U.N. Investigator Criticizes Obama For Record On Torture

President_Barack_Obamatorture -abu ghraibWe have been criticizing President Barack Obama for years over the failure of his Administration to prosecute officials responsible for torture as well as the intentional destruction of torture tapes at the CIA. Now a high-ranking United Nations official is joining the condemnation of Obama and his Administration. Ben Emmerson, U.N. special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights, has condemned the failure to prosecute a single person for the official torture program implemented during the Bush years. The Obama Administration has thrown the books at those who leaked the information on our torture program but Obama himself promised the CIA after his election that CIA personnel would not be prosecuted despite our obligations under international treaty.

Emmerson coupled his criticism with a call for the Obama Administration to release the reports on the U.S. torture program. Despite his pledge of transparency, Obama has kept such reports classified. Emmerson noted that “[d]espite this clear repudiation of the unlawful actions carried out by the Bush-era CIA, many of the facts remain classified, and no public official has so far been brought to justice in the United States.”

As I have written before (here and here), the Obama Administration has destroyed some of the core Nuremburg principles, particularly in its revisal of the “superior orders defense” to excuse U.S. officials. Emmerson specifically criticized the use of this defense that we once rejected by Nazi defendants.

Emmerson is specifically interested in a report by the U.S. Senate select committee on intelligence on our torture program. However, the chair of that select committee — Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California — has long been accused of covering up the program and the knowledge of Democratic leadership during the Bush Administration.

Emmerson’s non-binding report is just another embarrassment that the United States has gone from the leader against torture to the world’s greatest hypocrite on the issue. The fact that Bush ordered such torture is not itself an indictment of this country. We had the ability to redeem ourselves by holding our own officials accountable as we have demanded from other countries. Obama and his Administration denied us that redemption as a nation.

Source: Guardian

64 thoughts on “U.N. Investigator Criticizes Obama For Record On Torture

  1. Yes, well he’s already proved he is a bloody child murderer, a mass murderer or condoner of the same. He did this by immediately attacking the 2nd amendment right after the new town elementary school massacre, knowing full well it was psychiatry & psychiatric drugs that have been bringing these white young male terrorist attacks since the Prozac rampages began around 1987. Many of those that did not die suffered as if from torture, so it very typical of this calous but very clever psychopath.

  2. Two things to follow when tracking war criminals who are at or above the Cheney level: 1) money connections to Epigovernment; and 2) sovereign immunity ideology.

    The latter is the de facto behavior the Obama and Bush II administrations have done.

    The other is an international web of militarism that cannot be penetrated.

  3. Obama said he did not prosecute torture because the republicans would then block everything he did. It was the first of many instances where he preemptively gave away something and got nothing.

  4. Obama is a massive hypocrite at best and a Tyrant at worst. One thing is for certain though either way, he is a threat to the Bill of Rights.

    Honest true Liberals abandoned him long ago.
    The only supporters he has with him now are the ignorant or blind sheep who refuse to admit that he is a BAD guy and not a good guy or the fascist element that is taking root in the Democratic party the same way the Religious Right took root in the GOP.

    Obama is an AWFUL president. Ranks right there with Bush.

    At some point we have to stop electing Presidents that are choices between ‘2 Evils’. At some point we have to clean up our Govt. The only way that happens at this point is a political Revolution. Removing both parties from power.

  5. Jonesy, Looks like the next match up might be Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton. Sure hope she runs.

  6. I hope to hell not. Hillary is nothing more than a continuation of the prior few Administrations. Hillary is as corrupt as the rest of them. The last thing this country needs is more years of this corrupt leadership that we have been getting for decades now.
    What we need is a fresh honest person and at this point I doubt you will find that in either of the 2 main parties.

  7. For the record, I wanted Hillary as President when Obama won the nomination. I wanted Obama against McCain. Now I realize how none of it mattered and we are being fooled and taken for a ride. The party is irrelevant. They are all liars and thieves

  8. Swarthmore mom, Yes indeed let’s hope the woman that hid when her ambassador was killed runs for Prez. She hid and sent out a woman that unfortunately had more ambition than brains in Susan Rice. And make no mistake, Susan Rice is a very bright woman.

    how about we tell both the Demos and Repos they can take their talking points to the pit toilet. They are the same. The Bush policies were continued, and in many cases, expanded upon by Obama. There are other choices than an R or a D. Please, let’s make a real difference next time.

  9. The heart of the matter:

    We had the ability to redeem ourselves by holding our own officials accountable as we have demanded from other countries. Obama and his Administration denied us that redemption as a nation. -Jonathan Turley

  10. The MSM?

    Silent, as of this time. (Huffington Post has a story, but that appears to be it, at the moment.)

  11. AP,

    I love it…

    But what I love more is justification for a policy….. Because they may kick sand in my face….but I don’t like doing it….. But I have to…… Give me a break…. He’s a self serving hypocrite……

  12. The last honest politician we had up for election was Ron Paul.
    You may not have agreed with everything he said, but he was always principled and honest and consistent with what he said.
    That is a rare and special thing, and otherwise NEVER happens.

  13. It is important to remember that Nancy Pelosi should be named right along with POTUS as responsible for no prosecution. She chose a 20 year reign of Democrats as her goal instead of accountability. She did this mindfully, no less.

