Friday, May 8

What the Pelosi-Briefing Claim Reveals - We need a Classified Crimes Act



Pelosi's consistent claim in light of arguments that she was informed about "Enhanced Interrogation" techniques is A) That she wasn't told the techniques were already in use and B) That She couldn't have done Anything about it ANYWAY!


Still I think she should have been able to do something, almost anything, to address Classified Crimes in Progress but unfortunately the current law doesn't allow for it.

It may be difficult for those who haven't had a security clearance to understand, but having access to classified information is often a much of a curse and a burden as it is a benefit.

You may get the information (some of it), but you can't do anything with it.

Under 18 USC 798

(a) Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information—

(1) concerning the nature, preparation, or use of any code, cipher, or cryptographic system of the United States or any foreign government; or

(2) concerning the design, construction, use, maintenance, or repair of any device, apparatus, or appliance used or prepared or planned for use by the United States or any foreign government for cryptographic or communication intelligence purposes; or

(3) concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government; or

(4) obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of any foreign government, knowing the same to have been obtained by such processes—

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.


Ten years in prison, this is no joke - and it applies to members of Congress just as much as anyone else. If you been granted access to a secure program, you CAN NOT share that information with anyone who doesn't have access to that specific program. Not your spouse, not your kids, not your co-workers and not your congressional staff.

YOU. CAN'T. TELL. ANYONE!

Now the canard has been raised that Pelosi (or Harman whose also been under this microscope) could have or should have objected somehow.

Objected to Who?

The best they could've done is write a sternly worded letter the way the Sen Rockefeller (and Jane Harmon -ht comments) did concerning NSA Wiretaps after he was supposedly "briefed" on the program.

Rockefeller, turning back to the NSA program in his letter, told Cheney: "Without more information and the ability to draw on any independent legal or technical expertise, I simply cannot satisfy lingering concerns raised by the briefing we received."

The letter, whose existence was unknown to Rockefeller's staff, indicated that the three briefers were Cheney, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet and then NSA-Director Michael V. Hayden. The letter said the Senate intelligence committee's chairman, Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), was there, and it indicated, without naming them, the presence of then-Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), the ranking members of the House intelligence committee.

In hindsight, the letter seemed a rejoinder to President Bush's assertions that key congressional leaders were adequately briefed on the expanded NSA program and to his intimation that they did not seriously object. Rockefeller "was frustrated by the characterization that Congress was on board on this," said one official who is close to him and who spoke on background because of the topic's sensitive nature. "Four congressmen, at least one of whom was raising serious concerns, does not constitute being on board."


His letter was simply ignored, so fat lot of good THAT did. Cheney just BLEW HIM OFF, obviously because Cheney knew damn well there was nothing he could do about it. He couldn't call a hearing, he couldn't even tell his staff!

The National Security Act of 1947 requires that the Executive Branch provide congress with regular reports on it's intelligence activities. Yet time and time again we see that these reports are not provided, Congress is often told nothing or only given partial out-of-date information, and if they do get the data they have No Recourse if they happen to receiving alarming information.

We have to change this.

What occurred under the Bush Administration (as it has occurred with other Presidents) is that National Security Classification has been used to COVER UP ACTIVE CRIMES IN PROGRESS.

I'm going to suggest a radical idea here, since the problem seems to be that the law is preventing congress from ensuring the executive branch abides by the law.

Maybe, just maybe - Congress should Change the Law since being an alleged "co-equal" branch of government, making the law is what they're supposed to do. We can see clearly that the current process is broken. Congressional notification is simply being used as a CYA coupled with a Gotcha!

"See, we told you all along, and you didn't say or do anything and therefore you're complicit in the crime"

We all have to come to realize that's simply a load of bull, one that the Bushies were not just shovelling over Torture, but also Domestic Spying and many other programs as well.

However it's not an impossible problem to solve.

Congress needs to Amend the National Security Act to allow a secure channel for Whistle-blowers to access internal Inspector Generals and Ombudsmen when they suspect criminal activity is taking place under classified cover. They shouldn't need to resort to giving up their career and risking violating 798 by contacting the Press as former NSA Analyst Russel Tice did when he began talking to the New York Times about Illegal NSA Wiretaps.



