And the Prophetic Author Award Goes to...

Philippe Sands:
The Bush Six
By Jane Mayer - The New Yorker

About a year ago, a book came out in England that made a fascinating prediction: at some point in the future, the author wrote, six top officials in the Bush Administration would get a tap on the shoulder announcing that they were being arrested on international charges of torture.

If the prediction seemed improbable, the background of the book’s author was even more so. Philippe Sands is neither a journalist nor an American but a law professor and a certified Queen’s Counsel (the kind of barrister who on occasion wears a powdered horsehair wig) who works at the same law practice as Cherie Blair. Sands’s book, “Torture Team,” offers a scathing critique of officials in the Bush Administration, accusing them of complicity in acts of torture. When the book appeared, some scoffed. Douglas Feith, a former Pentagon official, dismissed Sands as “a British lawyer” who “wrote an extremely dishonest book.”

Last week, Sands’s accusations suddenly did not seem so outlandish. A Spanish court took the first steps toward starting a criminal investigation of the same six former Bush Administration officials he had named, weighing charges that they had enabled and abetted torture by justifying the abuse of terrorism suspects. Among those whom the court singled out was Feith, the former Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy, along with former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; John Yoo, a former Justice Department lawyer; and David Addington, the chief of staff and the principal legal adviser to Vice-President Dick Cheney.

Sands, previously, was involved in prosecuting former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, as was the Spanish judge presiding over the Bush torture case.

[update] Just some added info for your research purposes taken from a bunch of previous posts on this topic in my archives:

Abu Ghraib: The Unrated Story

Do not watch or click through on any of the links in this diary if you can't stomach torture, abuse, death, sexual abuse and degradation, etc. and NOT SAFE FOR WORK!

Sy Hersh has talked a bit about abuses at Abu Ghraib, but this time he gets the story from the General that investigatd the abuse, and General Taguba says that the investigation was blocked from going up the chain of command:

Taguba also knew that senior officials in Rumsfeld’s office and elsewhere in the Pentagon had been given a graphic account of the pictures from Abu Ghraib, and told of their potential strategic significance, within days of the first complaint. On January 13, 2004, a military policeman named Joseph Darby gave the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (C.I.D.) a CD full of images of abuse. Two days later, General Craddock and Vice-Admiral Timothy Keating, the director of the Joint Staff of the J.C.S., were e-mailed a summary of the abuses depicted on the CD. It said that approximately ten soldiers were shown, involved in acts that included:

Having male detainees pose nude while female guards pointed at their genitals; having female detainees exposing themselves to the guards; having detainees perform indecent acts with each other; and guards physically assaulting detainees by beating and dragging them with choker chains.

Taguba said, “You didn’t need to ‘see’ anything—just take the secure e-mail traffic at face value.”

I learned from Taguba that the first wave of materials included descriptions of the sexual humiliation of a father with his son, who were both detainees. Several of these images, including one of an Iraqi woman detainee baring her breasts, have since surfaced; others have not. (Taguba’s report noted that photographs and videos were being held by the C.I.D. because of ongoing criminal investigations and their “extremely sensitive nature.”) Taguba said that he saw “a video of a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee.” The video was not made public in any of the subsequent court proceedings, nor has there been any public government mention of it. Such images would have added an even more inflammatory element to the outcry over Abu Ghraib. “It’s bad enough that there were photographs of Arab men wearing women’s panties,” Taguba said.

Via Salon, and don't bother to click through if you don't have the stomach for this stuff, and needless to say NOT SAFE FOR WORK:

279 photographs and 19 videos from the Army's internal investigation record a harrowing three months of detainee abuse inside the notorious prison -- and make clear that many of those responsible have yet to be held accountable.


The 10 galleries of photo and video evidence appear chronologically in the left column, followed by an additional Salon report on prosecutions for abuse and an overview of Pentagon investigations and other resources.

Although the world is now sadly familiar with images of naked, hooded prisoners in scenes of horrifying humiliation and abuse, this is the first time that the full dossier of the Army's own photographic evidence of the scandal has been made public. Most of the photos have already been seen, but the Army's own analysis of the story behind the photos has never been fully told. It is a shocking, night-by-night record of three months inside Abu Ghraib's notorious cellblock 1A, and it tells the story, in more graphic detail than ever before, of the rampant abuse of prisoners there. The annotated archive also includes new details about the role of the CIA, military intelligence and the CID itself in abuse captured by cameras in the fall of 2003.

