Cheney afraid to go to Canada
BUSH USED PATRIOT ACT WARRENTLESS
SEARCH PROVISION FOR DRUG CASES - NOT TERRORISM
COURT OF APPEALS: ASHCROFT VIOLATED
RIGHTS OF CITIZENS AFTER 9/11
MASS WRONGFUL ARRESTS AT GOP CONVENTION
BUSH DISCUSSED SENDING MILITARY
TO MAKE CIVILIAN ARRESTS
BUSH'S MID EAST POLICY BASED ON
BUSH WIRETAPS NOT ONLY ILLEGAL;
THEY DIDN'T FIND ANY TERRORISM
THE HAZARDS OF A SPECIAL PROSECUTOR
FOR BUSH WAR CRIMES
CHENEY AND RICE APPROVED TORTURE
SY HERSH: CHENEY STILL HAS PEOPLE
IN GOVERNMENT REPORTING TO HIM
SECRET RED CROSS REPORT OUTLINES
SY HERSH CITES BUSH ERA 'EXECUTIVE
YOO ISN'T SORRY AT ALL
BUSH CAPOS OKAYED DITCHING CONSTITUTION
Matthew Rothschild, Progressive
- The Bush Justice Department, if you can call it that, issued
legal opinions in late 2001 asserting that the President had
the authority to use the military within the US against suspected
terrorists, and that he could use the military to barge into
your home without a warrant.
"The warrant and
probable cause requirements . . . are unsuited to the demands
of wartime and the military necessity to successfully prosecute
a war against an enemy," said an October 23, 2001, memo.
The authors were John
Yoo, who was then deputy assistant attorney general, and Robert
Delahunty, who was special counsel at the Justice Department.
And they sent the memo to Alberto Gonzales, then the counsel
to the President.
without a warrant was also OK, according to Bush lawyers at Justice.
They also said the President
could unilaterally abrogate treaties, and that Congress had no
say-so over the treatment of detainees.
Yoo and Delahunty clearly
contemplated waging war here at home.
"Efforts to fight
terrorism may require not only the usual wartime regulations
of domestic affairs, but also military actions that have normally
occurred abroad," said the Yoo-Delahunty memo.
It contemplated using
the U.S. military in the United States for "attacking civilian
targets, such as apartment buildings, offices, or ships where
suspected terrorists were thought to be; and employing electronic
surveillance methods more powerful and sophisticated than those
available to law enforcement agencies." And it recognized
that these actions could be "involving as they might American
citizens.". . .
Yoo and Delahunty also
proposed shelving the First Amendment. "First Amendment
speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding
need to wage war successfully," they wrote.
BUSH'S LAWYERS GAVE GREEN LIGHT
TO ILLEGAL SPYNG ON CITIZENS AND SUSPENSION OF A FREE PRESS
UN OFFICIAL CALLS FOR PROSECUTION
OF BUSH AND RUMSFELD
OBAMA PLANS TO IGNORE BUSH CRIMES
NEWSWEEK SAYS BUSH ET AL COULD FACE HIGH
SECRET MEMOS REVEAL WHITE HOUSE
EFFORT TO CRIMINALLY PROSECUTE
THE LAW AND PRACTICALITIES OF
LOCKING UP KARL ROVE FOR CONTEMPT
HOW TO PROSECUTE BUSH & CHENEY
GETTING READY FOR THE BUSH WAR
INTERACTIVE GUIDE TO SOME OF BUSH REGIME
BUSH SPYING ON AMERICANS MAY BE
FAR WORSE THAN THOUGHT
BUSH CAPOS TAKING WAR CRIMES TALK
ANOTHER BUSH WAR CRIME
Add to the list of Bush
war crimes: It is now been reported by senior American officials
that the president secretly told the military to carry out actions
inside Pakistan without the approval of the Pakistani government.
Said one of the officials, "The situation in the tribal
areas is not tolerable. We have to be more assertive. Orders
have been issued."
56 CONGRESS MEMBERS WANT SPECIAL
PROSECUTOR FOR BUSH WAR CRIMES
FBI WANTS DOMESTIC SPY POWER WITHOUT
431 WAYS YOUR CIVIL LIBERTIES
HAVE ERODED SINCE 9/11
WHAT THE U.S., LEARNED ABUT RUNNING
A DEATH SQUAD OR BACKING A CORRUPT GOVERNMENT IN LATIN AMERICA
AND HOW IT COULD BE APPLIED ELSEWHERE (LIKE HERE)
YOO WON'T ANSWER IF PRESIDENT
CAN BURY A SUSPECT ALIVE
OBAMA ADVISOR WARNS AGAINST HOLDING
THOSE IN POWER LIABLE FOR CRIMINAL ACTS
According to After Downing
Street, Barack Obama's advisor, Cass Sunstein, speaking at the
netroots convention cautioned against prosecuting criminal conduct
by the Bush regime. Prosecuting government officials risks a
cycle of criminalizing public service, he argued, and Democrats
should avoid replicating retributive efforts like the impeachment
of President Clinton--or even the "slight appearance"
BUSH CAPOS TAKING WAR CRIMES TALK
Frank Rich, The New York
Times Top Bush hands are starting to get sweaty about where they
left their fingerprints. Scapegoating the rotten apples at the
bottom of the military's barrel may not be a slam-dunk escape
route from accountability anymore.
