‘Preliminary review’ looks at whether interrogations followed guidance of
the Bush ‘torture memos.’
By Warren Richey
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the August 24, 2009 edition
In a highly contentious move, Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday appointed
a special prosecutor to take a fresh look at whether US officials violated the
law through harsh treatment of detainees during the Bush administration’s war
Mr. Holder said he was authorizing John Durham, a career Justice Department
prosecutor, to conduct a "preliminary review into whether federal laws
were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees at
overseas locations." He did not identify those detainees by name or where
they were allegedly mistreated.
"I fully realize my decision to commence this preliminary review will
be controversial," Holder said. "In this case, given all the information
currently available, it is clear to me that this review is the only responsible
course of action for me to take."
The announcement came shortly after the administration released a redacted
version of a 2004 CIA Inspector General’s report on harsh interrogation tactics.
The report said CIA interrogators threatened to kill the children of alleged
9/11 mastermind Khaled Shaikh Mohammed, and threatened another detainee with
a power drill and suggestions that if he didn’t talk his mother would be brought
into the room and raped in front of him.
The report was sent to the Justice Department for possible prosecution during
the Bush administration. Prosecutors declined. The issue was resurrected by… Continue reading
Announcing Sibel Edmonds Podcast Show with Co-Host Peter B. Collins
- “THE BOILING FROGS”
July 12, 2009
Sibel Edmonds (If you’re not already famliar with Sibel, read more about her here )
I am pleased to announce the launch of my Podcast show, ‘The Boiling Frogs.’ This site will present two in-depth interviews per month, one-hour each, with well-respected and controversial guests. My guest list will include:
* Investigative reporters * Authors with controversial and bold track records * Courageous and legitimate whistleblowers * Well-respected academic and legal experts on our relevant issues
…and maybe even a few guests from the other side whom we have bashed. You can listen to the show on this site and discuss your take and views in the comments section.
I am thrilled to have Peter B. Collins as my co-host for this project. Knowing that I have been giving interviews, not the other way around, I needed a partner to collaborate with; someone who is a solid and experienced radio host, who is very good at interviewing, who is very knowledgeable, and who I respect and trust. Lucky me, I found one, and he has accepted this partnership. I am honored to have Peter as my co-host and partner. Peter’s show was one of the first radio interviews I gave years ago, and over the years he had me back many times. He has always ranked at the very top of my radio show list. If you are not familiar with Peter,… Continue reading
By Graham Rayman
July 08, 2009
Last month, police and the FBI arrested four Newburgh men on charges that they had plotted to bomb synagogues in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx and fire a missile at a military jet.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly held press conferences at the synagogues to reassure New Yorkers about their safety. During Kelly’s remarks, it was startling to hear the commissioner refer to al-Qaeda by name, if only to say that the four purported home-grown terrorists had no ties to Osama Bin Laden’s organization.
As more details emerged, however, the less the four defendants sounded like men with the skills to plan a sophisticated terror plot. They were small-time crooks, felons with long criminal records whose previous activities revolved around smoking marijuana and playing video games. One defendant, Laguerre Payen, was arrested in a crack house surrounded by bottles of his own urine; his lawyer describes him as “mildly retarded.”
It seemed fairly astounding that, for a full calendar year, such a group could remain interested in and plan anything more complex than a backyard barbecue, let alone a multipronged paramilitary assault, as the indictment against them alleged.
But what the indictment didn’t say, and what the initial news reports didn’t fill in, was the extent to which the fifth man in the plot, an unnamed FBI informant, had provided the glue to hold the Newburgh 4 together.
That informant was a Pakistani man named Shahed Hussain, code-named… Continue reading
Court won’t hear Sept. 11 claims vs. Saudi Arabia
June 29, 2009
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has refused to allow victims of the Sept.
11 attacks to pursue lawsuits against Saudi Arabia and four of its princes over
charitable donations that were allegedly funneled to al-Qaida.
The court, in an order Monday, is leaving in place the ruling of a federal
appeals court that the country and the princes are protected by sovereign immunity,
which generally means that foreign countries can’t be sued in American courts.
The Obama administration had angered some victims and families by urging the
justices to pass up the case.
In their appeal, the more than 6,000 plaintiffs said the government’s court
brief filed in early June was an “apparent effort to appease a sometime
ally” just before President Barack Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia.
At issue were obstacles in American law to suing foreign governments and their
officials as well as the extent to which people can be held financially responsible
for acts of terrorism committed by others.
