Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Is Obama Siding With The Pro-Torture Crowd & Does He Fear FOX NEWS & THE C.I.A.

Is Obama siding with the Pro-Torture Crowd

" President Obama can talk all he wants about not looking back, but this grotesque past is bigger than even he is. It won't vanish into a memory hole any more than Andersonville, World War II internment camps or My Lai. The White House, Congress and politicians of both parties should get out of the way. We don't need another commission. We don't need any Capitol Hill witch hunts. What we must have are fair trials that at long last uphold and reclaim our nation's commitment to the rule of law."
From: Frank Rich, The New York Times. April 27, 2009

"After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes," Taguba wrote. "The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."

U.S. Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba

"The reason why foreign fighters joined al-Qa'ida in Iraq was overwhelmingly because of abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and not Islamic ideology," says Major Matthew Alexander, who personally conducted 300 interrogations of prisoners in Iraq. It was the team led by Major Alexander [a named assumed for security reasons] that obtained the information that led to the US military being able to locate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qa'ida in Iraq. Zarqawi was then killed by bombs dropped by two US aircraft on the farm where he was hiding outside Baghdad on 7 June 2006. Major Alexander said that he learnt where Zarqawi was during a six-hour interrogation of a prisoner with whom he established relations of trust.
The Independent UK, April 26, 2009

'Interrogation' American style

Army Interrogator Tony Lagouranis reveals the 'interrogation' methods he used in Iraq -- AND the methods used by Navy Seals and Force Recon.

Counter Terror With Justice- Amnesty International
When Did Torture Become An American & a Christian Value?

Assumed guilt. Arbitrary detention. Cruel and inhumane treatment. When did torture become part of the American way? Watch this important video now and join us in demanding the U.S. respect our founding principles of justice by respecting human rights and ending torture. Voice over by Freddy Rodriguez

Torture Victims are People Too with names & Faces

Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan - he was 15 under international law he is considered a Chil Soldier and therefore should be looked after and rehabilitated. Instead he has been held for years at Guantanamo where he underwent abuse and torture. Cnadian Prime MInister Stephen Harper a Bush admirer refuses to help Omar - Harper and many Canadians want revenge for Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan and are not interested in justice or Human Rights . So they would prefer for this child soldier to just disappear so they won't have to deal with the matter. Torture and abuse of prisoners has become part of Canada's as well as Britain's and Americas culture. Making this boy suffers seems to make some people feel good about themselves and their country. I thought Christians believed in forgiveness, turning the other cheek, and in love and kindness instead they prefer to torture and brutalize those people they have decided are not like them and are therefore no quite human. A society can be measured by how it deals with the helpless -

Another thing that gets lost in the debate about prosecutions of C.I.A. low level agents is whether or not those higher in the chain of command who should have known better should be prosecuted.

First we have the evidence that the F.B.I. showing a bit of restraint, backbone, moral fiber or a sense of self-preservation refused to take part in torture. And what reward doe the F.B.I. get for doing this no kudos from Obama or medals of honor instead they are ignored while Obama goes off to the C.I.A. extolling their virtues while granting all C.I.A. agents a blanket pardon. So the F.B. I. gets a slap in the face for trying to do the right thing while the C.I.A. gets rewarded for committing criminal and immoral acts . So is Obama as Machiavellian as the Bush Neocons.

The other thing of it is these guys in the C.I.A. are not to be compared to your average soldier. The agents working for the C.I.A. supposedly go through rigorous screening and are well trained and should be well versed in the laws of the US and International Law and are trained in Interrogation techniques and are told which are lawful or moral and which are not etc. If anything they are more culpable than some army reserve soldier on the night shift at Abu Ghraib who it turns out were just following orders.

And further anyone who dared stand up to their commanders and refused to take part it turns out they wasted their time and energy since it would be better to go along because the President of the United might give you a pardon and from now on no one need fear torturing someone because if Obama doesn't issue a pardon a later president probably will.

