Tag Archives: war crimes

Lock ‘Em Up, Dano

Welcome to Boston, Mr. Rumsfeld. You Are Under Arrest.

By Ralph Lopez, WarIsACrime.org, 20 September 2011

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has been stripped of legal immunity for acts of torture against US citizens authorized while he was in office.   The 7th Circuit made the ruling in the case of two American contractors who were tortured by the US military in Iraq after uncovering a smuggling ring within an Iraqi security company.  The company was under contract to the Department of Defense.   The company was assisting Iraqi insurgent groups in the “mass acquisition” of American weapons.  The ruling comes as Rumsfeld begins his book tour with a visit to Boston on Wednesday, and as new, uncensored photos of Abu Ghraib spark fresh outrage across Internet.  Awareness is growing that Bush-era crimes went far beyond mere waterboarding.

Torture Room, Abu Ghraib

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters in 2004 of photos withheld by the Defense Department from Abu Ghraib, “The American public needs to understand, we’re talking about rape and murder here…We’re not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience. We’re talking about rape and murder and some very serious charges.”  And journalist Seymour Hersh says: “boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has.”

Rumsfeld resigned days before a criminal complaint was filed in Germany in which the American general who commanded the military police battalion at Abu Ghraib had promised to testify.  General Janis Karpinskiin an interview with Salon.com was asked: “Do you feel like Rumsfeld is at the heart of all of this and should be held completely accountable for what happened [at Abu Ghraib]?”

Karpinski answered: “Yes, absolutely.”  In the criminal complaint filed in Germany against Rumsfeld, Karpinskisubmitted 17 pages of testimony and offered to appear before the German prosecutor as a witness.  Congressman Kendrick Meek of Florida, who participated in the hearings on Abu Ghraib, said of Rumsfeld: “There was no way Rumsfeld didn’t know what was going on. He’s a guy who wants to know everything.”

And Major General Antonio Taguba, who led the official Army investigation into Abu Ghraib, said in his report:

“there is no longer any doubt as to whether the [Bush] administration has committed war crimes. The only question is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”

Abu Ghraib Prisoner Smeared with Feces

Amazingly, the two American contractors in the 7th Circuit decision were known by the military to be working undercover for the FBI, to whom they had reported witnessing the sale of U.S government munitions to Iraqi rebel groups.  The FBI in Iraq had vouched for Vance and Ertel numerous times before they nevertheless disappeared into military custody.  They were held at Camp Cropper in Iraq where the two were tortured, one for 97 days, and the other for six weeks.

In a puzzling and incriminating move, Camp Cropper base commander General John Gardner ordered Nathan Ertel released on May 17, 2006, while keeping Donald Vance in detention for another two months of torture.  By ordering the release of one man but not the other, Gardner revealed awareness of the situation but prolonged it at the same time.

It is unlikely that Gardner could act alone in a situation as sensitive as the illegal detention and torture of two Americans confirmed by the FBI to be working undercover in the national interest, to prevent American weapons and munitions from reaching the hands of insurgents, for the sole purpose of using them to kill American troops.  Vance and Ertel suggest he was acting on orders from the highest political level.

The forms of torture employed against the Americans included “techniques” which crop up frequently in descriptions of Iraqi and Afghan prisoner abuse at Bagram, Guantanamo, and Abu Ghraib.  They included “walling,” where the head is slammed repeatedly into a concrete wall, sleep deprivation to the point of psychosis by use of round-the-clock bright lights and harsh music at ear-splitting volume, in total isolation, for days, weeks or months at a time, and intolerable cold.

The 7th Circuit ruling is the latest in a growing number of legal actions involving hundreds of former prisoners and torture victims filed in courts around the world.  Criminal complaints have been filed against Rumsfeld and other Bush administration officials in Germany, France, and Spain.  Former President Bush recently curbed travel to Switzerlanddue to fear of arrest following criminal complaints lodged in Geneva.  “He’s avoiding the handcuffs,” Reed Brody, counsel for Human Rights Watch, told Reuters.

And the Mayor of London threatened Bush with arrest for war crimes earlier this year should he ever set foot in his city, saying that were he to land in London to “flog his memoirs,” that “the real trouble — from the Bush point of view — is that he might never see Texas again.”

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief-of-Staff Col. Lawrence Wilkerson surmised on MSNBC earlier this year that soon, Saudi Arabia and Israel will be “the only two countries Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest will travel too.”

Abu Ghraib: Dog Bites

What would seem to make Rumsfeld’s situation more precarious is the number of credible, former officials and military officers who seem to be eager to testify against him, such as Col. Wilkerson and General Janis Karpinsky.

In a signed declaration in support of torture plaintiffs in a civil suit naming Rumsfeld in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, Col. Wilkerson, one of Rumsfeld’s most vociferous critics,  stated: “I am willing to testify in person regarding the  content of this declaration, should that be necessary.”  That declaration, among other things, affirmed that a documentary on the chilling murder of a 22-year-old Afghan farmer and taxi driver in Afghanistan was “accurate.”  Wilkerson said earlier this year that in that case, and in the case of another murder at Bagram at about the same time, “authorization for the abuse went to the very top of the United States government.”


The young farmer’s name was Dilawar.  The New York Times reported on May 20, 2005:

“Four days before [his death,] on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Id al-Fitr, Mr. Dilawar set out from his tiny village of Yakubi in a prized new possession, a used Toyota sedan that his family bought for him a few weeks earlier to drive as a taxi.

On the day that he disappeared, Mr. Dilawar’s mother had asked him to gather his three sisters from their nearby villages and bring them home for the holiday. However, he needed gas money and decided instead to drive to the provincial capital, Khost, about 45 minutes away, to look for fares.”

Dilawar’s misfortune was to drive past the gate of an American base which had been hit by a rocket attack that morning.  Dilawar and his fares were arrested at a checkpoint by a warlord, who was later suspected of mounting the rocket attack himself, and then turning over randam captures like Dilawar in order to win trust.

The UK Guardian reports:

“Guards at Bagram routinely kneed prisoners in their thighs — a blow called a “peroneal strike”…Whenever a guard did this to Dilawar, he would cry out, “Allah! Allah!” Some guards apparently found this amusing, and would strike him repeatedly to show off the behavior to buddies.

One military policeman told investigators, “Everybody heard him cry out and thought it was funny. … It went on over a 24-hour period, and I would think that it was over 100 strikes.””

Dilawar was shackled from the ceiling much of the time, with his feet barely able to touch the ground.  On the last day of his life, after 4 days at Bagram, an interpreter who was present said his legs were bouncing uncontrollably as he sat in a plastic chair. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.

The New York Times reported that on the last day of his life, four days after he was arrested:

“Mr. Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua R. Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Mr. Dilawar’s face.

“Come on, drink!” the interpreter said Specialist Claus had shouted, as the prisoner gagged on the spray. “Drink!”

At the interrogators’ behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.

“Leave him up,” one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.”

