Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Elisa Massamino speaks on torture

Torture, the Constitution and Solitary Confinement: A Preview of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report
Elisa Massamino 
President/CEO, Human Rights First 
with expert panel that will make short statements on torture

Thursday, June 28, 2012, 7:30 p.m.
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton

Sophia Lyon Fahs Auditorium
50 Cherry Hill Road, Princeton, NJ

Sponsored by:
Princeton Area Interfaith Anti-Torture Group
Co-Sponsored by:
Coalition for Peace Action; National Religious Campaign Against Torture; American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey; Rabbis for Human Rights North America; Princeton Friends Monthly Meeting; Trenton Friends Monthly Meeting; 
Nassau Presbyterian Church; Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton Social Justice Committee; Princeton University Office of Religious Life; All Saints Church; Hanan M. Isaacs, P.C.; and Princeton Community TV.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Scott Horton speaks in Princeton June 2

Torture, Wikileaks and State Secrecy:
Did torture help or hinder finding Osama bin Laden?

Scott Horton
International Attorney-at-Law & Human Rights Advocate
Winner of the 2011 National Magazine Award for his article on Guantanamo

Thursday, June 2, 7:30 p.m.
Princeton Unitarian Universalist Congregation Churc
Sophia Lyon Fahs Auditorium
50 Cherry Hill Road, Princeton

Sponsored by:
Princeton Area Interfaith Anti-Torture Group

Co-Sponsored by (to-date):
National Religious Campaign Against Torture; Coalition for Peace Action; American Civil Liberties Union; Princeton Community TV; Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton; Nassau Presbyterian Church; and Hanan M. Isaacs, P.C.

Download flyer.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Letter to the Editor re torture debate

That there is a torture debate in this country to be revived by bin Laden's killing is itself a measure of how far we have strayed from the wisdom and values of our founders. But the Cheneys must be answered.

Is it any wonder that the Pakistanis would hesitate to subject bin Laden's widows to a nation that has abused, tortured and indefinitely detained even those it knew to be innocent of any connection to terror? Should we be surprised that other countries would refrain from sharing intelligence with us? Should we expect people with knowledge of possible plots to come forward and tell us what they know when there is the possibility of their ending up at Guantanamo? How much sooner would we have learned the real name of bin Laden's courier if we were not known for our cruelty to detainees?

June is Torture Awareness Month. It's never too early to raise these issues.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Secret Policeman's Balls

Amnesty International benefit performances by John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Neil Innes, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Rowan Atkinson, Sting, Pete Townshend, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, Bob Geldof, Kate Bush and David Gilmour, Lou Reed, Jackson Browne.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Anti-torture protest at Rumsfeld's book tour launch

There were actually seven protesters in total demonstrating at the Constitution Center last night. Thanks to Peter Crimmins of WHYY for the photo and story, as well as Jan Ransom of the Philadelphia Daily News for her coverage. Thanks most of all to Barbara Quintiliano of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture for organizing the protest. Will Bunch has a fine account of the event inside.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Noam Chomsky: Crimes Are Crimes

Noam Chomsky Signs World Can't Wait's Crimes Are Crimes Statement No Matter Who Does Them.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Participate in the End the Blockade of Gaza postcard action!

More than 1.5 million Palestinian men, women, and children have been trapped in the Gaza Strip for more than three years. In addition to restricting Palestinians' movement from Gaza into Israel, the blockade has also severely undermined Palestinians' right to access clean water, food, medical care and proper education. Help us send at least 10,000 postcards to the White House demanding action to lift the blockade of Gaza!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

ACLU Torture Report

Read the ACLU's Torture Report, with contributions by Salon's Glenn Greenwald, featured below (warning: disturbing images).