And now for Joshua Holland's deconstructing of Harry Reid's twisted Catch 22 logic about investigations of alleged torture. Holland then follows by taking on Obama's cavalier attitude towards the whole issue of torture . Obama just wants to move on and forget about the past eight nightmarish years of the Bush cabal of dictators running the country. But what about the victims of torture or the victims of the unnecessary immoral brutal Iraq War.

So Obama wants to forgive Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, Condoleeza Rice , Douglas Feith, Wolfowitz et al because they had good intentions and acted according to Obama in "GOOD FAITH" but they didn't it appears. They cooked up intel to go ahead with their War in Iraq. They tortured people in order to get false confessions and phony intel to justify their unnecessary war . They kept their intentions, their motives and their activities secret so they could get re-elected for a second term.
They used their positions of power to carry out immoral and illegal activities. Along the way they committed War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity . Obama gives them all a pardon . That's nice of him but it is not JUSTICE. I know most Americans or at least the pro-Bush , Pro-War, Pro-Torture crowd in America do not really believe in JUSTICE.Maybe Obama just wants to hold the American Empire together at all cost but he is not going to make friends by not pursing justice.

Obama and Americans in general need to be reminded that those hundreds if not thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan who were imprisoned and then abused by their American captors are the real victims not the C.I.A. agent who did the torturing . The victims are mostly nameless nobodies whether Iraqis or Afghans etc. many of whom were not guilty of anything and their lives were turned upside down or completely ruined as they have to live with the physical and psychological consequence of what their Holier Than Thou American Captors put them through.

We that is those of us who are not tainted by American Exceptionalism, American expediency and American Immorality and an American lack of respect for Human Rights or the Rule Of Law - we can only hope that other nations will stand up and take the United States to task and engage in investigations and indictments of any Americans involved in these War Crimes. Otherwise America will get away literally with murder and torture of innocent people. If they do what incentive is there for any nation to try to act according to the Rule of Law. Saddam never worried about such nonsense nor does Al Qaeda .

" Harry Reid's Incoherent Opposition to a Truth Commission " by Joshua Holland, AlterNet April 24, 2009.

Meanwhile, what about deterrence?

This is Harry Reid on proposals to establish a "truth commission" to investigate torture and other abuses in the "War on Terror" (as quoted by The Hill):

“It would be very unwise, from my perspective, to start having commissions, boards, tribunals until we find out what the facts are, and I don’t know of a better way of getting the facts than through the Intelligence Committee,” said Reid.

I'm hard pressed to recall a more ludicrous statement. He's saying: 'We can't establish an investigation into the facts until we get all the facts.'

And he doesn't know a better way of getting facts than through the Intelligence Committee. That'd be the same committee which promised in 2004 to investigate the pre-war "intelligence" used to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and issued a report four years later that ignored all the available evidence that White House officials had pressured analysts to tell them what they wanted to hear. White-wash? You betcha.

Anyway, there's a lot of debate about whether to hold people accountable for torture, and, if so, whom. And a lot of folks are arguing that lower-level CIA operatives who conducted those "coercive interrogations" shouldn't be prosecuted. They were, after all, just following orders. And, unlike others who offered the same defense in the past, they had those slick legal memos to cover their asses.

I'm not wholly unsympathetic to the argument -- or to the related argument that going after the rank-and-file is a means of absolving those further up the food chain.

But lost in the discussion, it seems to me, is that justice isn't just about retribution or revenge, but deterrence. There's clearly quite a bit of resistance within the Obama administration and among Congressional leaders to go after those at the top -- too partisan, they say, too political... looking backwards instead of forward. And while those who formulated the policy certainly should be held to account for their crimes (and I'm not suggesting otherwise -- the debate seems based on a false choice), I think a lot of people are forgetting about the value of prosecuting those further down the chain of command in terms of deterring future abuses.

Pro-Torture Advocates Equivocate and Lie about Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. These Techniques under International Law are considered TORTURE- No matter what Bush or Obama think- the use of these techniques is a War Crime. If Obama's administration doesn't begin a full investigation with suboena powers and the possibility of indictments then Obama according to the Geneva Conventions and the International Convention Against Torture would be an accessory after the fact.

