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Solly Mack

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Gender: Do not display
Current location: Back of Beyond
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 79,649

About Me

Busy observing the group dynamics of dust bunnies.

Journal Archives

ACLU to Argue Thursday at Guantánamo Tribunal Against Censorship of Torture Testimony

Thursday, a military commission judge at Guantánamo Bay will hear oral argument on the American Civil Liberties Union’s challenge to censorship of torture testimony at the trial of the 9/11 defendants. This will be the ACLU’s first appearance arguing before the tribunal.

In May, the ACLU filed a motion asking the commission to deny the government’s request to prevent the public from hearing all statements by the defendants about their torture and detention while in U.S. custody. On that basis, the motion asks the commission to bar a delayed audio feed of the proceedings, or, in the alternative, promptly release an uncensored transcript.

The government contends that any statements by the defendants’ concerning their “exposure” to the CIA’s detention and interrogation program are presumptively classified as “sources, methods and activities” of the U.S. and can be withheld from the public. A group of 14 press organizations will also be arguing Thursday for the media’s right to access all of the commission's proceedings.

Multiple failures revealed in Romania’s ‘whitewash’ Rendition Inquiry

The Inquiry concluded in 2008 with a flat denial of Romanian involvement in or knowledge of the black site network.

Reprieve investigators have now discovered multiple failures by the Inquiry, conducted by a Romanian Parliamentary Commission led by MEP Norica Nicolai, and have labelled its seven-page report a ‘whitewash’.

Despite reviewing 4000 documents over two years, the Inquiry mysteriously failed to notice key suspicious flights into and out of Romania. The flights have been identified by Reprieve in the course of its investigation into private renditions contractor Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC).

In December 2011, Associated Press and ARD Panorama revealed that former US intelligence officials had identified a secret CIA prison location in central Bucharest, “hiding in plain sight”. According to their report, the Romanian Inquiry had looked only for detention facilities “at or near” airports – another sign of its restricted and insufficient scope.

I'm still keeping up with the information flow regarding the war crimes committed by the US government and the complicit countries. In case anyone else wants it.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Lawyers Write To U.N. Asking For Torture Investigation

"Lawyers for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) revealed yesterday, the U.N.’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, that they had written to the U.N. special rapporteur on torture asking the world body to investigate KSM’s alleged torture at Guantanamo Bay. Agence-France Presse reports:"

“After subjecting Mr. Mohammed to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment following his capture on March 1, 2003 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, the US government has silenced him,” reads the letter, a copy of which was obtained by AFP. [...]

“The US government seeks to close this painful and dark chapter in our Nation’s history by killing Mr. Mohammed after a show trial,” it claims.

Army Capt. Jason Wright, one of Mohammad’s lawyers, said: “No human being should be tortured. In the period since 9/11, the US has misplaced its moral compass. Through accountability, we can hopefully find our way again, and pursue a path of rediscovery and redemption.”

ACLU's Torture Database - New collection point for documents relating to the war crimes committed by the U.S. government in the "war on terror".

Report: Appeals court chokes off Gitmo reviews

An academic analysis finds that the federal appeals court in Washington has effectively blunted a 2008 Supreme Court decision giving terrorist suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay naval brig the right to contest their confinement.

The study by Seton Hall University law professors says the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has largely blocked efforts by the detainees to win their freedom by ordering lower court judges to take a more accepting view of the government's evidence justifying their continued imprisonment.

The report says that since a key appeals court decision in 2010, only one of the dozen detainees whose cases were heard by federal trial court judges in Washington won a court order for his release. And that order was later overturned by appellate judges.

In the past two years, "a clear pattern has now emerged: Almost no detainees will prevail at the district court level, and if any do, the D.C. Circuit will likely reverse the decision to grant them relief," the report said.

Seton Hall Law Report Reveals Courts Deny GTMO Habeas Relief and Fail to Reject Government Allegations at Unusually High Rates Since Appeals Court Decision in 2010

Seton Hall University School of Law’s Center for Policy & Research has issued a report: “No Hearing Habeas: D.C. Circuit Restricts Meaningful Review.”

