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The Significance of HRW’s New Call to Prosecute Bush Administration Officials for Torture

5:01 pm in Military, Terrorism, Torture by Jeff Kaye

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a new report Tuesday. As they stated in the press release announcing the 107-page report, “Getting Away with Torture: The Bush Administration and Mistreatment of Detainees” (HTML, PDF), there is “overwhelming evidence of torture by the Bush administration.” As a result, President Barack Obama is obliged “to order a criminal investigation into allegations of detainee abuse authorized by former President George W. Bush and other senior officials.”

In particular, HRW singled out “four key leaders” in the torture program. Besides former President George W. Bush, the report indicts former Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and CIA Director George Tenet. But others remain possible targets of investigation and prosecution. According to the report:

Such an investigation should also include examination of the roles played by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Attorney General John Ashcroft, as well as the lawyers who crafted the legal “justifications” for torture, including Alberto Gonzales (counsel to the president and later attorney general), Jay Bybee (head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC)), John Rizzo (acting CIA general counsel), David Addington (counsel to the vice president), William J. Haynes II (Department of Defense general counsel), and John Yoo (deputy assistant attorney general in the OLC).

But the key passage in the HRW report concerns the backing for international prosecutions, under the principle in international law of “universal jurisdiction,” which was used back in 1998 by Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón to indict former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet for genocide and murder.

Unless and until the US government pursues credible criminal investigations of the role of senior officials in the mistreatment of detainees since September 11, 2001, exercise universal jurisdiction or other forms of jurisdiction as provided under international and domestic law to prosecute US officials alleged to be involved in criminal offenses against detainees in violation of international law. [emphasis added]

Indeed, in an important section of the report, HRW details the failures and successes of pursuing such international prosecutions in the face of U.S. prosecutors’ failure to act and investigate or indict high administration officials for war crimes. This is even more important when one considers that the Obama administration has clearly stated its intention to not investigate or prosecute such crimes, going after a handful of lower-level interrogators for crimes not covered by the Bush administration’s so-called “legal” approvals for torture provided by the infamous Yoo/Bybee/Levin/Bradbury memos issued by the Office of Legal Counsel.

Nor has Congress shown even a smidgen of appetite for pursuing further accountability: not one Congressman or Senator has stepped forward as yet to endorse HRW’s new call. Instead, they demonstrated their obsequiousness by approving Obama’s nomination of General David Petraeus as new CIA director 94-0, despite the fact that Petraeus has been implicated in the organization of counter-terror death squads in Iraq, and was in charge of training Iraqi security forces who repeatedly were documented as engaging in widespread torture. It was during Petraeus’s tenure as chief of such training for the coalition forces, that the U.S. implemented the notorious Fragmentary Order (FRAGO) 242, which commanded U.S. forces not to intervene in cases of Iraqi governmental torture should they come across such it (which they often did). No one during Petraeus’s testimony in his nomination hearings even questioned him about this.

Why this report now?

I asked Andrea Prasow, a senior counsel at Human Rights Watch, why this report was issued now, noting that some on the left had already questioned the timing of HRW’s action.

“Because it really needed to be done,” Prasow explained. She noted the recent admissions by former President Bush and Vice President Cheney that they had approved waterboarding. Furthermore, “following the killing of [Osama] Bin Laden, we saw the immediate response by some that torture and the enhanced interrogation techniques led to the capture of Bin Laden. And it became a part of normal debate about torture. It shows how fragile is the current commitment not to torture.”

Prasow also noted the recent closure of the Durham investigation, which resulted in the decision to criminally investigate the deaths of two detainees in CIA custody, while 99 other cases referred to his office were closed. I asked her whether she felt, as I do, that the announcement of the two investigations were meant to forestall attempts by European (especially Spanish) prosecutors to pursue “universal jurisdiction” prosecutions of U.S. officials for torture.

