Thursday, June 26

Torture Hearings : Conyers vs Yoo and Addington

This Youtube clip shows the questions asked off John Yoo and David Addington by Rep John Conyers - and it's not pretty.

Questions asked:

Can the President order that a suspects child be tortured?

Is there anything that the President could not order to be done to a suspect, if he believed it neccesary for national defense?

Can the President order that someone be buried alive?

Was there a Principles meeting to approve interrogations techniques?

Do you believe that the Unitary Executive Theory allows the President to violate the law?

Questions answered:

None.

These guys know they have to dance and dance hard to avoid what might be serious culpability for advising the violation of hundreds of federal laws.

As I've written about previous, it appears based on the reporting of the LA Times that various and sundry Yoo Memo's of infamy, which along with Jay Bybee's memos it was stated that torture isn't "torture" until someone is about die were written after such practices had already been implimented and performed on persons such as Abu Zubaydah.

... Yoo's account of how and why the torture memos were crafted may not hold up. Congress is preparing hearings into the subject, and they have invited Yoo to testify. International law scholar Philippe Sands and other writers have punched holes in Yoo's claims about the facts. It increasingly appears that the Bush interrogation program was already being used before Yoo was asked to write an opinion. He may therefore have provided after-the-fact legal cover. That would help explain why Yoo strained to take so many implausible positions in the memos.

And that is largely why his testimony today made essentially no sense. Now it's clear that John Conyers was being more than a little rough with both Yoo and Addington - but to understand why maybe we need to listen to a bit from Law Professor Phillip Sands.

Sands: From these conversations it became clear to me that the Administration has spun a narrative that is false. It claims that the impetous for the new interrogation techniques came from the "bottom up
". That is not true, the abuse was the result of pressures and actions driven from the very highest levels of the administration. The administration claims that it simply followed the law. My investigation indicated that the administration, driven by ideology, consciously sought legal advice to set aside international constrainst on detainee interroragations. The administration relied on a small number of political appointees, lawyers with no real background on military law, with extreme view on executive power and an overriding contempt for international rules, such as the Geneva Conventions. These are rules that the United States has done more than any other country to promote and put in place.

As a result of these actions War Crimes Were Committed I have no doubt that Common Article III of Geneva was violated, as long as various conventions of the 1984 Convention Prohibiting Torture.

What Sands describes is an Ideological Cabal imbedded deep in the White House intent of bending and twisting definitions of the law to allow for the use of torture and the commission of War Crimes, which - if the subject dies - is punishable by the Death Penalty.

So read several of the 44 US military autopsy reports on the ACLU website -evidence of extensive abuse of US detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan 2002 through 2004. Anthony Romero, Executive Director of ACLU stated, "There is no question that US interrogations have resulted in deaths." ACLU attorney Amrit Sing adds, "These documents present irrefutable evidence that US operatives tortured detainees to death during interrogations."

It's no wonder that they will now then do everything they can to try and GET AWAY WITH IT.

So far at least 24 detainees - are likely far more - have died in custody as a result of mistreatment and abuse - much of that stemming from interrogation techniques that were legally justified and excused by Yoo and Addington.

They are War Criminals.

And tough hard questioning by Conyers is the least they deserve.

Vyan

Wednesday, June 25

Rove is Outraged that NYT Dared to Name a CIA Agent?!

Yes, it may be too ironic to believe - but here it is in black, white and Youtube.

Rove: [T]hey’ve got a very callous view about our nation’s security and interests.

...

Well, I read their explanation. And basically, it sounded to me like they were saying we put his name out there because we decided we could. And I mean, they didn’t have a good explanation for it.

Bad Grand Ole' Lady - Bad Bad!

So just who was this agent and why did they name him? Details over the flip.

In this article describing the interrogation methods used on Khallid Sheik Mohammad, the New York Times takes the extraordinary step of daring to name the interrogator - Deuce Martinez.

WASHINGTON — In a makeshift prison in the north of Poland, Al Qaeda’s engineer of mass murder faced off against his Central Intelligence Agency interrogator. It was 18 months after the 9/11 attacks, and the invasion of Iraq was giving Muslim extremists new motives for havoc. If anyone knew about the next plot, it was Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

The interrogator, Deuce Martinez, a soft-spoken analyst who spoke no Arabic, had turned down a C.I.A. offer to be trained in waterboarding. He chose to leave the infliction of pain and panic to others, the gung-ho paramilitary types whom the more cerebral interrogators called "knuckledraggers."

Mr. Martinez came in after the rough stuff, the ultimate good cop with the classic skills: an unimposing presence, inexhaustible patience and a willingness to listen to the gripes and musings of a pitiless killer in rambling, imperfect English. He achieved a rapport with Mr. Mohammed that astonished his fellow C.I.A. officers.

So here we have an agent, who didn't use "extreme interrogation" methods who low and behold - actualy produced results, contrary to everything the Bush Administation has been claiming is possible.