No wonder the former Rumsfeld
capo, Douglas Feith, is trying to discredit a damaging interview
he gave to the British lawyer Philippe Sands for another recent
and essential book on what happened, "Torture Team."
After Mr. Sands previewed his findings in the May issue of Vanity
Fair, Mr. Feith protested he had been misquoted -- apparently
forgetting that Mr. Sands had taped the interview. . .
SECRET RED CROSS REPORT SAYS THE
CIA TORTURED AL QAEDA DETAINEES
Report -"Red Cross investigators concluded last year in
a secret report that the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogation
methods for high-level al Qaeda prisoners constituted torture,"
according to a new book by investigative reporter Jane Mayer.
The report found that the Bush administration "may have
committed 'grave breaches' of the Geneva Conventions" and
that the officials who approved the methods could be "guilty
of war crimes." The report, which Mayer cited in less detail
last year in the New Yorker, says that al Qaeda member Abu Zubaydah
told the Red Cross "that he had been waterboarded at least
10 times in a single week and as many as three times in a day."
Abu Zubaydah also was confined in a box "so small he said
he had to double up his limbs in the fetal position" and
was "one of several prisoners to be 'slammed against the
walls.'" The Red Cross concluded that the methods used on
Zubaydah were "categorically" torture. In August 2007,
after Mayer's initial New Yorker article on the report was published,
President Bush replied, "[I] haven't seen it; we don't torture"
when asked about the report. But according to Mayer's book, the
CIA showed the report to both Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza
ANOTHER BUSH AIDE SHOWS WHAT CONTEMPT
OF CONGRESS LOOKS LIKE
TRAVEL ADVISORY FOR BUSH PERPS:
DON'T TRAVEL ABROAD
BUSH HAS SEIZED MORE POWER THAN
ANY BRITISH OR AMERICAN LEADER SINCE 17TH CENTURY
GENERAL WHO PROBED ABU GHRAIB
SAYS BUSH OFFICIALS COMMITTED WAR CRIMES
LAW SCHOOL TO PLAN BUSH WAR CRIMES
OP ED NEWS A conference to plan the prosecution
of President Bush and other high administration officials for
war crimes will be held September 13-14 at the Massachusetts
School of Law at Andover.
"This is not intended to be a mere
discussion of violations of law that have occurred," said
convener Lawrence Velvel, dean and cofounder of the school. "It
is, rather, intended to be a planning conference at which plans
will be laid and necessary organizational structures set up,
to pursue the guilty as long as necessary and, if need be, to
the ends of the Earth."
"We must try to hold Bush administration
leaders accountable in courts of justice," Velvel said.
"And we must insist on appropriate punishments, including,
if guilt is found, the hangings visited upon top German and Japanese
war-criminals in the 1940s."
Velvel said past practice has been to allow
U.S. officials responsible for war crimes in Viet Nam and elsewhere
to enjoy immunity from prosecution upon leaving office. "President
Johnson retired to his Texas ranch and his Defense Secretary
Robert McNamara was named to head the World Bank; Richard Nixon
retired to San Clemente and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
was allowed to grow richer and richer," Velvel said.
He noted in the years since the prosecution
and punishment of German and Japanese leaders after World War
Two those nation's leaders changed their countries' aggressor
cultures. One cannot discount contributory cause and effect here,
"For Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald
Rumsfeld, and John Yoo to spend years in jail or go to the gallows
for their crimes would be a powerful lesson to future American
leaders," Velvel said.
The conference will take up such issues
as the nature of domestic and international crimes committed;
which high-level Bush officials, including Federal judges and
Members of Congress, are chargeable with war crimes; which foreign
and domestic tribunals can be used to prosecute them; and the
setting up of an umbrella coordinating committee with representatives
of legal groups concerned about the war crimes such as the Center
for Constitutional Rights, ACLU, National Lawyers Guild, among
The Massachusetts School of Law at Andover
was established in 1988 to provide an affordable, quality legal
education to minorities, immigrants and students from low-income
households that might otherwise be denied the opportunity to
obtain a legal education and practice law. Its founder, Dean
Velvel, has been honored by the National Law Journal and cited
in various publications for his contributions to the reform of
DENNIS KUCINCH'S IMPEACHMENT
Article I Creating a Secret Propaganda
Campaign to Manufacture a False Case for War Against Iraq.
Article II Falsely, Systematically, and
with Criminal Intent Conflating the Attacks of September 11,
2001, With Misrepresentation of Iraq as a Security Threat as
Part of Fraudulent Justification for a War of Aggression.
Article III Misleading the American People
and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Possessed Weapons of
Mass Destruction, to Manufacture a False Case for War.
Article IV Misleading the American People
and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Posed an Imminent Threat
to the United States.
Article V Illegally Misspending Funds to
Secretly Begin a War of Aggression.
Article VI Invading Iraq in Violation of
the Requirements of HJRes114.
Article VII Invading Iraq Absent a Declaration
Article VIII Invading Iraq, A Sovereign
Nation, in Violation of the UN Charter.
Article IX Failing to Provide Troops With
Body Armor and Vehicle Armor
Article X Falsifying Accounts of US Troop
Deaths and Injuries for Political Purposes
Article XI Establishment of Permanent U.S.