  14. It’s part of his legacy now. He had a clear cut choice and he chose to protect the torturers. They own him.

  15. Congress makes rules to suit itself, the president breaks the rules when it serves him, and the supremes say we don’t have standing to question any of this.

    Sad state of affairs in America.

  16. Our refined Mr Ben Emmerson, QC, is an international lawyer of some repute and he’s assembled a blue ribbon team to investigate drone strikes, torture, and most anything he deems pertinent as the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-terrorism. He’s sort of a roving commission on all things wrong. While his team of examiners (which includes the U.S. Army captain who defended KSM) enjoys influence among some members of the international community the value of his work is disputed. No inroads against actors like North Korea and Saudi Arabia who regularly ignore his demands for access to investigate human rights abuses thus leaving him to pick the relatively low hanging fruit of the Western democracies who allow restricted access.

    To quote Macbeth, his is a tale, “[t]old by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” If America is to do something about torture crimes under Bush, this Brit — nor his employer, the UN — will be neither the reason nor the answer.

  17. Blouse,

    Such fresh air…. It’s nice to see that one is capable of seeing both sides of the side walk….

  18. U.N.’s Drone Inquisitor: CIA Torture Was An ‘International Conspiracy of Crime’

    by Spencer Ackerman



    As his inquiry into U.S. drone strikes gets underway, the United Nations special rapporteur for counterterrorism and human rights has stepped up his rhetoric against the agency he’ll inevitably investigate. The CIA’s torture program was at the center of an “international conspiracy of crime,” he told a U.N. panel on Tuesday.

    The CIA’s torture in the last decade is unrelated from its current drone campaign. But Ben Emmerson, the U.N. rapporteur, will still need access to the drones from a CIA he portrayed on Tuesday morning as something similar to a Bond villain. In an interview with Danger Room last month, Emmerson said he was confident the Obama administration would grant him access to one of its most secretive counterterrorism programs.

    The extent of international cooperation with the CIA’s torture, detention and rendition regime during the past decade was the focus of a recent Open Society Institute report. The Open Society Institute found last month that over 50 nations in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa aided the CIA in holding suspected al-Qaida members, including people ultimately found to be innocent, in brutal conditions. A former Bush administration State Department official, Philip Zelikow, told his then-colleagues in 2006 that the CIA torture amounted to a “felony war crime.”

    Emmerson, speaking to the U.N. Human Rights Council, called on the Senate intelligence committee to promptly declassify an extensive inquiry of its own into CIA torture. He said he was “concerned” that the Obama administration has declined to prosecute anyone for authorizing or inflicting torture, warning that such “impunity” undermined western calls for entrenching democratic norms in the Middle East and North Africa.

    “It will also take time for the Western democracies to restore the confidence that was shattered among Muslim communities by the CIA policy of secret detention, rendition and torture, and the decade of impunity that has followed,” Emmerson told the panel.

    The man most likely to deal with Emmerson on drones, White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan, is likely to have to reckon with torture as well. Senators have stalled John Brennan’s nomination to lead the CIA for reasons including Brennan’s views on torture, which he publicly condemned and repudiated during his confirmation hearing last month. A vote on Brennan’s nomination — which Emmerson has endorsed — could come as early as Tuesday in the Senate intelligence committee. That might set up a frank talk at a later date between Brennan and Emmerson

  19. Thomson Reuters

    March 5, 2013 12:45

    Britain says will release parts of secret report on rendition

    * British envoy says plans to release part of inquiry

    * U.N. investigator talks of US-led “criminal matrix”

    * U.S. delegation says still studying U.N. report

    * ACLU denounces impunity for torture as “abhorrent”

    By Stephanie Nebehay

    GENEVA, March 5 (Reuters) – Britain will publish parts of a confidential report on its role in the U.S. “rendition” of foreign terrorism suspects, its envoy to the main U.N. human rights forum said on Tuesday.

    The announcement came in response to a demand from a special U.N. investigator that the United States and Britain publish their own findings on rendition, a policy used under former U.S. President George W. Bush to snatch suspected Islamist militants abroad and interrogate them in secret detention.

    Ben Emmerson, counter-terrorism investigator for the United Nations Human Rights Council, said on Tuesday it must hold “all states including the most powerful nations in the world to account”.

    “The exposure of the criminal matrix organised by the Bush-era CIA (the U.S. intelligence agency), from the heart of the world’s most powerful democracy, now calls for an unequivocal response from all of the states that took part in the programme,” Emmerson said.

    The U.S. delegation said it was still studying a U.N. report issued a day before and its “substantial detail”.

    But Britain’s Ambassador Karen Pearce told the 47-member state council that London would publish at least some of the conclusions of an inquiry by judge Peter Gibson who was asked in 2010 to examine whether British agents were involved in mistreatment or rendition of detainees held by other countries. His 2012 interim report has not been published.

    “We are looking carefully at the contents of the report by the Gibson Inquiry on its preparatory work, with a view to publishing as much of it as possible,” Pearce said.

    The inquiry had not yet formally started due to related police investigations still under way, Pearce said.

    “We fully intend to hold an independent, judge-led inquiry once these investigations are completed but we are not in a position to provide a timetable given these ongoing inquiries.”


    Emmerson says the “war on terror” waged by Bush after al Qaeda attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001 led to “gross or systematic” violations involving secret prisons for Islamic militant suspects, clandestine transfers and torture.