No wonder Rove is PO'd, people like Mr. Martinez - who are capable of building a rapport with a vicious killer and convincing him to provide information willingly - aren't supposed to exist.

But they do.

Now why exactly did the New York Times give this man's name? This is their explanation.

The Central Intelligence Agency asked The New York Times not to publish the name of Deuce Martinez, an interrogator who questioned Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other high-level Al Qaeda prisoners, saying that to identify Mr. Martinez would invade his privacy and put him at risk of retaliation from terrorists or harassment from critics of the agency.

After discussion with agency officials and a lawyer for Mr. Martinez, the newspaper declined the request, noting that Mr. Martinez had never worked under cover and that others involved in the campaign against Al Qaeda have been named in news stories and books. The editors judged that the name was necessary for the credibility and completeness of the article.

Let me re-emphasize that Mr. Martinez never worked undercover and hence was not covered by the IIPA, unlike Valerie Plame Wilson who was covered by the Act.

It is fair to argue that publishing his name might put Mr. Martinez under negative scrutiny, and to emphasize this I will point out that when his name was published in 1998, Richard Clarke became a named target of Al Qeada and subsequently received Secret Service Training and was issued a personal firearm for protection.

To this date, Valerie Plame Wilson has received no such training and has not been issued her own fiream.

Since all three of these people, and their families might be in danger, it isn't unreasonable to ask that all three of them be afforded some level of protection - even if they have to implement that protection on their own.

But then again, to quote a rather fantastical fowl, "they knew the job was dangerous when they took it". No point in crying about it now.

Besides that, what Martinez has accomplished is frankly Heroic. He should be praised for what he's done, not hidden in the shadows where Rove and his Torture-Pornaseur Ilk would like to keep him. This guys deserves a medal. In fact, he deserves the medal that Bush gave to George Tenet.

No, not the same kind - THE SAME ONE! At least this guy earned it.

And just for those of us who are somewhat fact and history challenged, or have completely missed everything being currently said by Scott McClennan, the reason Rove's phony outrage over this is functionally ridiculous is the fact that Rove himself confirmed Plame's status as a CIA employee to two different reporters as noted by Thinkprogress

– Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper said, "Karl Rove told me about Valerie Plame’s identity on July 11, 2003. I called him because Ambassador Wilson [Plame’s husband] was in the news that week. I didn’t know Ambassador Wilson even had a wife until I talked to Karl Rove."

– A week prior to publishing his column which outed Plame, Robert Novak spoke with Rove. Novak brought up Plame’s role at the CIA, and Rove confirmed that Plame worked at the CIA: "I heard that too," said Rove.

Rove acted as Novak's confirmation source (on special double-secret background) after he had initially heard about Plame from Richard Armitage. (And Armitage wouldn't have known about her either if Scooter Libby hadn't been poking around asking his deputy questions about her which ultimately resulted in the INR report which - inaccurately - mentions her involvement in recruiting Joe Wilson for a trip to Niger)

It's frankly amazing to me that Rove can sit there on National TV and claim to be so annoyed with the New York Times because it was the New York Times that initially refused to publish Judith Miller's Story - as told to her by Libby - about Wilson and his Wife. Robert Novak published that story even though the CIA told him not to.

And he did it because of Karl Rove - Hypocrite Extraordinaire.

Vyan

Tuesday, June 24

McCain Thinks:"More Terrorism Is Good for Me!"

Following the reported comments by McCain Senior adviser Charlie Black to Fortune Magazine that another terrorist attack would be a "Big Advantage" for the McCain Campaign, Thinkprogress has uncovered that contrary to McCain recent denials of Black's statements...

McCain: If he said that, and I do not know the context, I strenuously disagree."

It appears that John McCain himself said the exact same thing about President Bush's 2004 campaign.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, campaigning in southwestern Connecticut on Saturday, said Osama bin Laden’s video message to Americans will likely energize President Bush’s re-election campaign.

"I think it’s very helpful to President Bush," said McCain, R-Ariz., while stumping in Stamford for U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays. "It focuses America’s attention on the war on terrorism. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but I think it does have an effect." [AP, 10/30/04]

Ruh roh!

But wait, it gets worse.

Much more recently McCain has also echoed Black (or was it the reverse) when he stated to CNN's Dana Bash that the terrorist assasination of Pakistani Politician Benazir Bhutto would help him
politically.

From CNN's Situation Room:

BASH: I was actually with Sen. McCain the very day that Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. ... He really did understand from that moment that this was something that he thought could help him in the race at that point to be the Republican nominee. In fact, at that event that very day I asked Sen. McCain if he thought it would help his political campaign and he said pretty much "Yes." ... So it’s not a secret that back then that Sen. McCain and his campaign thought it would help.

Again, contrary to McCain's claim that he "Couldn't imagine" why Black would say anything like this, it appears that Black was simply Repeating McCain's Thinking.

