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King George Bush can torture anyone


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King George" Bush just overturned 800 years of settled law by signing the Millitary Commissions Act.


The right of Habeas Corpus was first obtained in 13th century England when King John signed the Magna Carta with a sword at his throat. He made so much use of torture and detention without trial that no English king was ever named John again!


Now 800 years later, Habeas Corpus as well as the US Constitution are in flames. With one stroke of his pen, "King George" has undone 800 years of history by legalizing detention without trial and almost unlimited torture.


I am just praying for the Democrats to take over Congress and get rid of this scumbag.

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King George's definition of Freedom - social or de-facto status of specific persons, usually captives or prisoners who are considered as property for the purpose of providing labor and services for the owner or state without the right to refuse, leave or gain compensation beyond room and board and clothing.


Edited by BlingBling
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  • 4 months later...

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), representing 45,00 churches and 30 million churchgoers, has released an anti-torture statement saying the United States has crossed "boundaries of what is legally and morally permissible in its treatment of detainees and war prisoners in the fight against terror." The statement said that "the United States has historically been a leader in supporting international human rights efforts, but our moral vision has blurred since 9/11." The NAE rejected the Military Commissions Act, which guts habeas corpus and allows testimony obtained from torture. The group condemned the use of torture tactics at "Abu Ghraib prison, Afghanistan's Bagram Air Base, in CIA black sites, and at the hands of other nations." Rev. Richard Cizik, the NAE's Washington policy director, said the motivation for the statement was to send a message worldwide that U.S. citizens and evangelicals do not support torture. "We are conservatives who wholeheartedly support the war against terror, but that does not mean by any means necessary," he stated. The board of the NAE also recently stood by its support for action to curb global warming.


EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn., March 11, 2007-- The board of directors of the National Association of Evangelicals advanced a broad public agenda at its annual meeting this week, endorsing a landmark document on human rights and torture, and reaffirming its "For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Public Engagement," first adopted in 2003.


The NAE board endorsed "An Evangelical Declaration Against Torture: Protecting Human Rights in An Age of Terror." The 18-page document, which was produced by Evangelicals for Human Rights and can be viewed at www.evangelicalsforhumanrights.org, states: "From a Christian perspective, every human life is sacred. Recognition of this transcendent moral dignity is non-negotiable for us as evangelical Christians in every area of life, including our assessment of public policies. We write this declaration to affirm our support for detainee human rights and opposition to any resort to torture."


The document affirms the doctrine that "United States law and military doctrine has banned the resort to torture or cruel and degrading treatment. Tragically, documented cases of torture and inhumane and cruel behavior have occurred at various sites in the war on terror, and current law opens procedural loopholes for more to continue. We commend the Pentagon's revised Army Field Manual for clearly banning such acts, and urge that this ban extend to every sector of the United States government without exception, including our intelligence agencies."


The board also reaffirmed its support for the landmark "For the Health of the Nation" document unanimously adopted in 2003, commending its “principles of Christian political engagement to our entire community for action."


These principles include: (1) We work to protect religious freedom and liberty of conscience; (2) We work to nurture family life and protect children; (3) We work to protect the sanctity of human life and to safeguard its nature; (4) We seek justice and compassion for the poor and vulnerable; (5) We work to protect human rights; (6) We seek peace and work to restrain violence; (7) We labor to protect God's creation.


Dr. Leith Anderson, NAE President and Senior Pastor of Wooddale Church, which hosted the meeting, stated in his President's report: "The NAE is strong and the future is bright. We will continue to work to strengthen the evangelical cause around the world and preach and teach of the salvation that only comes through Jesus Christ."


A team of three executive committee members has been selected to begin the process for securing a successor to Anderson and will bring a preliminary report back to the Board at its fall meeting in October, to be held in Washington, D.C.


Speaking at the annual board banquet, Rev. Richard Cizik, NAE vice president for governmental affairs, quoted evangelical theologian Carl F. H. Henry in his wake up call to evangelicals sixty years ago: "The cries of suffering humanity today are many. No evangelicalism which ignores the totality of man's condition dares respond in the name of Christianity."


