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01 May

TORTURE AMERICA

TORTURE AMERICA

It’s not going to go away,
However much you might want it to.

It’s not going to go away,

the acts of sexual humiliation, the “stress positions,” the “walling,”
the months, years of solitary confinement, the “waterboarding,”

the photos of the pyramid of naked bodies, the wired, hooded man on a box,
the man cowering from an attacking dog, the man dragged by a leash,

These are not going to go away.

the attempts to legalize, the Geneva Conventions deemed “quaint,”
“if it does not result in serious physical injury,” “organ failure,” “death,”

the lies of Condoleeza Rice, “the United States does not engage in torture,”
the lies of Donald Rumsfeld, “a few bad apples,”
the lies of George W. Bush,  “We do not torture.”

These are not going to go away.

the torture testimonies of prisoners negating fair trials,
the calls for accountability from institutions and persons of integrity
are not going to go away.

Oh, yes, we know, we know,
We face so many problems right now.

Many of those you will address and some will be solved
Through your brilliance and commitment.

But this, this will not be solved, and this will not go away;

This destruction of our reputation as a nation of laws,
These sickening, heinous, inhuman acts done in your name and our names,
This criminal betrayal of America,

This is not going to go away.

INVESTIGATE, INDICT, IN THE NAME OF JUSTICE, IN THE NAME OF AMERICA

Mary O’Leary McGlinn

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Click to go to: The Abu Ghraib Prison Photos
Not for viewing by young audiences

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Further, Of Interest:

Petition at:

Accountability and Prosecutions for Bush Administration Crimes

The petition above calls for accountability and prosecutions for the high-ranking members of the Bush administration involved in war crimes and torture. Please sign today to make your voice heard in favor of criminal prosecution for these government officials who sought to place themselves outside the law.

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Yes, National Review, We Did Execute Japanese for Waterboarding

By Paul Begala, 4/24/09
Article

In a CNN debate with Ari Fleischer, I said the United States executed Japanese war criminals for waterboarding. My point was that it is disingenuous for Bush Republicans to argue that waterboarding is not torture and thus illegal. It’s kind of awkward to argue that waterboarding is not a crime when you hanged someone for doing it to our troops. My precise words were: “Our country executed Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American POWs. We executed them for the same crime we are now committing ourselves.”

Mr. Fleischer, ordinarily the most voluble of men, was tongue-tied. The silence, rare in cable debates, spoke volumes for the vacuity of his position.

Now Mark Hemingway of the National Review Online has asserted that I was wrong. I bookmark NRO and read it frequently. It’s smart and breezy — but on this one it got its facts wrong.

Mr. Hemingway assumed I was citing the case of Yukio Asano, who was convicted of waterboarding and other offenses and sentenced to 15 years hard labor — not death by hanging. Mr. Hemingway made the assumption that I was referring to the Asano case because in 2006 Sen. Edward Kennedy had referred to it. (Sen. Kennedy accurately described the sentence as hard labor and not execution, by the way.)

But I was not referring to Asano, nor was my source Sen. Kennedy. Instead I was referencing the statement of a different member of the Senate: John McCain. On November 29, 2007, Sen. McCain, while campaigning in St. Petersburg, Florida, said, “Following World War II war crime trials were convened. The Japanese were tried and convicted and hung for war crimes committed against American POWs. Among those charges for which they were convicted was waterboarding.”

Sen. McCain was right and the National Review Online is wrong. Politifact, the St. Petersburg Times’ truth-testing project (which this week was awarded a Pulitzer Prize), scrutinized Sen. McCain’s statement and found it to be true. Here’s the money quote from Politifact:

“McCain is referencing the Tokyo Trials, officially known as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. After World War II, an international coalition convened to prosecute Japanese soldiers charged with torture. At the top of the list of techniques was water-based interrogation, known variously then as ‘water cure,’ ‘water torture’ and ‘waterboarding,’ according to the charging documents. It simulates drowning.” Politifact went on to report, “A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted by American judges were hanged, while others received lengthy prison sentences or time in labor camps.”

The folks at Politifact interviewed R. John Pritchard, the author of The Tokyo War Crimes Trial: The Complete Transcripts of the Proceedings of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. They also interviewed Yuma Totani, history professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and consulted the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, which published a law review article entitled, “Drop by Drop: Forgetting the History of Water Torture in U.S. Courts.” Bottom line: Sen. McCain was right in 2007 and National Review Online is wrong today. America did execute Japanese war criminals for waterboarding.