As Tice describes in this report, the Bush Administration was specifically targeting journalists for data collection - the most likely reason for this is to catch Whistle-blowers like Tice and therefore maintain the Criminal Cover-up. The goal is clear, keeping the cover-up going by creating a Chilling Effect on Government employees, our SOLDIERS, the Press and even Congress itself (ie. Taping Harmon).

In additional to a guaranteed secure channel to internal administration oversight, various Whistle-blowers of Classified Crimes need a secure channel to Congress, and Congress needs the legal power to COMPELL Access to a program in a manner similar to a fully empowered Congressional Subpoena.

If a reluctant administration refuses to grant access to Congress, just as Bush denied Security clearance to the OPR in order to stall and shutdown their investigation into Domestic Surveillance - they need to power to force access - and conduct a secure investigation without allowing any genuine National Security Secret to be generally revealed.

798 should remain strong and prevent premature leaks of such an investigation prior to any potential referral to the DOJ, or calls for an Special Prosecutor.

In special cases, Congress may need the ability to Revoke a Programs Classified Status over the objections of a President by filing suit adjudicating the matter before a court similar to FISA.

Looking back over recent history we can clearly see a number of problems that an unaccountable unitarian executive has brought us. We need more than just disbarment for Yoo, Bybee and Bradbury. We need more than prosecutions for past crimes. We need more than wan assurances from our current executive that "times have changed" -- we need to SERIOUSlY start lobbying Congress to start untying their own hands, and give themselves the power to prevent future abuses by future Administrations.

These suggestions may not all be perfect or sufficient, certainly even the Obama Administration will push back against many of them - but if the abuses of the Nixon Administration brought us the FISA Court, the abuses of Bush should bring us some far far stronger medicine to salve what ailes this nation.


Vyan


Contact Data:

Nancy Pelosi
District Office
450 Golden Gate Ave.
14th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 556-4862

Washington, D.C. Office
235 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-4965

http://www.house.gov/pelosi/
Online Contact Form
AmericanVoices@mail.house.gov

Rep. John Conyers
* Washington Office: 202-225-5126
* Detroit Office: 313-961-5670
* Trenton / Downriver Office: 734-675-4084
Email john.conyers@mail.house.gov

Jay Rockefeller
Martinsburg
217 West King Street
Suite 307
Martinsburg, WV 25401-3211
(304) 262-9285
(304) 262-9288 Fax


Washington, DC
531 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-6472
(202) 224-7665 Main Fax
(202) 228-1610 Scheduling Fax
http://rockefeller.senate.gov/
Contact Form

Sen Russ Feingold
Washington, DC
506 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-4904
(202) 224-5323
TDD (202) 224-1280
Fax (202) 224-2725
Contact Form

U.S. Senator Chris Dodd
448 Russell Building | Washington D.C., 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2823 | Fax: (202) 224-1083

30 Lewis St Suite 101 | Hartford, CT 06103
Tel: (860) 258-6940/(800) 334-5341 —CT only
Fax: (860) 258-6958
Twitter

Update: Ok, I've talked to or left a message with all the above members of Congress, several we're very supportive of the idea particular Feingold's office. Left two messages with Speaker Pelosi. I hope others make a few calls to their own Representatives, particular those sympathetic to this situation - but I can at least say these people have all now heard this idea. Hopefully we can keep the pressure building on this over time.


P.S.: When I previously posted this article on Dailykos the issue was raised that Pelosi and Harmon could have walked out of the briefing room onto the House Floor and said just about anything without fear of legal reprisals under the “Speech and Debate” clause from Article 1.

They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.


This theory was tested in 1972 when Senator Mike Gravel (yes, that Mike Gravel) released the Pentagon papers within his subcommittee and published them in the public record. The government sued to bring his staff before a Grand Jury to help reveal the source of the leak (Daniel Ellsberg) and Gravel exerted the clause as a shield. Although the Court found that the shield in theory could apply to not just a House or Senate member but also their staff within the context of Congressional deliberations – they unfortunately didn’t find that Congress members had absolute immunity from committing what would otherwise be considered crimes on the House or Senate floor.
Decision of the Court on Gravel v U.S.

