Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Does OUR TAX MONEY SPONSOR A Culture of Lies and Cover-ups? Canadian Security Intelligence Service "fails" to disclose evidence" AGAIN

SEE TORONTO STAR - June 30, 2009
Spy agency bungled second terror case - by Michelle Shephard, Tonda MacCharles

Monday, June 29, 2009

Our Tax Money goes to ....harassment and cover-ups

In Chapter Four of the book "Dark Days: The Story of four Canadians Tortured in the name of fighting terrorism" ", by Kerry Pither, the "harassment technique" to "SQUEEZE PEOPLE OUT OF CANADA" is exposed .

"Through first-person testimonials and government records, Dark Days demonstrates that what happened to these men is rooted in a systemic pattern of complicity in torture and cannot be explained away as a coincidence or a series of mistakes ." ("Dark Days: The Story of four Canadians Tortured in the name of fighting terrorism" ", by Kerry Pither)

After his return to Canada on Saturday, June 27, 2009, Abousfian Abdelrazik, is once again facing the same pattern of harassment even after the RCMP and CSIS have supposedly cleared him.

Abousfian Abdelrazik's lawyer, Yavar Hameed, suspects Canadian security agencies are the ones tailing his client.

By now, a lot more is known about the involvement of CSIS in this pattern of harassment and as Mr. Hameed said:

“This [surveillance] is completely inappropriate given one of the factors that drove him out of the country is he was severely harassed by CSIS."

“If that pattern re-emerges, in light of what we know CSIS is involved in, there would be serious consequences,” Mr. Hameed said, referring tothe possibility of obtaining a court injunction.

(photo: Abousfian (right) with his lawyer Yavar Hameed before they boarded the flight in Khartoum to return to Canada)

More on the case: People's Commission on Immigration "Security" Measures - Project Fly Home

The Globe and Mail article published Monday, June 29, 2009 - "Mysterious people tailing Abdelrazik in first days home"- is worth reading:

Article HERE

Sunday, June 28, 2009

How many more Abdelraziks? by Maher Arar

How many more Abdelraziks? by Maher Arar - From Globe and Mail - June 26, 2009 - HERE

Recently, it seems like every new day has brought new revelations about the depth of involvement of Canadian government agencies, past and present, in the torture of Canadian citizens. Despite the clear conclusions of Mr. Justice Dennis O'Connor's inquiry and the findings of former Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci's inquiry, the unique stamp of Canadian involvement in the torture of its citizens is actually growing.

An inquiry into the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik, which now seems inevitable, will certainly shed more light about the widely used practice of “obtain information by proxy.” But Canadians need not wait for a full-blown inquiry to learn the facts in this case: A glimpse into the heart of a possible inquiry can already be gleaned from a recent federal court order ruling that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was, at the very least, complicit in Mr. Abdelrazik's initial detention. We can add to that all the rest of what we have learned recently from extensive investigative journalistic reporting, which has mostly quoted official Canadian government documents.

What is particularly puzzling is how CSIS keeps repeating its hopeful mantra that it was never complicit in any of these cases. What the agency may not realize is that, regardless of how often or loudly it denies the obvious, Canadians have learned enough from two federal inquiries and the work of reporters to draw their own conclusions. CSIS should be more worried about its credibility, and be open and forthcoming about the facts of this most recent matter. This is the only path that will allow it to restore its credibility, and the most direct route to providing Canadians with the truth.

Canadians deserve to know why so many of this country's citizens, all of Muslim background, have been imprisoned and tortured abroad. Human-rights organizations, activists and national-security experts have been calling for the current government to establish the credible oversight agency that was recommended by Judge O'Connor several years ago. Their calls have landed on deaf ears.

How many more victims will it take before our government realizes that it needs to act? If the government had established this agency, Mr. Abdelrazik could launch a complaint upon his return. The time required for him to get answers and justice would be much shorter. For taxpayers, it would be a much cheaper alternative than a full-blown federal inquiry.

Most importantly, Canadians would have a reason to trust that their security agencies are being properly held to a higher standard.

In the meantime, even before another inquiry is called, agencies that have played any role in the ordeals of Canadians detained and tortured abroad should be truthful in their statements and not defensive in their rhetoric. They should apologize to the victims of overzealous national security practices. Moreover, they need to take actions assuring Canadians that this will never happen again. It is that simple.

"The right to override the Constitution in the name of national security"

The long story of the CIA Torture, assassinations, "covert wars", drug deals, overthrow of Democracies

Documentary: "Coverup: Behind the Iran Contra Affair" (1988)
Original Link " LIVE LEAK _ http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=0a2_1196569847&o=1

"Nazis would try to use insurance to hide and launder their assets so they could be used to rebuild the war machine.It's a task that continues today"

AIG and the CIA

The Insurance industry links to the CIA - some information on the topic in the article AIG Scandal: America Wakes Up To Extent of Capitalist Thievery
"Marsh, an insurance broker, is supposed to find the best insurance policies for its clients from a wide range of companies. Instead it steered the policies to companies such as AIG that agreed to pay kickbacks.""

The article
AIG Scandal: America Wakes Up To Extent of Capitalist Thievery - HERE

From Invictus Blog - HERE

The news that AIG executives were to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses (maybe as high as $450 million!), even after a $170 billion dollar bailout, has fueled a populist revolt not seen since the initial shock of the economic crisis hit Americans last October. When Obama Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told American Insurance Group CEO, Edward M. Liddy, that government loans to AIG might be renegotiated as a result, Liddy responded with "grave concern" over the firm's ability to retain "talented staff."

