Bruce Fein wants an expanded CIA probe

On yesterday’s Hardball, host Chris Matthews interviewed Bruce Fein, an Associate Deputy Attorney General to President Ronald Reagan, and Fein argued that the Justice Department should expand a probe into the CIA’s interrogation techniques — including the possibility of targeting former Vice President Dick Cheney.

In response to a clip of Dick Cheney saying (in his interview with Chris Wallace of Fox Noise) that even if they violated the rules (laws), don’t investigate, and don’t even think of indicting..:

“What I find most dangerous about Mr. Cheney’s statement is that he really suggests that the rule of law means nothing as long as you’re trying to go after terrorists. We have a way to do these things. Go to Congress and you have them amend the law—a ticking time-bomb exception or something like that. The executive branch doesn’t unilaterally declare the law no longer serves any purpose because we’re going after terrorists. That’s what despotic governments do. We are the United States of America. Rule of Law is our ultimate safety and guarding of our liberties.”

“I think there should be an investigation, and perhaps a pardon would be appropriate under the circumstance, but certainly a full-fledged investigation. If there are no mitigating circumstances a prosecution is appropriate. If there are, then that’s the pardon, and that’s the situation where the president would have to take full accountability like President Ford did with Mr. Nixon.”

I agree. Let the investigation go where it must. This country needs to see accountability so we as a nation can regain our confidence that we really ARE a country based on the Rule of Law, that there really are lines that cannot be crossed, that those laws really work—for ALL of us (including our elected leaders and lawmakers).

Rachel Maddow: “Planet Cheney”

Rachel Maddow discusses Dick Cheney, and his recent attempts at defending the torture of terror suspects during the Bush administration, with Chris Hayes of The Nation.

Read Chris Hayes’ article “The Secret Government“.
Also read Jeremy Scahill’s “Rebuking Cheney’s Torture Propaganda in 7 Easy Steps“.

Even If It Wasn’t Torture, It Was Still a Crime

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Article VI, Clause 2 of the US Constitution says:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. 

Article VI, Clause 3 says:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. 

There are those on the right who insist that the US should never be bound by International Treaty, but they would be wrong. When we sign a treaty and ratify it in our Senate, it becomes “the supreme Law of the Land.” To fail to follow it would be to fail to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The UN CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment makes it a crime to torture people or to treat prisoners cruelly or inhumanely. The United States signed this treaty on April 18, 1988. The United States finally got around to ratifying this treaty on October 21, 1994. This means that this treaty was the Law of the Land on January 20, 2001, when the Bush Administration came into office.

On August 6, 2002, Continue reading

Had Enough of This?

I’ve had enough of the Republicans and their lapdog media yapping about  Nancy Pelosi and what and when she was told about torture in 2002.   These Republicans and media pals have memories shorter than a worm’s.  It was Dennis Hastert (R) that was Speaker of the House in 2002 and he led the actions or better yet, led the inactions of Congress during the Bush/Cheney years.  Nancy Pelosi was not in a position of power during the Republican dominated Congress.  There was little that she could do at that time.  It was the responsibility of Dennis Hastert to speak up against torture.  Instead, Hastert and the Republicans in Congress along with their friends in the media turned their backs on the Constitution and the American people and did nothing.

Ultimately, however, the greatest horror of Hastert’s House was not confirmed by its specific failures to serve the American people who most needed a Congress to counter the malignant neglect of the Bush-Cheney administration. Rather, it was defined by the remaking of an essential legislative chamber as nothing more than an extension of the executive branch of the government. The damage to the Congress has been severe, as has been the damage to the Republic.

All this talk about Nancy Pelosi is a diversionary tactic by Republicans that are guilty of negligence.

Hastert’s House was a crude and unworkable place, where members who sought to uphold their oaths to “defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic” were held up to ridicule and forced to hold hearings on issues involving the most extreme abuses of presidential authority — lying to the Congress and the American people about matters of war and peace — in basement rooms.

So what exactly did Dennis Hastert know about torture?  When did he know it and why didn’t he do something about it?  Nothing more than Republican lies.  I’ve had enough of it.

(cross posted at PennsylvaniaforChange)

It’s the Torture, Stupid

Who cares what Speaker Nancy Pelosi knew and when she knew it? That isn’t the point. The point is what it is that she is accused of knowing – That the Bush Administration, in violation of both US Law and International Treaty, tortured people. Continue reading

US Media Ignores Vindication of Progressive Blogs’ Charge of White Phosphorus War Crimes By US-Ally Israel.

