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March 2, 2009

The Truth Will Out…

Filed under: Related to Impeachment — Ifp @ 9:17 pm
Obama Releases Secret Bush Anti-Terror Memos

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Obama administration threw open the curtain on years of Bush-era secrets Monday, revealing anti-terror memos that claimed exceptional search-and-seizure powers and divulging that the CIA destroyed nearly 100 videotapes of interrogations and other treatment of terror suspects.

The Justice Department released nine legal opinions showing that, following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Bush administration determined that certain constitutional rights would not apply during the coming fight. Within two weeks, government lawyers were already discussing ways to wiretap U.S. conversations without warrants.

The Bush administration eventually abandoned many of the legal conclusions, but the documents themselves had been closely held. By releasing them, President Barack Obama continued a house-cleaning of the previous administration’s most contentious policies.

“Too often over the past decade, the fight against terrorism has been viewed as a zero-sum battle with our civil liberties,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech a few hours before the documents were released. “Not only is that school of thought misguided, I fear that in actuality it does more harm than good.”

The Obama administration also acknowledged in court documents Monday that the CIA destroyed 92 videos involving terror suspects, including interrogations – far more than had been known. Congressional Democrats and other critics have charged that some of the harsh interrogation techniques amounted to torture, a contention President George W. Bush and other Bush officials rejected.

The new administration pledged on Monday to begin turning over documents related to the videos to a federal judge and to make as much information public as possible.

The legal memos written by the Bush administration’s Office of Legal Counsel show a government grappling with how to wage war on terrorism in a fast-changing world. The conclusion, reiterated in page after page of documents, was that the president had broad authority to set aside constitutional rights.
Fourth Amendment protections against unwarranted search and seizure, for instance, did not apply in the United States as long as the president was combating terrorism, the Justice Department said in an Oct. 23, 2001, memo.

“First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo wrote, adding later: “The current campaign against terrorism may require even broader exercises of federal power domestically.”

On Sept. 25, 2001, Yoo discussed possible changes to the laws governing wiretaps for intelligence gathering. In that memo, he said the government’s interest in keeping the nation safe following the terrorist attacks might justify warrantless searches.

That memo did not specifically attempt to justify the government’s warrantless wiretapping program, but it provided part of the foundation.

Yoo, now a professor at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, did not return messages seeking comment. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who served as White House counsel when many of the memos were written, did not immediately respond to a request for comment made through his attorney.

The memos reflected a belief within the Bush administration that the president had broad powers that could not be checked by Congress or the courts. That stance, in one form or another, became the foundation for many policies: holding detainees at Guantanamo Bay, eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without warrants, using tough new CIA interrogation tactics and locking U.S. citizens in military brigs without charges.

Obama has pledged to close the Guantanamo Bay prison within a year. He halted the CIA’s intensive interrogation program. And last week, prosecutors moved the terrorism case against U.S. resident Ali Al-Marri, a suspected al-Qaida sleeper agent held in a military brig, to a civilian courthouse.

A criminal prosecutor is wrapping up an investigation of the destruction of the tapes of interrogations.

Monday’s acknowledgment of videotape destruction, however, involved a civil lawsuit filed in New York by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“The CIA can now identify the number of videotapes that were destroyed,” said the letter submitted in that case by Acting U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin. “Ninety-two videotapes were destroyed.”
It is not clear what exactly was on the recordings. The government’s letter cites interrogation videos, but the lawsuit against the Defense Department also seeks records related to treatment of detainees, any deaths of detainees and the CIA’s sending of suspects overseas, known as “extraordinary rendition.”

At the White House, press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters he hadn’t spoken to the president about the report, but he called the news about the videotapes “sad” and said Obama was committed to ending torture while also protecting American values.

ACLU attorney Amrit Singh said the CIA should be held in contempt of court for holding back the information for so long.

“The large number of videotapes destroyed confirms that the agency engaged in a systematic attempt to hide evidence of its illegal interrogations and to evade the court’s order,” Singh said.

CIA spokesman George Little said the agency “has certainly cooperated with the Department of Justice investigation. If anyone thinks it’s agency policy to impede the enforcement of American law, they simply don’t know the facts.”

