Former Somali Colonel Found Liable For Torture While Former Bush Officials Remain Immune From Such Lawsuits

220px-AbuGhraibAbuse-standing-on-box180px-bybee1Federal Judge Mark Abel in Ohio has imposed a $15 million damage award on former Somali colonel, Abdi Aden Magan, who tortured human rights advocate Abukar Hassan Ahmed. What was most striking about the decision was the statement that such damages are necessary to guarantee that the United States is not a “safe harbor for those who commit human rights abuses.” Of course, this follows a series of court decisions barring the victims of the U.S. torture program from even getting a trial, let alone damages. Those responsible continue to appear on television from George W. Bush to Dick Cheney to John Yoo. Indeed, rather than punish those who facilitated the torture program, we made one — Jay Bybee (shown right) — a federal appellate judge with lifetime tenure. That particular “safe harbor” is found in the courthouse of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Ahmed proved that Magan oversaw his torture in Somalia in 1988. Ahmed was a professor at the Somalia International University and a human rights lawyer. Notably, his torture included the use of stress positions which was included in our own torture program. People like Bybee and Yoo advised that short of organ failure or death, such stress positions would not amount to torture.

Magan was investigations chief of the National Security Service of Somalia. One of Ahmed’s lawyers explained that the court wanted to draw the line at our borders to prevent this country from serving as a safe harbor.

Ahmed found Magan living in Ohio. He now lives in Kenya. He tried to dismiss the case as filed in the wrong country. It appears however that such jurisdictional problems only arise when U.S. officials are accused of torture. The Obama Administration (which opposed efforts to even try U.S. officials for torture) supported the right of a court to try a foreign torturer.

The hypocrisy of the United States on torture could not be evident or embarrassing. We have a federal court (correctly) holding a former foreign government official liable while on another federal court a supporter of the U.S. torture program sits in judgment of others without fear of prosecution.

Source: Chronicle

44 thoughts on “Former Somali Colonel Found Liable For Torture While Former Bush Officials Remain Immune From Such Lawsuits

  1. American exceptionalism at its best or worst:

    Since the 1960s, postnationalist scholars have rejected American exceptionalism, arguing that the United States had not broken from European history, and accordingly, the United States has retained class inequities, imperialism and war. Furthermore, they see most nations as subscribing to some form of exceptionalism.

    (Wikipedia). A lot of pols need to join Snobaholics Anonymous.

  2. There is a case which is predicated on the Nuremberg laws which was on this blog the other day. ND of California.

  3. Torture is torture only if someone else is doing it. Disgusting. Kudos to this judge, but when will American torturers be prosecuted?

  4. How can anyone in the State Department, or even the President himself, stand up and look at the camera and talk about “democracy,” “human rights,” “the rule of law,” “American values,” “common decency,” “ethics,” or “morality,” without causing people to laugh out loud!

    The U.S. government is the biggest perpetrator of human rights violations on the planet, bar none! What constituted one of the reasons for prosecuting Nazis at Nuremberg, namely wars of aggression, the U.S. did when it lied its way into invading Iraq, which had nothing to do with 911, WMD, or Al Qaeda.

    Extraordinary Rendition, or kidnapping anyone off of any street anywhere in the world, and taking them to secret torture sites, is something the GESTAPO did in the countries it occupied during WWII. Preemptive strikes by UAV or JSOC SS Assassination Teams, as part of U. S. foreign policy is reminiscent of Nazi V1 Buzz Bombs, and the SS Einzatzgruppen on the Eastern Front.

    GITMO is reminiscent of the French penal colony in Guiana, or one of the Soviet Archipelago. What was done in Abu Grebe in many instances was worse than what was conducted by the Nazi’s in POW camps that were visited by members of the Geneva Convention (something not being done today at our secret torture sites).

    The Wolfowitz Doctrine is still being followed by the Obama Administration as it violates the U.N. Charter, and Geneva Convention. THEY HYPOCRACY IS OVERWELMING WHEN YOU LISTEN TO THE REHTORIC AND FOLLOW THEIR ACTIONS!