Speaking of a new generation of evangelicals that has responded to those cries, Cizik said: "We root our activism in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross and are giving it a proper temporal focus by emphasizing all of the principles that are found in the Bible. We come together in a positive way as a family bonded by the love of Christ, not as fractious relatives. We desire to be people known for our passionate commitment to justice and improving the world, and eager to reach across all barriers with love, civility, and care for our fellow human beings."


The Board also heard from Paul Borden, Executive Director of Growing Healthy Churches, who spoke on evangelism programs for churches and denominations; and Joel Hunter, senior pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed, on the creation care movement. At its fall Board meeting in Washington, D.C., October 11-12, the Association will host an "International Congress on Evangelical Public Engagement," drawing prestigious leaders from around the world to meet with American leadership around the principles of the Association's "For the Health of the Nation" document.


The human rights document is available at the Evangelicals for Human Rights website:



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  • 7 months later...
Guest Shin Inouye

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-08), Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Congressman Bill Delahunt (MA-10), Chair of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight today introduced the American Anti-Torture Act of 2007. The bill would ensure a single, uniform, baseline standard for all interrogations conducted on persons in the custody or under the effective control of the U.S. Government.


Specifically, the bill would extend the first part of the McCain Amendment, which requires that interrogations comply with the standards set forth in the Army Field Manual, to all government agencies. The McCain Amendment currently only applies to the Department of Defense.


The Nadler-Delahunt extension would include the CIA – the agency reportedly responsible for carrying out the Administration’s so-called “enhanced” or “alternate” interrogation program and for operating secret overseas prisons. This clarification in the law would outlaw waterboarding, a method of simulated drowning. Like the McCain Amendment, the bill would not apply the Army Field Manual to the interrogation of individuals in custody under a criminal or immigration law of the United States.


“We all agree that terrorists must be brought to justice – but we must not abandon the very freedoms we’re protecting in the process,” said Rep. Nadler. “Torture, including practices like waterboarding, is un-American and inconsistent with our adherence and respect for the rule of law. This bill will reaffirm our commitment to American values and help restore our national conscience.”


"The use of torture and so-called "enhanced" interrogation -- such as waterboarding -- contradicts our commitment to the rule of law and basic human decency,” said Rep. Delahunt. “It is time for the Congress to demonstrate to the rest of the world that we will hold our government accountable for any action that betrays our core American values.”

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  • 4 months later...
Guest Ray McGovern

In his Feb. 7, 2002, memorandum, Bush wrote: "I determine that common Article 3 of Geneva does not apply to either al Qaeda or Taliban detainees." (Common Article 3 bans "torture [and] outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.")


Then, drawing on the lawyerly legerdemain, Bush did something really dumb. Using words drafted by Vice President Dick Cheney's lawyer, David Addington, for a memo dated Jan. 25, 2002, signed by then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, the president ordered that detainees be treated, "humanely ... to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity."


Tacked onto the end of that sentence is a classic circumlocution: "in a manner consistent with the principles of Geneva." But that is not what Geneva says, and there is no way to square that circle.


This is the giant loophole through which Rumsfeld and Tenet drove the Mack truck of torture ... yes, signed by the president. The rotten apples were – demonstrably – at the very top of the barrel.


Typical of the timid treatment accorded this issue is what initially seemed to be a straightforward article by Don Eggen in Sunday's Washington Post. It spotlighted scapegoat-of-the-hour Yoo, noting that he advised that in time of war the president's ultimate authority as commander in chief trumps laws prohibiting assault, maiming and other crimes by military interrogators.


In focusing on Yoo's legal advice, however, Eggen joined his "mainstream" journalist colleagues in omitting the smoking gun – Bush's implementing memorandum of Feb. 7, 2002. That document already had cleared the way for waterboarding, stress positions, forced nudity and other abuse of detainees – as well as for further legal musings about the unlimited powers of a wartime president, like Yoo’s newly disclosed March 14, 2003, memo.


The omission was all the more conspicuous in that a listing of nine memoranda relevant to the story sits side by side with Eggen's article. Guess which memo did not make it onto that list?


I urge you to download the president's Feb. 7 smoking gun from the Web and read it yourself. The Jan. 25, 2002, memo bearing Gonzales's signature is also available – in its original form.



