Friday, November 07, 2008

Guantánamo Seems So Yesterday & Other News From The Bush Torture Regime

It was just fine with Barack Obama and John McCain that they could pretty much avoid talking about the Bush administration's kangaroo court military tribunals and its embrace of torture during the presidential campaign.

While these aspects of the U.S.'s so-called War on Terror were not a priority for voters who are beleaguered by a collapsed economy and wondering how to pay for their Uncle Leo's thousand-dollar medications, the candidates also knew that there are no easy answers about how to deal with Guantánamo Bay, but one tentacle of the legacy of a cowardly president who is dumping an extraordinary amount of self-created effluvia in his successor's lap before he tucks his tail between his legs and scurries back to Texas.

George Bush said he would shutter Guantánamo after a third Supreme Court ruling that the tribunals made a mockery of the Constitution. Obama and McCain also said they would close the detention camp, and Obama will now have to make good on that pledge because Bush, of course, has reneged while pretty much thumbing his nose at the ruling as he did the first two.

Compounding the problem is that while a majority of the so-called enemy combatants
were never threats, some of them were and remain so. These include dozens of the 255 prisoners remaining at Guantánamo, including some with connections to Osama bin Laden and other top Al Qaeda leaders, who have moldered at the Navy base in Cuba without being brought to trial as the tribunal system continues to unravel.

More here.

The primary reason for the unraveling is that an increasing number of military judges are refusing to allow the admission of evidence at tribunals that was obtained through torture.

Such is the case with Mohammed Jawad, who was 16 or 17 when he was arrested by Afghan police and he and his family threatened with death unless he admitted throwing the grenade that wounded U.S. soldiers and killed their interpreter at a bazaar in Kabul in December 2002.

More here.

The unraveling also can be traced to the resignations of key prosecutors, most recently Lieutenant Colonel Darrel Vandeveld, an Army Reservist who is returning to civilian life because of his outrage over the deliberate suppression of evidence vital to the prisoners' defense.

Charges were dropped against five defendants in the wake of Vandeveld's resignation, but the chief prosecutor has reserved the right to reinstate the charges.

More here.

The White House has denied that it gave the CIA the green light to use waterboarding and other torture techniques, but that is being revealed as yet another lie as the paper trail is filled in.

The Bush administration issued a pair of secret memos to the spy agency in 2003 and 2004 at the request of spy agency director George Tenet more than a year after the start of secret interrogations that explicitly endorse the techniques.

More here.

The Pentagon has revised its policy on the use of psychologists in interrogations following an American Psychological Association ban on the practice.

A Department of Defense interrogation directive dated October 9 states: "Behavioral science consultants may not be used to determine detainee phobias for the purpose of exploitation during the interrogation process."

More here.

Finally, there is the sad story of the 17 Chinese Muslims being detained at Guantánamo whom a federal judge has ruled are not enemy combatants and ordered released.

The prisoners, ethnic Uighurs who fled a restive region in western China because of political oppression, were living in a self-contained camp in Afghanistan when the U.S.-led coalition bombing campaign began a month after the 9/11 attacks.

Now the effort by the Bush administration to find a country willing to accept the detainees has stalled because of a bitter dispute inside the government about whether the men are dangerous even if the judge has ruled that they are not.

More here.

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