A guest-post by TheZoo commenter 5thstate

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White Phosphorous in Gaza.

About four and a half years ago the US military was battering the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, Iraq, into submission.  Even as the battle was being fought reports began to surface that White Phosphorous shells were being used, injuring (and/or killing) civilians who had been unwilling or unable to abandon the town despite the inevitability of attack, and despite international agreements that WP-use be significantly constrained if civilians might be hurt.

In the aftermath Italian public television aired a half–hour film purporting to show evidence of the use of “Willie Pete” against the town and its civilians. The blogosphere picked up on the story and buzzed with commentary and accusations—no prizes for guessing which side of the issue left-wing and right-wing blogs fell.

The NY Times reported on the controversy in its International section with an article titled: “US Is Slow to Respond to Phosphorus Charges“, dated November 21, 2005. Of its approximately 24 paragraphs the most lines are given to the US military’s criticism of the Italian documentary and in descriptions of their confusing PR efforts to counter the charges. Nowhere does the NYT article state that the use of “Willie Pete” against civilians is a war crime under international law to which the US is a signatory.

The article concludes:

At home, on the public radio program Democracy Now!, Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, an American military spokesman, said, “I know of no cases where people were deliberately targeted by the use of white phosphorus.”

But those statements were incorrect. Firsthand accounts by American officers in two military journals note that white phosphorus munitions had been aimed directly at insurgents in Falluja to flush them out. War critics and journalists soon discovered those articles.

Continue reading

Olbermann: ‘Mr. President, you are wrong’

A “Special Comment” from Countdown with Keith Olbermann, April 16, 2009:

From Countdown:

As promised, a Special Comment now on the president’s revelation of the remainder of this nightmare of Bush Administration torture memos. This President has gone where few before him, dared. The dirty laundry — illegal, un-American, self-defeating, self-destroying — is out for all to see.

Mr. Obama deserves our praise and our thanks for that. And yet he has gone but half-way. And, in this case, in far too many respects, half the distance is worse than standing still. Today, Mr. President, in acknowledging these science-fiction-like documents, you said that:

“This is a time for reflection, not retribution. I respect the strong views and emotions that these issues evoke.”

“We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history.

“But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.”

Mr. President, you are wrong. What you describe would be not “spent energy” but catharsis.
Not “blame laid,” but responsibility ascribed. You continued:

Continue reading

Spanish Prosecutor Seeking Indictment’s Of Six Bush Officials On Torture Charges

What are the immediate implications for these six officials?  They can’t really travel outside the United States, certainly not to Europe, because the judge would have the immediate power to issue arrest warrants.  Also Latin America, which has extradition arrangements with the Spanish.

From the Daily Beast:

Spanish prosecutors will seek criminal charges against Alberto Gonzales and five high-ranking Bush administration officials for sanctioning torture at Guantánamo.

Continue reading

Inquiring minds want to know…

Created for TheZoo by Paul Jamiol
All cartoons are posted with the artists’ express permission to TPZoo.
Paul Jamiol
, Jamiol’s World

Spain Investigates What America Should by Marjorie Cohn
(Posted at TheZoo by permission)

A Spanish court has initiated criminal proceedings against six former officials of the Bush administration. John Yoo, Jay Bybee, David Addington, Alberto Gonzales, William Haynes and Douglas Feith may face charges in Spain for authorizing torture at Guantánamo Bay.

If arrest warrants are issued, Spain and any of the other 24 countries that are parties to European extradition conventions could arrest these six men when they travel abroad.

Does Spain have the authority to prosecute Americans for crimes that didn’t take place on Spanish soil?

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Continue reading

Countdown: Tortured Logic

Raw Story

Turley compares Bush war crimes to Pinochet

Prof. Jonathan Turley talks about what will happen to President Bush if the Obama administration decides to prosecute what they deem as war crimes.

“If waterboarding is torture — and Barack Obama has said that it is torture,” Turley emphasized, “and torture is a war crime, then the president has committed a war crime if he did order waterboarding. You have to do some heavy lifting to avoid the simplicity of that logic.”

This segment made me stop what I was doing and caught my full attention. I wish with all my heart that those taking over the administration and the Justice Department pay attention to this. Nobody says it as simply and straightforward as Professor Turley.

It is what it is. No amount of spin changes that..