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Guest John Neurohr

When the nation learned that prisoners detained and interrogated after 9/11 had been tortured by U.S. personnel, the Bush administration sought to portray these episodes as a rogue operation or, at best, the actions of “a few bad apples.”


That explanation was called into question when the public learned that the legality of the interrogation policy had been extensively debated within the administration, and that the Office of Legal Counsel had issued—and abruptly repudiated—a series of secret legal memoranda certifying the legality of interrogation methods so extreme that past administrations had prosecuted them as war crimes.


Now we learn through press reports that far from being a rogue operation, the use of torture was discussed at great length and in excruciating detail by senior advisors to the president and was approved at the highest levels of our government.


If these reports are accurate, they confirm that: (a) the authorization to engage in torture emanated directly from the White House; and (B) the spurious legal memoranda were generated at the behest of the White House to shield not only those who carried out acts of extreme brutality but those who authorized them as well.


The new reports give fresh urgency to calls for a full congressional investigation into these matters. Only when Congress and the American people have a thorough accounting of what took place can our nation begin to undo the damage that has been done to the rule of law, at home and throughout the world.

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Guest Political Suicide
... following World War II war crime trials were convened. The Japanese were tried and convicted and hung for war crimes committed against American POWs. Among those charges for which they were convicted was waterboarding. - John McCain on Thursday, November 29th, 2007 in a campaign event in St. Petersburg


If the charges are found true. I think even Senator will endorse prosecution of George Bush.



In the war crimes tribunals that followed Japan's defeat in World War II, the issue of waterboarding was sometimes raised. In 1947, the U.S. charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for waterboarding a U.S. civilian. Asano was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.


On Jan. 21, 1968, The Washington Post ran a front-page photo of a U.S. soldier supervising the waterboarding of a captured North Vietnamese soldier. The caption said the technique induced "a flooding sense of suffocation and drowning, meant to make him talk." The picture led to an Army investigation and, two months later, the court martial of the soldier.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First (HRF) Friday filed an unusual motion in federal court in an effort to overturn the dismissal of a lawsuit against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The March 2005 lawsuit was filed on behalf of nine Iraqi and Afghan former civilian detainees who were tortured while in U.S. military custody and eventually released without being charged with a crime. The lawsuit charged that then-Secretary Rumsfeld was legally responsible for policies and practices leading to the torture and abuse of detainees.


"It is increasingly obvious that responsibility for widespread and systemic abuse of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan lies at the top of the chain of command, but no one has been held accountable," said Lucas Guttentag, ACLU lead counsel for the plaintiffs. "The rule of law and the protections of the Constitution cannot stop at the water’s edge when United States officials adopt policies that violate fundamental rights and core American values."


Today’s motion asks the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to hear the case in the first instance as an “en banc” matter, meaning the entire court would hear the request rather than the standard procedure of assigning the case to a panel of three judges. The motion asks the court to sit “en banc” in order to reconsider its existing decisions that suggest that foreign nationals outside the United States can never bring a claim against government officials for violations of the Constitution.


In March 2007, Chief Judge Thomas A. Hogan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the ACLU’s lawsuit even though he described the case as “lamentable” and “appalling” and noted that “the facts alleged in the complaint stand as indictment of the humanity with which the United States treats its detainees.” Still, he concluded that under the governing precedent the case must be dismissed.


Today’s motion argues that the appellate court decisions on which the district court relied are inconsistent with key U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia decisions and should be reconsidered by the court of appeals.


“We are asking the court to reconsider its decision. We seek accountability for senior American officials who ordered and allowed torture and cruelty overseas," said Deborah Colson of Human Rights First. “Especially in light of recent revelations about the involvement of high-level officials, reliance on the judicial process is a critical safeguard against abuse of power.”


The original lawsuit charges that the Constitution and international law clearly prohibit torture and require commanders to prevent such actions when they know or should have known of abuses. In addition to direct orders and authorizations, then-Secretary Rumsfeld and other high ranking officials who were named as defendants in the lawsuit knew of the torture and abuse at detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan and failed to act. Recently, President Bush admitted to ABC News that he knew his top national security advisers, including Rumsfeld, had discussed and approved specific details of the CIA’s use of torture.


