will make a decision in the next few days on whether to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of torture. The New York Times analyzed the problem Eric Holder is up against, having been instructed by Barack Obama not to look “backward” while saying “we do not torture”:
“Mr. Holder has told associates he is weighing a narrow investigation, focusing only on C.I.A. interrogators and contract employees who clearly crossed the line and violated the Bush administration’s guidelines and engaged in flagrantly abusive acts. But in taking that route, Mr. Holder would run two risks. One is the political fallout if only a handful of low-level agents are prosecuted for what many critics see as a pattern of excess condoned at the top of the government. The other is that an aggressive prosecutor would not stop at the bottom, but would work up the chain of command, and end up with a full-blown criminal inquiry into the intelligence agencies – just the kind of broad, open-ended criminal… Continue reading
By Brad Knickerbocker
August 20, 2009
The Christian Science Monitor
For those who had their doubts about the politics behind the Bush administration’s “war on terrorism,” Tom Ridge’s new book will fuel long-held suspicions.
The former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, who was the first head of the Department of Homeland Security, says two top Bush officials — Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft — pressured him to up the terror alert level before the 2004 election, according to promotional materials by publisher Macmillan.
“Ridge also charges that he was often ‘blindsided’ during daily morning briefings with Bush because the FBI withheld information from him, and says he was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings,” reports AFP.
Former Bush officials have been quick to push back on Ridge’s revelation.
Frances Frago Townsend, who coordinated homeland security matters at the National Security Council under President Bush, said Ridge is “absolutely wrong” in his allegation. “Politics played no part in any discussion” of the Homeland Security Council, Ms. Townsend insists in The Atlantic.
Not surprisingly, Ridge’s news has ricocheted around cable TV, radio talk shows, and the blogosphere.
Kansas City Star columnist Yael Abouhalkah says Ridge’s “serious charges” are “scathing.”
“An abuse so gross — if Ridge is right — shows, among other things, what a powerful influence on the all-important tracking polls terror alerts must have had,” writes Ben Smith on Politico.com. “And it suggests that Obama’s efforts to keep terror arrests out of… Continue reading
August 19, 2009
by Jason Leopold
The Public Record
Nine Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Eric Holder Wednesday saying the U.S. could face a terrorist attack if the attorney general appoints a special prosecutor to investigate the CIA’s use of torture against “war on terror” suspects.
Holder is under pressure to resist launching a criminal probe, even one limited to rogue CIA interrogators. At the same time, he is facing mounting pressure from some prominent Democrats and civil liberties and human rights groups to not only sign off on a criminal investigation but to expand it to include top Bush administration officials.
The latest correspondence came on Wednesday, in a letter to the attorney general that said an investigation into the CIA’s interrogation practices, no matter how limited in scope, would jeopardize the “security for all Americans, “chill future intelligence activities,” and could “leave us more vulnerable to attack.”
The senators resorted to fear-mongering, invoking the terrorist attacks on 9/11 to try and dissuade Holder
“We are deeply concerned by recent news reports that you are ‘poised to appoint a special prosecutor’ to investigate CIA officials who interrogated al Qaeda terrorists. Such an investigation could have a number of serious consequences, not just for the honorable members of the intelligence community, but also for the security of all Americans,” the letter says.
The letter was sent to Holder by Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona, Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Jeff… Continue reading
August 12, 2009
by Jeremy R. Hammond
Shahid R. Siddiqi contributed to this report
In an exclusive interview with Foreign Policy Journal, retired Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul responds to charges that he supports terrorism, discusses 9/11 and ulterior motives for the war on Afghanistan, claims that the U.S., Israel, and India are behind efforts to destabilize Pakistan, and charges the U.S. and its allies with responsibility for the lucrative Afghan drug trade.
Retired Lieutenant General Hamid Gul was the Director General of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) from 1987 to 1989, during which time he worked closely with the CIA to provide support for the mujahedeen fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Though once deemed a close ally of the United States, in more recent years his name has been the subject of considerable controversy. He has been outspoken with the claim that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were an “inside job”. He has been called “the most dangerous man in Pakistan”, and the U.S. government has accused him of supporting the Taliban, even recommending him to the United Nations Security Council for inclusion on the list of international terrorists.
In an exclusive interview with Foreign Policy Journal, I asked the… Continue reading
July 16, 2009
Posted at YouTube.com: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_aTbznZDT0
A brand new, powerful music video from David Ippolito. (That Guitar Man from Central Park) Watch this video. Please leave your own comments. Be heard. Download this song for free at www.thatguitarman.com. But… PASS THIS VIDEO ON TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW! (You and me… let’s make it “cool to care” again.)
June 25, 2009
The highest officials in our government have trampled on our traditional ideals of making America a nation of laws, not of men, by illegally narrowing the scope of torture and authorizing waterboarding, walling and other inhumane interrogation
techniques. In doing so, they violated the Anti-Torture Act, the War Crimes Act, the Geneva Conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment.
In order to enforce our laws and restore the free society that our forefathers envisioned, citizens must demand accountability for abuses of the laws pertaining to torture. In the tradition of the Civil Rights movement, change will not occur unless citizens stand up for their rights under the law.
On June 25th join us for an international day of demonstration demanding accountability for torture
in and across the country, to prosecute those responsible for torture. In Washington D.C. we have tabling starting at 9, speakers and a rally from 11 to 12 in , then a march to the Department of Justice. (Find other events across the US here. (Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Pasadena, CA, Boston, MA, Salt Lake City, UT, Tampa Bay, FL, Portland, OR, Bryn Mawr, PA, Seattle, WA, Las Vegas, NV, Honolulu, HI, Anchorage, AK)
Torture Accountability Action Day, sponsored by:
By James Risen and Eric Lichtblau
June 16, 2009
New York Times
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency is facing renewed scrutiny over the extent of its domestic surveillance program, with critics in Congress saying its recent intercepts of the private telephone calls and e-mail messages of Americans are broader than previously acknowledged, current and former officials said.
The agency’s monitoring of domestic e-mail messages, in particular, has posed longstanding legal and logistical difficulties, the officials said.
Since April, when it was disclosed that the intercepts of some private communications of Americans went beyond legal limits in late 2008 and early 2009, several Congressional committees have been investigating. Those inquiries have led to concerns in Congress about the agency’s ability to collect and read domestic e-mail messages of Americans on a widespread basis, officials said. Supporting that conclusion is the account of a former N.S.A. analyst who, in a series of interviews, described being trained in 2005 for a program in which the agency routinely examined large volumes of Americans’ e-mail messages without court warrants. Two intelligence officials confirmed that the program was still in operation.
Both the former analyst’s account and the rising concern among some members of Congress about the N.S.A.’s recent operation are raising fresh questions about the spy agency.
Representative Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey and chairman of the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, has been investigating the incidents and said he had become increasingly troubled by the agency’s handling of domestic communications.
In an… Continue reading
By Stephanie Gaskell
Wednesday, June 17th 2009
A New Jersey hospital that treats sick 9/11 first responders got a last-minute
reprieve Tuesday when the feds vowed to send cash to keep it open through September.
The Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences Institute at the Robert
Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick had told its 1,800 patients it
wasn’t sure it could stay open past next month.
Federal funding had been held up over an accounting dispute, but late Tuesday
the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said it was sending
$575,000 to cover summer expenses.
John Feal, founder of the Fealgood Foundation, which pushes for health care
for 9/11 workers, said the money isn’t enough.
Feal said, “$575,000 is like putting a Band-Aid on a machine-gun wound.
“Funding for three months is a joke when 9/11 first responders will need
treatment for the rest of their lives.”
By DEVLIN BARRETT
WASHINGTON — Accused al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed complained that interrogators tortured lies out of him, though he proudly took credit for more than two dozen other terror plots, according to newly released sections of government transcripts.
“I make up stories,” Mohammed said at one point in his 2007 hearing at Guantánamo Bay.
In broken English, he described an interrogation in which he was asked the location of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
“Where is he? I don’t know,” Mohammed said. ‘Then he torture me. Then I said, ‘Yes, he is in this area or this is al Qaeda which I don’t know him.’ I said no, they torture me.”
Yet at the same military tribunal hearing, Mohammed ticked off a list of 29 terror plots in which he took part.
The transcripts were released as part of a lawsuit in which the American Civil Liberties Union is seeking documents and details of the government’s terror detainee programs.
Previous accounts of the military tribunal hearings had been made public, but the Obama administration went back and reviewed the still-secret sections and determined that more portions could be released.
Most of the new material centers around the detainees’ claims of abuse during interrogations while being held overseas in CIA custody.
One detainee, Abu Zubaydah, told the tribunal that after months “of suffering and torture, physically and mentally, they did not care about my injuries.”
Zubaydah was the first detainee subjected to Bush administration-approved harsh interrogation techniques, which included a simulated form of drowning known as waterboarding, slamming the suspect into walls and prolonged period of nudity.…Continue reading
Dick Uncut: “Daily Show” Calls Out Cheney For Blaming 9/11
On Richard Clarke (VIDEO)
June 6, 2009
Thanks to a recent appearance at the National Press Club, Dick Cheney blamed
Richard Clarke for leaving the nation vulnerable to attack ahead of 9/11 saying,
“He obviously missed it.” Cheney was referring to the threat from
al Qaeda which Clarke had emphatically
warned the administration about several times before the fall of 2001.
Jon Stewart was not pleased with Dick Cheney for these accusations, nor the
members of the National Press Club who failed to challenge him about the assertion.
In a segment called “Dick Uncut,” Stewart used dark humor to take
both the former Vice President and the media to task for the events leading
up to 9/11 through the waterboarding of detainees. It simultaneously makes you
laugh and want to punch a whole through the wall.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||M – Th 11p / 10c|
Cheney Blames Richard Clarke For 9/11: ‘He Missed
By Ali Frick
June 1st, 2009
Writing in Sunday’s Washington Post, Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism
chief under Presidents Clinton and Bush, slammed Dick Cheney and Condoleezza
Rice for invoking what he called “the White House 9/11 trauma defense”
— namely, the shock of 9/11 was so great as to justify all and any actions
taken in the name of national defense. Clarke called the decisions on interrogations,
detentions, and Iraq were all “wrong,” and the White House panic
proved that Cheney and company had simply been ignoring the warning signs:
Cheney’s admission that 9/11 caused him to reassess the threats to…
the nation only underscores how, for months, top officials had ignored warnings
from the CIA and the NSC staff that urgent action was needed to preempt a
major al-Qaeda attack.
Cheney said in an interview on Fox News:
“On the question of whether or not Iraq was involved in 9-11, there was never any evidence to prove that,” he told the Fox host. “There was “some reporting early on … but that was never borne out… [President] George [Bush] … did say and did testify that there was an ongoing relationship between al-Qaeda and Iraq, but no proof that Iraq was involved in 9-11.”
How important is Cheney’s admission?
Well, 5 hours after the 9/11 attacks, Donald Rumsfeld said “my interest is to hit Saddam” .
And at 2:40 p.m. on September 11th, in a memorandum of discussions between top administration officials, several lines below the statement “judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [that is, Saddam Hussein] at same time”, is the statement “Hard to get a good case.” In other words, top officials knew that there wasn’t a good case that Hussein was behind 9/11, but they wanted to use the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to justify war with Iraq anyway.
Moreover, “Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the [9/11] attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative… Continue reading
Four Things You Need to Know About Barack Obama and U.S. Torture & Detention
May 27, 2009
by the writing team at World Can’t Wait.org
1. Barack Obama did NOT end torture.
Many people think that, upon taking office, Barack Obama ended torture. This is just not true. Under Obama, the U.S has continued to torture prisoners at Guantánamo, where more than 200 detainees are still being held without charge or trial.
According to a February 2009 report by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Guantánamo guards routinely subject detainees to vicious beatings, solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, suffocation, repeated use of tear gas, and the force-feeding of tubes through the nasal passages of hunger strikers. Much of this torture is committed by Guantánamo’s Immediate Reaction Force (IRF) teams, which CCR president Michael Ratner has described as the “black shirts of Guantánamo.”
Quoting from the CCR report: “Detainees are subjected to brutal physical assaults by the Immediate Reaction Force (IRF), a team of military guards comparable to a riot squad, who are trained to respond to alleged ‘disciplinary infractions’ with overwhelming force.” And later in the report: “In Camps 5, 6 and Echo, detainees live in constant fear of physical violence. Frequent attacks by IRF teams heighten this anxiety and reinforce that violence can be inflicted by the guards at any moment for any perceived infraction, or sometimes without provocation or explanation.”
In fact, conditions at Guantánamo have gotten even worse since Obama became president. “Certainly in my experience there have been many, many more reported incidents of abuse since the inauguration,” Ahmed Ghappour, a lawyer representing several Guantánamo detainees, told Reuters in February.1
And, contrary to popular belief and to his own statements, Obama’s executive orders do not ban torture either; they contain several loopholes that allow it to continue. For instance, the order states that interrogation techniques must conform to the Army Field Manual, but Annex M of that manual allows for prolonged solitary confinement and sleep deprivation.The order also established a task force that includes Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Attorney General Eric Holder that is charged with determining whether to implement techniques that go beyond the Army Field Manual. Finally, the order states that prisoners shall be treated humanely, “whenever such individuals are in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States.”
This raises the obvious question: What about the many instances when the U.S. hands detainees over to other countries–or to prisons run by its puppet governments in Afghanistan and Iraq?
By the now, it’s maddeningly familiar. A scary terrorist plot is announced. Then it’s revealed that the suspects are a hapless bunch of ne’er-do-wells or run-of-the-mill thugs without the slightest connection to any terrorists at all, never mind to Al Qaeda. Finally, the last piece of the puzzle: the entire plot is revealed to have been cooked up by a scummy government agent-provocateur.
I’ve seen this movie before.
In this case, the alleged perps — Onta Williams, James Cromitie, David Williams, and Laguerre Payen — were losers, ex-cons, drug addicts. Al Qaeda they’re not. Without the assistance of the agent who entrapped them, they would never have dreamed of committing political violence, nor would they have had the slightest idea about where to acquire plastic explosives or a Stinger missile. That didn’t stop prosecutors from acting as if they’d captured Osama bin Laden himself. Noted the Los Angeles Times:
Prosecutors called it the latest in a string of homegrown terrorism plots hatched after Sept. 11.
“It’s hard to envision a more chilling plot,” Assistant U.S. Atty. Eric Snyder said in court Thursday. He described all four suspects as “eager to bring death to Jews.”
Actually, it’s hard to imagine a stupider, less competent, and less important plot. The four losers were ensnared by a creepy FBI agent who hung around the mosque in upstate New York until he found what he was looking for. Here’s the New York Times account:… Continue reading
‘Work for us or we will say you are a terrorist’
By Robert Verkaik, Law Editor
21 May 2009
Five Muslim community workers have accused MI5 of waging a campaign of blackmail and harassment in an attempt to recruit them as informants.
The men claim they were given a choice of working for the Security Service or face detention and harassment in the UK and overseas.
They have made official complaints to the police, to the body which oversees the work of the Security Service and to their local MP Frank Dobson. Now they have decided to speak publicly about their experiences in the hope that publicity will stop similar tactics being used in the future.
Continued at source
May 11, 2009
The Red Cross is the organization charged with deciding what is torture and
The International Committee of the Red Cross interviewed Khalid Shaikh Mohammed
– the alleged 9/11 mastermind – at Guantánamo Bay.
Here’s what KSM
told the Red Cross (see below for more from a review of this report):
During the harshest period of my interrogation I gave a lot of false information
in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear in order
to make the ill-treatment stop. I later told the interrogators that their
methods were stupid and counterproductive. I’m sure that the false information
I was forced to invent in order to make the ill-treatment stop wasted a lot
of their time and led to several false red-alerts being placed in the U.S.
Straight from the horse’s mouth:
* Torture doesn’t work; and
* The 9/11 Commission report was based on worthless
confessions extracted by torture (and, as I’ve previously discussed, the
witness who fingered Khalid Shaikh Mohammed as the mastermind of 9/11 was himself
rom The New
York Review of Books , a very extensive article with much more important
information about the ICRC Report:
…There is a reverse side, of course, to the “ticking bomb” and
torture: pain and ill-treatment, by creating an unbearable pressure on the detainee
to say something, anything, to make the pain stop, increase the likelihood that
he will fabricate stories, and waste time, or worse.…
A strange feeling of déjÃ vu arises while listening to the administration sell further U.S. military intervention in Pakistan (our Predator drones are already there).
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen claimed in late March that Pakistan’s intelligence service has “close links with al Qaeda and the Taliban network.” In fact, Mullen warned, the Pakistani intelligence service, ISI, is “offering logistical support to them (the Taliban).”
In early April, veteran foreign policy icon and special advisor to the president on Afghanistan and South Asia, Richard Holbrook, let us know what this meant. There is a fundamental difference between the Pakistan conflict and the Viet Nam war, he argued. Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Holbrook went on to say this:
“And the people who are in this area who we are fighting either pose a direct threat, having committed 9/11, having done Mumbai, having killed (Benazir) Bhutto, and they have publicly said they are going to do more of the same. That is: al Qaeda of course and their allies the Taliban.” Richard Holbrooke, May 5, 2009 (Repeating April 19, 2009 statement)
On May 9, General David Petraeus supported his superiors as he announced that Pakistan was now “the world headquarters for the al Qaeda senior leadership.”
There is even talk in the U.S. media that Pakistan is at risk of becoming a failed state controlled by Muslim extremists. Using Holbrooke’s logic, the U.S. would then be faced… Continue reading
April 23, 2009
by Prof. Marjorie Cohn
Hayden had confirmed that the Bush administration only waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zabaydah, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashirit for one minute each. I told Franks that I didn’t believe that. Sure enough, one of the newly released torture memos reveals that Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times and Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times. One of Stephen Bradbury’s 2005 memos asserted that “enhanced techniques” on Zubaydah yielded the identification of Mohammed and an alleged radioactive bomb plot by Jose Padilla. But FBI supervisory special agent Ali Soufan, who interrogated Zubaydah from March to June 2002, wrote in the New York Times that Zubaydah produced that information under traditional interrogation methods, before the harsh techniques were ever used.
Why, then, the relentless waterboarding of these two men? It turns out that high Bush officials put heavy pressure on Pentagon interrogators to get Mohammed and Zubaydah to reveal a link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 hijackers, in order to justify Bush’s illegal and unnecessary invasion of Iraq in 2003. That link was never established.
President Obama released the four memos in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU. They describe unimaginably brutal techniques and provide “legal” justification for clearly illegal acts of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. In the face of monumental pressure from the CIA to keep them secret, Obama demonstrated great courage in deciding to make the grotesque memos public. At the same time, however, in… Continue reading