“I don’t see how there’s a defensible justification that the investigations Durham announced can do that,” Prasow said. “It’s pretty clear that there should be an investigation into the deaths of these detainees,” she added, “but it’s so clear the investigation is very limited. The scope of the investigation is the most important part. Even if Durham had investigated the 100 or so cases that exceeded the legal authorities, it wouldn’t be sufficient. What about the people who wrote the legal memos? Who told them to write the memos?” she said, emphasizing the fact that Durham’s investigation was limited by Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to only CIA crimes, and only those that supposedly exceeded the criteria for “enhanced interrogation” laid out in a number of administration legal memos. The torture, Prasow noted, was “throughout the military” as well, including “hundreds or thousands” tortured at sites in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo.

Prasow noted that the Obama administration has made it policy to block attempts by torture victims to get compensation for torture, asserting a policy of protecting “state secrets” to shut down court cases. “But there are other ways of providing redress,” she said, adding that “providing redress is part of international laws.” The HRW report itself states, “Consistent with its obligations under the Convention against Torture, the US government should ensure that victims of torture obtain redress, which may include providing victims with compensation where warranted outside of the judicial context.”

The new HRW report comes on the heels of a controversy roiling around a proposed United Kingdom governmental inquiry into torture. A number of British human rights and legal agencies have said they would boycott the UK proceedings as a “whitewash.” As Andy Worthington put it the other day:

As a result of pandering to the Americans’ wishes, the terms of reference are “so restrictive,” as the Guardian described it, that JUSTICE, the UK section of the International Commission of Jurists, warned that the inquiry “was likely to fail to comply with UK and international laws governing investigations into torture.” Eric Metcalfe, JUSTICE’s director of human rights policy, said that the rules “mean that the inquiry is unlikely to get to the truth behind the allegations and, even if it does, we may never know for sure. However diligent and committed Sir Peter [Gibson] and his team may be, the government has given itself the final word on what can be made public.”

Andrea Prasow echoed Metcalfe’s fears, saying HRW had “some concerns about how much information [in the UK inquiry] was going to be kept secret. I think transparency, making it as public as possible, is most important.”

The fight for transparency also makes HRW’s call for prosecutions of high government officials, along with “an independent, nonpartisan commission, along the lines of the 9-11 Commission, [that] should be established to examine the actions of the executive branch, the CIA, the military, and Congress, with regard to Bush administration policies and practices that led to detainee abuse,” very timely. In a column the other day at Secrecy News — Pentagon Tightens Grip on Unclassified Information — Steven Aftergood reported on a Department of Defense proposed new rule regarding classification. While the Obama administration is supposedly on record for greater governmental transparency, the new rule imposes “new safeguard requirements on ‘prior designations indicating controlled access and dissemination (e.g., For Official Use Only, Sensitive But Unclassified, Limited Distribution, Proprietary, Originator Controlled, Law Enforcement Sensitive).’”

According to Aftergood, “By ‘grandfathering’ those old, obsolete markings in a new regulation for defense contractors, the DoD rule would effectively reactivate them and qualify them for continued protection under the new Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) regime, thereby defeating the new policy.” Even worse (if possible), “the proposed rule says that any unclassified information that has not been specifically approved for public release must be safeguarded. It establishes secrecy, not openness, as the presumptive status and default mode for most unclassified information.”

Much of what we know about the Bush-era torture program is due to the work of the ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights, who have used the Freedom of Information Act to gather hundreds of documents, if not thousands, that document the paper trail surrounding the crimes of the Bush administration. Reporters and investigators like Jane Mayer, Philippe Sands, Alfred McCoy, and Jason Leopold have also contributed much to our understanding of what occurred during the Bush years. The work of investigators going back years demonstrates that U.S. research into and propagation of torture around the world goes back decades.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has also produced an impressive, if still partially redacted, investigation (large PDF) into detainee abuse by the Department of Defense. Their report, for instance, concluded regarding torture at Guantanamo that “Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s authorization of interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay was a direct cause of detainee abuse there.”