Talented in rip-off, that is. But former New York governor and supposed scourge of Wall Street, Elliot Spitzer, is reporting over at Slate that the outrage in the media over the bonuses is a diversion. (H/T Inky99 at Daily Kos.) Not that they aren't an outrage, the scandal misses the larger crime: the siphoning off of billions of taxpayer dollars to a handful of companies, who insured their highly risky investments with AIG. These companies have received hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout money. Now they are to receive 100% on the dollar reimbursement for their losses from AIG. Spitzer comments:

The payments to AIG's counterparties are justified with an appeal to the sanctity of contract. If AIG's contracts turned out to be shaky, the theory goes, then the whole edifice of the financial system would collapse.

But wait a moment, aren't we in the midst of reopening contracts all over the place to share the burden of this crisis? From raising taxes—income taxes to sales taxes—to properly reopening labor contracts, we are all being asked to pitch in and carry our share of the burden. Workers around the country are being asked to take pay cuts and accept shorter work weeks so that colleagues won't be laid off. Why can't Wall Street royalty shoulder some of the burden? Why did Goldman have to get back 100 cents on the dollar? Didn't we already give Goldman a $25 billion capital infusion, and aren't they sitting on more than $100 billion in cash?....

The appearance that this was all an inside job is overwhelming. AIG was nothing more than a conduit for huge capital flows to the same old suspects, with no reason or explanation.

No reason? No explanation? But there is always a reason. Always an explanation, though Spitzer may not want to go there.

Private ownership of the wealth and capital, freed of most regulatory restraints, is the distal cause, while the proprietors of this capital have gone on an orgy of thievery that may have never been seen in the history of civilization, outside of a world war.

Consider the new TALP plan ("Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility"), which bobswern has dissected so well over at Daily Kos (bold in original).

1.) $2 trillion in taxpayer funds with no salary restrictions to recipients....
2.) Shadow Bankers get almost all of their investment money for free, from you. [Shadow bankers consist of "non-bank financial institutions that, like banks, borrow short, and in liquid forms, and lend or invest long in less liquid assets... via the use of credit derivative instruments which allow them to evade normal banking regulations," e.g., hedge funds, investment banks, "structured investment vehicles," etc.]
3.) Shadow bankers will skim administrative fees off the top of $2 trillion, first.
4.) Government has virtually no say in terms of regulating what these entities must do with the money once they give it to them. [And on and on...]

Congress has responded to constituent anger, and hearings are being held even today (see liveblogging of those hearings by Emptywheel over at FDL). But while more details will leak out, it's unlikely we will see much more than the spectacle of what Chris Floyd describes as "faux shock in the Beltway over Wall Street fat cats paying themselves big bonuses with the free money that Washington knowingly gave them."

The following points will never be mentioned:

... the capitalist class is a definite concrete group composed of those who own and have a monopoly over the means of production (including loanable capital). The capitalist class is bound together by innumerable personal, familial and organizational filiations; the atomized non-capitalist entrepreneur -—the central figure of bourgeois economic theory -— is a fiction. The capacity to borrow is strictly limited by one’s ownership of the capital assets required for security against loans. In reality, credit under capitalism is always rationed, on the basis of specific monopoly complexes involving financial, industrial and commercial capitalists.

The ingrown nature of the capitalist class, who has united to unleash a frenzy of greed and stealing, is no better illustrated than by the biography of Obama's Treasury Secretary Geithner. Born to a scion of the capitalist class -- his father was a prominent leader of the Ford Foundation -- Geithner's early career (after attending the best Ivy League schools) was working for Kissinger and Associates in Washington, D.C. He began working for various divisions of the Treasury Department as early as 1988, when he was 27 years old. He was close to two former Treasury secretaries, Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers. During the George W years he worked at the Council of Foreign Relations and the International Monetary Fund. In October 2003, he became president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and a few years later joined the elite, Rockefeller Foundation organized "Group of Thirty."

In March 2008, he arranged the rescue and sale of Bear Stearns... in the same year, he is believed to have played a pivotal role in both the decision to bail out AIG as well as the government decision not to save Lehman Brothers from bankruptcy.

Hmmm... the same guy who organized the AIG bailout, with its non-regulation of monies, including millions for "bonuses" to the same execs who helped manufacture the crisis... naw, that can't be true, can it? (It is.)

Oh, and he "forgot" to pay $35,000 in self-employment taxes over several years.

AIG and the CIA

Another strange aspect of the AIG affair, and one with which to end this post, concerns AIG's links to the CIA, another aspect of the entire scandal that seems to have escaped the mainstream press, if not the bulk of the blogosphere.

From CorpWatch:HERE -

Though it is an American company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, AIG makes extensive use of offshore jurisdictions such as Barbados, Bermuda and Luxembourg that are immune from U.S. regulatory and tax scrutiny. They help the company launder profits to evade U.S. taxes and hide insider connections in supposedly "arms-length" deals. This is especially important as the company has moved into financial services and asset management, handling the wealth of “high net-worth” clients -- the mega-rich.

[Board Chairman Maurice] Greenberg has enviable political clout, never so much in evidence as when, with the help of Henry Kissinger -- chair of AIG's international advisory committee and a paid consultant via Kissinger Associates – AIG became in 1995, the first company licensed to sell insurance in China. AIG was the only foreign firm that owned 100 percent of its license there.