Legislative acts are not all-encompassing. The heart of the Clause is speech or debate in either House. Insofar as the Clause is construed to reach other matters, they must be an integral part of the deliberative and communicative processes by which Members participate in committee and House proceedings with respect to the consideration and passage or rejection of proposed legislation or with respect to other matters which the Constitution places within the jurisdiction of either House. As the Court of Appeals put it, the courts have extended the privilege to matters beyond pure speech or debate in either House, but "only when necessary to prevent indirect impairment of such deliberations." United States v. Doe, 455 F.2d at 760.

Here, private publication by Senator Gravel through the cooperation of Beacon Press was in no way essential to the deliberations of the Senate; nor does questioning as to private publication threaten the integrity or independence of the Senate by impermissibly exposing its deliberations to executive influence.

There are additional considerations. Article I, § 6, cl. 1, as we have emphasized, does not purport to confer a general exemption upon Members of Congress from liability or process in criminal cases. Quite the contrary is true. While the Speech or Debate Clause recognizes speech, voting, and other legislative acts as exempt from liability that might otherwise attach, it does not privilege either Senator or aide to violate an otherwise valid criminal law in preparing for or implementing legislative acts.


From my reading the court actually ruled largely against Gravel's assertion of S&D, and in particular the clause has specific limitations in relation to "Treason or Felony" - and knowingly revealing classified information which might benefit an enemy nation fits the exact definition of "Treason" and certainly a "Felony" in my book, even if you do it on the floor of congress, and the information divulges the commission of a crime(s). IMO this doesn’t help solve the problem.

Wednesday, May 6

For the Last Time ALL OF IT was Torture!

It's well past time we put a final punctuation mark on this entire "Enhanced Interrogations are not Torture" nonsense - Once and For All.

It doesn't matter what the Polling Data says (Karl), what matters is what the Law Says. The simple fact is that the is No Such Thing as Torture Lite ™?

It's not a question of whether Waterboarding is or isn't Torture, and therefore illegal, the simple fact is that Every Coercive Method Authorized by Yoo, Bybee, Bradbury and Bush all meet the U.S. and International definitions of torture.

All of Them.

Contrary to many arguments this isn't simply a matter of unenforceable International Law. The US signed and ratified the UN Convention Against Torture over a dozen years ago and implemented empowering legislation under 18 USC 2340 - The Torture Statute. It similarly made it a criminal offense to commit a grave Breach of Geneva under 18 USC 2441 - The War Crimes Act.

In his original August 2002 Memo (pdf) Jay Bybee argued that ten techniques, which had been culled from the Special Forces S.E.R.E. program were not torture because they did not induce "permanent or severe physical or psychological" damage as outlined under 18 USC 2340.

Those techniques were..

attention grasp, wailing, facial hold, facial slap, cramped confinement, wall standing, stress positions, sleep deprivations, insects place in a confinement box and the waterboard

Bybee repeatedly argued that the pain and suffering would be "mild", and unlikely to induce long-term psychological stress because only a few of these kinds of signs had ever been recorded by S.E.R.E. students - but besides the fact that the S.E.R.E. program is voluntary, whereas being held against your will is decidedly NOT voluntary, there is also the issue of duration and repetition. The S.E.R.E. course lasts less than a week, and at any point a student can use a code-word to signify they have overextended their reach. Under the program outlined by Bybee, none of this was possible, and neither was there a definate end to the process...

Amnesty International Describes Torture according to the UN Convention Against Torture this way:
It defines torture as any act by which:

severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental; is intentionally inflicted on a person; for such purposes as:

* obtaining from him/her or a third person information or a confession
* punishing him/her for an act s/he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed
* intimidating or coercing him/her or a third person
* or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind;

when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.*

ANY ACT - which causes severe physical or mental pain and suffering for the purpose of extracting information. ANY ACT.

Slapping, Grasping, Wall Standing, Cramped Confinement, Waterboarding - it doesn't matter. ANY ACT.

