Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bush Regime's Shameful and Criminal Legacy Overshadows Obama's Presidency

America's Shameful War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity ; Latest Revelations

Unfortunately for President Obama the shameful and criminal legacy of the Bush Regime hangs like a dark cloud over his presidency. The crimes of the Bush Regime extends the whole gamut from lies and propaganda to Spin to launching an unnecessary war to the deaths of a million Iraqis to the members of the Bush administration indulging in their sick fantasies of barbarism of torture and depravity. Torquemada Lives!

- More revelations and documentation on the use of torture under the Bush Regime.
Meanwhile there is growing pressure on President Obama to investigate alleged and proven wrongdoing by the Bush Regime.

See below: " Newly Declassified DOD Documents Says Detainees Were Tortured "Written by Jason Leopold The Public Record/ Feb. 11, 2009

Majority of Americans ( 71%)according to a recent poll are in favor of investigations

-the American public is more enthused about investigations than are US politicians
Note Obama at present has a 69% approval rating and he won the election with a clear majority yet he acts as if he won by only a handful of votes -

-Obama talked a lot about " Change" and he claimed he meant real change and not just a change in rhetoric - but this means real substantive change and a whole change in the way America acts and what it claims as opposed to what it actually does - that would mean abiding by International Law and the Geneva Conventions but given Obama's actions so far he is not interested in International Law any more than Bush was - Obama appears to believe America is above or outside of such " petty " or "quaint" views of the world.

Obama fears losing political capital by going ahead with criminal investigations of Bush Regime- But the flip-side is that if he refuses to allow investigations he may lose part of his approval rating -

Part of Obama's problem is that he is still deluding himself over bipartisanship which it appears the Republicans are not really interested in and are determined to fight him on every issue- their party and their ideology comes before their loyalty to their country or their president-

There are also those around him and in the Democratic party who might be embarrassed by such investigations or may themselves have to face criminal charges - surely truth and justice are more important than hurting the feelings of a few Democrats Like Pelosi or Hillary Clinton and other Democrats who stood by as cheerleaders for the Bush Regime and even ran interference for them - they all bear the shame and guilt of the eight years of the criminal Bush Regime.

(odd how during the Bush years critics of the president were told to "Shut the F*** Up " or " America Love it or Leave It " Republicans and their ultraconservative Media base- )

For instance And Chris Floyd in his article on the documents revealing that Torture and abuse of prisoners was stated government policy under Bush ,Cheney and Rumsfeld that shamefully in all probability no one will be punished for the severity of these crimes and this will prove once again that those in positions of power and influence are in fact above the law . He argues that the creation of a bipartisan truth commission might make some people feel good but it will not lead to substantive changes in the actions or prevalent attitudes of Americans who believe their country is superior in material wealth and in its morality as a virtuous country.

" Getting the Goat: A Bipartisan Proposal on Torture Accepting Torture as “U.S. Policy” Will Not Absolve U.S. Participants of International War Crimes " by Chris Floyd at Baltimore Friday, 13 February 2009

Obama is now being perceived as desiring to cover up for those who authorized the use of various torture techniques. And according to the law of the land someone who knows about criminal acts and especially has detailed information about those facts and does not turn this information over to those authorities who are supposed to take action on these matters that individual is also guilty of a criminal offense.

Unfortunately we live in a society which is more interested in hunting down people who use marijuana than with bringing government & military personnel to trial for committing torture or murdering innocent civilians or invading a country unnecessarily resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

see for instance : Torture Charges - 0, Phelps Charges - 7 The Young Turks Feb. 13,2009

Former President George W. Bush and Former Vice President Dick Cheney have admitted to ordering torture on various prisoners, they have yet to be charged. Michael Phelps admitted to smoking a bong, 7 people have been arrested in relation to that case. YAY USA!

One of the odd things that the American Spin doctors and propagandists have done is to convince most Americans that only certain forms of interrogation techniques are to referred to as torture i.e. " Waterboarding ". And that such a techniques was only used on a few occasions and that reliable intel was gathered because of its use. First torture is illegal and immoral. Secondly it rarely if ever according to experts results in reliable information. A person being tortured will eventually admit to anything to stop the torture and will make up shit to stop the torture. We know this for instance from historical records of the Inquisitions and the Witch Hunts .

There are also individuals who if arrested will make up stuff without even being tortured in order to get more attention as in self-aggrandizement or in return for money or whatever.