News you will never see from American news reporters on American Networks:

(Do not watch if you can't stomach torture, abuse, death, sexual abuse and degradation, etc. and NOT SAFE FOR WORK!)

On Wednesday 16 February 2006, Australian public broadcaster SBS current affairs program DATELINE telecast a segment featuring 60 new photos of the torture inflicted on prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. These photos were secured by court order - the ACLU figures prominently in the report - but these photos haven't yet been shown in the media anywhere in the United States.

These files are all hosted on a server located in the United States to speed access for US viewers. If you do know how to use BitTorrent, please download the appropriate BitTorrent file and use that.

HIGH torrent: Link, MEDIUM torrent: Link, LOW torrent: Link

High download: Link, Mirror

Medium download: Link, Mirror

Low download: Link, Mirror

Waterboarding was way down the list of disgusting and criminal acts that prisoners were subjected to:

But The Daily Telegraph reported over the weekend that the documents actually “contained details of how British intelligence officers supplied information to [Mohamed’s] captors and contributed questions while he was brutally tortured.” In fact, it was British officials, not the Americans, who pressured Foreign Secretary David Miliband “to do nothing that would leave serving MI6 officers open to prosecution.” According to the Telegraph’s sources, the documents describe particularly gruesome interrogation tactics:

The 25 lines edited out of the court papers contained details of how Mr Mohamed’s genitals were sliced with a scalpel and other torture methods so extreme that waterboarding, the controversial technique of simulated drowning, “is very far down the list of things they did,” the official said.

Another source familiar with the case said: “British intelligence officers knew about the torture and didn’t do anything about it.”

“It is very clear who stands to be embarrassed by this and who is being protected by this secrecy. It is not the Americans, it is Labour ministers,” former shadow home secretary David Davis said. But one unnamed U.S. House Judiciary Committee member told the Telegraph that if President Obama “doesn’t act we could hold a hearing or write to subpoena the documents. We need to know what’s in those documents.”

And the British are just as complicit in these sick criminal acts perpetrated by many in the Bush administration. Will there be any real justice in the USA ever again?

Two US Soldiers Charged With Murder

Details of various charges and the accused:
BBC NEWS | Middle East | US troops on Iraqi murder charge
Two American soldiers have been charged with the murder of an Iraqi prisoner, US military officials have said.

Staff Sgt Hal Warner and 1st Lt Michael Behenna are accused of the premeditated murder of Ali Mansour Mohammed.

They have also been charged with assault, making a false official statement and obstructing justice.

In other prison abuse news, further revelations on renditions and the prison at Diego Garcia continue to spin British politics:

Just three days after David Miliband's last attempt to draw a line under the story, the British Foreign Affairs Select Committee published its latest report on the British Overseas Territories (PDF), and was scathing about Diego Garcia, declaring that "it is deplorable that previous U.S. assurances about rendition flights have turned out to be false. The failure of the United States Administration to tell the truth resulted in the UK Government inadvertently misleading our Select Committee and the House of Commons. We intend to examine further the extent of UK supervision of U.S. activities on Diego Garcia, including all flights and ships serviced from Diego Garcia."

These new revelations, of course, leave the U.S. administration looking like bald-faced liars and the British government looking like myopic dupes. Whether Michael Hayden was also duped is not known, but his strenuous denial, just five months ago, that a secret prison existed, which was manned by his own employees, will do nothing for the credibility of the U.S. administration, which likes to pretend that it does not torture and has nothing to conceal, but is persistently discovered not only being economical with the truth, but also behaving exactly as though it has guilty secrets to hide.

Whether this scandal will awaken much indignation in the American public remains to be seen, but it is hugely damaging to the British government, which is legally responsible for the activities that take place on its territory, however much it likes to hide behind "assurances" from its leaseholders that they have done nothing wrong.

It scarcely seems possible, but Diego Garcia's dark history has suddenly grown even darker.

