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One of the first presidential orders from BHO (yep – we have already acronymised him) is that he has asked for the military commissions at GITMO to be suspended for 120 days, as well as shorter delays for hearings for habeas corpus. Here is a link for the order

Now that is a good start.

Reports are also saying that BHO intends on having immediate changes in the “enhanced interrogation” techniques used by the military and the CIA.

The President also signed an order saying that all interrogations conducted by the United States would abide by the army field manual, effectively banning the CIA from using “enhanced interrogation” techniques including waterboarding.

But the problem is that the latest version of the Army Field Manual seems to have actually codified the torture that has taken place at GITMO, changes that the Bush administration championed.

The President of the National Lawyers Guild Marjorie Cohn has stated that portions of the AFM protocol, especially the use of isolation and prolonged sleep deprivation, constitutes cruel-and-unusual punishment and is illegal under the Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, the U.N. Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Hina Shamsi, an attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, has stated that portions of the AFM are “deeply problematic” and “would likely violate the War Crimes Act and Geneva,” and at the very least “leave the door open for legal liability.” Physicians for Human Rights and the Constitution Project have publicly called for the removal of problematic and abusive techniques from the AFM.

BHO said in Dec 2007 that he would “have the Army Field Manual govern interrogation techniques for all United States Government personnel and contractors”.

So unless the AFM changes I will still be blogging about torture.

29 Responses

  1. It’s interesting to note that if the Gitmo detainees were declared POWs they could be held indefinitely and such detention would agree with the Geneva Conventions; that’s assuming that the GCs enjoy the same cachet as they used to have.

  2. Stephan,

    If you change the law often enough you can soon shave a square peg to fit a round hole.

    If, maybe, suspected, possible and related are word games and not proof of guilt.

  3. You’re right there Mr aquanut. The law is malleable depending on the circumstances. That’s the way of the world.

  4. And Stephan, if they were kept according to the GC then we would not have a problem. Except – is there an actual declaration of war still in effect?

    And I am sorry, but are you saying that the use of torture was OK?

  5. But in this story its the way of the Bush. 🙂

  6. Ah yes Stephan but if the detainees had been given POW status then the US would have been most definitely in violation of international treaties viz the use of torture.

    And yes POWs can be held until the end of hostilities. But hang on, didn’t GWB declare Victory in Iraq a number of years ago?

    My own opinion is that terrorists should be treated as criminals and certainly not given the status of POW which suggests that they are representing their country.

  7. Absolutely Min. They are criminals, no more, no less.

  8. One word re Guantanamo – Good-riddance! (OK two words)

    joni, I’m afraid with a planet controlled by ar$e#oles we’ll always have soem sort of torture – all we can hope to do is “control”/limit it.

    Quite frankly if the stories about Isreali soldiers, coming out of Gaza, turn out to be true – that amounts to torture of the very worst kind – particularly involving children…

  9. “Except – is there an actual declaration of war still in effect?”

    Therein lies the beautifully ambiguous nature of the ideologically efficient “War On Terror”.
    By declaring a war on an undefinable enemy (Terror), which can mean anything that any Nation State in the world wants it to mean (quite often political opponents are easily labelled as terrorists & subsequently able to be dealt with gloves off) at any given time, the war can exist in perpetuity.

    A fantastic tool of conquest for those so inclined, & a soothing moral sedative for those who support unchecked power (as long as it’s their side with the upper hand, holding all of the cards & the biggest stick).

    Teh War on Terror indeed renders the Law infinitely malleable & able to be made up as it goes along.

    To declare “that’s the way of the world”, while it may be true, doesn’t mean that the inhabitants of said world should unthinkingly settle for such a dangerous paradigm as permanently install Power & Might in the hands of the powerful & mighty.

  10. Quite frankly if the stories about Isreali soldiers, coming out of Gaza, turn out to be true – that amounts to torture of the very worst kind – particularly involving children…

    TB, It might be timely to remind ourselves that any reports coming out of the Middle east – from both sides – need to be treated with a fair amount of caution. The following article – if it can be believed – is a case in point:

    What really is behind the numbers reported on the number of civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip? Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera reported Thursday that a doctor working in Gaza’s Shifa Hospital claimed that Hamas has intentionally inflated the number of casualties resulting from Israel’s Operation Cast Lead.

    “The number of deceased stands at no more than 500 to 600. Most of them are youths between the ages of 17 to 23 who were recruited to the ranks of Hamas, who sent them to the slaughter,” according to the newspaper article.

