by Matthew Rothschild
July 2005 issue
When Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee last year, he was asked whether he “ordered or approved the use of sleep deprivation, intimidation by guard dogs, excessive noise, and inducing fear as an interrogation method for a prisoner in Abu Ghraib prison.” Sanchez, who was head of the Pentagon’s Combined Joint Task Force-7 in Iraq, swore the answer was no. Under oath, he told the Senators he “never approved any of those measures to be used.”
But a document the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) obtained from the Pentagon flat out contradicts Sanchez’s testimony. It’s a memorandum entitled “CJTF-7 Interrogation and Counter-Resistance Policy,” dated September 14, 2003. In it, Sanchez approved several methods designed for “significantly increasing the fear level in a detainee.” These included “sleep management”; “yelling, loud music, and light control: used to create fear, disorient detainee, and prolong capture shock”; and “presence of military working dogs: exploits Arab fear of dogs.”
On March 30, the ACLU wrote a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, urging him “to open an investigation into whether General Ricardo A. Sanchez committed perjury in his sworn testimony.”
The problem is, Gonzales may himself have committed perjury in his Congressional testimony this January. According to a March 6 article in The New York Times, Gonzales submitted written testimony that said: “The policy of the United States is not to transfer individuals to countries where we believe they likely will be tortured, whether those individuals are being transferred from inside or outside the United States.” He added that he was “not aware of anyone in the executive branch authorizing any transfer of a detainee in violation of that policy.”
“That’s a clear, absolute lie,” says Michael Ratner, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who is suing Administration officials for their involvement in the torture scandal.…Continue reading
November 22, 2006
Defeating the Bill of Rights
Bush’s Lone Victory
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
George Orwell warned us, but what American would have expected that in the
opening years of the 21st century the United States would become a country in
which lies and deception by the President and Vice President were the basis
for a foreign policy of war and aggression, and in which indefinite detention
without charges, torture, and spying on citizens without warrants have displaced
the Bill of Rights and the US Constitution?
If anyone had predicted that the election of George W. Bush to the presidency
would result in an American police state and illegal wars of aggression, he
would have been dismissed as a lunatic.
What American ever would have thought that any US president and attorney general
would defend torture or that a Republican Congress would pass a bill legalizing
torture by the executive branch and exempting the executive branch from the
What American ever would have expected the US Congress to accept the president’s
claim that he is above the law?
What American could have imagined that if such crimes and travesties occurred,
nothing would be done about them and that the media and opposition party would
be largely silent?
Except for a few columnists, who are denounced by “conservatives”
as traitors for defending the Bill of Rights, the defense of US civil liberty
has been limited to the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International,
and Human Rights Watch. The few federal judges who have refused to genuflect
before the Bush police state are denounced by attorney general Alberto Gonzales
as a “grave threat” to US security.…
June 12, 2007
Judges Say U.S. Can’t Hold Man as ‘Combatant’
By ADAM LIPTAK
Background: Ali al-Marri, a citizen from Qatar, was arrested on Dec. 12, 2001 in Peoria, Ill., where he was living with his wife and five children while studying computer science at Bradley University. He was initially charged with credit card fraud and lying to federal agents. Then in 2003, he was transfered to military custody and designated an enemy combatant. Government officials contended that he was an al-Qaeda sleeper agent, sent to the United States to commit mass murder and disrupt the banking system. Mr. al-Marri denied the charges and challenged his detention. His case took on added significance when Mr. al-Marri was left as the only enemy combatant being held in mainland America.
The federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., ruled yesterday that the president may not declare civilians in this country to be “enemy combatants” and have the military hold them indefinitely. The ruling was a stinging rejection of one of the Bush administration’s central assertions about the scope of executive authority to combat terrorism.
The ruling came in the case of Ali al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar now in military custody in Charleston, S.C., who is the only person on the American mainland known to be held as an enemy combatant. The court said the administration may charge Mr. Marri with a crime, deport him or hold him as a material witness in connection with a grand jury investigation.
