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
March 28, 2009
NEW YORK (Reuters) — A top Spanish court has moved toward starting a
probe of six former Bush administration officials including ex-Attorney General
Alberto Gonzales in connection with alleged torture of prisoners at Guantánamo
Bay, The New York Times said on Saturday.
The criminal investigation would focus on whether they violated international
law by providing a legalistic justification for torture at the U.S. detention
camp in Cuba, the Times said.
The paper said the National Court in Madrid had assigned the case to judge
Baltasar Garzon, known for ordering the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto
Garzon has accepted the case and sent it to the prosecutor’s office for review,
the newspaper said, citing an official close to the case.
The complaint, prepared by Spanish lawyers with the help of U.S. and European
legal experts, also names John Yoo, the former Justice Department lawyer who
wrote secret legal opinions saying the president had the authority to circumvent
the Geneva Conventions, and Douglas Feith, the former undersecretary of defense
Spain can claim jurisdiction in the case because five Spanish citizens or residents
who were prisoners at Guantánamo Bay say they were tortured there.
The other Americans named are William Haynes II, former general counsel for
the Department of Defense; Jay Bybee, Yoo’s former boss at the Justice Department’s
Office of Legal Counsel; and David Addington, chief of staff and legal adviser
to ex-Vice President Dick Cheney.
Yoo, already the subject of a Justice Department… Continue reading
EFF Releases How-To Guide to Fight Government Spying
‘Surveillance Self-Defense’ Gives Practical Advice on Protecting Your Private
March 3, 2009
San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) launched its Surveillance
Self-Defense project today — an online how-to guide for protecting your private
data against government spying. You can find the project at ssd.eff.org.
EFF created the Surveillance Self-Defense site to educate Americans about the
law and technology of communications surveillance and computer searches and
seizures, and to provide the information and tools necessary to keep their private
data out of the government’s hands. The guide includes tips on assessing the
security risks to your personal computer files and communications, strategies
for interacting with law enforcement, and articles on specific defensive technologies
such as encryption that can help protect the privacy of your data.
“Despite a long and troubling history in this country of the government
abusing its surveillance powers, most Americans know very little about how the
law protects them or about how they can take steps to protect themselves against
government surveillance,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston.
“The Surveillance Self-Defense project offers citizens a legal and technical
toolkit with tips on how to defend themselves in case the government attempts
to search, seize, subpoena or spy on their most private data.”
Surveillance Self-Defense details what the government can legally do to spy
on your computer data and communications, and what you can legally do to protect
yourself against such spying. It addresses how to protect not only the data
stored on your computer, but also the data you communicate over the phone or
the Internet and data about your communications that are stored by third party
Electronic Frontier Foundation
David L. Sobel
March 19, 2009
Attorney General Eric Holder today issued new guidelines (PDF) on federal agency implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The guidelines were issued pursuant to a directive issued by President Obama on January 21, his first full day in office. Like the Obama directive itself, the Holder guidelines express strong support for government transparency and establish a presumption in favor of disclosure of information requested under FOIA.
Perhaps most notably, the new guidelines rescind the so-called Ashcroft memo, issued by the former Attorney General in October 2001. That directive — widely criticized within the open government community — encouraged agencies to resist disclosure of requested information and to release documents “only after full and deliberate consideration” of the potential harms that might result. The Ashcroft memo also assured agencies that the Justice Department would defend in court any decisions to withhold information “unless they lack a sound legal basis.”
The new Holder guidelines echo the more pro-disclosure policy of former Attorney General Janet Reno and, like the Reno directive, encourage agencies to make “discretionary” disclosures of information that is not clearly required to be withheld as a matter of law. The new guidelines provide:
First, an agency should not withhold information simply because it may do so legally. I strongly encourage agencies to make discretionary disclosures of information. An agency should not withhold records merely because it can demonstrate, as a technical matter, that the… Continue reading
This week, newspapers across the country will once again sponsor panel discussions, Webcasts and op-eds pushing the American ideals of a free press and citizen access to the inner workings of government.
