Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Salon Radio: Critical state secrets hearing today"

By Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com, December 15, 2009: "The case of Mohamed v. Jeppesen -- brought by five victims of Bush's torture/rendition program against the Boeing subsidiary that shipped them to be tortured. . . ."

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"Photos and freedom"

New York Times editorial, December 4, 2009: "In a sad but unsurprising denouement this week, the Supreme Court tossed out a federal appellate court ruling that would have required the government to release photographs of soldiers abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush administration. . . ."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Canada hears of Afghan 'torture'"

By Lee Carter, BBC News, November 19, 2009. "A senior Canadian diplomat has testified that many Afghan detainees captured by Canadian forces in 2006 and 2007 were likely to have been tortured. . . ."

Monday, October 26, 2009

NYT Editorial: "The Cover-Up Continues"

Editorial, NYTimes.com, October 25, 2009: "The Obama administration has clung for so long to the Bush administration’s expansive claims of national security and executive power that it is in danger of turning President George W. Bush’s cover-up of abuses committed in the name of fighting terrorism into President Barack Obama’s cover-up. . . ."

Friday, September 4, 2009

NY Times: "Dick Cheney’s Version"

Editorial - "Dick Cheney’s Version" - NYTimes.com, September 2, 2009: ". . . The government owes Americans a full investigation into the orders to approve torture, abuse and illegal, secret detention, as well as the twisted legal briefs that justified those policies. Congress and the White House also need to look into illegal wiretapping and the practice of sending prisoners to other countries to be tortured. . . ."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Scott Horton, Edward Turzanski re torture

Radio Times, WHYY, September 2, 2009: "We look at the decision to investigate CIA interrogation techniques with Edward Turzanski, Senior Fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute and Scott Horton, contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

"The Wrong Debate?"

On the Media, NPR, August 28, 2009: "The C.I.A. inspector general's report released this week exposed gruesome interrogation techniques used on detainees. But as the press combs through the report, is the discussion whether these practices are illegal or whether they're effective? Bob asks LA Times reporter Greg Miller whether the debate over efficacy is beside the point."

"America's moral responsibility in condemning torture"

"On his weekly Center Square audio essay WHYY's Chris Satullo looks at America's moral responsibilities when it comes to condemning prisoner abuse." WHYY, August 30, 2009.

Friday, August 28, 2009

"US Interrogators Back Torture Probe"

truthout.org report by Jason Leopold, August 28, 2009: "Support for a wide-ranging criminal investigation into the Bush administration's use of torture has grown to include a former top FBI interrogator and a career military intelligence officer with more than two decades of experience conducting interrogations. . . ."

"New Documents Describe in Extraordinary Detail Process of 'Rendition,' Torture"

truthout.org report by Jason Leopold, August 27, 2009: "Among the treasure trove of documents released on Monday related to the CIA's detention and torture program is a 20-page background paper that, for the first time, describes in extraordinary detail the process of 'rendition' and the torture prisoners are then subjected to when they are flown to 'black site' prisons. . . ."

Friday, July 10, 2009

"Local resident offers the view from Palestine"

PhillyBurbs.com: "Local resident offers the view from Palestine," Kaitlyn Willcoxon, Intelligencer, July 9, 2009:
Despite "looks" from neighbors and her family's fears, Susan Johnson, "a little grandmother from Doylestown," traveled to the West Bank in 2004 and this May visited the Gaza Strip.

For Johnson, a local resident for 50 years, travel to the West Bank and Gaza follows a career of passionate activism, having protested the Iraq War both in Doylestown and Washington.

Tonight at a coffee house in Doylestown, she plans to speak about what she saw in the Middle East.

From very early, Johnson argued fervently in favor of Israel's right to exist, but the Israeli construction of the separation wall in 2002 angered her. Then through "divine intervention" at a protest of the Iraq War, a woman approached Johnson and asked if she would consider going to the West Bank with a group called Women of a Certain Age.

After meeting the group of 13 "bright, funny, articulate, women +10 of them were Jewish, which was a big awakening to me," Johnson decided to go to the West Bank. She calls it "a life-changing experience."