    Bush said in his memoirs that he had ordered the use of “waterboarding” which many rights experts consider a form of torture banned by international law.

    A U.S. Senate select committee on intelligence, chaired by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, investigated the CIA secret detention and interrogation programme, including the use of waterboarding, which simulates drowning. Its report was completed in December 2011 but not published.

    “As the state that was in the past at least the architect of this web and an international conspiracy of crime, it seems somewhat disappointing that once an investigation has taken place that its results should currently remain secret,” Emmerson said at Tuesday’s debate.

    Jamil Dakwar of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also called for the 6,000-page Senate report to be released.

    “Definitive evidence has come to light that Bush administration officials committed serious crimes in violation of both U.S. and international law by authorising the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. custody,” he told the U.N. forum.

    Although President Barack Obama’s administration had disavowed torture, “it has shielded former senior government officials who authorized torture and abuse from accountability, civil liability and public scrutiny,” Dakwar said.

    “We unequivocally reject President Obama’s statement that ‘we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards’,” he said. “Impunity for torture is abhorrent and we will continue to press for accountability – both in the United States and overseas.” (Editing by Robin Pomeroy)


  20. 54 Nations involved in torture
    20 prisoners still unaccounted for
    1 whistle blower behind bars for exposing the torture
    0 State leaders held accountable for torture

  21. anonymously posted
    1, March 5, 2013 at 9:30 am

    That was then (this am), as of now, nada on HP’s front page (can’t let too many eyes spy truth). But everything Justin Biber is there for days…

  22. Max-1 1, March 5, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    anonymously posted
    1, March 5, 2013 at 9:30 am

    That was then (this am), as of now, nada on HP’s front page (can’t let too many eyes spy truth). But everything Justin Biber is there for days…


    Not a surprise, Max-1. Thanks for the update.

  23. 0 State leaders held accountable for torture -Max-1


    And no accountability for destruction of the CIA’s “torture tapes” either.

    “We are also troubled by Mr. Rodriguez’s statements justifying the destruction of video tapes documenting the use of coercive interrogation techniques as “just getting rid of some ugly visuals.” His decision to order the destruction of the tapes was in violation of instructions from CIA and White House lawyers, and unnecessarily caused damage ot the CIA’s reputation.” -Joint statement by Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin

    http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=026a329b-d4c0-4ab3-9f7e-fad5671917cc (worth revisiting)


    From the following piece by Glenn Greenwald:

    The Jose Rodriguez lesson


    “…Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein issued a statement about his 60 Minutes interview matter-of-factly stating that his order to destroy videotapes “illustrates a blatant disregard for the law.” Yes, obviously it does: and that’s what makes the DOJ’s refusal to prosecute him so corrupt.

    Of course, Executive Branch officials, even when it comes to most egregious crimes, are beyond the rule of law when it comes to actions they take as part of U.S. Government policy.

    * * * * *

    Andrew Sullivan — who once called for Obama to be prosecuted as a war criminal for his complicity in Bush war crimes — today rhapsodizes that Obama “restored this country’s moral credibility after the dark period of Nazi-style interrogation under Cheney, Bush and Rumsfeld.” Among whom exactly did he do that?” -Glenn Greenwald

  24. US: Zero Dark Torture

    January 12, 2013

    by Laura Pitter


    Zero Dark Thirty, the movie drama of the hunt for Osama bin Laden, has spawned a wide array of commentary. None is as misleading or morally disturbing, however, as the one from former CIA counterterrorism chief Jose Rodriguez, who seized on the film as an opportunity to defend — and completely distort — the CIA torture program he supervised. This from the guy who, ignoring instructions from the White House and CIA, destroyed 92 videotapes depicting the waterboarding of detainees in CIA custody, claiming it was to protect the identities of CIA operatives on the tapes.

    In Rodriguez’s rosy version of events, the CIA program was “carefully monitored and conducted,” bearing “little resemblance to what is shown on the screen.” Most detainees, he claims, received “no enhanced interrogation techniques,” and for those who did it was only after written authorization was obtained.

    Zero Dark Thirty has many factual inaccuracies, about which U.S. senators with access to the classified record have publicly complained. More important is that the film may leave viewers with the false impression that the U.S. government’s use of torture was an ugly but necessary part of the fight against terrorism.

    In Rodriguez’s rewrite, however, the torture program sounds like a well-guided walk in the park. What we know from released government documents and multiple interviews with people in the program, though, is that Rodriguez’s description of the program bears little resemblance to reality. Although the CIA did initiate guidelines requiring written permission before so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” (EITs) were used, the CIA’s own inspector general’s report says these guidelines were not formalized until the end of January 2003, when EITs were already in use. And though the guidelines were an improvement, the inspector general said, they still left “substantial room for misinterpretation and [did] not cover all Agency detention and interrogation activities.”

    Research I did for a September 2012 Human Rights Watch report documented the experiences of five Libyan opponents of the government of Muammar al-Qaddafi probably detained under the CIA program. During their time in U.S. custody — ranging from eight months to two years — they said they were chained to walls in pitch-dark cells, often naked, sometimes while diapered, for weeks or months at a time; restrained in painful stress positions for as long as two weeks; forced into cramped spaces; beaten; repeatedly slammed into walls; kept inside for nearly three months without the ability to bathe or cut their hair or nails (“We looked like monsters,” one detainee said); denied food and sleep; and subjected to continuous, deafeningly loud music. They were held incommunicado with no visits from the International Committee of the Red Cross. Their families had no idea whether they were alive or dead. From released documents, we also know that techniques like placing a detainee with a known fear of bugs “in a cramped confinement box with an insect,” and then falsely telling him it would sting, were approved for use.