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Feingold – Will Not Support Obama On Torture Position

Feingold Unloads On Peggy Noonan: “Never Heard Anything Quite As Disturbing”, 4/23/09

Article

Updated below

Senator Russ Feingold, one of the harshest critics of the Bush administration’s national security policies, says he cannot bring himself to support President Obama’s apparent decision not to investigate or prosecute illegalities from those years.

“Part of what troubles me are the lawyers — we should see their law school degrees — who consciously wrote these memos justifying and explaining full well those outrageous arguments,” the Wisconsin Democrat said on Tuesday in reference to the Bush-era torture memos released last week. “I cannot join the president, or his spokesman, or [chief of staff] Rahm Emanuel, who said we aren’t going [to prosecute these people]. I can’t. I just disagree with them.”

Later, the Senator took a swipe at some of the rationalizations for avoiding prosecution that have been voiced by Washington lawmakers and pundits.

“If you want to see just how outrageous this is, I refer you to the remarks made by Peggy Noonan this Sunday,” he said, referring to the longtime conservative columnist’s appearance on ABC’s This Week. “I frankly have never heard anything quite as disturbing as her remark that was something to the affect of: ‘well sometimes you just have to move on.'”

“Some things in life need to be mysterious,” Noonan said on Sunday about the release of the torture memos. “Sometimes you need to just keep walking. … It’s hard for me to look at a great nation issuing these documents and sending them out to the world and thinking, oh, much good will come of that.”

Feingold’s remarks, delivered before the Religious Action Center convention, represent some of the most forceful pushback against the line coming out of the White House to date. Emanuel and senior adviser David Axelrod have suggested that prosecution of Bush officials is likely off the table due to the political sensitivities that would accompany such retroactive action. On Tuesday morning, however, the New York Times reported that White House “aides did not rule out legal sanctions for the Bush lawyers who developed the legal basis for the use of the techniques.”

A member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a long-time critic of torture, Feingold viewed investigations and, perhaps, prosecutions as a key tool to restoring America’s moral standing.

“It is truly horrifying and unforgivable that anybody operating under the auspices of the United States of America had involvement in any of this,” he said. “So I’m not even completely ready to [cede the argument] that people who devised these techniques should be off the hook. I understand the argument. I also remember when people said that they were just following orders. So that troubles me and I am thinking about it.”

UPDATE: Feingold responds to Obama’s statement that he is open to prosecutions of some Bush officials:

“I am pleased that the president made clear that he has not ruled out investigations or prosecutions of those who authorized torture, or provided the legal justification for it. Horrible abuses were committed in the name of the American people, and we cannot look the other way, or just ‘move on.’ The final decision will be up to the attorney general and the president, but I urge the Justice Department to take this matter very seriously.”

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US Must Prosecute Bush Torture Memo Lawyers: UN Torture Envoy

Article Huffington Post
VIENNA – The U.S. is obligated by a United Nations convention to prosecute Bush administration lawyers who allegedly drafted policies that approved the use of harsh interrogation tactics against terrorism suspects, the U.N.’s top anti-torture envoy said Friday.
Earlier this week, President Barack Obama left the door open to prosecuting Bush administration officials who devised the legal authority for gruesome terror-suspect interrogations. He had previously absolved CIA officers from prosecution.
Manfred Nowak, who serves as a U.N. special rapporteur in Geneva, said Washington is obligated under the U.N. Convention against Torture to prosecute U.S. Justice Department officials who wrote memos that defined torture in the narrowest way in order to justify and legitimize it, and who assured CIA officials that their use of questionable tactics was legal.
“That’s exactly what I call complicity or participation” to torture as defined by the convention, Nowak said at a news conference. “At that time, every reasonable person would know that waterboarding, for instance, is torture.”
Nowak, an Austrian law professor, said it was up to U.S. courts and prosecutors to prove that the memos were written with the intention to incite torture.
Nowak and other experts said that a failure to investigate and prosecute when there was evidence of torture left those responsible vulnerable to prosecutorial action abroad.
“If it should turn out … that the (U.S.) government and its authorities are not willing to prosecute those where we have enough evidence that they instigated or committed torture, then there is also an obligation on all other 145 states” party to the convention to exercise universal jurisdiction, Nowak said.
That means countries would have an obligation to arrest the individuals in question if they were on their soil and extradite them to the U.S. if Washington gave clear assurances they would bring them to justice. In the absence of such assurances, it would fall upon the respective country to take the individuals to court.
Nowak said this happened very rarely because the international community primarily relied on the governments of countries where torture occurs to take the necessary legal action to ensure that justice is served.
Nowak also said any probe of questionable CIA interrogation tactics must be independent and have thorough investigative powers.
“It can be a congressional investigation commission, a special investigator, but it must be independent and with thorough investigative powers,” Nowak said.
On Thursday, Obama’s press secretary suggested Obama does not care for an independent panel.
Last week, the Obama administration released secret CIA memos detailing interrogation tactics sanctioned under Bush.
The memos authorized keeping detainees naked, in painful standing positions and in cold cells for long periods of time. Other techniques included depriving them of solid food and slapping them. Sleep deprivation, prolonged shackling and threats to a detainee’s family also were used.
Nowak said Saturday that Obama’s decision not to prosecute CIA operatives who used questionable interrogation practices violates the same U.N. convention. But at that point he did not specifically address the issue of how the convention would apply to those who drafted the interrogation policy and gave the CIA the legal go-ahead.

