Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NEW items added: A US Representative States Why Torture Must End

INTRO from blogger: This letter although written sometime back is still profoundly current. May I suggest that many of you use this and other models and information to contact your legislators at this time when you may well be able to meet with them during the short window in April. (Look for more suggestions also in the Comments section below the post)

The following personal letter was sent to a participant among a peace gathering in my local area - in response to his concern. This response is a reminder that we can and do have an impact. This letter is a challenge for us to keep writing ALL our US legislators. (And yours' as well in other countries if you have some concerns local or otherwise. For example, the extraordinary rendition photo below the letter is from a group concerned about US rendition flights through their areas of Ireland.)
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LETTER FROM Representative HEATH SHULER, North Carolina, USA to a peace activist in WNC. Sent before recent presidential election.

Thank you for taking the time to contact me with your thoughts regarding the treatment of enemy combatants and terrorist suspects by the United States. Your views are important to me, and I appreciate hearing from you.

Due to an error in our mail system, my response to your correspondence may not have been sent out. It is possible that you may have received an earlier response, however I want to make certain. In either case, please accept my apologies for any delay in or duplication of correspondence. Your thoughts are extremely important to me, and I hope you continue to share them with me.

I am deeply troubled by the CIA's use of highly controversial interrogation techniques. Such treatment does not comply with U.S. statutes and treaties such as the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the 1949 Geneva Conventions. As General David Petraeus, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and countless other current and former military officers have attested, torture is an ineffective method of extracting reliable information from detainees, and sets a dangerous precedent that would jeopardize the safety of our military men and women overseas.

In the 110th Congress, several pieces of legislation have been introduced that intend to limit the use of certain interrogation techniques against security detainees by members of the intelligence community. H.R. 2082, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, as reported out of conference on December 6, 2007, would generally bar any person, in the custody or effective control of either an element of the intelligence community or a contractor or subcontractor of the intelligence community, from being subjected to any treatment or interrogation tactic not authorized by the Army Field Manual. This prohibition would effectively bar the CIA and others from employing certain controversial interrogation techniques, such as water-boarding or sleep deprivation, regardless of whether the intelligence community had previously deemed such techniques as legally permissible.

H.R. 4156, the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act of 2008, which was passed by the House on November 14, 2007, would generally bar all federal agencies, including the CIA, from using any treatment or interrogation tactic that is not authorized or listed by the Army Field Manual.

H.R. 1352, the Torture Outsourcing Prevention Act, prohibits the transportation of people by the United States for the purpose of detention, interrogation, or trial, and amends the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998 to direct the appropriate government agencies to prescribe regulations to implement U.S. obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Finally, S.1872, the National Security with Justice Act of 2007 would prohibit a U.S. officer or agent from detention of an individual outside of the United States or transferring any individual to another legal jurisdiction in order to detain them. This legislation would also provide uniform standards for the interrogation of individuals by the U.S. government, and extend statutory habeas corpus to persons detained by the United States who have been determined to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant.

Our Constitution and laws apply to all Americans, and to all branches of government. They may not be ignored and are not open to imaginative reinterpretations. On December 20, 2007, the House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing on the matter, examining the Justice Department's role in the use of torture in detainee interrogations. I look forward to working with my colleagues to address the results of these hearings. Please be assured I will keep your thoughts in mind if I have an opportunity to act on any legislation related to this situation.

Again, thank you for sharing your views about this important matter. I encourage you to check my website at here for continued updates on my work, and please do not hesitate to contact me again about those issues that are important to you. It is an honor to serve you in the U.S. Congress.

Sincerely,

Heath Shuler

(END of Letter)

NOTE: Here's a little more on Rep. Heath Shuler's Voting Record:

In 2007 he voted for an amendment to close the SOA/WHINSEC and in 2008 he voted for an amendment to open the files on WHINSEC students to the public (so we can track who is attending, teaching, etc.--this used to be public information, but during the Bush Administration, the School changed its policy and refused to release the names).
Among other "good votes" Shuler made were: 1. To reduce the military aid that Colombia received in favor of humanitarian aid, and 2. Voted against approving the Colombia Free Trade agreement (though, on retrospect, this may never have come to a vote, he may have just registered his opposition, and since Republican congressmen didn't have the votes, avoided bringing it to the floor).

