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Archive for December, 2007

Publish the Zubaida Papers!

Posted by stoptorture on 20th December 2007

The CIA torture tapes may have gone down the memory hole, but the Zubaida Papers probably have not. Apparently, “classified daily summaries” about Zubaida’s torture are probably still be out there in the hands of the FBI, CIA, and others. The existence of the Zubaida Papers was reported by the Washington Post.

Perhaps it is easy to delete a few tapes, but a paper trail leading through the offices of various members of government is much harder to destroy.

Somebody must have those “daily summaries.” Congress should subpoena those papers and make them public. His lawyers should request them in court. It is also time for a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Maybe somebody just might post them on the specialist government transparency site:

Let all of the above happen all at once. Time for the truth. Publish the Zubaida Papers!

Posted in Human Rights, Torture, U.S. Law | 7 Comments »

Eight Argentine Military Officers Convicted of Crimes Against Humanity

Posted by stoptorture on 19th December 2007

Court sentences them to 20-25 years

The AP has it in English, Página 12 in Spanish.

This may seem off-topic to some, but having been born under that dictatorship and raised with stories of torture, disappearances, habeas suspension, surveillance, secret trials of subversives, and (of course) amnesty laws, it’s never seemed so far-fetched to me.

Maybe this is a preview of the justice that we, too, might see thirty years from now — but only if we lay the groundwork now. As is always the case, we will have no transition because, haven’t you heard, we are already a democracy. We will have no truth commission because those are for the brown savages, south of the equator. Instead, we will get Hillary and Nancy. Life will go on as it used to, easy to ignore the torture neatly tucked away under the rug. Mainstream Democrats play nice and ignore the crimes they now reserve the power to commit and try clumsily to win political points pursuing petty misdemeanors instead.

The legal battles and New York Times coverage are important–but not enough. Without protest, without emotion, without people, we get nowhere. The Argentine courts did not wake up one day and realize that amnesty was unconstitutional. It took politics to change the courts, and it takes people to change politics. In this case, a generation of angry youth took to the streets, raised voices and shamed the torturers when the law fell silent, and did its small, but real part to wake the country up from its stupor.

To roughly translate one of the convicted officers, Guerrieri:

“I reject the term repressor. We were soldiers paid by the people, those who stand behind me and around me. We went out there to restore order. We do not look like murderers. We look like soldiers who fulfilled their duty.”

I’m eerily reminded of Kiriakou, NYTimes-dubbed “43-year-old father of four,” and all those nice-looking agents and lawyers whose reputations and careers Prof. Goldsmith is mourning in advance.

The choice is yours: Will you be the agent of change?  Or the one who the torturer thinks he serves?

Photo credit: Página 12

Posted in Human Rights | 12 Comments »

Will No One Listen to Bashmilah? Deaf Ears for CIA Torture Survivor

Posted by stoptorture on 19th December 2007

This week, a CIA black sites torture survivor, Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah, spoke out through a lengthy report by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU Law School and in an interview with  His account has been filed in US federal court by the ACLU in a suit against rendition flight runners Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., a subsidiary of Boeing.

The insight Mr. Bashmilah gives into his own torture and the workings of the CIA torture program is horrifying in fact and unprecedented in scope, yet it is largely being ignored by the media.

Often the most traumatic moments for a torture survivors come when they feel almost nobody believes them or care to listen.  We believe you Mr. Bashmilah, and we care.

Will no one listen to Bashmilah?

Posted in Activism, Human Rights, Torture | 25 Comments »

Torture Tapes Aside, Who Will Prosecute the Actual Torturers?

Posted by stoptorture on 18th December 2007

On December 10, 2007, International Human Rights Day, the 59th anniversary of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, John Kiriakou, a former CIA agent, stepped forward on national television to tell us that the CIA tortures and torture works. Normally more responsible, ABC News’ Brian Ross conducted the uncritical interview (more like “chat“) with Kiriakou and called him a “whistleblower,” despite his Mukasey-like lack of commitment demonstrated in phrases like “waterboarding, at least right now, is unnecessary.” (see Mukasey’s declaration on the Torture Memo: “It was unnecessary.”). Unfortunately: the only whistle that torture apologist Kiriakou blew was the one used to attract attention to get himself a book deal.

Was there an unequivocal cry of “Shame!” and a demand for accountability after Kiriakou’s revelations? No. Far from it. The New York Times, for its part, did a sympathy piece for the CIA torturers. In it, journalist Scott Shane took care to remind us of the highly relevant fact that Kiriakou is a father of four (of course, there is no mention of, for instance, Maher Arar, tortured innocent man and father of two). In other words, he has others to support in this time of need when, as Harvard law professor and former OLC head Jack Goldsmith says in horror, family men like him might see their reputation destroyed, their careers lost! Such harsh punishment for simply engaging in war crimes condemned for centuries? Have a heart, people.