Both the Geneva and the UN Convention Against Torture do not include a Laundry List of prohibited actions simply because one you do that, it increases the likelihood that someone might try to invent a technique which isn't included on the list and try to claim that it Isn't Torture on a technicality.

Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions prohibits ''violence to life and person,'' in particular ''mutilation, cruel treatment and torture'' and also prohibits ''outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment''. These terms include ''other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment." The drafters of common Article 3 avoided a detailed list of prohibited acts in order to ensure that it had the broadest possible reach, leaving no loophole. As the official commentary by the International Committee of the Red Cross explained:

''It is always dangerous to go into too much detail -- especially in this domain. However great the care taken in drawing up a list of all the various forms of infliction, it would never be possible to catch up with the imagination of future torturers who wished to satisfy their bestial instincts; the more specific and complete a list tries to be, the more restrictive it becomes. The form of wording adopted is flexible, and, at the same time, precise.''


The Army Field Manual, which is crafted to abie by Geneva, does include a list of prohibited actions, and that list doesn't leave any wiggle room for coercive interrogations.

5-75. If used in conjunction with intelligence interrogations,
prohibited actions include, but are not limited to—
Forcing the detainee to be naked, perform sexual acts, or pose in a
sexual manner.

Placing hoods or sacks over the head of a detainee; using duct tape
over the eyes.
Applying beatings, electric shock, burns, or other forms of physical
pain.
• “Waterboarding.”

• Using military working dogs.
• Inducing hypothermia or heat injury.
• Conducting mock executions.
• Depriving the detainee of necessary food, water, or medical care.
5-76. While using legitimate interrogation techniques, certain applications of
approaches and techniques may approach the line between permissible
actions and prohibited actions.


Performing any of these actions, could clearly meet the legal definition of torture and a War Crime. As could hiding detainees from the legally authorized monitoring agencies such as the International Red Cross.

Two primary defenses/excuses were proffered by Bybee (and have been parotted by many others) - 1) The Pain and Suffering Wasn't THAT Severe!

Pain is a highly subjective issue. What might cause minor pain for one person could be intensely painful for another. But then again, even minor inconveniences can become monumentally discomforting over the coarse of time. Some can even become deadly.

Repeated Face Slapping, like any form of assault, can led to bruising, hemoraging and even a subdural hematoma which can trigger traumatic brain injury. I'm not talking about 2 quick slaps, but hundreds of slaps - over the course of days, and weeks and months. The longer the duration the higher likelihood of permanent damage, and even death.

Stress Positions, Wall Standing and Cramped Confinement are all classic forms of torture. They are used to induce muscle fatigue, which one might associate with body building - but the static nature of the muscles producers a very different result than increasing Lat or Deltoid size. When combined with sleep deprivation, extended periods of acute muscle fatigue can cause the subjects kidneys to shutdown. Generally speaking a lack of functioning kidneys tends to lead to a lack of Life!

Even the psychologist whom some OLC memos cited to argue that the suggested methods were harmless, in fact says exactly the opposite.

"As soon as you add in any other stress, any other psychological stress, then the sleep deprivation feeds on that, and the two compound each other to make things far worse. I made that very, very clear," he said. "And there's been a lot of research by others since then to show that this is the case."

As for whether such stress could be considered "harmful," Horne was unequivocal. "I thought it was totally inappropriate to cite my book as being evidence that you can do this and there's not much harm. With additional stress, these people are suffering. It's obviously traumatic," he said. "I just find it absurd."
It's is even more difficult to quantify psychological pain and suffering than it can be for physical pain, but it can't seriously be argued that deliberate attempts at inducing fear and shamefully humiliation (such as the use of nudity, dogs and insects) had No Effect At All! Further we have amples examples of the impact of physical and emotional abuse, particularly in domestic situations when women are the most common targets.

Women who live in violent households experience intense feelings of fear, panic, and anxiety (Jones 87). Many experience feelings of depression and shame, because they feel guilty about staying in their current situation (Jones 87). Women who are victims of abuse over a prolonged period of time will develop feelings of learned helplessness, or in other words, they will feel powerless to do anything to ameliorate their situation. This feeling of learned helplessness will further contribute to a depressed state. Women who are physically abused are also often verbally abused. This verbal abuse includes name-calling, making one feel worthless, playing mind games, and isolation from one’s family and friends. Verbal abuse can be more damaging to a woman’s psychological well-being than physical abuse. Which physical abuse the wounds heal, but psychological abuse is more difficult to overcome.


