Archive for the ‘torture’ Category

George W. Bush ‘knew Guantánamo prisoners were innocent’

April 9, 2010

The Times/UK, April 9, 2010
Tim Reid, Washigton

Two detainees are escorted to interrogation by U.S. military  guards at Camp X-Ray in the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base , Cuba

Andres Leighton/AP)

Two detainees are escorted to interrogation by US military guards at Guantánamo Bay

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld covered up that hundreds of innocent men were sent to the Guantánamo Bay prison camp because they feared that releasing them would harm the push for war in Iraq and the broader War on Terror, according to a new document obtained by The Times.

The accusations were made by Lawrence Wilkerson, a top aide to Colin Powell, the former Republican Secretary of State, in a signed declaration to support a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee. It is the first time that such allegations have been made by a senior member of the Bush Administration.

Colonel Wilkerson, who was General Powell’s chief of staff when he ran the State Department, was most critical of Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld. He claimed that the former Vice-President and Defence Secretary knew that the majority of the initial 742 detainees sent to Guantánamo in 2002 were innocent but believed that it was “politically impossible to release them”.

General Powell, who left the Bush Administration in 2005, angry about the misinformation that he unwittingly gave the world when he made the case for the invasion of Iraq at the UN, is understood to have backed Colonel Wilkerson’s declaration.

Colonel Wilkerson, a long-time critic of the Bush Administration’s approach to counter-terrorism and the war in Iraq, claimed that the majority of detainees — children as young as 12 and men as old as 93, he said — never saw a US soldier when they were captured. He said that many were turned over by Afghans and Pakistanis for up to $5,000. Little or no evidence was produced as to why they had been taken.

He also claimed that one reason Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld did not want the innocent detainees released was because “the detention efforts would be revealed as the incredibly confused operation that they were”. This was “not acceptable to the Administration and would have been severely detrimental to the leadership at DoD [Mr Rumsfeld at the Defence Department]”.

Referring to Mr Cheney, Colonel Wilkerson, who served 31 years in the US Army, asserted: “He had absolutely no concern that the vast majority of Guantánamo detainees were innocent … If hundreds of innocent individuals had to suffer in order to detain a handful of hardcore terrorists, so be it.”

He alleged that for Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld “innocent people languishing in Guantánamo for years was justified by the broader War on Terror and the small number of terrorists who were responsible for the September 11 attacks”.

He added: “I discussed the issue of the Guantánamo detainees with Secretary Powell. I learnt that it was his view that it was not just Vice-President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld, but also President Bush who was involved in all of the Guantánamo decision making.”

Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld, Colonel Wilkerson said, deemed the incarceration of innocent men acceptable if some genuine militants were captured, leading to a better intelligence picture of Iraq at a time when the Bush Administration was desperate to find a link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11, “thus justifying the Administration’s plans for war with that country”.

He signed the declaration in support of Adel Hassan Hamad, a Sudanese man who was held at Guantánamo Bay from March 2003 until December 2007. Mr Hamad claims that he was tortured by US agents while in custody and yesterday filed a damages action against a list of American officials.

Defenders of Guantánamo said that detainees began to be released as early as September 2002, nine months after the first prisoners were sent to the jail at the US naval base in Cuba. By the time Mr Bush left office more than 530 detainees had been freed.

A spokesman for Mr Bush said of Colonel Wilkerson’s allegations: “We are not going to have any comment on that.” A former associate to Mr Rumsfeld said that Mr Wilkerson’s assertions were completely untrue.

The associate said the former Defence Secretary had worked harder than anyone to get detainees released and worked assiduously to keep the prison population as small as possible. Mr Cheney’s office did not respond.

There are currently about 180 detainees left in the facility.

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Seven Years of War in Iraq: Still Based on Cheney’s Torture and Lies

March 22, 2010

Andy Worthington, The Huffington Post, March 21, 2010

Friday marked the seventh anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq, but by now, it seems, the American people have become used to living in a state of perpetual war, even though that war was based on torture and lies. Protestors rallied across the country on Saturday, but the anti-war impetus of the Bush years has not been regained, as I discovered to my sorrow during a brief U.S. tour in November, when I showed the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (directed by Polly Nash and myself) in New York, Washington D.C., and the Bay Area.