Submitted by Linda Mashburn - who follows these votes closer than anyone in our area and beyond. She has been very active with the School of the Americas Watch campaign. Find out more about this campaign by going here

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CURRENT items on torture & related by the oneheartforpeace blogger:

Here are some important recent reports of anguished perplexity and deep concern
As always the breaking stories and thoroughly-researched reports by Andy Worthington. If you are really concerned about Torture via USA/Britain - please don't fail to read the articles and the COMMENTS on Andy's site - if you get the chance as they are really "buzzing" these days with lots of energy and additional information! For his latest discusses the horrendous paying of bounty involved in US detainees and the fact that there is an internal report which has yet to surface connecting the Bush/Cheney lawyers to the rampant torture under that administration, carrying over into the current one GO here

NOTE the following as well - just posted here (from March 17): Also involving $ obviously corrupting any kind of decent accountability - STILL supporting a group which many good folk believe were/are history...yet not folk!

President Obama, Why Did You Pay Blackwater $70 Million in February? (Blackwater is NC based) By Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet (Jeremy Scahill wrote the "bible" on Blackwater--Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army- An international Bestseller, "A crackling espose" NYTimes Book Review, now Revised & Updated - Winner of the George Polk Award. He is now fellow at The Nation Institute.

Posted on March 17, 2009, Printed on March 17, 2009
here

For those already outraged at the AIG bonus scandal, here is a fact that should add more fuel to the fire: The Obama administration has paid the mercenary firm formerly known as Blackwater nearly $70 million to operate in Iraq and, according to The Washington Times, may keep the company on the payroll months past the official expiration of its Iraq contract in May. I reviewed Blackwater's recent transactions with the Obama State Department and discovered a $45 million payment to Blackwater on February 4, 2009 for "protective services-Iraq." It is described as a "funding action only." Here is the interesting part: The estimated "Ultimate Completion Date" is 5/07/2011.

The Washington Times (as described below) reported on a $22 million payment to Blackwater on February 2. Combined with the $45 million payment I discovered, that's nearly $67 million in 72 hours. Not bad for a company supposedly going down in flames.

With the U.S. economy in shambles and millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet and keep their homes, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton need to explain to U.S. taxpayers how they justify these mega-payments to a scandal-plagued mercenary company. (At the very least, someone should ask Robert Gibbs about it).

It has been widely reported that the Bush administration's preferred mercenary company, which recently renamed itself Xe, will soon be leaving Iraq...The Iraqi government has said it wants the company to leave Iraq and says it has revoked the company's operating license. The Obama administration continues to use Blackwater in Afghanistan and the company has extensive domestic training contracts with the military and law enforcement agencies inside the borders of the U.S. (read more by clicking on the Alternet link above)

(Blackwater/Xe spokeswoman Anne Tyrell declined to comment on the status of the company's work in Iraq or the Feb. 2 contract modification. She said the company was aware that the State Department had indicated that it did not plan to renew its contracts in Iraq but that Xe officials had not received specific information about leaving the country. "We're following their direction," she said. Blackwater recently renamed itself Xe and its owner Erik Prince "resigned" as CEO, though he remains its sole owner and chairman.)

Also ADDED: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 (of grave concern!)
EXCLUSIVE: New deal for Blackwater Jim McElhatton (Contact)
here Days after the Baghdad government decided it no longer wanted the company then known as Blackwater in Iraq, the State Department signed a $22.2 million deal in February to keep the embattled contractor working there through most of the summer, contract records show.

Britians Insane Secret Terror Evidence
here and please go through this entire site and read much more - order his book - a "Bible" for all who are interested in this topic!