When Johnson received a letter from the organization UN Relief, forwarded by one of the women from Women of a Certain Age, with an application to travel to Gaza, she considered the opportunity for several days. She applied and the UN accepted her to join a delegation of 13 other people and departed in May.

"I really wanted to see for myself," says Johnson, who after her trip believes that media coverage of Israel and Palestine is unbalanced.

One example Johnson gives is the coverage of Hamas.

"Hamas is described as terrorists + Hamas and others shoot rockets over into Israel. I also saw that Hamas supplies or facilitates aid to the people in Gaza that they wouldn't get otherwise," Johnson said. "Suppose your house was demolished, then they come and give your family money."

Hamas does "not brainwash all of the kids or people, or it wouldn't be safe to walk around in Gaza," she said. Johnson felt safe the entire time she was in Gaza City and Rafa.

With the delegation, Johnson also visited the Qattan Center for Children and Culture, which "could be a children's center built in Doylestown for all the suburban kids and their parents would be thrilled."

The center provides a library, computer rooms, English classes, arts and crafts, music, and dance classes. Most importantly, the center provides one of the only places, according to Johnson, that the children feel safe enough to have fun and act like children.

Though it would mean leaving behind her grandchildren, Johnson is considering volunteering at the Qattan Center to care for "the world's grandchildren," because, " I want my grandchildren to respect me and know that I've done what I could to make the world a better place. + I think it's why we're here on earth + that may sound high or lofty, but I believe that with all my heart."

Now back in Doylestown, Johnson wants to ensure that as many people learn about both her experience and the plight of Palestinians. Despite "challenges" with the computer, Johnson started a blog, "Palestine: Seeing for Myself" at seeingformyself.blogspot.com. . . .

Many of the photos Johnson showed at Saxby's can be viewed at www.vivagaza.org/. She also recommended the blog of another member of the delegation, Philip Weiss: Mondoweiss. Several Israeli peace advocates were named, including Uri Avnery, who wrote this about the Gaza war.

Amnesty International issued a report on July 2, 2009: Israel/Gaza: Operation "Cast Lead": 22 Days of Death and Destruction. Amnesty also called on Israel to co-operate fully with the independent Gaza fact-finding mission set up by the UN Human Rights Council and headed by Justice Richard Goldstone. Read Rep. Keith Ellison re Goldstone and his report, submitted in September 2009.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

"The suppressed fact: Deaths by U.S. torture"

"The suppressed fact: Deaths by U.S. torture" - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com, June 30, 2009.
. . . there is an important effort underway -- as part of the ACLU Accountability Project -- to correct a critically important deficiency in the public debate over torture and accountability. So often, the premise of media discussions of torture is that "torture" is something that was confined to a single tactic (waterboarding) and used only on three "high-value" detainees accused of being high-level Al Qaeda operatives. The reality is completely different.

The interrogation and detention regime implemented by the U.S. resulted in the deaths of over 100 detainees in U.S. custody -- at least. While some of those deaths were the result of "rogue" interrogators and agents, many were caused by the methods authorized at the highest levels of the Bush White House, including extreme stress positions, hypothermia, sleep deprivation and others. Aside from the fact that they cause immense pain, that's one reason we've always considered those tactics to be "torture" when used by others -- because they inflict serious harm, and can even kill people. Those arguing against investigations and prosecutions -- that we Look to the Future, not the Past -- are thus literally advocating that numerous people get away with murder. . . .

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

NPR and "torture"

"NPR's ombudsman: Why we bar the word 'torture'" - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com, June 22, 2009.
Anyone who believes that NPR is a "liberal" media outlet -- and anyone who wants to understand the decay of American journalism -- should read this column by NPR's Ombudsman, Alicia C. Shepard, as she explains and justifies why NPR bars the use of the word "torture" to describe what the Bush administration did. . . .