Rear Admiral John Hutson, former Judge Advocate General of the Navy, and Brigadier General James Cullen, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeal, are of counsel to HRF. In addition to Guttentag, Colson, Hutson, and Cullen, attorneys on the case are Steven Shapiro, Cecillia Wang, Jennifer Chang, Mónica Ramírez, Omar Jadwat, Amrit Singh, Steven Watt, and Hina Shamsi of the ACLU; Arthur Spitzer of the ACLU of the National Capital Area; Michael Posner and Sahr Muhammed Ally of Human Rights First; Bill Lann Lee of Lewis, Feinberg, Lee, Renaker & Jackson P.C.; Paul Hoffman of Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman LLP; David Rudovksy of Kairys, Rudovsky, Epstein & Messing LLP; and Erwin Chemerinsky of Duke University School of Law.

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  • 1 month later...
Guest Think Progress

At this week's House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Rights hearing on torture, Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, told Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) that over 100 detainees have died in U.S. custody, with up to 27 of these declared homicides:


NADLER: Your testimony said 100 detainees have died in detention; do you believe the 25 of those were in effect murdered?


WILKERSON: Mr. Chairman, I think the number’s actually higher than that now. Last time I checked it was 108.


A February 2006 Human Rights First report found that although hundreds of people in U.S. custody had died and eight people were tortured to death, only 12 deaths had “resulted in punishment of any kind for any U.S. official.”




NADLER: Colonel Wilkerson, in your prepared testimony, you write that “as I compiled my dossier for Secretary Powell, and as I did further research, and as my views grew firmer and firmer I had to reread that memo (of February 7, 2002), “I needed to balance in my own mind the overwhelming evidence that my own government had sanctioned abuse and torture, which at its worse had led to the murder of 25 detainees and at least 100 detainee deaths. We have murder at least 25 people in detention. That was the clear low point [lower end of the range] of the evidence.” Your testimony said 100 detainees have died in detention; do you believe the 25 of those were in effect murdered?


WILKERSON: Mr. Chairman, I think the number’s actually higher than that now. Last time I checked it was 108, and the total number that were declared homicides by the military services, or by the CIA, or others doing investigations, CID, and so forth — was 25, 26, 27.


NADLER: Were declared homicides?


WILKERSON: Right, starting as early as December 2001 in Afghanistan.


NADLER: And these were homicides committed by people engaged in interrogations?


WILKERSON: Or in guarding prisoners, or something like that. People who were in detention.


NADLER: They were in detention, not trying to escape or anything, declared homicides by our own authorities

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  • 4 weeks later...
Guest Congressman Jerrold Nadler

Rep. Nadler: Feith Explains Role in Bush Interrogation “Rules”

Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Had Previously Refused to Appear


Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-08), Chair of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties today held an oversight hearing on the role that Bush Administration lawyers played in creating, developing, and implementing interrogation policies that have resulted in the widespread abuse of detainees in U.S. custody and control. Among the witnesses was Douglas Feith, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and one of the architects of the Administration’s legal and policy framework for interrogations.


“We know that the Bush Administration created and implemented these so-called ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques,” said Rep. Nadler. “We need to know who provided the guidance for the formulation of these rules, and if that advice was appropriate and legal. It is not simply enough for our government to say that torture is un-American – we need to take steps to ensure that our government, regardless of the administration in charge, will not torture.”


Today’s hearing is the fourth in a series on this topic and included testimony from Feith, Philippe Sands, Professor of International Law at the University College London, and Deborah Pearlstein. On Thursday, the full Judiciary Committee is expected to examine the same issue.


Feith was initially scheduled to appear before the Subcommittee on June 18, but on the morning of the hearing, his attorney informed the Chair that he was unwilling to attend. On June 24, the Subcommittee adopted a resolution “authorizing the Chairman to issue a subpoena to compel the testimony of Douglas Feith.” Mr. Feith’s appearance today was ensured by that subpoena.



Previous hearings have included testimony from David Addington, Chief of Staff and former Counsel to the Vice President, John Yoo, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), Daniel Levin, former Assistant Attorney General, and Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

“We have a time honored system of checks and balances in America,” Nadler added. “One key component of that system is the oversight responsibilities of Congress. As we continue with this investigation, I am determined to bring the truth to light.”

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  • 1 month later...