When one puts together the accelerated emphasis on “state secrets”; the Obama political program of “not looking back” in regards to U.S. war crimes (while supposedly pursuing accountability for torture and war crimes committed by other countries); the political passivity, if not cowardice of Congress; the fact that Obama “has not been transparent on the rendition issue, not even saying what its policy is,” according to Andrea Prasow; and finally the lies and propaganda spewed forth by the former Administration’s key figures and their proxies, one can only agree with HRW that enough is enough. The time for investigations and prosecutions into torture and rendition is now.

And if they won’t listen in Washington, D.C., perhaps they will in Madrid. Or some other intrepid prosecutor in — who knows? — Brazil or Argentina or Chile will pay back America, as a matter of poetic but also real justice for the crimes endured by their societies when the U.S. helped organize torture and terror in their countries only a generation ago. There were no U.S. investigations into actions of government figures then, and now we are faced with another set of atrocities produced by our own government. If we do not act now, what will our children face?

Andy Worthington Kicks Off “Guantánamo Habeas Week”

11:49 pm in Uncategorized by Jeff Kaye

Andy Worthington, who has conscientiously and effectively documented the fates of hundreds of prisoners held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo (see his book The Guantanamo Files), has posted a "Habeas Corpus Scorecard" at his website.

Surely it is a scandal that the government has been shown not to have a reason to hold 34 of the 47 Guantánamo cases brought before Federal judges with habeas petitions. In other words, the courts have refused to accept the U.S. government’s claim that these people are dangerous, the "worst of the worst," in almost three-quarters of the cases that have come before them. As Worthington describes it, the explanation for this incredible statistic lies in the flimsiness of the cases. And even more:

Primarily, the judges have exposed that the government has been relying, to an extraordinary extent, on confessions extracted through the torture or coercion of the prisoners themselves, or through the torture, coercion or bribery of other prisoners, either in Guantánamo, the CIA’s secret prisons, or proxy prisons run on behalf of the CIA in other countries.

This week, Worthington plans to dedicate his postings to covering these 47 cases decided to date, in what he calls "Guantánamo Habeas Week". His first entry in the series considers the case of Yasin Qasem Muhammad Ismail, a Yemeni who was captured (or sold to U.S. forces) in Afghanistan in 2001. He was either 19 or 22 at the time (as his age is uncertain). There is plausible evidence, from his testimony and witnesses, that Ismail, a small-time jihadist at best (despite claims from the government that he was "Emir" of the Bagram front), was tortured at Guantanamo. Despite that, his habeas petition was denied by Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. of the U.S. District Court, Washington, DC. His unclassified opinion in the case has not yet been released.

Worthington writes of the plight of prisoners like Ismail:

If anything, Ismail — and other prisoners who have lost their habeas petitions, like Ghaleb al-Bihani, who served as a cook for Arab forces supporting the Taliban — should have been held as prisoners of war and protected from ill-treatment according to the Geneva Conventions. On this basis, they could be held until the end of hostilities, and we would now be arguing about whether it is conceivable that an invasion to overthrow the Taliban, which began eight and a half years ago, and which met its immediate aims, leading to the fall of the Taliban as Afghanistan’s government and the election of Hamid Karzai as the Afghan President, is legitimately part of a “War on Terror” that might last forever, and that, as a result, even the most minor players in that initial conflict can be detained indefinitely.

As it stands, however, Yasin Ismail — a man who, by all accounts, never took up arms against anyone — remains imprisoned in Guantánamo on an apparently legal basis, and those of us who regard his continued detention as an overreaction, to put it mildly, must also reflect on the fact that, far from being treated humanely for the last eight years, he has been subjected to physical abuse and sexual humiliation for no justifiable reason, but that this is considered irrelevant to the case against him.

This kind of injustice is even more galling in the light, as Worthington points out, of revelations in a sworn statement by Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, that the vast majority of the prisoners at Guantanamo were not dangerous at all. In fact, they were never even properly vetted, but sucked up by U.S. forces for political reasons, and neither Bush, nor Cheney, nor Rumsfeld cared a whit about the innocence of any of these people. Wilkerson says former Vice President Cheney, for instance, "had absolutely no concern that the vast majority of Guantánamo detainees were innocent, or that there was a lack of any useable evidence for the great majority of them."