    Rodriguez claims, “No one was hung from ceilings” in the CIA program. Yet, of the five detainees interviewed for our report, two said they were restrained in cells with their hands above their heads. One said he was kept this way for three days while naked, forced to urinate on himself; the other said he was restrained with his hands above his head for about 15 days, in an extremely cold cell while naked except for a diaper. He was only taken out of the room about five times for questioning. A third detainee said he was restrained with his handcuffed wrists above his head while kept in a tall narrow box with speakers on both sides of his head, just inches from his ears, blasting loud music. He was in this box, naked, without food, for a day and a half. Other detainees have described similarly being restrained from above at what appears to be the same location.

    Rodriguez also said, as have other CIA officials in the past, that only three detainees, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, were waterboarded in the program — though the CIA qualified this a bit after our report came out, saying it was on record as having said there were only three “substantiated” cases of waterboarding. Yet one of the five Libyan detainees I spoke with (though not using the term “waterboarded”) gave credible testimony that he was frequently strapped to a wooden board, with a hood over his head, while water was poured over his nose and mouth to the point that he felt like he would suffocate. Another detainee said he was threatened with use of the board but that it was never used on him.

    Both said they were subjected to another type of suffocation-inducing water abuse that, like waterboarding, is a form of torture. Each was forced, separately, to lie in plastic sheeting, hooded, sometimes while naked, while guards poured icy cold water all over them, including over their nose and mouth, to the point where they felt they would suffocate. The men said doctors were present during both types of water torture, raising issues of medical ethics.

    Moreover, Rodriguez doesn’t mention the number of times waterboarding was used on each detainee he acknowledges — 183 on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, at least 83 on Abu Zubaydah, and twice on Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri — and the sensation of near death the practice produces.

    Rodriguez also claims that “no one was bloodied or beaten in the enhanced interrogation program,” ignoring that some of the longest-lasting effects of torture are psychological. But many detainees that we and others have interviewed, including the Libyans, did describe being beaten in the program, especially during transfer procedures. And some were sent to other countries by the CIA with the knowledge and understanding that they would be beaten and tortured there.

    These are just a few of the details we know about the CIA program. Unfortunately, there is still a lot we do not know. We still don’t know, for example, all the names of those held as part of the program, how long they were detained, when they were released, and what happened to them. The details that are known have been pieced together by journalists and human rights workers tracking down former detainees, filing Freedom of Information Act requests, and litigating.

    The U.S. government has gone to great lengths to keep information about the program secret. The Justice Department refused to prosecute Rodriguez for destruction of evidence — those 92 videotapes depicting waterboarding — or any other senior U.S. official or CIA operative involved in the abuse for that matter, despite a four-year investigation. (Rodriguez was lightly reprimanded by the CIA.)

    Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee recently produced a report — more than 6,000 pages long — that provides the most comprehensive information about the CIA’s torture program. Congress has yet to make the report public, though the Senate Intelligence Committee chair, Dianne Feinstein, said it “uncovers startling details” about the program and raises critical questions about intelligence operations and oversight. She has also said it concludes that the use of enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective way to gain intelligence and did not lead to finding bin Laden. Rodriguez, who had left the CIA years before the bin Laden operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan, asserts exactly the opposite, yet evidence that rebuts his claims remains classified.

    This brings us to maybe the most frustrating thing about Rodriguez’s comments and this whole debate about Zero Dark Thirty. We would not even be having this debate, and this film probably would not have even been made in the way it was, had the U.S. government not gone to such great lengths over the past 11 years to cover up the tracks of its crimes and bury the facts. Make no mistake about it: These allegations amount to crimes.

    What the United States is alleged to have done in its name is torture — practices prohibited by the Convention Against Torture, ratified by the United States and 152 other countries, and U.S. law under the Anti-Torture Act. It is also prohibited during times of war by the Geneva Conventions, again ratified by the United States and virtually every other country. The U.S. government’s authorization of torture during George W. Bush’s administration violated U.S. law and should be prosecuted.

    It is deeply disappointing that President Barack Obama and the Justice Department have ignored these calls for sanction. In the absence of accountability, however, the least the United States should do is publicly acknowledge and explain the reasons that the use of torture was wrong and counterproductive.

    The Senate Intelligence Committee report appears to be an opportunity to do just that. Calling the use of enhanced interrogation techniques a “terrible mistake,” Feinstein said, “I also believe this report will settle the debate once and for all over whether our nation should ever employ coercive interrogation techniques.” Yet while the report remains classified, available to just a handful of senators, CIA insiders like Rodriguez are free to say what they please, and unfortunately, the debate rages on.

  25. The Jose Rodriguez lesson

    Perhaps it’s a bad idea to trust the executive branch to wield the most extreme powers in the dark, with no checks

    By Glenn Greenwald

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012


    “Jose Rodriguez, the high-ranking CIA official who ordered the destruction of 92 videos showing the agency’s interrogation of Terrorist suspects, was interviewed on Sunday night about his new pro-torture book by 60 Minutes (that show’s network, CBS, and the publisher of Rodriguez’s new book, Simon & Schuster, are both owned by the CBS Corp., now synergistically profiting off of torture advocacy). There is an important lesson to be learned from this interview.