Cheney Throws Down Gauntlet, Defies Prosecution for War Crimes

by Marjorie Cohn

Dick Cheney has publicly confessed to ordering war crimes. Asked about waterboarding in an ABC News interview, Cheney replied, “I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared.” He also said he still believes waterboarding was an appropriate method to use on terrorism suspects. CIA Director Michael Hayden confirmed that the agency waterboarded three al-Qaeda suspects in 2002 and 2003.

US courts have long held that waterboarding, where water is poured into someone’s nose and mouth until he nearly drowns, constitutes torture. Our federal War Crimes Act defines torture as a war crime punishable by life imprisonment or even the death penalty if the victim dies.

Under the doctrine of command responsibility, enshrined in US law, commanders all the way up the chain of command to the commander in chief can be held liable for war crimes if they knew or should have known their subordinates would commit them and they did nothing to stop or prevent it.

Why is Cheney so sanguine about admitting he is a war criminal? Because he’s confident that either President Bush will preemptively pardon him or President-elect Obama won’t prosecute him.

Both of those courses of action would be illegal.

Continue reading

Turley: Cheney actions ‘unambiguously a war crime’

Raw Story

Professor Jonathan Turley talk with Keith Olbermann about Vice President Dick Cheney’s defense of waterboarding and other forms of coercion used on detainees.

I actually watched this two times last night. Turley makes it perfectly clear: Cheney committed War Crimes. Plain and simple. Unambiguous. So, will anyone do anything about it? Was this admission of Cheney’s – on National TV – thumbing his nose at the entire world before he leaves office, knowing full well nobody will do a damned thing about it?


Will Obama pursue war crimes, close Guantanamo – or won’t he?

Rachel Maddow interviews Slate.com senior editor Dahlia Lithwick.

During the course of this interview, it is suggested that the American people don’t have the ‘appetite’ to pursue charging people from this administration with war crimes.. I don’t know what people she is referring to. It is ALL I have been waiting for. I don’t know anyone who is also not waiting for these people to pay. Our laws are meaningless if they cannot be enforced – especially when it comes to people in high positions.

I have been waiting 7 years for this to happen – to finally get some accountability for all the crimes these people wave committed, and for all the death and destruction they have wrought. People all over this country are starving for some accountability, and we as a nation NEED to look at all that was done, examine all the laws that were broken, and fix things while putting the pieces back together again so this can NEVER happen again.

It is the only way to restore credibility to our country and to the laws this nation was founded on, and the only way to prevent it from being repeated. It is the only real way to bring healing and hope back to the people of this country, and gain back the respect of the world. They are also watching closely.

I would also plead strongly with President Obama to NOT go back on his promising to close Guantanamo Bay.


Secretary of State Rice Admits to War Crimes

Rice admits….

…for the first time that she led high-level discussions beginning in 2002 with other senior Bush administration officials about subjecting suspected al-Qaeda terrorists detained at military prisons to the harsh interrogation technique known as waterboarding, according to documents released late Wednesday by Carl Levin, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee.

(snip)

Responding in writing to questions by Levin, who will convene a hearing today on the administration’s interrogation program, John B. Bellinger, Rice’s legal adviser at the State Department, said they recalled participating in meetings with Ashcroft and then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in July 2002 about an Army and Air Force survival training program called Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) meant to prepare U.S. soldiers for abuse they might suffer if captured by an outlaw regime.



Waterboarding—or simulated drowning–has been regarded as torture since the days of the Spanish Inquisition.

“I recall being told that U.S. military personnel were subjected in training to certain physical and psychological interrogation techniques and that these techniques had been deemed not to cause significant physical or psychological harm,” Rice wrote in response to a question about the SERE techniques.

Many Bush officials have already been charged with war crimes. I wonder if/when someone will take action.

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Breaking News – Just in..

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Yesterday CNN spent a considerable amount of airtime explaining why the liberation of the Farc guerilla hostages was a war crime. It had to look at it twice to half believe what I was seeing. This was worthy to interrupt the running program for a “Just In..” ??

How about the following news?

U.S. forces confirm killing of Afghan Civilians – Breaking News, Just in?

Congress votes 238 to 180 to refer impeachment motion to the judiciary committee – Breaking News, Just in?

Foreign official wants to speak at impeachment talks – Breaking News, Just in?

This is about war crimes, too!

I don’t mean to belittle the protection given to the Red Cross and Red Crescent by the Geneva Convention. The Red Cross and Red Crescent have come to the aid and rescue of uncounted people because of their neutrality. Abusing their symbols is a crime, which endangers aid workers too. However, this mission saved some people from their ordeal. The three links provided above are about an illegal war and about civilians’ lives wiped out in indiscriminate bombing. No word on this on CNN.