Military Bases in Iraq
Article XII Initiating a War Against Iraq
for Control of That Nation's Natural Resources
Article XIIII Creating a Secret Task Force
to Develop Energy and Military Policies With Respect to Iraq
and Other Countries
Article XIV Misprision of a Felony, Misuse
and Exposure of Classified Information And Obstruction of Justice
in the Matter of Valerie Plame Wilson, Clandestine Agent of the
Central Intelligence Agency
Article XV Providing Immunity from Prosecution
for Criminal Contractors in Iraq
Article XVI Reckless Misspending and Waste
of U.S. Tax Dollars in Connection With Iraq and US Contractors
Article XVII Illegal Detention: Detaining
Indefinitely And Without Charge Persons Both U.S. Citizens and
Article XVIII Torture: Secretly Authorizing,
and Encouraging the Use of Torture Against Captives in Afghanistan,
Iraq, and Other Places, as a Matter of Official Policy
Article XIX Rendition: Kidnapping People
and Taking Them Against Their Will to "Black Sites"
Located in Other Nations, Including Nations Known to Practice
Article XX Imprisoning Children
Article XXI Misleading Congress and the
American People About Threats from Iran, and Supporting Terrorist
Organizations Within Iran, With the Goal of Overthrowing the
Article XXII Creating Secret Laws
Article XXIII Violation of the Posse Comitatus
Article XXIV Spying on American Citizens,
Without a Court-Ordered Warrant, in Violation of the Law and
the Fourth Amendment
Article XXV Directing Telecommunications
Companies to Create an Illegal and Unconstitutional Database
of the Private Telephone Numbers and Emails of American Citizens
Article XXVI Announcing the Intent to Violate
Laws with Signing Statements
Article XXVII Failing to Comply with Congressional
Subpoenas and Instructing Former Employees Not to Comply
Article XXVIII Tampering with Free and
Fair Elections, Corruption of the Administration of Justice
Article XXIX Conspiracy to Violate the
Voting Rights Act of 1965
Article XXX Misleading Congress and the
American People in an Attempt to Destroy Medicare
Article XXXI Katrina: Failure to Plan for
the Predicted Disaster of Hurricane Katrina, Failure to Respond
to a Civil Emergency
Article XXXII Misleading Congress and the
American People, Systematically Undermining Efforts to Address
Global Climate Change
Article XXXIII Repeatedly Ignored and Failed
to Respond to High Level Intelligence Warnings of Planned Terrorist
Attacks in the US, Prior to 911.
Article XXXIV Obstruction of the Investigation
into the Attacks of September 11, 2001
Article XXXV Endangering the Health of
911 First Responders
FBI DOCUMENTED WIDESPREAD GITMO WAR CRIMES,
BUT WAS ORDER TO CLOSE DOWN FILE
NY TIMES In 2002, as evidence
of prisoner mistreatment at Guantanamo Bay began to mount, Federal
Bureau of Investigation agents at the base created a "war
crimes file" to document accusations against American military
personnel, but were eventually ordered to close down the file,
a Justice Department report revealed Tuesday. . .
In one of several previously
undisclosed episodes, the report found that American military
interrogators appeared to have collaborated with visiting Chinese
officials at Guantanamo Bay to disrupt the sleep of Chinese Muslims
held there, waking them every 15 minutes the night before their
interviews by the Chinese. In another incident, it said, a female
interrogator reportedly bent back an inmate's thumbs and squeezed
his genitals as he grimaced in pain.
The report describes what
one official called "trench warfare" between the F.B.I.
and the military over the rough methods being used on detainees
in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The report says that the
F.B.I. agents took their concerns to higher-ups, but that their
concerns often fell on deaf ears: officials at senior levels
at the F.B.I., the Justice Department, the Defense Department
and the National Security Council were all made aware of the
F.B.I. agents' complaints, but little appears to have been done
as a result.
The report quotes passionate
objections from F.B.I. officials who grew increasingly concerned
about the reports of practices like intimidating inmates with
snarling dogs, parading them in the nude before female soldiers,
or "short-shackling" them to the floor for many hours
in extreme heat or cold.
Such tactics, said one
F.B.I. agent in an e-mail message to supervisors in November
2002, might violate American law banning torture.
More senior officials,
including Spike Bowman, who was then the head of the national
security law unit at the F.B.I., tried to sound the alarm as
"Beyond any doubt,
what they are doing (and I don't know the extent of it) would
be unlawful were these enemy prisoners of war," Mr. Bowman
wrote in an e-mail message to top F.B.I. officials in July 2003.
THE LEGAL CASE AGAINST THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION
MARJORIE COHN, COUNTERPUNCH What does torture
have in common with genocide, slavery, and wars of aggression?
They are all jus cogens. Jus cogens is Latin for "higher
law" or "compelling law." This means that no country
can ever pass a law that allows torture. There can be no immunity
from criminal liability for violation of a jus cogens prohibition.
The United States has always prohibited
the use of torture in our Constitution, laws executive statements
and judicial decisions. We have ratified three treaties that
all outlaw torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
or punishment. When the United States ratifies a treaty, it becomes
part of the Supreme Law of the Land under the Supremacy Clause
of the Constitution.
The Convention Against Torture and Other
Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, says, "No
exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war
or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other
public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for torture."