The details of interrogations of terror suspects, and the existence of tapes documenting those sessions, have become the subject of long fights in a number of different court cases. In the trial of Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, prosecutors initially claimed no such recordings existed, then acknowledged after the trial was over that two videotapes and one audiotape had been made.

The Dassin letter, dated March 2 to Judge Alvin Hellerstein, says the CIA is now gathering more details for the lawsuit, including a list of the destroyed records, any secondary accounts that describe the destroyed contents and the identities of those who may have viewed or possessed the recordings before they were destroyed.

But the lawyers also note that some of that information may be classified, such as the names of CIA personnel who viewed the tapes.

The separate criminal investigation includes interrogations of al-Qaida lieutenant Abu Zubaydah and another top al-Qaida leader. Tapes of those interrogations were destroyed, in part, the Bush administration said, to protect the identities of the government questioners at a time the Justice Department was debating whether or not the tactics used during the interrogations were legal.

Former CIA director Michael Hayden acknowledged that waterboarding – simulated drowning – was used on three suspects, including the two whose interrogations were recorded.

John Durham, a senior career prosecutor in Connecticut, is leading the criminal investigation, out of Virginia, and had asked that he be given until the end of February to wrap up his work before requests for information in the civil lawsuit were dealt with.
Associated Press writers Pamela Hess and Philip Elliott contributed to this report.

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20090302/D96M74800.html


Bush-Era Memo Claims Unfettered Rendition Powers

By PAMELA HESS
Mar 2, 2009 – 6:15 PM (ET)
Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All right reserved.
© 2009 IAC Search & Media. All rights reserved.

WASHINGTON (AP) – A newly released Bush administration legal memo from 2002 claimed that the president has an unfettered right to transfer suspected terrorists to other governments without regard for whether they would be subject to torture.

The memo appears to underpin the Bush administration’s use of extraordinary rendition, a secret program of moving terror detainees to nations where they were imprisoned and, in some cases, reportedly tortured.

The document is one of nine made public Monday detailing the Bush administration’s expansive definition of presidential power.

When the memo was written on March 13, 2002, the White House legal office had already decided that al-Qaida and Taliban detainees were not protected by the Geneva Conventions, the international treaty the governs the treatment of prisoners of war.

The Obama White House is reviewing the entire detention and rendition program.

CIA Director Leon Panetta has said the United States will continue to engage in extraordinary rendition but will use it rarely and will be more selective about the countries prisoners are sent to. Some of the prisoners who have been transferred by the United States to other countries claim they were tortured.

The memo on extraordinary rendition, written by Jay S. Bybee, then assistant attorney general in the office of legal counsel, further said that prisoners held outside the United States were not protected by U.S. laws against torture, nor against an international treaty banning torture.

The Bybee memo also said that a 1998 law making it U.S. policy not to hand over prisoners to country where they may be tortured was invalid because it unconstitutionally interferes with presidential powers.

However, the possibility that prisoners might be tortured after a transfer to another government outside the criminal justice system appeared to be on the minds of George W. Bush’s White House lawyers. The memo suggested ways to U.S. officials could transfer prisoners to countries where they may indeed be tortured without making them legally liable for their treatment.

“To fully shield our personnel from criminal liability, it is important that the United States not enter in an agreement with a foreign country, explicitly or implicitly, to transfer a detainee to that country for the purpose of having the individual tortured,” Bybee wrote.

“So long as the United States doe not intend for a detainee to be tortured post-transfer, however, no criminal liability will attach to a transfer even if the foreign country receiving the detainee does torture him,” he wrote.

Jameel Jaffer, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s national security project, said the memo, taken with the others released Monday, shows the White House used the war on terror to claim broad powers.

“These memos were meant to provide the president with a blank check with respect to the rights of not only prisoners overseas but people in the United States as well,” he said.

Steven Bradbury, the Bush administration’s last principal deputy assistant attorney general, wrote in a Jan. 15 parting memo that the expansive findings about presidential powers had long since been superseded or withdrawn.

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20090302/D96M6H2O2.html


CIA Destroyed Nearly 100 Interrogation Videotapes

By DEVLIN BARRETT
Mar 2, 2009 – 4:26 PM (ET)
Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All right reserved.
© 2009 IAC Search & Media. All rights reserved.