A federal judge has ordered the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) to turn over three memos that authorized the extremely harsh treatment of prisoners in CIA custody or explain by October 3 why these memos can lawfully be withheld. The American Civil Liberties Union called for the immediate release of the May 2005 OLC memos as part of its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit requesting information on the treatment and interrogation of detainees in U.S. custody overseas.


"These memos provide further evidence that senior Justice Department officials gave the CIA a green light to torture prisoners," said Amrit Singh, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "It is essential that these memos immediately be released to the public so that high level officials can be held accountable for authorizing torture as policy in violation of U.S. and international law."


The New York Times disclosed the existence of two of the three OLC memos in a front-page article on October 4, 2007. The Times reported that the first memo explicitly authorized interrogators to use combinations of harsh interrogation methods including waterboarding, head slapping and exposure to freezing temperatures. The second memo, issued by OLC as Congress prepared to enact legislation prohibiting "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment," declared that none of the CIA's interrogation methods violated that standard.


Following that report, the ACLU filed legal papers charging that the memos should have been – but were not – identified and processed for its FOIA lawsuit. In response to the ACLU's request for the release of the two memos, the government revealed the existence of a third memo, dated May 30, 2005, and confirmed that the first two memos referenced in the New York Times were dated May 10, 2005. Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that the memos are responsive to the ACLU's lawsuit and ordered the government to either produce them or demonstrate why it may lawfully withhold the memos.


In another development in the same case, the ACLU obtained Department of Defense (DOD) documents about the treatment of detainees in Iraq. The documents, from the military's Criminal Investigation Division, are from two investigations. One report relates to the September 2003 death of Baha Daoud Salim and the abuse of eight other individuals in Basrah, Iraq, at the hands of British forces. The file notes that "coordination with British Forces revealed Mr. Salim's cause of death to be asphyxiation and his manner of death to be a 'potential murder.'"


The other file relates to the October 2003 interrogation of a Saudi civilian by a U.S. soldier, during which the interrogator allegedly stepped and ground his foot on a gunshot wound to the civilian's thigh.

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  • 3 weeks later...

A federal court today ordered the Department of Defense to release photographs depicting the abuse of detainees by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected the government's appeal of a 2006 order directing the Defense Department to release the photos. Today's decision comes as part of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit seeking information on the abuse of prisoners held in U.S. custody overseas.


"This is a resounding victory for the public's right to hold the government accountable," said ACLU staff attorney Amrit Singh, who argued before the court. "These photographs demonstrate that the abuse of prisoners held in U.S. custody abroad was not aberrational and not confined to Abu Ghraib, but the result of policies adopted by high-ranking officials. Their release is critical for bringing an end to the administration's torture policies and for deterring further prisoner abuse."


Since the ACLU's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in 2003, the government has refused to disclose these images by attempting to radically expand the exemptions allowed under the FOIA for withholding records. The government claimed that the public disclosure of such evidence would generate outrage and would violate U.S. obligations towards detainees under the Geneva Conventions.


However, the appeals court today rejected the government's attempt to use the FOIA as "an all-purpose damper on global controversy" and recognized the "significant public interest in the disclosure of these photographs" in light of government misconduct. The court also recognized that releasing the photographs is likely to prevent "further abuse of prisoners."


"This is yet another case in which the administration used national security as a pretext to suppress information relating to crimes that were endorsed, encouraged or tolerated by government officials," said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. "The appeals court was correct to recognize both that the administration's suppression of the photographs was without legal basis and that disclosure will further the purposes of the Geneva Conventions by deterring the abuse and torture of prisoners in the future."


Today's decision is available online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/36878lgl20080922.html


To date, more than 100,000 pages of government documents have been released in response to the ACLU's FOIA lawsuit. They are available online at: www.aclu.org/torturefoia


Many of these documents are also compiled and analyzed in "Administration of Torture," a book by Jaffer and Singh. More information is available online at: www.aclu.org/administrationoftorture


In addition to Jaffer and Singh, attorneys on the case are Alexa Kolbi-Molinas and Judy Rabinovitz of the national ACLU; Arthur Eisenberg and Beth Haroules of the New York Civil Liberties Union; Lawrence S. Lustberg and Melanca D. Clark of the New Jersey-based law firm Gibbons P.C.; and Shayana Kadidal and Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The White House issued two secret memos endorsing the CIA's use of waterboarding and other forms of torture on detainees, according to a news report published today in the Washington Post. The memos, which show that senior Bush administration officials expressly endorsed the CIA's abusive practices, should have been turned over in response to an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit seeking information on the abuse of prisoners held in U.S. custody overseas.


