Posts tagged torture
Posts tagged torture
Cheney has pursued a political and corporate career to make himself very rich and powerful. He is the personification of a war profiteer who slid through the revolving door connecting the public and private sectors of the defense establishment on two occasions in a career that has served his relentless quest for power and profits.
As Defense Secretary, Mr. Cheney commissioned a study for the U.S. Department of Defense by Brown and Root Services (now Kellogg, Brown and Root), a wholly owned subsidiary of Halliburton. The study recommended that private firms like Halliburton should take over logistical support programs for U.S. military operations around the world. Just two years after he was Secretary of Defense, Cheney stepped through the revolving door linking the Department of Defense with defense contractors and became CEO of Halliburton. Halliburton was the principal beneficiary of Cheney’s privatization efforts for our military’s logistical support and Cheney was paid $44 million for five year’s work with them before he slipped back through the revolving door of war profiteering to become Vice-President of the United States. When asked about the money he received from Halliburton, Cheney said. “I tell you that the government had absolutely nothing to do with it.”
Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has issued a stinging rebuke to former Vice President Dick Cheney — saying that undisclosed memos do not support his claim that torture works and save lives.
Lawyers Against the War argued in a letter dated Sunday that Toronto Police Chief William Blair and Ontario Attorney General John Gerretsen have a duty to arrest Cheney “as a person suspected on reasonable grounds of authorizing, counseling, aiding, abetting and failing to prevent torture.”
“Once Richard (Dick) Cheney enters Canada … Canada must ensure that Dick Cheney is either investigated and prosecuted for the indictable offense of torture in Canada or extradited to another country willing and able to do so,” Lawyers Against the War’s Gail Davidson wrote.
The letter contended that Toronto police are legally obligated to arrest Cheney to prevent him from “escaping to the United States.” The organization argued that Canadian law would legally allow authorities to do so:
Torture is also a crime under the Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act. Once Dick Cheney enters Canada, the torture (both the torture he has admitted to authorizing and the torture that he is accused of) are deemed to have been committed in Canada …
The Pentagon official in charge of Guantanamo Bay has admitted that if he had his time over, he would have argued that the notorious detention camp should never have been built.
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death,
Rode the six hundred.
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
One of the things I never expected to read was a promise by any United States official that a potential defendant in a criminal prosecution by our federal courts “will not be tortured.”
The idea that the Attorney General of the United States of America would send such a letter to the representative of a foreign government, particularly Russia under the leadership of a former KGB official, was so preposterous that I thought the first news report I read about Attorney General Holder’s letter concerning Edward Snowden was satire. The joke, however, was on me. The Obama and Bush administrations have so disgraced the reputation of the United States’ criminal justice system that we are forced to promise KGB alums that we will not torture our own citizens if Russia extradites them for prosecution.
The standard joke that came to mind when I read Holder’s letter was the bartender who brings out glasses to three customers and asks “which of you ordered his whiskey in a clean glass?” We take it for granted that no restaurant or bar will knowingly serve us our drinks in a dirty glass. I always took it for granted that no U.S. attorney general would knowingly allow a criminal suspect in U.S. custody to be the victim of torture, raped, branded, or a host of other forms of brutality.
It is difficult to conceive of why Holder would humiliate America by promising Russia that we would not torture Snowden were Russia to extradite him. Perhaps it was a clever propaganda ploy by Russia that Holder fell for like a rube (reprising his infamous failure when he was “played” by the fugitive Marc Rich’s lawyers to deliver via President Clinton one of the most embarrassing pardons in presidential history).
More likely, Holder is under so much pressure from the intelligence “community” to punish Snowden that he thought he was being clever by promising Russia that we would not torture our own citizens — in this particular case. Holder phrased his explanation in a manner that suggests he was trying to be clever: “Torture is unlawful in the United States.” “Gitmo,” of course, is not “in the United States.” The locations of the many secret prisons the U.S. established in other nations were chosen so that we could torture suspects. The infamous historical parallel for this is that it was unlawful to hold slaves in England — but England could dominate the Atlantic slave trade and hold millions of slaves in the Caribbean islands because slavery was unlawful only “in” England under English law.