WASHINGTON (AP) – The CIA destroyed nearly 100 videotapes of interrogations and other U.S. treatment of terror suspects, far more than previously acknowledged, the Obama administration said Monday as it began disclosing details of post-Sept. 11 Bush-era actions.

The interrogations were a highly contentious issue during the administration of President George W. Bush, with many Democrats and other critics saying that some methods used amounted to torture – a contention Bush and other officials rejected. A criminal prosecutor is wrapping up his investigation in the matter.

Monday’s acknowledgment, however, involved a civil lawsuit filed in New York by the American Civil Liberties Union seeking more details of the interrogation programs following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

“The CIA can now identify the number of videotapes that were destroyed,” said the letter submitted in that case by Acting U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin. “Ninety-two videotapes were destroyed.”

It is not clear what exactly was on the recordings. The government’s letter cites interrogation videos, but the lawsuit against the Defense Department also seeks records related to treatment of detainees, any deaths of detainees and the CIA’s sending of suspects overseas, known as “extraordinary rendition.”

At the White House, press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters he hadn’t spoken to the president about the report, but called the news about the videotapes “sad,” and said Obama was committed to ending torture while also protecting American values.

ACLU attorney Amrit Singh said the CIA should be held in contempt of court for holding back the information for so long.

“The large number of videotapes destroyed confirms that the agency engaged in a systematic attempt to hide evidence of its illegal interrogations and to evade the court’s order,” Singh said.

CIA spokesman George Little said the agency “has certainly cooperated with the Department of Justice investigation. If anyone thinks it’s agency policy to impede the enforcement of American law, they simply don’t know the facts.”

The details of interrogations of terror suspects, and the existence of tapes documenting those sessions, have become the subject of long fights in a number of different court cases. In the trial of Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, prosecutors initially claimed no such recordings existed, then acknowledged after the trial was over that two videotapes and one audiotape had been made.

The Dassin letter, dated March 2 to Judge Alvin Hellerstein, says the CIA is now gathering more details for the lawsuit, including a list of the destroyed records, any secondary accounts that describe the destroyed contents and the identities of those who may have viewed or possessed the recordings before they were destroyed.

But the lawyers also note that some of that information may be classified, such as the names of CIA personnel who viewed the tapes.

“The CIA intends to produce all of the information requested to the court and to produce as much information as possible on the public record to the plaintiffs,” states the letter.

The separate criminal investigation includes interrogations of al-Qaida lieutenant Abu Zubaydah and another top al-Qaida leader. Tapes of those interrogations were destroyed, in part, the Bush administration said, to protect the identities of the government questioners at a time the Justice Department was debating whether or not the tactics used during the interrogations were legal.

Former CIA director Michael Hayden acknowledged that waterboarding – simulated drowning – was used on three suspects, including two whose interrogations were recorded.

John Durham, a senior career prosecutor in Connecticut, is leading the criminal investigation, out of Virginia, and had asked that he be given until the end of February to wrap up his work before requests for information in the civil lawsuit were dealt with.

Durham’s spokesman, Tom Carson, had no immediate comment.

Associated Press Writers Pamela Hess, Philip Elliott and Matt Apuzzo contributed to this report.

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20090302/D96M4U6O0.html


1 Comment

  1. I am glad that the present administration has released this information,But the fight to hold anyone accountable,or get any convictions of being above the law would be an exercise of futility.The past administration was able to go 8 years with impunity.What makes you think there will be any charges filed,or any real prison time.The past administration has ruined our country,polarized our country,and made this country an embarassment to the world.The past administration’s claim of “If your not with me.Your against me”quote sure placed a negative viewq of democracy.Please Obama You would make me happy if you would do just 10% of what you promised during your campaign.

    Comment by Jim Lee — March 3, 2009 @ 9:56 am

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when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace."
-Bush, June 18, 2002

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Arguments Against Bush Impeachment...

• If we impeach Bush, we’ll get President Cheney!
The first impeachment resolution introduced by McKinney included Bush, Cheney, and Rice. Although, even if we only initially pursue Bush, initiating the impeachment process will lead to an investigation that will implicate lots of people in the Bush administration who are guilty of committing crimes, including Cheney.

No matter who we get to replace Bush, we’ll be showing those in power that anyone who breaks the law will be held accountable.