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U.S. Soldier Killed Herself — After Refusing to Take Part in Torture

By Greg Mitchell, Author, ‘Why Obama Won’, April 24, 2009

Article

With each new revelation on U.S. torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gitmo (and who, knows, probably elsewhere), I am reminded of the chilling story of Alyssa Peterson, who I have written about numerous times in the past three years but now with especially sad relevance. Appalled when ordered to take part in interrogations that, no doubt, involved what we would call torture, she refused, then killed herself a few days later, in September 2003.

Of course, we now know from the torture memos and the U.S. Senate committee probe and various new press reports, that the “Gitmo-izing” of Iraq was happening just at the time Alyssa got swept up in it.

Alyssa Peterson was one of the first female soldiers killed in Iraq. A cover-up, naturally, followed.

Peterson, 27, a Flagstaff, Ariz., native, served with C Company, 311th Military Intelligence BN, 101st Airborne. Peterson was an Arabic-speaking interrogator assigned to the prison at our air base in troubled Tal Afar in northwestern Iraq. According to official records, she died on Sept. 15, 2003, from a “non-hostile weapons discharge.”

A “non-hostile weapons discharge” leading to death is not unusual in Iraq, often quite accidental, so this one apparently raised few eyebrows. The Arizona Republic, three days after her death, reported that Army officials “said that a number of possible scenarios are being considered, including Peterson’s own weapon discharging, the weapon of another soldier discharging, or the accidental shooting of Peterson by an Iraqi civilian.” And that might have ended it right there.

But in this case, a longtime radio and newspaper reporter named Kevin Elston, not satisfied with the public story, decided to probe deeper in 2005, “just on a hunch,” he told me in late 2006 (there’s a chapter about it in my book on Iraq and the media, So Wrong for So Long). He made “hundreds of phone calls” to the military and couldn’t get anywhere, so he filed a Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] request. When the documents of the official investigation of her death arrived, they contained bombshell revelations. Here’s what the Flagstaff public radio station, KNAU, where Elston worked, reported:

“Peterson objected to the interrogation techniques used on prisoners. She refused to participate after only two nights working in the unit known as the cage. Army spokespersons for her unit have refused to describe the interrogation techniques Alyssa objected to. They say all records of those techniques have now been destroyed.”

The official probe of her death would later note that earlier she had been “reprimanded” for showing “empathy” for the prisoners. One of the most moving parts of the report, in fact, is this: “She said that she did not know how to be two people; she … could not be one person in the cage and another outside the wire.”

She was then assigned to the base gate, where she monitored Iraqi guards, and sent to suicide prevention training. “But on the night of September 15th, 2003, Army investigators concluded she shot and killed herself with her service rifle,” the documents disclose.

The official report revealed that a notebook she had written in was found next to her body, but blacked out its contents.

The Army talked to some of Peterson’s colleagues. Asked to summarize their comments, Elston told me: “The reactions to the suicide were that she was having a difficult time separating her personal feelings from her professional duties. That was the consistent point in the testimonies, that she objected to the interrogation techniques, without describing what those techniques were.”