More subtly, note that Holder says that torture is “unlawful” — not “illegal.” An act that is merely “unlawful” cannot be prosecuted as a crime. It may provide the basis for a civil suit. An “illegal” act can be prosecuted. After World War II, the United States prosecuted members of the Japanese military for torturing U.S. POWs (particularly by “waterboarding” our men). Those found guilty received severe sentences, often execution by hanging.
The CIA officials who conducted and ordered that we torture suspects through means that included waterboarding”, in at least one case roughly 100 times, are understandably anxious to escape prosecution for acts that the U.S. has taken the position constitute war crimes warranting execution. Holder, therefore, claims that torture is merely “unlawful” (and only if inflicted “in the United States”). Torture, of course, is illegal. It involves the intentional infliction of intense pain and terror. It is designed to produce severe physical and psychological trauma. It inherently constitutes aggravated battery. It often leads to death even when the torturer does not desire that the victim die (at least prior to the extraction of additional statements from the victim). These forms of homicide are illegal and range from second degree to first degree murder.
Holder’s letter promising the Russians that we would not torture Snowden also raises a practical question for the defense bar. Is it malpractice for defense counsel not to demand written assurances from the U.S. attorney general in any extradition case that the United States will not torture the suspect — in any nation? Do defense lawyers need to extract a written promise that the suspect will not be assassinated by the U.S. prior to trial? How about a promise that the United States will not hold the suspect’s family hostage (or worse) if they agree to waive extradition? It is obscene that Holder promised not to torture Snowden, but the underlying obscenity is that the United States did torture suspects and Holder has refused to prosecute those who ordered and conducted the torture. When a nation engages in torture, the consequences for its honor are long-standing and lead to a series of disgraces. - Bill Black
Eric picks a winner!
Daniel Ellsberg is the author of “Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.” He was charged in 1971 under the Espionage Act for theft and conspiracy for copying the Pentagon Papers. The trial was dismissed in 1973 after evidence of government misconduct, including illegal wiretapping, was introduced in court.
Many people compare Edward Snowden to me unfavorably for leaving the country and seeking asylum, rather than facing trial as I did. I don’t agree. The country I stayed in was a different America, a long time ago.
After the New York Times had been enjoined from publishing the Pentagon Papers — on June 15, 1971, the first prior restraint on a newspaper in U.S. history — and I had given another copy to The Post (which would also be enjoined), I went underground with my wife, Patricia, for 13 days. My purpose (quite like Snowden’s in flying to Hong Kong) was to elude surveillance while I was arranging — with the crucial help of a number of others, still unknown to the FBI — to distribute the Pentagon Papers sequentially to 17 other newspapers, in the face of two more injunctions. The last three days of that period was in defiance of an arrest order: I was, like Snowden now, a “fugitive from justice.”
Yet when I surrendered to arrest in Boston, having given out my last copies of the papers the night before, I was released on personal recognizance bond the same day. Later, when my charges were increased from the original three counts to 12, carrying a possible 115-year sentence, my bond was increased to $50,000. But for the whole two years I was under indictment, I was free to speak to the media and at rallies and public lectures. I was, after all, part of a movement against an ongoing war. Helping to end that war was my preeminent concern. I couldn’t have done that abroad, and leaving the country never entered my mind.
There is no chance that experience could be reproduced today, let alone that a trial could be terminated by the revelation of White House actions against a defendant that were clearly criminal in Richard Nixon’s era — and figured in his resignation in the face of impeachment — but are today all regarded as legal (including an attempt to “incapacitate me totally”).
I hope Snowden’s revelations will spark a movement to rescue our democracy, but he could not be part of that movement had he stayed here. There is zero chance that he would be allowed out on bail if he returned now and close to no chance that, had he not left the country, he would have been granted bail. Instead, he would be in a prison cell like Bradley Manning, incommunicado.
He would almost certainly be confined in total isolation, even longer than the more than eight months Manning suffered during his three years of imprisonment before his trial began recently. The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Torture described Manning’s conditions as “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” (That realistic prospect, by itself, is grounds for most countries granting Snowden asylum, if they could withstand bullying and bribery from the United States.)
Snowden believes that he has done nothing wrong. I agree wholeheartedly. More than 40 years after my unauthorized disclosure of the Pentagon Papers, such leaks remain the lifeblood of a free press and our republic. One lesson of the Pentagon Papers and Snowden’s leaks is simple: secrecy corrupts, just as power corrupts.
