Black People : How long will the Bush-Cheney CoverUp Continue?

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by Ankhur, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. Ankhur

    Ankhur Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    ACLU Blasts Obama on Bush's Crimes

    By Jason Leopold
    December 12, 2009

    Despite Barack Obama’s high-minded words about “just wars” and human rights – most recently in his Nobel Peace Prize speech – the U.S. President has shielded officials from George W. Bush’s administration from accountability for torture and other war crimes, prompting stern rebukes from leading advocates of civil liberties.

    Shortly after his speech in Oslo on Thursday, Obama came under withering criticism over his administration’s refusal to comply with legal obligations that require all countries to prosecute their government officials implicated in torture.

    "We're increasingly disappointed and alarmed by the current administration's stance on accountability for torture," said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, during a conference call with reporters.

    "On every front, the [Obama] administration is actively obstructing accountability. This administration is shielding Bush administration officials from civil liability, criminal investigation and even public scrutiny for their role in authorizing torture."

    While "the Bush administration constructed a legal framework for torture,” Jaffer said, “now the Obama administration is constructing a legal framework for impunity."

    Before leaving office, Vice President Dick Cheney said he approved the near drowning of waterboarding on at least three “high value” detainees and the “enhanced interrogation” of 33 other prisoners. Bush made a vaguer acknowledgement of authorizing these techniques.

    The ACLU and other civil rights groups said Bush and Cheney’s comments amounted to an admission of war crimes.

    Under the Convention Against Torture, the evidence that the Bush administration used waterboarding and other brutal techniques to extract information from detainees should have triggered the United States to conduct a full investigation and to prosecute the offenders. If the United States refused, other nations would be obligated to act under the principle of universality.

    However, instead of living up to that treaty commitment, the Obama administration is resisting calls for government investigations and going to court to block lawsuits that demand release of torture evidence or seek civil penalties against officials implicated in the torture.

    Protecting Yoo

    Last week, Obama’s Justice Department asked a federal appeals court in San Francisco to dismiss a lawsuit filed against former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo, who authored some of the memos that justified torture largely by re-defining what the term means.

    In seeking to quash that lawsuit filed by alleged “dirty bomb” plotter Jose Padilla, Obama’s lawyers argued, in a friend-of-the-court brief that Justice Department lawyers who advise on torture and other human rights issues are entitled to absolute immunity from lawsuits.

    “The Holder Justice Department insists that they [the lawyers] are absolutely not responsible, and that they are free to act according to a far lower standard of conduct than that which governs Americans generally,” wrote Scott Horton, a human rights attorney and constitutional expert in a report published on Harper’s Web site.

    Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley went even further, asserting that the Obama administration’s arguments reversed more than six decades of U.S. legal precedents – dating back to the post-World War II Nuremberg trials – which held that legal wordsmiths who clear the way for war crimes share the guilt with the actual perpetrators.

    The Obama administration "has gutted the hard-fought victories in Nuremberg where lawyers and judges were often guilty of war crimes in their legal advice and opinions," Turley said. "Quite a legacy for the world’s newest Nobel Peace Prize winner."

    The Obama administration also has mounted an aggressive defense in another high-profile case regarding the Bush administration’s wrongdoing.

    The Bush administration had invoked the state secrets privilege in a 2007 lawsuit filed against Jeppesen DataPlan, a subsidiary of Boeing, that is accused of knowingly flying people kidnapped by the CIA to secret overseas prisons where they were tortured. Bush’s legal move was successful in getting the case tossed out, but the ACLU appealed the decision.

    When that appeal came up last February, Obama’s Justice Department shocked civil liberties and human rights advocates by dispatching attorneys to federal court in San Francisco, where they invoked the same state secrets privilege.

    Even the judge was baffled, and asked a Justice Department attorney if the change in U.S. government leadership would lead to a change in the legal position with regard to state secrets. The answer was a resounding “no.”

    Still, the appellate court ruled in April that the case could move forward, asserting that state secrets can only be cited with regard to specific evidence, and not used as a means to dismiss an entire lawsuit. Justice Department attorneys will be back in court next week to appeal that decision, carrying forward the Bush administration’s legacy of secrecy.

    Concealing Evidence

    The Obama administration also has tried to block Binyam Mohamed, one of the victims named in Jeppesen lawsuit, from obtaining documentary evidence to support his claims that he was tortured while in U.S. custody.

    Terrorism-related charges against Mohamed were dropped last year when his attorneys sued to gain access to more than three dozen secret documents. He was released in February after being imprisoned for seven years and sent back to Great Britain.

    In a legal brief, the ACLU said Mohamed was beaten so severely on numerous occasions that he routinely lost consciousness and during one gruesome torture session “a scalpel was used to make incisions all over his body, including his penis, after which a hot stinging liquid was poured into his open wounds.”

    Obama’s determination to protect these dirty secrets of its predecessors even reached across the Atlantic. The Obama administration told British officials that intelligence sharing between the U.S. and the U.K. might be disrupted if seven redacted paragraphs contained in secret U.S. documents relating to Mohamed’s torture allegations were made public by a British High Court.

    Those threats were conveyed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the CIA, and Obama’s National Security Adviser James Jones, according to British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

    “The United States Government's position is that, if the redacted paragraphs are made public, then the United States will re-evaluate its intelligence-sharing relationship with the United Kingdom with the real risk that it would reduce the intelligence it provided,” the High Court wrote in a ruling in February when it agreed to keep the paragraphs blacked out.

    “There is a real risk, if we restored the redacted paragraphs, the United States Government, by its review of the shared intelligence arrangements, could inflict on the citizens of the United Kingdom a very considerable increase in the dangers they face at a time when a serious terrorist threat still pertains.”

    After the High Court’s ruling, the Obama White House issued a statement thanking the British government “for its continued commitment to protect sensitive national security information” and added that the order would "preserve the long-standing intelligence sharing relationship that enables both countries to protect their citizens.”

    Following the High Court’s reversal, the New York Times published a sharply worded editorial criticizing the Obama administration’s hard-line position in the Mohamed case.

    “The Obama administration has clung for so long to the Bush administration’s expansive claims of national security and executive power that it is in danger of turning President George W. Bush’s cover-up of abuses committed in the name of fighting terrorism into President Barack Obama’s cover-up,” the Times wrote.

    Torture Photos

    Obama also reversed a commitment earlier this year to release photos of U.S. soldiers torturing and abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Obama said his decision stemmed from his personal review of the photos and his concern that their release would endanger American soldiers in the field, but the reversal also came after several weeks of Republican and right-wing media attacks on him as weak on national security.

    The Obama administration then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a federal court order requiring release of the images, and Obama’s aides worked with Congress to pass legislation giving the Defense Secretary the power to keep the photographs under wraps.

    full article:
    http://consortiumnews.com/2009/121209a.html
     
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