Clearly we are usually discussing men rather than women when talk about detainee abuse, but the simple fact is that most women in domestic violence situations CAN LEAVE and end the abuse - a detainee doesn't have that option, and hence has the potential to feel even more helpless and become even more psychologically damaged. Putting aside the obviously problematic argument of "which is worse", it it clear that both the law and society consider this kind of abusive treatment to be unacceptable - so how then can we consider similar treatment to be permissible under the color of authority regardless of the circumstances?

The simple truth is we can't.

The second argument offered is 2) We we're doing it to Save American Lives

Besides the fact that the CIA Inspector Generals Report, and the FBI Director both dispute claims that "Enhance Interrogation" has succeeding in producing "Good Actionable Intelligence" that saved lives, there is one very simple response to this, the UN Convention Against Torture, which the U.S. has signed and ratified, states...

Article 2(2) of the Convention states that: "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

In short, there are NO ABUSIVE ACTIONS, either physical or psychological, which are permitted under Geneva for extracting information and under the UN Conventions there are NO EXCUSES.

Many people tend to look at the purely as a "waterboarding" issue, but the fact is long before you reach that particular technique, you've already long passed the threshold into torture and war crimes. But even with that in mind, few people even realize what waterboarding truly is. Even Wikipedia knows better than Jay Bybee.

Waterboarding is a form of torture
that consists of immobilizing the victim on his or her back with the head inclined downwards, and then pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages. By forced suffocation and inhalation of water, the subject experiences drowning and is caused to believe they are about to die. It is considered a form of torture by legal experts, politicians, war veterans, intelligence officials, military judges,and human rights organizations. As early as the Spanish Inquisition it was used for interrogation purposes, to punish and intimidate, and to force confessions.

In contrast to submerging the head face-forward in water, waterboarding precipitates a gag reflex almost immediately. The technique does not inevitably cause lasting physical damage. It can cause extreme pain, dry drowning, damage to lungs, brain damage from oxygen deprivation, other physical injuries including broken bones due to struggling against restraints, lasting psychological damage or, ultimately, death. Adverse physical consequences can start manifesting months after the event; psychological effects can last for years.

Certain forms of waterboarding do not allow water to enter the mouth and lungs by using a non-permiable or cellophane sheet to cover the nose and mouth (although the Method used under S.E.R.E. isn't one of these), but far from being "safe" this version of waterboarding it can enduce the phenomenon of Dry Drowning.

In normal breathing, the diaphragm contracts, causing the lungs to expand (lungs are above the diaphragm). This expansion draws air into the lungs by generating a negative pressure or vacuum. Air first travels through the rigid larynx and upper airways before filling the inflatable alveoli in the lungs.

When water or other foreign bodies are inhaled, laryngospasm occurs and the person's larynx spasms shut. As a result, the vacuum created by the diaphragm cannot be filled by the inrush of air into the lungs, and the vacuum persists. In an attempt to force air in through the spasmed larynx, the person may breathe deeper and with more effort, but this only increases the vacuum's force inside the chest. The obstruction to the inflow of oxygen causes hypoxia, and the obstruction to the outflow of carbon dioxide causes acidosis, both resulting in death.

In addition, a multifactorial form of pulmonary edema is produced. The heart continues to beat normally during this time, and blood continues to circulate, though pulmonary oxygen and carbon dioxide gas exchange is markedly reduced. The volume of blood in the pulmonary circulation increases, by pulling in more blood from the abdomen, head, arms and legs - abnormally large volumes of this blood enter the pulmonary circulation via the superior and inferior vena cavae (great veins) in response to the persistent partial vacuum. From the vena cavae, the increased blood volume flows through the right atrium and into the right ventricle. The blood volume is great enough to stretch out the ventricle, similar to water entering a balloon.

POP! You're dead.

This is what Jay Bybee Wrote about severe suffering and Waterboarding.