In recognition of Sunshine Week, News graphic artist Daniel Zakroczemski has created a poster celebrating freedom of information. To download a copy of the poster, click here .
Survey Of State Government Information Online
Most Americans can easily find videos of water skiing squirrels on the Internet but they’ll have less luck finding out whether their children’s school buses and classrooms are safe, or if neighborhood gas stations are overcharging. The Sunshine Week 2009 Survey of State Government Information online found that while more and more government records are being posted online, some of the most important information is being left offline. And in some cases governments are charging taxpayers to access records that they already paid for, such as death certificates. Read the report… .
For release: March 13, 2009
Federal Govt. Still Viewed as Secretive; President’s FOI Orders Get High Marks
Washington, D.C. — For the first time in four years, public opinion about government secrecy has leveled off, although more than seven in 10 adults still consider the federal government to… Continue reading
by Michael Collins
‘Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” — Herman Goering, Interview at Nuremburg Trials, April 14, 1946
“The Patriot Act was used against me in total contradiction to its stated purpose. Or perhaps it was the most logical use of the law, since it establishes a legal framework to crush free thinking and interrupt individual questioning of the government. It is the beginning of all dictatorship in America .” –Susan Lindauer, March 9, 2009
March 10, 2009 — Washington, DC ( electionfraudnews.com ) — In March, 2004 Susan Lindauer was arrested for allegedly acting as an “unregistered agent” for prewar Iraq. She challenged the government’s assertion and sought the right to prove at Trial that she’d been a United States intelligence asset covering Iraq and Libya from the early 1990′s through 2003 (see articles).
In an unprecedented judicial ploy that lasted five years, federal prosecutors blocked Ms. Lindauer’s rights to trial or any other sort of evidentiary hearings that would test her story. For 11 months, she was confined at Carswell federal prison on a Texas military base and at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, without a conviction or plea bargain.
During the indictment, she was conveniently gagged from sharing… Continue reading
March 4, 2009
Dear Senator Leahy,
We felt compelled to write to you regarding your recent call for the formation
of a “Truth Commission”. According to your press comments, this
Commission is supposed to look at the following:
* the politicization of prosecution in the Justice Department
* the wiretapping of U.S. citizens
* the flawed intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq
* the use of torture at Guantánamo and so-called black sites abroad
These are serious allegations of criminal activity by certain members of the
Bush Administration. While we applaud your initiative in looking into these
matters, we feel this approach is wrong.
As the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, you already have the responsibility
and legal authority to investigate matters relating to federal criminal law
without having to form a special commission. You are also bound by your oath
of office to support and uphold the Constitution by ensuring that those who
govern also abide by the rule of law.
Furthermore, a “Truth Commission” will not fix the real problems
that our country faces, nor will it guarantee that we will get to the truth.
The 9/11 Commission, which you want to model your commission after, is a perfect
example of that flawed process.
The 9/11 Commission was mandated to follow the facts surrounding the events
of September 11, 2001 to wherever they might lead and make national security
recommendations based upon those facts. Sadly, prior to even beginning their
investigation, like you, the 9/11… Continue reading
by Dave Lindorff
March 3, 2009
The dithering and ducking going on in the Obama White House and the Holder
Justice Department over the crimes of the Bush administration are taking on
a comic aspect.
On the one hand, we have President Obama assuring us that under his administration,
there will be respect for the rule of law, and on the other hand we have this
one-time constitutional law professor and his attorney general declaiming that
there is no need for the appointment of a prosecutor to bring charges against
the people in the last administration, in the CIA, in the National Security
Agency and in the Defense Department and the military who clearly have broken
the law in serious and felonious ways.
What gets silly is that America is either a nation of laws…or it isn’t.
It is either a place where “nobody is above the law”…or it
There is really no middle ground here.
