Read more »
A prominent Bush administration official – Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell – stated under oath recently that the administration knew, as early as 2002, that many Guantánamo Bay detainees were innocent of any action against the U.S., that these men were tortured while held at Gitmo, and that several officials, including President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, directly knew about their innocence but lied about it, choosing to leave the prisoners at the site to cover up the administration’s mistakes.
Wilkerson is blowing the whistle now to assist the International Human Rights Clinic at Willamette University College of Law in Oregon and the Federal Public Defender, who are suing US officials for the wrongful detention and torture of Adel Hassan Hamad. Hamad, a Sudanese national, was working in Pakistan as a humanitarian aid worker when he was kidnapped from his apartment, tortured and sent to Guantánamo Bay. He was then detained for five years before being released.
In his statement, Wilkerson wrote:
I have made a personal choice to come forward and discuss the abuses that occurred because knowledge that I served an Administration that tortured and abused those it detained at the facilities at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere and indefinitely detained the innocent for political reasons has marked a low point in my professional career and I wish to make the record clear on what occurred. I am also extremely concerned that the Armed Forces of the United States, where I spent 31 years of my professional life, were deeply involved in these tragic mistakes.
Some of the worst allegations brought in Wilkerson's statement include: that the detentions of most of the initial group of 700 detainees brought to Guantanamo had never been meaningfully reviewed; that no evidence was handed over as to why they were detained; that children as young as 12 and 13 and people as old as 92 or 93 had been detained; and that bounty hunters were promised more than five times the per capita annual income in Afghanistan to hand over al-Qaeda suspects to the United States – which likely meant many detainees were handed over for the wrong reasons, according to Wilkerson's statement.
Read more »
This post was written by GAP Homeland Security Director Jesselyn Radack for her Daily Kos blog.
A while back, I was riled up because the Obama administration objected to the release of Bush documents that describe the videotaped interrogations of CIA detainees (specifically, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri) at secret prisons in Thailand. Why is it important to have documents that describe the videotapes? Because the 92 videotapes themselves were destroyed.
Now it turns out, courtesy of an ACLU FOIA request, that in 2005, Porter Goss, the former director of the CIA, blessed the decision, after the fact, by one of his top aides (Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr.) to destroy dozens of the missing torture videotapes. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/... After Rodriguez offered to "take the heat" (apparently realizing that he'd screwed up), and Goss laughed and said that, actually, he (Goss), would have to take the heat. I guess I don't get the joke, or how this is in any way funny.
Rodriguez, the former head of the CIA's clandestine service, did not clear the destruction before it happened with Goss. Nor with the CIA's top lawyer at the time, John Rizzo. Nor with the White House's Harriet Miers, who had asked to be advised before any action was taken.
Apparently, Rodriguez told Goss that the tapes would make the CIA
look terrible; it would be devastating to us.
That's a different, if more disgustingly honest, rationale that the three arguments previously posited that the videotapes would: 1) endanger national security, 2) benefit al-Qaeda's recruitment efforts, and 3) reveal "sensitive operational information" about interrogations. These first two reasons were purely speculative, non-legal arguments. The third reason was not really a valid reason, but rather an unapologetic cover-up of what might expose illegality--something that in and of itself is a crime called "obstruction of justice."
Read more »
A coalition of civil liberties groups, including GAP, the ACLU, Alliance for Justice, Amnesty International, and five others, are urging all members of Congress to vote against purchasing the Thomson Correction Center in Illinois to house the current prisoners of Guantanamo Bay, in effect prolonging the detainees’ current stay at the long-controversial holding facility. Guantanamo is known for its officers’ use of torture techniques against prisoners, and has come under fire recently for three alleged detainee deaths from torture in 2006 that were, again allegedly, covered up by the military as suicides.
This may seem counterintuitive, as many of the groups (including GAP) have publicly stated that Guantanamo Bay should be closed – but closing the facility at Guantanamo Bay in favor of a facility in Illinois with the same due process and constitutional problems is a band-aid without a cure. The current plan for the Illinois facility could include holding detainees indefinitely without bringing charges. Which, of course, is one of the major problems with Guatanamo Bay. A letter sent by the groups to all members of Congress urged that no action be taken to purchase the prison…
unless Congress, at the same time, also enacts a permanent, statutory ban on using the Thomson prison for indefinitely detaining persons without charge or trial, or for holding persons during military commission trials or for serving sentences imposed by military commissions.
The letter continues:
…we would support using the Thomson facility for holding any detainees now at Guantánamo who may be charged, tried, or sentenced in federal criminal court. However, we strongly oppose transporting the worst of Guantánamo policies – indefinite detention without charge or trial and military commissions – to a prison within the United States itself. If used for one or both of these purposes, the purchase of the Thomson prison could result in institutionalizing and perpetuating policies that should instead end.
The key is the institutionalization of these atrocious and bogus policies, which sets an unacceptable precedent of unfair detention practices taking place on American soil. It should be noted that the organizations believe the Obama administration has taken several excellent measures attempting to rectify the Guantanamo situation since taking office (notably beginning his presidency with a promise to shut down the facility and permitting detainees to receive fair trials in the federal court system).
Read more »
A federal judge in Chicago has dismissed a government motion to throw out a lawsuit brought against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The suit was brought by two American citizens who were subjected to torture in Iraq. The plaintiffs, former security consultants for a private Iraqi firm, were subjected to harsh interrogation techniques at Camp Cropper, near Baghdad.
One of the plaintiffs, Donald Vance, was held for months, without being allowed to communicate his whereabouts to his family. While in custody, he was subjected to “sleep deprivation, long hours of interrogation, blasting music, threats, hunger and a practice known as ‘walling’ in which subjects are blindfolded and walked into walls.”
Read more »
Following the dismissal of an investigation of the two authors of the infamous "torture memos," GAP Homeland Security Director Jesselyn Radack now has the dubious honor of now being the only person currently referred by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility for bar disciplinary action. What was their advice? That the CIA could proceed with waterboarding and other aggressive interrogation techniques. What was her advice? That an American citizen, accused of terrorist activities, should have legal counsel.
Radack (with GAP Homeland Security Counsel Kathleen McClellan) recently submitted written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee about a decision to essentially dismiss the extreme misconduct of John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the authors of the torture memos. Department of Justice (DoJ) Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis downgraded a 2009 report by the DoJ Office of Professional Responsibility that found Yoo had “committed intentional professional misconduct when he violated his duty to exercise independent legal judgment and render thorough, objective, and candid legal advice,” to a finding that he used “poor judgment."
Read more »
This post was written by GAP Homeland Security Director Jesselyn Radack for her Daily Kos Blog.
"Missing e-mails" are the common denominator of every single Bush-era scandal, from the authoring of the torture memos to the U.S. Attorney Massacre. Since the Justice Department has proven itself absolutely unwilling and unable to police itself, an independent prosecutor or investigative body, with subpoena power, needs to conduct a criminal inquiry into the systematic destruction of evidence and obstruction of justice--namely, "missing e-mails."
Read more »
This show came about because I read Jesselyn Radack's article, OPR: Torture Lawyers Get a Pass; I Get Referred for Criminal Prosecution and Bar Discipline. That inspired me to invite her on the show.
Then, she sent me a link to this article by Scott Horton, Justice's Vendetta Against a Whistleblower: Six Questions for Jesselyn Radack, and that inspired me to invite Scott back, to again be a guest on the show, this time for a three way conversation with Jesselyn.