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Judge rules Yoo can be sued

"Bush-era lawyer could stand trial for penning 'torture memos,'" csmonitor.com, Warren Richey, June 16, 2009: "John Yoo can be held responsible for the alleged torture of detainee Jose Padilla, a judge ruled Friday. . . ."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Mohammed El-Gharani finally cleared, released

Andy Worthington: "The Long Ordeal of Mohammed El-Gharani: The long ordeal of Mohammed El-Gharani, Guantánamo’s youngest prisoner, has finally come to an end. Reprieve, the legal action charity that represents him, reported yesterday that he has been sent back to Chad. A Saudi resident and Chadian national, El-Gharani was just 14 years old [more than seven years ago] when he was seized by Pakistani forces in a random raid on a mosque in Karachi, but was treated appallingly both by the Pakistanis who seized him, and by the U.S. military. . . ."

Monday, June 1, 2009

Letter to Rep. Patrick Murphy

A nine-member delegation including representatives of Amnesty, the ACLU, and the Coalition for Peace Action met with Rep. Patrick Murphy to ask for his support for a commission of inquiry into the treatment of detainees since 9/11 and an investigation by the Justice Department. Following is our thank-you letter:

May 31, 2009

Rep. Patrick Murphy
1609 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Patrick,

Thank you so much for meeting with us on the 27th and being so generous with your time. In response to your request for information about Amnesty, research revealed that there are 1,326 donor members in your district and many more student activists whose contributions are primarily in terms of service hours. Incidentally, there are over 20,000 donor members in PA.

Inquirer columnist Mark Bowden wrote a piece on May 17, "Damage done by allowing torture," that reinforces the argument for a commission of inquiry. There is a link to the whole article on the Opinion page of http://www.amnestybucksmont.org/. The disturbing part is that he is predisposed to believe Cheney's claims about the effectiveness of torturing Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheik Mohammed—that it helped gain information that thwarted attacks, though he concedes, "A complete independent investigation is the only way to find out" (italics added).

Bowden's real outrage is directed elsewhere: "We don't know all the facts yet, but the failure to control abuses at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and other military prisons strikes me as the real horror here." It goes without saying that Guantánamo is on that list, where Jeremy Scahill (http://www.alternet.org/story/140022/?) reports the abuse continues, at the hands of the Immediate Reaction Force (IRF) teams.

One of the goals of http://www.amnestybucksmont.org/ and http://amnestybucksmont.blogspot.com/ is to document the depth and breadth of the anti-torture sentiment in this district and region, as evidenced by the collection of writings at the Opinion tab and the notices of anti-torture events on the homepage, such as the town hall meeting featuring General Richard O'Meara last October.

But again, to have any hope of reaching the vast audience for 24, Congress is going to have to launch an inquiry in one form or another that will finally tell the whole story, and there must be accountability. You will be doing the president and the country a much needed service.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Moyers: See "Torturing Democracy"

truthout.org, Bill Moyers and Michael Winship: "Everyone Should See 'Torturing Democracy'"

"We have re-created our enemy's methodologies in Guantanamo," Malcolm Nance, former head of the Navy's SERE training program, says in "Torturing Democracy." He adds, "It will hurt us for decades to come. Decades. Our people will all be subjected to these tactics, because we have authorized them for the world now. How it got to Guantanamo is a crime and somebody needs to figure out who did it, how they did it, who authorized them to do it ... Because our servicemen will suffer for years."

Link to documentary: http://torturingdemocracy.org/

Petraeus: Close Guantanamo, end torture

"Petraeus Endorses Obama's Plans to Close GITMO, End Torture," by Sam Stein, Huffington Post, May 26, 2009: "General David Petraeus said this past weekend that President Obama's decision to close down Gitmo and end harsh interrogation techniques would benefit the United States in the broader war on terror. . . ."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Why we need an independent commission

"Why Obama Needs to Reveal Even More on Torture," by Robert Baer, Time, April 20, 2009: "Not everything related to abusive interrogations can be declassified, but nonetheless should be looked at by a blue-ribbon presidential commission. . . . On a more public level, a thorough clearing of the air will go a long way toward discrediting the idea that we either torture terrorists or die. This false choice is played out week after week in the popular TV show 24, leaving people with the notion that had the FBI somehow caught one of the hijackers in the hours leading up to 9/11, torture would have led to the arrest of the other 18 before those planes took off. We need to put the last nail in the coffin of Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz's idea of torture warrants. . . ."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Gitmo prisoner abuse under Obama

"Little-Known Military Thug Squad Still Brutalizing Prisoners at Gitmo Under Obama," by Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet, May 15, 2009. "The 'Black Shirts' of Guantanamo routinely terrorize prisoners, breaking bones, gouging eyes, squeezing testicles, and 'dousing' them with chemicals. . . ."