  5. ACLU Comment on Bradley Manning Sentence

    August 21, 2013

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    CONTACT: 212-549-2666, media@aclu.org

    NEW YORK – A military court-martial today sentenced Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for giving classified material to WikiLeaks. Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, had this reaction:

    “When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system. A legal system that doesn’t distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and treason against the nation will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability. This is a sad day for Bradley Manning, but it’s also a sad day for all Americans who depend on brave whistleblowers and a free press for a fully informed public debate.”

    https://www.aclu.org/free-speech/aclu-comment-bradley-manning-sentence

  6. Harold Koh was giving a run down the “legal” policy of Obama and talking about American Exceptionalism. Clinton and Obama had both been running around the world telling other nations it was imperative to bring their war criminals to justice. 4 hours away from that talk, on that very day, Bush was at a book signing. I asked Koh why Bush had not been arrested. He said that had nothing to do with his talk and would not answer my question.

    We are still torturing. Scahill has documented this. Ironically, one of the black sites is in Kenya. So yes, along with Manning’s guilty verdict and a host of other truly disgusting events, I remain appalled that these people hold office. They care nothing for the law, the planet or other human beings.

  7. Anon posted, this is a good statement by the ACLU. Here is another: ”

    The nonprofit Government Accountability Project lists reasons it regards the Manning sentence as “excessive and unjust”:

    It has never been proven that Manning’s conduct did harm to the US.
    Manning informed the public of clear wrongdoing.
    Manning suffered egregious and unlawful pretrial detention.
    No individuals have been punished as a result of Manning’s revelations despite clear atrocities.

    GAP has defended whistleblowers including Thomas Drake, John Kiriakou and William E Binney.
    (guardian)

  8. Jill wrote:

    “I remain appalled that these people hold office. They care nothing for the law, the planet or other human beings.”

    Truth:

    “They care nothing for the law, the planet or other human beings.”

    =======

    And we’re surprised when kids in our country kill “for sport”.

  9. From Greenwald: “Obama admin: we aggressively prosecute those who expose war crimes, and diligently protect those who commit them.”

  10. I’m simply angry that that crime enabling hack still has a law license let alone a Federal judgeship. What a disgrace to the bar!

  11. ap,
    ;)

    Here’s another from Francois:

    We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves.

  12. Jill 1, August 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    From Greenwald: “Obama admin: we aggressively prosecute those who expose war crimes, and diligently protect those who commit them.”
    ==============================
    Great observation.

    With one caveat.

    We will find that it is The American Administration doing this, but we may not find out who they are.

  13. The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.” – H. L. Mencken

  14. Dredd, there’s only one way to expose the deep state and that is to expose those who hold elected office. It may not work, I grant that, but if politicians are held to account by the people, they are going to start squealing. These people don’t exactly have a profile in courage award. They aren’t going to go down without ratting on their masters. They are paid hacks and paid hacks don’t have loyalty to anyone or anything but themselves.

    Something that always interested me about Cheney is he appears to have actual friends. Scooter shut up and went up for Cheney. Obama doesn’t seem to have any friends. He’s just a paid hack. That means people like him, Pelosi, Rogers, Feinstein, Boehner, etc.–right now they are used to getting away with everything, no problem. But if we can rethether the govt. to the rule of law, I’d like to see what happens regarding the deep state.

    At this point the deep state is still having the political class front for them. I think the deep state would run into trouble if the political class could no longer do their dirty work.

  15. America’s two tiered Justice system.

    One set of Laws reserved to reward the political elite…
    … The other set of Laws are reserved to prosecute Just-us.

  16. Blouise,

    Hmmmm…. ;-) Certainly one has to be careful…

    Disguises I Have Worn: Why Subterfuge Is Necessary for Investigative Journalism

    http://barrygrahamauthor.com/post/49156848858/disguises-i-have-worn-why-subterfuge-is-necessary-for

    “There have been other such deceptions – these are only the ones that spring to mind right now – and the sad fact is that they are often necessary in matters of public interest. It should be exceptional, and a last resort, but as long as the privacy of individuals is not being violated, I see no ethical problem with it.”

  17. Defense attorney: Manning tried ‘cheering me up’

    DAVID DISHNEAU and PAULINE JELINEK | August 21, 2013 02:13 PM EST | AP

    HANOVER, Md. — The attorney for Army Pfc. Bradley Manning says the soldier tried to cheer him up after the judge sentenced Manning to 35 years in prison.

    David Coombs said at a news conference Wednesday that he was in tears after the sentence was handed down. Coombs says Manning looked at him and said: “Don’t worry about it. It’s all right. I know you did your best. It’s going to be OK.”

    Coombs did not recommend a specific sentence for Manning but suggested he shouldn’t get more than 25 years because some of the documents he leaked will be declassified by then.