Elston said that the documents also refer to a suicide note found on her body, which suggested that she found it ironic that suicide prevention training had taught her how to commit suicide. He filed another FOIA request for a copy of the actual note. It did not emerge.

Peterson, a devout Mormon, had graduated from Flagstaff High School and earned a psychology degree from Northern Arizona University on a military scholarship. She was trained in interrogation techniques at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, and was sent to the Middle East in 2003.

A report in The Arizona Daily Sun of Flagstaff — three years after Alyssa’s death — revealed that Spc. Peterson’s mother, Bobbi Peterson, reached at her home in northern Arizona, said that neither she nor her husband Richard had received any official documents that contained information outlined in Elston’s report.

In other words: Like the press and the public, even the parents had been kept in the dark.

Tomorrow I will write about Kayla Williams, a woman who served with Alyssa, who told me me that she talked to her about her problems shortly before she killed herself. Kayla also was forced to take part in torture interrogations, where she saw detainees punched. Another favorite technique: strip the prisoners and then remove their blindfolds so that the first thing they saw was Kayla Williams. She also opted out, but survived, and is haunted years later.

Here’s what Williams told Soledad O’Brien of CNN : “I was asked to assist. And what I saw was that individuals who were doing interrogations had slipped over a line and were really doing things that were inappropriate. There were prisoners that were burned with lit cigarettes.”

All of this only gains relevance in light of the current debate over whether those who were “just following orders” in torture routines should be held accountable today.

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Turley: ‘God help us’

“If torture only gets a ‘9/11 commission”

Filed by David Edwards and Muriel Kane, 04/22/2009

The recent release of Bush administration torture memos has given rise to calls for prosecution of the Justice Department lawyers who wrote those memos. However, law professor Jonathan Turley believes that this may represent a deliberate attempt to draw attention away from George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the other high Bush administration officials who ordered the torture.

“That’s the really strange thing,” Turley told MSNBC’s David Shuster on Tuesday. “In the last week or so, we’ve seen an effort to define a potential investigation in terms of the lawyers who wrote these memos. … A war crime investigation does not look at the people who drove the trains — they look at the people who told the trains to roll.”

“George Bush and Vice President Cheney, the CIA director, the attorney general … implemented, in full knowledge that it was a war crime, the torture program,” Turley emphasized. “The effort to define it in terms of lawyers is something of a Beltway shift. That is, it’s setting us up for failure.”

According to Turley, Attorney General Eric Holder “needs to appoint a special prosecutor and not limit it as to who committed the alleged war crimes.”

“A true war crime investigation would be given to a special prosecutor, who would follow it where it would lead him or her,” Turley told Shuster. “And that would most certainly lead him … or her to the former president or vice president and the people like the CIA director and attorney general who pushed through this program.”

“God help us if the only thing we get out of this is a commission modeled on 9/11,” Turley commented. “That was a commission that was really made for Washington — a commission composed of political appointees of both parties that ran interference for those parties — a commission that insisted at the beginning it would not impose blame on individuals. So it’s the ideal Washington commission — a commission that would investigate without any reprecussions.”

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Document: Military Agency Referred to ‘Torture,’ Questioned Its Effectiveness

By Peter Finn and Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writers, Friday, April 24, 2009

Full Article

The military agency that provided advice on harsh interrogation techniques for use against terrorism suspects referred to the application of extreme duress as “torture” in a July 2002 document sent to the Pentagon’s chief lawyer and warned that it would produce “unreliable information.”

“The unintended consequence of a U.S. policy that provides for the torture of prisoners is that it could be used by our adversaries as justification for the torture of captured U.S. personnel,” says the document, an unsigned two-page attachment to a memo by the military’s Joint Personnel Recovery Agency. Parts of the attachment, obtained in full by The Washington Post, were quoted in a Senate report on harsh interrogation released this week.

It remains unclear whether the attachment reached high-ranking officials in the Bush administration. But the document offers the clearest evidence that has come to light so far that technical advisors on the harsh interrogation methods voiced early concerns about the effectiveness of applying severe physical or psychological pressure.

The document was included among July 2002 memoranda that described severe techniques used against Americans in past conflicts and the psychological effects of such treatment. JPRA ran the military program known as Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE), which trains pilots and others to resist hostile questioning.

