Safeguarding America

May 04, 2010

No Fooling Mother Nature

There is only one meaningful response to the horrific oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and that is for America to stop messing around when it comes to designing its energy and environmental future. The only meaningful response to this man-made disaster is a man-made energy bill that would finally put in place an American clean-energy infrastructure that would set our country on a real, long-term path to ending our addiction to oil.

This oil spill is to the environment what the subprime mortgage mess was to the markets — both a wake-up call and an opportunity to galvanize a constituency for radical change that overcomes the powerful lobbies and vested interests that want to keep us addicted to oil.

Our dependence on crude oil is not just a national-security or climate problem. Some 40 percent of America’s fish catch comes out of the gulf, whose states also depend heavily on coastal tourism. In addition, the Chandeleur Islands off the Louisiana coast are part of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge. It was created by Teddy Roosevelt and is one of our richest cornucopias of biodiversity.


November 20, 2009

We need not cower

A man proud of and confident in America.  Not one letting the terrorists terrorize us into doubting the strength of our convictions and system.  An imperfect system, but a great one.

Obama and Holder defend plans to try Sept. 11 suspects --

"We need not cower in the face of this enemy. Our institutions are strong, our infrastructure is sturdy, our resolve is firm, and our people are ready," Holder said.

Holder also said he was not worried about whether Mohammed, Al Qaeda's chief of operations before the attacks, makes public statements similar to those he made at preliminary hearings at Guantanamo.

If he does, Holder said, "I have every confidence that the nation and the world will see him for the coward that he is. I'm not scared of what Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has to say at trial, and no one else needs to be afraid either."

September 30, 2009

Grant of habeas corpus to Fouad Mahmoud al Rahiah, held and tortured in Guantanamo for 7 years

The court decision clearly shows that the US government detained and tortured this man into demonstrably false confessions for most of the seven years he's been held in Guantanamo.  The wheels of American justice may grind slowly, but we must remember that they sometimes are grinding people down in the process.

The Obama administration's continued pursuit of this case leaves one's mind reeling between whether it was unconscionable given the facts or whether it was brilliant strategy to ensure more clear legal rulings on these matters instead of just leaving this history of the Bush administration's torture and detention policies in legal limbo by simply releasing him.

Extract from the 65 page opinion, Civil. Action No. 02-828 (CKK) :


FOUAD MAHMOUD AL RABIAH, et al., Petitioners,


UNITED STATES, et al., Respondents.

Civil. Action No. 02-828 (CKK)



Petitioner Fouad Mahmoud Al Rabiah ("AI Rabiah") has been detained by the United States Government at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba since 2002. The evidentiary record on which the Government seeks to justify his indefinite detention is surprisingly bare. The Government has withdrawn its reliance on most of the evidence and allegations that were once asserted against Al Rabiah, and now relies almost exclusively on Al Rabiah's "confessions" to certain conduct. Not only did Al Rabiah's interrogators repeatedly conclude that these same confessions were not believable - which Al Rabiah's counsel attributes to abuse and coercion, some of which is supported by the record - but it is also undisputed that AI Rabiah confessed to information that his interrogators obtained from either alleged eyewitnesses who are not credible and as to whom the Government has now largely withdrawn any reliance, or from sources that never even existed. Far from providing the Court with credible and reliable evidence as the basis for Al Rabiah's continued detention, the Government asks the Court to simply accept the same confessions that the Government's own interrogators did not credit, and to ignore the assessment [REDACTED]

Based on this record (or more accurately, in spite of it), the Government asserts that it has the authority to detain Al Rabiah pursuant to the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, Pub. L. No.1 07-40, § 2(a), 115 Stat. 224, 224 (2001) ("AUMF"), which authorizes the use of force against certain terrorist nations, organizations, and persons. Al Rabiah believes he is unlawfully detained and has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

In connection with its inquiry into whether Al Rabiah is lawfully detained, the Court has considered the factual evidence in the record, the extensive legal briefings submitted by the parties, and the arguments presented during a four-day Merits Hearing held on August 26-28, 2009, and August 31, 2009, during which the parties proffered evidence based on the written record and did not present any live testimony.  Based on the foregoing, the Court concludes that Al Rabiah's uncorroborated confessions are not credible or reliable, and that the Government has failed to provide the Court with sufficiently credible and reliable evidence to meet its burden of persuasion. If there exists a basis for Al Rabiah's indefinite detention, it most certainly has not been presented to this Court. Al Rabiah's petition for habeas corpus is GRANTED.