Monday, June 21, 2010

"The Obama administration and its pundit-defenders"

By Glenn Greenwald,, June 21, 2010:
Even in the context of America's wretched civil liberties abuses over the last decade, the case of Mohamed Hassan Odaini stands out. He was 17 years old in 2001 when his father sent him from Yemen to study at a religious university in Raiwand, Pakistan, and when a campus house in which he was staying there was raided by Pakistani authorities in early 2002, he was turned over to the U.S. and shipped to Guantanamo, where he has remained without charges for the last eight years (he's now 26). A federal court this month granted his habeas petition for release, finding that the evidence "overwhelmingly supports Odaini's contention that he is unlawfully detained." Worse, the court described the multiple times over the years -- beginning in 2002 and occurring as recently as 2009 -- when the U.S. Government itself concluded that Odaini was guilty of nothing, was mistakenly detained, and should be released (see here for the court's description of that history).

Despite that, the Obama administration has refused to release him for the past 16 months, and fought vehemently in this habeas proceeding to keep him imprisoned. As the court put it, the Obama DOJ argued "vehemently" that there was evidence that Odaini was part of Al Qaeda. In fact, the Obama administration knew this was false. This Washington Post article this weekend quotes an "administration official" as saying: "The bottom line is: We don't have anything on this kid." But after Obama decreed in January that no Yemeni detainees would be released -- even completely innocent ones, and even though the Yemeni government wants their innocent prisoners returned -- Obama DOJ lawyers basically lied to the court by claiming there was substantial evidence to prove that Odaini was part of Al Qaeda even though they know that is false. In other words, the Obama administration is knowingly imprisoning a completely innocent human being who has been kept in a cage in an island prison, thousands of miles from his home, for the last 8 years, since he's 18 years old, despite having done absolutely nothing wrong.

It really is hard to imagine many things worse, more criminal, than imprisoning people for years whom you know are innocent, while fighting in court to keep them imprisoned. But that's exactly what the Obama administration is doing. Every day that Odiani is kept in a cage is a serious crime. Just imagine what has happened to his life by being shipped off to Guantanamo for 8 years, starting in 2002 during that camp's darkest days, with absolutely no justification. . . . [continued]

Amnesty International: Take action on behalf of Odaini.

Monday, May 24, 2010

"Lawrence Wilkerson, from Bush administration insider to fierce critic"

Radio Times, NPR/WHYY, May 24, 2010: "Lawrence B. Wilkerson is a retired United States Army Colonel and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, and now teaches at the College of William and Mary and George Washington University. Since his retirement from public service in 2005, Wilkerson has been outspoken about the planning and execution of the Iraq War and the policies and practices at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He recently made waves when he wrote that the Bush administration knew it was imprisoning innocent men at Guantanamo, and that some of those men are still there in U.S. custody."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Cries from the Past: Torture's Ugly Echoes"

By H. P. Albarelli Jr. and Jeffrey Kaye,, May 23, 2010:
In a superb op-ed, written by Leonard S. Rubenstein and Stephen N. Xenakis, published recently in the New York Times (Doctors Without Morals, March 1, 2010, p. A23), the issue of holding physicians and psychologists accountable for their ethical breaches in participating in the conduct of torture is expertly raised, along with a well-needed call for investigations into such violations and violators. . . .

Rubenstein and Xenakis are absolutely correct in their call for action now, as they are in their accounting of what has gone on historically the past ten years with torture at Guantanamo and elsewhere. However, their op-ed says nothing about the decades preceding the terrible events of 9-11. An examination of these well-hidden, past torture activities might serve well in shedding light on the causes for reluctance and inaction in holding torturers and their professional cohorts responsible.

Operation Dormouse

Contemporary torture's earliest, deepest and most influential roots are found in the CIA's Artichoke Project. Indeed, it is Project Artichoke that encapsulates the CIA's real traveling road show of horrors and atrocities, not MK/ULTRA which, although responsible for its own acts of mindless cruelty, pales in comparison.

That MK/ULTRA received, and continues to receive, the lion's share of the media's attention and public outrage over CIA mind control programs was a deliberately planned outcome on the part of the Agency. This outcome was the central objective of a never before revealed covert operation launched in 1975 and informally code-named Dormouse. . . . [continued]

"Doctors Without Morals"

By Leonard S. Rubenstein and Stephen N. Xenakis, New York Times, February 28, 2010:
After five years of investigation, the Justice Department has released its findings regarding the government lawyers who authorized waterboarding and other forms of torture during the interrogation of suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay and elsewhere. The report’s conclusion, that the lawyers exercised poor judgment but were not guilty of professional misconduct, is questionable at best. Still, the review reflects a commitment to a transparent investigation of professional behavior.

