Category Archives: war

Bush signed-off on stinging insect interrogation method at Gitmo

New reports coming out show that former President Bush approved the use of insects to be placed in a confinement box during the interrogation of Al Qaeda official Abu Zubaydah. The secrets the CIA wanted to be buried are now out for public display.
The rules that Bush’s administration approved from CIA interrogation are the stuff of nightmares; being thrown against a wall 30 times was allowed as was denying prisoners sleep for more than a week.

The legal memorandum for the CIA was prepared by Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee. It reviewed 10 techniques that could have been used to interrogate Zubaydah and determined they were not torture under U.S. criminal law.

Those techniques included attention grasp, walling (hitting a detainee against a flexible wall), facial hold, facial slap, cramped confinement, wall standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation, insects placed in a confinement box, and water-boarding. The memorandum was written on Aug. 1, 2002.

According to reports, Bybee says the approved torture techniques would not prove to have lasting effects on the prisoners. The Christian Science Monitor reports:

“In the absence of prolonged mental harm, no severe mental pain or suffering would have been inflicted, and the use of these procedures would not constitute torture within the meaning of the statute,” Mr. Bybee wrote.

On Thursday as President Obama absolved CIA officers Thursday he in effect tied his hands to the torture used on the prisoners at Gitmo.

The CIA wanted the memos kept secret. Obama however wants the United States to be able to move beyond “a dark and painful chapter in our history.” Unleashing the cruel skeletons from the political closet is one way of doing so.

Time quotes the memorandum on the use of insects.

“You [the CIA] would like to place Zubaydah in a cramped confinement box with an insect. You have informed us [the Department of Justice] that he appears to have a fear of insects. In particular, you would like to tell Zubaydah that you intend to place a stinging insect into the box with him. You would, however, place a harmless insect in the box. You have orally informed us that you would in fact place a harmless insect such as a caterpillar in the box with him.”

The CIA is said to have never used the above method according to another declassified memo also released on Thursday. It has been verified that water-boarding was used to interrogate Zubaydah.

The legal rules that Bybee had written out are no longer used by the United States. President Obama signed under an executive order his first week that all CIA interrogators must follow the Army Field Manual’s rules.

Kansas City Star quotes CIA director Leon Panetta:

He said: “The fact remains that CIA’s detention and interrogation effort was authorized and approved by our government. For that reason, as I have continued to make clear, I will strongly oppose any effort to investigate or punish those who followed the guidance of the Department of Justice.”

Human Rights Watch wants more to be done though now that the secret documents have been released.

UPI reports:

“President Obama said there was nothing to gain ‘by laying blame for the past,'” said Stacy Sullivan, counterterrorism advisor at Human Rights Watch. “But prosecuting those responsible for torture is really about ensuring that such crimes don’t happen in the future.”

The US announces CIA secret prisons to be closed

Agency employees were sent an e-mail today telling them that the CIA is no longer in the secret prison business and that there are plans underway to permanently shutter them. the e-mail was sent by CIA Director Leon Panetta.
CIA Director Leon Panetta has told Congress no new prisoners have been taken in since he took the reins of the agency in February. Panetta also informed Congress that the CIA has stopped all contracts with private companies that were used for security at secret overseas CIA prisons. Those contracts were costing up to $4 million a year.

BBC reports:

“CIA no longer operates detention facilities or black sites,” Mr Panetta said in a letter to staff. Remaining sites would be decommissioned, he said.

President Obama had vowed during his campaign to shut down the secret prisons that former President Bush’s administration had allowed the CIA to operate. During his first week in office, Obama ordered the closure of black sites and the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. President Obama has also ordered a review of the detention and interrogation policies on terror suspects.

BBC reports that there is a true change in the new White House administration on terms of detainees.

In his letter, Mr Panetta also stressed that the CIA no longer employed controversial “harsh interrogation techniques”, like “waterboarding”, or simulated drowning, which have been widely condemned.

“CIA officers do not tolerate, and will continue to promptly report, any inappropriate behaviour or allegations of abuse,” he said.

That said the CIA has the right to hold prisoners temporarily according to Panetta is they are taken. Those detainees would be only interrogated though by agency employees before being returned to their home country or the county that has a legal claim in a quick manner.