Within the context of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 2008 decision in Boumediene v. Bush, which demanded a robust and “meaningful review” of the legality of the Guantanamo detainees’ detention, the report examines the stark differences of actual practice. The report finds that the promise of Boumediene has been effectively negated by decisions of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, beginning in 2010 with Al-Adahi v. Obama.

Seton Hall Law Professor and Director of the Center for Policy and Research, Mark P. Denbeaux, stated, “Since Al-Adahi, judges are effectively robo-signing denials and rubber-stamping government allegations. The Supreme Court gaveth and the Appeals Court taketh away.”

The report finds and documents a marked difference between the first 34 habeas decisions (before Al-Adahi) and the last 12 (after Al-Adahi) in both the number of times that detainees win habeas petitions and the frequency in which the trial court has deferred to the government’s factual allegations rather than reject them.


An Analysis of the Proceedings of the Combatant Status Review Tribunals at Guantánamo


Yoo, Latif, and the Rise of Secret Justice

by Scott Horton (Harper's)

One of the lasting challenges to America’s federal judiciary will be addressing American complicity in the tortures and disappearances of the past ten years. Two recent appeals-court decisions show us how judicial panels are tackling these issues: by shielding federal officials and their contractors from liability, and even by glorifying the fruits of their dark arts. In the process, legal prohibitions on torture are being destroyed through secrecy and legal sleight of hand, and our justice system is being distorted and undermined.

Last week, the Ninth Circuit reversed a district-court decision allowing a suit against torture-memo author John Yoo to go forward. The suit had been brought on behalf of José Padilla by his mother, who argued that Padilla was tortured while in U.S. custody as a result of Yoo’s advice—a claim that seems pretty much unassailable, and that had to be accepted as true for purposes of the preliminary rulings. In a decision that has left international-law scholars dumbstruck, the Ninth Circuit granted Yoo immunity, concluding that the law surrounding torture was so muddled when he dispensed his advice that he should be given the benefit of the doubt. The best authority the judges could muster for this outlandish perspective was a European Court of Human Rights decision from 1978, which found that a series of grim techniques used by Britain against Irish internees was not torture—rather it was “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”

Hovering in the background of the Ninth Circuit’s opinion is a troubling fact: John Yoo had a co-author when he crafted his torture memoranda, Jay Bybee. And Bybee is now a judge on the Ninth Circuit. Had the court handed down any other ruling, it would have been exposing one of its own. The court’s twisted reasoning and distortions of legal precedent otherwise make very little sense. Indeed, the Ninth Circuit judges seemed to be uncomfortable with torture, issuing an opinion that was comparable to a surgical excision: do what is essential to shelter Yoo and Bybee, and not an iota more.

The D.C. Circuit, conversely, has developed a real hankering for torture. Exhibit A in its judicial immorality tale is the astonishing 2–1 decision handed down in October in the Latif case, in which two movement-conservative judges overruled a district court that had concluded that Latif—a thirty-six-year-old Yemeni who has spent the past ten years of his life in prison in Guantánamo without being charged and with only vague suspicions connecting him to terrorist groups—should be released because the record did not contain sufficient evidence to warrant a life sentence in the absence of charges. Judge Janice Rogers Brown, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote that the usual presumptions had to be reversed in cases involving Guantánamo detainees: the government’s secret conclusions had to be presumed correct unless they were contradicted by compelling evidence to the contrary. In Brown’s perspective, the analytical report on Latif prepared by CIA officers—who were under immense pressure to justify detentions even when the evidence plainly indicated very little to no basis for them, as Glenn Carle and other CIA case officers have openly acknowledged—was entitled to a “presumption of regularity.” Because key parts of this report were classified, it was not entirely accessible by the petitioner, denying him the ability to effectively rebut it.

Secret justice plans will put Government above the law ( UK,torture, MI5/6, CIA)

"The government has accelerated plans to expand secret hearings into civil courts. Rather than moving to the preparatory white paper stage, a justice and security bill will be put through parliament this session.

The government has come under severe pressure from MI5 and MI6 to draw up a law imposing a system of secret courts ever since it was disclosed that the security and intelligence agencies had been involved in the brutal treatment, and knew of the torture, of UK residents and citizens detained by the CIA.