    As many commenters correctly noted, the torture-defending Rodriguez is clearly a crazed sociopath (of the distinctly banal type identified by Hannah Arendt). At Esquire, Charles Pierce has a perfect post about all of this, writing: “I’m pretty convinced that Rodriguez is both a sociopath and a maniac” (his first paragraph, on the Obama administration’s serial protection of these war criminals, is a must-read). The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson notes that Rodriguez did not even bother to defend torture as a necessary evil but rather “bragged about its use in proving the manhood of the torturer” (indeed, Rodriguez’ claim that authorizing torturing meant people in government were willing to “put their big boy pants on” exposed a whole new level of psychosexual creepiness). Andrew Sullivan says Rodriguez is “a war criminal” who “has no shame about any of this, and intends to make money off it.”

    All of that is true, but the key point here is that Rodriguez — with all of his sociopathic, maniacal, proud war criminality — wasn’t some low-level rogue officer unrepresentative of the CIA. The opposite is true: he spent his career at that agency and advanced continuously, rising to lead what The Washington Post‘s Dana Priest this week called “the Central Intelligence Agency’s all-powerful operations directorate,” located “at the center of the universe at the agency.” He was essentially in charge of clandestine operations, including the CIA’s torture, rendition, black site and detention programs. And the criminal programs he is “sociopathically” defending were ones that were embraced by the highest levels of the U.S. Government, authorized by its Department of Justice, and protected from investigation and prosecution by the current administration. Rodriguez — sociopathy and all – isn’t some aberration in the U.S. Government’s intelligence and paramilitary world: he’s its symbol.

    As so many people react with revulsion to the mindset of Jose Rodriguez, perhaps this is a good time to stop and realize why it’s so dangerous and wrong to trust the Executive Branch to exert the most extreme powers — of assassination, indefinite detention, rendition, surveillance — in the dark, with no oversight, constraints or transparency. Those of you who are content to have the Executive Branch decide — without checks or transparency — who lives and dies, who is free and imprisoned, who is entitled to due process and who isn’t, are putting your blind faith in the Jose Rodriguezes of the world.

    Even people who don’t originally assume that level of unchecked power in a corrupted and sociopathic state can (and will) easily be transformed by it. That’s the inherently corrupting nature of unchecked power — of human nature — that led the American founders to insist on multiple levels of burdensome checks whenever power of this sort is exercised. Jose Rodriguez — his actions and mentality — is the inevitable fruit of placing faith and trust in the Goodness of American Executive Branch officials to exercise the world’s most awesome powers without any meaningful scrutiny and limits.”

  26. The increasingly criminal actions of government will only increase until accountability – including trials and prison time – is had for both the traitors and torturers in the Bush administration and the aiders and abettors in the Obama administration who have not only embraced Bush/Cheney’s policies, but expanded upon them.

    Sitting and former Senators, Representatives, Department heads and Presidents all need to be held accountable.

    There is a strong argument that our government is not and will not be legitimate until this justice is had.

    This will not happen as long as the two party system has a stranglehold on government processes. They will continue to protect one another until such a point that something really bad happens. They’ll go too far once too often and either the world will gang up on us or our own people will have impetus to break out the ropes and pitchforks. At one time, I held hope for a peaceful solution under the rule of law, but that hope has been dead since the day Obama said, “We must look forward.”

    Continuing and expanding criminal policy will not avoid what is coming.
    Ignoring the crimes will not make them go away.
    Justice for all isn’t just a good idea.
    It’s the law.

  27. I bought a bus ticket from Los Angelos to Philly. I got stuck next to this lady from the Bronx who yakked the whole time. I got off in Saint Louis to look at the Arch and she was right there yakking. On and on. When we got to Philly these goons kidnapped me and gave me a psychological drill of tests. The NY Yakker was part of a government torture program and I was the guinea pig. They gave me a prozac pill and let me go somewhere near a bus station. I was afraid to get on a bus so I hitchiked the rest of the way home. Next time there is a Presidential Election I am voting for a Libertarian.

  28. Gene,
    since AG Holder says American citizens can be targeted by drones on US soil under extreme circumstances, how about a domestic version of the Nuremburg trials?!

  29. Off Topic:

    Obama Administration Says President Can Use Lethal Force Against Americans on US Soil
    —By Adam Serwer
    | Tue Mar. 5, 2013

    Yes, the president does have the authority to use military force against American citizens on US soil—but only in “an extraordinary circumstance,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a letter to Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) Tuesday.

    “The U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening,” Paul said Tuesday. “It is an affront the constitutional due process rights of all Americans.”

    Last month, Paul threatened to filibuster the nomination of John Brennan, Obama’s pick to head the CIA, “until he answers the question of whether or not the President can kill American citizens through the drone strike program on U.S. soil.” Tuesday, Brennan told Paul that “the agency I have been nominated to lead does not conduct lethal operations inside the United States—nor does it have any authority to do so.” Brennan said that the Justice Department would answer Paul’s question about whether Americans could be targeted for lethal strikes on US soil.