  11. I wonder if the stats will ever be revealed such as the number of people with no connection to the Taliban but handed over for the bounty (eg by jealous suitors). And how many innocent people are still languishing in Gitmo?

  12. Tony of South Yarra, on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Agree, ToSY – that’s why “if they turn out to be true” in my post…let’s hope they don’t because the propostion of children inthe figures is extremely high!

  13. And where did those figures come from, Nir Magal, Ali Waked, Hanan Greenberg and The Associated Press contributed to this report?

    That report from one doctor in one hospital goes against every other report from every other hospital, from the footage of the wounded being carted into those hospitals and overspilling into the corridors and from Western doctors who worked in those hospitals.

    In every conflict involving the Israelis when the number of dead and wounded come out are downplayed by the Israelis in a propaganda campaign. Remember Israel is currently engaged in a Hasbara, swamping the internet and media with their propaganda of events in Gaza.

  14. So true Adrian – and the only report that I can find out this doctor all link back to the same website. No independent confirmation of the story.

  15. I have attempted this post about five times now…so I know I’ll be clobbered somehow…

    I am astounded at the number of children killed or injured (although the number was also high in VN if memory serves)…

    …I can’t help thinking that either the Isrealis were absolutely callous, or Hamas simply used civilians, particularly children, as shields or decoys…or both!

    Either scenario is a tragedy, for all humanity…

    …innocents die to prove what..?

    As an aside, Adrian & joni, don’t you believe that Hamas engages in propaganda?

  16. Oh I do absolutely believe that they do. Which is why it is important that independent journalist should have been allowed into Gaza – which from recollection only one side ignored their own Supreme Court to prevent that from happening.

  17. And to those that think those responsible for creating the conditions in which torture occurred should remember that there is an ongoing investigation to the CIA that is nearing completion.

    Reuters is reporting that the inquiry into the CIA destroying tapes is nearing completion.

    The probe was launched last January after revelations that the CIA in 2005 destroyed videos of the interrogations of terrorism suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

    The CIA later identified the men as two of the three suspects subjected to waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning widely condemned as torture that has damaged the U.S. image abroad. It is not known whether the tapes depicted waterboarding.

    The CIA has said it needed to destroy the tapes to guard against leaks that could endanger interrogators, but critics accused the agency of covering up illegal acts.

    And I think that when the truth comes out some people high up will be very very nervous.

  18. Absolutely TB, in fact anything Hamas said should be taken as a lie, but it is not Hamas that is giving the number of dead or dead children in this case.

    The problem is that Hamas hasn’t got the most sophisticated propaganda organisation in the world, only second in size to the US. The new Israeli Ministry of Information, formed after their disastrous foray into Lebanon, purpose is to spread Israeli information, but that is Israeli information, no matter if it’s factual, half true, a deliberate misrepresentation (as in the UN school) or complete misinformation. This organisation has the ability to flood the media in a Hasbara, mobilising thousands, if not tens of thousands to swamp all media sources with their side of the story, factual or not. Often this misinformation or misrepresentation ends up being written in history as fact because of the sheer number of times it is repeated and the scope of the media agencies, governments and organisations it is channelled to.

    Hamas doesn’t have that ability, and it wasn’t Hamas’s views or facts I have listened to on this (I never have and never will).

    It is like the Jews insistence (and sometimes on threat of a anti-Semitism claim against the authority) of having holocaust museums in as many major cities around the world as possible. If in other organisation or race attempts to set up a similar museum or display of the horrific genocide attempts in their country (e.g. as Africa once tried in New York), the Jews rally against it and have the authorities disallow it.

    How come we must never ever forget what happened to the Jews in WWII, and have it shoved in our faces at every opportunity, (and it wasn’t just Jews, yet the other groups are not allowed to share their stories in the same platform as the Jews and have their plight at the time highlighted)? Yes remember the other atrocities (Armenians, Australian Aboriginals, North American Indians, all over Africa, Europe etc.) as a history lesson, but you must move on and what is in the past is past, so don’t dwell on it, but always dwell on the holocaust, in fact we will make sure you always dwell on it and will almost continuously bring in up in your lifetime.

    I’m not saying that the holocaust should be purged from history or diminished into a minor historical event, I’m saying there were other genocide attempts and horrors in history (and some very recent history at that) which should be treated equally or the holocaust should be treated as these other events are. Why is there an imperative to have a museum devoted to just the holocaust in most major cities in the world to the exclusion of all other major historic atrocities? That is the power of the Jewish lobby and information network, something their enemies and those they oppress have no hope of matching to any degree.