The next time the prison medic saw Dilawar a few hours later, he was dead, his head lolled to one side and his body beginning to stiffen.  A coroner would testify that his legs “had basically been pulpified.” The Army coroner, Maj. Elizabeth Rouse, said: “I’ve seen similar injuries in an individual run over by a bus.” She testified that had he lived, Dilawar’s legs would have had to be amputated.

Despite the military’s false statement that Dilawar’s death was the result of “natural causes,” Maj. Rouse marked the death certificate as a “homicide” and arranged for the certificate to be delivered to the family.  The military was forced to retract the statement when a reporter for the New York Times, Carlotta Gall, tracked down Dilawar’s family in Afghanistan and was given a folded piece of paper by Dilawar’s brother.  It was the death certificate, which he couldn’t read, because it was in English.

The practice of forcing prisoners to stand for long periods of time, links Dilawar’s treatment to a memo which bears Rumsfeld’s own handwriting on that particular subject.  Obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request, the memo may show how fairly benign-sounding authorizations for clear circumventions of the Geneva Conventions may have translated into gruesome practice on the battlefield.

The memo, which addresses keeping prisoners “standing” for up to four hours, is annotated with a note initialed by Rumfeld reading: “”I stand for 8–10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?”  Not mentioned in writing anywhere is anything about accomplishing this by chaining prisoners to the ceiling.  There is evidence that, unable to support his weight on tiptoe for the days on end he was chained to the ceiling, Dilawars arms dislocated, and they flapped around uselessly when he was taken down for interrogation.  The National Catholic Reporter writes “They flapped like a bird’s broken wings”

Contradicting, on the record, a February 2003 statement by Rumfeld’s top commander in Afghnanistan at the time, General Daniel McNeill, that “we are not chaining people to the ceilings,” is Spc. Willie Brand, the only soldier disciplined in the death of Dilawar, with a reduction in rank.  Told of McNeill’s statement, Brand told Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes: “Well, he’s lying.”  Brand said of his punishment: “I didn’t understand how they could do this after they had trained you to do this stuff and they turn around and say you’ve been bad”

Exhibit: A sketch by Sgt. Thomas V. Curtis, a former Reserve M.P. sergeant, showing how Dilawar was chained to the ceiling of his cell

Exhibit: Dilawar Death Certificate marked “homicide”

Exhibit: Rumsfeld Memo: “I stand 10 hours a day.  Why only 4?”

Dilawar’s daughter and her grandfather

Binyam, Genital-Slicing

Binyam Mohamed was seized by the Pakistani Forces in April 2002 and turned over to the Americans for a $5,000 bounty.  He was held for more than five years without charge or trial in Bagram Air Force Base, Guantánamo Bay, and third country “black” sites.

In his diary he describes being flown by a US government plane to a prison in Morocco. He writes:

“They cut off my clothes with some kind of doctor’s scalpel. I was naked. I tried to put on a brave face. But maybe I was going to be raped. Maybe they’d electrocute me. Maybe castrate me…

One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts. He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute, watching my reaction. I was in agony. They must have done this 20 to 30 times, in maybe two hours. There was blood all over. “I told you I was going to teach you who’s the man,” [one] eventually said.

They cut all over my private parts. One of them said it would be better just to cut it off, as I would only breed terrorists. I asked for a doctor.”

I was in Morocco for 18 months. Once they began this, they would do it to me about once a month. One time I asked a guard: “What’s the point of this? I’ve got nothing I can say to them. I’ve told them everything I possibly could.”

“As far as I know, it’s just to degrade you. So when you leave here, you’ll have these scars and you’ll never forget. So you’ll always fear doing anything but what the US wants.”

Later, when a US airplane picked me up the following January, a female MP took pictures. She was one of the few Americans who ever showed me any sympathy. When she saw the injuries I had she gasped. They treated me and took more photos when I was in Kabul. Someone told me this was “to show Washington it’s healing”.

The obvious question for any prosecutor in Binyam’s case is: Who does “Washington” refer to?  Rumfeld?  Cheney?  Is it not in the national interest to uncover these most depraved of sadists at the highest level?  US Judge Gladys Kessler, in her findings on Binyam made in relation to a Guantanamo prisoner’s petition, found Binyam exceedingly credible.  She wrote:

“His genitals were mutilated. He was deprived of sleep and food. He was summarily transported from one foreign prison to another. Captors held him in stress positions for days at a time. He was forced to listen to piercingly loud music and the screams of other prisoners while locked in a pitch-black cell. All the while, he was forced to inculpate himself and others in plots to imperil Americans. The government does not dispute this evidence.”

Obama: Torturers’ Last Defense

The prospect of Rumsfeld in a courtroom cannot possibly be relished by the Obama administration, which has now cast itself as the last and staunchest defender of the embattled former officials, including John Yoo, Alberto Gonzalez, Judge Jay Bybee, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, and others.  The administration employed an unprecedented twisting of arms in orer to keep evidence in a lawsuit which Binyam had filed in the UK suppressed, threatening an end of cooperation between the British MI5 and the CIA.  This even though the British judges whose hand was forced puzzled that the evidence “contained “no disclosure of sensitive intelligence matters.”  The judges suggested another reason for the secrecy requested by the Obama administration, that it might be “politically embarrassing.”

The Obama Justice Department’s active involvement in seeking the dismissal of the cases is by choice, as the statutory obligation of the US Attorney General to defend cases against public officials ends the day they leave office.  Indeed, the real significance of the recent court decisions, one by the 7th Circuit and the other a DC federal court, may be the clarification the common misconception that high officials are forever immune for crimes committed while in office, in the name of the state.  The misconception persists despite just a moment of thought telling one that if this were true, Hermann Goering, Augusto Pinochet, and Charles Taylor would never have been arrested, for they were all in office at the time they ordered atrocities, and they all invoked national security.

Judge Kessler’s findings point to yet another even more alarming aspect of the Bush-era crimes for which Rumsfeld is now being pursued for his part, if that is possible.  And that is the emerging evidence that the tortures perpetrated were not designed to protect national security at all, but to obtain false confessions in order to score propaganda points for the War on terror.

Andy Worthington writes that:

“As it happens, one of the confessions that was tortured out of Binyam is so ludicrous that it was soon dropped…The US authorities insisted that Padilla and Binyam had dinner with various high-up members of al-Qaeda the night before Padilla was to fly off to America. According to their theory the dinner party had to have been on the evening of 3 April in Karachi … Binyam was  meant to have dined with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, Sheikh al-Libi, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and Jose Padilla.” What made the scenario “absurd,” as [Binyam’s lawyer pointed out, was that “two of the conspirators were already in U.S. custody at the time — Abu Zubaydah was seized six days before, on 28 March 2002, and al-Libi had been held since November 2001.””

The charges against Binyam were dropped, after the prosecutor, Lieutenant Colonel Darrel Vandeveld, resigned. He told the BBC later that he had concerns at the repeated suppression of evidence that could prove prisoners’ innocence.

The litany of tortures alleged against Rumsfeld in the military prisons he ran could go on for some time.  The new photographic images from Abu Ghraib make it hard to conceive of how the methods of torture and dehumanization could have possibly served a national purpose.

The approved use of attack dogs, sexual humiliation, forced masturbation, and treatments which plumb the depths of human depravity are either documented in Rumsfeld’s own memos, or credibly reported on.