Once upon a time, the United States of America was a nation of laws.

Torture Is Illegal

And these are all criminals:

ABC News reported tonight that President Bush’s most senior and trusted advisers met in “dozens of top-secret talks and meetings in the White House” beginning in 2002 to approve the use of “combined” interrogation techniques (the joint use of harsh interrogation techniques). Those tactics included whether detainees “would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding.”

Members of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee — Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, George Tenet, and John Ashcroft — approved the use of these techniques. “Sources said that at each discussion, all the Principals present approved.” According to ABC’s report, Ashcroft indicated he was troubled by the meetings:

According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: “Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly.”

Those people need to be locked up...

Rethinking Torture Tapes and the 911 Commission

Former Reagan administration Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Paul Craig Roberts, takes a look at the not so obvious concerning the destroyed torture tapes and the 911 commission:

Is the torture issue a red herring? The 9/11 Commission was not tasked with investigating interrogation methods or detainee treatment. The commission was tasked with investigating al Qaeda's participation in the 9/11 attack and determining the perpetrators of the terrorist event. There was no reason to withhold from the commission video evidence of confessions implicating al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

Was the video evidence withheld from the 9/11 Commission because the alleged participants in the plot did not confess, did not implicate al Qaeda, and did not implicate bin Laden?

There is no reason for the Bush administration to fear the torture issue. The Justice Department's memos have legalized the practice, and Congress has passed legislation, signed by President Bush, giving retroactive protection to US interrogators who tortured detainees. The Military Commissions Act passed in September 2006 and signed by Bush in October 2006 strips detainees of protections provided by the Geneva Conventions: "No alien unlawful enemy combatant subject to trial by military commission under this chapter may invoke the Geneva Conventions as a source of rights." Other provisions of the act strip detainees of speedy trials and of protection against torture and self-incrimination. The law has a provision that retroactively protects torturers against prosecution for war crimes.

Did the Bush administration cleverly take advantage of the torture claims in order to spin the destruction of the CIA video tapes as a "torture story." It is conceivable that the tapes were destroyed because they reveal the absence of confession to the plot. As Kean and Hamilton ask, without evidence how do we know the truth?

Just some food for thought...

Canada Puts U.S. on Torture Watch List

This cannot be all that surprising since at the end of November Canadian Courts tossed out a “refugee/immigration” treaty with the US based, partially, on the courts recognition of the fact that the US tortures prisoners.
Via BuzzFlash and from CTV News:
Canada puts U.S. on torture watch list

Omar Khadr's lawyers say they can't understand why Canada is not doing more to help their client in light of new evidence that Ottawa has put the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on a watch list for torture.

Khadr -- a Canadian citizen who was just 15-years-old when he was captured in Afghanistan more than five years ago and taken to Guantanamo -- has claimed that he has been tortured at the prison. Now, CTV News has obtained documents that put Guantanamo Bay on a torture watch list.

Khadr's U.S. military lawyer says the new documents contradict Harper's assurances that his client is receiving fair treatment.


Canada's new focus on torture was ordered by the inquiry into Maher Arar's nightmare in Syria. U.S. authorities sent Arar -- a Canadian of Syrian ancestory -- to Syria after he made a brief stopover in New York in 2002. They wrongly accused him of having links to terrorism in large part because of information provided by the RCMP.

Arar was sent to a Syrian prison where he was tortured for nearly a year. An inquiry into the Arar affair ordered a new focus on torture, and CTV News has learned that, as part of a "torture awareness workshop," diplomats are now being told where to watch for abuse.

Specific places noted for torture on their list include:
  • Syria
  • Iran
  • Afghanistan
  • China
  • United States
  • Guantanamo Bay
  • Israel
Notable is the fact that more than half of the places specifically cited in a training manual for Canadian diplomats, Afghanistan, GITMO, the United States and even the Syrian prison Arar was sent to under the US rendition (kidnapping?) program, are torture havens all under the direct control of... The United States.

Here is a CTV News video on the story.
And another video report here.