Witness against torture at the White House

Religious public witness in Washington, DC, sponsored by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, June 11, 2009.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Inquirer editorial re torture

Editorial: "Descent into torture," Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/15/2009: "Just as harsh U.S. interrogation techniques were being discredited at a Senate hearing this week, the reported suicide of a former CIA detainee in Libya recalled one of the most spectacular and far-reaching failures of torture-like tactics. . . ."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Senator calls for 'truth commission'"

"Senator calls for 'truth commission' to probe Bush-era interrogations," by Josh Meyer, Los Angeles Times, May 14, 2009.
". . . Ali Soufan, a former FBI counter-terrorism agent and interrogator, testified that President George W. Bush and Justice Department lawyers were wrong when they said that waterboarding and other tactics used on one suspect provided key pieces of intelligence about Al Qaeda after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Testifying behind a screen to protect his identity, Soufan said the techniques, touted by the Bush administration as perhaps its most effective weapon against terrorism, were actually slow, ineffective and unreliable. . . ."

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Obama re torture

Matt Renner, truthout.org, April 30, 2009: "Obama Confronts Torture Policy in Prime Time: The East Room, the White House - Under the spotlight of his third prime-time press conference, on his 100th day in office, President Barack Obama was unequivocal in his rejection of torture on moral and ethical grounds and said specifically that waterboarding is an illegal torture technique. . . ."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Torture memos ignored precedents

Jason Leopold, truthout.org, April 27, 2009: "Reagan's DOJ Prosecuted Texas Sheriff for Waterboarding Prisoners": "George W. Bush's Justice Department said subjecting a person to the near drowning of waterboarding was not a crime and didn't even cause pain, but Ronald Reagan's Justice Department thought otherwise, prosecuting a Texas sheriff and three deputies for using the practice to get confessions. . . ."

Marjorie Cohn re why 266 times

Marjorie Cohn, truthout,org, April 26, 2009: "Torture Used to Link Saddam with 9/11." "The president must fulfill his constitutional duty to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed. Obama said that 'nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.' He is wrong. There is more to gain from upholding the rule of law. It will make future leaders think twice before they authorize the cruel, illegal treatment of other human beings."

McClatchy series on Guantanamo

McClatchy: "Guantanamo: Beyond the Law," a five-part series: "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."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Military warned against torture in 2002

"In 2002, military agency warned against 'torture': Extreme duress could yield unreliable information, it said," washingtonpost.com, Peter Finn and Joby Warrick, April 25, 2009: "The military agency that provided advice on harsh interrogation techniques for use against terrorism suspects referred to the application of extreme duress as 'torture' in a July 2002 document sent to the Pentagon's chief lawyer and warned that it would produce 'unreliable information.'

"'The unintended consequence of a U.S. policy that provides for the torture of prisoners is that it could be used by our adversaries as justification for the torture of captured U.S. personnel,' says the document. . . ."

"Leads Obtained Without Torture"

"FBI: Key Sept. 11 Leads Obtained Without Torture," NPR, All Things Considered, April 24, 2009.

Re interrogations in Iraq

"Officer 'Unpopular' for Opposing Interrogations," NPR/All Things Considered, April 23, 2009: "An Air Force interrogator tried to stop the harsh techniques he witnessed in Iraq when he went there in 2003. But his efforts to halt abusive interrogations were rebuffed and, in his words, made him 'the most unpopular officer' in Iraq."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Senate Armed Services Committee Report

truthout, Jason Leopold, April 22, 2009: "Senate [Armed Services Committee] Report Details Torture Policy Origins: The seeds for the Bush administration's policy of torture were planted in December 2001, nearly a year before the Justice Department issued its first legal opinion that authorized CIA interrogators to torture 'war on terror' prisoners, and the creation of the policy involved senior White House officials, according to a newly declassified report released late Tuesday by the Senate Armed Services Committee."