The appeal was filed by relatives of victims killed in the attacks and thousands
of people who were injured, as well as businesses and governments that sustained
property damage and other losses.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York previously upheld a federal
judge’s ruling throwing out the lawsuits. The appeals court said the defendants
were protected by sovereign immunity and the plaintiffs would need to prove
that the princes engaged in intentional actions aimed at U.S.…
by Jon Gold
On 1/8/2008, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that “a huge lawsuit against the government of Saudi Arabia and key members of its royal family was put to a crucial test today as lawyers for victims of the 9/11 attacks urged a federal appeals court to reinstate the government of Saudi Arabia as a defendant.” The Cozen O’Connor law firm in Philadelphia “was the first to file suit against the government of Saudi Arabia in 2003, charging that the desert kingdom bears responsibility for the attacks because it permitted Islamic charities under its control to bankroll Osama bin Laden and his global terror movement.” The lawsuit “suffered a setback in 2005 when New York federal district court judge Richard Conway Casey ruled that the federal foreign sovereign immunity act barred lawsuits against Saudi Arabia and members of the royal family.”
On… Continue reading
By James Risen and Eric Lichtblau
June 16, 2009
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
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
In an… Continue reading
U.S. May Permit 9/11 Guilty Pleas in Capital Cases
By WILLIAM GLABERSON
June 5, 2009
Full story published at New York Times
The Obama administration is considering a change in the law for the military commissions at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, that would clear the way for detainees facing the death penalty to plead guilty without a full trial.
The provision could permit military prosecutors to avoid airing the details of brutal interrogation techniques. It could also allow the five detainees who have been charged with the Sept. 11 attacks to achieve their stated goal of pleading guilty to gain what they have called martyrdom.
The proposal, in a draft of legislation that would be submitted to Congress, has not been publicly disclosed. It was circulated to officials under restrictions requiring secrecy. People who have read or been briefed on it said it had been presented to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates by an administration task force on detention.
The proposal would ease what has come to be recognized as the government’s difficult task of prosecuting men who have confessed to terrorism but whose cases present challenges. Much of the evidence against the men accused in the Sept. 11 case, as well as against other detainees, is believed to have come from confessions they gave during intense interrogations at secret C.I.A. prisons. In any proceeding, the reliability of those statements would be challenged, making trials difficult and drawing new political pressure over detainee treatment.
Some experts on the commissions said such a proposal would raise new questions about the fairness of a system that has been criticized as permitting shortcuts to assure convictions.…Continue reading
May 29, 2009
Statement On Behalf of the 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism
In Response to the Solicitor General’s Refusal to Support The 9/11 Families’
Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court
(In Re: Thomas E. Burnett, Sr., et al. v. Al Baraka Investment & Development
Corp., et al., Case No. 03-CV-9849 (RCC) In Re: Terrorist Attacks on September
11, 2001, MDL 1570)
WASHINGTON, May 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following is a statement
of 9/11 Family Members: Mike Low, Father of Sara Elizabeth Low, AA Flight 11;
Bill Doyle, Father of Joseph M. Doyle, WTC North Tower; Tom & Beverly Burnett,
Sr., Parents of Thomas E. Burnett, Jr., UA Flight 93; and Terry Strada, Wife
of Thomas Strada, WTC North Tower on Behalf of the 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt
Terrorism in Response to the Solicitor General’s Refusal to Support The 9/11
Families’ Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court:
Today the Obama Administration filed in the Supreme Court a document that expressed
the Administration’s decision to stand with a group of Saudi princes and against
the right of American citizens — 9/11 family members — to have our day in
court. Let there be no doubt: The filing was political in nature and stands
as a betrayal of everyone who lost a loved one or was injured on September 11,
We are deeply dismayed by this decision, filed by the solicitor general of
the United States in response to the Supreme Court’s February 23, 2009 invitation
for the government to express its views in the 9/11 families’ request to appeal
a portion of the case to the Court.…
By Kevin Fenton
May 22, 2009
History Commons Groups
Zelikow made the claim he was not involved in the initial stages of the dispute in response to an allegation made by commission staffer John Azzarello and relayed by Shenon. After the staff investigators drafted a memo for the commissioners in early April 2004 outlining why they thought NORAD and FAA officials had deliberately lied to them to overstate the military’s readiness during the attacks, Zelikow “just buried that memo,” according to Azzarello. In response, Zelikow claimed that he had not even known of the issue at the start. The implication was that, as he had not known of it, it could not be him that was orchestrating–or even involved in–a dispute between the staff investigators and the commission’s lawyers, Daniel Marcus and Steve Dunne.