  30. It’s good to see people or some still care about the rule and don’t make excuses for this imbeciles actions…. Good work Agene, Rafff ndvElaine…

  31. Besides his more eloquent teleprompter presence, Obama is making Bush look better all the time. I can’t stand either of them, since they act more like corporate hacks than stewards of a democracy. As Orwell put so succinctly, truth is treason in the empire of lies.

  32. Regarding war crimes trials.

    At the end of WW-II, not a single charge was brought against Goering or any other Luftwaffe officer for bombing raids against civilian targets. Not to mention the V-I and V-2 missiles aimed at civilian centers. Remember London and Coventry? But not a single war crime charge related to the indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets. In fact, the rocket scientists who developed the V-weapons were scooped up in Operation Paperclip and shipped off to Huntsville, Alabama.

    That was no accidental oversight. If those charges had been brought, Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris and General Curtis LeMay would have had a lot of explaining to do.

    It has long been a truism that war crimes trials are only held by the winners of a conflict.

  33. I am delighted by the general tone of the comments on this post. Most of you have got it right: its not a left/right thing; the dirty laundry is strewn on both sides of the aisle, and its not even an aisle that anyone should be paying attention to. Right now we have a nasty piece of work in power; we could call him a wolf in sheep’s clothing but that would be unfair to the wolf.
    800 869 2247 is the number for the Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights. They are the single group to have successfully isolated the true source & reason for the not infrequent shooting sprees in the United States. They provide a real solution they are actively working on but they could use your help. The solution does not include turning in your guns; since 9/11 we need our 2nd Amendment rights more than ever. Please back & join the NRA if you have not done so; Obama’s viscous attack on gun rights prompted me to do so.
    Back to the CCHR, this is the group that got widely published recently the plight of veterans killing themselves at the rate of something like 22 vets per day! (see a current John Turley blog on this) Again, they have the answer. They also revived the UN’s Human Rights that was broadcast in the 50s & quietly swept under the rug. You should google that. Its a briliant piece of work; the only flaw I see is the wording of one right as being Equality when it should say Equal Rights, though most understand that. You can knock the UN all you want, but far better to use it for good & urge it to do right. Mespo knocks this Emerson Queen’s Council guy, & perhaps he has skeletons in his closet too, but far better to validate him when he does something right.

  34. Revealed: Pentagon’s link to Iraqi torture centres

    Exclusive: General David Petraeus and ‘dirty wars’ veteran behind commando units implicated in detainee abuse

    See the full-length documentary film of the 15-month investigation

    Mona Mahmood, Maggie O’Kane, Chavala Madlena and Teresa Smith

    The Guardian, Wednesday 6 March 2013 15.04 EST



    “The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the “dirty wars” in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents. These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country’s descent into full-scale civil war.

    Colonel James Steele was a 58-year-old retired special forces veteran when he was nominated by Donald Rumsfeld to help organise the paramilitaries in an attempt to quell a Sunni insurgency, an investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic shows.

    After the Pentagon lifted a ban on Shia militias joining the security forces, the special police commando (SPC) membership was increasingly drawn from violent Shia groups such as the Badr brigades.

    A second special adviser, retired Colonel James H Coffman, worked alongside Steele in detention centres that were set up with millions of dollars of US funding.

    Coffman reported directly to General David Petraeus, sent to Iraq in June 2004 to organise and train the new Iraqi security forces. Steele, who was in Iraq from 2003 to 2005, and returned to the country in 2006, reported directly to Rumsfeld.

    The allegations made by US and Iraqi witnesses in the Guardian/BBC documentary, implicate US advisers for the first time in the human rights abuses committed by the commandos. It is also the first time that Petraeus – who last November was forced to resign as director of the CIA after a sex scandal – has been linked through an adviser to this abuse.

    Coffman reported to Petraeus and described himself in an interview with the US military newspaper Stars and Stripes as Petraeus’s “eyes and ears out on the ground” in Iraq.

    “They worked hand in hand,” said General Muntadher al-Samari, who worked with Steele and Coffman for a year while the commandos were being set up. “I never saw them apart in the 40 or 50 times I saw them inside the detention centres. They knew everything that was going on there … the torture, the most horrible kinds of torture.”

    Additional Guardian reporting has confirmed more details of how the interrogation system worked. “Every single detention centre would have its own interrogation committee,” claimed Samari, talking for the first time in detail about the US role in the interrogation units.

    “Each one was made up of an intelligence officer and eight interrogators. This committee will use all means of torture to make the detainee confess like using electricity or hanging him upside down, pulling out their nails, and beating them on sensitive parts.”

    There is no evidence that Steele or Coffman tortured prisoners themselves, only that they were sometimes present in the detention centres where torture took place, and were involved in the processing of thousands of detainees.

    The Guardian/BBC Arabic investigation was sparked by the release of classified US military logs on WikiLeaks that detailed hundreds of incidents where US soldiers came across tortured detainees in a network of detention centres run by the police commandos across Iraq. Private Bradley Manning, 25, is facing a prison sentence of up to 20 years after he pleaded guilty to leaking the documents.

    Samari claimed that torture was routine in the SPC-controlled detention centres. “I remember a 14-year-old who was tied to one of the library’s columns. And he was tied up, with his legs above his head. Tied up. His whole body was blue because of the impact of the cables with which he had been beaten.”

