U.S. Torture: Voices from the Black Sites

15 03 2009

Chilling. In the tortureds’ own words. US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites is the name of the cover article in the April 9 issue of the New York Review of Books. This is a must-read article by Mark Danner, a long-time contributor to the Review and the author of the book Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror.

Mark Danner - Source: NYBooks.com

Mark Danner - Source: NYBooks.com

Mark Danner contributed an OpEd to the 3/14/09 New York Times about the article. He talks of how on September 6, 2006 President Bush first “…informed the world that the United States had created a dark and secret universe to hold and interrogate captured terrorists. He says that President Bush’s remarks included the following:

“In addition to the terrorists held at Guantánamo, a small number of suspected terrorist leaders and operatives captured during the war have been held and questioned outside the United States, in a separate program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency. At these places, the C.I.A. used an alternative set of procedures. These procedures were designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution and our treaty obligations. The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively and determined them to be lawful.”

In that speech, Bush also said that 14 “high-value detainees” would be transferred from overseas Black Sites to Guantanamo and that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) would have the opportunity to meet with them.

In the Review article are excerpts from a secret ICRC report that details how the U.S. tortured prisoners at the Black Sites. The press release for this article includes this description of the kind of torture that was authorized by President Bush:

This “alternative set of procedures,” as President Bush characterized them in a White House speech, including extended “sleep deprivation,” prolonged forced nudity, bombarding detainees with noise and light, repeated immersion in cold water, prolonged standing, sometimes for many days, beatings of various kinds, and “waterboarding” – or as the report’s authors phrase it, “suffocation by water.” These interrogations are described in chilling first-person accounts gathered confidentially by ICRC investigators and made public here for the first time.

You can hear a podcast of Mark Danner speaking on this at the New York Review of Books website.

Danner’s article backs up what Jane Mayer of the New Yorker has also written about in her excellent book “The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals.”  I heard Jane speak about this book at the Texas Book Festival on 11/2/08 and read her excellent book. It is eye-opening.

I believe that every American should educate themselves on the crimes that Bush, Cheney, Addington, Woo, Rumsfeld, and others committed during the Bush Administration. These people were authorizing and justifying (with bogus legal documents) torture in secret while denying it in public. Senator Patrick Leahy is urging Americans to join him in calling for a commission to investigate abuses during the Bush/Cheney admninistration. Please visit the website at http://www.bushtruthcommission.com and sign the petition. No one should be allowed to so denigrate the office of the Presidency and Vice-Presidency, the United States, the Constitution, the Geneva Conventions, and the honor of the American people and totally walk away without any consequences. No one.





Bush Tortured Democracy and Detainees

25 01 2009

The Bush administration authorized and used torture. Period. “Torturing Democracy” is a documentary on their lies and insistence that “The U.S. does not torture” while they were practicing it. 

The New York Times reported on 10/16/08 that PBS was holding this documentary until January 21, 2009, the first day they said they could find on their schedule to air it, and noncoincidentally, the day after Bush and Cheney left office. It is suspected that PBS was pressured by the Bush administration and thus held showing the documentary.

Jane Mayer, a consultant for the program, wrote the incredibly elucidating and damning book  “The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals.” I heard Jane speak in Austin the weekend before the election and was stunned by what I heard.

I immediately bought her book and read it in shock at what Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Addington, Woo and others did in the name of keeping America safe. They assumed, and justified, absolute power after 9/11, declaring that not even Congress could keep them from doing whatever they felt was necessary.

The United Nations human rights chief on 1/22/09 called for an investigation into torture at Guantanamo Bay. Will Bush and others be charged and prosecuted? They have violated the Geneva Conventions and defied and defiled the Constitution of the United States. Why should they be above the law? People discovered what they were doing. Why were they not impeached? They have held and tortured detainees who were shepherds and never shown to be terrorists. They have harmed the United States beyond measure with their dictatorial use of authority. Their use of torture served as a technique to recruit terrorists, which led to thousands of U.S. deaths.