The American International Group at its origins was linked to the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) the forerunner of the CIA. It grew from the Asia Life/C. V. Starr companies founded by Cornelius Starr who started his insurance empire in Shanghai in 1919, the first westerner to market insurance in China.

Some of the links between AIG and the CIA can take us to some pretty heady conspiracy territory, as in this link from a Ron Paul website:

Since 1997, Frank G. Wisner, Jr., has been a board member of Kroll , and is currently Greenberg's Deputy Chairman for External Affairs. Wisner's father was a founder of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who killed himself over the scandal from his being duped by British-Soviet masterspy Kim Philby. Frank Wisner, Jr., is a director of the George Bush-linked energy giant Enron (a client for whom AIG negotiated payments from Peru over nationalization of Enron operations).

Of course, nothing in this quote above is wrong, but whether these dots connect or not is another matter. Still, the connections between AIG and U.S. government operations is a shadowy land that is worth investigating. Wisner, by the way, stepped left AIG late last year.

Michael Ruppert made an impressive case regarding the intelligence connections of AIG in an article back in 2001. He quotes a September 22, 2000 L.A. Times article by Mark Fritz, the text of which is worth considering as the AIG scandal unfolds.

Newly declassified U.S. intelligence files tell the remarkable story of the ultra-secret Insurance Intelligence Unit, a component of the Office of Strategic Services, a forerunner of the CIA, and its elite counterintelligence branch X-2.

Though rarely numbering more than a half dozen agents, the unit gathered intelligence on the enemy's insurance industry, Nazi insurance titans and suspected collaborators in the insurance business. But, more significantly, the unit mined standard insurance records for blueprints of bomb plants, timetables of tide changes and thousands of other details about targets, from a brewery in Bangkok to a candy company in Bergedorf.

"They used insurance information as a weapon of war," said Greg Bradsher, a historian and National Archives expert on the declassified records....

The men behind the insurance unit were OSS head William "Wild Bill" Donovan and California-born insurance magnate Cornelius V. Starr.

Starr had started out selling insurance to Chinese in Shanghai in 1919 and, over the next 50 years, would build what is now American International Group, one of the biggest insurance companies in the world.

Ruppert, seven years prior to the current economic meltdown, highlighted the uses of reinsurance for national security purposes. From Fritz's article (emphases added):

"Stiefel mapped the entire system," said Naftali, a historian at the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs. "Each time I take a piece of your risk, you've got to give me information. I am not going to reinsure your company unless you give me all the documents. That's great intelligence information"....

With the Axis defeat imminent, U.S. intelligence officials focused greater attention on ways the Nazis would try to use insurance to hide and launder their assets so they could be used to rebuild the war machine. It's a task that continues today.

It's no secret that the CIA needs to launder vast amounts of money to fund its secret wars around the world. That's a good deal of what the Iran-Contra affair was about. Alfred McCoy also plumbed these depths in his classic work, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. According to the Wikipedia article on McCoy, in his work just cited:

He also uncovered money laundering activities by banks controlled by the CIA, first the Castle Bank which was then replaced by the Nugan Hand Bank, who had as legal council William Colby, retired head of the CIA [3]. He also alludes to the BCCI, which seems to have played the same role as the Nugan Hand Bank after its collapse in the early 1980s, claiming that "the boom in the Pakistan drug trade was financed by BCCI." [3].

There's a lot that is horrifically dirty in the entrails of American capitalism. Why is this huge outflow of capital happening at this time? Where is money going, exactly? Why are the same people who engineered the bailout now in charge of policing it?

Standing outside the intricacies of this scandal, whatever they may be, as uncovered, stand two unassailable facts. One, this breakdown of the capitalist system is causing untold suffering for billions of people around the world. Two, the causes of the economic collapse are complex, and rooted first of all in the inadequacies of the capitalist system -- a system that argues it needs an influx of public monies in the trillions of dollars every fifty to seventy years or so or it will implode. Great system!

But further questions remain: how was this collapse handled? Who benefited? What was the role of secretive government agencies that use sophisticated schemes of investment and money laundering in all this? I don't trust the U.S. government to reveal this to us. The failure of public oversight and the need to preserve a crooked system at all costs led to the downfall of the Stalinist Soviet empire. It seems likely to do the same to the American empire as well, if not now, then someday soon.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

JOHN DI GANGI : “The U.S. would like Canada's assistance in putting together a criminal case against Abdelrazik,”

The request:
Americans lacked sufficient evidence to charge Abousfian Abdelrazik so...Washington attempted to elicit the Harper government's help in putting behind bars...

“The U.S. would like Canada's assistance in putting together a criminal case against Abdelrazik,” John Di Gangi, then the director of foreign intelligence at Canada's Foreign Affairs Department, writes in the note sent to top officials in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP and other security agencies, following a high-level diplomatic request from senior U.S. officials.
“If Canadian police or security agencies shared what they had, it might prove to be enough for the U.S. to proceed as the threshold for prosecution there [in the U.S.] was lower than here [in Canada].”

The Article HERE

U.S. asked Canada to help build case against Abdelrazik

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Made in USA" - The Banalization of Evil

Ethics Secondary in the American Torture Program

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another Break with " DEATH STAR CANTEEN" -by Eddie Izzard


"THIS IS YOUR BREAK!!!" - JAMES BOND'S GADGETS (genitals being one of them...) - w/Eddie Izzard

Monday, June 15, 2009

Law Lords Condemn UK’s Use of Secret Evidence-The Kafkaesque world of secret evidence and testing the reliability of intelligence Services

UK Courts courts finding:

" By nine votes to nil, they ruled that imposing control orders breaches Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to a fair trial, because a suspect held under a control order is not given “sufficient information about the allegations against him to enable him to give effective instructions to the special advocate assigned to him.”