The UK Guardian writes:

“The sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison was not an invention of maverick guards, but part of a system of ill-treatment and degradation used by special forces soldiers that is now being disseminated among ordinary troops and contractors who do not know what they are doing, according to British military sources.

The techniques devised in the system, called R2I – resistance to interrogation – match the crude exploitation and abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad.

One former British special forces officer who returned last week from Iraq, said: “It was clear from discussions with US private contractors in Iraq that the prison guards were using R2I techniques, but they didn’t know what they were doing.””

Torture Now Aimed at Americans

The worst of the worst is that Rumsfeld’s logic strikes directly at the foundations of our democracy and the legitimacy of the War on Terror.  The torture methods studied and adopted by the Bush administration were not new, but adopted from the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape program (SERE) which is taught to elite military units.  The program was developed during the Cold War, in response to North Korean, Chinese, and Soviet Bloc torture methods.  But the aim of those methods was never to obtain intelligence, but to elicit false confessions.  The Bush administration asked the military to “reverse engineer” the methods, i.e. figure out how to break down resistance to false confessions.

In the 2008 Senate Armed Services Committee report which indicted high-level Bush administration officials, including Rumsfeld, as bearing major responsibility for the torture at Abu Gharib, Guantanamo, and Bagram, the Committee said:

“SERE instructors explained “Biderman’s Principles” – which were based on coercive methods used by the Chinese Communist dictatorship to elicit false confessions from U.S. POWs during the Korean War – and left with GTMO personnel a chart of those coercive techniques.”

The Biderman Principles were based on the work of Air Force Psychiatrist Albert Biderman, who wrote the landmark “Communist Attempts to Elecit False Confessions from Air Force Prisoners of War,” on which SERE resistance was based.  Biderman wrote:

“The experiences of American Air Force prisoners of war in Korea who were pressured for false confessions, enabled us to compile an outline of methods of eliciting compliance, not much different, it turned out, from those reported by persons held by Communists of other nations.  I have prepared a chart showing a condensed version of this outline.”

The chart is a how-to for communist torturers interested only in false confessions for propaganda purposes, not intelligence.  It was the manual for, in Biderman’s words, “brainwashing.”  In the reference for Principle Number 7, “Degradation,” the chart explains:

“Makes Costs of Resistance Appear More Damaging to Self-Esteem than Capitulation; Reduces Prisoner to “Animal Level…Personal Hygiene Prevented; Filthy, Infested Surroundings; Demeaning Punishments; Insults and Taunts; Denial of Privacy”

Appallingly, this could explain that even photos such as those of feces-smeared prisoners at Abu Ghraib might not, as we would hope, be only the individual work of particularly demented guards, but part of systematic degradation authorized at the highest levels.

Exhibit: Abu Ghraib, Female POW

This could go far toward explaining why the Bush administration seemed so tone-deaf to intelligence professionals, including legendary CIA Director William Colby, who essentially told them they were doing it all wrong.  A startling level of consensus existed within the intelligence community that the way to produce good intelligence was to gain the trust of prisoners and to prove everything they had been told by their recruiters, about the cruelty and degeneracy of America, to be wrong.

But why would the administration care about what worked to produce intelligence, if the goal was never intelligence in the first place?  What the Ponzi scheme of either innocent men or low-level operatives incriminating each other  DID accomplish, was produce a framework of rapid successes and trophies in the new War on Terror.

And now, American contractors Vance and Ertel show, unless their are prosecutions, the law has effectively changed and they can do it to Americans. Jane Mayer in the New Yorker describes a new regime for prisoners which has become coldly methodical, quoting a report issued by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, titled “Secret Detentions and Illegal Transfers of Detainees.”  In the report on the CIA paramilitary Special Activities Division detainees were “taken to their cells by strong people who wore black outfits, masks that covered their whole faces, and dark visors over their eyes.”

Mayer writes that a former member of a C.I.A. transport team has described the “takeout” of prisoners as “a carefully choreographed twenty-minute routine, during which a suspect was hog-tied, stripped naked, photographed, hooded, sedated with anal suppositories, placed in diapers, and transported by plane to a secret location.

A person involved in the Council of Europe inquiry, referring to cavity searches and the frequent use of suppositories, likened the treatment to “sodomy.” He said, “It was used to absolutely strip the detainee of any dignity. It breaks down someone’s sense of impenetrability.”

Of course we have seen these images before, in the trial balloon treatment of Jose Padilla, the first American citizen arrested and declared “enemy combatant” in the first undeclared war without end.  The designation placed Padilla outside of his Bill of Rights as an American citizen even though he was arrested on American soil.  Padilla was kept in isolation and tortured for nearly 4 years before being released to a civilian trial, at which point according to his lawyer he was useless in his own defense, and exhibited fear and mistrust of everyone, complete docility, and a range of nervous facial tics.

Jose Padilla in Military Custody

He was convicted by a Miami jury and sentenced to 17 more years.  As of this writing, on Sept. 19, an appeals court has thrown out Padilla’s sentence as “too lenient” and has sent it back for reconsideration.

Rumsfeld’s avuncular “golly-gee, gee-whiz”  performances in public are legendary.  Randall M. Schmidt, the Air Force Lieutenant General appointed by the Army to investigate abuses at Guantanamo, and who recommended holding Rumsfeld protege and close associate General Geoffrey Miller “accountable” as the commander of Guantanamo, watched Rumfeld’s performance before a House Committee with some interest. “He was going, ‘My God! Did I authorize putting a bra and underwear on this guy’s head and telling him all his buddies knew he was a homosexual?’ ”

But General Taguba said of Rumsfeld: “Rummy did what we called ‘case law’ policy —- verbal and not in writing. What he’s really saying is that if this decision comes back to haunt me I’ll deny it.”

Taguba went on: “Rumsfeld is very perceptive and has a mind like a steel trap. There’s no way he’s suffering from C.R.S.—Can’t Remember Shit.”

Miller was the general deployed by Rumfeld to “Gitmo-ize” Abu Ghraib in 2003 after Rumfeld had determined they were being too “soft” on prisoners.  He said famously in one memo “you have to treat them like dogs.”  General Karpinski questioned the fall of Charles Graner and Lyndie England as the main focus of low-level “bad apple” abuse in the Abu Ghraib investigations.  “Did Lyndie England deploy with a dog leash?” she asks.

Exhibit: Dog deployed at Abu Ghraib, mentally-ill prisoner

Abu Ghraib prisoner in “restraint” chair, screaming “Allah!!”

Rumfeld’s worry now is the doctrine of Universal Jusrisdiction, as well as ordinary common law.  The veil of immunity stripped in civil cases would seem to free the hand of any prosecutor who determines there is sufficient evidence that a crime has been committed based on available evidence.  A grand jury’s bar for opening a prosecution is minimal.  It has been said “a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich.”  Rumsfeld, and the evidence against him, would certainly seem to pass this test.

