Andrew Cohen at the Atlantic writes about Bush Administration torture memo author, now federal judge Jay Bybee's latest decision justifying torture.
[Bybee]came to conclude as a matter of law that a man shacked at his wrists and shackled by his ankles to his bed, without a mattress, in a cell lit continuously for seven days, who was forced to eat his food like a dog because of his shackles, did not have a constitutional right to present the evidence of this confinement to a jury.
The opinion is here. It's about an inmate in California placed on a "contraband watch." The sickening policy is described in the opinion as: [More....]
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Three former detainees at Guantanamo and/or Afghan detention facilities, and one current Guantanamo detainee got a Canadian justice of the peace to file their lawsuit against George Bush alleging torture. A hearing date has been set for Jan. 12. The Complaint, called a Private Prosecution, and supporting sworn documents are here. The factual and legal basis for prosecuting Bush under the Canadian Criminal Code and Convention Against Torture begins on page 20.
The detainees are: Hassan bin Attash, Sami el-Hajj, Muhammed Khan Tumani and Murat Kurnaz:
[E]ach endured years of inhumane treatment including beatings, chaining to cell walls, being hung from walls or ceilings while handcuffed, lack of access to toilets, sleep, food and water-deprivation, exposure to extreme temperatures, sensory overload and deprivation, and other horrific and illegal treatment while in U.S. custody at military bases in Afghanistan and/or at the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay.
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Via the Center for Constitutional Rights: The full panel of Judges of the Audencia Nacional (Spain’s High Court) rejected a Spanish prosecutor’s effort to stop an investigation into the role of US officials for torture on Guantanamo.
This is a monumental decision that will enable a Spanish judge to continue a case on the “authorized and systematic plan of torture and ill treatment” by U.S. officials at Guantanamo. Geoffrey Miller, the former commanding officer at Guantánamo, has already been implicated, and the case will surely move up the chain of command. Since the U.S. government has not only failed to investigate the illegal actions of its own officials and, according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, also sought to interfere in the Spanish judicial process and stop the case from proceeding, this will be the first real investigation of the U.S. torture program. This is a victory for accountability and a blow against impunity. The Center for Constitutional Rights applauds the Spanish courts for not bowing to political pressure and for undertaking what may be the most important investigation in decades.
CCR's page on the Spanish lawsuits is here.
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U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan, presiding over the case of former Guantanamo detainee, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, ruled today that Hussein Abebe, a key government witness, may not take the stand because he was identified as a result of statements Ghailani made during secret CIA interrogation using harsh interrogation techniques, alleged to be torture. The Government, to avoid litigating the legality of the CIA's action, previously assured the judge information obtained during the interrogation would not be used at trial. Jury selection has been postoned until next week to give the Government time to regroup or appeal.
"The court has not reached this conclusion lightly," Kaplan wrote. "It is acutely aware of the perilous nature of the world in which we live. But the Constitution is the rock upon which our nation rests. We must follow it not when it is convenient, but when fear and danger beckon in a different direction."
Ghailani is charged in federal court with the 1998 Africa embassy bombings. He was captured in 2004, transferred to a CIA secret prison overseas, where he allegedly was tortured. He was then transferred to Guantanamo, where he stayed for almost three years. In 2009, he was charged in federal court in New York and transferred.
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Former Chicago police Commander Jon Bruge has been convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying about torturing suspects in jail.
A retired Chicago police commander suspected of using electric shocks, suffocation and mock executions to force suspects to confess was found guilty on Monday of lying about the brutality.
....Five of the dozens of African-American inmates who alleged they were tortured by Burge or his men testified they were subjected to being "bagged" with plastic typewriter covers placed over their faces, had guns stuck in their mouths, were held against hot radiators, or were given painful shocks from a homemade device.
The torture occurred so long ago that he wasn't tried for it. Still, he faces up to 45 years in prison. More details here. Our coverage of Bruge's indictment and the torture allegations is here, here and here.
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Three of the most senior Court of Appeal judges in England and Wales on Wednesday authorized the public release of documents concerning the secret rendition and alleged torture of Binyam Mohamed. The ACLU has the details.
While in detention, Mohamed was subjected to physical and psychological abuse by his captors. Upon his release, Mohamed sought documents from the British government that would confirm that U.K. officials were aware of and complicit in his abuse by U.S. forces. Today's ruling orders the disclosure of seven previously suppressed paragraphs from an earlier court ruling that summarize British government documents related to Mohamed's detention and torture while under the control of U.S. authorities.