In 2005 it was revealed that the United States was running secret CIA prisons overseas. That revelation prompted world-wide outrage tainting the image of President George Bush.

Teenage suicide bomber the third Pakistan attack in 24 hours

At least thirty people were killed in an attack on the Shia community in Pakistan today. It was the third such attack in the past twenty-four hours.

Earlier attacks targeted near the UN office in Islamabad and Waziristan where 17 people lost their lives.

A teenager is behind the third attack in Pakistan within 24 hours. The suicide bomber detonated himself at a religious gathering of the Shia community.

The bomber is said to have been between 16 and 17 years of age. He detonated himself near the gate of a prayer hall in Chakwal. The town is about 90 km from Islamabad.

The teen had been barred from entering the complex by those guarding the entrance. There were about 2,000 worshipers in the prayer hall at the time of the attack. In addition to the 30 dead, 200 people were wounded.

Shanghai Daily

“Had he succeeded in exploding inside it could have caused a much bigger loss because there were hundreds of people inside,” Nasir Khan Durrani said.

Local media showed video of the carnage. Pools of blood were seen in front of the mosque.

The attack has been condemned by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani who reminded people that those behind such violence want to give Islam a bad name.

Kidnapped UN Worker Freed In Pakistan

John Solecki was kidnapped more than two months ago near the Afghan border. He was freed Saturday according to a police official.
Solecki was found Saturday evening with his hands and feet bound pleading for help about 30 miles south of Quetta. The kidnappers are reported to have called a local news agency with directions to locate the man.

Solecki was found by Mohammed Anwar, an area restaurant owner.

Agence France-Presse reports:

“I’m very pleased that John Solecki … has been released today. I’m very happy,” said Secretary General Ban Ki-moon soon after the American, who headed the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Quetta, was freed.

Ban expressed his “sincere appreciation” to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Afghan head of state Hamid Karzai and “many other people” for “working tirelessly” to secure Solecki’s release.

Solecki will be reunited with his family as soon as possible. He headed the U.N. refugee agency’s operations in Quetta.

Solecki was taken on February 2. His driver was killed during his abduction. His kidnappers had demanded the release of hundreds of people from alleged detention by the Pakistani security agencies.

Some Bagram Prisoners Have Same Rights As Those At Gitmo

It’s getting more complicated with the legal issues of detainees from the War against Terror. A federal judge has now ruled that some of the long-term prisoners at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan have the same rights as the ones at Gitmo.
Appointed by former President George W. Bush, U.S. District Judge John Bates ruled that prisoners who were shipped to Bagram from outside of Afghanistan are legally “virtually identical” to those being held at Guantanamo Bay.

Al Jazeera reports:

“Bagram detainees who are not Afghan citizens, who were not captured in Afghanistan and who have been held for an unreasonable amount of time” may invoke the right to trial, John Bates, a US district judge, ruled in Washington on Thursday.

Citing the Supreme Court’s ruling of the right to habeas corpus that has been extended to Gitmo, Justice Bates ruled that the prisoners that fit the classification at Bagram also have the right to challenge their detention in front of a judge. This ruling is at odds with the Obama Administration. In February President Obama said that those at Bagram have no right to sue in federal court.

Judge Bates applied a six-part test set out by the Supreme Court in its decision in the case Boumediene v. Bush.

The Christian Science Monitor reports:

“It is one thing to detain those captured on the surrounding battlefield at a place like Bagram, which [government lawyers] correctly maintain is in a theater of war,” Bates said. “It is quite another thing to apprehend people in foreign countries – far from any Afghan battlefield – and then bring them to a theater of war, where the Constitution arguably may not reach.”

It is not clear how many of the prisoners at Bagram were captured aboard. Government lawyers say that the number of those detainees is classified. Because of that status portions of Judge Bates’ 53-page opinion had to be redacted with notations that they relate to classified information.

UPI reports:

“This is a great day for American justice,” said Ramzi Kassem, a lawyer for one of the detainees. “Today, a U.S. federal judge ruled that our government cannot simply kidnap people and hold them beyond the law.”

The case before Judge Bates centered on two Yemenis, a Tunisian and also an Afghan national. Bates ruled in favor for the all but Haji Wazir, the Afghan national. Bates wrote that releasing Wazir could create “practical obstacles in the form of friction with the host country.”