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Lendman: America’s Secret Prisons

March 18, 2010

by Stephen Lendman, Dissident Voice,  March 17, 2010

On January 28 in TomDispatch.com, Anand Gopal headlined, “Night Raids, Hidden Detention Centers, the ‘Black Jail,’ and the Dogs of War in Afghanistan,” recounting unreported US media stories about killings, abductions, detentions, interrogations, and torture in “a series of prisons on US military bases around the country.” Bagram prison, for example, is “a facility with a notorious reputation for abusive behavior,” including brutalizing torture and cold-blooded murder.

Even worse is the “Black Jail,” a facility consisting of individual windowless concrete cells with bright 24-hour lighting, described by one former detainee as “the most dangerous and fearful place” in which prisoners endure appalling treatment.

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Revealed: Ashcroft, Tenet, Rumsfeld warned 9/11 Commission about ‘line’ it ’should not cross’

March 18, 2010

Sahil Kapur, Raw Story, March 17, 2010

Senior Bush administration officials sternly cautioned the 9/11 Commission against probing too deeply into the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, according to a document recently obtained by the ACLU.

The notification came in a letter dated January 6, 2004, addressed by Attorney General John Ashcroft, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and CIA Director George J. Tenet. The ACLU described it as a fax sent by David Addington, then-counsel to former vice president Dick Cheney.

In the message, the officials denied the bipartisan commission’s request to question terrorist detainees, informing its two senior-most members that doing so would “cross” a “line” and obstruct the administration’s ability to protect the nation.

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U.S. report offers damning picture of human rights abuses in Afghanistan

March 14, 2010

Conditions are horrific, torture is common and police frequently rape female detainees, the U.S. State Department finds

Paul Koring, The Globe and Mail, arch 12, 2010

Afghan prison conditions are horrific, torture is common and police frequently rape female detainees, the U.S. State Department finds in its annual survey of human rights.

The damning report paints a grim picture of scant respect for human rights by the embattled regime headed by President Hamid Karzai. While Taliban treatment of civilians is even worse, the report’s assessment of vile prison conditions and routine abuse and torture by Afghan police and security raises new questions about whether Canada and other nations are still transferring prisoners to known torturers. Doing so is a war crime under international law.

“Torture was commonplace among the majority of law enforcement institutions, especially the police,” the U.S. report found, citing the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, the group used by Ottawa to help monitor whether detainees transferred by Canadian troops are abused or tortured.

Canadian diplomats compile a similar annual report on selected countries – including Afghanistan – but it isn’t made public. Government censors blacked out all references to torture, abuse and extrajudicial killings by Afghan police and prison guards in the last available report obtained under Access to Information.

Yesterday’s U.S. report makes no similar attempt to shield allies from human rights scrutiny, even in places where U.S. troops are deployed.

Michael Posner, the U.S. undersecretary of state for human rights and democracy whose group prepared the mammoth report – generally considered the most authoritative annual assessment of conditions in more than 190 countries – said the issue of foreign troops being ordered by their governments to hand detainees to Afghan security forces was vexed.

“How can United States and NATO countries ensure or guarantee safe treatment or fair process when those transfers occur. … Those are issues very much on our minds,” Mr. Posner said.

The U.S. runs a prison facility at Bagram where more than 600 battlefield detainees are held. Some of them have been there for six years. But Canada, Britain, the Netherlands and other NATO countries with troops fighting in southern Afghanistan turn prisoners over to Afghan police and the Afghan internal security service (National Directorate of Security), usually within 96 hours. For years, no follow-up inspections were made to ensure transferred prisoners weren’t tortured or killed, but after publication of harrowing accounts of abuse, Ottawa added sporadic inspections.

Most Canadian detainees are turned over to the feared NDS. The U.S. report said it was impossible to determine how many prisons the NDS operates, or how many prisoners they contain. The report, which covers 2009, also noted that the Afghan government was making efforts to improve conditions in prisons.

Other countries where human rights abuses are identified include Iran and China.

Canada generally got good marks but the Harper government’s long-running effort to keep a Canadian citizen from returning home was cited. “In July the government complied with an order of the Federal Court of Canada and facilitated the return to Canada of Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian-Sudanese dual national, after the Court determined that Canadian officials had been complicit in his detention in Sudan in 2003,” the report said.