From Mr. Wilkerson’s filing (PDF):

With respect to the assertions by Mr. Hamad that he was wrongfully seized and detained, it became apparent to me as early as August 2002, and probably earlier to other State Department personnel who were focused on these issues, that many of the prisoners detained at Guantánamo had been taken into custody without regard to whether they were truly enemy combatants, or in fact whether many of them were enemies at all. I soon realized from my conversations with military colleagues as well as foreign service officers in the field that many of the detainees were, in fact, victims of incompetent battlefield vetting. There was no meaningful way to determine whether they were terrorists, Taliban, or simply innocent civilians picked up on a very confused battlefield or in the territory of another state such as Pakistan….

It was clear to me that, as I learned about how the majority of the Guantánamo prisoners had been detained, the initial group of 742 detainees had not been detained under the processes I was used to as a military officer. It was also becoming more and more clear that many of the men were innocent, or at a minimum their guilt was impossible to determine let alone prove in any court of law, civilian or military. If there were any evidence, the chain protecting it had been completely ignored.

So it comes as no surprise that the majority of the habeas cases have been granted by the courts. Yet still, many of these prisoners formally freed remain in Guantanamo, and others, unable to obtain a lawyer, or too depressed or ignorant to defend themselves, remain in the limbo of indefinite detention, while the Obama administration debates how to keep some of them in prison for the rest of their lives, feeding the Cheneyesque lie that these people are the worst criminals on the planet.

If some of them are criminals, then let that be decided in a court of law. Hundreds of thousands have died over the decades to make that principle stand. Let us not unceremoniously bury it because of fear-mongering.

I applaud Andy Worthington’s work in telling us these prisoners’ stories, and hope readers will follow his new series, and show him support. I hope readers will also look carefully at his excellent analysis behind issues such as the resuscitated military commissions, the trials of the terrorist suspects, and the continuing obeisance to the deeply flawed Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed after 9/11.

I also applaud those other news sources who are keeping track of the habeas decisions, such as The Washington Independent, Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Miami Herald. They’re all worth looking at.

Declassified Document: Kissinger Blocked U.S. Protest on South American Assassinations

1:58 am in Uncategorized by Jeff Kaye

A controversy has simmered for some years over the role of the United States, and particularly of its then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, in the actions surrounding Operation Condor. Condor was an assassination and torture plan implemented by a number of South American countries, braintrusted by Pinochet’s Chile.

A new FOIA release, courtesy of the National Security Archive, shows that only five days before former high-ranking Allende official, Orlando Letelier, and his U.S. assistant, Ronnie Moffit, were assassinated by Chile’s notorious DINA secret service in Washington, DC, a September 16, 1976 State Department cable from Henry Kissinger told his assistant secretary of state for Inter-American affairs, Harry Shlaudeman, to cancel a formal demarche to the Uruguayan government, protesting the assassinations and other activities of Operation Condor. The cable was followed four days later by instructions from Shlaudeman to numerous South American U.S. embassies to forego any protests regarding Condor policy, offering the excuse that Condor appeared to be inactive.

Yet, only the next day, a Condor assassination took place in the streets of Washington, DC, when a car bomb blew up Letelier and Moffitt. According to British historian, Kenneth Maxwell, the U.S. government was aware of Operation Condor, and even "that a Chilean assassination team had been planning to enter the United States." A flap over Maxwell’s favorable review in the journal of the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR), Foreign Affairs of Peter Kornbluh’s book The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability, led to Maxwell’s resignation from the CFR some months later.

See Maxwell’s account in "The Case of the Missing Letter in Foreign Affairs: Kissinger, Pinochet and Operation Condor," PDF. Today, Kornbluh is a Senior Analyst at the National Security Archive, and edited the introduction to the documents on Kissinger and Operation Condor.