Any pain associated with muscle fatigue is not of the intensity sufficient to amount to "sever physical pain or suffering" under the statute, nor, despite it's discomfort, can it be said to be difficult to endure. As we understand it, when the waterboard is used, the subject's body responds as if the subject were drowning--even though the subject is well aware that he is in fact not drowning.

As a simple point of fact, if you're "body is responding as if you're drowning" -- You. Are. Drowning! All of the negative impacts, from lung damage, acidosis and edema are likely and possible depending on the duration and frequency of the treatment.

Abu Zubaydah who was waterboarded 83 times (in additional to sleep deprivation, endless loud music and stress positions) is a long way from free from "Sufferring":

First, they beat him. As authorized by the Justice Department and confirmed by the Red Cross, they wrapped a collar around his neck and smashed him over and over against a wall. They forced his body into a tiny, pitch-dark box and left him for hours. They stripped him naked and suspended him from hooks in the ceiling. They kept him awake for days.

Today, he suffers blinding headaches and has permanent brain damage. He has an excruciating sensitivity to sounds, hearing what others do not. The slightest noise drives him nearly insane. In the last two years alone, he has experienced about 200 seizures.

But physical pain is a passing thing. The enduring torment is the taunting reminder that darkness encroaches. Already, he cannot picture his mother's face or recall his father's name. Gradually, his past, like his future, eludes him.


The last point is that even if these techniques all managed to successfully slalom through the minefield of U.S. and International Law, there is considerable evidence that CIA and Military Personnel in the field - went far beyond the guidelines provided by the OLC and not just at Abu Ghrab or Gitmo.

A 27-year-old Iraqi male died while being interrogated by Navy Seals on April 5, 2004, in Mosul, Iraq. During his confinement he was hooded, flex-cuffed, sleep deprived and subjected to hot and cold environmental conditions, including the use of cold water on his body and hood. The exact cause of death was ""undetermined"" although the autopsy stated that hypothermia may have contributed to his death. Notes say he ""struggled/ interrogated/ died sleeping.""

An Iraqi detainee (also described as a white male) died on January 9, 2004, in Al Asad, Iraq, while being interrogated by ""OGA."" He was standing, shackled to the top of a door frame with a gag in his mouth at the time he died. The cause of death was asphyxia and blunt force injuries.

A detainee was smothered to death during an interrogation by Military Intelligence on November 26, 2003, in Al Qaim, Iraq. A previously released autopsy report, that appears to be of General Mowhoush, lists ""asphyxia due to smothering and chest compression"" as the cause of death and cites bruises from the impact with a blunt object.

A detainee at Abu Ghraib Prison, captured by Navy Seal Team number seven, died on November 4, 2003, during an interrogation by Navy Seals and ""OGA."" A previously released autopsy report, that appears to be of Manadel Al Jamadi, shows that the cause of his death was ""blunt force injury complicated by compromised respiration.""

A 52-year-old male Iraqi was strangled to death at the Whitehorse detainment facility on June 6, 2003, in Nasiriyah, Iraq. His autopsy also revealed bone and rib fractures, and multiple bruises on his body.

If Death By Interrogation isn't enough to prove torture - then nothing is torture. Nothing at all.

And this is precisely the point, those that support this policy would attempt to redefine reality right out of existence. If our only protection against Torture is whether someone makes you stand on one leg for 4 hours instead of 8 Hours or 12 hours, then we have No protection at ALL.

That is why a Hard Bright Line needs to be maintained, that is why Disbarment is Too Good For "Em, the entire lot of the War Criminal Gang needs to be fully investigated and prosecuted. Anything less is a disgrace.

Vyan

The Universal Evil of Unlawful Detention

Rock Band Mr. Mister played a Chilean festival in 1988, they probably did know that speaking up for other artists who were being repressed by Dictator Augusto Pinochet might lead to being held under House Arrest, and even their Lives threatened. They did it anyway. Ten years later a Spanish Judge would issue an arrest warrant for Pinochet, that same Judge may soon indict "The Bush Six".