So-called closed material procedures would allow sensitive evidence to be given in court but not seen by all the participants. Defendants or claimants and their courtroom representatives would be barred from the closed part of the hearing, removing the adversarial nature of the justice system.

Ken Clarke, the justice secretary, has said the powers are needed to reassure other countries, particularly the US, that they can continue to share intelligence without fear of it being exposed in British courts."


"Intelligence gathered by MI5 and MI6, even if obtained by torture, will never be disclosed in court proceedings and more inquests would be heard in private under proposals announced by the justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke.

Under the government's plans, all "sensitive" information held by MI5 and MI6 would be discussed in secret court hearings. "Special advocates", security vetted and approved by the government, would see the information on behalf of individual defendants or claimants but not would not be able to reveal it to them.

"In many cases, the facts cannot … be used in open court … without risking serious damage to national security or international relations ," Clarke said."

Responding to the plans for 'secret justice' and closed courts set out in the Queen's Speech today, Reprieve's Executive Director, Clare Algar said:

“Closed courts will not strengthen oversight of the intelligence agencies – in fact, they will do precisely the opposite. They will put the Government above the law.

“The proposals for secret justice would massively skew courts in favour of ministers, and prevent the public from finding out the truth about serious wrongdoing.

“The reality is that these plans are designed to spare the intelligence agencies embarrassment. They are a recipe for unfair and unaccountable Government.”

Reprieve’s Legal Director, Cori Crider, said:

“If you think closed courts are a good idea, go talk to Khadidja al-Saadi, who Britain helped render to Gaddafi in 2004 when she was only twelve. This is a clear effort to cover up her case, the Belhadj case, and those like them – to stop the airing of the dirty laundry of the ‘War on Terror.’ The British public should not stand for it.”


The U.S. government committed war crimes. Said war crimes and war criminals have not been prosecuted and probably never will be as the U.S. government is too cowardly to do so.

"In his five-page memo, Zelikow wrote that the state department earlier had agreed with the justice department's view."

Translation - the State Department agreed with the Yoo/Bybee, etc. that torture wasn't torture and Zelikow is claiming the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 changed that agreement. So, he supported torture prior to the DTA? Somehow, that's when he knew torture was wrong? But not before. Seriously? BULLSHIT. I'm not saying his memo draft doesn't exist - I'm saying he's full of shit if it took the DTA to tell him torture was wrong or that he should question Bush's crimes.

McCain's DTA already gave war criminals an out by granting them a defense for committing torture, when there should NO legal defense passed by government for committing defense... a legal out for torture should never come from the government - unless they government wants to allow people to get away with torture...itself included. So let no one pretend McCain was some sort of hero or good guy. Congress passed a protective cover for war crimes. Such should never be forgotten. Providing a legal cover for torture makes you just as guilty as those who did the actual torturing...whether that cover is provided in a memo by the DOJ or by an act of Congress or the actions of the executive.


"a) Protection of United States Government Personnel- In any civil action or criminal prosecution against an officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent of the United States Government who is a United States person, arising out of the officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent's engaging in specific operational practices, that involve detention and interrogation of aliens who the President or his designees have determined are believed to be engaged in or associated with international terrorist activity that poses a serious, continuing threat to the United States, its interests, or its allies, and that were officially authorized and determined to be lawful at the time that they were conducted, it shall be a defense that such officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent did not know that the practices were unlawful and a person of ordinary sense and understanding would not know the practices were unlawful. Good faith reliance on advice of counsel should be an important factor, among others, to consider in assessing whether a person of ordinary sense and understanding would have known the practices to be unlawful. Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit or extinguish any defense or protection otherwise available to any person or entity from suit, civil or criminal liability, or damages, or to provide immunity from prosecution for any criminal offense by the proper authorities."

There is absolutely no way anyone thought that torture or the cruel & inhumane was legal...not in "good faith" ...not in any manner. It's a bullshit cowardly get-out-of-jail-free clause.


"In 2005, he wrote, both the Justice and State Departments had decided that international prohibitions against “acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture” do not “apply to CIA interrogations in foreign countries.” Those techniques included contorting a detainee’s body in painful positions, slamming a detainee’s head against a wall, restricting a detainee’s caloric intake, and waterboarding."

