Doctors and nurses tasked with monitoring the health of terror suspects were complicit in abuses committed at prisons run by the Pentagon and the CIA, an independent report said Monday. The Defense Department and the CIA demanded that the health care…
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- Ariel Castro
- Barack Obama
- Ben Emmerson
- Cameron Todd Willingham
- Constitution Project
- DNA evidence
- David Ranta
- Dick Cheney
- George Soros
- George W. Bush
- George W. Busy Library and Policy Center
- Guantanamo Bay
- Guantanamo hunger strike
- Institute of Medicine
- Intelligence Gathering
- International Committee of the Red Cross
- Johns Hopkins University
- Leonard Rubenstein
- Lt. Col. Stuart Couch
- NG tube
- National Security
- New Delhi
- Olin Castro
- Open Society Foundation
- Pedro Castro
- Physicians for Human Rights
- Prisoner of war
- Red Cross
- Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel
- United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism
- United States
- Veterans for Peace
- War on Terror
- case flaws
- cleveland kidnapping
- criminal injustice
- excessive secrecy
- extraordinary rendition
- false confessions
- feeding tube
- force feeding
- forced feedings
- harsh interrogation methods
- hippocratic oath
- hunger strike
- indefinite detention
- international law
- junk science
- press release
- secret detention sites
- severe harm
- sexual predator
- sleep deprivation
- special forces
- stress positions
- suicide note
- water boarding
- wrongful convictions
Via Democracy Now!
Ben Emmerson, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, has called on Britain and the United States to release confidential reports into the countries’ involvement in kidnapping and torture of terrorism suspects during the era of the George W. Bush administration — after years of denial. "A crucial part of the duty of accountability under international law is the so-called right to truth," Emmerson says. "That’s a right that is not just belonging to the victims, but to society at large."
Transcript below the fold...
Ariel Castro, who is being held on $8 million bail after being charged with multiple counts of kidnapping and rape, appears to have written a chilling confession back in 2004. Reporters for Channel 19 Action News have posted excerpts from the letter, which police found while searching the house where Castro allegedly imprisoned three women for a decade. In the letter Castro admits that “I am a sexual predator” and that he needs help. He also wonders why he kidnapped a third woman when he “already had 2 in my possession.” The letter is reportedly a suicide note, with Castro saying he wanted to kill himself and give his money to his captives. He also blamed his victims, saying they “made the mistake of getting in a car with a total stranger.”
Multiple sources say that the man living there had written a suicide note years ago outlining what he did and why. Ariel Castro is sitting in the city jail, so of course, he never did take his own life.
But Gallek has learned that in the note, Castro talks about a sex addiction and needing help. It puts some blame on the victims for getting in the car with him, and it refers to family problems and a poor childhood.
Castro and his two brothers, Pedro and Olin, are being held in jail in separate cells. A source who's been in the jail says the suspects are getting a lot of verbal abuse from other inmates.
And in a tearful interview on ABC’s Good Morning America, the daughter of suspected Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro begged Gina DeJesus -- her former childhood friend -- to forgive any role she had in enabling the abduction. “I am absolutely so so sorry,” the 22-year-old cried. Arlene was one of the last people to see Gina in 2004 on the day she was kidnapped—but claims she had no idea that it was her own father who did it. “[We were] not that close,” Arlene told GMA. “Every time we would talk it would just be short conversations, just a hello.” The kidnapper’s daughter says she hopes to see Gina, and introduce her to her kids.
After enduring a traumatic childhood and two years in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, Tom Faunce made an oath to spend the rest of his life helping those in need. Four decades later, he discovers a mysterious man in Southeast Asia claiming to be an American Special Forces soldier listed as 'Killed In Action.' Working against government forces trying to cover up the story, Tom struggles to prove the lost soldier's identity and reunite him with his family.
A new documentary called Unclaimed claims to introduce the world to former Army Sergeant John Robertson, lost over Vietnam in 1968 and left behind for over four decades.
The Toronto Star reports:
Special Forces Green Beret Master Sgt. John Hartley Robertson had forgotten how to speak English over the 44 years since he was left behind in the Vietnam War. But he never forgot that he was a father, husband and an American soldier, born in Alabama, shot down over Laos in a 1968 classified mission.