What is Operation Condor?

According to a cable to FBI headquarters from FBI agent Robert Scherrer, who previously had worked with Paraguayan police in intelligence gathering on leftists, Operation Condor was work of "cooperating services in South America in order to eliminate Marxist terrorists and their activities in the area…. Chile is the center for Operation Condor, and in addition it includes Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay. Brazil has also tentatively agreed to supply input for Operation Condor."

Scherrer, who later captured Letelier and Moffitt’s killer, continued:

A third and more secret phase of Operation Condor involves the formation of special teams from member countries to travel anywhere in the world to non-member countries to carry out sanctions, [including] assassination, against terrorists or supporters of terrorist organizations from Operation Condor member countries. For example, should a terrorist or a supporter of a terrorist organization from a member country be located in a European country, a special team from Operation Condor would be dispatched to locate and surveil the target. When the location and surveillance operation has terminated, a second team from Operation Condor would be dispatched to carry out the actual sanction against the target. Special teams would be issued false documentation from member countries of Operation Condor.

According to a 2005 BBC story, greater documentary evidence came to light in 1992, thanks to the chance discovery of a Paraguayan judge. "The archives counted 50,000 persons murdered, 30,000 "desaparecidos" and 400,000 incarcerated" (link).

The participation of U.S. military and intelligence agencies in facilitating Condor have been slow to surface, but there are some. In October 1978, a State Department cable from U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay Robert White, to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, noted that the intelligence chiefs in Condor kept in touch with each other through encrypted messages sent through keep in touch with one another through "a U.S. communications installation in the Panama Canal Zone which covers all of Latin America." White told Vance that since "there is [a] likelihood Condor will surface during Letelier trial in the U.S…. it would seem advisable to review this arrangement to insure that its continuation is in U.S. interest."

Further declassifications of the Scherrer memo have shown that the Pentagon had quite detailed information about the mobilizations behind Condor operations.

Most recently, just yesterday, the Los Angeles Times, with Andrew Zajac and David S. Cloud reporting, described the response to the latest revelations surrounding Kissinger’s role in letting Operation Condor proceed:

"The document confirms that it’s Kissinger’s complete responsibility for having rescinded a cease-and-desist order to Condor killers," said Kornbluh, author of a 2004 book on Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

In a statement, Kissinger said Kornbluh "distorted" the meaning of the cable and said it was intended only to disapprove a specific approach to the Uruguayan government, not to cancel the plan to issue warnings to other nations in the Condor network.

Former State Department officials who worked under Kissinger during that period now say that his cable did interrupt the U.S. effort to rein in Operation Condor, not just with Uruguay but with other countries in the region.

Assassinations, Then and Now

The Kissinger/Condor revelations come at a time with the issue of U.S. assassinations abroad have taken center stage. There is the ongoing controversy over whether the United States has a legal right to conduct "targeted killings", i.e., murders, by pilotless drones in Afghanistan and elsewhere. These drone killings have left a trail of assassinations of purported Al Qaeda leaders, and hundreds of innocent civilians dead, and are believed to be alienating support for U.S. policy in that region.

Even more, reports of CIA and Joint Special Forces assassination squads, given the green-light by former President George W. Bush, and approved by his successor, Barack Obama, have also surfaced. Marcy Wheeler has followed the story in a number of recent articles. There was also the explosive tale by Seymour Hersh, that alleged that there was a special assassination squad attached directly to the office of Vice President Cheney.

The history of the United States is not one generally known to its average citizen. It involves the support and engagement in the use of torture, assassination, and covert interventions into the sovereign affairs of scores of other nations over the course of many decades, from Operation Gladio to Operation Condor. This policy has culminated in 2001-2003 with the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Today, over a quarter million U.S. troops are in that region, and the United States has documented use of torture and assassination as a matter of state policy.