September 04, 2009

Clip: Appeals Court Rules Against Ashcroft in 9 / 11 Case

What is it about the right-wing that they think the US Constitution can be selectively applied ... and not to people, even other US citizens, they think they might be afraid of?

Clip: Appeals Court Rules Against Ashcroft in 9 / 11 Case -

A federal appeals court delivered a stinging rebuke Friday to the Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 detention policies, ruling that former Attorney General John Ashcroft can be held liable for people who were wrongfully detained as material witnesses after 9/11. 
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the government's improper use of material witnesses after Sept. 11 was ''repugnant to the Constitution and a painful reminder of some of the most ignominious chapters of our national history.''

August 26, 2009

The American Way Of Torture

The key point:

If this is not torture, then torture does not exist. And if this is America, and there is no accountability for these war crimes, then core American values have ceased to exist as well.

The American Way Of Torture | The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan:

... The US followed other regimes in both diapering prisoners or, better still, forcing them to lie in their own excrement, as was discovered by horrified FBI agents at Gitmo. Other torture regimes capture piss and shit in bowls beneath the torture victims. Various forms of nude shackling, sleep deprivation and dietary manipulation (all barred under Geneva and the UN Convention) are then supplemented by constant bombardment with light, loud noise, water-dousing and walling. These techniques can be used in combination. Some more details:

An HVD may be walled one time to make a point or twenty to thirty times when an  interrogator requires a more significant response to a question. In an interrogation designed  to be intense, an HVD may be walled multiple times in one session...

Current OMS guidance on cramped confinement limits confinement in the large box to 8 hours at a time for no more than 18 hours a day and confinement in the small box to two hours...

Interrogators will often use one technique to support another. As an example, interrogators would tell an HVD in a stress position that he [HVD] is going back to the walling wall for walling if he fails to hold the stress position until told otherwise by the HVD. This places additional stress on the HVD who will typically try to hold the stress position for as long as possible to avoid the walling wall.

John McCain will remember these techniques and variants of them from his time in the Hanoi Hilton. If this is not torture, then torture does not exist. And if this is America, and there is no accountability for these war crimes, then core American values have ceased to exist as well.

May 05, 2009

The noose of "plausible legality"

The Nixon era falsely tried to create "plausible deniability", the Bush era falsely tried to create "plausible legality".

Re: They Tortured With Good Will  | By Andrew Sullivan:

Condi Rice tries to walk back her statement that if Bush authorized something, it was not illegal. She says instead - in a cosy conversation with Leon Wieseltier - that the president ordered that interrogation go to the limits of the legal. My own sense, from a few off-the-record conversations as well, is that president Bush simply said: do what you have to do, but make sure it's legal. Cheney ran with that. Bush meant it as cover. He needed legal cover to torture in a systematic way. And, because this was the Bush administration, they did what the great leader asked. Even though it was, in fact, impossible. And was impossible. And so America became a torturing country. And Rice sat by and let it happen. Andnow wants to be in polite society.

I do not believe in being polite to war criminals. I believe in prosecuting them.

April 22, 2009

Re: Scarborough falsely compared harsh interrogations to military training programs

This is a key point that is too often overlooked: there is a world of difference between SERE voluntary sampling of some torture techniques by you and your peers, where you know it can and will stop soon, and being held indefinitely with no contact, no one knowing where you are or if you are anymore, with no end way to stop it.  Think about the 183 waterboardings in a month: that is six times a day every day.  And this is after they claimed he confessed the first time after 90 seconds.

The legal memos essentially acknowledge the whole regimen is designed to increase the amount, frequency and types of pain inflicted over time.  You have no control.  No out.  No one can ever come to save you.  They get worse and worse over time.  It seems to go on forever.  And for no reason.  This breaks down your personality.

The other bizarre elements of the legal justifications are (1) the unwillingness to define mental pain or mental suffering as anything other than the experience of physical pain and (2) the definition of "suffering", as distinct from pain except for "connotation of a protracted period" of physical pain.

(1) Mental: The entire point of Jose Padilla's incarceration, and it appears for many of the others, was to break down his personality.  To produce a helplessness so complete that they ceased to be who they were; to remove choice.  That doesn't happen without severe mental pain and suffering.  It is not something you choose.  It is forced on you.