In his first week in office, President Obama signed authorizations to stop the use of torture and close down Guantanamo Bay within one year. The Bush administration’s horrific and secretive practices have stopped.

“Torturing Democracy” is now being shown in select cities on PBS and is available to see online at http://www.TorturingDemocracy.org. After the film is shown, a leading panel of experts discuss the film. Watch and see what your former President, Vice President, and others did. Form your own opinion. Personally, I believe they should be prosecuted and jailed. They broke U.S. laws and international laws about the humane treatment of people, including prisoners of war. They caused American deaths. No one is above the law. NO ONE.





Finally…Moral Leadership and NO MORE TORTURE

22 01 2009

Finally. An ethical President. When we hear “The U.S. does not torture,” this time it will not be a lie. Today President Obama (I love the sound of that!) issued an executive order that orders that any prisoner being held at Guantanamo must be be treated humanely in accordance with the Geneva Conventions (which Bush totally ignored). He also ordered the closing of Guantanamo no later than one year from today. Some prisoners have been held there as long as 7 years without a trial.

Obama with Retired Generals Signing Order on 1/22/09 to Close Guantanamo

Obama with Retired Generals Signing Order on 1/22/09 to Close Guantanamo

 One of the retired generals accompanying President Obama as he signed the orders was Retired Major General Paul D. Eaton. He was interviewed by Keith Olbermann and Eaton had this to say about today: “It’s been a blockbuster day. The performance of our President was nothing less than terrific…great courage. It was a wonderful, wonderful session with him.” He also said that he and other retired generals and admirals  have been working with Human Rights First on how to restore our moral standing in the world. He said a critical component of that is how you handle your detainees.

Eaton also said that the Bush Administration “…allowed Guantanamo to become a recruiting poster for Al Qaeda.” This statement is similar to one made by “Matthew Alexander” (an assumed name) who is a former U.S. interrogator. I wrote about him in this post and his assertion that as many Americans have died because of the U.S. practice of torture as died in 9/11.

Obama also signed today an executive order to establish an interagency task force on detainee disposition to “… identify lawful options for the disposition of individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations.”

A third executive order President Obama signed was “Ensuring Lawful Interrogations.” He revoked previous regulations issued to or by the CIA from 9/11/01 to 1/20/09, which gave them power to ignore the Geneva Conventions and other U.S. laws regarding treatment of prisoners and torture. The executive order asserted that detainees are not to be tortured and are to be interrogated using the Army Field Manual guidelines.

Yesterday President Obama ordered that military prosecutors halt all Guantanamo war crimes tribunals for 120 days so that the cases can be reviewed. The military had been serving as judge and jury in these cases.

I have written several blogs about torture after hearing New Yorker writer Jane Mayer speak in Austin and then reading her riveting book “The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals.” I had a recent conversation with my mother about how Bush and Cheney had personally authorized torture and she seemed to be totally unaware this was going on. I’m sure there are millions of other Americans who have been blissfully unaware. They are most likely the same people who voted for Bush for president again in 2004…the same year the photos of the abuse at Abu Ghraib came out.

President Obama is a different man. He is caring, compassionate, has a strong moral compass, and believes there are other ways to deal with our enemies rather than torture them to partial or complete death or to bomb them and go to war on false pretenses.

Finally the U.S. can begin to assume our position as the leader in human rights and equal rights for all people. It’s about time.





Obama Will End the Bush Administration’s Sanction of Torture

16 11 2008

We’ve had 7 long and shameful years of torture instituted and sanctioned by George Bush and Dick Cheney. Obama said on 60 Minutes tonight that he will close Guantanamo Bay and ban torture in order to “regain America’s moral stature in the world.” Most people have heard about Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and know that we have held terrorist suspects there, but most – myself included – haven’t known the extent to which Bush and Cheney have gone to take away human rights in the name of keeping our country safe.
CLICK HERE to read more








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