The name Dilawar translates to English roughly as “Braveheart.”  Let us pray he had one to endure the manner of death.  But the more spiritual may believe that somehow it had a purpose, to shock the world and begin the toppling of unimaginable evil among us.  Dilawar represented the poorest of the poor and most powerless, wanting only to pick up his three sisters, as his mother had told him to, for the holiday.  The question now is whether Amerians will finally draw a line, as the case against Rumsfeld falls into place and becomes legally bulletproof.

As Rumfeld continues his book tour and people like Dilawar are remembered, it is not beyond the pale that an ambitious prosecutor, whether local, state, or federal, might sense the advantage.  It is perhaps unlikely, but not inconceivable, that upon landing at Logan International Airport on Wed., Sept. 21st, or similarly anywhere he travels thereafter, Rumsfeld could be greeted with the words: “Welcome to Boston, Mr. Secretary.  You are under arrest.”

Massachusetts District Attorneys Who Can Indict Rumsfeld, Please Email them this post and call them.

Berkshire     District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter
Berkshire     Elected November 2006
Berkshire     OFFICE ADDRESS:     P.O. Box 973
Berkshire     888 Purchase Street
Berkshire     New Bedford, MA 02741
Berkshire     PHONE:     (508) 997-0711
Berkshire     FAX:     (508) 997-0396
Berkshire     INTERNET ADDRESS:     http://www.bristolda.com
Berkshire     Acushnet, Attleborough, Berkley, Dartmouth, Dighton, Easton, Fairhaven, Fall River, Freetown, Mansfield, New Bedford, North Attleborough, Norton, Raynham, Rehoboth, Seekonk, Somerset, Swansea, Taunton, Westport

Bristol     District Attorney David F. Capeless
Bristol     Appointed March 2004
Bristol     Elected November 2004
Bristol     OFFICE ADDRESS:     7 North Street
Bristol     P.O. Box 1969
Bristol     Pittsfield, MA 01202-1969
Bristol     PHONE:     (413) 443-5951
Bristol     FAX:     (413) 499-6349
Bristol     Internet Address:     http://www.mass.gov/…
Bristol     Adams, Alford, Becket, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Dalton, Egremont, Florida, Great Barrington, Hancock, Hinsdale, Lanesborough, Lee, Lenox, Monterey, Mount Washington, New Ashford, New Marlborough, North Adams, Otis, Peru, Pittsfield, Richmond, Sandisfield, Savoy, Sheffield, Stockbridge, Tyringham, Washington, West Stockbridge, Williamstown, Windsor

Cape & Islands     District Attorney Michael O’Keefe
Cape & Islands     Elected November 2002
Cape & Islands     OFFICE ADDRESS:     P.O.Box 455
Cape & Islands     3231 Main Street
Cape & Islands     Barnstable, MA 02630
Cape & Islands     PHONE:     (508) 362-8113
Cape & Islands     FAX:     (508) 362-8221
Cape & Islands     INTERNET ADDRESS:     http://www.mass.gov/…
Cape & Islands     Aquinnah (formerly Gay Head), Barnstable, Bourne, Brewster, Chatham, Chilmark, Dennis, Eastham, Edgartown, Falmouth, Gosnold, Harwich, Mashpee, Nantucket, Oak Bluffs, Orleans, Provincetown, Sandwich, Tisbury, Truro, Wellfleet, West Tisbury, Yarmouth

Essex     District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett
Essex     Elected November 2002
Essex     OFFICE ADDRESS:     Ten Federal Street
Essex     Salem, MA 01970
Essex     PHONE:     (978) 745-6610
Essex     FAX:     (978) 741-4971
Essex     INTERNET ADDRESS:     http://www.mass.gov/…
Essex     Amesbury, Andover, Beverly, Boxford, Danvers, Essex, Georgetown, Gloucester, Groveland, Hamilton, Haverhill, Ipswich, Lawrence, Lynn, Lynnfield, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Marblehead, Merrimac, Methuen, Middleton, Nahant, Newbury, Newburyport, North Andover, Peabody, Rockport, Rowley, Salem, Salisbury, Saugus, Swampscott, Topsfield, Wenham, West Newbury

Hampden     District Attorney Mark Mastroianni
Hampden     Elected 2010
Hampden     OFFICE ADDRESS:     Hall of Justice
Hampden     50 State Street
Hampden     Springfield, MA 01103
Hampden     PHONE:     (413) 747-1000
Hampden     FAX:     (413) 781-4745
Hampden     Agawam, Blandford, Brimfield, Chester, Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Granville, Hampden, Holland, Holyoke, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Monson, Montgomery, Palmer, Russell, Southwick, Springfield, Tolland, Wales, West Springfield, Westfield, Wilbraham

Middlesex     District Attorney Gerard T. Leone, Jr.
Middlesex     Elected November 2006
Middlesex     OFFICE ADDRESS:     15 Commonwealth Avenue
Middlesex     Woburn, MA 01801
Middlesex     PHONE:     (781) 897-8300
Middlesex     FAX:     ((781) 897-8301
Middlesex     INTERNET ADDRESS:     http://www.middlesexda.com
Middlesex     Acton, Arlington, Ashby, Ashland, Ayer, Bedford, Belmont, Billerica, Boxborough, Burlington, Cambridge, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Concord, Dracut, Dunstable, Everett, Framingham, Groton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hudson, Lexington, Lincoln, Littleton, Lowell, Malden, Marlborough, Maynard, Medford, Melrose, Natick, Newton, North Reading, Pepperell, Reading, Sherborn, Shirley, Somerville, Stoneham, Stow, Sudbury, Tewksbury, Townsend, Tyngsborough, Wakefield, Waltham, Watertown, Wayland, Westford, Weston, Wilmington, Winchester, Woburn

Norfolk     District Attorney Michael Morrissey
Norfolk     Elected 2010
Norfolk     OFFICE ADDRESS:     45 Shawmut Ave.
Norfolk     Canton, MA 02021
Norfolk     PHONE:     (781) 830-4800
Norfolk     FAX:     (781) 830-4801
Norfolk     INTERNET ADDRESS:     http://www.mass.gov/…
Norfolk     Avon, Braintree, Brookline, Canton, Cohasset, Dedham, Dover, Foxborough, Franklin, Holbrook, Medfield, Medway, Millis, Milton, Needham, Norfolk, Norwood, Plainville, Quincy, Randolph, Sharon, Stoughton, Walpole, Wellesley, Westwood, Weymouth, Wrentham

Northwestern     District Attorney David Sullivan
Northwestern     Elected 2010
Northwestern     HAMPSHIRE OFFICE ADDRESS:     One Gleason Plaza
Northwestern     Northampton, MA 01060
Northwestern     PHONE:     (413) 586-9225
Northwestern     FAX:     (413) 584-3635
Northwestern     FRANKLIN OFFICE ADDRESS:     13 Conway Street
Northwestern     Greenfield, MA 01301
Northwestern     PHONE:     (413) 774-3186
Northwestern     FAX:     (413) 773-3278
Northwestern     WEBSITE:
Northwestern     http://www.mass.gov/da/northwestern
Northwestern     Amherst, Ashfield, Athol, Belchertown, Bernardston, Buckland, Charlemont, Chesterfield, Colrain, Conway, Cummington, Deerfield, Easthampton, Erving, Gill, Goshen, Granby, Greenfield, Hadley, Hatfield, Hawley, Heath, Huntington, Leverett, Leyden, Middlefield, Monroe, Montague, New Salem, Northampton, Northfield, Orange, Pelham, Plainfield, Rowe, Shelburne, Shutesbury, South Hadley, Southampton, Sunderland, Ware, Warwick, Wendell, Westhampton, Whately, Williamsburg, Worthington