Had Hollywood told the story of the discovery of a long-forgotten soldier, found miraculously still alive in Vietnam after surviving a horrific helicopter attack and crash, it would have involved a dramatic and dangerous jungle rescue followed by a homecoming parade.
Instead, in Emmy-winning Edmonton filmmaker Michael Jorgensen’s documentary Unclaimed, we meet a slightly stooped, wiry 76-year-old man living in a remote village in south-central Vietnam who trembles with frustration or pounds his forehead when he is unable to remember his birthday or his American children’s names. He is only able to speak Vietnamese.
Unclaimed has its world premiere at Toronto’s 20th Hot Docs festival on April 30.
Robertson says he was confined to a bamboo cage in the jungle by North Vietnamese captors and, accused of being a CIA spy, was tortured for a year. Confused and badly injured, he was released and married the Vietnamese nurse who helped care for him. He assumed the name of her dead husband. They had children.
The filmmaker struggled with roadblocks along the way from the military -- especially when it came to contacting Robertson’s family -- to be convinced that, as one high-placed government source told him, “It’s not that the Vietnamese won’t let him (Robertson) go; it’s that our government doesn’t want him.”
There is also a video interview with Michael Jorgensen on the Toronto Star's website, here,
There may be some in the nation who have forgotten the Bush years, explaining his recent bump in a recent Washington Post approval poll, but groups like CODEPINK, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Veterans for Peace and others were on hand at the opening ceremony of the G.W. Bush Library in Dallas on Thursday morning to remind everyone of those 8 years of hell.
"During the opening dedication ceremony of the George W. Bush Library & Policy Center in Dallas, Texas, Dennis Trainor Jr. of Acronym TV and Gary Egelston of Iraq Veterans Against the War wearing Bush and Cheney papermache impressions, were brutally arrested for walking off the curb. The Bush and Cheney characters were in the custody of CODEPINK Co-founder Medea Benjamin, dressed as a pink police, who was forced back to the sidewalk while the Dallas police dragged Trainor and Egelston to the ground. "It was an appalling use of brutal force immediately. What happened to a warning or a request 'Sir, hands behind your back'?" said Medea Benjamin, who is still recovering from the whiplash of the event."
"Photographer Bill Perry of Veterans for Peace followed the action into the street and was also arrested. He is just recovering from an illness so fellow Veterans were pleading with the police to release him, but to no avail."
"Gary Egelston is a resident of Dallas/Ft Worth area and has served 2 tours of duty in Iraq."
"CODEPINK activists and allies have been using the opportunity of the opening of the new George W. Bush Library & Policy Center in Dallas to bring attention to the injustices committed by former president George W. Bush and his administration, particularly the invasion and destruction of Iraq and the use of torture directed from his office."
Other protesters included ex-talk show host Phil Donahue, who was executive producer of the anti-war documentary Body of War.
Dozens of others wore signs listing the names of those who died in wars launched by the Bush administration.
"We refuse to allow the Bush Library to be a Bush Lie Bury. If anything, it is a monument to folly and should be filled with the biographies of the lives ended, ruined or injured, the principles abandoned, the resources wasted, and the time lost" says Bill Moyer, executive director of The Backbone Campaign.
All three of the arrested protesters were charged with misdemeanors and released after 13 hours in custody.
Protesters converged at Swami Dayanand Hospital in New Delhi on Friday as shock spread in the Indian capital over the alleged rape and abduction of a 5-year-old girl by a neighbor. The girl, said to be in critical condition, was being taken to a larger facility.
Months after a brutal gang rape of an Indian student prompted widespread soul-searching about the country’s culture of violence against women, the attacks continue. This time, the alleged victim is just 5 years old, reportedly raped by a male neighbor and lying in critical condition in a Delhi hospital. The alleged attack triggered protests in the city, with activists and family members of the child demanding justice and better safety for women and girls. A doctor told reporters that “the next 48 hours will be crucial for her.” The child, whose family lives in a slum on the outskirts of the capital, went missing on April 15 and was found, bruised and semiconscious, in the suspect’s home on Thursday. The suspect allegedly held the girl hostage for three days, raping and torturing her. Activists have demanded tougher laws to deter sex offenders, with some agitating for capital punishment in special cases.