  19. “The best-laid plans of mice and men/Often go awry”

    Arrest of Guantanamo Bay ex-inmates threatens closure plan

  20. Rendition might expand in anti-terrorism efforts

    WASHINGTON – The CIA’s secret prisons are being closed. Harsh interrogation techniques are off-limits. And Guantanamo Bay will eventually go back to being just a naval base on the southeastern corner of Cuba.

    But even while dismantling these discredited programs, President Barack Obama left an equally controversial counterterrorism tool intact.

    Under executive orders issued by Obama on Jan. 22, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as “renditions,” or the secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.

    Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that the rendition program is poised to play an expanded role because it is the main remaining mechanism – aside from Predator missile strikes – for taking suspected terrorists off the street.


  21. Tony
    # for taking suspected terrorists off the street.

    theres that suspected word again, this is called excessive force and to me that indicates fear and a lack of professonal advise.

    Time will tell, these are early days for a new leader.

  22. Major Flip-Flop by Human Rights Watch: Organization Waiting for Obama to Develop Kinder, Gentler Rendition Program


  23. The fact these laws have not been changed is no indiction nothing is being done. Bush tried hard to change the laws and make sure nobody could challenge it, But now its obamas fault for not doing it quick enough.
    Also the fact people are sceaming for obama to change it shows how stupid Bush was to introduce it.

    That story shows how Bush didnt understand what he was doing.

  24. Tony.

    For sure, let the US go open slather (they do as much as they can conceivably get away with…& they will under Obama tooo; the country/institution hasn’t changed, just the admin).
    No doubt the their enemies exploit their accountability & subsequent weaknesses.

    FFS though, what sh!ts me is all of the pretending that they don’t do it & the moralising to other nations in light of this.
    Holier than thou doesn’t pass the cred test with the US (or anyone else, Aus for instance) if you are aware of the to & fro & not just inflicted with an Us V Them mentality…not that I think that you are so inclined Tony, just a wider observation of the issue.

    NB, I still don’t endorse torture but I’m not so ideologically backwards as to fool myself into thinking that it will ever be eradicated from the human condition.
    In my eyes, if the US & other “deciders” were forthright in their doings they would have a lot less unequivocal backers than they currently globally cultivate.

    …& yes, I know Russia, China etc are worse & none of ’em are ever gonna come clean; US front & foremost.

  25. Toiletbloke,

    You pretty much get my point. (I thought the linked articles would explain themselves, without my needing to editorialise.)

    / The more things change!, the more they stay the same.

    PS Had a listen to your other band last night. If forced to sit through a concert of one or the other, I’d go Berzerker.

  26. Off topic…Psycroptic are awesome but the polydecibel madness requires substantial investment of listening time. They are from Tasmania which is a feat in itself for the genre.

    A good band to have a look at, much more easy listening but requisitely heavy with a power groove is clutch…try their cover of Electric Worry on pootoob. Mass appeal for everybody with ears; of course all of their original stuff is much better than their covers…particularly Elephant Riders, Pure Rock Fury & Robot Hive Exodus.

    Cult stuff with a less than modern (contemporarily bluesy) sound but great production.

    Bezerker is like gabba/industrial/death…great stuff, first brutal album is best.

  27. HOPE AND CHANGE! Panetta: Rendition Will Continue, Would Ask Obama to Authorize Harsher Interrogation Methods “If Necessary.” You know, much more of this and I’ll start to think that all the concern over rendition and waterboarding was just insincere electoral hooey.

  28. Military Lawyer: Gitmo Conditions Have Worsened Since Inauguration

    Bradley…will reveal that Mohamed, 31, is dying in his Guantánamo cell and that conditions inside the Cuban prison camp have deteriorated badly since Barack Obama took office. Fifty of its 260 detainees are on hunger strike and, say witnesses, are being strapped to chairs and force-fed, with those who resist being beaten. At least 20 are described as being so unhealthy they are on a “critical list”, according to Bradley.

    …”Hope is flickering. The Obama administration’s position is not change. It is more of the same. This represents a complete turn-around and undermining of the restoration of the rule of law. The new American administration shouldn’t be complicit in hiding the abuses of its predecessors.”


  29. ToSY

    I saw the same reports on another site and will be putting a new thread up on this, and I am pretty damn angry at the moment over all of this.

    And please note – that I will be condemning the Obama admin over this.

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