In contrast, the government doctors and psychologists who participated in and authorized the torture of detainees have escaped discipline, accountability or even internal investigation. . . .

The shabbiness of the medical judgments, though, pales in comparison to the ethical breaches by the doctors and psychologists involved. Health professionals have a responsibility extending well beyond nonparticipation in torture; the historic maxim is, after all, "First do no harm." These health professionals did the polar opposite.

Nevertheless, no agency — not the Pentagon, the C.I.A., state licensing boards or professional medical societies — has initiated any action to investigate, much less discipline, these individuals. They have ignored the gross and appalling violations by medical personnel. This is an unconscionable disservice to the thousands of ethical doctors and psychologists in the country’s service. It is not too late to begin investigations. They should start now.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"DIA and the Black Jail at Bagram"

By Scott Horton, Harper's, May 17, 2010:
Marc Ambinder reports that the secret prison at the periphery of Bagram is actually operated by the Defense Intelligence Agency. . . .

Ambinder also reports that the rough interrogation techniques used at the prison are taken from the notorious Appendix M to the Army Field Manual, which the Pentagon itself acknowledges is not compliant with the Geneva Conventions standards for prisoners of war.

So the jail is not a JSOC operation? It’s not so simple as that. Task Force 714 was headed by two successive JSOC commanders, Stanley McChrystal and then William McRaven, and it has often been tied to the blackest of the JSOC black ops. . . .

It’s true that JSOC relies on other branches of the vast Defense Department intelligence community for support, and I don’t doubt Ambinder’s reporting, but I still believe based on everything I have heard that this is, at its heart, a JSOC operation. Regardless, it’s time to ask Secretary Gates why he’s decided to put DIA in charge of a prison operation that looks almost identical to the one that President Obama outlawed back on January 22, 2009, and why he’s giving them free rein to employ the non-Geneva compliant techniques found in Appendix M.

Friday, May 14, 2010

"Blueprint for Accountability," June 7, NYU

Culture Project presents the second installment of its groundbreaking "Blueprint for Accountability" series at NYU Skirball Center to engage the public in constructing a "blueprint" for a more just and democratic future.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"The Response" movie

Starring Aasif Mandvi, Kate Mulgrew, and Peter Riegert; directed by Adam Rodgers; written and produced by Sig Libowitz.

"The response matters. Our response defines us."
--Colonel Jefferson
The Response is a courtroom drama based on the actual transcripts of the Guantanamo Bay military tribunals [officially known as the Combatant Status Review Tribunals, or CSRTs]. . . .

The Response was researched and fully vetted in conjunction with the University of Maryland School of Law.

A copy of the DVD was donated to the Doylestown public library by Amnesty International. Check it out.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Iraq: Detainees Describe Torture in Secret Jail"

Human Rights Watch, April 27, 2010: "Detainees in a secret Baghdad detention facility were hung upside-down, deprived of air, kicked, whipped, beaten, given electric shocks, and sodomized, Human Rights Watch said today. Iraq should thoroughly investigate and prosecute all government and security officials responsible, Human Rights Watch said. . . ."

John Cole, April 28, 2010: "Oh. Hey! Look Who Discovered the 'T-Word' . . ."

June is Torture Awareness Month

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture is already gearing up for two primary efforts:
Passing federal legislation granting the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access to all detainees in U.S. custody.

Securing a comprehensive investigation, a Commission of Inquiry, into the use of torture by the United States since September 11, 2001 - learning from the past is the best way to build a torture-free future.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Glenn Greenwald & Larry Siems re the Torture Report

"'s Glenn Greenwald and Torture Report author Larry Siems discuss the Torture Report, an online, interactive website that is building a documentary record of the Bush administration torture program."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Bush Insider Reveals Guantanamo Deception: Hundreds of Innocents Jailed"

By Bill Quigley,, April 20, 2010:
Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, provided shocking new testimony from inside the Bush Administration that hundreds of the men jailed at Guantanamo were innocent, the top people in the Bush Administration knew full well they were innocent, and that information was kept from the public.