“But military detention of al-Marri must cease,” Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote for the majority of a divided three-judge panel.…Continue reading
What is Probably in the Missing Tapes
By Naomi Wolf, Monday, December 13, 2007*
To judge from firsthand documents obtained by the ACLU through a FOIA lawsuit, we can guess what is probably on the missing CIA interrogation tapes — as well as understand why those implicated are spinning so hard to pretend the tapes do not document a series of evident crimes. According to the little-noticed but extraordinarily important book Administration of Torture: A Documentary Record from Washington to Abu Ghraib and Beyond (Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh, Columbia University Press, New York 2007), which presents dozens of original formerly secret documents – FBI emails and memos, letters and interrogator "wish lists," raw proof of the systemic illegal torture of detainees in various US-held prisons — the typical "harsh interrogation" of a suspect in US custody reads like an account of abuses in archives at Yad Vashem.
More is still being hidden as of this writing — as those in Congress now considering whether a special prosecutor is needed in this case should be urgently aware: "Through the FOIA lawsuit," write the authors, "we learned of the existence of multiple records relating to prisoner abuse that still have not been released by the administration; credible media reports identify others. As this book goes to print, the Bush administration is still withholding, among many other records, a September 2001 presidential directive authorizing the CIA to set up secret detention centers overseas; an August 2002 Justice Department memorandum advising the CIA about the lawfulness of waterboarding [Italics mine; nota bene, Mr.…Continue reading
“My sense of alarm comes from the clear lessons from history that,
once certain checks and balances are destroyed, and once certain institutions
have been intimidated, the pressures that can turn an open society into a closed
one turn into direct assaults; at that point events tend to occur very rapidly,
and a point comes at which there is no easy turning back to the way it used
~ Naomi Wolf
of America Movie and Action Campaign
2008 Winner Silver Freedom Fighter Award – Independent Publisher Book Awards
2008 Silver Book Award for Social/Change/Activism/Peaceful Solutions-Nautilus
“The framers of our Constitution fully understood that it can happen
here. Patriots like Madison, Paine, and Franklin would certainly applaud Naomi
Wolf and recognize her as a sister in their struggle.”
~ Mark Crispin Miller, author of FOOLED AGAIN
Along with the rest of America, best-selling author and feminist Naomi Wolf
was overwhelmed by the swell of conflicting information and the sudden march
to war after 9/11. Wolf looked to history to help her understand the dramatic
changes she believed she was witnessing, and discovered the disturbing similarities
between post-9/11 US policy and that of historically fascist regimes such as
Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany.
Wolf authored her next book, THE END OF AMERICA, which demonstrated that the
United States was on a remarkably certain path toward ending democracy. Taking
the thesis of her book to the streets, Wolf set out… 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
Kucinich: UN should investigate Israeli Gaza strikes
by Nick Juliano
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) called for an independent investigation to be led by the United Nations into the recent eruption of violence between Israel and Hamas along the Gaza strip that has killed scores of innocent civilians.
Monday brought a third day of Israeli bombing Gaza in what the state is calling its “all-out” war on Hamas. So far, 345 people have been killed by the bombs. At least 57 of the dead are civilians, including 21 children, according to the UN.
Kucinich said he wrote to UN General Secretary Ban ki-Moon urging an “independent inquiry of Israel’s war against Gaza.” The Democratic lawmaker said Israel’s attacks are an example of “collective punishment,” which violates the Geneva Conventions.
“The perpetrators of attacks against Israel must also be brought to justice, but Israel cannot create a war against an entire people in order to attempt to bring to justice the few who are responsible. The Israeli leaders know better,” Kucinich said in a news release Monday. “The world community, which has been very supportive of Israel’s right to security and its right to survive, also has a right to expect Israel to conduct itself in adherence to the very laws which support the survival of Israel and every other nation.”