Though there are those who claim the abuse of prisoners in Guantanamo, Bagram and Abu Ghraib and a few dozen other US run prisons besides all the Super-secret Black Sites that torture has continued under Obama's administration - is he doing enough to stop it - but why should anyone pay heed to Obama's rhetoric on abuse, torture & inhumane treatment since he argues as the Bush Regime did that these detainees are not protected by the Geneva Conventions etc.

Besides Obama has defended renditions even to countries where the prisoners would be tortured. If he was sincere why are Child Soldiers such Omar Khadr and those detainees who are known to be innocent still held at Guanatanamo or Abu Ghraib or Bagram etc. why isn't he insisting on their release.

So it is no wonder that the Pro-Torture lobby do not take much of this seriously. They have convinced themselves that it is all a matter of semantics or just a matter of opinion or it is all relative - liberals call it torture while a conservative calls it Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. Odd though that conservatives and Republicans and the Religious Right are using Relativism as a defense.

I thought they believed in Core Vales , Moral Absolutes etc, except when it comes to the policies and actions of a Republican Government-

Olbermann Calls Hannity's Bluff: $1000 For Every Second Of Waterboarding

Posted by Nico Pitney, Huffington April 24, 2009.

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann will pay for Sean Hannity's waterboarding.

and here's the outrageous reality of American Mainstream Media

The supposed liberals on this panel are not much better than the conservatives and are concerned about politicization of the issue of torture
Justice unimportant to most Americans since they have no interest in victims
Coulter erroneously claims these techniques including sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation etc. are not torture and she is not concerned that it might be wrong or immoral - nor is she concerned about those who were tortured may have been innocent. She also erroneously claims Zubadiah only gave up useful intel after being waterboarded.
Coulter also erroneously claims the US never prosecuted anyone for Waterboarding
Even Geraldo defends torture see below: "Reagan's DOJ Prosecuted Texas Sheriff for Waterboarding Prisoners " by Jason Leopold at truthout.org, April 27, 2009

Heated Torture Debate: Coulter, Estrich, Pirro, and Geraldo!

In an article by Lawrence Velvel he first writes up a short version of the Legal Torture Memos as if written by NAZI lawyers to justify the treatment of the Jews under the NAZI regime. His point is the comparison of the attempt to add a mere veneer of legalese to cover up immoral & inhumane actions . By adding legal jargon the perpetrators can feel that the actions are to some extent rationalized. He refers to the case of Eichmann or the NUREMBERG defense that merely following orders is a defense. Or that as long as actions can be justified by law they are therefore right . Making up laws out of thin air is not enough. And just by calling Torture Techniqes Enhanced Interrogation Techniques does not transform them magically into not being torture.

(Lawrence Velvel is Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover and author of the award-winning “Blogs From the Liberal Standpoint: 2004-2005”(The Doukathsan Press.) Reach him at velvel[at]mslaw.edu)

" The Four Torture Memos, Eichmann, And The Obama Administration "By Lawrence Velvel, Media With A Conscience, April 27

I have read the four memoranda that were recently released by the DOJ and authorized torture. Permit me to invent a similar but short memo that will allow the reader, without reading the approximately 120 densely packed pages of the four memos, to grasp their style, their character, their techniques, their aims, and, inherently and avoidably, the nature of the people who wrote or signed off on them: John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Steven Bradbury.

From the foregoing short invention, whose style, character, techniques and aims mimic many a legal memo and in particular mimic the four torture memos, one can readily grasp a lot. The short invented memo exemplifies the kind of language used in the four Department of Justice memos: formal, legalistic, bloodless, designed to camouflage the most horrible conduct in abstract formulations. It mimics the acceptance, use, and non-questioning of facts and arguments that have been provided by the persons who seek the legal opinions for their own protection. It mimics the torture memos' use of legal materials to approve monstrous actions, which is done at phenomenal length in the four torture memos (as if extreme long windedness can substitute for rightness).