PS: My cable provider here in Europe only provides CNN International, no other US networks, so if there there is a network which reported “Breaking News” on one of the points mentioned above, let me know.

Torture and the Rule of Law

by Glenn GreenwaldSalon and CommonDreams

The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, one of the country’s handful of truly excellent investigative journalists over the last seven years, has written a new book — “The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals” — which reveals several extraordinary (though unsurprising) facts regarding America’s torture regime. According to the New York Times and Washington Post, both of which received an advanced copy, Mayer’s book reports the following:

  • “Red Cross investigators concluded last year in a secret report that the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation methods for high-level Qaeda prisoners constituted torture and could make the Bush administration officials who approved them guilty of war crimes.”
  • “A CIA analyst warned the Bush administration in 2002 that up to a third of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay may have been imprisoned by mistake, but White House officials ignored the finding and insisted that all were ‘enemy combatants’ subject to indefinite incarceration.”
  • “[A] top aide to Vice President Cheney shrugged off the report and squashed proposals for a quick review of the detainees’ cases . . .’There will be no review,’ the book quotes Cheney staff director David Addington as saying. ‘The president has determined that they are ALL enemy combatants. We are not going to revisit it.’”
  • “[T]he [CIA] analyst estimated that a full third of the camp’s detainees were there by mistake. When told of those findings, the top military commander at Guantanamo at the time, Major Gen. Michael Dunlavey, not only agreed with the assessment but suggested that an even higher percentage of detentions — up to half — were in error. Later, an academic study by Seton Hall University Law School concluded that 55 percent of detainees had never engaged in hostile acts against the United States, and only 8 percent had any association with al-Qaeda.”
  • [T]he International Committee of the Red Cross declared in the report, given to the C.I.A. last year, that the methods used on Abu Zubaydah, the first major Qaeda figure the United States captured, were ‘categorically’ torture, which is illegal under both American and international law“.
  • “[T]he Red Cross document ‘warned that the abuse constituted war crimes, placing the highest officials in the U.S. government in jeopardy of being prosecuted.’”

This is what a country becomes when it decides that it will not live under the rule of law, when it communicates to its political leaders that they are free to do whatever they want — including breaking our laws — and there will be no consequences. There are two choices and only two choices for every country — live under the rule of law or live under the rule of men. We’ve collectively decided that our most powerful political leaders are not bound by our laws — that when they break the law, there will be no consequences. We’ve thus become a country which lives under the proverbial “rule of men” — that is literally true, with no hyperbole needed — and Mayer’s revelations are nothing more than the inevitable by-product of that choice.

Read the rest of this important post…

Congressional Testimony of Marjorie Cohn on Torture Policy

Testimony of Marjorie Cohn

“From the Department of Justice to Guantánamo Bay: Administration Lawyers and Administration Interrogation Rules”

Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties
House Judiciary Committee

May 6, 2008

What does torture have in common with genocide, slavery, and wars of aggression? They are all “jus cogens.” That’s Latin for “higher law” or “compelling law.” This means that no country can ever pass a law that allows torture. There can be no immunity from criminal liability for violation of a “jus cogens” prohibition.

The United States has always prohibited torture in our Constitution, laws, executive statements, judicial decisions, and treaties. When the U.S. ratifies a treaty, it becomes part of American law under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.

The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, says, “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 for torture.”

Whether someone is a POW or not, he must always be treated humanely; there are no gaps in the Geneva Conventions.

Continue reading

Bush Aware of Advisers’ Interrogation Talks

President Says He Knew His Senior Advisers Discussed Tough Interrogation Methods

via: ABC News

President Bush says he knew his top national security advisers discussed and approved specific details about how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, according to an exclusive interview with ABC News Friday.

“Well, we started to connect the dots in order to protect the American people.” Bush told ABC News White House correspondent Martha Raddatz. “And yes, I’m aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved.

Does this mean that George W. Bush just admitted, publicly, to being a participant in the planning of war crimes?

Is this an “in-your-face” to Congress daring them to do something about it??

This from the report (ABC) of a few days ago:

Sources: Top Bush Advisors Approved ‘Enhanced Interrogation’

In dozens of top-secret talks and meetings in the White House, the most senior Bush administration officials discussed and approved specific details of how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, sources tell ABC News.