    Prosecutors had asked for at least 60 years in prison. They did not comment after the sentence was announced.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20130821/us-manning-wikileaks-defense-attorney/

  18. Jill 1, August 21, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Dredd, there’s only one way to expose the deep state and that is to expose those who hold elected office. It may not work, I grant that, but if politicians are held to account by the people, they are going to start squealing. These people don’t exactly have a profile in courage award. They aren’t going to go down without ratting on their masters. They are paid hacks and paid hacks don’t have loyalty to anyone or anything but themselves.

    Something that always interested me about Cheney is he appears to have actual friends. Scooter shut up and went up for Cheney. Obama doesn’t seem to have any friends. He’s just a paid hack. That means people like him, Pelosi, Rogers, Feinstein, Boehner, etc.–right now they are used to getting away with everything, no problem. But if we can rethether the govt. to the rule of law, I’d like to see what happens regarding the deep state.

    At this point the deep state is still having the political class front for them. I think the deep state would run into trouble if the political class could no longer do their dirty work.
    =====================================
    We have to try.

    But the psychological deep state is not bound by the 1% alone, the 99% also have a cultural amygdala.

    Which gives new meaning to “the deep state”.

    Keep up the good work.

  19. If they won’t restore American values voluntarily, maybe both Bush and Obama should stand trial. These are evil acts regardless of party.

  20. The administration’s sycophantic journalist running dogs and lackeys are screaming that Manning needed to be punished to show the system works. If they would be honest they would say, “we demand Manning be punished for revealing illegalities committed by my govt. patrons”.

    There is no scream for the people who tortured Manning, who unlawfully imprisoned him, to be investigated, brought to trial and to learn a lesson that their conduct will not be tolerated.

    I mean, this does not pass anyone’s smell test. If the system worked, Bybee would not be a sitting judge for a pie contest. If the system worked, the people who did order this illegal detention and torture (people at the very top) would be held to account. That’s just one easy way to spot these hacks on sight. I think they are despicable.

    I will say this again, the destruction of your society should not be something you will do for any reason, let alone, to pick up your paycheck and to hobnob with the powerful.

  21. “short of organ failure or death, such stress positions would not amount to torture.”

    Inserting wires under finger nails, or simply ripping off finger nails doesn’t lead to either organ failure or death. So ripping off finger nails is in.

    But it is not clear to me if cigarette burns to sensitive body parts is in or out. Certainly cigarette burns never cause death – at least not without other complications.

    But what about the burn to the skin. Does the burn over a limited area of skin constitute an organ failure? And if not, how much skin area can interrogators burn before the skin organ has failed – in a legal sense? I hope the Honorable Bibee can give us an opinion on this important question – soon. We never know when we might have to interrogate a high value detainee.

  22. As bad as it is, Bush officials may be better off taking personal responsibility for their war crimes or at least promoting a Truth Commission.

    Injustice creates people like Simon Weisenthal, they hunt down war criminals for their entire lives. This justice is much more severe than the official justice system. The victims never forget!

  23. @ Dredd i still giggled until i read these quotes..

    “The governments of the present day have to deal not merely with other governments, with emperors, kings and ministers, but also with the secret societies which have everywhere their unscrupulous agents, and can at the last moment upset all the governments’ plans. ”

    British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, 1876

    “The real menace of our republic is this invisible government which like a giant octopus sprawls its slimy length over city, state and nation. Like the octopus of real life, it operates under cover of a self created screen….At the head of this octopus are the Rockefeller Standard Oil interests and a small group of powerful banking houses generally referred to as international bankers. The little coterie of powerful international bankers virtually run the United States government for their own selfish purposes. They practically control both political parties.”

    New York City Mayor John F. Hylan, 1922

    “From the days of Sparticus, Wieskhopf, Karl Marx, Trotsky, Rosa Luxemberg, and Emma Goldman, this world conspiracy has been steadily growing. This conspiracy played a definite recognizable role in the tragedy of the French revolution. It has been the mainspring of every subversive movement during the 19th century. And now at last this band of extraordinary personalities from the underworld of the great cities of Europe and America have gripped the Russian people by the hair of their head and have become the undisputed masters of that enormous empire.”

    Winston Churchill, stated to the London Press, in l922.

    “For a long time I felt that FDR had developed many thoughts and ideas that were his own to benefit this country, the United States. But, he didn’t. Most of his thoughts, his political ammunition, as it were, were carefully manufactured for him in advanced by the Council on Foreign Relations-One World Money group. Brilliantly, with great gusto, like a fine piece of artillery, he exploded that prepared “ammunition” in the middle of an unsuspecting target, the American people, and thus paid off and returned his internationalist political support.