It mimics the transparent goal of trying to clothe the most awful actions in high sounding reasons of state in order to justify such actions under the law. It mimics the four memos' (obviously guilt-caused) effort to escape responsibility as much as possible by saying it is confined to the facts given to the writer. It mimics the self referential technique of referring to prior memos from the same office which say the same things. It mimics the four memos' claim that the most horrible acts are performed in a way that supposedly causes no pain -- which the authors of the torture memos have no real way of knowing since they were not themselves subjected to the techniques nor even present to see their effects. It mimics the claim that acts are overseen by medical personnel. It shows how, as in the four memos, the techniques of writing and law can be used to justify the most horrific conduct while pretending to be an exercise in legitimate lawyering. It shows why the New York Times said, on Sunday, April 19th (as has been said here in part in previous postings):

These memos are not an honest attempt to set the legal limits on interrogations, which was the authors' statutory obligation. They were written to provide legal immunity for acts that are clearly illegal, immoral and a violation of this country's most basic values.

It sounds like the plot of a mob film, except the lawyers asking how much their clients can get away with are from the C.I.A. and the lawyers coaching them on how to commit the abuses are from the Justice Department. And it all played out with the blessing of the defense secretary, the attorney general, the intelligence director and, most likely, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

And it mimics the transparent fact, or at least it would if it had been written "for real" instead of only to enable readers to understand the nature of the torture memos, that the authors of the torture memos are monsters disguised as human beings.

It appears the C.I.A. etc. which was willing to take part in the use of Torture aka "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques " never did any sort of evaluation to examine whether the techniques worked or whether they were doing severe harm to their victims.

" CIA reportedly declined to closely evaluate harsh interrogations :Current and former U.S. officials say the failure to carefully examine the value of 'enhanced' methods such as waterboarding -- despite calls to do so as early as 2003 -- was part of a broader trend." By Greg Miller, at Los Angeles Times April 26, 2009

Reporting from Washington -- The CIA used an arsenal of severe interrogation techniques on imprisoned Al Qaeda suspects for nearly seven years without seeking a rigorous assessment of whether the methods were effective or necessary, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The failure to conduct a comprehensive examination occurred despite calls to do so as early as 2003. That year, the agency's inspector general circulated drafts of a report that raised deep concerns about waterboarding and other methods, and recommended a study by outside experts on whether they worked.

That inspector general report described in broad terms the volume of intelligence that the interrogation program was producing, a point echoed in smaller studies later commissioned by then-CIA Director Porter J. Goss.

But neither the inspector general's report nor the other audits examined the effectiveness of interrogation techniques in detail or sought to scrutinize the assertions of CIA counter-terrorism officials that so-called enhanced methods were essential to the program's results. One report by a former government official -- not an interrogation expert -- was about 10 pages long and amounted to a glowing review of interrogation efforts.

"Nobody with expertise or experience in interrogation ever took a rigorous, systematic review of the various techniques -- enhanced or otherwise -- to see what resulted in the best information," said a senior U.S. intelligence official involved in overseeing the interrogation program.

As a result, there was never a determination of "what you could do without the use of enhanced techniques," said the official, who like others described internal discussions on condition of anonymity.

(and the claim is that by using these techniques the volume of Intel had increased but there was no follow up of how plausible the intel was- increase volume but lower quality intel-)

...A U.S. intelligence official familiar with its contents confirmed that the inspector general's report contains language that is consistent with the assertions by former CIA Director Michael V. Hayden and others that the interrogation program accounted for more than half of the intelligence community's reports on Al Qaeda.

But officials said the document did not assess the quality of those reports. It also did not attempt to determine which methods were yielding the best information, or explore whether the agency's understanding of Al Qaeda would have suffered significantly without the use of coercive techniques.

"Certainly you got additional considerable volume of reporting when you started up with anything enhanced," the U.S. intelligence official said. "But nobody went back to say exactly what were the conditions under which we learned that which was the most useful."

at AlterNet.org
"The Bush White House's Appalling and Evil Legacy: Now We Know the Whole Story" By Frank Rich, The New York Times. April 27, 2009.