Report by Andy Worthington - June 13, 2009, published at:

Law Lords Condemn UK’s Use of Secret Evidence And Control Orders
Four years late, the Law Lords finally put the British government’s anti-terror policies under the spotlight on Wednesday by delivering a resounding repudiation of the government’s use of secret evidence to impose control orders on alleged terror suspects (the full judgment is here).

An unjustified stranglehold on liberty: the control orders

Introduced in March 2005 after the Law Lords ruled in December 2004 that the government’s previous policy of imprisoning suspects without charge or trial in Belmarsh prison (which had begun three years before) was in contravention of the Human Rights Act, the control order regime is effectively a form of house arrest. As I explained in an article for the Guardian in April,

[Control orders] keep suspects, for most hours of the day, confined to their houses. They are tagged, told to report to the authorities several times a day, and are subjected to unannounced house raids by Home Office officials to ensure they are not breaching the conditions of their confinement.

Visitors have to be vetted by the Home Office. If the detainee is a single man, he is unbearably isolated; if married with children, he is trapped, unable to work, pushed to mental collapse as his children are unable to have friends over to visit, and are denied access to a computer for their studies.

In the Belmarsh years, several of the prisoners held without charge or trial developed what Gareth Peirce, one of their lawyers, described as “florid psychosis,” and as Press TV reported two weeks ago in an exclusive interview with one of these men, Mahmoud Abu Rideh, a Palestinian who has spent the last seven years either in Belmarsh, Broadmoor psychiatric hospital, or at home under a control order, the practical difference between prison and house arrest is often minimal.

On May 25, Abu Rideh’s wife finally gave up the struggle and returned to Jordan with their children. As Cageprisoners explained, “They were prevented from taking many of their belongings with them since many of the children’s possessions had been seized by police as claimed breaches of their father’s control order.” Cageprisoners also noted that “Mr. Abu Rideh was denied the opportunity of bidding his family farewell at the airport,” and stated that “He now despairs at the thought of never seeing his family again, since he cannot leave the country and his family were told that they have no right to return to the UK, despite the fact that they are British nationals.”

In his interview with Press TV, which took place just a week before the death, reportedly by suicide, of Muhammad Salih, a prisoner at Guantánamo who was held for seven years without charge or trial, Abu Rideh stated that he was unable to bear the thought of living any longer:

I am already dead. My soul, my life, my heart — every part of me is dead. I am just like a machine walking, with no other feeling. I have nothing left — I cannot even sleep at night; I have nightmares of what they have done to me, to my wife, my children, my time in prison, the searches … this is enough. I’ve lost my senses, I’ve been driven insane, I can no longer take it. What is the point of living? I’ve lost everything, I’ve lost my wife, I might as well kill myself, that is better for me. I swear by God I have written to Gordon Brown saying that you have two weeks, if I am not helped in this period I will kill myself, whether that’s by throwing myself in front of a train, or slitting my wrists, or throwing myself from a high building, or taking an overdose, whatever it takes. Nobody has lived the life I have or what I’ve had to endure.

However, while the practical effects of control orders should be genuinely troubling to anyone who believes in open justice, and the ancient right not to have your liberty removed except through the verdict of a jury of your peers, the Lords’ rulingon Wednesday focused on the equally troubling context of how the decisions to impose control orders are made.

The Kafkaesque world of secret evidence

Primarily, this centres on an absurd situation whereby, in the Special Immigration Appeals Court (SIAC), which deals with these cases, special advocates are responsible for representing the accused in closed sessions involving the use of secret evidence, but are prevented from revealing anything about those sessions to the men they represent. This impenetrable barrier to transparency also works in the other direction, as suspects cannot brief the advocates effectively when they are kept in the dark regarding the details of the case against them.

In March, the full, horrific absurdity of this system was exposed by Dinah Rose QC in a Parliamentary meeting chaired by Diane Abbott MP, which was convened to canvas support for an Early Day Motion calling for an end to the use of secret evidence, and to discuss strategies for future campaigns. Uniquely, to my knowledge, Rose has direct experience of SIAC in three different roles — as instructed by the Home Office, as a representative of some of the detainees held on the basis of secret evidence, and as a special advocate — and her insight was, therefore, particularly powerful.

Talking about a case on which she had served as a special advocate, she explained, “The special advocates were told what the evidence was, but we were prohibited from discussing the material with the appellant or his lawyers. We were simply unable to offer any resistance at all to the application, in the absence of any instructions, which might have explained or cast a different light on the evidence.”

As a result, the judge revoked the man’s bail, and ordered him to be sent to Belmarsh. Remembering this ruling, Rose said, “I can still recall my deep feeling of shame when I heard the appellant ask the judge the question: why are you sending me to prison? To which the judge replied: ‘I cannot tell you that.’ I could not believe that I was witnessing such an event in a British court. I could not believe that nobody protested or made a fuss. They simply took him to jail, without any explanation at all.”

She also explained that, “although SIAC looks and sounds like a court, and the judges and barristers behave with the courtesy and formalities that are used in court, it is in reality nothing of the kind. Often it feels to me like an elaborate charade, in which we are all playing the roles of barrister, solicitor, appellant and judge, but where the basic substance of a court hearing — the testing of evidence to establish where truth lies — is entirely missing.”

