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Tag Archives: International Law

Guantanamo lawyers’ letter urges Obama to declassify CIA torture program details


Camp Justice, GTMO (Photo Credit: mine)

Camp Justice, GTMO (Photo Credit: mine)

All 5 defense lawyers in 9/11 case have sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging the executive branch to declassify information relating to the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation (RDI) program as it applies to the accused. Under this program, people suspected of terrorist ties were snatched by the U.S. government and sent to CIA “black sites” — secret prisons — or third-party countries to be interrogated and tortured. The defendants in question — Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Walid bin Attash, Ammar al-Baluchi, and Mustafa al-Hawsawi  — were all sent to CIA black sites before being transferred to Guantanamo in 2006. They are accused of plotting the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

U.S. Navy Commander Walter Ruiz, defense counsel to Mr. al-Baluchi and one of the signatories, commented on the letter, “Today uniformed officers and our civilian colleagues join in asking our president president to uphold our obligations under the convention against torture, and remove improper classification restrictions which are preventing the pursuit of truth and meaningful justice,” according to a press release.

The press release also states: “Evidence of war crimes must not be classified. For decades now, the United States, by Executive Order, has banned the use of classification rules to conceal violations of law. President Reagan signed the Convention Against Torture in 1988, and the United States Senate ratified the Convention in 1994. As such, according to the U.S. Constitution, it is part of United States law.”

The five men are being tried in a military commission at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There is a protective order that places severe restrictions on lawyers from disclosing details of how their clients were treated by CIA black sites to the accused and to outside press or human rights organizations. In essence, it conceals many details of torture and undermines the ability of the lawyers to provide adequate defense.

A copy of the letter is linked below.

US v KSM et al LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT

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Privileged white people are not the only ones concerned about war


Antiwar, anti-drone protest on April 3, 2013 in San Francisco, California. (Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Antiwar, anti-drone protest on April 3, 2013 in San Francisco, California. (Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

One argument that’s prevalent in certain circles is that mostly white people, particularly males, care about drones. This argument has become pretty prominent in the age of Obama. It’s typically made by Obama supporters to shut down critics of his counterterrorism policies, such as drone strikes. It’s an asinine argument that marginalizes nonwhite antiwar voices and provides a multicultural veneer to empire. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Obama’s speech on drones and Gitmo is a repackaging of permanent war


MQ-9 Reaper flies above Creech AFB during a local training mission.  (Photo by Paul Ridgeway; attained from Wikipedia)

MQ-9 Reaper flies above Creech AFB during a local training mission. (Photo by Paul Ridgeway; attained from Wikipedia)

Recently, President Barack Obama gave a speech about his counterterrorism strategy at National Defense University. In it, he justified his targeted killing policy and drone strikes of suspected terrorists around the world. He also announced his plan to finally shut down Guantanamo Bay prison.

The speech is lauded by many as a signal that President Obama wants to end the War on Terror. But the speech was full of clever sophistry and Orwellian doublespeak that made it seem like the perpetual war was ending just as it’s being institutionalized and normalized. In essence, it was a repackaging of America’s targeted killing program and system of permanent war. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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The Iraq war was not a mistake — it was a crime


U.S. Marine tank in Baghdad, April 14, 2003. Photo source: Wikipedia

U.S. Marine tank in Baghdad, April 14, 2003.
Photo source: Wikipedia

As American combat troops left Iraq in December 2011, at that point, the war was largely forgotten by the American public. What remains in public memory are retrospectives of the war, especially on its ten-year anniversary. The dominant narrative is that the Iraq war was a mistake because of the lies or “faulty intelligence” that were used to justify it, costs to the United States, and the strategic folly of invading the country in the first place. However, the war was more than a mistake — it was a crime. Portraying the war as a mistake does three pernicious things: downplay the gravity of the crime, does not question the premises of militarism and permanent war, and perpetuates the myth of American benevolence. Cumulatively, these retrospectives amount to a gross revision of history. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Secret “white paper” justifies assassinating American citizens — entrenching permanent war


Predator drone fires a Hellfire missile (Source: Wikipedia)

Predator drone fires a Hellfire missile (Source: Wikipedia)

On Monday, NBC News reported on a leaked Department of Justice “white paper” summarizing memos that make the Obama administration’s legal case for targeted killing of U.S. citizens suspected of links to al-Qaeda or “associated forces”. In September of 2011, the Obama administration launched a drone strike against alleged al-Qaeda leaders Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan in Yemen, both of whom were U.S. citizens. Neither was charged or convicted of any crime. In fact, Yemen experts raised doubts about how operational al-Awlaki was in al-Qaeda.

Two weeks later, al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was killed in another drone strike, even though he was not charged or convicted of any crime. It is very likely that he wasn’t the intended target. In fact, one Obama administration official called the strike that killed Abdulrahman “an outrageous mistake…. They were going after the guy sitting next to him.” Read the rest of this entry »

 

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It’s a new year and Obama’s civil liberties violations continue


Camp X-Ray (Gitmo) detainees, 1/11/2002, Source: Wikipedia

Camp X-Ray (Gitmo) detainees, 1/11/2002, Source: Wikipedia

A few days before the new year rang in, I made three predictions for Turnstyle News about what’s in store for the year 2013. The first was a “drawdown but not a complete end to the war in Afghanistan”, the second was “continuation of drone strikes and targeted killing”, and the third was “indefinite detention of U.S. citizens will remain”. It’s a few days into 2013 but a few recent events show that the dismal state of peace and civil liberties will not cease any time soon.  Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Drone Technology Eases the Slide Into War


I wrote a piece in Turnstyle News about drone warfare. It’s the first in a series of two articles I wrote about drones.

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MQ-9 Reaper drone flying over Afghanistan in 2007. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

From the National Public Radio (NPR) to the New York Times, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), otherwise known as drones, have been receiving a lot of press coverage. These high-tech, unmanned aircraft are changing the way the United States, and other countries, go to war. While drones are mostly used for reconnaissance and surveillance purposes, they are increasingly being used for military strikes. Most of the drone strikes occur in Pakistan but are increasing in Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere. Under the Bush administration, the U.S. launched 52 drone strikes in Pakistan. The Obama administration has dramatically increased that number to nearly 280 so far, along with dozens more in Yemen and Somalia. As a writer and peace activist, I am concerned that this technology will make it far too easy for nations to go to war, hence why I’m writing about it. The international community needs to mitigate the insidious implications of drone warfare. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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