The CIA had provided the documents to MI5. Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for President Barack Obama, criticized the ruling, saying:
"We're deeply disappointed with the court's judgment because we shared this information in confidence and with certain expectations.
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The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility report on whether the authors of the Bush era torture memos violated professional ethical standards is going to reverse course and absolve John Yoo and Jay Bybee of wrongdoing. Now, it will say they simply exercised poor judgment.
Newsweek broke the story. How the change came about: [More...]
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If you're a liberal, you can say that George Bush isn't very smart, and Dick Cheney isn't very nice, and that's about the end of it. A million liberal blogs and columns grind away at synonyms for "not nice" and "not smart" year after year, but the Republicans still control 49 seats in the Senate, and Fox News still has a license to broadcast.
Bush-Cheney chained up a 78 year-old Afghan man in a fetal position at Guantanamo for more than 24 hours, while he pissed and shat all over himself. The New York Times and the Washington Post are still a little fuzzy about what to call this procedure, and the rest of the media is even more obtuse. When John McCain sponsored a very weak bill to restrict this method of "interrogation," Dick Cheney ran through every office in the Capitol trying to defeat it, and he succeeded. The same sort of thing is happening at this very moment in a secret CIA prison somewhere, and if you don't know what to call it, I can tell you.
It's torture, Stupid!
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Yesterday, President Obama signed the Homeland Security appropriations bill passed last week by Congress that prevents the release of photos depicting torture and abuse of detainees and allows the transfer of detainees from Guantánamo Bay to the U.S. for prosecution -- but won't allow those acquitted to remain in the U.S or those convicted to serve their sentences in U.S. prisons.
Last week, the ACLU sent this letter (pdf) to Defense Secretary Gates on why the photos should not be excluded from Freedom of Information Act Requests. [More...]
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In Newsweek, a report of a study showing torture can actually impair a person's ability to tell the truth.
[N]eurobiologist Shane O'Mara of the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience in Dublin explains in a paper in the journal Trends in Cognitive Science called "Torturing the Brain," "the use of such techniques appears motivated by a folk psychology that is demonstrably incorrect.
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About those doctors who attended the CIA interrogation sessions at which enhanced technigues, aka torture, were used:
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), a non-profit group that has investigated the role of medical personnel in alleged incidents of torture at Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram and other US detention sites, accuses doctors of being far more involved than hitherto understood.
....The most incendiary accusation of PHR's latest report, Aiding Torture, is that doctors actively monitored the CIA's interrogation techniques with a view to determining their effectiveness, using detainees as human subjects without their consent. The report concludes that such data-gathering was "a practice that approaches unlawful experimentation".
The report cites the recently released 2004 CIA Inspector General's report. [More...]
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Dick Cheney continues to insist the CIA interrogators should neither be investigated nor prosecuted. He continues to praise their work.
"The people involved deserve our gratitude. They do not deserve to be the targets of political investigations or prosecutions," he said in a statement dated Monday.
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As a follow-up yesterday's post on the Newsweek article suggesting Attorney General Eric Holder may conduct an investigation of Bush torture policies, I'd like to point you to Glenn Greenwald today. He points out that the sources floating this trial balloon also indicate:
[T]he investigation will only target "rogue" CIA interrogators who exceeded the limits of what John Yoo authorized, and would not include high-level policy makers who authorized the torture tactics and implemented America's torture regime.
In other words, as Greenwald writes, it would be Abu Ghraib redux. Tim F. at Balloon Juice makes a similar point.
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Newsweek has a long feature article on Attorney General Eric Holder.
Four knowledgeable sources tell NEWSWEEK that he is now leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices, something the president has been reluctant to do. While no final decision has been made, an announcement could come in a matter of weeks, say these sources, who decline to be identified discussing a sensitive law-enforcement matter.
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Navanethem Pillay, a lawyer from South Africa who serves as the U.N.'s top Human Rights offical, criticized President Obama and the U.S. today over the continued detention of Guantanamo detainees:
In her most detailed statement on U.S. detention policy, the South African lawyer criticized President Obama's decision to hold some suspected terrorists in detention indefinitely without a trial. She also called for a probe into officials who participated in torture sessions or provided the legal justification for it.
"People who order or inflict torture cannot be exonerated, and the roles of certain lawyers, as well as doctors who have attended torture sessions, should also be scrutinized," Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said in a statement dedicated to victims of torture.
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