Kucinich compared the latest bombing campaign to Isreal’s earlier strikes at southern Lebanon targeted at Hezbollah. Then too, he said, civilians were killed, infrastructure was destroyed and lawlessness took hold… Continue reading
By Greg Miller, Washington Bureau
January 31, 2009
WASHINGTON — The CIA’s secret prisons are being shuttered. Harsh interrogation
techniques are off-limits. And Guantánamo Bay will eventually go back to being
a wind-swept naval base on the southeastern corner of Cuba.
But even while dismantling these discredited programs, President Barack Obama
left an equally controversial counterterrorism tool intact.
Under executive orders issued by Obama last week, the CIA still has authority
to carry out what are known as renditions, or the secret abductions and transfers
of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the U.S.
Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said the rendition program is
poised to play an expanded role because it is the main remaining mechanism–aside
from Predator missile strikes–for taking suspected terrorists off the
The rendition program became a source of embarrassment for the CIA, and a target
of international scorn, as details emerged in recent years of botched captures,
mistaken identities and allegations that prisoners were turned over to countries
where they were tortured.
The European Parliament condemned renditions as an “illegal instrument
used by the United States.” Prisoners swept up in the program have sued
the CIA as well as a subsidiary of Boeing Corp., which is accused of working
with the agency on dozens of rendition flights.
But the Obama administration appears to have determined that the rendition
program was one component of the Bush administration’s war on terrorism that
it could not afford to discard.
The decision underscores the fact that… Continue reading
Human Rights Watch Mourns Loss of Alison Des Forges
Alison’s loss is a devastating blow not only to Human Rights Watch but also to the people of Rwanda and the Great Lakes region.
Kenneth Roth, executive director
Leading Rwanda Expert Killed in Plane Crash
February 13, 2009
(New York) – It is with enormous sadness that Human Rights Watch announces the death of our beloved colleague Dr. Alison Des Forges, who was killed in the crash of Flight 3407 from Newark to Buffalo on February 12, 2009. Des Forges, senior adviser to Human Rights Watch’s Africa division for almost two decades, dedicated her life to working on Rwanda and was the world’s leading expert on the 1994 Rwanda genocide and its aftermath.
“Alison’s loss is a devastating blow not only to Human Rights Watch but also to the people of Rwanda and the Great Lakes region,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “She was truly wonderful, the epitome of the human rights activist – principled, dispassionate, committed to the truth and to using that truth to protect ordinary people. She was among the first to highlight the ethnic tensions that led to the genocide, and when it happened and the world stood by and watched, Alison did everything humanly possible to save people. Then she wrote the definitive account. There was no one who knew more and did more to document the genocide and to help bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Des Forges, born in Schenectady, New… Continue reading
May 10, 2009
by Andy Worthington
The Arabic media is ablaze with the news that Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the emir of an Afghan training camp — whose claim that Saddam Hussein had been involved in training al-Qaeda operatives in the use of chemical and biological weapons was used to justify the invasion of Iraq — has died in a Libyan jail. So far, however, the only English language report is on the Algerian website Ennahar Online, which reported that the Libyan newspaper Oea stated that al-Libi (aka Ali Abdul Hamid al-Fakheri) “was found dead of suicide in his cell,” and noted that the newspaper had reported the story “without specifying the date or method of suicide.”
This news resolves, in the grimmest way possible, questions that have long been asked about the whereabouts of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, perhaps the most famous of “America’s Disappeared” — prisoners seized in the “War on Terror,” who were rendered not to Guantánamo but to secret prisons run by the CIA or to the custody of governments in third countries — often their own — where, it was presumed, they would never be seen or heard from again.
