Obama the snake…

December 22, 2009

Dred Scott Redux: Obama and the Supremes Stand Up for Slavery
Written by Chris Floyd
Friday, 18 December 2009 14:18

While we were all out doing our Christmas shopping, the highest court in the land quietly put the kibosh on a few more of the remaining shards of human liberty.

It happened earlier this week, in a discreet ruling that attracted almost no notice and took little time. In fact, our most august defenders of the Constitution did not have to exert themselves in the slightest to eviscerate not merely 220 years of Constitutional jurisprudence but also centuries of agonizing effort to lift civilization a few inches out of the blood-soaked mire that is our common human legacy. They just had to write a single sentence.

Here’s how the bad deal went down. After hearing passionate arguments from the Obama Administration, the Supreme Court acquiesced to the president’s fervent request and, in a one-line ruling, let stand a lower court decision that declared torture an ordinary, expected consequence of military detention, while introducing a shocking new precedent for all future courts to follow: anyone who is arbitrarily declared a “suspected enemy combatant” by the president or his designated minions is no longer a “person.” They will simply cease to exist as a legal entity. They will have no inherent rights, no human rights, no legal standing whatsoever — save whatever modicum of process the government arbitrarily deigns to grant them from time to time, with its ever-shifting tribunals and show trials.

This extraordinary ruling occasioned none of those deep-delving “process stories” that glut the pages of the New York Times, where the minutiae of policy-making or political gaming is examined in highly-spun, microscopic detail doled out by self-interested insiders. Obviously, giving government the power to render whole classes of people “unpersons” was not an interesting subject for our media arbiters. It was news that wasn’t fit to print. Likewise, the ruling provoked no thundering editorials in the Washington Post, no savvy analysis from the high commentariat — and needless to say, no outrage whatsoever from all our fierce defenders of individual liberty on the Right.

But William Fisher noticed, and gave this report at Antiwar.com:

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal Monday to review a lower court’s dismissal of a case brought by four British former Guantanamo prisoners against former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the detainees’ lawyers charged Tuesday that the country’s highest court evidently believes that “torture and religious humiliation are permissible tools for a government to use.”

…Channeling their predecessors in the George W. Bush administration, Obama Justice Department lawyers argued in this case that there is no constitutional right not to be tortured or otherwise abused in a U.S. prison abroad.

The Obama administration had asked the court not to hear the case. By agreeing, the court let stand an earlier opinion by the D.C. Circuit Court, which found that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act – a statute that applies by its terms to all “persons” – did not apply to detainees at Guantanamo, effectively ruling that the detainees are not persons at all for purposes of U.S. law.

The lower court also dismissed the detainees’ claims under the Alien Tort Statute and the Geneva Conventions, finding defendants immune on the basis that “torture is a foreseeable consequence of the military’s detention of suspected enemy combatants.”

The Constitution is clear: no person can be held without due process; no person can be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. And the U.S. law on torture of any kind is crystal clear: it is forbidden, categorically, even in time of “national emergency.” And the instigation of torture is, under U.S. law, a capital crime. No person can be tortured, at any time, for any reason, and there are no immunities whatsoever for torture offered anywhere in the law.

And yet this is what Barack Obama — who, we are told incessantly, is a super-brilliant Constitutional lawyer — has been arguing in case after case since becoming president: Torturers are immune from prosecution; those who ordered torture are immune from prosecution. They can’t even been sued for, in the specific case under review, subjecting uncharged, indefinitely detained captives to “beatings, sleep deprivation, forced nakedness, extreme hot and cold temperatures, death threats, interrogations at gunpoint, and threatened with unmuzzled dogs.”

Again, let’s be absolutely clear: Barack Obama has taken the freely chosen, public, formal stand — in court — that there is nothing wrong with any of these activities. Nothing to answer for, nothing meriting punishment or even civil penalties. What’s more, in championing the lower court ruling, Barack Obama is now on record as believing — insisting — that torture is an ordinary, “foreseeable consequence” of military detention of all those who are arbitrarily declared “suspected enemy combatants.”

And still further: Barack Obama has now declared, openly, of his own free will, that he does not consider these captives to be “persons.” They are, literally, sub-humans. And what makes them sub-humans? The fact that someone in the U.S. government has declared them to be “suspected enemy combatants.” (And note: even the mere suspicion of being an “enemy combatant” can strip you of your personhood.)

This is what President Barack Obama believes — believes so strongly that he has put the full weight of the government behind a relentless series of court actions to preserve, protect and defend these arbitrary powers. (For a glimpse at just a sliver of such cases, see here and here.)

One co-counsel on the case, Shayana Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights, zeroed in on the noxious quintessence of the position taken by the Court, and by our first African-American president: its chilling resemblance to the notorious Dred Scott ruling of 1857, which upheld the principle of slavery. As Fisher notes:

“Another set of claims are dismissed because Guantanamo detainees are not ‘persons’ within the scope of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act – an argument that was too close to Dred Scott v. Sanford for one of the judges on the court of appeals to swallow,” he added.

The Dred Scott case was a decision by the United States Supreme Court in 1857. It ruled that people of African descent imported into the United States and held as slaves, or their descendants — whether or not they were slaves — were not protected by the Constitution and could never be citizens of the United States.

And now, once again, 144 years after the Civil War, we have established as the law of the land and the policy of the United States government that whole classes of people can be declared “non-persons” and have their liberty stripped away — and their torturers and tormentors protected and coddled by authority — at a moment’s notice, with no charges, no defense, no redress, on nothing more than the suspicion that they might be an “enemy combatant,” according to the arbitrary definition of the state.

Barack Obama has had the audacity to declare himself the heir and embodiment of the lifework of Martin Luther King. Can this declaration of a whole new principle of universal slavery really be what King was dreaming of? Is this the vision he saw on the other side of the mountain? Or is not the nightmarish inversion of the ideal of a better, more just, more humane world that so many have died for, in so many places, down through the centuries?


So much violence from the man who promised so much change….




NEW YORK – April 23, 2009 – Liz Cheney, former deputy assistant secretary of state during the Bush administration and the daughter of the former vice president, Dick Cheney spoke to MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell earlier today about new information that suggests her father signed off on harsh interrogation practices.

NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Also, there may be some new information today on who signed off on tough tactics to question terrorists. The Senate Intelligence Committee now says Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice helped direct a small group of Justice Department lawyers who wrote memos authorizing these harsh interrogation practices. Also, Rice gave the first verbal OK for the use of waterboarding in July 2002.

Liz Cheney is a former deputy assistant secretary of state during the Bush administration and the daughter of the former vice president, Dick Cheney.

Liz, good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us.


O’DONNELL: Did the former vice president, Dick Cheney, was he the prime mover behind directing this small group of Justice Department lawyers to come up with an authorization for these harsh tactics?

L. CHENEY: That’s actually not what the document says that you’re referring to. There’s absolutely no question that this was a program that was widely approved and supported within the administration. I think there’s no secret here that the National Security Council reviewed the program. The National Security Council ensured that it had legal approval before going forward with these techniques.

But I want to go back to one thing we heard the attorney general say, Norah, which I found troubling. He said that he had not seen the memos or any memos talking about the effectiveness of this program. And I think it’s very important for people to ask the question, had the president, before President Obama made the decision to release the tactics and the techniques, had nobody reviewed the effectiveness of the program? Had his attorney general and the president himself looked at whether in fact these programs had gained intelligence that was critical for saving — for the security of the nation?

O’DONNELL: Well Liz, we’ll get to that argument in a minute, about do the means justify the ends. