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
April 21, 2009
by George Washington
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.
And yet, the government knew that Al Qaeda and Iraq were not linked. For example, “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 ties with Al Qaeda”.
And a Defense Intelligence Terrorism Summary issued in February 2002 by the United States Defense Intelligence Agency cast significant doubt on the possibility of a Saddam Hussein-al-Qaeda conspiracy.
Images and Words
Anthony Hall is like many other 9/11 skeptics. At some point, after examining the events of 9/11 and the international consequences of that foul deed, (particularly the
consequences that befell countries with a predominantly Arab/Muslim population), Mr. Hall decided to speak out. The difference between Hall and most 9/11 skeptics, is that Mr. Hall is a sitting academic at a university in Lethbridge, Alberta, in Canada.
Hall joined a growing list of Canadian academics who have chosen to speak out publicly; John McMurtry , Graeme MacQueen , Michael Keefer , and of course, Michel Chossudovsky , a pioneer in 9/11 skepticism.
He made his debut as a skeptic of the 9/11 Official Conspiracy Theory (OCT) on September 6, 2008 in Edmonton, Alberta, with a reading of his paper, The Lies and Crimes of 911 . The paper is an excellent introduction to a series of complex, related studies, that encompass globalization, US imperial tendencies, and false-flag terrorism. Hall is well-versed in these issues, and won an Alberta Book Award for his volume, The American Empire and the Fourth World .
The cover features provocative imagery; Apache-like helicopters in place of stars on the American flag, giving no doubt as to Hall’s intent. The image is a very un-subtle, ironic reinterpretation of one of the prime symbols of the American dream; the very banner of Liberty itself is subverted to shock the viewer into a reevaluation of the iconic Red, White and Blue. Just as… Continue reading
By Ray McGovern
April 5, 2009
I used to take a certain pride by association with prominent Bronxites who have “made it.” Cancel that for Attorney General Eric Holder and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
You might think that as African-Americans, they would be especially outraged by torture, given what blacks have suffered at the hands of white torturers in this country and abroad.
Why is it that they seem to value more their admittance into a privileged white-dominated ruling class than doing the right thing? How else to explain their stunning reluctance to hold torturers accountable and thus remove the stain of torture from our nation’s soul and reputation?
One might say that Attorney General Holder is proving himself to be part of that “nation of cowards” that he called the United States in a different context, i.e. our unwillingness to address the issue of race. What about when the victims of torture are Muslims? Where’s Holder’s courage then?
Surely, I was not the only one stunned by former Vice President Dick Cheney’s public admission that he helped authorize waterboarding of detainees. But, on reflection, there seems to have been a method to his madness; and, so far at least, the method seems to be working.
Have Holder and Colin Powell forgotten from their days growing up in the Bronx the typical reaction of bullies when caught in the act? “Okay, so waddaya gonna do ’bout it!” It was an attempt at intimidation, and it was generally… Continue reading
More Than 20 Types Of War Crimes Against Children Ascribed To Ex-President Bush In Iraq And Afghanistan
Monday, 23 March 2009
Press Release: Sherwood Ross
Scoop World Independent News
Torture has received the most attention among the many war crimes of the Bush administration. But those who support Bush’s pursuit of the “war on terror” have not been impressed by recriminations over torture. Worse than torture are the murders of at least 50 prisoners in Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo, but again the hard-hearted are unimpressed when those whom they perceive as terrorists receive illegal extrajudicial capital punishment.
The case for abusing children, however, is more difficult to support. The best kept secret of the Bush’s war crimes is that thousands of children have been imprisoned, tortured, and otherwise denied rights under the Geneva Conventions and related international agreements. Yet both Congress and the media have strangely failed to identify the very existence of child prisoners as a war crime. In the Islamic world, however, there is no such silence. Indeed, the prophet Mohammed was the first to counsel warriors not to harm innocent children.
From jailing children together with adults in prisons where they were raped to failing to notify their parents of their arrest, the U.S. committed numerous war crimes against children in Afghanistan and Iraq, a new book on President Bush states.
“American guards videotaped Iraqi male prisoners raping young boys but took no action to stop the offenses (and) children in Abu Ghraib were deliberately frightened by dogs,” writes political scientist Michael Haas in his new book, George W.…Continue reading
by Kenneth J. Theisen
28 March 2009
President Barack Obama continued with his latest escalation of the war in Afghanistan
by announcing his plans to send an additional 4,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan
to train Afghan government puppet forces. He also announced plans to send hundreds
of diplomats and civilian officials to the country, in what Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton called an “integrated military-civilian strategy”.
Like his predecessor George W. Bush, Obama raised the specter of “terrorism”
to justify his actions.