For a presidential commission on torture

Thomas R. Pickering and William S. Sessions, washingtonpost.com, March 23, 2009: "Moving Forward by Looking Back: Why a Presidential Commission on Torture Is Critical to America's Security."

Petition for Commission on Accountability

Sign the petition for a Commission on Accountability
We call on the President of the United States to establish an independent, non-partisan commission to examine and report publicly on torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees in the period since September 11, 2001. The commission, comparable in stature to the 9/11 Commission, should look into the facts and circumstances of such abuses, report on lessons learned, and recommend measures that would prevent any future abuses. We believe that the commission is necessary to reaffirm America ’s commitment to the Constitution, international treaty obligations, and human rights. The report issued by the commission will strengthen U.S. national security and help to re-establish America ’s standing in the world.

Co-Sponsors for CommissiononAccountability.org
Amnesty International USA
The Brennan Center for Justice
The Carter Center, Human Rights Program
The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, New York University, School of Law
Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, UC Davis
The Center for Victims of Torture
The Constitution Project
Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley
Human Rights First
Human Rights Watch
International Center for Transitional Justice
International Justice Network
The Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
National Institute of Military Justice
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The Open Society Institute
Physicians for Human Rights
The Rutherford Institute

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Obama Open to Prosecutions"

"Obama Open to Prosecutions in Interrogation Abuses," NYTimes.com, April 21, 2009: "President Obama on Tuesday left open the door to creating a bipartisan commission that would investigate the Bush administration’s use of harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects, and he did not rule out taking action against the lawyers who fashioned the legal guidelines for the interrogations."

Monday, April 20, 2009

2 prisoners waterboarded 266 times

"Waterboarding Used 266 Times on 2 Suspects," NYTimes.com, Scott Shane, April 19, 2009: "C.I.A. interrogators used waterboarding, the near-drowning technique that top Obama administration officials have described as illegal torture, 266 times on two key prisoners from Al Qaeda, far more than had been previously reported."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

"In Brennan, Cheney has a friend"

"In Brennan, Cheney Has a Friend," by Scott Horton, Harper's Magazine, April 5, 2009: "The disclosure of the OLC memoranda presents a key policy fork in the road for Obama. If he is faithful to his commitment to transparency and to end torture, the government will have to come clean with these memos. If Obama keeps them under wraps, the public will have good reason to question his undertaking to end torture–and good reason to question whether a Cheney 'shadow administration' actually has the power to influence policy."

Petition for an independent commission...more

1) We call for the establishment of a nonpartisan, independent commission of distinguished Americans to examine, and provide a comprehensive report on, policies and actions related to the detention, treatment, and transfer of detainees after 9/11 and the consequences of those actions, and to make recommendations for future policy in this area.
2) Official reports from the International Committee of the Red Cross warned senior officials in the U.S. government that the treatment detainees were subjected to in black-site prisons amounted to torture. We call on Attorney General Eric Holder to launch a criminal investigation into the torture and abuse of detainees and to hold those responsible for such conduct accountable.
3) We urge our members of Congress to introduce or support a Dear Colleague letter calling on the administration to immediately produce and publish all the relevant policy memos that argued for and established the basis for coercive interrogation, detainee treatment and policy in the last administration.
Sign AmnestyBucksMont's petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/5/call-for-an-independent-commission-on-torture-abuse.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Workshop on Affecting Torture Policy

A workshop on "How You Can Affect Torture Policy: Torture by the U.S. has not been permanently and completely banned. Those who tortured in the name of the U.S. have not been held accountable. Find out what you can do." March 26, 2009, 6:30-8:30 PM, 302 Frist Student Center, Princeton University. Sessions led by Leslie Potter, from the office of Congressman Rush Holt; George Hunsinger, founder of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture; Robert Duncan, of the Princeton Area Anti-Torture Advocacy Group at Nassau Presbyterian Church; and Patrick Heery, of the Seminarians for Peace and Justice subgroup on Torture, the Death Penalty, and Prison Reform; with remarks by Coalition for Peace Action Executive Director Rev. Bob Moore.