Did we torture to extract bogus "intelligence" from detainees to make the case for Iraq?

Yet we still shrink from the hardest truths and the bigger picture: that torture was a premeditated policy approved at our government's highest levels; that it was carried out in scenarios that had no resemblance to "24"; that psychologists and physicians were enlisted as collaborators in inflicting pain; and that, in the assessment of reliable sources like the F.B.I. director Robert Mueller, it did not help disrupt any terrorist attacks.

The newly released Justice Department memos, like those before them, were not written by barely schooled misfits like England and Graner. John Yoo, Steven Bradbury and Jay Bybee graduated from the likes of Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Michigan and Brigham Young. ..

Judge Bybee's ...currently occupies a tenured seat on the United States Court of Appeals. As an assistant attorney general, he was the author of the Aug. 1, 2002, memo endorsing in lengthy, prurient detail interrogation "techniques" like "facial slap (insult slap)" and "insects placed in a confinement box."

He proposed using 10 such techniques "in some sort of escalating fashion, culminating with the waterboard, though not necessarily ending with this technique." Waterboarding, the near-drowning favored by Pol Pot and the Spanish Inquisition, was prosecuted by the United States in war-crimes trials after World War II. But Bybee concluded that it "does not, in our view, inflict 'severe pain or suffering.' "

...Bybee's memo was aimed at one particular detainee, Abu Zubaydah, who had been captured some four months earlier, in late March 2002. Zubaydah is portrayed in the memo (as he was publicly by Bush after his capture) as one of the top men in Al Qaeda. But by August this had been proven false. As Ron Suskind reported in his book "The One Percent Doctrine," Zubaydah was identified soon after his capture as a logistics guy, who, in the words of the F.B.I.'s top-ranking Qaeda analyst at the time, Dan Coleman, served as the terrorist group's flight booker and "greeter," like "Joe Louis in the lobby of Caesar's Palace." Zubaydah "knew very little about real operations, or strategy." He showed clinical symptoms of schizophrenia.

...As soon as Bybee gave the green light, torture followed: Zubaydah was waterboarded at least 83 times in August 2002, according to another of the newly released memos. Unsurprisingly, it appears that no significant intelligence was gained by torturing this mentally ill Qaeda functionary. ..

...The report found that Maj. Paul Burney, a United States Army psychiatrist assigned to interrogations in Guantnamo Bay that summer of 2002, told Army investigators of another White House imperative: "A large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq and we were not being successful." As higher-ups got more "frustrated" at the inability to prove this connection, the major said, "there was more and more pressure to resort to measures" that might produce that intelligence.

In other words, the ticking time bomb was not another potential Qaeda attack on America but the Bush administration's ticking timetable for selling a war in Iraq; it wanted to pressure Congress to pass a war resolution before the 2002 midterm elections. Bybee's memo was written the week after the then-secret (and subsequently leaked) "Downing Street memo," in which the head of British intelligence informed Tony Blair that the Bush White House was so determined to go to war in Iraq that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." A month after Bybee's memo, on Sept. 8, 2002, Cheney would make his infamous appearance on "Meet the Press," hyping both Saddam's W.M.D.s and the "number of contacts over the years" between Al Qaeda and Iraq. If only 9/11 could somehow be pinned on Iraq, the case for war would be a slamdunk.

But there were no links between 9/11 and Iraq, and the White House knew it. Torture may have been the last hope for coercing such bogus "intelligence" from detainees who would be tempted to say anything to stop the waterboarding.

Five years after the Abu Ghraib revelations, we must acknowledge that our government methodically authorized torture and lied about it. But we also must contemplate the possibility that it did so not just out of a sincere, if criminally misguided, desire to "protect" us but also to promote an unnecessary and catastrophic war. Instead of saving us from "another 9/11," torture was a tool in the campaign to falsify and exploit 9/11 so that fearful Americans would be bamboozled into a mission that had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. The lying about Iraq remains the original sin from which flows much of the Bush White House's illegality.