The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project:


"This new report supplies further evidence that the decision to endorse torture was made by the administration's most senior officials. The report also underscores once again how much information is still being withheld by this administration. The government is not permitted to withhold records in order to shield officials from embarrassment or to conceal evidence of illegal activity, but this administration continues to use the classification power to suppress information for precisely those ends."


To date, more than 100,000 pages of government documents have been released in response to the ACLU's lawsuit. They are available online at:




Many of these documents are also compiled and analyzed in "Administration of Torture," a book by Jaffer and staff attorney Amrit Singh. More information is available online at:




In addition to Jaffer and Singh, attorneys on the case are Alexa Kolbi-Molinas and Judy Rabinovitz of the national ACLU; Arthur Eisenberg and Beth Haroules of the New York Civil Liberties Union; Lawrence S. Lustberg and Jennifer B. Condon of the New Jersey-based law firm Gibbons P.C.; and Shayana Kadidal and Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights

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  • 6 months later...

I know you Republican are a little scared of President Obama releasing thes memos






Statement of President Barack Obama on Release of OLC Memos


The Department of Justice will today release certain memos issued by the Office of Legal Counsel between 2002 and 2005 as part of an ongoing court case. These memos speak to techniques that were used in the interrogation of terrorism suspects during that period, and their release is required by the rule of law.


My judgment on the content of these memos is a matter of record. In one of my very first acts as President, I prohibited the use of these interrogation techniques by the United States because they undermine our moral authority and do not make us safer. Enlisting our values in the protection of our people makes us stronger and more secure. A democracy as resilient as ours must reject the false choice between our security and our ideals, and that is why these methods of interrogation are already a thing of the past.


But that is not what compelled the release of these legal documents today. While I believe strongly in transparency and accountability, I also believe that in a dangerous world, the United States must sometimes carry out intelligence operations and protect information that is classified for purposes of national security. I have already fought for that principle in court and will do so again in the future. However, after consulting with the Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence, and others, I believe that exceptional circumstances surround these memos and require their release.


First, the interrogation techniques described in these memos have already been widely reported. Second, the previous Administration publicly acknowledged portions of the program – and some of the practices – associated with these memos. Third, I have already ended the techniques described in the memos through an Executive Order. Therefore, withholding these memos would only serve to deny facts that have been in the public domain for some time. This could contribute to an inaccurate accounting of the past, and fuel erroneous and inflammatory assumptions about actions taken by the United States.


In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution. The men and women of our intelligence community serve courageously on the front lines of a dangerous world. Their accomplishments are unsung and their names unknown, but because of their sacrifices, every single American is safer. We must protect their identities as vigilantly as they protect our security, and we must provide them with the confidence that they can do their jobs.


Going forward, it is my strong belief that the United States has a solemn duty to vigorously maintain the classified nature of certain activities and information related to national security. This is an extraordinarily important responsibility of the presidency, and it is one that I will carry out assertively irrespective of any political concern. Consequently, the exceptional circumstances surrounding these memos should not be viewed as an erosion of the strong legal basis for maintaining the classified nature of secret activities. I will always do whatever is necessary to protect the national security of the United States.


This is a time for reflection, not retribution. I respect the strong views and emotions that these issues evoke. We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history. But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past. Our national greatness is embedded in America’s ability to right its course in concert with our core values, and to move forward with confidence. That is why we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.


The United States is a nation of laws. My Administration will always act in accordance with those laws, and with an unshakeable commitment to our ideals. That is why we have released these memos, and that is why we have taken steps to ensure that the actions described within them never take place again.

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Oh have a little more to put on the table




Q Thanks for noticing. Thanks, Robert. A two-part question, if I may, on CIA interrogation practices. The President said today that if there is to be more inquiry into how these policies came about that he'd like to see it outside of the typical hearing process with independent participants who are above reproach and have credibility. Is he envisioning maybe a panel without members of Congress, something along the 9/11 Commission?