Now, it's not that McCain thought or said that a terrorism would be good for the country, obviously it wouldn't be - but it's also absolutely clear that the strategy of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) is at the heart of his campaign - not simply a random idea expressed by one staffer on an off night. They just don't know when to stop playing the Terror Card even when the deck is warn and faceless. This is not what his Pastor has said, this is not like Bitter-gate, this is the Real John McCain.

Maybe we should make sure most of the nation begins to understand the priorities of a man who would claim the highest office in the Western World?

Vyan

Monday, June 23

DC Court of Appeals to Bush: No More "Enemy Combatants"?

The DC Court of Appeals just handed Bush a major smackdown on his terrorism policy - they (may have laid the groundwork for) establishing that there's no such thing as an "Enemy Combatant"

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court, in the first case it reviewed, has overturned the Pentagon's classification of a Guantanamo detainee as an enemy combatant.

...

The court rejected the Bush administration's argument that the president has the power to detain people who never took up arms against the U.S.

This decision probably won't affect insurgent fighters captured on the field of battle, but it could affect non-combatants those captured via informants or surveillance, and following the Supreme Court's recent restoration of Habaeus Corpus, it seems unlikely that they would overturn and reverse this decision - and if taken to it's ultimate conclusion, the implications to the Bush Administration could be devastating.

Ever since 2002 the Bush Administration has used the classification "Enemy Combatant" to deny Geneva Conventions to detainees captured in the War on Terror. They used it to justify "Extraordinary Rendition", secret "Black Site" prisons and to practice Torture in direct violation of War Crimes Provision of U.S. Law. Some of these detainees have been children, while others were literally sold to us by informants - like slaves bought on the auction block. More raw materials for CIA Contractors to "process".

A McClatchy investigation has revealed that an amazing number of these detainees - contrary to claims made by the President, and basically every other Republican including John McCain - are just plain innocent.

The McClatchy investigation found that top Bush administration officials knew within months of opening the Guantanamo detention center that many of the prisoners there weren't "the worst of the worst." From the moment that Guantanamo opened in early 2002, former Secretary of the Army Thomas White said, it was obvious that at least a third of the population didn't belong there.

Of the 66 detainees whom McClatchy interviewed, the evidence indicates that 34 of them, about 52 percent, had connections with militant groups or activities. At least 23 of those 34, however, were Taliban foot soldiers, conscripts, low-level volunteers or adventure-seekers who knew nothing about global terrorism.

Only seven of the 66 were in positions to have had any ties to al Qaida's leadership, and it isn't clear that any of them knew any terrorists of consequence.

When members of the FBI nearly arrested CIA Interrogators for their treatment of prisoners, the excuse used to keep the FBI at bay was - these are "Enemy Combatants", normal rules of justice and law need not apply.

If this decision is upheld, the Bush Administration will have essentially run out of wiggle room. The entire Military Commissions Process, which was established after the Supreme Court decided in Hamdan v Rumsfeld that the Geneva Conventions essentially apply to everyone involved in a war, will now be in shambles. The hundreds of detainees held at Gitmo and tens of thousands of others being held around the world at placed like Abu Ghraib and Bagram AFB will now either have to be declared Prisoners of War and tried via a Court Martial or charged in Criminal Cases and tried as Civilians.

It's either option A (Military), option B (Civilian) or option C - let those people go. There will soon be no more other options left.

The problem with this is naturally, that coerced confessions are not allowed in Criminal or Military Cases. Confessions obtained under duress are not admissable. The claims that former Gitmo prisoners have come back to fight us again the battle field, is Largely a Myth! In a real court - not this made-up Kangaroo Fiasco we currently have at Gitmo - defendants must be arraigned in a timely manner, you can not hold them indefinitely without charges, the innocent are proctected from the overreach of the state. Oh and Deliberate Abuse - as the President has admitted to authorizing under his "Enhanced Interrogation" Program - is Punishable as a War Crime, particularly when the subject doesn't just feel like their dying in a "simulated" way - at least two dozen of them have actually died (PDF) as a result of these horrifically flawed U.S. policies.

Someone tell McCain that this isn't about making money for Trial Lawyers, all the attorney's at Gitmo - like Former Lt. Cmd Swift who was Sacked for Winning in before the Supreme Court on Hamdan - are in the Military, and most Civilian Attorneys are willing to work on cases like these Pro Bono.

It's called following the Constitution, maybe we should try it again. We just might finally turn back from being a ruthless rogue state to a nation of laws yet.

Read much much more on this ongoing tragedy from the ACLU's Freedom of Information Files.

Vyan

Update: As Some have noted in the comments this decision may only apply to this particular detainee, or "non-violent" combatants, but since some of the decision remains currently classified exactly what it's full ramifications will be are currently unclear, however what matters is ultimate what the SCOTUS decides and that isn't strictly limited by the DC Appeals ruling. Hamdan only applied to Hamdan (pre SCOTUS), until it didn't (After SCOTUS).

P.S. Bush can't Pardon Himself.