The above report on Care2 along with readers' COMMENTS
here

New Evidence of Bush Torture Crimes
here

Recently Advanced Edited UN Report:
here

This is quite perplexing but we need to watch it & act on it, as much as we like Obama on so many other issues! This is from Bill of Rights Defense Committee:
"Recent Threats to Liberties: Obama Administration Takes Bush Position on Extraordinary Rendition Case -Since Barack Obama became president, many people have lauded the steps his administration has taken toward closing Guantánamo Bay detention center and improving government transparency. On February 9, however, the new administration proved that it will not be everything Obama promised during his campaign. Last year, the Bush administration invoked the state secrets privilege and had a case on extraordinary rendition thrown out of court. This month, the Obama administration took the same position and called for the case to be dismissed. Read more in BORDC's February newsletter. here (Let's all work hard to get this changed! Letters, Faxes, Calls - what else?)

Why & How's of Need to Prosecute for war crimes (includes Robert Parry, Jason Leopald and Marjorie Cohn as well as concerns that the Bush admin. lawyers are also prosecuted. A Special Prosecutor is being called for currently by many groups as you may well know.)

here

here

here

Here's a photo of an Extraordinary Rendition flight (sometimes called torture flights) here

6 comments:

Connie L. Nash said...

Demand Accountability for Torture and Abuse Now! US Congressional In-District Lobby Weeks, April 6-17

Connie L. Nash said...

From Amnesty International:

This past weekend we got a deeply troubling glimpse into the heart of the Obama administration's counter-terrorism policies.

On Friday, in a symbolic break with the past, the Obama administration announced it would drop the term "enemy combatant" - only to argue in the same breath that the administration has the legal authority to hold detainees indefinitely, without charge.

We're beginning to fear the worst: that the Obama administration will hold onto the failed counter-terrorism policies of the Bush administration. Such a move would solidify and make indefinite detention and other Bush policies the new norm in America.

Our most powerful antidote to these cancerous counter-terrorism policies is a full investigation that includes holding those responsible accountable.

While your Members of Congress are at home during the April recess, meet with them and push them for an independent investigation.

We know this is a big ask. But one face-to-face visit can move a Member of Congress off the fence and turn him or her into a supporter. We'll support you to make your face-to-face visit both easy and empowering.

Our best antidote is accountability!

How did we become a nation that tortures? And will we really reject the failed counter-terrorism policies of the Bush administration? Our best chance is a full and independent investigation.

Two weeks ago, Senator Leahy held his "getting to the truth" hearing on whether or not the Senate should setup a commission of inquiry.
Now the clock is ticking for him to find other Senators and Representatives to join his efforts.

Register today to meet with your Members of Congress in your local community and push them to join Senator Leahy's call for an independent investigation.

As if we needed additional justification for a full investigation, a new report by the International Committee of Red Cross was leaked this past weekend that describes in great detail the unfathomable horrific abuse of detainees well into 2007.

How did this happen? And why does the government continue to defend the policies that allowed such shocking treatment in the first place?

Register today so you can ask your Members of Congress these questions - and - find out what they plan to do about it.

The more that comes out, the more we are outraged. And we know this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Our outrage, if expressed, can force our politicians to do the right thing: to fully reject the failed, ineffective Bush policies both in name and substance.

Thanks for standing with us,

Njambi Good
Director, Counter Terror with Justice Campaign

Amnesty International

Connie L. Nash said...

The dilemna is that, as this beautiful article states- by my favorite NYTimes Op Ed writer, Bob Herbert, Miracles take time.
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132x8249725

Then at the same time, many innocent people and their families are suffering tremendously due to the torture they have received and in some cases, although cleared to be released by the US Supreme Court, are still held in captivity.

And there is not yet any assurance that torture has stopped taking place via these extraordinary renditions and prisons even besides Guantanamo.

So my strong hunch is that Obama is and will be very glad if we do our homework from wherever we are -- If we do all we can to see that our legsilators and Congress & our countries wherever they be push for a NO torture policy all the way around & freedom for all who have a decent place to go and by the rule of law have that right. Various action groups can help us stay informed and know what to do yet we can often find a most creative way by ourselves.

We can find a way to help President Obama do what surely is in his heart of hearts to do.

And he can't do it all by himself, folk, he needs us all to do it with him.

Thanx for listening.

Connie L. Nash said...