Wilkerson said President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld "indefinitely detained the innocent for political reasons" and many in the administration knew it. The wrongfully held prisoners were not released because of political maneuverings aimed in part to cover up the mistakes of the administration.

Colonel Wilkerson, who served in the U.S. Army for over thirty years, signed a sworn declaration for an Oregon federal court case stating that he found out in August 2002 that the US knew that many of the prisoners at Guantanamo were not enemy combatants. Wilkerson also discussed this in a revealing and critical article on Guantanamo for the Washington Note. . . . [continued]

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Guantánamo Habeas Week: Exposing Torture, Misconceptions and Government Incompetence"

By Andy Worthington, April 19, 2010:
In an attempt to raise awareness of the importance of the rulings being made in US courts on the habeas corpus petitions of the prisoners held at Guantánamo (as authorized by a significant Supreme Court ruling in June 2008), I’m devoting most of my work this week to articles covering the 47 cases decided to date (34 of which have been won by the prisoners), as a series entitled, “Guantánamo Habeas Week.”

Although I have covered the 47 cases in detail over the last 19 months, I had not, until now, followed the example of the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Washington Independent and the Miami Herald, who have all produced “Habeas Corpus Scorecards.” As a result, this series kicks off with my own list, providing links to my analyses of the rulings, to the judges’ own unclassified opinions, and, where relevant, to my articles covering the prisoners’ release from Guantánamo, and progress reports on a handful of appeals. . . . [continued]

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Emptywheel's series begins

"'High Side' Cables and FOIA Responses," April 8, 2010:
As you’ll no doubt understand over the next week or so, bmaz and I have been comparing the case of David Passaro, the only CIA-related person to be prosecuted for detainee abuse, with what happened in Gul Rahman’s death at the Salt Pit. Passaro, a CIA contractor obviously trained in SERE-based interrogation techniques, was convicted of assaulting an Afghan, Abdul Wali, with his hand, foot, and flashlight, while interrogating him at the Asadabad firebase in Eastern Afghanistan in June 2003.

I’ll have a lot more to say about Passaro’s case in upcoming posts (short story, though, is his defense tested many of John Yoo’s favorite theories and lost). But for now, I wanted to point to two passages in this filing, which requests electronic communications evidence related to Wali’s interrogation and death. One thing it requests are transcripts of satellite phone calls from the Field. . . .(continued)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Guantanamo: Beyond the Law"

"An eight-month McClatchy investigation of the detention system created after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has found that the U.S. imprisoned innocent men, subjected them to abuse, stripped them of their legal rights and allowed Islamic militants to turn the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba into a school for jihad. . . ."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Court asked to decide: Was Rumsfeld a torturer?"

By Nat Hentoff, March 26, 2010:
. . . [I]n an unexpected and historic ruling on March 5 of this year, federal District Judge Wayne Andersen in Chicago allowed the continuance of a lawsuit — “Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel v. Donald Rumsfeld, United States of America and Unidentified Agents.” It is the first continuance of a torture case against a senior Bush official.

The charge against Rumsfeld is that he was the authorizing source and therefore personally responsible for the torture in 2006 by U.S. forces in Iraq of American citizens Vance and Ertel, members of a private security firm. They had become unpaid informants for the FBI when they suspected their employer of illegal activities in Iraq. Nonetheless, they were imprisoned and tortured by American forces. . . .

"US Recants Claims on 'High-Value' Detainee Abu Zubaydah"

By Jason Leopold,, March 30, 2010:
The Justice Department has quietly recanted nearly every major claim the Bush administration made about Abu Zubaydah, the alleged al-Qaeda leader who was the first suspected terrorist subjected to the torture of waterboarding and other White House-approved “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

In a federal court filing, Justice backed away from the Bush administration’s statements that Zubaydah had helped plan the 9/11 attacks and was a close confidant to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, as well as even earlier claims from the Clinton administration that he was directly involved in planning the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa. . . .