The detainees and the Law Lords’ ruling

In Wednesday’s ruling, following hearings in February and March, the Law Lords were deciding the cases of three men, a joint Libyan/British national, an Iraqi and a British national, who are identified only as AF, AE and AN. This anonymity is allegedly for their own protection — although it also conveniently dehumanizes them — but a few details about them are in the public domain.

AE, for example, who spoke to the BBC on Wednesday, is a Kurdish imam, who fled Iraq in 2002 after being imprisoned by the regime of Saddam Hussein in Abu Ghraib prison, and was given leave to remain in the UK. Seized from his house in May 2006, he says that he has no idea why he was placed on a control order, and has no way of responding to the vague claims that have been made publicly available, which indicate that the security services regard him as a radicalizing influence who supports the insurgency in Iraq. Speaking about when he was first seized, he told the BBC, “I said, ‘Why am I being put on a control order?’ The answer was that they did not have to tell me.”

AN, the British national, who was born in Derby, is apparently regarded as a link between extremists in the UK and the Middle East, and was placed on a control order after returning from a visit to Syria, and the joint Libyan/British national is AF, who was born in the UK to a Libyan father and a British mother. A banking graduate, he had intended to become an accountant, but was placed on a control order in June 2006, allegedly because the Home Secretary believed that he had connections to members of a group opposed to the regime of Colonel Gaddafi (who, lest we forget, was our own implacable enemy until six years ago, when he cannily signed up to support the “War on Terror”). Under the terms of his control order, he is now compelled to remain in his flat for 16 hours a day, cannot see anyone without permission, and is prohibited from using the Internet.

When the Lords made their ruling, they unanimously declared that they had had enough of the system as it currently stands, By nine votes to nil, they ruled that imposing control orders breaches Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to a fair trial, because a suspect held under a control order is not given “sufficient information about the allegations against him to enable him to give effective instructions to the special advocate assigned to him.”

In the ruling, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the senior Law Lord, wrote, “A trial procedure can never be considered fair if a party to it is kept in ignorance of the case against him.”

His opinion was followed by that of Lord Hope of Craigshead, who declared, “The principle that the accused has the right to know what is being alleged against him has a long pedigree … The fundamental principle is that everyone is entitled to the disclosure of sufficient material to enable him to answer effectively the case against him.”

Lord Hope also wrote, The consequences of a successful terrorist attack are likely to be so appalling that there is an understandable wish to support the system that keeps those who are considered to be most dangerous out of circulation for as long as possible. But the slow creep of complacency must be resisted. If the rule of law is to mean anything, it is in cases such as these that the court must stand by principle. It must insist that the person affected be told what is alleged against him.”

Reinforcing these opinions, Lord Scott of Foscote wrote, “An essential requirement of a fair hearing is that a party against whom allegations are made is given the opportunity to rebut the allegations. That opportunity is absent if the party does not know what the allegations are. The degree of detail necessary to be given must, in my opinion, be sufficient to enable the opportunity to be a real one. The disclosure made to each of these appellants was insufficient to afford him a real opportunity for rebuttal. He did not, therefore, have a fair hearing for Article 6(1) purposes and these appeals must be allowed.

Opposition to control orders in the last two years

Since the control orders were introduced, the scope of their application has regularly been called into question not just by those whose job it is to work tirelessly against the State’s increasingly authoritarian impulses, but also by politicians, and, in particular, by Lord Carlile, the government’s “independent reviewer” of the control order regime.

Last March, a vote in the House of Commons to extend, for another year, the use of control orders — which were, at the time, in place against 15 alleged terror suspects — passed by 267 votes to 60, but, as I explained at the time, “Tory MPs were clearly not bowled over by a hyperbolic statement made by Security Minister Tony McNulty, who, as though infected by the ghosts of previous Labour hard men John Reid and David Blunkett, claimed, ‘The threat (of terrorism) is clearly real, serious and represents a threat unparalleled in our country’s history.’”

Speaking on behalf of his fellow MPs, the Tories’ shadow attorney general Dominic Grieve declared, “On balance, and with a considerable degree of reluctance, our view is we should allow renewal to take place this year.” Other notes of caution were sounded by Labour MPs. Andrew Dismore, the chairman of the joint Human Rights Committee, warned that the orders could create “Guantánamo-style martyrs” unless a maximum time limit was imposed, and Lord Carlile said that no control order should be extended beyond two years “save in genuinely exceptional circumstances.”

Similar scenes — involving Labour scaremongering, Tory “reluctance” and opposition from the Liberal Democrats — took place when the control orders were again renewed three months ago, but the most important dissent to note is Lord Carlile’s mantra, repeated every year in his annual reports (see here for the latest PDF), and just three weeks ago he repeated his call, backed up by peers and MPs on the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee.

Refuting claims by the Home Office that “A definite end-date would mean individuals on control orders could simply disengage from involvement in terrorism-related activity on the basis that they knew they could re-engage at the end of that time period,” Carlile reiterated his assertion that control orders lasting more than two years can only be justified “in a few exceptional cases,” telling the Committee, “After that time, at least the immediate utility of even a dedicated terrorist will seriously have been disrupted.”

Throughout this period, the Law Lords were critical, too, but not with the robustness with which they demolished the policy of imprisonment without charge or trial in December 2004. In November 2007, for example, when they were called upon to review the cases of six Iraqis held under control orders, they ruled that an 18-hour home curfew was in breach of the right to liberty, as guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights, and, moreover, ruled that the system of secret evidence must be changed to let the suspects know the case against them, and to give them the right to a fair hearing, even though the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, proceeded to ignore their ruling about secret evidence (leading, 19 months later, to Wednesday’s reiteration of terror suspects’ rights), and also showed little willingness to relax the curfews.