However, the newly found e-mail chain shows Zelikow did know of the issue in April, raising the question as to why he falsely told Shenon he did not. Zelikow is not known to be linked to the FAA, but, if the commission had referred the matter to the Justice Department and it had started a perjury investigation against NORAD officials, this would certainly have had the potential to embarrass his friends at the Pentagon. Zelikow is alleged to have husbanded the issue to ensure a less potentially embarrassing referral to the inspectors general of the FAA and Defense Department, who in the end blamed the false statements on innocent mistakes and poor logkeeping.
Zelikow wrote to… Continue reading
Posted at 911blogger.com by Loose Nuke
May 16, 2009
Rob Kall Headlined Lukery’s transcript:
See either link for hyperlinks- as Lukery says, Rob’s radio show gets archived here, but they’re only up to 3/18/09:
PS- recent, related article by Lukery:
They spy on judges, too.
FRIDAY, MAY 15, 2009
Rob Kall interviews Sibel Edmonds
Rob Kall of Op-Ed News interviewed Sibel on Wednesday. The audio ought to show up here at some point.
The following is a partial transcript. All errors, edits and omissions are mine.
We (NSWBC) stopped our activities for a while, and we are restarting them again, and I just launched my blog, www.123realchange.blogspot.com, and the first series that I’m posting there is on the mainstream media, and in the next few days, you’re going to see more than 300 whistleblowers who are going to post their comments at the blog too, about their experiences with various people in the mainstream media.
So that’s going to be the main discussion, because currently we review the mainstream media as the culprit, because if they were to do their jobs, they would put pressure on the people in the congress, because these people want to get re-elected, and therefore that pressure would act as a catalyst to get these things that we, the people, have been asking for – the real hearings and accountability. But without the mainstream media putting that pressure, going after them, well, they don’t have anything really… Continue reading
30 April 2009
By Dennis Loo
If you ask most people what Obama has done about Guantánamo, most would say,
“He shut it down.”
Most don’t know that Obama has said he might take as much as a year to shut
If you ask most people what Obama has done about torture and rendition, most
would say, “He’s ended them.”
Most don’t know that Obama has declared that he will continue rendition,
that he reserves the right to go beyond the Army Field Manual for interrogations,
and that by
not acting affirmatively to ensure otherwise, he has allowed conditions to worsen
If you ask most people what Obama’s done about restoring habeas corpus, most
people would first say, “What’s habeas corpus?”
Then, after you explain to them that habeas corpus is your right to challenge
your detention, most people would say, “He’s restored habeas corpus, hasn’t
Most people don’t know that Obama has said that Bagram prisoners have no
right to habeas corpus and that Gitmo detainees don’t have a right
to it prior to June 2008.
The latest news about what Obama is up to on these fronts follows.
Obama’s DOJ pressed the Court of Appeals to rule that Gitmo prisoners aren’t
“persons,” aren’t entitled to the rights of “persons,” and
that if the Court does find that they are indeed “persons,” then US
officials who ordered and carried out torture and abuse of prisoners should
be immune from prosecution for… Continue reading
The busiest project this week was the Civil Liberties Timeline, which has expanded
its chapter on the PROMIS application, reportedly the granddaddy of today’s
government surveillance software. Claims that the software was distributed to
other countries have been disputed, but a 1992 Congressional investigation found
two Justice Department memos saying a version of the software was about to be
passed to Israel.
In the War in Afghanistan Timeline, a contributor covers a recent statement
by UN official Philip Alston, who said that “personnel belonging to international
intelligence services” have been involved in a spate of civilian deaths
Contributors to the US Electoral Politics Timeline take a look at a Supreme
Court challenge to Indiana’s voter ID law and recall a 2007 Justice Department
probe that turned up “scant evidence” of voter fraud in the previous
The Domestic Propaganda Timeline takes a look at Fox News rising star Glenn
In the Economic Crisis Timeline a contributor highlights a recent statement
by the US Federal Reserve saying that the largest 19 banks will probably not
require any more bailouts.
Finally, in the International Relations Timeline, former State Department Chief
of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson claims that former Vice President Dick Cheney was
manipulating the Bush administration from the outset.
The History Commons needs funding to continue its operations, including maintaining
and updating the site, and undertaking new projects. Everything we do depends
on our generous readers.… Continue reading
The former FBI translator and whistleblower suggests blackmail may be at the
heart of Congressional refusal to bring accountability and oversight to its
own members – such as both Hastert and Harman – in matters of espionage and
Guest Editorial by Sibel Edmonds
May 4, 2009
Exclusive to The BRAD BLOG
I have been known to quote long-dead men in my past writings. Whether eloquently
expressed thoughts by our founding fathers, or those artfully expressed by ancient
Greek thinkers, these quotes have always done a better job starting or ending
my thoughts – that tend to be expressed in long winding sentences. For this piece
I am going to break with tradition and start with an appropriate quote from a
living current senator, John Kerry: “It’s a sad day when you have members of
Congress who are literally criminals go undisciplined by their colleagues. No
wonder people look at Washington and know this city is broken.”