MR. GIBBS: Well, I think in general, without sort of getting into the specifics of who or what might comprise something like that, I wouldn't preclude any member of Congress from being part of that. I think the President said that he is fearful that we are -- this could become overly politicized. And I think that the President would see a 9/11 Commission as a -- to be, in all honesty, a model for how any investigation or commission might be set up because I think we can all understand that the 9/11 Commission was comprised of very respected members that, despite being Democrats or Republicans, put their party identification away in order to answer some very serious questions.


So without prejudging whether a commission should be set up, I think that's what he had in mind in answering that question.


Q It sounded as though the President took a somewhat different policy today than his Chief of Staff did on Sunday regarding possible prosecution of those who devised the policies. The President said today, regarding those who'd formulated these legal decisions, that that's more of a decision for the Attorney General. And Rahm Emanuel said on Sunday, for those who devised the policy, he -- being the President -- believes they should not be prosecuted. Is that a shift in position?


MR. GIBBS: Well, let's -- instead of referring to what anybody might have said, I think it's important -- or anything that I might have said -- it's important to refer to what the President said, and what he said over the course of many months, in all honestly, because this dates back to questions that has received in press conferences or even during the transition, and that is, very much as he said -- reiterated today, that he says as a general deal, I think we should be looking forward and not backward.


The President has also said he does not believe that people are above the rule of law. And the President stated accurately that any determination as to whether a law was broken would rightly be made not by the President but by the chief law enforcement officer of the United States.


Q But it did seem like a sound -- at least a difference in tone, if not policy, by particularly saying the Attorney General would be the most likely one to look at those who devise a policy. That sounds different from what he has said in the past, where he always talked about let's just move forward --


MR. GIBBS: Well, again --


Q -- and in fact, Rahm Emanuel --


MR. GIBBS: Well, again, whatever confusion might exist, I think it's important -- again, the President said throughout the campaign that he would leave determinations on science in his administration to scientists; that he would leave determinations about the law to those in the Justice Department. And I think he reiterated that today, that people aren't above the law.


I do think it's important to make a distinguishing -- to distinguish exactly what the President said last week. The President believes and was assured by the Justice Department that those that have acted in good faith on what they believed was legal won't be prosecuted. The President still believes that.


Yes, ma'am.


Q Robert, I just want to follow up on Chuck's question, because it does seem that there is a shift there. Because if you look at what the President said today, he said, with regard to those who formulated the legal decisions, he said that that was a decision for the Attorney General, and he said he didn't want to prejudge that. But Rahm Emanuel on Sunday said that those who devise the policy, he believes that they should -- that they were -- should not be prosecuted either, so --


MR. GIBBS: Well, to clear up any confusion on anything that might have been said, I would point you to what the President said.


Q Did he have a change of heart on this issue over the last few days? Is he --


MR. GIBBS: No, I think the President, as I said, you can date back to the -- I think was asked, at least I recall it being asked in the transition -- and discussed the rule of law, that nobody in the country is above that rule of law.


Q And just on the issue of a further accounting, which he talked about today and which Chuck also asked you about, is he actively considering a 9/11-type of panel? Is he --


MR. GIBBS: No, I think --


Q -- it seemed like he was trying to get at something like that, he said that he would like to see something outside of the hearing process.


MR. GIBBS: Well, I think he was asked, if something were to be set up, how would it be set up. How would --


Q Right. But wouldn't he be the one to set it up?


MR. GIBBS: Not necessarily. I'm reminded that Congress has a pretty big say in something like that, given their ability and their lawmaking power.


Q Is he conferring with people on that?


MR. GIBBS: I will check if it's something that's active. Again, the President's position is to look forward. If there are those that want to look back, I think the President strongly believes that anything has to be done in a way that doesn't, as he said today, doesn't overly politicize and hamper either the ability of anybody involved to carry out the functions of their job or the functions that protect our country.


Yes, sir.


Q Robert, what changed over the last 24 hours, though? Because yesterday you were flat in saying that we're not going there, as Rahm was on Sunday. And in the last 24 hours we've seen groups like moveon.org on the left come out and write a petition to the Attorney General saying they want accountability from the Bush administration. Is this an example of this White House giving in to pressure from the left?