The emir of the Khaldan training camp in Afghanistan, al-Libi was one of hundreds of prisoners seized by Pakistani forces in December 2001, crossing from Afghanistan into Pakistan. Most of these men ended up in Guantánamo after being handed over (or sold) to US forces by their Pakistani allies, but al-Libi was, notoriously, rendered to Egypt by the CIA to be tortured on behalf of the US government.…Continue reading
May 20, 2009
INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATION: Islamist dies in Tripoli shortly after human
rights group visit from Fred Bridgland in Libya
THE ISLAMIST terrorist who was the key source of the false intelligence used
to trigger the US and UK 2003 military invasion of Iraq has been found dead
in a Libyan prison cell.t
Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi allegedly committed suicide by hanging in the prison where
he was being held in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. His death followed a visit
by a team from Human Rights Watch, one of the world’s leading independent organisations
dedicated to defending and protecting human rights.
The al-Libi affair opens a window on an extraordinarily close espionage link
that existed between the government of the former US president, George Bush,
and the authoritarian Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi.
Al-Libi was the unnamed source that Bush, his former secretary of state, Colin
Powell, and other administration officials relied upon prior to the Iraq invasion
to assert that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was helping a terrorist organisation
run by al-Qaeda. Al-Libi was known to Powell and Bush by the codename “Curveball”.
Powell’s speech to the United Nations Security Council on February 5, 2003
was largely based on al-Libi’s coerced testimony – which was extracted from
him in Egyptian torture chambers – even though many US intelligence officials
questioned it at the time and later dismissed it completely. In his address,
aimed at drumming up support for the invasion, Powell said he could “trace
the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training
in these chemical and biological weapons to al-Qaeda”.…
November 4, 2009
An Italian judge has convicted 23 Americans – all but one of them CIA agents – and two Italian secret agents for the 2003 kidnap of a Muslim cleric.
The agents were accused of abducting Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, from Milan and sending him to Egypt, where he was allegedly tortured.
The trial, which began in June 2007, is the first involving the CIA’s so-called “extraordinary rendition” programme.
Three Americans and five Italians were acquitted by the court in Milan.
The Americans were all tried in their absence as they have not been extradited from the US to Italy.
The CIA’s Milan station chief at the time, Robert Lady, was given an eight-year term, while the other 22 Americans convicted – one of them a US air force colonel – were sentenced to five years in prison.
Lawyers for the 23 Americans said they would appeal against their convictions.
The two Italian agents, who were convicted as accomplices to kidnapping, were given three-year prison terms.
The court also ruled that those convicted must pay 1m euros ($1.5m) in damages to Abu Omar and 500,000 euros to his wife.
CIA spokesman George Little in Washington declined to comment on the convictions, telling the Associated Press news agency: “The CIA has not commented on any of the allegations surrounding Abu Omar.”
Italian prosecutors said Abu Omar was taken as part of a series of extraordinary renditions carried out by the CIA – when terror suspects were moved between countries without any public legal process.…Continue reading
Statement of September 11th Advocates Regarding Guantánamo Bay Military Tribunals
For Immediate Release
May 4, 2012
It would seem that the U.S. Government found itself in a conundrum when they allowed prisoners, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), to be tortured in secret prisons around the world. Once tortured, any confession or testimony from KSM, or others, could not be deemed reliable. Furthermore, the focus of the eventual proceedings would become a trial about the practice of torture, instead of being a trial about alleged terrorist crimes. That would have been untenable for the U.S. Government, which wants to avoid any and all accountability for their own crimes of torture.
In order to bypass potential discussion of torture, the latest Chief Prosecutor for the Military Commissions, Brig. General Mark Martins, found a willing witness in Majid Khan, a fellow GITMO inmate to KSM. Khan himself was not involved in the 9/11 plot. He supposedly got his information from time spent behind bars at GITMO with KSM. Kahn will be allowed to give this hearsay evidence against KSM in return for a reduced sentence. However, Khan’s sentencing won’t take place for four years. It seems the Prosecution is pinning their hopes and dreams on Khan’s upcoming performance. None of this lends credibility to an already suspect system.
Additionally, with campaigning for the upcoming Presidential elections heating up, the timing of this latest attempt at justice for 9/11 is exploitive at best.
Patty Casazza Monica Gabrielle Mindy Kleinberg Lorie Van Auken
9/11… Continue reading