Plymouth     District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz
Plymouth     Appointed November 2001
Plymouth     Elected November 2002
Plymouth     OFFICE ADDRESS:     32 Belmont Street
Plymouth     Brockton, MA 02303
Plymouth     PHONE:     (508) 584-8120
Plymouth     FAX:     (508) 586-3578
Plymouth     INTERNET ADDRESS:     http://www.mass.gov/…
Plymouth     Abington, Bridgewater, Brockton, Carver, Duxbury, East Bridgewater, Halifax, Hanover, Hanson, Hingham, Hull, Kingston, Lakeville, Marion, Marshfield, Mattapoisett, Middleborough, Norwell, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton, Rochester, Rockland, Scituate, Wareham, West Bridgewater, Whitman

Suffolk     District Attorney Daniel F. Conley
Suffolk     Appointed January 2002
Suffolk     Elected November 2002
Suffolk     OFFICE ADDRESS:     One Bulfinch Place
Suffolk     Boston, MA 02114
Suffolk     PHONE:     (617) 619-4000
Suffolk     FAX:     (617) 619-4009
Suffolk     INTERNET ADDRESS:     http://www.mass.gov/…
Suffolk     Boston, Chelsea, Revere, Winthrop    

Worcester     District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr.
Worcester     Elected November 2006
Worcester     OFFICE ADDRESS:     Courthouse – Room 220
Worcester     2 Main Street
Worcester     Worcester, MA 01608
Worcester     PHONE:     (508) 755-8601
Worcester     FAX:     (508) 831-9899
Worcester     INTERNET ADDRESS:     http://www.worcesterda.com

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Canadian Justice

Vancouver lawyer Gail Davidson seeks Dick Cheney’s arrest

by Carla Pablo, Straight.com, September 8, 2011

Dick Cheney is coming to town on September 26 to promote his book In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir. But Vancouver lawyer Gail Davidson has other plans for one of the most controversial figures of the modern era, a powerful man who publicly admitted having allowed torture.

The cofounder of the international group Lawyers Against the War wants the government of Canada either to bar the former U.S. vice president from entering the country or, if he’s allowed in, to arrest and prosecute him for torture, war offences, and crimes against humanity. And if Canada isn’t keen on punishing the ex–vice president to former president George W. Bush, Davidson argues, then it should extradite Cheney to a country that is willing and able to prosecute him.

One of the most vocal defenders of U.S. foreign policy, specifically the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, Cheney is the first featured speaker in the 2011–12 series of Vancouver’s Bon Mot Book Club.

“It’s a bit chilling that they would invite a mass murderer as their guest to Canada,” Davidson told the Georgia Straight by phone, “when any one of them would know full well that because of the founded accusations made against Mr. Cheney, that he’s persona non grata in Canada, being accused of international crimes, torture, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.”

Organizer Leah Costello explained that the Bon Mot Book Club is an “intimate and exclusive high-end dinner series”, wherein her company Curious Mind Productions Inc. brings in world leaders and other high-profile speakers. Cheney will speak at a dinner event at the Vancouver Club.

“I haven’t heard anything yet,” Costello told the Straight by phone, when asked if she expects protests to greet Cheney. “But I have heard that he’s a controversial figure. That’s for sure.”

In a recent NBC interview, Cheney declared that he had “no regrets” that the American government used torture against terrorism suspects.

Asked if the U.S. should still use widely condemned techniques like waterboarding, Cheney responded: “I would strongly support using it again if circumstances arose where we had a high-value detainee and that was the only way we could get him to talk.”

According to Davidson, the government is obliged under local and international laws—such as the United Nations’ Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment—to deny safe haven and prosecute persons accused of crimes like torture. Davidson is writing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and key cabinet ministers to outline evidence against the Bush administration and its senior officials.

“The role of Mr. Cheney is that he authorized, directed, ordered, supervised, and failed to prevent the commission of a wide range of crimes against humanity and war crimes,” Davidson said.

She has previously written to the government, suggesting steps similar to those regarding Cheney be taken when Bush visits Surrey on October 20. The ex-president has been invited by Mayor Diane Watts to the Surrey Regional Economic Summit.

In her letter dated August 25 regarding Bush’s visit, Davidson cited a transcript of a U.S. interview with Cheney in May 2009, in which Cheney stated that Bush authorized torture. He said: “I mean it was a presidential-level decision. And the decision went to the president. He signed off on it.”

Speaking to the Straight, Davidson said that the evidence against the Bush administration is well known and part of the public record. The documentation contained in Davidson’s August 25 letter includes a statement from now retired U.S. army Maj.-Gen. Antonio Taguba, who looked into abuses at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. Taguba stated that “the Commander-in-Chief [Bush] and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture”.

The Vancouver lawyer also cited a 2004 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross that the American military used interrogation techniques amounting to torture on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, a U.S. naval base in Cuba. She likewise mentioned a 2007 Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly report that spoke about a “whole series of illegal acts in Europe” by the CIA through “extraordinary rendition”, a practice in which individuals are abducted from one country and sent to another, to be detained and tortured for information in secret locations.

Davidson stressed that when Canada ratified the international convention against torture, it accepted a duty not just to Canadians but to everyone. And that is to “take effective measures to prevent and punish torture wherever it occurs, whatever the nationality of the victims are, and whatever the nationality of the perpetrators”.

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Blowback: Exposing the CIA’s Secrecy and Censorship

By Hannah Gurman, Foreign Policy in Focus, September 3, 20111

From the coups that ousted Mohammed Mossadeq, Jacobo Arbenz, and Salvador Allende in the Cold War to the waterboarding of suspected terrorists in the Global War on Terror, the CIA has built a solid reputation as an extralegal agent of international sabotage and murder. Since the agency’s creation in 1947, successive U.S. presidents and their national security advisors have furthered this reputation, using the CIA for dirty work and then denying any wrongdoing in public, while the truth waits for decades until files are declassified. The agency did not declassify the documentary proof of its involvement in the 1973 assassination of Allende until 2003, and its internal analysis of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion was not released until August 2, 2011, more than 50 years after the event. There is an age-old tradition of push and pull between the national security establishment, which insists on secrecy, and transparency advocates and the public, which has a right to hold its leaders accountable for their use and abuse of executive power in matters of foreign policy.

In recent months, the Obama administration appears to be tinkering with the established script, although not fundamentally departing from it. Since the killing of Osama Bin Laden in May, it has increasingly put the CIA into the public spotlight, underscoring the agency’s central role in the administration’s evolving counter-terror strategy. Killing a member of al-Qaeda is far more palatable to most Americans than killing a democratically elected leader of a country that posed no threat to U.S. security. Thus, recent news of the CIA’s unmanned “precision strikes” against top al-Qaeda operatives might appeal to the sizeable segment of the U.S. public that no longer supports the idea of a large-scale ground war but still believes in a militarized approach to the Global War on Terror.