MR. GIBBS: I don't -- I have not, and I doubt the President has been on moveon.org in the last 24 hours, so, no.


Q Okay. But then why was Rahm so firm on Sunday, and you were firm yesterday in this very room; what changed?


MR. GIBBS: Again, to clear up any of the confusion, I would simply say that the President reiterated that there is -- that, as he said, his general posture is to look forward, and that at the same time, nobody is above the law.


Q Why would there be any confusion, as you call it? I don't understand. This is a pretty straightforward topic.


MR. GIBBS: Well, I predicated your question then posited some confusion with acknowledgment.


Q Did you misspeak? Or did Rahm misspeak?


MR. GIBBS: You know, I -- whether or not anybody was confused or misspoke, I would take what the President said as -- I'm informed he got more votes than either of the two of us.


Q Can I follow on -- Vice President Cheney yesterday weighed in on this and said he found it disturbing that the President put these memos out. And he also is charging, if you can answer, that this White House basically selectively declassified some of these torture memos, and that there are other memos somewhere in the CIA that would show that the interrogation actually yielded what the former Vice President would call good intelligence that prevented terror attacks. How do you answer that?


MR. GIBBS: Well, I would suggest that you contact the CIA. You might be --


Q Well, they're not about to turn these over to me or anyone else in this room?


MR. GIBBS: Including me. (Laughter.)


Q But if the President wanted to declassify it, he could. He just declassified it --


MR. GIBBS: Yes, I would --


Q So the question is, are there other memos that you're keeping under wraps?


MR. GIBBS: And I just said, I don't know. Again, that's why I would -- I know sometimes when I ask you to contact the agencies with the wherewithal to answer your questions, you think that I'm not answering your question. But as you just said, they're not going to give them to you, they're coincidentally not going to give them to me. And I think the best place to ask about their existence is the CIA.


Q Okay, last point is Vice President Cheney saying he's disturbed by all of this.


MR. GIBBS: Well, you know, I -- we've had a at least two-year policy disagreement with the Vice President of the United States of America. That policy disagreement is whether or not you can uphold the values in which this country was founded at the same time that you protect the citizens that live in that country. The President of the United States and this administration believes that you can. The Vice President has come to, in our opinion, a different conclusion.


But, again, this was a -- this has been a policy disagreement for at least the better part of two years, maybe longer than that, I'd have to go back and look. But, you know, the President -- the Vice President was also happy to talk about the way we're conducting our foreign policy, which has also been a several-year disagreement with the Vice President. The President of the United States, President Obama has on his first two foreign trips changed the image of America around the world through leadership and engagement that advances our national interests, makes us safer and more secure, and stronger.


I think that's the main disagreement that we have with the Vice President.

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Guest American4Progress

The Senate Armed Services Committee released an unclassified version of its November 2008 report, "Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody." The report revealed that top Bush administration officials ignored warnings from military advisers before approving torture methods, skipped a thorough legal review process, and failed to fully investigate the origins of the dangerous techniques they prescribed. The report also states that the consequences of their actions trickled down to lower-ranking officers, leading directly to the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Furthermore, according to a detailed timeline declassified by Attorney General Eric Holder at the request of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Bush administration officials "reviewed and approved as early as the summer of 2002 the CIA's use of harsh interrogation methods on detainees...including waterboarding." In another startling revelation, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official, "persistent" and "extreme" interrogations were used because Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld demanded that intelligence agencies "find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration." These various reports have led some in Congress "to push for a full inquiry" into the Bush administration's actions regarding torture.

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Guest Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Judiciary Committee, commented today on the release of a comprehensive report by the Senate Armed Services Committee on interrogations carried out by the military under the Bush Administration. Whitehouse said:


"This exhaustive report offers more evidence of failures within the Bush Administration that allowed officials to set history and the law aside to torture detainees despite evidence such methods don't work.


"Our country is turning away from this dark moment. But we cannot afford to leave it behind until we fully understand what went wrong, and do what we can to ensure that America never again loses sight of its most sacred principles.


"This report is just one in a number of ongoing efforts to learn the whole truth about the Bush Administration's detention and interrogation program. I am an active participant in the investigation underway in the Senate Intelligence Committee, and I continue to believe that we will eventually need an independent commission of inquiry to provide unassailable recommendations to the nation."

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