In November, the Canadian Courts had cited torture as one of the reasons to ditch a treaty with the US on refugee immigration:

Canadian Courts on American Torture Policies:

The Canadian courts don't seem to think too highly of the American torture of prisoners:

The Federal Court of Canada Thursday struck down a refugee agreement [judgment, PDF] between Canada and the US, noting that the US does not meet international refugee protection requirements or respect international conventions against torture. Justice Michael Phelan essentially nullified the 2004 Safe Third Country Agreement , which barred foreign refugees who first arrived in the US from seeking refugee status in Canada and vice versa. Phelan noted that the US has not been compliant with the Refugee Convention or the UN Convention Against Torture. The court also held that the agreement discriminates against refugees based on how they first arrived in Canada and thus violates Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms .

The nullification of the agreement will likely result in Canada processing thousands more refugees each year. The US and Canadian governments have until January 14 to file an appeal. CTV News has more. [The National Post] has additional coverage.
This ought to make the crowd that wrapped themselves in faded flags feel pretty good about what they have accomplished under the criminal bush administration. This is the world view of America that you have created and supported.
Washington State Democratic Central Committee Passed Bush-Cheney Impeachment Resolution

Resolution Pertaining to Investigation and Impeachment Proceedings for George Bush and Dick Cheney

WHEREAS, there are already known and admitted illegal and impeachable actions on the part of George W. Bush, some examples being, in broad outline:

a) unlawful wire-tapping of American citizens,
b) deliberate manipulation of intelligence reports for the purpose of starting a war,
c) deliberate violations of international treaties pertaining to acts of war,
d) deliberate violations of international treaties pertaining to prisoners of war,
e) deliberate violations of constitutional rights provided in the Bill of Rights;

and... continue reading

Yeah... Impeach them.
Our politicians have gone beyond simply being embarrassing and should be considered criminal if they are not doing everything they can to stop this.

For video links and h/t jimstaro at ePluribus Media for video.

Why Some Democrats Refuse to Investigate for Impeachment - Part Deux

Just a rehash on the torture enabling situation. The other day I posted one of the main reasons why Dems continue to refuse to investigate and act on Impeachment:

Because some of the investigations would inevitably lead right back to some of their own members having been complicit in criminal actions:
It seems as if the "four" congressional leaders Harman refers to as knowing about the tapes were the chairs and ranking members of the intelligence committees: Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Rep. Porter Goss (R-FL), and Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA). Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) took Goss' spot as chairman of the House intelligence committee that year when Goss became CIA director. Hoekstra told the AP that he didn't know a thing about either the tapes or their destruction. I'm calling Harman to ask her for her letter to the CIA about the tapes, and will bring it to you if and when I have it.

But the bottom line here is that at least some Congressional leaders knew something about the tapes and something about their destruction, and didn't say anything about either. Harman's silence is especially stunning: she co-chaired a joint Congressional inquiry into the 9/11 attacks in 2002 that didn't receive that very pertinent information. Why did she remain quiet about potentially criminal behavior? Marty Lederman has some thoughts here:
Jay Rockefeller is constantly learning of legally dubious (at best) CIA intelligence activities, and then saying nothing about them publicly until they are leaked to the press, at which point he expresses outrage and incredulity -- but reveals nothing. Really, isn't it about time the Democrats select an effective Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, one who will treat this scandal with the seriousness it deserves, and who will shed much-needed light on the CIA program of torture, cruel treatment and obstruction of evidence? ...

Jane Harman also knew of the intention to destroy the tapes, and she at least "urged" the CIA in writing not to do it. (Where were her colleagues?) But when she found out the CIA had destroyed the tapes, where was Harman's press conference? Where were the congressional hearings?

You are either with bush OR you are against him. If you enable the bush administration to cover up their crimes, you become part of the criminal conspiracy.
Glen Greenwald offers some further observations into this reality:
I continue to be amazed and disturbed by the number of people willing to defend the actions of Rockefeller and his comrades by claiming that these poor, victimized Congressional members just have no ability to do anything when they learn about outright lawbreaking by the administration. As I asked yesterday, why would they even bother to attend briefings if they believed that they were "powerless" to act even upon learning of serious illegalities? Here is the central purpose of the Select Committee on Intelligence -- the primary reason it exists, as stated by the resolution which created the Committee:
It is further the purpose of this resolution to provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States.
The Intelligence Committees were created as a response to the discovery in the 1970s of illegal conduct by the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The core function is to monitor what the intelligence community does and to "assure that such activities" are legal. It is a complete travesty for the senior Democrats on those Committees (and their apologists) to claim that they are powerless to act when learning of lawbreaking. Anyone who thinks that way should not be on the Committee. The idea that they can't do anything once learning of lawbreaking is the very opposite of the Committee's core purpose. But, of course, they were not and are not powerless to act. They simply chose not to act.