At the same time, however, the CIA continues to engage in its established tradition of suppressing information that would damage it or the administration’s reputation. This information deserves public attention, precisely because it points to a link between the agency’s activities and the proliferation of al-Qaeda, directly undermining the argument being advanced by the Obama administration.

Obama is not the first president to enlist the CIA in attempts to justify his policies in the War on Terror. In January 2003, George W. Bush gave his now infamous State of the Union address in which he claimed that British intelligence had found evidence that Iraq had attempted to obtain uranium from Africa. We all know how that story turned out. By 2004, the Valerie Plame scandal had become engrained in the public imagination, and Bush could no longer use the CIA to gain public support for his policies in Iraq or, for that matter, in Afghanistan. As the years went by and bin Laden remained at large, interviews with former CIA agents, including Michael Scheuer, who headed intelligence operations aimed at capturing the al Qaeda leader, lambasted the administration’s systematic failure to heed the advice of intelligence experts. Bush’s brief attempt to publicly exploit the CIA collapsed under the weight of mutual distrust and the realities of the CIA’s marginalization.

Obama’s emphasis on the central role of the CIA in his counter-terror strategy is intended in part to underscore the difference between his approach and that of his predecessor. The president’s May 1 speech announcing the death of bin Laden linked the success of the mission to the centrality of the CIA, suggesting a direct contrast with the Bush administration: “Shortlyafter taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al-Qaeda.” Obama made a point of crediting the intelligence community, along with the Special Forces that carried out the operation: “Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.”

While the CIA does not officially acknowledge its drone campaign in Pakistan, the Obama administration has continued to credit the agency in successful operations against al-Qaeda’s top leadership, including the August 22 killing of its second-in-command, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman. Without referring directly to the CIA, Obama’s remarks about the upcoming tenth anniversary of 9/11 suggest a counter-terror strategy that is low on ground troops and heavy on CIA drone and Special Forces operations. “We’re taking the fight to al-Qaeda, ending the war in Iraq and starting to bring our troops home from Afghanistan.”

These efforts to publicize the CIA’s recent accomplishments should not be confused with a broader effort to achieve transparency. When it comes to withholding and censoring information about its tactics, it’s still business as usual at the CIA. On August 25, The New York Times reported that the agency censored large portions of a forthcoming book by former FBI agent, Ali H. Soufan. Soufan claims that the CIA withheld information from the FBI about the presence of two known terrorists in the United States who later participated in the 9/11 hijackings. The book also details the CIA’s adoption of increasingly brutal interrogation tactics after 9/11.

Although much of this information has already been published in congressional hearings and reports, as well as the memoirs of other officials, the agency has long attempted to keep as much of it as possible under wraps. In 2005, it destroyed at least two videotapes documenting such interrogations, including that of Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in CIA custody after 9/11. Such activities in the months immediately before and after 9/11 might be dismissed as ancient history. But the CIA-controlled drone war on al Qaeda is currently in full swing in Pakistan. The administration has been quick to publicize the success of these efforts. But because the drone campaign remains officially secret, the CIA does not release the full data on casualties.

In June, Obama’s chief counter-terrorism advisor, John Brennan, told the press that strikes against al-Qaeda operatives in the Af-Pak region are “exceptionally precise and surgical” and bragged that “there hasn’t been a single collateral death” in the last year. Brennan’s laughable claim is contradicted by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which recently released the conclusions of its in-depth investigation of civilian casualties in the drone campaign in Pakistan. The Bureau reported that there have been 295 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004 (243 of them during the Obama administration) with the total number of people killed between 2,309 and 2,880, including 392-783 civilians —82 in 2010 and 47 in 2011.

Instead of owning up to these figures, which come from respected news outlets, NGOs, and eye-witness accounts, the CIA has attempted to discredit the study, accusing its sources of having links to the Pakistani intelligence service (ISI) and making vague accusations about the study’s methodology. On its website, the Bureau provides a comprehensive explanation of its approach, which itself contrasts with the CIA’s refusal to detail the source and logic of its arguments. As this example suggests, Obama’s counter-terrorism advisors would like to have it both ways: they want to highlight the achievements of the CIA in order to gain public support for the administration’s strategy but at the same time deny the public the information it would need in order to assess that strategy.

The Obama administration will likely follow a similar tack with respect to the drone campaigns targeting al-Qaeda leaders outside of the Af-Pak region — in North and West Africa, as well as the Middle East. In June, outgoing CIA director Leon Panetta publicly confirmed reports that the agency’s drone campaign had extended into Yemen, Somalia, and North Africa, framing these developments as a critical part of the progress being made against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). But as evidence of civilian casualties in these campaigns emerges, the agency will continue to resort to its established code of secrecy.

As long as the CIA exists, it will never be a transparent organization. But as with WikiLeaks and other debates about transparency, the issue ultimately is not about secrecy itself. Rather, it is about the substance of the secrets being kept and how they compare to the official line about the progress being made in the war against al-Qaeda.

According to the official narrative of the Obama administration, drone strikes, night raids, and other targeted attacks carried out by the CIA and Special Forces are the solution to winning the war against al-Qaeda, which will in turn curb the broader threat of radical anti-American/anti-Western Islamist movements. This narrative only makes a modicum of sense if you leave out precisely the kind of information that the CIA is keeping secret.

During the Bush administration, critics of the CIA’s interrogation tactics, including John McCain, argued that any short-term “gains” produced by the torture of terrorism suspects would in the long-run be far outweighed by the damage to the U.S. reputation, only benefitting organizations like al-Qaeda.

The same argument could and is being made about the current CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, where most studies show the local populace has an overwhelmingly negative perception of the campaign. The lawsuit of Pakistani journalist Kahrim Khan against the CIA for the deaths of his relatives in a drone attack is just the most visible example of the anti-American animus fueled by the drone campaign.

Some of the staunchest criticism of the official narrative comes from former members of the U.S. intelligence community who question the increasing obsession with killing al-Qaeda officials and with the drone campaigns used to do the job. In an August 14 op-ed in The New York Times, former director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair wrote, “Qaeda officials who are killed by drones will be replaced. The group’s structure will survive and it will still be able to inspire, finance and train individuals and teams to kill Americans.” Meanwhile, “As the drone campaign wears on, hatred of America is increasing in Pakistan.”

Because such arguments do not disclose official secrets, but rather common sense, the CIA has no power to censor them. Thus, in a devastating piece in The National Interest, Michael Scheuer, who knows more about al-Qaeda than just about anyone in the West, rails against the Obama administration’s triumphalism over the death of bin Laden. “Al-Qaeda’s indispensable, long-term and utterly reliable ally,” he writes, is “Washington’s interventionist foreign policy,” which “remains the group’s true center of gravity. It is a galvanizing force which cannot be harmed, let alone destroyed, until U.S. leaders in politics, the media, religion (especially evangelical Protestants), the military and the academy begin to accept the truth; that is, the United States government is hated by most Muslims for what it does in the Islamic world, and not for how Americans think and behave at home.”