“If you thought just bringing in a new law will stop crimes, you are wrong,” one activist, Kiran Bedi, told an Indian TV channel. “They will reduce, but won’t stop. You need community policing to stop these crimes.”
Press Conference: Release of Task Force Report on Detainee Treatment: The Constitution Project's Task Force on Detainee Treatment is an independent, bipartisan, blue-ribbon panel charged with examining the federal government's policies and actions related to the capture, detention and treatment of suspected terrorists during the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.
The U.S. tortured people. A nonpartisan, 577-page report on the United States’ interrogation program concludes that “it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture,” and that top officials were responsible for it. The 11-member panel was organized by the Constitution Project and was led by two former members of Congress: a Republican, Asa Hutchinson, and a Democrat, James Jones. The report confirms that waterboarding was more widespread, and was practiced against Libyan militants as well as Al Qaeda prisoners. Torture also damaged the U.S.’s standing in the world and risked the safety of U.S. troops. “As long as the debate continues, so too does the possibility that the United States could again engage in torture,” says the report.
“I had not recognized the depths of torture in some cases,” Mr. Jones said. “We lost our compass.”
While the Constitution Project report covers mainly the Bush years, it is critical of some Obama administration policies, especially what it calls excessive secrecy. It says that keeping the details of rendition and torture from the public “cannot continue to be justified on the basis of national security” and urges the administration to stop citing state secrets to block lawsuits by former detainees.
The report calls for the revision of the Army Field Manual on interrogation to eliminate Appendix M, which it says would permit an interrogation for 40 consecutive hours, and to restore an explicit ban on stress positions and sleep manipulation.
The core of the report, however, may be an appendix: a detailed 22-page legal and historical analysis that explains why the task force concluded that what the United States did was torture. It offers dozens of legal cases in which similar treatment was prosecuted in the United States or denounced as torture by American officials when used by other countries.
An inmate at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, took to the pages of The New York Times to tell about the degradation and misery the hunger strikers are experiencing at the prison. His name is Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, and he can only "write" by dictating to his lawyers, through a translator, over the phone. Moqbel and his fellow strikers are tied down and force-fed twice a day, often painfully. “I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose,” he writes. “I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.” Moqbel, who has been imprisoned for 11 years and three months, has been fasting since February 10.
Over the weekend, after the Red Cross had left and during a media blackout, prisoners and military guards clashed as the authorities attempted to end the protest by moving prisoners from the communal blocks into individual cells, a step back toward the Bush administration's maximum security-style detention policies. The protests were sparked by what prisoners say was mistreatment of their Qurans during searches, but Moqbel writes that its aims are broad: "I just hope that because of the pain we are suffering, the eyes of the world will once again look to Guantánamo before it is too late."
Documents from 2008 published by the Times indicate that Moqbel was captured in December 2001 and identified as a guard for Bin Laden. Moqbel obviously disputes this claim.
By Theodoric Meyer and Christie Thompson, ProPublica
In 1991, an unemployed printer named David Ranta was convicted of killing a Hasidic rabbi in Brooklyn.
Last week, Ranta was released from the maximum-security prison in which he'd spent nearly 22 years, after almost every piece of evidence used to convict him fell away. The New York Times reported that the lead detectives on the case "broke rule after rule" — they "kept few written records, coached a witness and took Mr. Ranta's confession under what a judge described as highly dubious circumstances."
Last Friday, just a day after he was released, Ranta suffered a serious heart attack.
With Ranta's case in mind, we've rounded up some of the best reporting on wrongful convictions.
Trial By Fire, The New Yorker, September 2009 In 2004, Texas executed Cameron Todd Willingham, an unemployed mechanic from Corsicana who had been convicted of killing his three children 12 years earlier by setting fire to his house. But as The New Yorker's David Grann reports, the arson investigation findings that the prosecutors used to convict Willingham were based on "junk science," according to a highly acclaimed fire investigator. The jailhouse informant who testified against him was unstable and had a history of addiction and mental illness. The year after Willingham's execution, a fire scientist hired by a state commission concurred that the original investigators had no scientific basis for claiming the fire was arson.