As I explained in an article at the time, there was some great rhetoric in the ruling. Lord Brown, memorably, said that the right to a fair hearing was “one of altogether too great importance to be sacrificed on the altar of terrorism control,” and Lord Hoffman declared, “Such is the revulsion against detention without charge or trial, such is this country’s attachment to habeas corpus, that the right to liberty ordinarily trumps even the interests of national security,” adding that such rights were simply “too precious to be sacrificed for any reason other than to safeguard the survival of the state.”

However, as I also noted at the time, it was apparent that, by refusing to condemn the control orders outright, the Lords “perpetuated a brazenly draconian system, which appears, dangerously, to be fuelled by anti-Muslim vindictiveness, even though the more prosaic truth is that it is driven by an anachronistic refusal to ‘compromise the security services’ by proceeding with trials using intercept evidence (despite the fact that most other western democracies have managed to do so without imperiling their ‘spooks’).”

Throughout this period, however, the most disturbing opinions came not from the Lords, but from the Court of Appeal, whose ruling in October 2008 — that there might be cases where “very little indeed” or nothing could be disclosed to people accused of being involved in terrorism, in spite of a dissenting judge’s alarm at a principle that might “move us back towards unbridled executive power over personal liberty” –- partly triggered the Law Lords’ latest review, and may, in its bald defense of intolerable secrecy, have contributed to a necessary backlash.

What next?

What happens next is not entirely clear. The Lords did not quash the control orders on Wednesday, but ordered the men’s cases to be heard again, and it is now up to the Home Office to decide whether to release more material to the men and their lawyers, or to rescind the control orders completely.

It is also unclear what effect the ruling will have on the other 14 men who are currently on control orders, or the 20 or so men in prison — or on deportation bail — whose cases are closely related, differentiated only by the government’s extremely dubious determination to deport them to their home countries, even though, as I reported in February, this involves politicians and judges being obliged to creatively reinterpret the anti-torture laws preventing the return of foreign nationals to countries where they face the risk of torture.

New to his job, Home Secretary Alan Johnson has not yet succumbed to the rabid paranoia that infects all Home Secretaries when confronted by the “terror threat.” In February, for example, Jacqui Smith actually declared war on the government’s own secret terror court, overruling decisions by a SIAC judge that met with her disapproval, and — in what can only be described as an act of executive fiat — unilaterally revoking the bail of five men on deportation bail, kidnapping them on their way home from the London courtroom (or in raids on their homes) and imprisoning them in Belmarsh until the judge reasserted his authority the following day.

Presumably reading from a script that was left for him by Smith, Johnson said on Wednesday that the judgment was “extremely disappointing,” but did not spontaneously combust, as Jacqui Smith may well have done. “Protecting the public is my top priority and this judgment makes that task harder,” he continued. “Nevertheless, the government will continue to take all steps we can to manage the threat presented by terrorism.”

He added, “All control orders will remain in force for the time being and we will continue to seek to uphold them in the courts. In the meantime, we will consider this judgment, and our options, carefully.” Explaining that control orders had been introduced to “limit the risk posed by suspected terrorists who could not be prosecuted or deported,” as the Guardian put it, he also said, “The government relies on sensitive intelligence material to support the imposition of a control order, which the courts have accepted would damage the public interest to disclose in open court. We take our obligations to human rights seriously and as such we have put strong measures in place to try to ensure that our reliance on sensitive material does not prejudice the right of individuals subject to control orders to a fair trial.”

This was standard government fare, though rather muted in its delivery, but if the new Home Secretary is seeking a “third way,” beyond releasing more sensitive material or rescinding the control orders, he might want to take some advice from Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, who responded to the Lords’ ruling by saying that it “clearly states that control orders are a fundamental infringement of human rights and an affront to British justice. It is unacceptable to deny a person freedom without even telling them what they are suspected of.” Crucially, Huhne added, “We do not need to sacrifice the freedoms we have fought so hard for. We must not become what we are fighting. This discredited regime should be scrapped immediately. The government should focus instead on making it easier to prosecute terrorists by making intercept evidence available in court.”

Using intercept evidence, and testing the reliability of the intelligence services

Huhne’s main point — that the government should find a way to join the rest of the world in finding a way to use intercept evidence in court without compromising its intelligence sources or methods — is clearly the way forward, as without it the government is left clinging to nothing but its manifestly unjust, and largely failed attempt to deport men on the sly, or is required to maintain the “house arrest” charade that is both horribly petty and ruinously strenuous for those held in such a novel form of legal limbo.

As I also explained in my article in February, the government has, for years, been distressingly intransigent on the subject of intercept evidence, although, in a recent letter from the Home Office, Minister of State Vernon Coaker informed me that “We [the government] have accepted the Chilcot recommendation that we should introduce intercept as evidence provided the conditions outlined in the report can be met.”

The reference to “the Chilcot recommendation” refers to the findings in the Privy Council Review Of Intercept As Evidence (PDF), headed by Sir John Chilcot and published in January 2008, and although Coaker’s concession is still rather hedged in by caveats, I hope that it signifies real change, because on Wednesday, the NGO JUSTICE, which describes itself as “an all-party law reform and human rights organization working to improve the legal system and the quality of justice,” published a major report on the use of secret evidence in British courts since SIAC was introduced in 1997 (241 pages, PDF), establishing the extent to which secret evidence has been used “in a wide range of court proceedings from deportation hearings before SIAC, pre-charge detention hearings in terrorism cases, employment tribunals, asset-freezing cases, parole board hearings, and control order cases in the High Court and the Court of Appeals.”