Besides my own long-time involvement in music, my wife was a Rock journalist at this time, friends with members of the band. as well as active with Amnesty International. She actually met them backstage in San Diego not long after this incident and could feel the tension in the aftermath.


The truth is that Richard is really underplaying what happened in this interview. They were held under house arrest and only because of the outcry from Amnesty International were they released. Their guitar tech Dallas Shue's life was threatened, the experience was so intense and terrifying that guitarist Steve Farris later talked of suffering from PTSD, and eventually left the band at least partially because of the incident. (He later joined Whitesnake). Dallas was also the Guitar Tech for Dave Evans (aka "The Edge" from U2).

When Richard made his statement from the stage, the front rows of the audience which were mostly filled with Pinochet supporters booed and made a "cut-throat" motion. Richard was handed a note later in the set which was intended to be his "apology/alibi" for making the statement - he let it fall to with a word.

Pinochet was eventually tried, convicted and died under House Arrest in England as a War Criminal, but it's interesting to not that in 1998 Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon issued a warrant for his arrest under the "Universal Jurisdiction" of War Crimes.

In 2005 Amnesty international called for the investigation and arrest of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Gen Miller and General Sanchez for Abu Ghraib.

Today that same Spanish judge may soon decide to issue a similar warrant against the "Bush 6", including Alberto Gonzales and Donald Rumsfeld for their involvement with the unlawful detention, "disappearing" of people, and torture.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

If you don't know Mr. Mister's music besides the ballad "Broken Wings", here's a track from the movie "Stand and Deliver" (which is exactly what they did in Chile) featuring Edward James Olmos and Lou Diamond Phillips.



Vyan

Tuesday, May 5

No Charges for Yoo, Bybee, Bradbury for Torture Memos

Surprising almost no one the internal OPR (Office of Professional Responsibility) Report on the legality of the Yoo, Bybee, Bradbury Torture Memos has failed to recommend prosecution, but has left the door open for disbarment.



From The NYT

WASHINGTON — An internal Justice Department inquiry into the conduct of Bush administration lawyers who wrote secret memorandums authorizing brutal interrogations has concluded that the authors committed serious lapses of judgment but should not be criminally prosecuted, according to government officials briefed on a draft of the findings.

The report by the Office of Professional Responsibility, an internal ethics unit within the Justice Department, is also likely to ask that state bar associations consider possible disciplinary action, including reprimands or even disbarment, for some of the lawyers involved in writing the legal opinions, the officials said.


Despite the stunningly bad arguments made in these memos, such as the idea that the President has the power in a time of war to Order an Airstrike against American Soil, and the idea that any treatment short of attempted murder and intentional maiming is somehow permissible under U.S. law the Bush Era OPR has found that Bush Era lawyers shouldn't be prosecuted.

Whatta Shocker.

Still the report itself isn't final and still needs to be signed off on by Obama Attorney General Eric Holder.

The key question in the report, which includes detailed accounting of emails between various officials and he OLC which helped shaped the memos, is whether the honest opinions were reflected in the memos or whether they were shaped to order by pro-torture officials such as Cheney, Tenet and Rice, which over-ride dissent from Powell, Zelikow and the CIA's own Inspector General


Sorry for the short diary, more info as I find it.

Update: Michael Isikoff is reporting on Rachel that the OPR is not the organization responsible for recommending prosecutions, that this conclusion was reached despite open lobbying by former Bushies to soften the report, and that the disciplinary actions could lead to the Impeachment of Jay Bybee.



Update 2:Ruh Roh! We've got some Fighting Words from Chris Dodd (whose father was a Nuremberg Prosecutor) on Torture!

"I don't know who the genius was in the room that night when they were discussing this," the Connecticut Democrat said of the four torture documents declassified by the Obama White House. "But if you are going to make the decision to release the documents, I presume every one of us here would the have a follow up question, which is: Well, what are you going to do about it?

Yeah, just what are they goin to do about it, eh?

Paging Eric Holder's Moral Compass!!