President Obama came to office promising change and greater transparency. He has not lived up to this promise, and it may be that no commander-in-chief can do so, lacking from the populace itself a determination to uproot the militarist mind-set that occupies the programmatic operations of much of the government. But on the other hand, Obama has not indicated any appetite to appeal to the people on these issues, and instead follows the policies of his generals and admirals, and the spooks who populate the vaunted IC ("Intelligence Community".

The military and intelligence sectors of the government and the economy have grown unimaginably powerful. It is not an exaggeration that the actions of the U.S. government have made any claims of benefit in its activities abroad suspect. It is up to citizens of this country to take its democracy back, and hold its government accountable for what it has done.

Ghost Prisoners? Indefinite Detention? “Hitherto Acceptable Norms of Human Conduct Do Not Apply”

6:38 pm in Uncategorized by Jeff Kaye

In a report at Truthout, Andy Worthington described a new UN report on secret detention policies by governments around the world. The report, available in an advance, unedited version here (long PDF), concentrates on the situation over the last nine years, with "a detailed account of US policies… and also running through the practice of secret detention in 25 other countries, including Algeria, China, Egypt, India, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Libya, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Uganda and Zimbabwe."

A major new report on secret detention policies around the world, conducted by four independent UN human rights experts, concludes that, “On a global scale, secret detention in connection with counter-terrorist policies remains a serious problem,” and that, “If resorted to in a widespread and systematic manner, secret detention might reach the threshold of a crime against humanity"….

Of particular concern to the authors of the Joint Study — beyond the overall illegality of the entire project conceived and executed by the Bush administration — is the fate of dozens of men held in secret prisons run by the CIA, or transferred by the CIA to prisons in other countries. Based on figures disclosed in one of the Office of Legal Counsel’s notorious “torture memos” (PDF), written in May 2005 by Assistant Attorney General Stephen Bradbury, the CIA had, by May 2005, “taken custody of 94 prisoners [redacted] and ha[d] employed enhanced techniques to varying degrees in the interrogations of 28 of these detainees.”

The 28 men subjected to “enhanced techniques” are clearly the “high-value detainees” — including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Abu Zubaydah and twelve others — who were transferred to Guantánamo in September 2006, but no official account has ever explained what happened to the other 14 “high-value detainees,” or, indeed, to the majority of the other 66 men.

Tracking the missing men has been difficult, and the report looks into the various black prison sites in Afghanistan, including Bagram. In addition, the report examines "the cases of 35 men rendered by the CIA to Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Morocco, between 2001 and 2004." For many of these "ghost prisoners", we have no idea of where they were ultimately sent, or even if they are even alive.

The Bagram Project

Andy Worthington has begun a project on Bagram prisoners not dissimilar to the research he conducted on the Guantanamo prisoners, which culminated in the excellent book, The Guantanamo Files. Ever since the Pentagon released a list of the names of 645 prisoners it was holding at Bagram as of September 22, 2009 (PDF).

Worthington has been examining this list, and trying to determine who many of these prisoners are, as well as who may be missing from the list.

However, although it is probable that a number of former “ghost prisoners” have been repatriated to face death or further detention, it is not inconceivable that some prisoners were not included in the list because they are being held elsewhere — perhaps in a corner of Bagram to which the list does not extend.

One indication that this is so is the apparent omission from the list of Amanatullah Ali, a Pakistani who was seized by British forces in Iraq in 2004 and rendered to Bagram. His detention in Bagram has been confirmed through letters to his family, and his story, which was told by David Rose in Britain’s Mail on Sunday on December 9, is significant not only because it sheds light on the British government’s complicity in the Bagram rendition program, but also because it reveals the extent to which depriving the prisoners of the right to challenge the basis of their detention perpetuates the same mistakes that were made at Guantánamo.

Andy is producing an annotated version of the Bagram prisoner list, and you can read the initial form of it here. He asks that if anyone has any further information about any of the names on this list to email him.