The report also explains that, although more than 90 special advocates have been appointed since 1997, “no central figures are published and even the government may not know the total number of special advocates that have been appointed,” and also notes, in an analysis of the use of secret evidence that is at least as worrying as the “mission creep” outlined in the paragraph above, that “defendants in some criminal cases are now being convicted on the basis of evidence that has never been made public. Criminal courts have issued judgments with redactions [passages blacked out] to conceal some of the evidence relied upon. Evidence from anonymous witnesses has also been used in criminal trials and is widespread in ASBO hearings.”

In conclusion, then, if justice is once to be asserted in the UK, the government needs to move fast on incorporating intercept evidence in terror trials, so that the public — as well as the suspects themselves — will be able to test the validity of its claims. One additional problem with secret evidence, of course, is that its use shuts off all scrutiny of the intelligence services’ reliability, and although it is necessary for this work to take place behind the scenes, it is also unacceptable for the government to effectively hide behind a blanket assertion that the intelligence services never make mistakes, and that “national security concerns” should quash any notion of skepticism on the part of lawyers, prisoners and members of the public, especially because the public record is littered with abominable failures of intelligence in the years since the 9/11 attacks.

Without even having to draw comparisons with the non-existent “ricin plot,” the pointless and brutal Forest Gate raid, the intelligence failures surrounding the terrorist attacks on July 7, 2005, the murder of Jean Charles De Menezes, and countless other incidents, some of the chronic failures of intelligence in the control order regime — compounded by bureaucratic incompetence — are already well-known. In April 2005, for example, the Home Office was forced to apologize to ten of the men under control orders after what it described as a “clerical error,” which resulted in letters being sent to them stating, incorrectly, that the basis for their detention was their alleged involvement in the “ricin plot,” and in January 2005 an extraordinary list of intelligence blunders relating to the Belmarsh prisoners was published in the Independent.

In an article entitled, “Belmarsh detainees: Flawed intelligence exposes scandal,” Robert Verkaik noted, amongst other errors, that “A security service assessment was embarrassingly withdrawn after it emerged that the purpose behind a visit to Dorset by a group of Muslim men had not been to elect a terrorist leader but to get away from their wives for the weekend,” that “The Home Secretary has been forced to concede that some of the funds raised by [Mahmoud] Abu Rideh for alleged terrorist activity were sent to orphanages in Afghanistan run by a Canadian priest,” that “Two of the detainees were awarded compensation for false arrest shortly before they were detained under the anti-terrorist emergency powers,” and that “Testimony against two of the detainees came from an affidavit sworn by a man who was offered a lenient sentence in return for evidence.”

Although Verkaik observed, justifiably, that these mistakes were based on the “open” evidence against the suspects, he was undoubtedly correct to add that “the inaccuracy of some of these assertions raises questions about the reliability of the secret evidence that the detainees have never been allowed to see.” Given the government’s poor track record, there is absolutely no reason to believe that the quality of the government’s secret evidence is any more reliable, and, in fact, more than enough reasons to suspect that it not only involves credulousness and incompetence, but also, as with the “ricin plot” (one of whose cleared defendants is currently on a control order), material derived from the use of torture.

As Eric Metcalfe, JUSTICE’s director of human rights policy, said in response to the Lords’ ruling on Wednesday, “The House of Lords judgment marks a turning point. The government can decide to limp on with the use of secret evidence for ever diminishing returns. Or Parliament can act to end its use once and for all.” He added, “Secret evidence is always unreliable, unnecessary, undemocratic and unfair. Because it has never been properly tested, it breeds complacency and false confidence in its results. Secret evidence damages public trust in our courts and in the rule of law itself.”

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed, and see here for my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

TORTURE TECHNIQUES- The American Torture Program memos

Even heavily redacted, the released memos related to the American Torture Program manages to convey chilling evidence of the criminality of the "enhanced techniques" torture torture program.

The worse of the "enhanced tecniques" is still to be revealed, as the redacted memos suggest.




Friday, June 5, 2009

Philip Zelikow talks about the Torture Program - "the program developed "plans" to disorient, abuse, dehumanize, and torment individuals over time"...

Philip Zelikow was counselor at the Department of State, a deputy to Secretary Rice, from 2005-2007. From 1998-2005, Zelikow directed the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs as well as three bipartisan commissions, including the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission) from 2003-2004. Previously, Zelikow served as a career foreign service officer at State and on the White House National Security Council staff. He is the White Burkett Miller Professor of History at the University of Virginia.

The OLC "torture memos": thoughts from a dissenter - by By Philip Zelikow

I first gained access to the OLC memos and learned details about CIA's program for high-value detainees shortly after the set of opinions were issued in May 2005. I did so as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's policy representative to the NSC Deputies Committee on these and other intelligence/terrorism issues. In the State Department, Secretary Rice and her Legal Adviser, John Bellinger, were then the only other individuals briefed on these details. In compliance with the security agreements I have signed, I have never discussed or disclosed any substantive details about the program until the classified information has been released.

Having been the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, I'm aware of what some of these captives did. The Commission wondered how captives were questioned (for details on that, see this previously disclosed report), and the matter is now the subject of a federal criminal investigation by special prosecutor John Durham. Nonetheless, the evidence against most -- if not all -- of the high-value detainees remains damning. But the issue is not about who or what they are. It is about who or what we are.