Are Memphis Prosecutors Trying to Send an Innocent Man Back to Death Row?, The Nation, March 2013 Timothy Terrell McKinney is facing his third trial for the murder of an off-duty police officer in Memphis. His first case was overturned after the prosecution suppressed evidence that questioned McKinney's guilt. Multiple testimonies now suggest it would be near impossible for McKinney to have committed the murder. But as one local put it, "when it's a police officer killed here in Memphis, you know, they quick to nail somebody."
Defendants Left Unaware of Flaws Found in Cases, The Washington Post, April 2012 In the 1990s, reviews by the Justice Department found shoddy testing in FBI labs was producing unreliable evidence. But that news failed to make its way to defendants who may have been wrongfully convicted based on flawed forensics. "Hundreds of defendants nationwide remain in prison or on parole for crimes that might merit exoneration [or] a retrial," the Washington Post found.
The Hardest Cases: When Children Die, Justice Can Be Elusive, ProPublica, June 2011 Our 2011 investigation with Frontline and NPR found mistakes made by coroners and medical examiners led to the wrongful conviction of numerous babysitters, parents and others for murdering children. Ernie Lopez may be one such case: he was convicted for murdering a 6-month-old girl, despite evidence that later suggested she may have died from a rare blood disease. (Lopez later agreed to a plea deal for a reduced charge.)
Death Row Justice Derailed, The Chicago Tribune, November 1999 The first part of an epic investigation by Ken Armstrong and Steve Mills of how Illinois had sent innocent men to death row. "Capital punishment in Illinois," Armstrong and Mills reported, "is a system so riddled with faulty evidence, unscrupulous trial tactics and legal incompetence that justice has been forsaken, a Tribune investigation has found." The series helped convince Gov. George Ryan to put a moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois the next year, which remains in effect today.
House of Screams, The Chicago Reader, 1990 Over 20 years ago, journalist John Conroy broke a story that shook the foundation of Chicago's criminal justice system. Conroy unearthed the routine torture tactics used by then-police commander Jon Burge — from suffocation to electric shocks — that resulted in numerous false confessions and wrongful convictions.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Couch’s friend died co-piloting the second plane to hit the World Trade Center. Soon after, Couch became one of the first military prosecutors assigned to the U.S. military base at Guantánamo Bay to prosecute men alleged to have carried out the terrorist plot. Couch talked to Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales of Democracy Now! about the experience.
Stuart Couch recalls his first trip to Guantánamo, and what he found.
"I was waiting to watch the interrogation of one of the detainees who had been assigned to me to prosecute his case. This was a detainee that was particularly cooperative and involved in some very serious activities in the Gulf region. As I was waiting in a room next to his interrogation room, I heard some loud heavy metal rock music playing down the—down the hallway. I went down to investigate. I thought it was a couple of guards that were off duty and didn’t realize that we were getting ready to conduct the interview. So I walked down the hallway, and as I reached the room where the source of the music was coming out, the door was cracked. And I looked into the room, and I could—all I could see was a strobe light flashing. The rest of the lights in the room were out, but from the flashes of the strobe light, I could see a detainee in orange sitting on the—seated on the floor and shackled, hand to feet, and rocking back and forth."
"There were two civilians who asked me, you know, what was I doing. And I said, "I’m Lieutenant Colonel Couch. You need to turn that down. What’s going on here?" And they just basically told me to move along, and shut the door in my face. There was a judge advocate reservist with me, and I said, "Did you see that?" And his immediate response: "Well, yes. That’s approved." And so, that was my first inclination that there was—of evidence of coerced interrogations going on at Guantánamo."
Couch ultimately would refuse to prosecute the detainee, Mohamedou Ould Slahi.
"It became clear that what had been done to Slahi amounted to torture," Couch says. "Specifically, he had been subjected to a mock execution. He had sensory deprivation. He had environmental manipulation; that is, cell is too cold, or the cell is too hot. ... He was presented with a ruse that the United States had taken custody of his mother and his brother and that they were being brought to Guantánamo." Couch says he concluded Slahi’s treatment amounted to illegal torture. "I came to the conclusion we had knowingly set him up for mental suffering in order for him to provide information," Couch said. "We might very well have a significant problem with the body of evidence that we were able to present as to his guilt."
Full transcript below the fold.