The latest solid and incontrovertible evidence of outrageous and criminal behavior
by the White House is the discovery–and the public release by the Obama
administration–of documentary evidence that the CIA committed not just
torture but willful obstruction of justice by destroying video tapes of some
92 interrogations of terrorism suspects and captives in the so-called Bush “War”
on Terror. Plus the release of a stack of nine legal opinions by White House
and Justice Department lawyers providing legal cover for torture, including
executive orders from President Bush and directives from then Secretary… Continue reading
March 2, 2009 — Washington, DC ( electionfraudnews.com )
I first wrote about Susan Lindauer’s struggle against the Bush-Cheney regime in October 2007, ” American Cassandra: Susan Lindauer’s Story .” This was initially published in “Scoop” Independent Media ( complete series ) and carried by a wide variety of concerned Internet news sites and blogs. This interview follows the full dismissal of charges against her just before President Obama’s inauguration on January 20, 2009. This is the first in-depth interview that Lindauer has offered regarding 9/11. Below is part one of the interview.
I asked Ms. Lindauer to make her own statement about why she’s willing to go into detail now about 9/11 and the government’s handling of pre-9/11 intelligence.
For five years, I was the poster child for President Bush’s retaliation against Americans who opposed his War Policy in Iraq. In March, 2004 the Justice Department indicted me for acting as an “unregistered Iraqi Agent” (not espionage), because I delivered a prescient letter to my second cousin, Andy Card, former Chief of Staff to President Bush, warning of the dire consequences of War. More dangerously, I had decided to talk. In February, 2004 I approached the senior staff of Senators Trent Lott and John McCain and asked to testify in front of the new blue ribbon Presidential Commission on Iraqi Pre-War Intelligence. Within a month, I was astounded to wake up one morning to hear FBI agents pounding on the door of my house in Maryland with an arrest… Continue reading
By Devlin Barrett
Associated Press on ABC News
March 2, 2009
WASHINGTON — New documents show the CIA destroyed nearly 100 tapes of
terror interrogations, far more than has previously been acknowledged.
The revelation Monday comes as a criminal prosecutor is wrapping up his investigation
in the matter.
The acknowledgment of dozens of destroyed tapes came in a letter filed by government
lawyers in New York, where the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit
seeking more details of terror interrogation programs.
“The CIA can now identify the number of videotapes that were destroyed,”
said the letter by Acting U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin. “Ninety two videotapes
ACLU attorney Amrit Singh said the CIA should be held in contempt of court for holding back the information for so long.
“The large number of videotapes destroyed confirms that the agency engaged in a systematic attempt to hide evidence of its illegal interrogations and to evade the court’s order,” Singh said in a statement.
The tapes became a contentious issue in the trial of Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias
Moussaoui, after prosecutors initially claimed no such recordings existed, then
acknowledged two videotapes and one audiotape had been made.
The letter, dated March 2 to Judge Alvin Hellerstein, says the CIA is now gathering
more details for the lawsuit, including a list of the destroyed records, any
secondary accounts that describe the destroyed contents, and the identities
of those who may have viewed or possessed the recordings before they were destroyed.
But… Continue reading
Missing email includes day Cheney’s office told to preserve emails in CIA leak case WASHINGTON — Welcome to change.
The Obama administration, siding with former President George W. Bush, is trying to kill a lawsuit that seeks to recover what could be millions of missing White House e-mails in a stunning reversal of Obama’s rhetoric about Bush secrecy on the campaign trail.
Two advocacy groups suing the Executive Office of the President, including one of the groups that helped derail former House Speaker Tom DeLay, say that large amounts of White House e-mail documenting Bush’s eight years in office may still be missing, and that the government must undertake an extensive recovery effort. They expressed disappointment that Obama’s Justice Department is continuing the Bush administration’s bid to get the lawsuits dismissed.
During its first term, the Bush White House failed to install electronic record-keeping for e-mail when it switched to a new system, allegedly resulting in millions of messages that could not be found.
The Bush White House “discovered the problem” in 2005 and rejected a proposed solution.
The exact number of missing e-mails is unknown, but several days on which e-mails were not archived covered key dates in a Justice Department inquiry into the roles of Vice President Dick Cheney and his aides in leaking the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson.
Ironically, Cheney’s office is missing emails from the very day President Bush told reporters he’d “take care of” whatever staff member had actually… Continue reading