    Gilles Peress, a photographer, came across Steele when he was on assignment for the New York Times, visiting one of the commando centres in the same library, in Samarra. “We were in a room in the library interviewing Steele and I’m looking around I see blood everywhere.”

    The reporter Peter Maass was also there, working on the story with Peress. “And while this interview was going on with a Saudi jihadi with Jim Steele also in the room, there were these terrible screams, somebody shouting: ‘Allah, Allah, Allah!’ But it wasn’t kind of religious ecstasy or something like that, these were screams of pain and terror.”

    The pattern in Iraq provides an eerie parallel to the well-documented human rights abuses committed by US-advised and funded paramilitary squads in Central America in the 1980s. Steele was head of a US team of special military advisers that trained units of El Salvador’s security forces in counterinsurgency. Petraeus visited El Salvador in 1986 while Steele was there and became a major advocate of counterinsurgency methods.

    Steele has not responded to any questions from the Guardian and BBC Arabic about his role in El Salvador or Iraq. He has in the past denied any involvement in torture and said publicly he is “opposed to human rights abuses.” Coffman declined to comment.

    An official speaking for Petraeus said: “During the course of his years in Iraq, General Petraeus did learn of allegations of Iraqi forces torturing detainees. In each incident, he shared information immediately with the US military chain of command, the US ambassador in Baghdad … and the relevant Iraqi leaders.”

    The Guardian has learned that the SPC units’ involvement with torture entered the popular consciousness in Iraq when some of their victims were paraded in front of a TV audience on a programme called “Terrorism In The Hands of Justice.”

    SPC detention centres bought video cameras, funded by the US military, which they used to film detainees for the show. When the show began to outrage the Iraqi public, Samari remembers being in the home of General Adnan Thabit – head of the special commandos – when a call came from Petraeus’s office demanding that they stop showing tortured men on TV.

    “General Petraeus’s special translator, Sadi Othman, rang up to pass on a message from General Petraeus telling us not to show the prisoners on TV after they had been tortured,” said Samari. “Then 20 minutes later we got a call from the Iraqi ministry of interior telling us the same thing, that General Petraeus didn’t want the torture victims shown on TV.”

    Othman, who now lives in New York, confirmed that he made the phone call on behalf of Petraeus to the head of the SPC to ask him to stop showing the tortured prisoners. “But General Petraeus does not agree with torture,” he added. “To suggest he does support torture is horseshit.”

    Thabit is dismissive of the idea that the Americans he dealt with were unaware of what the commandos were doing. “Until I left, the Americans knew about everything I did; they knew what was going on in the interrogations and they knew the detainees. Even some of the intelligence about the detainees came to us from them – they are lying.”

    Just before Petraeus and Steele left Iraq in September 2005, Jabr al-Solagh was appointed as the new minister of the interior. Under Solagh, who was closely associated with the violent Badr Brigades militia, allegations of torture and brutality by the commandos soared. It was also widely believed that the units had evolved into death squads.

    The Guardian has learned that high-ranking Iraqis who worked with the US after the invasion warned Petraeus of the consequences of appointing Solagh but their pleas were ignored.

    The long-term impact of funding and arming this paramilitary force was to unleash a deadly sectarian militia that terrorised the Sunni community and helped germinate a civil war that claimed tens of thousands of lives. At the height of that sectarian conflict, 3,000 bodies a month were strewn on the streets of Iraq.”

    Refer to link for Steele’s CV.

  35. From El Salvador to Iraq: Washington’s man behind brutal police squads

    In 2004, with the war in Iraq going from bad to worse, the US drafted in a veteran of Central America’s dirty wars to help set up a new force to fight the insurgency. The result: secret detention centres, torture and a spiral into sectarian carnage

    Mona Mahmood, Maggie O’Kane, Chavala Madlena, Teresa Smith, Ben Ferguson, Patrick Farrelly, Guy Grandjean, Josh Strauss, Roisin Glynn, Irene Baqué, Marcus Morgan, Jake Zervudachi and Joshua Boswell

    The Guardian, Wednesday 6 March 2013 11.16 EST


  36. Operation Condor Trial Tackles Coordinated Campaign by Latin American Dictatorships to Kill Leftists


    AMY GOODMAN: Finally, a State Department cable, 1978, begins—the jacket of your book, says, “Kissinger explained his opinion [that] the Government of Argentina had done an outstanding job in wiping out terrorist forces.” The significance of the judge calling for Kissinger’s testimony and the Obama administration not responding?

    JOHN DINGES: They have asked for Kissinger to give testimony many times. And in my book, I quote the one time where he actually responded to a petition from France, I believe it was. And he basically denied everything. This is very frustrating. I was able to—it was clear to me that, there’s no other word for it, these were lies. I mean, the documents say one thing; Kissinger said another thing. And he knew what those documents said. It’s not—the United States has never allowed any of its officials to face trial in other countries. We are not a member of the ICC. There’s never—

    AMY GOODMAN: The International Criminal Court.

    JOHN DINGES: The International Criminal Court. There’s never been any participate—there’s never been any trials that have brought Americans in the dock. There was an attempt in Italy; of course, all of those people were gone. The United States, for one reason or another, Democrats and Republicans, protect our own human rights criminals when it’s involving human rights crimes outside of the United States. It’s just the way it is.