In addition to the other mechanisms for action identified here and elsewhere thus far that are available to Senators who learn of patently illegal behavior in a classified setting, key members of the Intelligence Committee could also refuse to cooperate in the enactment of legislation, block nominees, and otherwise thwart the administration's needs until there is some resolution. Such Senators could hold closed door hearings or announce publicly that they have learned of serious lawbreaking by the CIA (without specifying what the lawbreaking is) and demand that the administration agree to a classified setting to resolve those concerns (such as appointing a special counsel with security clearances or empowering a court able to investigate and adjudicate highly classified matters).

But they did none of that. They did the opposite: they continued to cooperate meekly with the administration, pass all of their demanded legislation, and keep quiet. Even for those who say that it's terribly unfair to expect our political leaders to subject themselves to any risk whatsoever in order to put a stop to such gross abuses, they could have acted in ways far short of some sort of melodramatic civil disobedience which would have risked imprisonment (i.e, they would not have had to go as far as actual leaders and patriots who did take risks in order to expose serious governmental wrongdoing).

If someone wants to defend these Democrats' complicit behavior (on the craven ground that what they did was understandable because it was politically wise), then they should make that argument. But nobody should pretend that these Senators and Representatives were "helpless" and had no options for putting a stop to Bush's torture programs and other lawbreaking if they were actually interested in doing so.

Needless to say, if anyone tries to argue that it is politically wise to ignore these crimes... They are no better than the neoconservatives and their GOPeeons that committed the actual crimes.

If there are Democratic party members that feel they are unable to do their jobs according to the responsibilities defined by their positions of power and the oaths they took to uphold The Constitution, up to and including putting impeachment back on the table, then I suggest they find a new line of work. Or, perhaps, prepare for a long visit to a prison with the other criminals they have enabled.


Distributorcap said...


you know i dont even have the words.

thanks for posting all this

Connecticut Man1 said...

Just remember that this is only the tip of the iceberg that we know about.

Life As I Know It Now said...

There is so much here! It makes me feel ill to my stomach. I didn't go to the NSFW sites even. I'm linking to this post because I think this is so very important.

Connecticut Man1 said...

Many Americans do not have a clue what was done in their names. And the only people that have taken any of the blame for a coordinated effort to torture these prisoners were a few low ranking soldiers. Top to bottom, from Bush on down to those low level soldiers, there were orders given and orders followed.

There are a lot of politicians, civil servants and officers that have escaped prosecution.

And the Democratic party, now in a position to actually do something about, are still doing nothing. In fact, many of them - especially the ones that were complicit - are doing everything they can to cover it up.

opit said...

BlueGirlRedState is an old online friend. From tales of working 10 years as a STARS EMT or of teaching at university, or the untold about working as a medical researcher, she has given what I take as an impassioned and enlightened outlook upon these events. I met her years ago commenting at what was then Kevin Drum's 'Political Animal' at Washington Monthly. As I was one of the first to 'follow her home' to what had previously been a private blog where she poured out her ire at the situation she came off as a singular voice : a politically aware researcher who was brought up a Navy brat and married an Air Force officer. They Gave Us a Republic is her latest Soapbox ( at Soapblox, naturally ). Anyway : I have read her detailing how waterboarding is not a simulation at all - but the 'real deal' which induces uncontrollable convulsions and causes deep permanent damage in the victim. Just a few days ago she posted an article outlining her horror at the atrocities assisted by medical staff -and why that was a particularly poingnant betrayal.

opit said...

Here's another update from over there
Of course, nobody 'gives 'em Hell' quite like Len Hart at http://existentialistcowboy.blogspot.com/
but he's a bit of 'culture shock' at first. After a while...a looong while...you may wonder if even he goes quite far enough.