Another issue is that many techniques such as sleep-deprivation, loud music, bright lights as was used in Iraq at what was known as the disco are also forms of torture and abuse along with insults, sexual humiliation, stress positions , sensory deprivation , threats , mock executions etc. these are all considered as forms of torture and abuse. It is unfortunate that even well intentioned thoughtful individuals in the American Media have been taken in by Rumsfeld's notion " that a techniques is considered to be torture when there is a chance of organ failure and or death " This is not the commonly held definition of torture nor is it the one used by International Law and the Geneva Conventions.

The Bush Regime and many Americans have allowed themselves to be taken in by these arguments in order to avoid the unpleasant fact that the US Government and the US military and even its common soldiers are guilty of authorizing and or taking part in the illegal and immoral torture of prisoners in Iraq , Afghanistan and elsewhere.
And merely setting up a truth commission where no one gets punished for their actions will be a travesty of justice and sends the message that in the future no one need fear being justly punished for committing such egregious crimes.


Obama in the case of the various criminal activities of the Bush Regime should do what is right that is that which is morally correct as opposed to ignoring the past and allowing these criminal actions to go unpunished- if America stands for justice for all and therefore accountability for all American citizens this should apply even more so to those in power such as the President and Vice -President - Otherwise these American ideals are just empty rhetoric & a sham to be repeated at Presidential Inaugural addresses.

For the last eight years the world viewed America or at least the Bush Regime as a bunch of arrogant self-serving bullies who believed they were above the law and outside any commonly held view of morality -

Anyway we now know for a fact that Rumsfeld knew about the torturing of prisoners and that some had been tortured to death -

If President Obama and the American people do not act based on these revelations combined with Bush and Cheney's admissions of guilt what will that do to America's reputation - or do they believe that the U.S. should continue to act unilaterally and show contempt for its former allies in the way that Bush and Cheney and Condoleeza Rice did. In their arrogant view it was America's way or the highway .

" Rumsfeld Knew His Guys Were Torturing People to Death, Which Is a Serious Crime " By Stephen Pizzo, News for Real. Feb. 13, 2009

71% of Americans want to see Bush investigated, and it's about time Obama's team hightailed their way over to court to start doing it.

71% of Americans are in favor of an investigation into the possible misuse of the Department of Justice by the Bush administration according to a Gallup poll released yesterday.

...One reason for this surprisingly robust groundswell for investigations may be that each day, formerly secret Bush-era documents surface that truly shock the conscience.

Just yesterday the ACLU got it's hands on a truly smoking gun memo written for then Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. This document informed Rumsfeld that those he'd tasked with beating information out of suspected terrorists had not just tortured them, but tortured some of them, to death. In other words, they murdered them.

Misprison Felony:The statute holds, "Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony … conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States" is guilty of misprision of felony and can be punished with up to three years in prison.

Under the federal statute, the prosecution must prove the following elements to obtain a misprision of felony conviction:

(1)another person actually committed a felony;
(2)the defendant knew that the felony was committed;
(3)the defendant did not notify any law enforcement or judicial officer; and
(4)the defendant took affirmative steps to conceal the felony.”

...The economic meltdown – likely the worst since the Great Depression – demands immediate and intense attention. But the economy is not the only thing that melted down during the Bush years. Core American values melted down as well, and require equally urgent attention from this new administration.

Because America's strength and moral authority in the world don't flow solely from a robust US economy, but also by an unswerving adherence to a unique and lofty set of moral values. Both the economy and our moral authority need urgent and immediate repair. Obama needs to work night and day to return health and stability to our economy. He also needs to work night and day to restore our moral authority. And that can only be accomplished by holding those who so despoiled our national soul accountable for their (well-documented) crimes.

...It's currently just as hard to get information and documents about the Bush years out of the Obama administration as it was to get the same out of the Bush folks themselves.

...One more thing. Now that the Obama folks have those documents, they also have constructive knowledge of felonies committed. Which means if they don't investigate and prosecute, they may be the next ones found guilty of misprision of a felony.

And more documentation has been released on torture conducted by U.S.officials:

" Unredacted Documents Reveal Prisoners Tortured to Death " By Stephen C. Webster Raw Feb. 12, 2009

---- The American Civil Liberties Union has released previously classified excerpts of a government report on harsh interrogation techniques used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. These previously unreported pages detail repeated use of "abusive" behavior, even to the point of prisoner deaths.

The documents, obtained by the ACLU under a Freedom of Information Act request, contain a report by Vice Admiral Albert T. Church, who was tapped to conduct a comprehensive review of Defense Department interrogation operations. Church specifically calls out interrogations at Bagram Air base in Afghanistan as "clearly abusive, and clearly not in keeping with any approved interrogation policy or guidance."