Thankfully for the career torturers, the government has one. It’s dug deep to find the same one that was lying unused since the President commuted Scooter Libby’s sentence. This is clear because a week has passed, and no one with authority in government has suggested the obvious:


Instead, the focus is conveniently on the destruction of the videotapes of the torture. Type in the words “CIA” and “investigation” into Google news search, and you will find thousands of hits about the torture videos’ destruction. Now, obstruction of justice is serious and should be investigated. But what about the torture itself?!?! Even a Reuters article titled, “Lawmakers Launch Waterboarding Investigation” is actually about the start of inquiries into the CIA torture tapes destruction.

It’s the Abu Ghraib scandal spin all over again, and we’re falling for it. In the case of Manadel al-Jamadi’s homicide while in CIA custody, remember that the prosecution was of the two low-ranking Abu Ghraib soldiers who posedin the photographs of his dead body wrapped in ice. Their crime? Taking the pictures. (See “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib”). But Mark Swanner, the CIA agent who, along with Navy SEALs, reportedly killed Manadel al-Jamadi and then attempted to cover up the crime, walks free today. Former US Attorney Paul McNulty, infamous for his role in the attorney firing scandal, was in charge of prosecuting al-Jamadi’s homicide and never brought it forward.

Not only is the torture itself not being investigated, the CIA is weighing whether to prosecute Kiriakou for talking about the torture. And to top it off, the Attorney General who couldn’t bring himself to say that waterboarding is torture is now in charge of an investigation about the destruction of evidence of waterboarding. Hurray for justice!

Moreover, Mukasey has told Congress he will not cooperate with its investigation for fear of appearing political (sigh) and has asked it to be stopped. Nice work Schumer and Feinstein. An A+ to the Senate for picking that defender of the law as Attorney General. Excellent job to all the senators running for president, who didn’t even show up to vote against Mukasey (i.e. McCain, Clinton, Biden, Obama, and Dodd).

With news like this, who needs satirists? Writers’ guild stay on strike. We have no need for Stewart and Colbert. Anyone can connect the dots. Raw hipocrisy is being churned out, live and unedited. Then again, at least Stewart and Colbert make us laugh. And none of this is funny.

[UPDATE: Today, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU Law School released a report with testimony Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah, a torture survivor with personal knowledge on conditions within CIA black sites. Who will call for justice? It’s more than the tapes; it’s the torture.].

Posted in Human Rights, International Law, Torture, U.S. Law | 87 Comments »

Torture Is a Moral Issue

Posted by stoptorture on 16th December 2007

Said religious leaders from evangelical Christian, mainline Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Roman Catholic and other communities, in an ad published today in the Des Moines Register. According to a press release, the full-page ad was produced by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture in partnership with Evangelicals for Human Rights and was signed by 48 prominent figures, including former President Jimmy Carter, former NJ governor Thomas Kean.

It reads:

  • Torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions, in their highest ideals, hold dear.
  • It degrades everyone involved – policy-makers, perpetrators and victims.
  • It contradicts our nation’s most cherished values.
  • Any policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are shocking and morally intolerable.
  • Nothing less is at stake in the torture abuse crisis than the soul of our nation.
  • What does it signify if torture is condemned in word but allowed in deed?
  • Let America abolish torture now – without exceptions.

Posted in Human Rights, International Law, Torture, U.S. Law | 62 Comments »

Fools on the Hill: Mukasey Rejects Congressional Demand for Information on CIA Tapes Investigation

Posted by stoptorture on 14th December 2007

NYTimes reports today.

We warned you, Chuck Schumer. Dianne Feinstein. Mukasey’s playing a fun wordgame again, claiming that by blocking Congressional inquiries and refusing to respond to the scandal of torture and cover-up, he simply refrains from “being political”– just like he promised in his confirmation hearings. Clever.

Meanwhile, in very (ahem) apolitical character, Mukasey published an op/ed in today’s LA Times, calling for Congress to enact FISA reform, ie. to push the bill that amnesties the telecom companies and institutionalizes our overseas warrantless wiretapping program. So Mukasey can meddle in Congress’ affairs, but Congress can’t meddle with his? That is, he can be political whenever he chooses to be?

Are McCain, Specter, and all those who claimed to trust that Mukasey, this independent, upright character would keep his promises and come out strong against torture and spying as soon as he took office — are they liars, or simply the biggest fools on the hill?

Posted in Human Rights | 4 Comments »

Torture Goes Down the Memory Hole

Posted by stoptorture on 8th December 2007

Below is a brief non-exhaustive list of the torture evidence the government has thrown down the Orwellian memory hole.

Truths We Have Lost:

  1. CIA torture tapes
  2. Countless Abu Ghraib photos and videos collected in the US Army’s “Amnesty Box” (Watch “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib” for more information).
  3. Rumsfeld memorandum posted at Abu Ghraib authorizing torture techniques with a handwritten note: “Make sure this happens!!”

Truths We Risk Losing:

  1. Guantánamo litigation papers

Posted in Human Rights, Torture | 12 Comments »