Thursday, June 28, 2018

From Roger Fitch and our friends down under at Justinian....

With a morally bankrupt torture-embracing president, rubberstamp Republican congress, and torture supporters everywhere, it's possible that torture experience helped a torture-camp director become CIA Director.
Gina Haspel formerly ran the CIA's depraved Thai torture operation (on-going under local direction), and some - including conservatives - call her a war criminal. More here and here. Nevetheless, Haspel was narrowly confirmed when six Democrats crossed the senate floor.
It marked a continuation of the free pass Haspel received from the Obama administration for both torture and its cover-up.  She should, however, avoid future travel in rule-of-law countries, e.g, Germany.
Even as Haspel was being confirmed, the CIA's original "legal opinion" supporting its proposed use of torture was produced - after redacting the name of the "lawyer" who concocted it.  
Another incriminating response to FOI requests was the CIA's demand for an advance DoJ "declination of prosecution" for its planned violations of federal laws and the Covenant Against Torture.  
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The most absurd case ever brought at Guantánamo, that of the Haspel-supervised torture victim Abt al-Rahim al-Nashiri, has been put on indefinite hold by the presiding military judge, more here.
In a companion nonsense case,  Ahmed Mohammed al-Darbi has been repatriated to Saudi Arabia, having done his duty by grassing up Mr Nashiri in the MV Limburg and USS Cole cases. More here.  
The Limburg bombing involved peacetime piracy against a Panamanian-flagged French tanker in international waters. There's no connection to the US, but the Pentagon's reliable (if shambolic) Court of Military Commission Review reversed the military judge's dismissal of the claims.
The Cole bombing involved Americans, but still no war; even if hostilities had been implicated, the attack would be legal, absent "perfidy". 
All the other USS Cole defendants were successfully convicted in civilian US courts years ago, where Nashiri - now depicted in his military commission as the mastermind and architect of the Cole bombing - was just an "unindicted co-conspirator". He was unavailable for US trial because the CIA was busy torturing him in three countries overseas. Two of them, Poland and Romania, have been ordered by the European Court of Human Rights to pay Nashiri damages for their part in his CIA torture. More here.
Nashiri's ordeal in Thailand was personally supervised by the psychologists Mitchell and Jessen (the CIA has settled a civil suit for damages against them) and by Gina Haspel, the new CIA director.  
Steve Vladeck sorted out the Nashiri mess here and here.
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The military commission of Abd al-Hadi is picking-up speed at Guantánamo. Al Hadi is one of the few at Gitmo charged with a real war crime - killing civilians. Many of the other charges seem doubtful in light of his combat status, but a freshly-stacked supreme court may ultimately rewrite international law, the Geneva Conventions and the US constitution to make "conspiracy" and other civilian offences valid tribunal crimes.
The 9/11 defendants are likewise accused of killing civilians, although there wasn't any war underway on September 11, 2001. The military judge in that case got around the lack of hostilities by deferring to the self-serving characterisations of military jurisdiction by congress and the executive.  
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In a new global attack on Gitmo detention, a group habeas petition has been brought in DC supported by the human rights law firms Reprieve and the Center for Constitutional Rights. More from Lawfare, HRW's Laura Pitter and Just Security
The case, styled al Hajj v Trump, emphasises Mr Trump's anti-Muslim animus, and is beginning to bear fruit under an Obama-appointed judge.