    “The UN is but a long-range, international banking apparatus clearly set up for financial and economic profit by a small group of powerful One-World revolutionaries, hungry for profit and power.

    “The depression was the calculated ‘shearing’ of the public by the World Money powers, triggered by the planned sudden shortage of supply of call money in the New York money market….The One World Government leaders and their ever close bankers have now acquired full control of the money and credit machinery of the U.S. via the creation of the privately owned Federal Reserve Bank.”

    Curtis Dall, FDR’s son-in-law as quoted in his book, My Exploited Father-in-Law

    and the list goes on..

    http://www.theforbiddenknowledge.com/quotes/index.htm

  24. Elaine

    IT is certainly unfair how Bradley Manning receive sentences longer than those listed in that article. I can only hope he is granted parole when he is eligible in 8 or 9 years.

  25. He’s petitioning Obama for a pardon.

    Dredd, I really liked your statement about truth. No one does own it, it is simply the truth.

    Bart, that was funny!

  26. Darren,

    Convicted Army private Bradley Manning says he’s a woman
    Carolyn Pesce and Jim Michaels
    August 22, 2013
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/08/22/convicted-leaker-manning-a-woman/2684009/

    Excerpt:
    Bradley Manning, the Army private sentenced to 35 years in military prison for leaking classified documents, revealed Thursday he intends to live out the remainder of his life as a woman.

    “I am Chelsea Manning. I am female,” the Army private wrote in a statement read on NBC’s TODAY show Thursday by his attorney. “Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.”

  27. Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers Whistleblower, Sees Bradley Manning’s Conviction As The Beginning Of Police State
    Posted: 08/22/2013
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/22/daniel-ellsberg-bradley-manning_n_3793199.html

    Excerpt:
    The NSA surveillance of millions of emails and phone calls. The dogged pursuit of whistleblower Edward Snowden across the globe, regardless of the diplomatic fallout. And the sentencing of Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for giving a cache of government files to the website WikiLeaks. Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg sees these events as signs that the United States is becoming a police state.

    “We have not only the capability of a police state, but certain beginnings of it right now,” Ellsberg said. “And I absolutely agree with Edward Snowden. It’s worth a person’s life, prospect of assassination, or life in prison or life in exile — it’s worth that to try to restore our liberties and make this a democratic country.”

    Ellsberg was a military analyst with the RAND Corporation in 1969 when he secretly copied thousands of classified documents about U.S. decision-making during the Vietnam War. In 1971, he leaked the files (known as the Pentagon Papers) to The New York Times and 18 other newspapers.

    Although the Nixon administration tried to prevent the publication of the files, the Supreme Court ruled in New York Times Co. v. United States that the newspaper could continue publishing the files.

    Ellsberg was later tried on 12 felony counts under the Espionage Act of 1917, and faced a possible sentence of 115 years in prison. His case was dismissed in 1973 on the grounds of gross governmental misconduct.

  28. Juan Cole:

    The sentencing of Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison came because he leaked government documents, mostly with a low level of classification that probably shouldn’t have been classified in the first place. Some of the leaked documents showed the US government or other governments behaving badly, in ways the American people had a right to know about.

    Manning was tortured for nearly a year, and that should have been sentence enough. Without him, we might not even know about the Panopticon of total suveillance in which we are living. Manning helped spark a new civil rights movement. He deserves Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize in a way the president does not.

    (Informed Comment).

  29. I was listening to NPR yesterday morning and heard Professor Turley discussing torture with another law professor who advocates torture as an alternative to imprisonment. Professor Turley strongly opposed any use of torture. At one point he said emphatically that we should not tolerate torture including corporal punishment even if the convicted person would prefer a public whipping to a prison sentence on the grounds of what such a policy would “do to us.” He said that our history of shaming and corporal punishment was barbaric.

    My question for Professor Turley and anyone else who takes such exception to physical punishments is what is so objectionable to such punishment? What would inflicting comparable pain on perpetrators that they inflicted on their victims as we simultaneously deter similar acts of unjust aggression do to us other than to demonstrate our commitment to justice and the protection of the innocent? These sorts of vague appeals need to be more clearly delineated and defended. My hunch is that Professor Turley and others who take this stance are assuming some sort of extreme humanitarian position that sees all pain as intrinsically evil and all pleasure as intrinsically good. I do not share this moral insight as foundational. I see the infliction of pain in proportional retaliation as not only justifiable but as a positive good as it redresses the moral imbalance in the universe when another is wronged.

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