President Obama can talk all he wants about not looking back, but this grotesque past is bigger than even he is. It won't vanish into a memory hole any more than Andersonville, World War II internment camps or My Lai. The White House, Congress and politicians of both parties should get out of the way. We don't need another commission. We don't need any Capitol Hill witch hunts. What we must have are fair trials that at long last uphold and reclaim our nation's commitment to the rule of law.

Note to Ann Coulter et al even Ronald Reagan prosecuted a law enforcement officer for Waterboarding

"Reagan's DOJ Prosecuted Texas Sheriff for Waterboarding Prisoners " by Jason Leopold at truthout.org, April 27, 2009

George W. Bush's Justice Department said subjecting a person to the near drowning of waterboarding was not a crime and didn't even cause pain, but Ronald Reagan's Justice Department thought otherwise, prosecuting a Texas sheriff and three deputies for using the practice to get confessions.

Federal prosecutors secured a 10-year sentence against the sheriff and four years in prison for the deputies. But that 1983 case - which would seem to be directly on point for a legal analysis on waterboarding two decades later - was never mentioned in the four Bush administration opinions released last week.

The failure to cite the earlier waterboarding case and a half-dozen other precedents that dealt with torture is reportedly one of the critical findings of a Justice Department watchdog report that legal sources say faults former Bush administration lawyers - Jay Bybee, John Yoo and Steven Bradbury - for violating "professional standards."

Bybee, Yoo and Bradbury also shocked many who have read their memos in the last week by their use of clinical and legalistic jargon that sometimes took on an otherworldly or Orwellian quality. Bybee's August 1, 2002, legal memo - drafted by Yoo - argued that waterboarding could not be torture because it does not "inflict physical pain."

Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba who investigated Abu Ghraib says Bush and his thugs did in fact engage in the torture of prisoners and in doing so broke U.S. law and International Law and so should be put on trial for War Crimes

General Who Probed Abu Ghraib Says Bush Officials Committed War Crimes" by Warren Strobel at McClatchy Newspapers,( at Truthout.org) April 23, 2009

Washington - The Army general who led the investigation into prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison accused the Bush administration Wednesday of committing "war crimes" and called for those responsible to be held to account.

The remarks by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who's now retired, came in a new report that found that U.S. personnel tortured and abused detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, using beatings, electrical shocks, sexual humiliation and other cruel practices.

"After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes," Taguba wrote. "The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."

UN special rapporteur says Obama is obligated to investigate and to indict where necessary those who committed War Crime if not it is up to other countries to do their own investigations of US officials and personnel followed by Indictments if necessary. One can only hope if Obama or AG Eric Holder do not fullfil their International obligations that this may eventually happen.

US Must Prosecute Bush Torture Memo Lawyers: UN Torture Envoy by Veronika Oleksyn, at Huffington Post, April 25, 2009

VIENNA — The U.S. is obligated by a United Nations convention to prosecute Bush administration lawyers who allegedly drafted policies that approved the use of harsh interrogation tactics against terrorism suspects, the U.N.'s top anti-torture envoy said Friday.

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama left the door open to prosecuting Bush administration officials who devised the legal authority for gruesome terror-suspect interrogations. He had previously absolved CIA officers from prosecution.

Manfred Nowak, who serves as a U.N. special rapporteur in Geneva, said Washington is obligated under the U.N. Convention against Torture to prosecute U.S. Justice Department officials who wrote memos that defined torture in the narrowest way in order to justify and legitimize it, and who assured CIA officials that their use of questionable tactics was legal.

"That's exactly what I call complicity or participation" to torture as defined by the convention, Nowak said at a news conference. "At that time, every reasonable person would know that waterboarding, for instance, is torture."

Nowak, an Austrian law professor, said it was up to U.S. courts and prosecutors to prove that the memos were written with the intention to incite torture.

Nowak and other experts said that a failure to investigate and prosecute when there was evidence of torture left those responsible vulnerable to prosecutorial action abroad.