In my case, my authorized access in the Pentagon and the Rand Corp. to top-secret documents — which became known as the Pentagon Papers after I disclosed them — taught me that Congress and the American people had been lied to by successive presidents and dragged into a hopelessly stalemated war that was illegitimate from the start.
Snowden’s dismay came through access to even more highly classified documents — some of which he has now selected to make public — originating in the National Security Agency (NSA). He found that he was working for a surveillance organization whose all-consuming intent, he told the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, was “on making every conversation and every form of behavior in the world known to them.”
It was, in effect, a global expansion of the Stasi, the Ministry for State Security in the Stalinist “German Democratic Republic,” whose goal was “to know everything.” But the cellphones, fiber-optic cables, personal computers and Internet traffic the NSA accesses did not exist in the Stasi’s heyday.
As Snowden told the Guardian, “This country is worth dying for.” And, if necessary, going to prison for — for life.
But Snowden’s contribution to the noble cause of restoring the First, Fourth and Fifth amendments to the Constitution is in his documents. It depends in no way on his reputation or estimates of his character or motives — still less, on his presence in a courtroom arguing the current charges, or his living the rest of his life in prison. Nothing worthwhile would be served, in my opinion, by Snowden voluntarily surrendering to U.S. authorities given the current state of the law.
I hope that he finds a haven, as safe as possible from kidnapping or assassination by U.S. Special Operations forces, preferably where he can speak freely.
What he has given us is our best chance — if we respond to his information and his challenge — to rescue ourselves from out-of-control surveillance that shifts all practical power to the executive branch and its intelligence agencies: a United Stasi of America. - Daniel Ellsberg
Amidst courtroom secrecy, whistleblower and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Bradley Manning is on trial after three years of confinement.
The information that Bradley gave to the public has been a catalyst for pro-democracy movements in the Arab world, exposed the unjust detainment of innocent people at Guantanamo Bay, shown us the true human cost of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and changed journalism forever.
There is no evidence that anyone died as a result of the leaked information, yet Bradley faces life in prison or possibly death. The greatest charge against him is that of “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense. As the public who benefited from this information, does that make us the enemy? What price will future whistleblowers pay?
The Irish government has admitted that it was in collusion with laundries operated by religious congregations which kept generations of women enslaved.
Prime Minister Enda Kenny failed to issue a formal apology. Just hearing about the Magdalene laundries, which operated from 1922 until as late as 1996, suggests that Kenny and the Irish government have yet to grasp the suffering of so many innocent women and of their families. Once taken to the workhouses — 60-year-old survivor Maureen Sullivan recalls that she was taken to one directly from school in a laundry van — all the women were given different names by the god damn, god fearing souless nuns, on the pretext that such would protect their privacy.
As Sullivan tells the Guardian, she was physically and verbally abused for “infractions” of nothing more than not walking fast enough around the laundry:
“There was physical abuse where they would dig you in the side with a sacred torture stick, aka, a thick cross of the rosary beads, where you got a thump on the side of the head and where there would be constant putting you down, shouting, verbal abuse. You got the cross in the side of the ribs if you slowed down on your way around the laundry.
“[The nuns, aka, god fearing sexually dysfunctional state supported celibate sadists] ate very well while we were on dripping, tea, bread. I remember another torture – one when we were all hungry – we could smell the likes of roast beef and cooked chicken wafting from where the nuns were eating. That was like another insult.
Hell is on Earth, and most of hell is created by the pious religious piss suckers for those that are vulnerable. Religion is the disease that defines the human race.
In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the U.S. safer by enabling “targeted killing” of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts.
This narrative is false.
Those are the understated opening words of a disturbing, though unsurprising, nine-month study of the Obama administration’s official, yet unacknowledged, remote-controlled bombing campaign in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan, near Afghanistan. The report, “Living Under Drones,” is a joint effort by the New York University School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic and Stanford Law School’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic.
The NYU/Stanford report goes beyond reporting estimates of the civilian casualties inflicted by the deadly and illegal U.S. campaign. It also documents the hell the Pakistanis endure under President Barack Obama’s policy, which includes a “kill list” from which he personally selects targets. That hell shouldn’t be hard to imagine. Picture yourself living in an area routinely visited from the air by pilotless aircraft carrying Hellfire missiles. This policy is hardly calculated to win friends for the United States.
