(I don't think all the bells and whistles are working but click on the title to get to the original...)
Roger Fitch Esq • January 8, 2008
Our Man in Washington
The New Year brought the usual lists surveying the previous year’s events and people.
This time they were heavily weighted towards crime and criminals.
For instance, The Talking Points Memo blog tallied Bush officials who have been
sacked, disgraced, jailed, or seem headed for time behind bars.
CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) listed the year’s top-10
One enterprising blogger provided a handy 82-page list of accumulated Bush crimes
through to the end of 2007.
And on New Year’s Eve, The New York Times acknowledged that “men in some of the
most trusted posts in the nation plotted to cover-up the torture of prisoners by
Central Intelligence Agency interrogators by destroying videotapes of their sickening
The Grey Lady continued:
“It was impossible to see the founding principles of the greatest democracy [sic]
in the contempt these men and their bosses showed for the Constitution, the rule
of law and human decency.”
The Times let fly, referring to to “inhumanity … lawless behaviour … barbaric acts
… shocking abuses … a trampled constitution [and] the kangaroo court in Guantanamo”.
It was a blistering editorial, yet the torture of detainees would have been exposed
years ago if papers such as the Times and The Washington Post had not insisted on
sugar-coating Bush administration misbehaviour.
After all, who gave us the words, “harsh interrogation” and “tough tactics”? Who
accepted and justified their use on “recalcitrant” and “stubborn” prisoners?
It was the Post that genteelly said, “controversial interrogation techniques … include
some that cause extreme discomfort”.
At the very least, the alarm bells should have begun ringing when the so-called
torture memos were disclosed in 2004. Instead, one of the authors, Alberto Gonzales,
was confirmed as Attorney General in 2005.
After Gonzales left the White House, Bush’s lawyers openly discussed destroying
the incriminating tapes, although there were some legal dissidents.
In any event the tapes are said to have been destroyed and, as the scandal unfolds,
Georgetown law prof Jonathan Turley (pic) has prepared a helpful list of “six identifiable
crimes” that are available against Bush and his officials.
Without the torture memos, of course, there might never have been any torture to
One plaintiff has made the connection, and is bringing suit against the very man
whose tortured logic many believe led to tortured people.
Jose Padilla, the US citizen falsely imprisoned for three-and-a-half years in a
navy brig, has sued the presumed architect of torture, the former Department of
Justice “lawyer” John Yoo, now a tenured law professor at Berkeley.
The lawsuit seeks to hold Yoo accountable for Padilla’s alleged torture during his
spell as an “enemy combatant”.
According to Padilla’s lawyers, Yoo (pic) was personally involved. Jurist has more
to say about this.
Even as the dust settles on the CIA’s alleged destruction of the torture tapes,
that agency finds itself facing the additional charge of obstructing the 9/11 Commission,
which specifically sought such information and was told it didn’t exist.
The bipartisan leadership of the commission attacked the CIA actions in a New York
Finally, Attorney General Michael Mukasey felt compelled to take action, and ordered
an FBI investigation of the CIA’s destruction of the “torture tapes”.
Dahlia Lithwick reports on the AG’s choice for prosecutor, Assistant US Attorney
John Durham (pic) of Connecticut.
The investigation should be interesting, as the FBI has always disapproved of the
CIA’s brutal interrogation methods. The Times suggested it could even be payback
time for the often-ignored and overruled FBI.
* * *
Another area of interest in the torture controversy concerns the CIA’s “black sites”
overseas, said to have been located in such places as Thailand, Poland, Romania
and the British possession of Diego Garcia.
No doubt the talk of black sites by John Kiriakou (see my last post) is one reason
the CIA wants to investigate the former CIA agent. Mother Jones has more about this.
The danger to the Bush administration of further black site disclosures is the subject
of a piece by John Dean in FindLaw’s Writ. It all hangs on the ACLU’s FOI suit against
the CIA pending in US District Court in New York.
We also now know more about these CIA black sites, thanks to Muhamed Bashmilah,
one of the plaintiffs in another ACLU lawsuit – the one against the Jeppesen Travel
division of Boeing. Jeppesen arranged “flight services” for the CIA’s (shudder)
Bashmilah’s detailed descriptions of his treatment at black sites is the basis for
a report put out by NYU’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice.
That’s the one run by an eminent Australian, the law professor Philip Alston (pic).
Middle East Times correspondent William Fisher has more on the NYU report and on
black sites generally.
* * *
There is yet another useful list that has been produced for 2008. It’s a status
report on “GTMO and related” cases in Washington and elsewhere by David Remes, a
leading member of the Guantanamo Bar Association.
Speaking of Guantanamo, the list of disaffected and departed Gitmo military officers
is still growing.
First there was the incident in 2005 when three prosecutors from the Air Force Judge
Advocates quit. Leigh Sales from your ABC had details of the third resignation.
They were later joined by the prosecutor Lt. Col. Stuart Couch and the defence counsel
Lt. Col. Colby Vokey (pic).
Officers involved in holding the CSRTs, including Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham, have
been filing affidavits for detainees in their court cases, attesting to the unfairness
of the CSRTs.
Even the Chief Prosecutor, Moe Davis has quit in protest and like Col. Couch (see
my post of December 7, 2007), Col. Davis has been prevented from testifying to Congress
by Pentagon General Counsel William Haynes.
Davis strongly attacked the Pentagon’s political interference in the commissions,
in an LA Times op-ed.
Col. Morris Davis will not be going quietly. As he says:
“I’m not the first person associated with Guantanamo to be bound and gagged before
having cold water poured on him, although in my case it is intended to induce me
not to talk.”
Maybe Moe’s not kidding.