Whether someone is a POW or not, he must
always be treated humanely; there are no gaps in the Geneva Conventions.
He must be protected against torture, mutilation, cruel treatment,
and outrages upon personal dignity, particularly humiliating
and degrading treatment under, Common Article 3.
We have federal laws that criminalize torture.
The War Crimes Act punishes any grave breach
of the Geneva Conventions, as well as any violation of Common
Article 3. That includes torture, willfully causing great suffering
or serious injury to body or health, and inhuman, humiliating
or degrading treatment.
The Torture Statute provides for life in
prison, or even the death penalty if the victim dies, for anyone
who commits, attempts, or conspires to commit torture outside
the United States.
The U.S. Army Field Manual's provisions
governing intelligence interrogations prohibit the "use
of force, mental torture, threats, insults, or exposure to unpleasant
and inhumane treatment of any kind." Brainwashing, mental
torture, or any other form of mental coercion, including the
use of drugs, are also prohibited. Military personnel who mistreat
prisoners can be prosecuted by court-martial under provisions
of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. These include conspiracy,
cruelty and maltreatment, murder, manslaughter, maiming, sodomy,
In Filartiga v. Pena-Irala, the Second
Circuit declared the prohibition against torture is universal,
obligatory, specific and definable. Since then, every U.S. circuit
court has reaffirmed that torture violates universal and customary
international law. In the Paquete Habana, the Supreme Court held
that customary international law is part of U.S. law.
The Constitution gives Congress the power
to make the laws and the President the duty to carry them out.
Yet on February 7, 2002, President Bush, relying on memos by
lawyers including John Yoo, announced that the Geneva Conventions
did not apply to alleged Taliban and Al Qaeda members. Bush said,
"As a matter of policy, the United
States Armed Forces shall continue to treat detainees humanely
and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity,
in a manner consistent with the principles of Geneva."
But torture is never allowed under our
Lawyers in the Department of Justice's
Office of Legal Counsel wrote memos at the request of high-ranking
government officials in order to insulate them from future prosecution
for subjecting detainees to torture. In memos dated August 1,
2002 and March 18, 2003, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General
John Yoo (Jay Bybee, now a federal judge, signed the 2002 memo),
advised the Bush administration that the Department of Justice
would not enforce the U.S. criminal laws against torture, assault,
maiming and stalking, in the detention and interrogation of enemy
The federal maiming statute makes it a
crime for someone "with the intent to torture, maim, or
disfigure" to "cut, bite, or slit the nose, ear or
lip, or cut out or disable the tongue, or put out or destroy
an eye, or cut off or disable a limb or any member of another
person." It further prohibits individuals from "throwing
or pouring upon another person any scalding water, corrosive
acid, or caustic substance" with like intent.
Yoo said in an interview in Esquire that
"just because the statute says -- that doesn't mean you
have to do it." In a debate with Notre Dame Professor Doug
Cassell, Yoo said there is no treaty that prohibits the President
from torturing someone by crushing the testicles of the person's
child. In Yoo's view, it depends on the President's motive, notwithstanding
the absolute prohibition against torture in all circumstances.
The Torture Convention defines torture
as the intentional infliction of severe physical or mental pain
or suffering. The U.S. attached an "understanding"
to its ratification of the Torture Convention, which added the
requirement that the torturer "specifically" intend
to inflict the severe physical or mental pain or suffering. This
is a distinction without a difference for three reasons.
First, under well-established principles
of criminal law, a person specifically intends to cause a result
when he either consciously desires that result or when he knows
the result is practically certain to follow.
Second, unlike a "reservation"
to a treaty provision, an "understanding" cannot change
an international legal obligation.
Third, under the Vienna Convention on the
Law of Treaties, an "understanding" that violates the
object and purpose of a treaty is void. The claim that treatment
of prisoners which would amount to torture under the Torture
Convention does not constitute torture under the U.S. "understanding"
violates the object and purpose of the Convention, which is to
ensure that "no one shall be subjected to torture or to
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." The
U.S. "understanding" that adds the specific intent
requirement is embodied in the U.S. Torture Statute.
Nevertheless, Yoo twisted the law and redefined
torture much more narrowly than the definitions in the Convention
Against Torture and the Torture Statute. Under Yoo's definition,
the victim must experience intense pain or suffering equivalent
to pain associated with serious physical injury so severe that
death, organ failure or permanent damage resulting in loss of
significant body functions will likely result.
Yoo wrote that self-defense or necessity
could be used as a defense to war crimes prosecutions for torture,
notwithstanding the Torture Convention's absolute prohibition
against torture in all circumstances. There can be no justification
After the exposure of the atrocities at
Abu Ghraib and the publication of the August 1, 2002 memo, the
Department of Justice knew the memo could not be legally defended.
That memo was withdrawn as of June 1, 2004. A new opinion, authored
by Daniel Levin, Acting Assistant Attorney General Office of
Legal Counsel, is dated December 30, 2004. It specifically rejects
Yoo's definition of torture, and admits that a defendant's motives
to protect national security will not shield him from a torture
prosecution. The rescission of the August 2002 memo constitutes
an admission by the Justice Department that the legal reasoning
in that memo was wrong. But for 22 months, it was in effect,
which sanctioned and led to the torture of prisoners in U.S.