Obama OLC Supports Indefinite Detention Policies, or Marty Lederman Turns to the Dark Side

As I was reading the articles on the secret detentions, I was reminded that Obama’s Office of Legal Council (OLC) has been quite active in promoting indefinite detentions for some of the Guantanamo prisoners. According to Joe Palazzolo at Main Justice, OLC — which under Bush’s appointees Yoo and Bybee had authored the memos approving torture — has been quite active in advising Department of Justice attorneys who are fighting the habeas cases of Guantanamo prisoners in the federal courts. OLC also "worked closely with the [detention] task force that recently completed a yearlong review of the Guantanamo Bay detainees. The task force determined that of the 198 detainees at the military-run prison, about 50 are unprosecutable but thought to be too dangerous to transfer [i.e., they will be held indefinitely, without charges], underscoring the importance of the habeas corpus cases — the chief means for testing the Obama administration’s detention regime.

One wonders what apostasy former supposed civil liberties proponent Marty Lederman underwent once he joined Obama’s Justice Department. But Palazzolo quotes a recent study by Benjamin Wittes and Rabea Benhalim of the Brookings Institution and Robert Chesney of the University of Texas Law School, who expound upon the crucial importance of the Obama administration’s legal actions on this front (emphasis added):

They are more than a means to decide the fate of the individuals in question. They are also the vehicle for an unprecedented wartime law-making exercise with broad implications for the future. The law established in these cases will in all likelihood govern not merely the Guantánamo detentions themselves but any other detentions around the world over which American courts acquire habeas jurisdiction. What’s more, to the extent that these cases establish substantive and procedural rules governing the application of law-of-war detention powers in general, they could end up impacting detentions far beyond those immediately supervised by the federal courts. They might, in fact, impact superficially-unrelated military activities, such as the planning of operations, the selection of interrogation methods, or even the decision to target individuals with lethal force….

The other thing the detentions issue reminded me of was a quote from a document I was recently reading. The document has historical significance, and is of great importance in understanding how the dark and secretive forces that are now essentially running this country gained such power and influence.

A Look Back at the Doolittle Report

From the Report on the Covert Activities of the Central Intelligence Agency, commissioned by the President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954 (otherwise known as the Doolittle Report – PDF, bold emphases added):

As long as it remains national policy, another important requirement is an aggressive covert psychological, political and paramilitary organization more effective, more unique, and, if necessary, more ruthless than that employed by the enemy. No one should be permitted to stand in the way of the prompt, efficient and secure accomplishment of this mission….

It is now clear that we are facing an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever cost. There are no rules in such a game. Hitherto acceptable norms of human conduct do not apply. If the United States is to survive, long-standing American concepts of "fair play" must be reconsidered. We must develop effective espionage and counterespionage services and must learn to subvert, sabotage and destroy our enemies by more clever, more sophisticated and more effective methods than those used against us. It may become necessary that the American people be made acquainted with, understand and support this fundamentally repugnant philosophy.

Looks like it took them almost 50 years to fulfill the latter prediction, when Dick Cheney informed us the U.S. was going over to the “dark side”. Of course, they’d made their infernal choice decades ago, and the U.S. citizenry is still catching up with the ramifications of those hidden decisions and multiple crimes.

Also, now the enemy is not world communism, but the forces of Al Qaeda, who (supposed) wish to found a world-wide Islamic Caliphate. Of course, tomorrow the enemy may be world communism again, when the war drive against China is activated in earnest, or perhaps it will be the “Asian hordes” once again.

This is not a time for politics as usual. The "consensus building" of President Obama’s administration is a cruel joke upon the people of America and the world. What is needed is boldness in opposition, a readiness to speak the complete truth, and the preparation of the American people to accept this truth, and make the links between Wall Street’s stranglehold over any economic "reform", and the insane military drive for extension of U.S. power around the world. The latter has led this country into the darkest crevices of human historical actions: to the secret prison and dungeon, to the torture chamber, to the use of technological devices and sciences to watch, control, and murder countless human beings.

"Hitherto acceptable norms of human conduct do not apply." It is worth considering well the implications of this statement for all of us.

Also posted at Invictus