Thursday 4th of June 2020

justice detained .....

from the Centre for American Progress ….. 

‘For five years after 9/11, the administration failed to work with Congress to develop a system to try detainees. Last week, President Bush finally unveiled legislation for military commissions. "The rationale is clear," Time magazine's Andrew Sullivan writes. "In the week of the fifth anniversary of 9/11 the president wants to change the debate from Iraq, from Iran, from the past and position himself once again as the indispensable protector." With the bill, the administation is "proposing to write into law a two-track system that has existed as a practical matter for some time"; one system that observes the Geneva Convention's ban on "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment," and one that does not. (Georgetown Law professor Martin Lederman described the move as a "Jeckyll and Hyde routine.") On Sunday's edition of Meet the Press, Vice President Cheney explained why the legislation essentially ignores the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision, which forced the administration to develop a system consistent with Geneva: "I happen to disagree with the Supreme Court. I think the Thomas/Scalia/Alito minority views were the correct ones." It looks as if Congress will toe the administration line. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) plans to push for a vote "by the end of the month and hopes the memory of the Sept. 11 attacks would help rally lawmakers behind the White House proposal."

Last week, the Pentagon released a revised Army Field Manual that "provides Geneva Convention protections for all detainees and eliminates a secret list of interrogation tactics." The manual bans several controversial techniques, including "forcing prisoners to endure long periods of solitary confinement, using military dogs to threaten prisoners, putting hoods over inmates' heads" and waterboarding. Bush's legislation, however, "would “liberalize the definition of what is torture" by amending the War Crimes Act to "permit use of “hypothermia, threats of violence to the detainee and his family, stress positions, ‘long-time standing,’ prolonged sleep deprivation, and possibly waterboarding." Under the Bush plan, the CIA "will reserve the right to use the tougher tactics," while opening up the possibility the Pentagon later could "revise its own standards to allow the harsher techniques." Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence John Kimmons warned against legalizing a separate interrogation track. He said, "I am absolutely convinced [that] no good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tell us that. ... And we can't afford to go there."

"A growing number of CIA counterterrorism officers are insuring themselves against possible civil lawsuits," the Washington Post reported yesterday. The reason: "heightened anxiety at the CIA that officers may be vulnerable to accusations they were involved in abuse, torture, human rights violations and other misconduct." Bush's legislation would provide these worried officials with "retroactive immunity from prosecution" if they are accused of using some of the techniques forbidden under the Army Field Manual. The "interrogators who engaged in those practices both in the past and in the future would not face prosecution." In addition, an administration official has said the CIA secret prision program "could continue," but not "in the same manner that it operated before."

Last week, Sens John Warner (R-VA), John McCain (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced an alternative to the Bush bill that would bar "secret evidence or information obtained from 'cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.'" The White House has been working overtime to "win concessions" from the Senators that would prohibit torture victims from seeking damages under the Geneva Conventions, eliminate habeas relief for aliens held outside the United States, and narrow the scope of the War Crimes Act, substituting language about "grave breaches" for the general prohibition on violating Common Article 3. A recent draft of the Senators' legislation suggests these efforts may be succeeding. The White House, however, is pushing for its own concessions: "Yesterday, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden went to Capitol Hill to lobby senators for the administration's version of the bill." Meanwhile, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) are pushing legislation that closely mirrors the administration's bill.

"As soon as Congress acts to authorize these military commissions," Bush said last week, "we will prosecute these men and send a clear message to those who kill Americans: No matter how long it takes, we will find you and bring you to justice." The speech signaled an effort by Bush to reframe the debate over military commissions as a false choice "between breaching the Geneva conventions or backing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed." "It’s territory he knows and feels secure on," Andrew Sullivan writes, "goading the opposition as appeasers and terror lovers." Last week, it looked as if conservatives would be split on the issue, making it less effective as a political cudgel. But Bush's "round of speeches on national security" has made the right wing "more wary of bucking the White House."’

Guantanamo Kumbaya

From the New York Times

[|The Battle] for Guantánamo

Published: September 17, 2006
Note: This article will appear in the Sept. 17 issue of The Times Magazine.
1. A Warning From Shaker Aamer

Col. Mike Bumgarner took over as the warden of Guantánamo Bay in April 2005. He had been hoping to be sent to Iraq; among senior officers of the Army’s military police corps, the job of commanding guards at the American detention camp in Cuba was considered not particularly challenging and somewhat risky to a career. He figured it would mean spending at least a year away from his family, managing the petty insurgencies of hundreds of angry, accused terrorists.

“Is this what I went to bed at night thinking about?” he would ask nearly a year later, as he whacked at mosquitoes on a muggy Cuban night. “No.”

Bumgarner, then 45, received his marching orders from the overall commander of the military’s joint task force at Guantánamo, Maj. Gen. Jay W. Hood. A few weeks earlier, General Hood dispatched the previous head of his guard operation and two other senior officers for fraternizing with female subordinates. He was known as a flinty, detail-oriented boss with low tolerance for bad judgment, and his instructions to the colonel were brief: He should keep the detainees and his guards safe, Bumgarner says Hood told him. He should prevent any escapes. He should also study the Third Geneva Convention, on the treatment of prisoners of war, and begin thinking about how to move Guantánamo more into line with its rules.

It had been three years since President Bush declared that the United States would not be bound by any part of the Geneva treaties in dealing with prisoners in the fight against terrorism.

read on at the NYT... Fascinating.

bushwhacked .....

‘President Bush went to Capitol Hill today to rally Republican support for his anti-terrorism policies, but a Senate committee dealt him a serious setback after a former member of his cabinet broke with him on a crucial issue.

Hours after Mr. Bush huddled with House Republicans, he suffered a defeat on the other side of the Capitol, as the Senate Armed Services Committee endorsed legislation that would give suspected terrorists more legal protections than the president desires.

Four of the panel's 13 Republicans joined all 11 Democrats in rejecting Mr. Bush's proposal to keep defendants from seeing classified evidence against them. The vote came a day after the House Armed Services Committee adopted a measure that more closely parallels what the president wants.

Mr. Bush said after conferring with Republican House members that he had "reminded them that the most important job of government is to protect the homeland." As part of his plan, the president wants Congress to enact legislation that would authorize tougher interrogations of suspected terrorists.

And that is what Congress must not do, said Colin L. Powell, the former secretary of state. "The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism," Mr. Powell said in a letter to Senator John McCain of Arizona, one of the Republicans who differ with Mr. Bush's policies.’

Senate Panel Defies Bush On Detainee Bill

knuckles .....

Mark Fiore's new animation "Knuckle's Sandwich" 

overwhelming support for Hicks .....

'More than 90 per cent of Australians believe Guantanomo Bay detainee David Hicks deserves a fair trial without delay, a Newspoll survey has show.

And they believe he won't get that fair trial in the US-run detention centre in Cuba, the survey revealed.

The survey was commissioned by the group GetUp, which describes itself as an independent political movement to build a progressive Australia.'

Public Overwhelmingly Behind Hicks