John Yoo admitted the coercive interrogation
"policies were part of a common, unifying approach to the
war on terrorism." Yoo and other Department of Justice lawyers,
including Jay Bybee, David Addington, William Haynes and Alberto
Gonzalez, were part of a common plan to violate U.S. and international
laws outlawing torture. It was reasonably foreseeable that the
advice they gave would result in great physical or mental harm
or death to many detainees. Indeed, more than 100 have died,
many from torture.
ABC News reported last month that the National
Security Council Principals Committee consisting of Dick Cheney,
Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, George Tenet,
and John Ashcroft met in the White House and micromanaged the
torture of terrorism suspects by approving specific torture techniques
such as waterboarding. Bush admitted, "Yes, I'm aware our
national security team met on this issue. And I approved."
These top U.S. officials are liable for
war crimes under the U.S. War Crimes Act and torture under the
Torture Statute. They ordered the torture that was carried out
by the interrogators. Under the doctrine of command responsibility,
used at Nuremberg and enshrined in the Army Field Manual, commanders,
all the way up the chain of command to the commander in chief,
can be liable for war crimes if they knew or should have known
their subordinates would commit them, and they did nothing to
stop or prevent it. The Bush officials ordered the torture after
seeking legal cover from their lawyers.
But Yoo and the other Justice Department
lawyers who wrote the enabling memos are also liable for the
same offenses. They were an integral part of a criminal conspiracy
to violate our criminal laws. Yoo admitted in an Esquire interview
last month that he knew interrogators would take action based
on what he advised.
The President can no more order the commission
of torture than he can order the commission of genocide, or establish
a system of slavery, or wage a war of aggression.
A Select Committee of Congress should launch
an immediate and thorough investigation of the circumstances
under which torture was authorized and rationalized. The high
officials of our government and their lawyers who advised them
should be investigated and prosecuted by a Special Prosecutor,
independent of the Justice Department, for their crimes.
John Yoo, Jay Byee, and David Addington
should be subjected to particular scrutiny because of the seriousness
of their roles in misusing the rule of law and legal analysis
to justify torture and other crimes in flagrant violation of
domestic and international law.
This essay is adapted from Marjorie Cohn's
testimony before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil
Rights and Civil Liberties of the House Judiciary Committee.
Marjorie Cohn is president of the National Lawyers Guild and
author of Cowboy Republic.
PARAGUAY MAY NO LONGER BE SAFE
HAVEN FOR BUSH
WHY BUSH MOB WILL BE CAREFUL WHERE
THEY TRAVEL ABROAD AFTER 2008
WHAT AWAITS THE BUSH REGIME IN
BUSH VETOES BILL THAT WOULD BAN
WATERBOARDING, OTHER TORTURES
MUKASEY REFUSES TO ENFORCE CONTEMPT
TOP AIDE TO COLIN POWELL RAISES WAR CRIME
QUESTION RE CHENEY
BBC - A top aide to former Secretary of
State Colin Powell has launched a stinging attack on US Vice-President
Dick Cheney over abuse of prisoners by US troops. Col Lawrence
Wilkerson accused Mr Cheney of ignoring a decision by President
Bush on the treatment of prisoners in the war on terror.
Asked by the BBC's Today if Mr Cheney could
be accused of war crimes, he said: "It's an interesting
"Certainly it is a domestic crime
to advocate terror," he added.
"And I would suspect, for whatever
it's worth, it's an international crime as well."
This is an extraordinary attack by a man
who until earlier in the year was Mr Cheney's colleague in the
senior reaches of the Bush team, the BBC's Justin Webb in Washington
Col Wilkerson has in the past accused the
vice-president of responsibility for the conditions which led
to the abuse of prisoners.
But this time he has gone much further,
appearing to suggest Mr Cheney should face war crimes charges,
our correspondent adds.
He said that there were two sides of the
debate within the Bush administration over the treatment of prisoners.
Mr Powell and more dovish members had argued
for sticking to the Geneva conventions, which prohibit the torture
Meanwhile, the other side "essentially
wanted to do away with all restrictions".
Mr Bush agreed a compromise, that "Geneva
would in fact govern all but al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda look-alike
detainees". . . .
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT DEFENDS WAR CRIMES BY CIA
MSNBC - Recent letters from the U.S. Justice
Department to Congress state that intelligence agents working
on counterterrorism can legally use interrogation techniques
that might otherwise be banned by international law, The New
York Times reported in its Sunday editions. The Justice Department's
interpretation shows the Bush administration is contending that
the boundaries should have a degree of latitude, the Times said,
despite the president's order last summer that he said meant
the CIA would hew to international norms on the treatment of
detainees. . .
A March 5 letter from the Justice Department
to Congress makes clear the Bush administration has not set boundaries
for which interrogation methods might violate the ban in the
Geneva Conventions on "outrages upon personal dignity,"
the Times reported.
BUSH ADMITS HE KNEW HIS AIDES
WERE DISCUSSING TORTURE
ABC: TOP BUSH AIDES MET DOZENS OF TIMES TO APPROVE
ABC - In dozens of top-secret talks and
meetings in the White House, the most senior Bush administration
officials discussed and approved specific details of how high-value
al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence
Agency, sources tell ABC News.
The so-called Principals who participated
in the meetings also approved the use of "combined"
interrogation techniques -- using different techniques during
interrogations, instead of using one method at a time -- on terrorist
suspects who proved difficult to break, sources said.