Obama stated that, “If the Afghanistan government falls to the Taliban
or allows al-Qaida to go unchallenged, that country will again be a base for
terrorists.” Obama warned that the al-Qaida “terrorists” were
actively planning further attacks on the U.S. from havens in Pakistan. He stated,
“So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and
focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan,
and to prevent their return to either country in the future.” He went on
to claim, “That is the goal that must be achieved. That is a cause that
could not be more just. And to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the
same: we will defeat you.” Does this sound a little too much like Bush’s
excuse for the initial invasion in 2001? I was waiting to hear Obama say, “bring
This latest escalation builds on Obama’s previously announced plan to
send 17,000 troops to that war-torn country. President George… Continue reading
This week marks the beginning of the 7th year of the US war on Iraq, we’re 7-1/2 years into bombing Afghanistan, with 17,000+ more troops now headed that way thanks to the changes wrought by a new administration, and we now have US drones bombing Pakistanis at an increased rate …America is outraged, OUTRAGED, that AIG execs got $159 million (or is it now $200+ million?) of our money. Where is the outrage over the fact that we’re still spending $720 million EVERY DAY on this continuing illegal occupation of Iraq? Condoleezza Rice is again spewing nonsense : “We never tried to tie Saddam Hussein to 9/11.” W. is on the speaking circuit (yes, seriously!) talking about his “momentous” years in the Oval Office while hundreds outside the Calgary Chamber of Commerce demand his arrest as a war criminal. Cheney is still declaring victory in Iraq and proclaiming the economy is crashing because “stuff happens .”
And while these “leaders” spin in circles convincing us it’s all necessary and for the good, soldiers and civilians keep dying, keep being wounded, keep losing their homes and any semblance of a life they remember, and ultimately, keep losing hope that this will ever end. In fact, American soldiers are losing all hope to the point they’re killing themselves (and others) in greater numbers than ever. At this point, more soldiers are committing suicide than are being killed in battle (see article below that generated this passionate outcry).
Last… Continue reading
An Open Letter to the Peace/Anti-War Movement from Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, and Veterans For Peace
After six years of war and the historic election of a new President, we as
veterans, military and Gold Star families felt an urgent need to reach out to
the larger peace/anti-war movements to make our position on Iraq clear during
this time of political and economic uncertainty. Iraq Veterans Against the War,
Military Families Speak Out and Veterans For Peace continue to stand together
in our demand to Bring the Troops Home Now! We ask all those who have stood
with us in the past to stay faithful to the cause.
President Obama has announced a plan to gradually reduce troop levels in Iraq.
Many in the peace/anti-war movements are breathing a sigh of relief, and suggesting
that it is time for us to scale back our efforts to bring an end to the occupation
of Iraq. But for our troops on the ground, their families and the Iraqi people,
the nightmare continues. They need all of us to stay in the struggle. IVAW,
MFSO and VFP have been long united in our call for an immediate and complete
end to the occupation of Iraq and will not shift our stance under any circumstances.
President Obama’s plan will result in more casualties and suffering for U.S.
troops, their families and Iraqis. To the American public facing hard times
here at home, two and a half more years of… Continue reading
Charlie Giles and his family need our help. Charlie has been a huge advocate for the 9/11 First Responders. As a member of the FealGood Foundation, Charlie was not allowed to receive any assistance from the organization because it would have been seen as a conflict of interest. Sadly, and appropriately, the FealGood Foundation asked Charlie to resign so that he now can get help. John Feal released this statement:
Today the Fealgood Foundation lost board member Charlie Giles to his financial crisis. Charlie, a 9/11 responder who was seriously affected by 9/11, was told he won his workmens comp case last week and received an award letter in the mail. His lump sum settlement would have been $40,000 plus payments every 2 weeks. The insurance company now has appealed it, and has left this hero with an eviction notice from his apartment which he moved into after losing his house last year. Charlie was asked to resign from the board because none of my board members can receive charity or any monies while sitting on the FGF board. But, like the 500-plus clients and thousands we advocate for, I implore all you great Americans to please help us help Charlie, his wife and 2 daughters. The madness, the sadness and the injustice continues for brave souls who risked their own health for America 7.5 years ago.
Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure – Abraham Lincoln
Peace & Love
Please help… Continue reading
by Andy Worthington
4 March 2009
Andy Worthington, London-based journalist and author of “The Guantánamo
Files” (Pluto Press), has released the first definitive list of the 779
prisoners held in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The list, which is the result of three years’ research and writing about Guantánamo,
provides details of the 533 prisoners who have been released, and includes,
for the first time ever, accurate dates for their release. It also provides
details of the 241 prisoners who are still held, including the 59 prisoners
who have been cleared for release. Although some stories are still unknown,
the stories of nearly 700 prisoners are referenced either by links to Andy’s
extensive archive of articles about Guantánamo, or to the chapters in
“The Guantánamo Files” where they can be found.
