Alex Constantine - February 16, 2009
"Obama Stands Behind 'State Secrets' Defense"
Critics Outraged: "This Is Not Change"
"ACLU: CIA’s Tortures Honed In US Prisons" (CNS News mirror)
"Are Bush's Secrets Safe with Obama?"
" ... The 'refined' methods described in KUBARK and HRE included: forced drugging, hooding, sexual humiliation, extended sensory deprivation, prolonged interrogation, environmental and dietary manipulation, beatings, stress positions and other methods of 'self-inflicted pain.' CIA officers and their military intelligence doppelgängers, at the urging of White House masters, systematically committed war crimes on defenseless prisoners in their custody. These are the closely-guarded state secrets the Obama regime seeks to conceal. ... "
Excerpt: "State Secrets and Deceit: Obama Embraces CIA Torture"
... As long time readers of Antifascist Calling are well aware, once Jeppesen DataPlan had "done it all" to deliver Mohamed into the hands of his torturers in Morocco, he was subsequently "rendered" to Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan and then on to Guantánamo where he was subjected to the full panoply of behavior modification techniques that evolved from the CIA's MKULTRA "mind control" program of the 1950s-1970s.
Reporting last September, I documented how CIA and U.S. military psychologists, under the ever-vigilant tutelage of contractors Drs. Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, did the heavy-lifting to tailor a regime of psychological assault on prisoners under the control of the CIA and the Pentagon.
Drawing their "inspiration" from torture manuals written decades apart, the CIA's "KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation," Military Intelligence's "Human Resource Exploitation Manual-1983," and "reversed-engineered" techniques culled from the military's Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape program known as SERE, interrogators implemented a repulsive torture regime under orders from the highest levels of the Bush administration, as ABC News revealed last April.
The "refined" methods described in KUBARK and HRE included: forced drugging, hooding, sexual humiliation, extended sensory deprivation, prolonged interrogation, environmental and dietary manipulation, beatings, stress positions and other methods of "self-inflicted pain." CIA officers and their Military Intelligence doppelgängers, at the urging of White House masters, systematically committed war crimes on defenseless prisoners in their custody. These are the closely-guarded state secrets the Obama regime seeks to conceal.
Currently incarcerated at the Guantánamo Bay torture facility and gravely ill due to a prolonged hunger strike the U.S. government is preparing to release Mohamed, having failed to produce a shred of evidence linking him to any "terrorist" activity whatsoever.
The kid-gloves approach to a Boeing subsidiary shouldn't surprise anyone. According to Washington Technology, Boeing clocked-in at number two on their "Top 100" list of "prime government contractors," pulling down some $9,706,621,413 in state largess.
A major corporate grifter, for decades Boeing has feathered its nest (and that of its well-paid executives) by feeding at the trough of taxpayer-financed handouts. According to The Seattle Times, CEO James McNerney "earned" some $19 million in total compensation in 2007.
However, Boeing's shady dealings have also resulted in huge fines for corporate malfeasance. As the Project on Government Oversight's Federal Contractor Misconduct Database documents, since 1995 Boeing has paid some $1.6 billion in fines to the federal government, private citizens, states and counties in judgments levied against the defense giant.
According to POGO, these range from Arms Export Control violations, defective pricing, discriminatory practices against employees, the manufacturing of defective parts, Anti-Trust Law violations and the illegal discharge of radioactive and toxic chemical waste into the environment. Sounds like business as usual to me!
"Less than three weeks after the inauguration," as the World Socialist Web Site points out, "it is becoming ever more apparent that the new administration has been brought into office to defend the same social and class interests as the previous one, is utilizing similar methods and relying on the same personnel within the national security apparatus responsible for the criminal activities of the past eight years."
And with a "reconfigured" National Security Council on the horizon according to The Washington Post, one endowed with ever-more sweeping powers to set "strategy across a wide spectrum of international and domestic issues," who pray tell will be heading up those efforts? Why none other than John O. Brennan, of course!
Obama's first choice to head the CIA, Brennan has a dual role within the administration: as NSC Director James L. Jones' top adviser and as the president's resident counterterrorism and homeland security "expert." ...
Brennan was a former president and CEO of The Analysis Corporation (TAC). During the 1990s, TAC developed the government's first terrorist database and in 2003 it morphed into the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE)--the "watch list people"--managed by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) which Brennan directed for three years. How convenient!
However, Obama was forced to remove Brennan from consideration as CIA Director when it was revealed he was a leading advocate of the extraordinary rendition program and a staunch defender of the Company's "enhanced coercive interrogation techniques," the focus of the ACLU's lawsuit on behalf of Binyam Mohamed and other "war on terror" casualties.
In seeking to deny the victims their day in court, the Obama administration takes full possession of Bushist savagery. Now how's that for a dirty little (state) secret! ...
Binyam Mohamed torture evidence 'hidden from Obama'
Richard Norton-Taylor and Ian Cobain
Letter to president about Binyam Mohamed was blanked out, say campaigners as they prepare for Guantánamo prisoner's release to UK. Read the letter [PDF]
US defence officials are preventing Barack Obama from seeing evidence that a former British resident held in Guantánamo Bay has been tortured, the prisoner's lawyer said last night, as campaigners and the Foreign Office prepared for the man's release in as little as a week.
Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the legal charity Reprieve, which represents Ethiopian-born Binyam Mohamed, sent Obama evidence of what he called "truly mediaeval" abuse but substantial parts were blanked out so the president could not read it.
In the letter to the president, Stafford Smith urges him to order the disclosure of the evidence.
Stafford Smith tells Obama he should be aware of the "bizarre reality" of the situation. "You, as commander in chief, are being denied access to material that would help prove that crimes have been committed by US personnel. This decision is being made by the very people who you command."
It is understood US defence officials might have censored the evidence to protect the president from criminal liability or political embarrassment.
The letter and its blanked-out attachment were disclosed as two high court judges yesterday agreed to reopen the court case in which Mohamed's lawyers, the Guardian and other media are seeking disclosure of evidence of alleged torture against him. Mohamed's lawyers are challenging the judges' gagging order, claiming that David Miliband, the foreign secretary, changed his evidence.
In a judgment last week, Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones stated repeatedly that Miliband claimed the US had threatened to stop sharing intelligence with the UK if information relating to Mohamed's alleged torture was disclosed. Miliband subsequently denied the US had applied such pressure. The case will be reopened next month.
After a meeting with Mohamed's US-appointed military lawyer, Lieutenant Colonel Yvonne Bradley, Miliband said yesterday that the US had granted permission for Foreign Office officials to visit Mohamed. The Foreign Office said the officials would be joined by a Metropolitan police doctor, who would accompany Mohamed back to the UK if he is released.
Stafford Smith said he believed this trip was to check Mohamed was fit to fly after the hunger strike that he has maintained for over a month. He stressed that no date for his client's release had been fixed, but "I think we're talking about a week, I sincerely hope so".
Millband said the US administration had agreed to treat Mohamed's case as "a priority", adding that Britain was working with Washington for "a swift resolution". Bradley said later: "We haven't been given any specific date about Mr Mohamed's release."
Earlier, she told a press conference that Mohamed's treatment "would make waterboarding seem like child's play".
Bradley and Stafford Smith yesterday met in private with members of the intelligence and security committee, the group of MPs and peers facing mounting criticism in Westminster over claims it failed to effectively scrutinise the activities of MI5. Stafford Smith said he told the committee it would have been "absolutely impossible" for it to have cleared MI5 of involvement in the torture of Mohamed had it seen 42 key documents in the case – as he has – that Miliband says cannot be released for reasons of national security.
Bill Delahunt, a senior Democrat congressman and chairman of the House of Representatives subcommittee on human rights and oversight, said: "We cannot let our governments stonewall ... I take offence at the idea that secrecy is being maintained in order to preserve national security." He told the all-party committee on rendition: "The treatment of detainees has done great harm to the security of both our nations."
Lieutenant Colonel Nigel Wylde, who worked in intelligence in Northern Ireland, told the committee: "The use of torture is utterly counterproductive because it breeds hatred against us and encourages people to become extremists."
David Davis, a former shadow home secretary, said torture was wrong morally and legally, ineffective and undermined the safety of British people. "Was the government involved, was it a matter of policy or a matter of freelancing – failure of policy or a failure of control?"
The Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, Edward Davey, said: "Miliband's bad judgment in blocking the courts from publishing this evidence of torture is being compounded by his refusal to press the new Obama administration to disclose this evidence freely."
The 'State Secrecy' Shield
"Does the Obama administration know something that the rest of the world does not about this highly publicized case? Or is Obama reneging on one of his crucial campaign promises this early? ... "
February 14, 2009
In one of his first acts as attorney general, Eric Holder made the right move in asking for a review of all litigation where the Bush administration invoked the "state secrets" clause. So why did he then turn around and invoke the same "state secrets" privilege as Bush did in a case in San Francisco this week?
It is impossible to overstate the importance of a thorough review of the Bush-era "state secrets" privilege. This clause is extremely powerful - it essentially allows the White House to protect itself from the Third Branch, the judiciary. The Bush administration used it to block lawsuits on warrantless wiretapping and the treatment of foreign terrorism detainees.
The case of Binyam Mohammed, a British resident, shows just how serious this question is. In his court papers, Mohammed claims that he was flown from Pakistan to Morocco on an aircraft registered with the Federal Aviation Administration. In Morocco, he was held for 18 months - where authorities routinely beat, drugged and sexually abused him. Mohammed is now imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, and it was his case that the San Francisco court was hearing this week. He has sued Jeppesen DataPlan, the Boeing unit that flew him to Morocco as part of the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" plan.
The Bush administration invoked state secrets to keep the Mohammed case from going forward, and the Obama administration has followed its example. The Justice Department's decision is bewildering, especially as it came the day after Holder pledged a review. Does the Obama administration know something that the rest of the world does not about this highly publicized case? Or is Obama reneging on one of his crucial campaign promises this early?
Until Obama officials start explaining, we have to draw the latter conclusion. While it's true that the administration is new to the lawsuit - incoming CIA director Leon Panetta was only confirmed this week - there's no reason it could not have simply asked for a delay to reconsider the government's position on the case.
This is a troubling start for the new Justice Department. Obama promised that his administration would be accountable to the laws that the Bush administration ignored. With the Mohammed case, he's choosing expediency over honesty.