Highly placed sources said a handful of
top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top
al Qaeda suspects -- whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived
of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding.
DAN EGGEN AND JOSH WHITE, WASHINGTON POST - The Justice Department
sent a legal memorandum to the Pentagon in 2003 asserting that
federal laws prohibiting assault, maiming and other crimes did
not apply to military interrogators who questioned al-Qaeda captives
because the president's ultimate authority as commander in chief
overrode such statutes.
The 81-page memo, which was declassified
and released publicly yesterday, argues that poking, slapping
or shoving detainees would not give rise to criminal liability.
The document also appears to defend the use of mind-altering
drugs that do not produce "an extreme effect" calculated
to "cause a profound disruption of the senses or personality."
GLENN GREENWALD, SALON As
Jane Mayer reported two years ago in The New Yorker -- in which
she quoted former Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora as saying
that "the memo espoused an extreme and virtually unlimited
theory of the extent of the President's Commander-in-Chief authority"
-- it was precisely Yoo's torture-justifying theories, ultimately
endorsed by Donald Rumsfeld, that were communicated to Gen. Geoffrey
Miller, the commander of both Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib at the
time of the most severe detainee abuses (the ones that are known.
The fact that John Yoo is a Professor of
Law at Berkeley and is treated as a respectable, serious expert
by our media institutions, reflects the complete destruction
over the last eight years of whatever moral authority the United
States possessed. Comporting with long-held stereotypes of two-bit
tyrannies, we're now a country that literally exempts our highest
political officials from the rule of law, and have decided that
there should be no consequences when they commit serious felonies.
HOW A CONCENTRATION CAMP GUARD
EXISTENTIAL COWBOY - There is probable
cause now to try George W. Bush for capital crimes in connection
with the US program of torture at Abu Ghraib as well as the war
of aggression against Iraq. There is evidence that George W.
Bush ordered this program which most certainly resulted in numerous
violations of the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg Principles.
(a) Offense. Whoever, whether inside
or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of
the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined
under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years,
or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject
to the penalty of death. -US Codes, TITLE
18 > PART I > CHAPTER 118 > § 2441;
Certainly, the Bush regime has sought to
make 'legal' Bush's crimes ex post facto, after they had already
been committed. The argument that Bush, as 'President', may pardon
himself or grant himself retroactive immunity from prosecution
is just silly. If that were the case, every President might have
tried to get away with it by simply making it all up as one goes
along --the very anti-thesis of the 'rule of law', indeed, 'Due
Process of Law', guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. If mere Presidents
were allowed this kind of power, they might as well rule by decree,
as Bush has presumed to do. As I have pointed out not even European
monarchs were permitted to get away with that. King Charles I
was beheaded for less. [See: Why Bush Made Plans to Invade the
Netherlands; Bush's Unitary Executive Ends the Rule of Law, the
Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Separation of Powers].
George W. Bush has never denied that 'torture'
was conducted upon his order. Abu Ghraib was not only about 'waterboarding'
it was about a panoply of torture procedures --all of them perpetrated
upon Bush's order. Bush has never denied that he ordered any
procedure that we associate with Abu Ghraib. He has merely tried
to justify it, as he tried to do in the following interview with
Matt Lauer of the Today Show. . .
Even if his regime were 'legitimate' his
various decrees bypassing both Congress and the Constitution
are unlawful. Bush is not above the law, though he may think
he is. Likewise, King Charles I of England may have thought himself
above the authority of Parliament but found out otherwise too
late to keep his head attached to his body.
ANTHONY DiMAGGIO, COUNTERPUNCH
- In a refreshing investigative series in the Boston Globe from
2006, journalist Charlie Savage dropped a bombshell on the Bush
administration. Reporting on Bush's use of "signing statements,"
Savage highlighted the president's long-standing contempt for
Legislative authority. Since then, the story has generally been
overlooked although it recently resurfaced when Bush issued another
statement that he would disregard Congress's prohibition of permanent
military bases in Iraq. The President's issuance of this signing
statement is just one of hundreds of challenges he's made to
A signing statement, simply
put, is an official announcement from the Executive--an attempt
to alter the intent of a law by allowing the President to interpret
its execution in any way he sees fit. While signing statements
hold no official legal standing, the president acts as if they
grant him the power to disregard segments of bills with which
he disagrees. Since taking office, the Bush administration has
issued over 150 signing statements, containing over 500 constitutional
challenges, and questioning more than 1,100 provisions of national
laws. This is a significant increase from years past. Former
presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton
issued over 300 such statements combined, while only 75 signing
statements were issued in total from the early 1800s through
the Carter Presidency.
Interpretive signing statements
have received support from some legal scholars and officials
associated with the administration, such as Supreme Court Justice
Samuel Alito and John Yoo of the Justice Department's Office
of Legal Council. The American Bar Association, the ACLU, and
other legal scholars, however, have challenged the signing statements
as unconstitutional and a violation of the principles of checks
and balances and separation of powers. In response to Bush's
circumvention of the military bases ban, Harvard Law Professor
David Barron questioned the administration for "continuing
to assert the same extremely aggressive conception of the president's
unilateral power to determine how and when US force will be used
Some Democrats in Congress
have also challenged the President's assumption that he can unilaterally
interpret laws outside their original intent. House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi explains: "I reject the notion in his signing statement
that he can pick and choose which provisions of this law to executeHis
job, under the Constitution, is to faithfully execute the law
- every part of it--and I expect him to do just that."