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TORTURE, RAPE, CHILD ABUSE COMMON

Excerpts from the Afghanistan sections of the U.S. government’s latest human rights report:

  • Afghan police and security “tortured and abused detainees. Torture and abuse methods included, but were not limited to, beating by stick, scorching bar, or iron bar; flogging by cable; battering by rod; electric shock; deprivation of sleep, water, and food; abusive language; sexual humiliation; and rape.”
  • Afghan “police frequently raped female detainees and prisoners.”
  • “Harems of young boys were cloistered for ‘bacha baazi’ (boy-play) for sexual and social entertainment …”
  • “Child abuse was endemic throughout the country, based on cultural beliefs about child-rearing, and included general neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, abandonment, and confined forced labor to pay off family debts.”
  • “Human rights problems included extrajudicial killings, torture, poor prison conditions, official impunity, prolonged pretrial detention, restrictions on freedom of the press, restrictions on freedom of religion, violence and societal discrimination against women, restrictions on religious conversions, abuses against minorities, sexual abuse of children, trafficking in persons, abuse of worker rights, the use of child soldiers in armed conflict, and child labor.”

George Bush’s former aide defends waterboarding of terrorism suspects

March 13, 2010

Karl Rove is proud that the US used water torture to break the will of prisoners and foil terror plots

Adam Gabbatt, The Gurdian/UK, March 12, 2010
76062138

George Bush and Karl Rove embrace at the White House after Rove announced his resignation from the Bush administration in 2007. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

A senior adviser to former US president George Bush has said he is proud that the country used waterboarding to elicit information from terrorism suspects.

Karl Rove, Bush’s chief political strategist for much of his presidency, defended the interrogation approach authorised during Bush’s tenure, saying he was “proud we used techniques that broke the will of these terrorists”.

Last year President Barack Obama banned waterboarding, stating: “I believe that waterboarding was torture and, whatever legal rationales were used, it was a mistake.”

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UK complained to US about terror suspect torture, says ex-MI5 boss

March 10, 2010

Waterboarding of 9/11 suspect was ‘concealed’
Manningham-Buller criticises Bush staff

Richard Norton-Taylor, Guardian/UK, March 10, 2010
Manningham Buller

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller criticised George Bush and his administration, for torture of terror suspects Photograph: Graeme Robertson/Getty Images

The government protested to the US over the torture of terror suspects, the former head of MI5, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller revealed last night.

She also said the Americans concealed from Britain the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 2001 attacks.

“The Americans were very keen that people like us did not discover what they were doing,” Lady Manningham-Buller told a meeting at the House of Lords.

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Bush/Cheney Pulled Torture Strings

March 6, 2010

By Robert Parry, Consortiumnews.com, March 4, 2010

George W. Bush’s White House stage-managed the Justice Department’s approval of torture techniques by putting pliable lawyers in key jobs, guiding their opinions and punishing officials who wouldn’t go along, according to details contained in an internal report that recommended disciplinary action against two lawyers.

Though the recently released report by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility concentrated on whether lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee deserved punishment for drafting and signing 2002 memos that permitted brutal interrogations of suspected terrorists, the report also revealed how the White House pulled the strings of Yoo, Bybee and others.

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U.S.: CIA Briefed Congress on Renditions

February 25, 2010

Willim Fisher, Uruknet.info,

NEW YORK, Feb 23 (IPS) – The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) briefed members of Congress from both political parties numerous times about the agency’s interrogation and detention programmes, several prominent human rights groups said Monday.

The groups – Amnesty International USA, the Centre for Constitutional Rights and the Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law – filed a lawsuit in 2007 based on their requests for information about the programme under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The FOIA requests, dating back to 2004, sought records about rendition, secret detention, and “enhanced” interrogation.

The rights groups announced receipt of several new documents in response to their FOIA litigation.

Among other new information, the documents show that while Vice President Dick Cheney’s role in authorising waterboarding and other so-called enhanced interrogation techniques has been public, a newly obtained Feb. 4, 2003, CIA memo documents the role of Counsel for the Office of the Vice President (OVP) in analysing and approving the CIA techniques.

David Addington was counsel to the vice president until he succeeded Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who was convicted of perjury in the “outing” of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Libby’s prison sentence was commuted by then President George W. Bush.