Yes & still, we're going to have to begin a serious letter-writing campaign to address the present administration's payment of the "defrocked" Blackwater! (Also find links under the Shuler letter above)

Why was Blackwater paid $70 Million in February? (Blackwater is NC based)

See Jeremy Scahill's article on the same at alternet dot org. Posted on March 17, 2009, Printed on March 17, 2009

For those already outraged at the AIG bonus scandal, here is a fact that should add more fuel to the fire: The Obama administration has paid the mercenary firm formerly known as Blackwater nearly $70 million to operate in Iraq and, according to The Washington Times, may keep the company on the payroll months past the official expiration of its Iraq contract in May. I reviewed Blackwater's recent transactions with the Obama State Department and discovered a $45 million payment to Blackwater on February 4, 2009 for "protective services-Iraq." It is described as a "funding action only." Here is the interesting part: The estimated "Ultimate Completion Date" is 5/07/2011.

The Washington Times reported on a $22 million payment to Blackwater on February 2. Combined with the $45 million payment I discovered, that's nearly $67 million in 72 hours. Not bad for a company supposedly going down in flames.

With the U.S. economy in shambles and millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet and keep their homes, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton need to explain to U.S. taxpayers how they justify these mega-payments to a scandal-plagued mercenary company. (At the very least, someone should ask Robert Gibbs about it).

It has been widely reported that the Bush administration's preferred mercenary company, which recently renamed itself Xe, will soon be leaving Iraq. That news came early this year after the State Department, under immense public pressure, announced it would not renew the company's lucrative deal to act as the private paramilitary force for senior U.S. occupation officials. The Iraqi government has said it wants the company to leave Iraq and says it has revoked the company's operating license. The Obama administration continues to use Blackwater in Afghanistan and the company has extensive domestic training contracts with the military and law enforcement agencies inside the borders of the U.S.

Earlier this week, The Washington Post reported that some of Blackwater's armed operatives may simply be rehired by two other US mercenary firms that are expected to take over Blackwater's work in Iraq under the Obama administration: Triple Canopy and DynCorp. Now, The Washington Times reports that the State Department has signed contracts with Blackwater that appear to extend the company's presence in Iraq at least until September 2009.

According to the paper:

"On Feb. 2, a department spokesman was asked whether officials planned to renew one of Blackwater's contracts past May. The spokesman, Robert Wood, said the department had told Blackwater 'we did not plan to renew the company's existing task force orders for protective security details in Iraq.'

"But records available through a federal procurement database show that on that same day, the State Department approved a $22.2 million contract modification for Blackwater 'security personnel' in Iraq, with a job completion date of Sept. 3, 2009."

"Why would you continue to use Blackwater when the Iraqi government has banned the highly controversial company and there are other choices?" said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

State Department spokesman Noel Clay told The Washington Times the contract modification involves aviation services. "The place of performance is Iraq, but it is totally different than the Baghdad one that expires in May," he said. Sloan called the State Department's explanation of the Feb. 2 deal a "parsing of words" and said "they should just be straight with us." Xe spokeswoman Anne Tyrell declined to comment on the status of the company's work in Iraq or the Feb. 2 contract modification. She said the company was aware that the State Department had indicated that it did not plan to renew its contracts in Iraq but that Xe officials had not received specific information about leaving the country. "We're following their direction," she said.

Blackwater recently renamed itself Xe and its owner Erik Prince "resigned" as CEO, though he remains its sole owner and chairman.

Connie L. Nash said...

The Bill of Rights Defense Committee has some especially pertinent items to this website for March 18-19. Find them by going to these links to see which works best for you. Or sign up for free emails. http://www.bordc.org/news http://www.bordc.org/ and scroll down to the news

3/20, David Glenn, Chronicle of Higher Education, 'Torture Memos' vs. Academic Freedom

3/18, Luke Baker, Reuters, UK to reveal secret agents' interrogation methods

3/18, Peter Finn, Washington Post, Holder Urged to Probe Allegations of Torture

3/18, Associated Press, US rejects deal to end long Gitmo hunger strike

3/18, Mark Danner, New York Review of Books, US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites

3/17, Geoffrey R. Stone, Huffington Post, The Guantanamo Detainees and the Obama Administration: A Meaningful Step for Civil Liberties

nancy said...

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