Sadly, there's been little
sustained effort on the part of the Legislative and Judicial
branches to prohibit these attacks on the legal system. The few
bills that have been presented in Congress seeking to prohibit
signing statements have gone nowhere, ignored by the majority
of Democrats and Republicans. The Supreme Court has also failed
to rule on the constitutionality of the signing statements, contributing
to the legal ambiguity surrounding the President's controversial
A few examples of the President's
signing statements provide a better picture of his contempt for
1. Regarding a bill requiring
the Justice Department to provide reports to Congress on how
the FBI has utilized the Patriot Act to spy on citizens and confiscate
property, Bush issued a statement declaring his power to withhold
such information if he feels it would hurt national security
in some way.
2. Concerning a law protecting
whistleblowers at the Dept. of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory
Commission from punishment, the President determined that it's
within his power to determine whether potential whistleblowers
are even allowed to provide information to Congress.
3. In response to a 2004
law preventing the U.S. from deploying troops in Colombia against
FARC and FLN guerillas, Bush announced that only he, as the commander
in chief, has the power to decide whether troops will be used.
Bush deemed the law as nothing more than "advisory in nature."
4. Although a law was passed
requiring that scientific information "prepared by government
researchers and scientists shall be transmitted uncensored and
without delay" to Congress, the President issued a statement
claiming it is within his power to withhold information if he
feels it could damage U.S. national security, relations with
foreign countries, or generally interfere with the operations
of the Executive.
5. Perhaps most controversially,
the President issued a signing statement countering Congress's
prohibition on torture (included within the 2005 McCain amendment),
claiming that it was within his constitutional power to ignore
the ban in order to "combat terrorism."
You've probably noticed
a pattern with many of these statements: they don't simply establish
Presidential power to "interpret" or "execute"
the law; quite the contrary, they represent a fundamental abrogation
of the major provisions of the bills themselves. Of what use
is a bill prohibiting torture, if the ban can be bypassed by
any president who does not feel bound to honor it? What is the
point of prohibiting the deployment of troops to Colombia, if
the president simply ignores this requirement? Rather than voting
against a ban on torture, the President has taken the back-door
approach, signing the bill, then quietly issuing a statement
that he will not be bound by the law.
the media response to Bush's signing statements has been lacking.
On the one hand, there are the wonderful investigative reports
of Savage in the Boston Globe, which shed much light on the long-neglected
story of presidential contempt for the law. On the other hand,
researchers have found that the Globe's reporting has been largely
ignored in other major outlets. The watchdog group Media Matters
for America concluded that: "Except for a short March 24
United Press International article, some scattered editorials
and opinion columns, and brief mentions in an April 1 San Francisco
Chronicle article and an April 23 Washington Post article, Savage's
reporting on Bush's 'signing statements' and the Democratic response
were ignored by major newspapers and wire services. And aside
from Keith Olbermann, who reported on the Globe article on the
March 24 edition of MSNBC's Countdown, the cable and broadcast
news networks ignored the 'signing statements' as well."
My own analysis also indicates
mixed results in the case of the Paper of Record. On the editorial
side of the New York Times, the paper actually came out quite
opposed to the signing statements. In a 2008 editorial on the
President's circumvention of the military bases ban, the paper
attacked the administration for its "passive-aggressive"
attempts "to undermine the power of Congressdeclaring that
he [has] no intention of obeying laws he [has] signed."
In his 2007 Op-Ed, Adam Cohen censured Bush for his de-facto
veto of the torture ban--for using an "extralegal trickto
bypass the ban on torture. It allowed him to make a coward's
escape from the moral and legal responsibility" of prohibiting
Sadly, sustained critical
attention hasn't appeared in the paper's reporting. While the
administration has been issuing signing statements since it took
office in early 2001, a review of the paper's coverage demonstrates
that the topic didn't even make an appearance in the paper until
a full five years later, in January 2006. Overall, the paper
has run only 7 stories featuring the signing statements, in the
just over seven years of the Bush administration's tenure. Furthermore,
six of those stories were clustered in the _ year period between
January and July of 2007--when Republican Senator Arlen Specter
was attacking the President for the statements, and when the
Senate was grilling Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito for his
support for the statements. Only one report from mid 2006 through
early 2008 featured the issue of the statements, despite the
continuing conflict between Congress and the President over his
distaste for national laws.
Whenever I reach the Presidency
section in my American government class each semester, many of
my students become enraged when they find out about the Bush
administration and the signing statements debacle. They're bewildered
that a political leader could be allowed to blatantly disregard
the law without being held politically accountable. Unfortunately,
most people don't seem to be aware of the travesty of the signing
statements--at least if my students' responses are any indication.
While Bush's contempt for the law may very well be an impeachable
offense, it certainly hasn't been treated this way in a timid
Congress, too afraid to challenge the President in a time of
PENTAGON LAWYER WHO
TRIED TO RIG GITMO CASES RESIGNS
THE NATION - William J.
Haynes, the Pentagon's chief legal officer and overseer of Guantanamo's
Military Commissions, is stepping down, amid mounting controversy
over the tribunal process, so he can "return to private
life," the Department of Defense announced late on Monday.