Andy Worthington says:
“It is my hope that this project will provide an invaluable research
tool for those seeking to understand how it came to pass that the government
of the United States turned its back on domestic and international law, establishing
torture as official US policy, and holding men without charge or trial neither
as prisoners of war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, nor as criminal suspects
to be put forward for trial in a federal court, but as ‘illegal enemy
“I also hope that it provides a compelling explanation of how that same
government, under the leadership of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld,
established a prison in which the overwhelming… Continue reading
For Immediate Release
Contact: Ilan Kayatsky
212 367 7350
February 25, 2009
Washington, D.C. — Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY),
Peter King (R-NY), and Michael McMahon (D-NY) today hailed the House passage
of the Fiscal Year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act (H.R. 1105), which contains
$70 million in new funding for federal 9/11 health programs. The new funding,
combined with $112 million carried over from previous years, will cover the
World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program’s $182 million
estimated cost for FY 2009.
“The $70 million in this bill will ensure that the heroes of 9/11 can
get the care they need for another year,” Maloney said. “Once again,
I thank Chairman David Obey for helping fulfill our nation’s moral responsibility
to help those who are sick as a result of 9/11. With the support of President
Obama and Speaker Pelosi, we hope to pass comprehensive legislation this year
to provide long-term care and compensation to 9/11 responders, lower Manhattan
residents, and others in need.”
“With $70 million now approved in the Appropriations bill, the WTC Centers
of Excellence are guaranteed full funding for the rest of the year,” said
Rep. Nadler. “$182 million in federal funding for the WTC health program
will ensure that we can continue, without interruption, to monitor and treat
first responders and community members living with 9/11-related illnesses. Thanks
again to Congressman Obey for making sure this program will continue.”
“It’s been over seven years since the heroes of 9/11 were… Continue reading
We urge Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a non-partisan independent Special Counsel to immediately commence a prosecutorial investigation into the most serious alleged crimes of former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Richard B. Cheney, the attorneys formerly employed by the Department of Justice whose memos sought to justify torture, and other former top officials of the Bush Administration.
UPDATE 2/27/09 6pm: In response to the many email questions we’ve received asking why we have not endorsed this call for a Special Prosecutor: On 2/24, when this statement/petition was posted at AfterDowningStreet.org, 911truth.org immediately signed on as an endorsing organization via the signup at that site. As of now, our name does not appear on that list. Nonetheless, we did submit endorsement. We are not, yet, encouraging 9/11 truth advocates to politely contact David Swanson asking him why he would permanently post a video statement from Willie Rodriguez on the front page of his site, yet continue to ignore/ban the burgeoning 9/11 truth movement from being heard as the powerful voice we are, in calling for truth and accountability. We believe that Mr. Swanson is acting in good faith, all in all, and will post our endorsement with the others on the list shortly.
Our laws, and treaties that under Article VI of our Constitution are the supreme law of the land, require the prosecution of crimes that strong evidence suggests these individuals have committed. Both the former president and the former vice president have confessed to authorizing a torture procedure that is illegal under our law and treaty obligations.…Continue reading
By Peter Phillips
The Barack Obama administration is continuing the neo-conservative agenda of US military domination of the world–albeit with perhaps a kinder-gentler face. While overt torture is now forbidden for the CIA and Pentagon, and symbolic gestures like the closing of the Guantánamo prison are in evidence, a unilateral military dominance policy, expanding military budget, and wars of occupation and aggression will likely continue unabated.
The military expansionists from within the Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, G. W. Bush administrations put into place solid support for increased military spending. Clinton’s model of supporting the US military industrial complex held steady defense spending and increased foreign weapons sales from 16% of global orders to over 63% by the end of his administration.
The neo-conservatives, who dominated the most recent Bush administration, amplified this trend of increased military spending. The neo-cons laid out their agenda for military global dominance in the 2000 Project for a New American Century (PNAC) report Rebuilding America’s Defenses . The report called for the protection of the American Homeland, the ability to wage simultaneous theater wars, to perform global constabulary roles, and to control space and cyberspace. The report claimed that in order to maintain a Pax Americana , potential rivals–such as China, Iran, Iraq, and North Korea–needed to be held in check. This military global dominance agenda required forward deployment of US forces worldwide and increasing defense/war spending well into the 21st century. The result was a doubling of the US military budget to… Continue reading