(2) Suffering: While suffering has a connotation of duration, it isn't the main element, in fact, it would be silly to have our phrase "long-suffering" if that was the real sense because that would be redundant.  The real issue in the definition of suffering is that you have to endure it -- you have to put up with it,  you have no choice, you are forced to experience it. 

And that is essentially what the legal memos describe. Not how to avoid causing mental suffering in detainees but in fact how to create excruciating mental suffering through an ever increasing intensity and variety of painful experiences with no hope of you or anyone else stopping it, for years on end if not to the end of your life, even if they leave carefully leave no lasting physical scars.

Torture is terrorism of the individual.

Scarborough falsely compared  harsh interrogations to military training programs:

During the April 22 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough asserted that, with the exception of waterboarding, interrogation techniques, such as "sleep deprivation and working on phobias," used against detainees, are no different from those used in U.S. military training programs. However, as Media Matters for America has noted, officials familiar with both the techniques used in harsh interrogations and those used in military training programs have said that such a comparison is false; those who undergo certain interrogation techniques in such training programs are aware that there are safeguards, and know they can stop the training immediately if necessary.

April 19, 2009

Re: The Bigger Picture

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan:

The core point of this, one infers from the memos, is to create a sense among the prisoners that their assumptions about the West, the US, and countries constructed on the rule of law are without any basis whatever. The torture techniques were all the more brutal in order to push back against the reputation of the US even in the minds of Qaeda or alleged Qaeda members. What Mukasey and Hayden are arguing for today is a scheme whereby, in secret, the US government credibly allows captives to believe they are in an endless, bottomless pit of extra-legal terror. This is the state of mind they are trying to construct by torture. That's the point of the sensory deprivation, the disappearances, the sequestering from the Red Cross, the endless solitary confinement, the IRFing, the hoods, the nudity, and all the other sadism. It is precisely to persuade the barbarians that we are as bad as they are and have no limits and no qualms in doing to them whatever we want.

Looked at from a distance, the Bush administration wanted to do two things at once: to declare to the world that freedom is on the march, and huamn rights are coming to the world with American help, while simultaneously declaring to captives that the US has no interest in the law, human rights, accountability, transparency or humanity. They wanted to give hope to all the oppressed of the planet, while surgically banishing all hope from the prisoners they captured and tortured.

January 22, 2009

Bush's 'War' On Terror Comes to a Sudden End -

Bush's 'War' On Terror Comes to a Sudden End:

While Obama says he has no plans to diminish counterterrorism operations abroad, the notion that a president can circumvent long-standing U.S. laws simply by declaring war was halted by executive order in the Oval Office.

Key components of the secret structure developed under Bush are being swept away: The military's Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, facility, where the rights of habeas corpus and due process had been denied detainees, will close, and the CIA is now prohibited from maintaining its own overseas prisons. And in a broad swipe at the Bush administration's lawyers, Obama nullified every legal order and opinion on interrogations issued by any lawyer in the executive branch after Sept. 11, 2001.

January 13, 2009

Detainee Was Tortured, a Bush Official Confirms -

This is what the rule of law is all about.  We take risks as a society of letting some of the bad ones go if we can't legally prove he's guilty.  So even if he was the "20th hijacker" and that he remains extremely dangerous, just like organized crime bosses or other killers, if we can't prove it, they remain free.

That's what the rule of law means.  In order to protect the rest of us from arbitrary, indefinite detention by the state, robbing us of all liberty and constitutional protects.

It would not be a good thing to let him go.  But it would be a far, far worse thing to keep him.

Detainee Was Tortured, a Bush Official Confirms -

The senior Pentagon official in the Bush administration’s system for prosecuting detainees said in a published interview that she had concluded that interrogators had tortured a Guantánamo detainee who has sometimes been described as “the 20th hijacker” in the 2001 terrorist attacks.
“His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution, Ms. Crawford was quoted as saying in an article published in The Post on Wednesday.
“There’s no doubt in my mind he would’ve been on one of those planes had he gained access to the country in August 2001,” Ms. Crawford said in the interview. “He’s a muscle hijacker.”

She added: “He’s a very dangerous man. What do you do with him now if you don’t charge him and try him? I would be hesitant to say, ‘Let him go.’ ”

September 2011

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  

Campaigns I Support

About Progressive Viewpoints