The rights groups said that, according to CIA meeting records and the Feb. 4, 2003 memo, it seems that in one of his first acts as chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas “discontinued efforts by previous chair,” Democratic Senator Bob Graham of Florida, to implement greater oversight of these programmes, “thus abdicating the role of Congress in overseeing the CIA rendition, secret detention, and torture programmes.”

They said there are “significant questions about how clear the CIA was with Congress” – including in then-CIA Director Michael Hayden’s previously classified briefing on Apr. 12, 2007 to the Senate Intelligence Committee – about the timing, nature and results of the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, particularly prior to the Aug. 1, 2002 memo prepared by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC).

It is known that Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding 83 times in 2002. OLC lawyers at the time, John Yoo and Jay Bybee, were the principal drafters of that memo, which has come to be known as “the torture memo”.

Chip Pitts, president of the Bill of Rights Defence Committee and former chair of Amnesty International USA, told IPS, “In order to finally achieve the transparency and accountability that is so indispensable to learning lessons and avoiding calamitous policy failures like the prior administration’s recourse to torture, the need is clearer than ever for a broad and impartial criminal investigation of all the facts surrounding the torture programme.”

He added, “No lawyer or other official, high or low, should be immune from the investigation and prosecution required by our national interest, domestic law, and the international treaty obligations the country has undertaken under the Convention Against Torture.”

Gitanjali Gutierrez, an attorney at the Centre for Constitutional Rights, said, “Members of Congress must come clean about whether they encouraged or objected to torture during these many secret meetings with CIA officials and we need a complete accounting of Cheney’s counsel, David Addington’s, role in the creation of the torture programme.”

“These new documents show that the CIA may have lied to Congress about the role of interrogation techniques in detainee deaths and key members of Congress abdicated their oversight role. This new information points even more strongly to the need for a full criminal investigation of the torture programme, up the entire chain of command,” Gutierrez said.

In a related development, after years of stonewalling, an official Polish government agency has admitted that airspace and landing facilities in that country were used by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to detain, house and transport terrorism suspects.

It was the first time Polish authorities have admitted that their country houses one of the CIA’s so-called “black sites” – part of the agency’s network of secret prisons.

The CIA kidnapped suspected al Qaeda members and transported them to the black site prisons, where they were subjected to so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques as part of the C.I.A.’s programme of “extraordinary rendition.”

Prosecutors in Poland are now investigating the country’s participation in the programme.

The admission from the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency (PANSA) came in response to charges by two rights groups, the Open Society Justice Initiative and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.

PANSA confirmed that it provided the flight logs showing six flights in 2003 by two aircraft. Five of the flights reportedly originated in Kabul and one in Rabat, Morocco. They landed about 100 miles north of Warsaw, at a small airport in a town called Szymany.

It is widely known that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-styled mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was interrogated there in 2003, but neither PANSA nor the CIA would confirm this.

Approximately 100 prisoners were detained in the black site prisons between the program’s inception in 2002 and the transfer of the remaining 14 prisoners to Guantánamo Bay in Cuba in 2006.

Maciej Rodak, vice president of PANSA confirmed to The New York Times that the agency had sent the records to the human-rights groups. He said the agency confirmed information on flight origins, planned destinations and call signs but could not provide passenger lists, which the groups also requested.

“The thing that is quite shocking is that the European investigations requested these specific flight records some four years ago,” said Darian Pavli, an attorney with the Open Society Justice Initiative, a nonprofit human-rights group in New York. “The Poles all these years said they could not locate them, the flights didn’t exist.”

Reprieve: Tell us the truth about torture

February 24, 2010

Morning Star Online, February 23, 2010

by Paddy McGuffin
The legal charity will launch a court  bid to uncover interrogation guidance

The legal charity will launch a court bid to uncover interrogation guidance

Human rights group Reprieve has launched a legal challenge aimed at forcing the government to publish its guidance to MI5 and MI6 agents on interrogation practices.

Reprieve and Leigh Day & Co solicitors announced they are seeking a judicial review of the code of practice used by British intelligence services at a press conference in London.

The application states that there is “compelling evidence” demonstrating that, since at least 2002, “UK intelligence personnel have been engaged in activities amounting to complicity in torture” and that “the inevitable inference is that such activities have been in conformity with unlawful promulgated policies and guidance.”

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