The ACLU's release comes on the same day as a major FOIA document dump by three other leading human rights groups: Documents which reveal the Pentagon ran secret prisons in Bagram and Iraq, that it cooperated with the CIA's "ghost detention" program and that Defense personnel delayed a prisoner's release to avoid bad press.

"In both cases, for example, [prisoners] were handcuffed to fixed objects above their heads in order to keep them awake," reads the document. "Additionally, interrogations in both incidents involved the use of physical violence, including kicking, beating, and the use of "compliance blows" which involved striking the [prisoners] legs with the [interrogators] knees. In both cases, blunt force trauma to the legs was implicated in the deaths. In one case, a pulmonary embolism developed as a consequence of the blunt force trauma, and in the other case pre-existing coronary artery disease was complicated by the blunt force trauma."

In a press release, the ACLU summarized the documents as detailing, "[An] investigation of two deaths at Bagram. Both detainees were determined to have been killed by pulmonary embolism caused as a result of standing chained in place, sleep depravation and dozens of beatings by guards and possibly interrogators. (Also reveals the use of torture at Gitmo and American-Afghani prisons in Kabul).

also see: " Revealed: Pentagon's secret prisons, legal loopholes and CIA 'ghost' detainees " by Stephen C. Webster
Feb.12, 2009

Three major human rights organizations have declared the Department of Defense was running secret prisons at Bagram and in Iraq, actively sought ways around the terms of the Geneva conventions and cooperated with the CIA's "ghost detention" program which saw prisoners hidden from Red Cross oversight.

The arrival of the documents comes on the same day the ACLU published two unredacted pages of a government report which reveals detainees in US custody were tortured to death

"These newly released documents confirm our suspicion that the tentacles of the CIA’s abusive program reached across agency lines," said Margaret Satterthwaite, Director of the NYU International Human Rights Clinic, in a Thursday advisory. "In fact, it is increasingly obvious that defense officials engaged in legal gymnastics to find ways to cooperate with the CIA’s activities. A full accounting of all agencies must now take place to ensure that future abuses don’t continue under a different guise."

...And perhaps most outrageous, a Feb. 2006 e-mail disclosed by the groups highlights an effort to limit bad press by delaying the release of a detainee "for 45 days or so until things cool down."

"It is astonishing that the government may have delayed releasing men from Guantánamo in order to avoid bad press," said CCR attorney Gitanjali Gutierrez, who represents many of the men held in Guantánamo, in an Amnesty International release. "Proposing to hold men for a month and a half after they were deemed releasable is inexcusable. The Obama Administration should avoid repeating this injustice and release the innocent individuals with all due haste."

and the commentator at AlterNet is shocked and surprised by the latest revelations on the wide use of torture & abuse of prisoners.If these commentators had been paying attention they wouldn't be shocked or surprised . There are have been several books and a host of articles written over the last five years or so documenting these facts but few it appears paid attention or just refused to believe it.It was never just a few bad apples or the use of certain harsh techniques on a couple of cases.

" Explosive New Documents Reveal More Details of Bush-Era Torture, Including Prisoners Tortured to Death " by Liliana Segura, AlterNet February 13, 2009.

Documents obtained by the ACLU and other groups expose more shocking treatment of prisoners from Gitmo to Bagram.

The more we learn, the uglier it gets.

Over 1,000 pages of government documents were released yesterday providing new details of the Bush administration's treatment of prisoners in the so-called "war on terror" Among other things, the documents reveal just how closely the Department of Defense collaborated with the CIA in its extrajudicial practices of indefinite detention and torture.

Released via FOIA requests, the paper trail includes confirmation of the existence of a previously "undisclosed detention facility" at Afghanistan's Bagram Air Base, as well as evidence that the DoD schemed to keep the Red Cross away from its detainees by holding off on registering their capture with the International Committee of the Red Cross for two weeks "to maximize intelligence collection."

Another salient and disturbing document includes correspondence sent to DoD transportation officials recommending that a set of Gitmo prisoners scheduled for released be detained for longer, due to fear of bad press

And more proof that President Obama was not given full disclosure of facts pertaining to allegations of torture of Binyam Mohamed- does it excuse him from taking action?

" Binyam Mohamed torture evidence 'hidden from Obama' Letter to president about Binyam Mohamed was blanked out, say campaigners as they prepare for Guantánamo prisoner's release to UK " by Richard Norton-Taylor and Ian Cobain Guardian UK , feb. 11,2009

US defence officials are preventing Barack Obama from seeing evidence that a former British resident held in Guantánamo Bay has been tortured, the prisoner's lawyer said last night, as campaigners and the Foreign Office prepared for the man's release in as little as a week.

Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the legal charity Reprieve, which represents Ethiopian-born Binyam Mohamed, sent Obama evidence of what he called "truly mediaeval" abuse but substantial parts were blanked out so the president could not read it.

and experts claim torture is immoral and counterproductive contradicting the arguments of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice,Alberto Gonzales and the Fox News Media Echo Chamber & the TV series "24" :

Bill Delahunt, a senior Democrat congressman and chairman of the House of Representatives subcommittee on human rights and oversight, said: "We cannot let our governments stonewall ... I take offence at the idea that secrecy is being maintained in order to preserve national security." He told the all-party committee on rendition: "The treatment of detainees has done great harm to the security of both our nations."

Lieutenant Colonel Nigel Wylde, who worked in intelligence in Northern Ireland, told the committee: "The use of torture is utterly counterproductive because it breeds hatred against us and encourages people to become extremists."

David Davis, a former shadow home secretary, said torture was wrong morally and legally, ineffective and undermined the safety of British people. "Was the government involved, was it a matter of policy or a matter of freelancing – failure of policy or a failure of control?"

The Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, Edward Davey, said: "Miliband's bad judgment in blocking the courts from publishing this evidence of torture is being compounded by his refusal to press the new Obama administration to disclose this evidence freely."

Jason Leopold shows how the newly disclosed documents prove the involvement of personnel from the top down in authorizing a whole gamut of torture techniques on prisoners ( detainees) from the physical to the psychological.

" Newly Declassified DOD Documents Says Detainees Were Tortured "Written by Jason Leopold The Public Record/ Feb. 11, 2009

Newly declassified Defense Department documents describe a pattern of “abusive” behavior by U.S. military interrogators that directly led to the deaths of several suspected terrorists imprisoned at a detention center in Afghanistan in December 2002.

The previously secret pages from the report were part of the a wide-ranging report into detainee abuse known as the Church Report, named after Vice Admiral Albert T. Church who conducted the investigation. That report said there was "no policy that condoned or authorized either abuse or torture."

But the declassified Pentagon documents, coupled with a report issued last December by the Senate Armed Services Committee, tell a different story and lend credence to claims by civil libertarians and critics of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that refusal to release a fully classified version of the Church Report several years ago amounted to a cover-up.

The two pages from the report obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and released Wednesday state that the interrogation and deaths of detainees held at Bagram Air base in Afghanistan was “clearly abusive, and clearly not in keeping with any approved interrogation policy or guidance.”

According to the documents, on Dec. 4, 2002 a prisoner died while in U.S. custody in Afghanistan. Six days later, another prisoner died.

Both deaths, the documents say, "share some similarities."

"In both cases, for example, [the prisoners] were handcuffed to fixed objects above their heads in order to keep them awake," the documents say. "Additionally, interrogations in both incidents involved the use of physical violence, including kicking, beating, and the use of "compliance blows" which involved striking the [prisoners] legs with the [interrogators] knees. In both cases, blunt force trauma to the legs was implicated in the deaths. In one case, a pulmonary embolism developed as a consequence of the blunt force trauma, and in the other case pre-existing coronary artery disease was complicated by the blunt force trauma."

"In both instances, the [detainee] deaths followed interrogation sessions in which unauthorized techniques were allegedly employed, but in both cases, these sessions were followed by further alleged abusive behavior outside of the interrogation booth," the declassified documents say.

“None of these techniques have ever been approved in Afghanistan,” according to two pages of the declassified Church report. “Of these, three (marked with X) are alleged to have been employed during interrogations. These techniques—sleep deprivation, the use of scenarios designed to convince the detainee that death or severely painful consequences are imminent for him and/or his family, and beating are alleged to have been used in the incidents leading to the two deaths at Bagram in December 2002, which are described at greater length later in this report.”
Moreover, the declassified documents names a private contractor, David Passaro, who conducted at least one interrogation that allegedly led to the death of a prisoner.

In a news release, the ACLU said it also obtained reports of five separate investigations into deaths that took place in Afghanistan and Iraq – as well as Abu Ghraib abuses, which, although previously reported, marks the first time the military investigations have been released in full.

Those documents which span thousands of pages include:

* Investigation of two deaths at Bagram. Both detainees were determined to have been killed by pulmonary embolism caused as a result of standing chained in place, sleep depravation and dozens of beatings by guards and possibly interrogators. (Also reveals the use of torture at Gitmo and American-Afghani prisons in Kabul).