"If it should turn out ... that the (U.S.) government and its authorities are not willing to prosecute those where we have enough evidence that they instigated or committed torture, then there is also an obligation on all other 145 states" party to the convention to exercise universal jurisdiction, Nowak said.

That means countries would have an obligation to arrest the individuals in question if they were on their soil and extradite them to the U.S. if Washington gave clear assurances they would bring them to justice. In the absence of such assurances, it would fall upon the respective country to take the individuals to court.

" Torture? It probably killed more Americans than 9/11 :A US major reveals the inside story of military interrogation in Iraq" The Independent UK, April 26, 2009.

By Patrick Cockburn, winner of the 2009 Orwell Prize for journalism

...The use of torture by the US has proved so counter-productive that it may have led to the death of as many US soldiers as civilians killed in 9/11, says the leader of a crack US interrogation team in Iraq.

"The reason why foreign fighters joined al-Qa'ida in Iraq was overwhelmingly because of abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and not Islamic ideology," says Major Matthew Alexander, who personally conducted 300 interrogations of prisoners in Iraq. It was the team led by Major Alexander [a named assumed for security reasons] that obtained the information that led to the US military being able to locate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qa'ida in Iraq. Zarqawi was then killed by bombs dropped by two US aircraft on the farm where he was hiding outside Baghdad on 7 June 2006. Major Alexander said that he learnt where Zarqawi was during a six-hour interrogation of a prisoner with whom he established relations of trust.

Major Alexander's attitude to torture by the US is a combination of moral outrage and professional contempt. "It plays into the hands of al-Qa'ida in Iraq because it shows us up as hypocrites when we talk about human rights," he says. An eloquent and highly intelligent man with experience as a criminal investigator within the US military, he says that torture is ineffective, as well as counter-productive. "People will only tell you the minimum to make the pain stop," he says. "They might tell you the location of a house used by insurgents but not that it is booby-trapped."

In his compelling book How to Break a Terrorist, Major Alexander explains that prisoners subjected to abuse usually clam up, say nothing, or provide misleading information. In an interview he was particularly dismissive of the "ticking bomb" argument often used in the justification of torture. This supposes that there is a bomb timed to explode on a bus or in the street which will kill many civilians. The authorities hold a prisoner who knows where the bomb is. Should they not torture him to find out in time where the bomb is before it explodes?

Major Alexander says he faced the "ticking time bomb" every day in Iraq because "we held people who knew about future suicide bombings". Leaving aside the moral arguments, he says torture simply does not work. "It hardens their resolve. They shut up." He points out that the FBI uses normal methods of interrogation to build up trust even when they are investigating a kidnapping and time is of the essence. He would do the same, he says, "even if my mother was on a bus" with a hypothetical ticking bomb on board. It is quite untrue to imagine that torture is the fastest way of obtaining information, he says.

Meanwhile some US lawmakers are insisting on going ahead with legal action against Bush administration individuals who ordered or took part in torture.

US lawmakers vow public probe into torture PRESS TV April 25, 2009

US lawmakers say despite Obama's reluctance, they will push for a public inquiry into torture techniques practiced during the Bush era.

US President Barack Obama, last week released “top secret” memos in which Bush administration lawyers declared torture techniques such as waterbording to be legal.

The memo's also described the exact methods to be used in interrogating “high-value” prisoners at secret CIA-run prisons.

Obama immediately urged against "recrimination" for the George W. Bush-era torture of terror suspects, only to retreat five days later, reopening the possibility of investigation - and even prosecution.

Representative Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois on Friday announced a decision to lobby for an open inquiry by the House Intelligence Committee.

“I would like to be sure that if not the full committee, the subcommittee can play a role here,” Schakowsky said.

“One of the things I'd really like to focus on is how we can do this at least in part in open hearings, so that all of this once again isn't pushed behind closed doors, so we can bring witnesses and have this discussion before the American people,” she continued.

Republicans Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan has also thrown his weight behind Schakowsky's call for hearings.

and so it goes,

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