Scheuer’s analysis is what the intelligence community refers to as “blowback.” Former intelligence analyst Chalmers Johnson, in a 2000 book of that title, warned against the “unanticipated consequences of unacknowledged acts in other people’s countries.” According to this logic, the CIA’s ramped-up role in the war against al-Qaeda may ultimately do more to sustain than defeat the enemy.

The CIA goes to any length to ensure its shady dealings remain in the dark. But there’s nothing its selective censors can do to erase the human cost of blowback.

Hannah Gurman is an assistant professor at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus.

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Will Europe ‘Fess Up?

Council of Europe demands truth on CIA ‘black sites’

By the CNN Wire Staff, September 5, 2011

(file photo) Thomas Hammarberg, the human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe.
(file photo) Thomas Hammarberg, the human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe.

Paris (CNN) — The human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe urged countries that have hosted secret CIA prisons to come clean Monday, as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches.

Thomas Hammarberg said Poland, Romania and Lithuania were among at least seven countries that hosted “black sites” for “enhanced interrogation” during the “war on terror.”

“Darkness still enshrouds those who authorized and ran the black sites on European territories,” he said. “The full truth must now be established and guarantees given that such forms of co-operation will never be repeated.”

CIA officials have acknowledged the rendition program, but refused to discuss details and denied violating any laws. Efforts to challenge the agency and get details about it in U.S. courts have been turned aside.

Hammarberg’s statement comes as documents seized from Moammar Gadhafi’s compound in Libya shed light on the program of extraordinary rendition, or questioning of terror suspects in third-party countries where U.S. law does not apply.

CNN saw a March 6, 2004, CIA letter to Libyan officials about Abdel Hakim Belhaj, a former jihadist with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and now a senior commander in the anti-Gadhafi forces.

It concerned the Malaysian government’s arrest of Abdullah al-Sadiq, Belhaj’s nom de guerre for his rendition. A CIA officer said the man and his pregnant wife were being placed on a commercial flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to London via Bangkok and then onto Libya.

“We are planning to arrange to take control of the pair in Bangkok and place them on our aircraft for a flight to your country,” the officer wrote.

Belhaj fought for the Taliban in Afghanistan, but left after their fall in 2001 and was arrested in Malaysia in 2004. After some questioning by the CIA, he was sent back to Libya and jailed.

The Council of Europe’s Hammarberg said the CIA had held “high-value detainees,” including alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in Poland, between 2002 and 2003.

The Polish site closed and a new secret prison opened in Romania in 2003, Hammarberg charged, and existed for over two years. Lithuania also hosted two sites, he said.

Polish prosecutors and Lithuanian lawmakers have investigated the phenomenon, but Romania has shown “little genuine will to uncover the whole truth,” Hammarberg charged.

“Effective investigations are imperative and long overdue,” he said.

Neither the CIA, Romania nor Lithuania immediately responded.

Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it would not comment while prosecutors in the country are still investigating.

The Council of Europe is a 47-member group that promotes democracy and human rights on the continent.

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Bambam’s Fatal Error

Insider Tells Why Obama Chose Not to Prosecute Torture

By David Swanson, WarIsACrime.Org, September 3, 2011

Two Years Ago Obama Decided Not to Prosecute Torturers. Now We Get An Account of Why

If you can think back all the way to January 2009, back when wars were ending, Guantanamo was closing, the Pentagon was getting oversight, employees were going to have free choice, the rich would start paying taxes, the air would be getting cleaner, and so forth, you’ll recall that the Obama transition team was acting super populist and high-tech.

They had questions from ordinary people for the President Elect submitted on their website and voted up or down. The top question at the end of the voting had come from Bob Fertik of Democrats.com and it was this:

“Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor – ideally Patrick Fitzgerald – to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?” — Bob Fertik, New York City

Not only was the answer no, but it had to be inferred because President Change U. Wish refused to answer the question. I’ve always assumed I could guess why: a president wouldn’t want previous presidents subject to the rule of law, because then he would be too. Just this week I was suggesting that allowing the Justice Department to enforce laws against Cheney could save Obama’s electoral prospects at the risk of seeing Obama, too, land in prison some day. I have no doubt that this really is a factor.

However, we now have an account from someone involved in the decision process way back when. And he reports two other reasons for the decision to let all the war criminals off and devote vast energies to protecting them and covering up their crimes. The first of the two reasons is not terribly shocking: the CIA, NSA, and military would revolt if their crimes were exposed and prosecuted. This explains the cover-up portion of the past two-and-a-half years’ immunity-granting campaign particularly well. It fits with the known record, which has included seven former heads of the CIA publicly writing to President Obama to tell him not to prosecute torturers in the CIA.

The second reason, we’re now being told, was that if laws were enforced against Bush, Cheney, or their subordinates, the Republicans in Congress would retaliate by trying to block any useful piece of legislation. This is sort of morbidly funny in that the Republicans in Congress have spent the past two-and-a-half years trying to block any useful piece of legislation and many horrendous ones as well. They’ve just done it with the background hum of war criminals on promotional book tours. This explanation fits with the theme of “looking forward, not backward.” Just as House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers told us in 2008 that it was more important to elect Obama than to impeach Bush or Cheney (as if you couldn’t do both), Obama’s preference in early 2009 (and in 2008 when he had told Will Bunch the same thing) was for looking forward to the passage of hideously corporatized legislation rather than enforcing laws against anyone powerful (as if you couldn’t do both). Nonetheless, there is something jarringly pathetic about the notion that Dick Cheney is unindicted because Barack Obama was dreaming of a working relationship with the party Cheney had left behind in Washington.  This shouldn’t be as jarring now as it might have seemed in 2009, however, after watching Obama “negotiate” away anything Republcans opposed in any number of areas.

So, who is the source of these belated explanations?

The Dean of the University of California at Berkeley Law School Christopher Edley, Jr. His comments will probably be showing up on video, but here is a report I was just sent by long-time peace and justice activist extraordinaire Susan Harman:

“World Can’t Wait (in orange) and I (in pink) attended a surreal panel on 9/11 today at Boalt (UC Berkeley Law School), where John Yoo teaches.

“That should be surreal enough. But (unintentionally, I think) each of the panelists mentioned one of Yoo’s policies (warrantless domestic surveillance, aggressive war, and that old favorite, torture). One even talked about the need for accountability. I felt dizzy, and could barely speak.

“I said I was overwhelmed by the surreality of Yoo being on the law faculty, and having just been appointed the new head of the sponsoring Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law, when he was singlehandedly responsible for the three worst policies of the Bush Adm.

“They all burbled about academic freedom and the McCarthy era, and said it isn’t their job to prosecute him.


“Then Dean Chris Edley volunteered that he’d been party to very high level discussions during Obama’s transition about prosecuting the criminals. He said they decided against it. I asked why. Two reasons: 1) it was thought that the CIA, NSA, and military would revolt, and 2) it was thought the Repugnants would retaliate by blocking every piece of legislation they tried to move (which, of course, they’ve done anyhow).