The cautionary attachment was forwarded to the Pentagon’s Office of the General Counsel as the administration finalized the legal underpinnings of a CIA interrogation program that would sanction the use of 10 forms of coercion, including waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning. The JPRA material was sent from the Pentagon to the CIA’s acting general counsel, John A. Rizzo, and on to the Justice Department, according to testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

A memo dated Aug. 1, 2002, from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel authorized the use of the 10 methods against Abu Zubaida, the nom de guerre of an al-Qaeda associate captured in Pakistan in March 2002. Former intelligence officials have recently contended that Abu Zubaida provided little useful information about the organization’s plans.

Senate investigators were unable to determine whether William J. Haynes II, the Pentagon’s general counsel in 2002, passed the cautionary memo to Rizzo or to other Bush administration officials reviewing the CIA’s proposed program.

Haynes declined to comment, as did Rizzo and the CIA. Jay S. Bybee, who as an assistant attorney general signed the Aug. 1 memo, did not respond to a request for comment………………………………………………..

Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he thinks the attachment was deliberately ignored and perhaps suppressed. Excerpts from the document appeared in a report on the treatment of detainees released this month by Levin’s committee. The report says the attachment echoes JPRA warnings issued in late 2001.

“It’s part of a pattern of squelching dissent,” said Levin, who added that there were other instances in which internal reviews of detainee treatment were halted or undercut. “They didn’t want to hear the downside.”

A former administration official said the National Security Council, which was briefed repeatedly that summer on the CIA’s planned interrogation program by George J. Tenet, then director of central intelligence, and agency lawyers, did not discuss the issues raised in the attachment. Tenet declined comment through a spokesman………………………………………………………

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Reagan On Torture Prosecutions

By Andrew Sullivan

From his signing statement ratifying the UN Convention on Torture from 1984:

“The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention . It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.

The core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called ‘universal jurisdiction.’ Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution.”

My italics. Reagan was admant about prosecuting torture, but also prosecuting inhuman treatment that some might claim was not full-on torture. Now go read National Review or The Weekly Standard. And look what has happened to conservatism in America.

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Dwight D. Eisenhower vs. Alberto “Torture” Gonzales

“From the beginning of this Nation, a man can walk upright, no matter who he is, or who she is. He can walk upright and meet his friend — or his enemy; and he does not fear that because that enemy may be in a position of great power that he can be suddenly thrown in jail to rot there with-out charges and with no recourse to justice. We have the habeas corpus act, and we respect it.” Words of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“The Constitution doesn’t say every individual in the United States or citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas corpus.” Words of Alberto Gonzales.

Survivors of the Ohrdruf concentration camp demonstrate torture methods

Survivors of the Ohrdruf concentration camp demonstrate torture methods used in the camp to top ranking American generals. Among those pictured are General Dwight Eisenhower, (center), General Omar Bradley (second from the left), and General George S. Patton (left). Jules Grad (far right), pool correspondent for the “Stars and Stripes,” is taking notes. The mustached soldier who is pointing at the demonstrated torture victim is Alois J. Liethen of Appleton, WI, who served as the interpreter for the tour of Ohrdruf. Original caption reads: “General Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme allied commander, watches grimly while occupants of the German Concentration Camp at Gotha demonstrate how they were tortured by the Nazi sadists operating the camp. General “Ike” visited the camp during a tour of the Third Army Front. General Omar N. Bradley, 12th Army Group CG, and Lt. General George S. Patton, 3rd Army CG, are at the supreme commander’s right.”


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4 Responses to “TORTURE AMERICA”

  1. 1
    Anonymous Says:

    Right on!!

  2. 2
    A Republican citizen Says:

    Either torture is against the law or it’s legal. You can’t have it both ways. If the people who broke the law by torturing prisoners are not brought to justice, than wire tapping, going 10 miles over the speed limit, drunk driving, and overgrown grass should also be ignored. Either we’re a nation of laws or we’re not. Do we as citizens get to pick and choose what laws to accept and what laws to ignore?

  3. 3
    Sam Says:

    After the Democrats had achieved majorities in both legislative houses, the Senate voted in November 2007 to confirm Michael B. Mukasey as attorney general, with the support of several Democrats. The major issue in Mukasey’s nomination was his refusal to condemn waterboarding as torture.”

  4. 4
    Rob Says:

    Waterboarding is torture.

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