Based on what had earlier been released, I have offered some general views on "Legal Policy for a Twilight War." With the release of these OLC memos, I can add three more sets of comments, each of which could be developed at much greater length.

1. The focus on water-boarding misses the main point of the program.

Which is that it was a program. Unlike the image of using intense physical coercion as a quick, desperate expedient, the program developed "interrogation plans" to disorient, abuse, dehumanize, and torment individuals over time.

The plan employed the combined, cumulative use of many techniques of medically-monitored physical coercion. Before getting to water-boarding, the captive had already been stripped naked, shackled to ceiling chains keeping him standing so he cannot fall asleep for extended periods, hosed periodically with cold water, slapped around, jammed into boxes, etc. etc. Sleep deprivation is most important.

2. Measuring the value of such methods should be done professionally and morally before turning to lawyers.

A professional analysis would not simply ask: Did they tell us important information? Congress is apparently now preparing to parse the various claims on this score -- and that would be quite valuable.

But the argument that they gave us vital information, which readers can see deployed in the memos just as they were deployed to reassure an uneasy president, is based on a fallacy. The real question is: What is the unique value of these methods?

For this analysis, the administration had the benefit of past U.S. government treatment of high-value detainees in its own history (especially World War II and Vietnam) and substantial, painful lessons from sympathetic foreign governments. By 2005, the Bush administration also had the benefit of what amounted to a double-blind study it had inadvertently conducted, comparing methods that had evolved in Iraq (different Geneva-based rules, different kinds of teams) and the methods the CIA had developed, with both sets being used to against hardened killers.

Opponents should not overstate their side either. Had a serious analysis been conducted beforehand (it apparently was not), my rough guess is that it might have found that physical coercion can break people faster, with some tradeoff in degraded and less reliable results.

Which underscores the importance of moral analysis. There is an elementary distinction, too often lost, between the moral (and policy) question -- "What should we do?" -- and the legal question: "What can we do?" We live in a policy world too inclined to turn lawyers into surrogate priests granting a form of absolution. "The lawyers say it's OK." Well, not really. They say it might be legal. They don't know about OK.

3. The legal opinions have grave weaknesses.

Weakest of all is the May 30 opinion, just because it had to get over the lowest standard -- "cruel, inhuman, or degrading" in Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture. That standard was also being codified in the bill Senator John McCain was fighting to pass. It is also found in Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, a standard that the Supreme Court ruled in 2006 does apply to these prisoners. Violation of Common Article 3 is a war crime under federal law (18 U.S.C. section 2441), a felony punishable by up to life imprisonment. (The OLC opinions do not discuss this law because in 2005 the administration also denied the applicability of Common Article 3.)

The OLC holds, rightly, that the United States complies with the international standard if it complies with the comparable body of constitutional prohibitions in U.S. law (the 5th, 8th, and 14th Amendments). Many years earlier, I had worked in that area of the law. I believed that the OLC opinions (especially the May 30 one) presented the U.S. government with a distorted rendering of relevant U.S. law.

At the time, in 2005, I circulated an opposing view of the legal reasoning. My bureaucratic position, as counselor to the secretary of state, didn't entitle me to offer a legal opinion. But I felt obliged to put an alternative view in front of my colleagues at other agencies, warning them that other lawyers (and judges) might find the OLC views unsustainable. My colleagues were entitled to ignore my views. They did more than that: The White House attempted to collect and destroy all copies of my memo. I expect that one or two are still at least in the State Department's archives.

Stated in a shorthand way, mainly for the benefit of other specialists who work these issues, my main concerns were:

* the case law on the "shocks the conscience" standard for interrogations would proscribe the CIA's methods;

* the OLC memo basically ignored standard 8th Amendment "conditions of confinement" analysis (long incorporated into the 5th amendment as a matter of substantive due process and thus applicable to detentions like these). That case law would regard the conditions of confinement in the CIA facilities as unlawful.

* the use of a balancing test to measure constitutional validity (national security gain vs. harm to individuals) is lawful for some techniques, but other kinds of cruel treatment should be barred categorically under U.S. law -- whatever the alleged gain.

The underlying absurdity of the administration's position can be summarized this way. Once you get to a substantive compliance analysis for "cruel, inhuman, and degrading" you get the position that the substantive standard is the same as it is in analogous U.S. constitutional law. So the OLC must argue, in effect, that the methods and the conditions of confinement in the CIA program could constitutionally be inflicted on American citizens in a county jail.

In other words, Americans in any town of this country could constitutionally be hung from the ceiling naked, sleep deprived, water-boarded, and all the rest -- if the alleged national security justification was compelling. I did not believe our federal courts could reasonably be expected to agree with such a reading of the Constitution.

Original text HERE

Philip Zelikow is the White Burkett Miller Professor of History at the University of Virginia.

He was counselor at the Department of State, a deputy to Secretary Rice, from 2005-2007. From 1998-2005, Zelikow directed the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs as well as three bipartisan commissions, including the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission) from 2003-2004. Previously, Zelikow served as a career foreign service officer at State and on the White House National Security Council staff. He is currently a member of the board for the global development program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Zelikow received his baccalaureate degree from the University of Redlands, a law degree from the University of Houston, and his master's and Ph.D. from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

He is the author of The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis (Belknap Press, 1997) with Ernest R. May; Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, with Graham Allison (New York: Addison Wesley Longman, 1999); and Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft, with Condoleezza Rice (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995).