“Afterwards I told him that CIA friends confirmed that Obama would have been in danger, but I added that he bent over backwards to protect the criminals, and gave as an example the DoJ’s defense (state secrets) of Jeppesen (the rendition arm of Boeing) a few days after his inauguration.

“He shrugged and said they will never be prosecuted, and that sometimes politics trumps rule of law.

“It must not, I said.

“It shouldn’t, he said, and walked off.

“This is the Dean of the Berkeley School of Law.”

Another approach was taken to the divergence of official conduct from clear demands of morality by an activist at Berkeley in 1964 named Mario Savio, who said,

“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious — makes you so sick at heart — that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”

That’s the plan. Join in here: http://october2011.org

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Libyan Rebel Commander’s American Memories

Libya rebel commander contends was tortured, rendered by CIA

By Laura Rozen The EnvoySep 2, 2011|

The top Libyan rebel military commander in Tripoli, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, dropped something of a bombshell in an interview with the New York Times yesterday: In  2004, he said, two CIA agents tortured him in Thailand and then “rendered” him to Libya. From that point on, he maintains, he was held in solitary confinement for the next six years.

“Yes, [Belhaj] said, he was detained by Malaysian officials in 2004 on arrival at the Kuala Lumpur airport, where he was subjected to extraordinary rendition on behalf of the United States, and sent to Thailand,” the New York Times‘ Rod Norland writes. “In Bangkok, Mr. Belhaj said, he was tortured for a few days by two people he said were CIA agents, and then, worse, they repatriated him to Libya, where he was thrown into solitary confinement for six years.”

Now, Belhaj heads the Libyan rebels’ military committee for restoring order in the capital of Tripoli.

A spokeswoman for the CIA told The Envoy Thursday the agency declined to comment on Belhaj’s allegations.

But the allegations point to the challenge facing Western diplomatic officials in Libya: How much does the West know about the influential faction of the Libyan rebels with past Islamist jihadi ties? And how will such ties affect the effort to safeguard U.S. interests in a post-Gadhafi Libya?

The scholar Omar Ashour summed up the dilemma in an article this week informed by his interview with Belhaj last year: “Does his prominent role mean that jihadists are set to exploit the fall of Qadhafi’s regime?”

Belhaj, known as “Abu Abdullah al-Sadiq” in jihadi circles, is the previous commander of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), “a jihad organization with historical links to al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Egyptian al-Jihad organization,” Ashour, an academic at the University of Exeter and Brookings Doha Center, explained in an article at Foreign Policy this week.

The paramilitary Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, established in 1990, “led a three-year, low-level insurgency … in eastern Libya and tried three times to assassinate Qadhafi in 1995 and 1996,” Ashourwrote. After Gadhafi mostly crushed the group in 1998, “most of its leaders and members fled and joined forces with the Taliban in Afghanistan,” where they pledged loyalty to Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and subsequent U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, “Belhaj and most of the LIFG leaders fled that country as well, only to be arrested in 2004 by the CIA and then handed over to Qadhafi’s regime, following interrogations in Thailand and Hong Kong,” writes Ashour. Belhaj was then imprisoned in Libya for six years in brutal conditions. Following his release in 2010, he participated in several “reconciliation” conferences between the Gadhafi regime and anti-Gadhafi Islamist militants, spearheaded by Gadhafi’s son and onetime heir apparent Seif al-Islam. Ashour attended those panels as an observer.

Last week, Belhaj led the rebels’ seizure of Gadhafi’s Tripoli compound. But as Belhaj exulted that “the tyrant fled,” he also “repeatedly called for enhancing security, protecting property, ending vendettas, and building a new Libya,” Ashour observed.

In his interview with the Times yesterday, Belhaj stressed that despite his group’s past ties with the Taliban, it is now entirely focused on liberating Libya from Gadhafi’s control, and is no longer advancing the cause of global jihad.

“We focused on Libya and Libya only,” Belhaj told the Times. “Our goal was to help our people. We didn’t participate in or support any action outside of Libya. We never had any link with Al Qaeda, and that could never be. We had a different agenda; global fighting was not our goal.”

As for his six-year confinement and Libya and the CIA rendition preceding it, Belhaj told his Times interviewers that he’s not looking to exact revenge.

“Definitely it was very hard, very difficult,” Belhaj told the Times, but added, “Now we are in Libya, and we want to look forward to a peaceful future. I do not want revenge.”

Still, he added, he wouldn’t mind seeing his interrogators face legal proceedings: “If one day there is a legal way, I would like to see my torturers brought to court.”

UPDATEMore documents revealing CIA and MI6 cooperation with the Libyan intelligence service emerged with the search of former Libyan intelligence chief Moussa Koussa’s Tripoli office by reporters and a Human Rights Watch researcher.  See this article from the Wall Street Journal’s Siobhan Gorman: “Tripoli files show CIA working with Libya,” and this from the New York Times, “Files note close CIA ties to Gadhafi intelligence unit.”

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EU: U.S. War Crimes Partner

EU Slammed for Complicity With US War Crimes

By Associated Press, September 3, 2011

Europe’s human rights chief launched a blistering attack Thursday on European governments’ counterterrorism actions, accusing them of helping the United States commit “countless” crimes in the past 10 years.

The 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks is an occasion to analyze whether the official responses have been proper and effective, said Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s rights commissioner.

“In attempting to combat crimes attributed to terrorists, countless further crimes have been committed in the course of the US-led ‘global war on terror,'” he said in a statement. “Many of those crimes have been carefully and deliberately covered up.”

European governments were “deeply complicit” in US counterterrorism strategies, including torture, Hammarberg said. In a 2007 probe, Swiss politician Dick Marty accused 14 European governments of permitting the CIA to run detention centers or carry out rendition flights between 2002 and 2005.

“They permitted, protected and participated in CIA operations which violated fundamental tenets of our systems of justice and human rights protection,” Hammarberg said, adding that the governments involved have blocked proper investigations into rendition cases in line with Washington’s wishes.

“The message is clear — good relations between the security agencies are deemed more important than preventing torture and other serious human rights violations,” he said.

The 47-nation Council of Europe believes more than a dozen European nations colluded in the CIA’s rendition program, in which suspects were secretly sent to be held in nations that allow torture.

On Monday, the Council will publish a list of CIA “black sites” in Poland, Lithuania and Romania where detainees are believed to have been held covertly, said an official who asked not to be named because of the sensitive nature of the report.

Hammarberg cited the cases of several victims, including German car salesman Khaled El-Masri who underwent two renditions, first to Afghanistan and then to Albania, where he was dumped on a remote hillside in an apparent effort to cover up what officials later conceded was an error.

Hammarberg urged European governments to allow judicial scrutiny of abuses arising from the rendition operations, and to stop shielding those who collaborated with US intelligence agencies in organizing the operations.

“So far Europe has granted effective impunity to those who committed crimes in implementing the rendition policy. An urgent rethink is required to prevent this misjudged and failed counterterrorism approach from having a sad legacy of injustice,” he said.

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