Bates said that the detainees at Bagram have even fewer rights than those at Gitmo when it comes to legal issues. Bagram detainees must represent themselves while those at Guantanamo are allowed a personal representative to assist them in reviewing their detention status.

“Obvious obstacles, including language and cultural differences, obstruct effective self-representation,” the judge said. “Detainees cannot even speak for themselves; they are only permitted to submit a written statement. But in submitting that statement, detainees do not know what evidence the United States relies upon to justify an ‘enemy combatant’ designation – so they lack meaningful opportunity to rebut that evidence,” the opinion said.

This ruling could mean hundreds of additional prisoners could seek a hearing in court to challenge the government’s basis for detaining them.

There are about 240 prisoners remaining at Gitmo. There are more than 600 prisoners at Bagram.

Taliban leader makes threats against Washington

On March 31, 2009 Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, made a direct threat on Washington that in his words would “amaze everyone in the world.”
At the same time the militant leader claimed the responsibility for the raid at the police academy in Lahore where at least 20 were killed on Monday. He further bragged about a new regional militant alliance.

On Monday the Mehsud said that the raid in Lahore was retaliation for US drone attacks on tribal areas in northern Pakistan.

The boasts were made in a telephone interview. It is said that Mehsud called Western news organizations from an undisclosed location.

Times Online

“Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world … The maximum they can do is martyr me. But we will exact our revenge on them from inside America.”

The threats appear to be a direct response to President Barack Obama’s “Afpak” strategy announced last Friday. The U.S. will be sending 21,000 more troops into Afghanistan and will spend $7.5 billion in Pakistan as to treat the two countries as a single military theater.

Mehsud said during the interview that he has set up a “Council of Mujahidin” by uniting different “to step up attacks on US and Nato forces in Afghanistan”.

The United States has offered an award of $5 million for the capture of Mehsud.

200 Children In UK Have Been Identified As Potential Terrorist

British police have identified two hundred children as potential terrorists, some of whom are only 13-years-old. Eighteen months ago a new program was started to ID possible young terrorist and it appears to to working.

In the eighteen months since the terror prevention program started Sir Norman Bettison, the chief constable of West Yorkshire Police and Britain’s most senior officer in charge of terror prevention, states at least 200 cases have been intervened.

That number is a huge increase from the 10 children identified prior to the June 2008 start of the The “Channel project”, run by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

The project asks teachers, parents and other leaders in the community to watch for signs that their children are being groomed by extremists or drawn to the viewpoints of extremists.

The Telegraph reports:

“One of the four bombers of 7 July was, on the face of it, a model student. He had never been in trouble with the police, was the son of a well-established family and was employed and integrated into society.

“But when we went back to his teachers they remarked on the things he used to write. In his exercise books he had written comments praising al-Qaeda.

“That was not seen at the time as being substantive. Now we would hope that teachers might intervene, speak to the child’s family or perhaps the local imam who could then speak to the young man.”

When a child is identified outreach workers come in to discuss with the family the concerns. The outreach workers are religious figures in the community like a local imam.

Sir Norman said that some of the children have had police directed intervention.

The basis of the project is to build trust and confidence within the community. By targeting children that could be vulnerable they are hoping to stop terrorism in its tracks. Sir Norman is clear that this is not to be confused with a target on the Muslim community instead they are targeting criminals and would-be terrorists that could become entrenched in Islamic extremism rhetoric.

The project is covering Lancashire, Lambeth in London, West Yorkshire, the Midlands, Bedfordshire and South Wales. It is now set to be started in the rest of London, South Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.

The Telegraph reports:

A Home Office spokesman said: “We are committed to stopping people becoming or supporting terrorists or violent extremists. The aim of the Channel project is to directly support vulnerable people by providing supportive interventions when families, communities and networks raise concerns about their behaviour.”

There are some concerns that the project could infringe on children’s privacy the Daily Mail reports:

Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain said: ‘There is a difference between the police being concerned or believing a person may be at risk of recruitment and a person actually engaging in unlawful, terrorist activity.

‘That said, clearly in recent years some people have been lured by terrorist propaganda emanating from al-Qa’ida-inspired groups.

‘It would seem that a number of Muslim youngsters have been seduced by that narrative and all of us, including the Government, have a role to play in making sure that narrative is seen for what it is: a nihilistic one which offers no hope, only death and destruction.’