When Barack Obama took office, he was the civil liberties communities’ great hope. Obama, a former constitutional law professor, pledged to shutter the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and run a transparent and open government. But he has become a civil libertarian’s nightmare: a supposedly liberal president who instead has expanded and fortified many of the Bush administration’s worst policies, lending bipartisan support for a more intrusive and authoritarian federal government.
It started with the 9/11 attacks. Within a week, Congress, including many liberals, gave the White House blanket authority to wage a war on the terrorists. A month after that, Congress passed the USA Patriot Act, authorizing many anti-terrorism measure including expanded surveillance. By mid-November, the White House ordered creation of military tribunals to try terrorists who were not U.S. citizens.
Bush quickly expanded covert operations, creating a shadow arrest, interrogation and detention system based at Guantanamo that violated international law and evaded domestic oversight. While the Supreme Court eventually ruled that detainees have some rights, the precedent that the Constitution does not restrict how a president conducts an endless war against a stateless enemy was firmly planted. In response, groups like the American Civil Liberties Union proposed reforms the newly elected president could make. What few anticipated was how he would embrace, expand and institutionalize many of Bush’s war on terror excesses.
President Obama now has power that Bush never had. Foremost is he can (and has) ordered the killing of U.S. citizens abroad who are deemed terrorists. Like Bush, he has asked the Justice Department to draft secret memos authorizing his actions without going before a federal court or disclosing them. Obama has continued indefinite detentions at Gitmo, but also brought the policy ashore by signing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which authorizes the military to arrest and indefinitely detain anyone suspected of assisting terrorists, even citizens. That policy, codifying how the Bush administration treated Jose Padilla, a citizen who was arrested in a bomb plot after landing at a Chicago airport in 2002 and was transferred from civil to military custody, upends the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878’s ban on domestic military deployment.
FGM can cause long-term severe physical, psychological and sexual problems for girls and women subjected to it and is a violation of their human rights. As Care2 blogger Judy Molland has written, FGM also “reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children.”
Despite a fierce campaign to stop the measure, Iowa became the first state Friday to officially make it a crime to enter a farming operation with the intent to secretly videotape animal abuse. Undercover footage filmed by animal rights groups during the past several years have been instrumental in exposing cases of cruelty to farm animals.
Obama is a catastrophic failure at honesty. Our President feigns ignorance condescendingly and disgustingly to the fact that he is a willing collaborator in a Police State that has about as much resemblance to a Democracy as the Third Reich. America has evaporated, and these bastards we the corporations put in office lie to the people as if the people have to listen to lies and believe the lies, as if it is unimportant to behave honestly towards the people and as if the only reason we the people exist is to be the recipient of a lie, as if that were our job, to be lied to. We the people are not these avaricious legislatwhores pathetic children to be condescended to and set aside as unimportant. This is our country, America belongs to the 99% and not to those greedy, wealthy, pompous asses that subjugate and prey upon the people. The 1% are thieves, well dressed, haughty and articulate thieves, but nonetheless thieves.
The United States Government revels so majestically (not really) in its grand superiority amongst the nations of the world. A cowardly, duplicitous, two faced plutocratic moron that scratches its ass with the same finger it picks its teeth might, one would hope, at least know that such gifted behavior would appear damn disgusting to others. Politicians in the White House and Department of Justices behavior towards Bradley Manning is barbaric in any century and insane in its level of slow, prolonged, distracted torture, medieval torture of a decent concerned human being. The people expect more respect from leaders for the rule of law: a fast and speedy trial is a constitutional right, not a fucking privilege to be obviated by any officious ass, including a presidential ass.
Both Eric Holder and Barrack Obama should be summarily executed as enemies of the United States Constitution and perpetrators of crimes against humanity. America is not naive enough to see this travesty as anything but failure of the United States at its highest level of government.
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, September 21, and as new, uncensored photos of Abu Ghraib spark fresh outrage across Internet. Awareness is growing that Bush-era crimes went far beyond mere water boarding.
Cheney, Rumsfield, Bush and the Republican Party in general are epitomized by the unrestrained illegal use of torture and parrallel the behavior of the Third Reich as fanatics come to power.