Posts Tagged ‘abuse of prisoners’

Torture continues at US prisons in Afghanistan

December 1, 2009

By Tom Eley, wsws.org, Dec 1, 2009

Recent media reports reveal that the US military continues to carry on torture and illegal detention in Afghanistan at a dungeon known to inmates as “the black prison.”

The jail, located on the Bagram Air Base next to the notorious Bagram prison north of Kabul, operates under the executive order of President Obama. After entering office, Obama ordered the closure of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) prison “black sites”—which were in fact no longer active—but exempted those prisons run by the military’s Special Operations, which was headed from 2003 until 2008 by General Stanley McChrystal, now US commander of the Af-Pak theater.

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PA: UN wants Israel to admit secret prison

November 24, 2009

Ma’an News Agency, Nov 22, 2009

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Ramallah – Ma’an – The UN has sent an official request to Israel to admit the existence of secret prison camp 1391, dubbed in the press “Israel’s Guantanamo Bay,” according to the Palestinian Authority minister of prisoners affairs.Minister Issa Qaraqe told a news conference in Ramallah on Saturday that the UN had asked the Israeli government in a letter to officially acknowledge that the facility.

Human rights experts with the United Nations Committee Against Torture questioned Israeli officials about the facility in may when the country came up for a regular review under a treaty obligation, Reuters reported.

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Ex-CIA chiefs urge Obama to drop abuse investigation

September 19, 2009

By Jeremy Pelofsky, Reuters, Sep 19, 2009

WASHINGTON, Sept 18 (Reuters) – Seven former heads of the CIA urged President Barack Obama on Friday to end the probe into allegations of abuse of prisoners held by the agency, arguing that it would hamper intelligence operations.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder last month named a prosecutor to examine whether criminal charges should be filed against Central Intelligence Agency interrogators or contractors for going beyond approved interrogation methods, including using a power drill and death threats to scare detainees.

The former CIA chiefs countered that the cases had already been investigated during the Bush administration and lawyers had declined to prosecute all but one contractor.

“This approach will seriously damage the willingness of intelligence officers to take risks to protect the country,” they said in the letter. “In our judgment, such risk-taking is vital to success in the long and difficult fight against terrorists who continue to threaten us.”

The letter to Obama was signed by three CIA directors under President George W. Bush — Michael Hayden, Porter Goss and George Tenet — as well as by John Deutch, James Woolsey, William Webster and James Schlesinger, who dates to the Nixon administration.

Obama has said he wants to look forward beyond the Bush administration, which civil liberties groups have accused of using torture to coerce information from suspected militants in violation of U.S. and international law.

But Obama has also said the matter was up to Holder, who decided in late August to reopen the cases because “it is clear to me that this review is the only responsible course of action for me to take.”

The White House declined to comment.

The Washington Post, citing two sources briefed on the matter, reported on Friday night that the Justice Department review would focus on only a very small number of cases, including one in which an Afghan prisoner died at a secret CIA facility in Afghanistan seven years ago.

‘CONTINUOUS JEOPARDY’

Bush administration officials, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, have repeatedly defended their actions and said the interrogations yielded valuable information.

The former CIA directors warned that Holder’s decision “creates an atmosphere of continuous jeopardy” for those involved and that there was no reason to believe the investigation would be narrowly focused.

They also warned that releasing more details about interrogation methods could help al Qaeda operatives elude U.S. intelligence efforts and plan operations.

“Disclosures about CIA collection operations have and will continue to make it harder for intelligence officers to maintain the momentum of operations that have saved lives and helped protect America from further attacks,” they said.

Cheney, who has called the investigation “political,” has made similar points about the interrogation tactics having saved lives and protected the country, although his critics say there is no proof of that.

A CIA’s inspector general’s report detailing the harsh interrogation techniques noted that they did not succeed.

A spokesman for Holder said, with the recommendation of the Justice Department’s ethics office and other information, the attorney general decided to name a prosecutor to investigate.

“The attorney general’s decision to order a preliminary review into this matter was made in line with his duty to examine the facts and to follow the law,” said spokesman Matt Miller.

“As he has made clear, the Department of Justice will not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given by the Office of Legal Counsel regarding the interrogation of detainees.” (Editing by John O’Callaghan and Peter Cooney)

Obama Presses Supreme Court to Block Release of Abuse Photos

August 11, 2009

Insists Release Would Pose ‘Significant Risk’ to Military

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com,  August 10, 2009

The Obama Administration has today asked the Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court decision which would require the Pentagon to release dozens of heretofore unseen photos of the abuse of prisoners in US military custody, claiming the release would pose a significant risk to the military.

The photos of abuse at several prisons have been a matter of no small controversy. The Pentagon agreed with the judge that the photos could be safely released in April, but several weeks later President Obama insisted that the photos would have to remain secret because they might “further inflame anti-American opinion.”

Officials say that the reversal in the administration’s position came at the behest of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who reportedly predicted that “Baghdad will burn” if the photos ever see the light of day and warned it could delay the US pullout.

Though President Obama had previously claimed that the photos didn’t contain anything sensational, the Justice Department filing with the Supreme Court reveals that several of the photos include soldiers pointing guns at hooded prisoners and one includes a soldier “acting as if” he is anally raping a detainee with a broom handle. The ACLU has been spearheading the effort to secure the photos’ release.

Leading Rights Groups Call On Obama To Release Prisoner Abuse Photos

June 1, 2009

ACLU Calls On Court To Adhere To Mandate Requiring Release Of Abuse Photos

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

ACLU, June 1, 2009

NEW YORK – Several of the nation’s leading human rights and civil liberties organizations sent a letter to President Obama today urging him to release photos depicting the abuse of detainees by U.S. personnel overseas.

The letter, signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and dozens of other groups, calls on the president to reconsider his decision to block the release of the photos. It states, “The hallmark of an open society is that we do not conceal information that reflects poorly on us – we expose it to the light of day, so that wrongdoers can be held accountable and future abuses prevented.”

“The disclosure of these photographs serves as a further reminder that abuse of prisoners in U.S.-administered detention centers was systemic,” said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. “Some of the abuse occurred because senior civilian and military officials created a culture of impunity in which abuse was tolerated, and some of the abuse was expressly authorized. It’s imperative that senior officials who condoned or authorized abuse now be held accountable for their actions.”

Also today, the ACLU asked a federal appeals court to uphold its earlier ruling that the government must release the photos. On May 28, the government filed a motion asking the court to recall its mandate ordering their release, and today the ACLU filed its opposition to that motion.

“The public has an undeniable right to see these photos. As disturbing as they may be, it is critical that the American people know the full truth about the abuse that occurred in their name. The government’s decision to suppress the photos is fundamentally inconsistent with President Obama’s own promise of transparency and accountability,” said Amrit Singh, staff attorney with the ACLU. “The government has failed to show any good cause for the court to recall its mandate that the photos be released, and we are confident the court will uphold its original order.”

In September 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ordered the government to turn over the photos in response to an ACLU Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. The Obama administration originally indicated that it would not appeal that decision and would release the photos, but abruptly reversed its commitment to do so shortly before the agreed-upon deadline.

In addition to Jaffer and Singh, attorneys on the case are Judy Rabinovitz of the national ACLU; Arthur Eisenberg and Beth Haroules of the New York Civil Liberties Union; Lawrence S. Lustberg and Jenny Brooke Condon of the New Jersey-based law firm Gibbons P.C.; and Shayana Kadidal and Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

More information about the ACLU’s FOIA lawsuit, including today’s filing, is online at: www.aclu.org/torturefoia

The full text of the letter to President Obama is below and available online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/39709res20090601.html

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