• Promoting impeachment will seem too “extreme.”
Demanding that crimes be investigated is NOT extreme. Some previous impeachment attempts were considered extreme because they were pursued for actions that didn't rise to the level of a Constitutional crisis, which is what the impeachment tool is meant to be used for. Nixon's impeachment, however, was bipartisan.

  • We should wait to impeach...
Wait to impeach? We've waited 3 or more years too long already. We had enough evidence to impeach years ago. Remember, an impeachment only means you have enough evidence to warrant a trial, just like an indictment. Our congress people didn't take an oath to bipartisanship. They took an oath to the Constitution. Besides which, our troops, Iraqi civilians, and our own civil liberties are all waiting for this.
 
• Before we impeach, we should get some legislation passed...
And with unconstitutional Presidential Signing Statements, veto power, and the power of "Commander in Chief" at his disposal, how do you think Congress is going to get anything accomplished without first impeaching Bush?

If your tire blows while you're driving, do you stop to fix it? Or do you continue driving on your rim because to stop would take too much time?

• It hurts the democracy to go through a presidential impeachment. And Bush is a lame duck anyway.
Holding government officials accountable for their actions strengthens our democracy. Letting lawlessness stand weakens it.

Sometimes reprimanding a child (president) doesn't make the family (Washington) a happy place. But you still have to do it so the child and his siblings (future presidents) learn about accountability. Impeachment is horribly UNDERUSED, which is part of why there's so much corruption at the top. Politicians must learn to fear it. People think things are better because we improved the make-up of our law-making body, Congress. But Bush is BREAKING LAWS. So, it doesn't matter how many laws Congress passes if they don't serve their OVERSIGHT duties as well by impeaching. They swore to defend the Constitution. What are laws without enforcement?

Besides, considering Bush's track-record of breaking laws, he can still do a lot of damage. Our troops, Iran, and our Supreme Court are all endangered so long as he remains in office. Waiting until Bush is out of office will leave us complicit in any further crimes he commits. The Union of Concerned Scientists has estimated that the death toll from a "tactical" nuclear weapon of the kind Bush is contemplating using in Iran would be at minimum 3 million men, women, and children. The path of death would stretch across country boundaries into India.

Perhaps worst of all, we set a terrible precedent by allowing Bush to stay in office after he's broken so many laws. Impeachment will stop future presidents from using Bush's actions as justification for even more lawbreaking and erosion of civil liberties.

• I'm a Democrat/
Republican. If we support impeachment it will lower the chances of my party winning in 2008.

So, your party would rather win elections than do what's right for the country? I hope you're wrong. I also hope the public is willing to throw additional support to any party that holds our elected officials accountable for their actions. This has been historically true with every single impeachment effort launched. And this impeachment effort would begin with majority support (unlike most past impeachments including Nixon).

• Impeachment will never happen. Congress members will block it.
Well, all we need is a majority of support in the House. And 2/3rds vote in the Senate to remove Bush from office will happen once the evidence gets aired on the floor of the House, and subsequently the national media outlets. The political pressure will become too great.

Today's impossibility is tomorrow's reality. Congress members will realize that tying their political future to Bush reduces their chances of getting elected. Remember, one way or another, Bush is gone by 2009— but members of Congress may retain their offices beyond that date. Bush's poll numbers are extremely low, and most Americans support impeachment. This is a bipartisan movement. This means that if we make the pressure unbearable for Members of Congress, they'll turn on him to keep their own seats (like they did with Nixon). It's already starting to happen. While many Members of Congress have behaved unethically in the last few years, it's important to understand that this is related to their warped view of what's in their self-interest. Let's wake them up to their true self-interest (impeaching the president), by showing them our support for impeachment.

And even if we only impeach, and the Senate fails to do their duty and remove him from office, it will only implicate the Senators who fail to do their sworn Constitutional duty.

• But Speaker of the House Pelosi said that Impeachment was "off the table."

Pelosi most likely said this to remove any appearance of conflict-of-interest that would arise if she were thrust into the presidency as a result of the coming impeachment. What we need to do is to pressure Pelosi not to interfere with impeachment maneuverings within her party. Sending her Do-It-Yourself impeachments legitimizes her when she joins the impeachment movement in the future.

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