The so-called Principals who participated in the meetings also approved the use of “combined” interrogation techniques — using different techniques during interrogations, instead of using one method at a time — on terrorist suspects who proved difficult to break, sources said.

Highly placed sources said a handful of top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects — whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding.

The high-level discussions about these “enhanced interrogation techniques” were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed — down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.

The advisers were members of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee, a select group of senior officials who met frequently to advise President Bush on issues of national security policy.

At the time, the Principals Committee included Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Read entire article..

Where are the ‘protectors and defenders’ of our laws and Constitution??

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Yoo who?

MarjorieCohn.com

National Lawyers Guild Calls on Boalt Hall to Dismiss Law Professor John Yoo, Whose Torture Memos Led to Commission of War Crimes

New York. In a memorandum written the same month George W. Bush invaded Iraq, Boalt Hall law professor John Yoo said the Department of Justice would construe US criminal laws not to apply to the President’s detention and interrogation of enemy combatants. According to Yoo, the federal statutes against torture, assault, maiming and stalking do not apply to the military in the conduct of the war.

The federal maiming statute, for example, makes it a crime for someone “with the intent to torture, maim, or disfigure” to “cut, bite, or slit the nose, ear or lip, or cut out or disable the tongue, or put out or destroy an eye, or cut off or disable a limb or any member of another person.” It further prohibits individuals from “throwing or pouring upon another person any scalding water, corrosive acid, or caustic substance” with like intent.

Continue reading

Hello from Europe – 393 Days to Go

Christmas is now coming up fast. There is always something you forgot and will have to get at the very last minute, there are expectations mostly too high to be met. We had our Christmas present early, this year. Our friends visiting us, after nine years of no see, was really an unexpected but highly cherished treat. They are now on their way back to the United States and I hope they will arrive there safely. So, what’s in the News? With the Christmas Season in full swing and politicians and parliaments out of their respective haunts, not so very much: The Sunday Times examines the case of the destroyed torture tapes and accuses President George W. Bush of war crimes:

Any reasonable person examining all the evidence we have – without any bias – would conclude that the overwhelming likelihood is that the president of the United States authorised illegal torture of a prisoner and that the evidence of the crime was subsequently illegally destroyed.

and…

It’s a potential Watergate. But this time the crime is not a two-bit domestic burglary. It’s a war crime that reaches into the very heart of the Oval Office.

The current administration’s disregard for habeas corpus is mirrored by Reuters covering the original New York Times story about J. Edgar Hoover seeking to illegally detain some 12’000 Americans for “disloyalty”. But there is no proof that President Truman intended to follow Hoover’s advice to suspend constitutional rights.

In order to make effective these apprehensions, the proclamation suspends the Writ of Habeas Corpus,” Hoover’s proposal said, referring to the right to seek relief from illegal detention, a centuries-old fundamental principle of law. According to the Constitution, habeas corpus must prevail “unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.” But Hoover’s proposal broadened that to include “threatened invasion” or “attack upon United States troops in legally occupied territory,” the Times said.

Ring a bell? Why bring up a three days old story about missing teenager Natalee Holloway? Because of this:

In an Internet chat shortly after the May 30, 2005, disappearance of Natalee Holloway on Aruba, one of the three main suspects in the case said the Alabama teenager was dead, the island’s chief public prosecutor told CNN on Thursday.

and…

New technology that was not available to authorities in 2005 was utilized to find that chat and more between two of the three suspects as well as others, he said.

What new technology? And , hey, they still know what you said last summer and the summer before! This is scary, they can trace back your internet activity for two years? And finally some good news. Japan steadfastly refuses to give up whale-hunting. But this time international pressure has been too much. They suspended the hunchback whale hunting at least for this year. “Europeanview” wishes you all a very peaceful Sunday and take care!

UN to probe U.S.-contracted mercenaries for War Crimes?

via: Reuters

The United Nations wants probes to determine whether private security contractors in Iraq have committed war crimes and for governments to ensure that the rule of law is applied, U.N. officials said on Thursday.

The killing of 17 Iraqis in a shooting involving U.S. security firm Blackwater last month has created tensions between Baghdad and Washington and sparked calls for tighter controls on private contractors, who are immune from prosecution in Iraq.

Ivana Vuco, the U.N.’s senior human rights officer in Iraq, told a news conference that private security contractors were still subject to international humanitarian law.

“Investigations as to whether or not crimes against humanity, war crimes, are being committed and obviously the consequences of that is something that we will be paying attention to and advocating for,” she told a news conference.

Continue to read…

It would be a good start..