    AMY GOODMAN: Would you describe Henry Kissinger in that way, as a human rights criminal?

    JOHN DINGES: Yes, absolutely.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And the relevance of this history of farming out the battle against terrorism, and so you could have no finger marks—no fingerprints of your own involvement to the current war against terrorism in the United States?

    JOHN DINGES: Well, I wrote—I was writing chapter one, when 9/11 happened, in my house in Washington. And as I finished the book—and I actually end with a reference to 9/11—I said this is not something that we’re condemned to repeat. And I was making the comparison between the war on terror in the 1970s and the current war on terror that was launched by President Bush. I thought we were going to—we had learned the lesson, that you don’t imitate the methods of your enemies and—or those who had been shown to be human rights criminals. Unfortunately, we crossed that line, I think, many times.

    The current discussion about drones, I think, is very frightening, because I’m having a hard time distinguishing between what they did with Operation Condor, low-tech, and what a drone does, because a drone is basically going into somebody else’s country, even with the permission of that country—of course, that’s what Operation Condor did, in most cases: You track somebody down, and you kill them. Now, the justification is: “Well, they were a criminal. They were a combatant.” Well, that may or may not be true, but nobody is determining that except the person that’s pulling the trigger.

    I just think that this has to be something that we discuss. And maybe trials like this, going back to the ’70s, people say, “Well, that was the dictatorships of the 1970s.” But the tendency of a state to feel that they can move against their enemies in the most effective way possible is still there, and it is certainly not limited to dictatorships.

    AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you, John Dinges, for being with us. John Dinges is author of The Condor Years: How Pinochet and His Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents. Before that, he was with National Public Radio, NPR, worked as a freelance reporter in Latin America, is currently a professor at the Columbia School of Journalism.

  37. More to Fear Than Fear Itself: The War on Terror’s War on Human Rights

    Wednesday, 06 March 2013 10:35 By Stephen Rohde, Truthout | Op-Ed


    In his first inaugural address on March 4, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said: “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

    Eighty years later to the day, Ben Emmerson, UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, in a report to the UN Human Rights Council, called on the United States to publish its findings on the CIA’s Bush-era program of rendition and secret detention of terrorism suspects. Emmerson could well expand his demand to a far wider array of human rights violations that span far more that what the United States has done under the Bush and Obama administrations.

    America’s nameless, unreasoning, unjustified fear of terror has caused us to launch immoral wars, slaughter innocent civilians with bombs and drones, impose an undeclared military draft on the poor and people of color, violate civil liberties and human rights, demonize Muslims and Islam, divert precious resources from desperate human needs into weapons of mass destruction, delay for generations the prospects of peace, and, most recently, shamefully refuse to investigate and prosecute any of these crimes against humanity.

    Emmerson expressed grave concern that while Obama’s administration has rejected CIA practices conducted under his predecessor, there have been no prosecutions. “Despite this clear repudiation of the unlawful actions carried out by the Bush-era CIA, many of the facts remain classified, and no public official has so far been brought to justice in the United States,” Emmerson said in a report to the UN Human Rights Council, which he will address on March 5. The war on terror led to “gross or systematic” violations involving secret prisons for Islamic militant suspects, clandestine transfers and torture, Emmerson said.

    In response to Attorney General Eric Holder’s position that the Department of Justice would not prosecute any official who acted in good faith and within the scope of legal guidance given by its Office of Legal Counsel on interrogation, Emmerson pointed out that using a “superior orders defense” and invoking secrecy on national security grounds was “perpetuating impunity for the public officials implicated in these crimes.”

    Emmerson said he believed that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), which has investigated the CIA’s secret detention and interrogation practices, including waterboarding, has had unrestricted access to classified information. He urged the US government “to publish without delay, and to the fullest extent possible” the Senate report, except for any information strictly necessary to protect legitimate national security interests or the safety of people identified in it.

    “There is now credible evidence to show that CIA black sites were located on the territory of Lithuania, Morocco, Poland, Romania and Thailand, and that the officials of at least 49 other states allowed their airspace or airports to be used for rendition flights,” Emmerson said. He urged those five countries to conduct “effective independent judicial or quasi-judicial inquiries” into the allegations. Any public officials who may have authorized or helped in setting up such facilities should be held accountable, he added.

    In January, Emmerson announced he would investigate the use of unmanned drones in counterterrorism operations, given the number of innocent civilians killed. Emmerson’s nonbinding report has only moral authority, but it will add pressure on the Obama administration not to allow what he called a “blanket of official impunity” to descend.

    Fear – that “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified fear” FDR spoke of (and which even he could not resist, as he would later send 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans into internment camps), fomented every day by politicians and warmongers – has blinded the American people to accept the new normal as all around us, cherished human rights are sacrificed on the altar of national security. Benjamin Franklin’s dire warning cannot be repeated often enough. “Any Society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

    Stephen Rohde, a constitutional lawyer and Chair of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, is author of American Words of Freedom and Freedom of Assembly.

  38. Bangkok grow to be the leading cities in South-East Asia.

    In a flat style condominium, this would include
    the entrance and the hallways, for example. Light or neutral colors are generally a safer decision.

  39. Understand which child car seats have been recalled or have “expired”.

    Taking breaks is very important because when you get back to work after a break
    you’d be rested. Does he or she look honorable, honest and open?

Comments are closed.