Haynes' resignation comes exactly two weeks after landmark charges
were brought against six "high-value" Guantanamo detainees.
His infamous memos and
public statements advocated torture and the denial of habeas
corpus for detainees. In a 2002 memo, he recommended techniques
such as "twenty-hour interrogations, isolation for up to
thirty days, deprivation of light and auditory stimuli. . . and
stress positions such as the proposed standing for four hours."
In response to this last technique, Haynes's boss at the time,
then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, wrote in the memo's
margins, "I stand 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited
to 4 hours." Haynes also wanted to keep death threats, waterboarding
and exposure to extreme temperatures on the table as interrogation
methods. He stated, "Fact: The detainees currently held
at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are not protected by the Geneva Conventions.".
Criticism of Haynes has
sharpened in the wake of the October resignation of the Chief
Prosecutor of Guantánamo's military commissions, Col.
Morris Davis, who charged that Haynes and other political appointees
were interfering unlawfully in the process. Davis resigned when
Haynes was inserted above him in the chain of command, saying,
"Everyone has opinions, but when he was put above me, his
opinions become orders." . . .
And just last week, Col.
Davis made the startling claim, in an exclusive interview with
The Nation, that Haynes, who oversees both the prosecution and
defense, said to him, "We can't have acquittals, we have
to have convictions." According to Davis, Haynes said, "if
we've been holding these people for so long, how can we explain
letting them get off?"
HOUSE CENSORS TWO TOP BUSH AIDES; JUSTICE
DEPARTMENT TO IGNORE LAW
CNN - The House voted to hold White House
Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House lawyer Harriet
Miers in contempt in its probe of the 2006 firings of U.S. attorneys.
Former White House counsel Harriet Miers refused to appear at
a hearing into the firings of U.S. attorneys. The House voted
223-23 to hold the two Bush aides in contempt of Congress. White
House spokeswoman Dana Perino called the move "a partisan,
futile act" that would not be enforced by the Justice Department.
WAR CRIMES ACT
GEORGE WASHINGTON BLOGSPOT - The War Crimes
Act of 1996: Bush, Cheney and the Boys could be Indicted under
US Law The War Crimes Act of 1996, a federal statute set forth
at 18 U.S.C. S 2441, makes it a federal crime for any U.S. national,
whether military or civilian, to violate the Geneva Convention
by engaging in murder, torture, or inhuman treatment.
The statute applies not only to those who
carry out the acts, but also to those who order, know about it,
or fail to take steps to stop it. The statute applies to everyone,
no matter how high and mighty.
18 U.S.C. S 2441 has no statute of limitations,
which means that a war crimes complaint can be filed at any time.
The penalty may be life imprisonment or
-- if a single prisoner dies due to torture -- death. Given that
there are numerous, documented cases of prisoners being tortured
to death by U.S. soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan (see for
example this report), that means that the death penalty would
be appropriate for anyone found guilty of carrying out, ordering,
or sanctioning such conduct.
The general in charge of the notorious
Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq stated this week that Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other top administration officials
ordered that inhuman treatment and torture be conducted as part
of a deliberate strategy. . .
NY TIMES - At the
time that the Central Intelligence Agency destroyed videotapes
of the interrogations of operatives of Al Qaeda, a federal judge
was still seeking information from Bush administration lawyers
about the interrogation of one of those operatives, Abu Zubaydah,
according to court documents made public on Wednesday. It was
already known that the judge in the case, Leonie M. Brinkema,
had not been told about the existence or destruction of the videos.
But the newly disclosed court documents, which had been classified
as secret, showed the judge had still been actively seeking information
about Mr. Zubaydah's interrogation as late as Nov. 29, 2005.
. . The document states that on Nov. 29, 2005, government lawyers
produced documents, including "intelligence summaries,"
about Abu Zubaydah but never told the court about the existence
or destruction of the tapes.
USE OF TORTURE
WASH POST - The White
House yesterday directly joined a debate over the use of simulated
drownings to force disclosures by CIA detainees, saying the interrogation
technique known as waterboarding was legal and that President
Bush could authorize the tactic in the future. White House spokesman
Tony Fratto said the CIA could use waterboarding with Bush's
approval, which would "depend on the circumstances,"
including whether "an attack might be imminent." Independent
legal experts have called the technique torture and said its
use is barred by U.S. laws and treaties under all circumstances.
Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director
for Human Rights Watch, said the Bush administration's admissions
about waterboarding mark an important milestone. "It's not
an abstract debate anymore," Malinowski said. "They've
acknowledged that they've waterboarded people, and virtually
every legal authority in the United States believes that waterboarding
is torture and a crime."
WASH POST EDITORIAL -
For centuries, civilized countries have considered waterboarding,
or simulated drowning, to be torture. The United States rightly
condemned as war criminals Japanese soldiers who employed the
technique against U.S. personnel during World War II. It prosecuted
U.S. military officers who waterboarded prisoners at the turn
of the 20th century.
THINK PROGRESS - In today's gaggle, White
House said that it may approve the use of waterboarding again
. . . "It will depend upon circumstances," spokesman
Tony Fratto said, adding "the belief that an attack might
be imminent, that could be a circumstance that you would definitely
want to consider."