Just for perspective, The Nuremberg Speech that Keith mentioned tonight. h/t CityLightsLover

Vyan

Sun City - By Little Steven and Artists Against Aparthied

Long before the Dixie Chicks, Freedom Fries and Sammy-Joe the Not a Country Singer, there were artists who were willing to stand up for Freedom, Human Rights and Justice. A now with all the accusations of "Socialism", protestations about "Freedom" and mealy mouthed excuses for Torture - it's past time we remembered who it is were supposed to be and what "Freedom" really means.

Yeah, there was a time people had more important things to protest than Lipton and Snapple!

"Sun City" by Little Steven and Artists Against Apartheid.


Vyan

Sunday, May 3

The Bush Torture Conspiracy - Part 2: Infighting and Dissent

Contrary to the claims that the Bush Administrations internal decision conspiracy to implement a policy of War Crimes and Torture had always been smooth and without dissent, the New York Times reports today that besides the ignored and even covered-up memos from State Dept Counsels William Howard Taft IV (pdf) and Phillip Zelikow - we now have information that indicates that the CIA's own Inspector General argued forcefully against the techniques as not only illegal, but ineffective.

The consensus of top administration officials about the C.I.A. interrogation program, which they had approved without debate or dissent in 2002, began to fall apart the next year. Acutely aware that the agency would be blamed if the policies lost political support, nervous C.I.A. officials began to curb its practices much earlier than most Americans know: no one was waterboarded after March 2003, and coercive interrogation methods were shelved altogether in 2005. Yet even as interrogation methods were scaled back, former officials now say, the battle inside the Bush administration over which ones should be permitted only grew hotter. There would be a tense phone call over the program’s future during the 2005 Christmas holidays from Steven J. Hadley, the national security advisor, to Porter J. Goss, the C.I.A. director; a White House showdown the next year between Ms. Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney; and Ms. Rice’s refusal in 2007 to endorse the executive order with which Mr. Bush sought to revive the C.I.A. program.

The real trouble began on May 7, 2004, the day the C.I.A. inspector general, John L. Helgerson, completed a devastating report. In thousands of pages, it challenged the legality of some interrogation methods, found that interrogators were exceeding the rules imposed by the Justice Department and questioned the effectiveness of the entire program.


This IG report completely contradicted the legal analysis and rationales that had been provided by Yoo, Bybee and Bradbury and helped lead to the shutdown of the program, even prior to the passage of the McCain sponsored Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 in the wake of the Abu Ghraib Scandal.

Yet amazingly, even after Abu Ghraib and passage of the DTA, Cheney and Bradbury attempted to revive the program over the objections of Rice and NSA Counsel John Bellinger III.

Still, Mr. Cheney and top Justice Department officials fought to revive the program. Steven G. Bradbury, the head of the department’s Office of Legal Counsel and author of the recently declassified 2005 memorandums authorizing harsh C.I.A interrogations, began drafting another memorandum in late 2006 to restore legal approval for harsh interrogation. Mr. Bradbury noted that Congress, despite the public controversy, had left it to the White House to set the limits. Early drafts of the memorandum, circulated through the White House, the C.I.A. and the State Department, stunned some officials. Just months after the Supreme Court had declared that the Geneva Convention applied to Al Qaeda, the new Bradbury memorandum gave its blessing to almost every technique, except waterboarding, that the C.I.A. had used since 2002.

Forced as secretary of state to defend the C.I.A. program before angry European allies, Ms. Rice and her aides argued that it had outlived its usefulness. In February 2007, Mr. Bellinger wrote to the Justice Department challenging Mr. Bradbury’s position. He called Mr. Bradbury’s memorandum a “work of advocacy” that gave a twisted interpretation of the Geneva Conventions, and told colleagues he might resign.


In 2007 President Bush - possibly exploiting a loophole in the DTA which allowed CIA personnel and contractors to exceed the Army Field Manual - re-instituted the interrogation program, despite the CIA IG Report and the Hamdan v Rumsfeld which had reinstated Geneva protections to detainees. In this go-around the Waterboarding and nudity which had previously been authorized were prohibited, but various other methods remained.

Bellinger's indictment of Bradbury's memo and Bush's decision to ultimately ignore the law and knowingly implement a plan that both the CIA and NSA doubted was either legal or effective may ultimately prove to be the final, sad, shameful CRIMINAL epitaph of his administration.

Vyan