Waterboarding IS torture. It has ALWAYS been torture and absolutely anyone claiming otherwise is a liar. Anyone in government (or its agents or the military) pretending they didn't know better is a liar.

"Zelikow wrote that a law passed that year by Congress, restricting interrogation techniques, meant the “situation has now changed.”"

Seriously? Now it has changed? Because before torture was just so wonderful and the legal thing to do? Seriously?

What bullshit.

Fuck this shit.

Some bird photos from the Great Backyard Bird Count (pic heavy)

I saw this thread in GD and decided to participate.

I spent 4 days counting the birds I could see and posting the results at the GBBC website.

I didn't record every bird I saw because I wasn't exactly sure what kind of bird it was. I also didn't take photos of every bird I saw because I was busy counting the smaller birds.

However, I did take some shots after I was finished with my count. I submitted my last report this morning.

American Robin


Dark-eyed Junco (we also have the Slate-colored Junco)

Chipping Sparrow (I was shooting through the fence)

Northern Cardinal

Northern Mockingbird

and....of course

That evil bird

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (a keystone species, btw)

Which I've renamed 'ULittle' for, 'You little @#$%!'.

I had a great time counting birds.

11 additional CIA OIG reports on torture and abuse from ACLU FOIA.

Two and a half years ago, the government released a damning report by the CIA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) relating to the “enhanced interrogation” program of the CIA. The report was released in response to an ACLU Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. It made headlines because of its criticism of the CIA’s program and because it is said to have prompted Attorney General Eric Holder to launch a criminal investigation into some of the CIA’s abuses.

We’ve known for some time that there were more CIA OIG reports about the torture and detention program, but a new revelation by the government confirms just how many: 11.

Over the years, we’ve counted references (in both government documents and the media) to at least six additional OIG reports, several of which relate to the deaths of detainees in CIA custody. So, in April 2011, we filed a FOIA request for those and any other reports that analyzed the CIA’s detention and interrogation programs.

In November, the government confirmed to us (in this index) that there were indeed eleven additional reports. Based on the minimal information we have so far, among the most interesting are reports on the deaths of two CIA prisoners, Abid Hamad Mahawish Al-Mahalawi and Manadal Al-Jamaidi, which are reportedly being investigated by the Justice Department. Also notable is a report on the “nonregistration” of detainees, which relates to the CIA’s practice of holding “ghost” (or unacknowledged) detainees.

Manadel al-Jamadi aka Abu Ghraib's "Ice Man"

Detainee died during an interrogation by OGA, and was placed in the shower area of tier 1, hard site. No NDRS or ISN numbers, as he was never processed in the system.

Gul Rahman

More than seven years ago, a suspected Afghan militant was brought to a dimly lit CIA compound northeast of the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. The CIA called it the Salt Pit. Inmates knew it as the dark prison.

Inside a chilly cell, the man was shackled and left half-naked. He was found dead, exposed to the cold, in the early hours of Nov. 20, 2002.

Subsequent forensic examinations determined that he had frozen to death. Until the A.P. disclosed the details, on

Sunday, March 28th, the C.I.A. kept the dead man’s name and fate secret for seven years. His wife and four daughters were given no notification of his death.

“The CIA’s then-station chief in Afghanistan was promoted after Rahman’s death,” the A.P. reported, “and the officer who ran the prison went on to other assignments, including one overseas.”

The actual reports (11) were not released - just the index. Reason cited: "endangering national security"

Group protests Belmont's hiring of ex-attorney general Alberto Gonzales

Group protests Belmont's hiring of ex-attorney general Alberto Gonzales


A small group rallied on Belmont Boulevard and at Belmont University’s temporary law school on Friday morning to protest the institution’s hiring of Alberto Gonzales as a law professor.

The demonstrators, supported by the Tennessee chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, claimed Gonzales was “one of the key architects” of the Bush administration’s torture policies.

“It’s really shameful that Belmont would honor him by hiring him as a law professor,” said protester Mark Brooks, who also thought it was “deeply ironic to hire him to teach constitutional law.”

During the protest, the demonstrators were photographed by Jeff Kinsler, dean of the Belmont College of Law. He declined to comment about the protest.
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