* Investigation into the homicide or involuntary manslaughter of detainee Dilar Dababa by U.S. forces in 2003 in Iraq.

* Investigation launched after allegations that an Iraqi prisoner was subjected to torture and abuse at “The Disco” (located in the Special Operations Force Compound in Mosul Airfield, Mosul, Iraq). The abuse consisted of filling his jumpsuit with ice, then hosing him down and making him stand for long periods of time, sometimes in front of an air conditioner; forcing him to lay down and drink water until he gagged, vomited or choked, having his head banged against a hot steel plate while hooded and interrogated; being forced to do leg lifts with bags of ice placed on his ankles, and being kicked when he could not do more.

* Investigation of allegations of torture and abuse that took place in 2003 at Abu Ghraib.

* Investigation that established probable cause to believe that U.S. forces committed homicide in 2003 when they participated in the binding of detainee Abed Mowhoush in a sleeping bag during an interrogation, causing him to die of asphyxiation.

A separate report issued by Army Maj. Gen. George R. Fay several years ago said Other prisoner abuses resulted from Rumsfeld’s verbal and written authorization in December 2002 allowing interrogators to use “stress positions, isolation for up to 30 days, removal of clothing and the use of detainees' phobias (such as the use of dogs).”

“From December 2002, interrogators in Afghanistan were removing clothing, isolating people for long periods of time, using stress positions, exploiting fear of dogs and implementing sleep and light deprivation,” the Fay report said.

Rumsfeld’s approval of certain interrogation methods outlined in a December 2002 action memorandum was criticized by Alberto Mora, the former general counsel of the Navy.

“The interrogation techniques approved by the Secretary [of Defense] should not have been authorized because some (but not all) of them, whether applied singly or in combination, could produce effects reaching the level of torture, a degree of mistreatment not otherwise proscribed by the memo because it did not articulate any bright-line standard for prohibited detainee treatment, a necessary element in any such document,” Mora wrote in a 14-page letter to the Navy’s inspector general.

Additionally, a Dec. 20, 2005, Army Inspector General Report relating to the capture and interrogation of suspected terrorist Mohammad al-Qahtani included a sworn statement by Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt. It said Secretary Rumsfeld was “personally involved” in the interrogation of al-Qahtani and spoke “weekly” with Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the commander at Guantanamo, about the status of the interrogations between late 2002 and early 2003.

Gitanjali S. Gutierrez, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights who represents al-Qahtani, said in a sworn declaration that his client, imprisoned at Guantanamo, was subjected to months of torture based on verbal and written authorizations from Rumsfeld.

“At Guantánamo, Mr. al-Qahtani was subjected to a regime of aggressive interrogation techniques, known as the ‘First Special Interrogation Plan,’ that were authorized by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld,” Gutierrez said.
“Those techniques were implemented under the supervision and guidance of Secretary Rumsfeld and the commander of Guantánamo, Major General Geoffrey Miller. These methods included, but were not limited to, 48 days of severe sleep deprivation and 20-hour interrogations, forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, physical force, prolonged stress positions and prolonged sensory over-stimulation, and threats with military dogs.”

Gutierrez’s claims about the type of interrogation al-Qahtani endured have since been borne out with the release of hundreds of pages of internal Pentagon documents describing interrogation methods at Guantanamo and at least two independent reports about prisoner abuse.

According to the Schlesinger report, orders signed by Bush and Rumsfeld in 2002 and 2003 authorizing brutal interrogations “became policy” at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

The documents released by the ACLU will likely fuel further calls to investigate whether Bush administration officials committed crimes by authorizing torture.

On Monday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy joined those advocating a “truth and reconciliation commission” that would seek facts, not jail time.

“We could develop and authorize a person or group of people universally recognized as fair minded, and without axes to grind,” Leahy said during a speech at Georgetown University’s Law Center on Monday. “Their straightforward mission would be to find the truth” about controversies such as torture of detainees and warrantless wiretaps.

“People would be invited to come forward and share their knowledge and experiences, not for purposes of constructing criminal indictments, but to assemble the facts. If needed, such a process could involve subpoena powers, and even the authority to obtain immunity from prosecutions in order to get to the whole truth,” the Vermont Democrat said.

Later Monday, when asked whether he would support Leahy’s plan, President Barack Obama declined comment, saying he was unfamiliar with it. He then reiterated his ambiguous response from the campaign, that no one is above the law but that he favored looking forward, not backward.

and so it goes,

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