The people do indeed look at Washington and know that this city is ‘badly’ broken, Senator Kerry. The public confidence in our Congress has been declining drastically. Recent poll results highlight how the American people’s trust in their Congress has hit rock bottom. A survey of progressive blogs easily confirms the rage rightfully directed at our Congress for abdicating its role of oversight and accountability. Activists scream about promised hearings that never took place – without explanation. They express outrage when investigations are dropped without any justification. And they genuinely wonder out… 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.
by Dave Lindorff
For some time now, many Americans have wondered how Congress, the elected body that the nation’s Founding Fathers saw as the bulwark of liberty, could have been so thoroughly unwilling to, or incapable of challenging the dictatorial power-grabs and the eight-year Constitution wrecking campaign of the Bush/Cheney administration.
There has been speculation on both the far left and the far right, and even among some in the apolitical, cynical middle of the political spectrum, that somehow the Bush/Cheney administration must have been blackmailing at least the key members of the Congressional leadership, most likely through the use of electronic monitoring by the National Security Agency (NSA).
I’ll admit that I considered the idea of blackmail a bit far out. But now suddenly there is at least some evidence that such seemingly wild speculation may not have been off the mark, with reports that the NSA was indeed monitoring Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), and that the Bush Administration used the evidence it had obtained of her improper conversations with and promises to assist agents of the Israeli government and its lobby here in the US, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), to blackmail her into supporting the NSA’s warrantless spying program–the very kind of spying that led to her being caught on tape plotting with an agent of a foreign power.
At the time of the taping of Harman’s incriminating phone conversations, the administration was trying desperately (and ultimately successfully) to get the New York Times to hold off on publishing a shocking investigative report by journalist James Risen about a massive campaign of warrantless tapping of Americans’ phone and internet communications.…Continue reading
April 20, 2009
by Kevin Fenton
History Commons Groups
Former 9/11 Commission Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton recently made some bizarre comments about the Zacarias Moussaoui case in an interview for Vanity Fair. The interview was used for a wide-ranging and very interesting oral history of the Bush White House. Hamilton’s comments appear to show complete ignorance of a key aspect of the investigation of which he was vice chair.
Moussaoui was arrested on an immigration violation due to suspicions he was planning to hijack an aircraft by the Minneapolis FBI on 16 August 2001, nearly four weeks before 9/11. His personal effects contained evidence linking him to eleven of the nineteen alleged hijackers and the local FBI suspected that he was part of a wider plot. It correctly assumed a search of the effects would uncover his links to the other conspirators. However, due to obstruction by FBI headquarters, no warrant was ever granted to search Moussaoui’s belongings. Middle managers at headquarters also failed to properly inform their superiors of the case.
Here are Hamilton’s comments on the Moussaoui case:
We knew, for example–when I say we, I mean the F.B.I. in Minneapolis knew–that those guys in flight-training school were more interested in flying the airplane than they were in taking off and landing. They knew that. Who didn’t know it? The director of the F.B.I. didn’t know it. The director of the C.I.A. did know it. His response was that it was none of his business. Technically correct,… Continue reading
By Paul Haven
April 16, 2009
MADRID (AP) — Spain’s attorney general has rejected opening an investigation
into whether six Bush administration officials sanctioned torture against terror
suspects at Guantánamo Bay, saying Thursday a U.S. courtroom would be the proper
Candido Conde-Pumpido’s remarks severely dampen the chance of a case moving
forward against the Americans, including former U.S. Attorney General Alberto
Gonzales. Conde-Pumpido said such a trial would have turned Spain’s National
Court “into a plaything” to be used for political ends.
“If there is a reason to file a complaint against these people, it should
be done before local courts with jurisdiction, in other words in the United
States,” he said in a breakfast meeting with journalists.
Spanish law gives its courts jurisdiction beyond national borders in cases
of torture, war crimes and other heinous offenses, based on a doctrine known
as universal justice, but the government has made clear it wants to rein in
Last month, a group of human rights lawyers asked Judge Baltasar Garzon, famous
for indicting ex-Chilean ruler Augusto Pinochet in 1998, to consider filing
charges against the six Americans. Under Spanish law, the judge then asked prosecutors
for a recommendation on whether to open a full-blown probe.
National Court prosecutors have not formally announced their decision, but
Conde-Pumpido is the country’s top law-enforcement official and has the ultimate
say. While an investigative judge like Garzon is not bound by the prosecutors’
recommendation, it would be highly unusual for a case… Continue reading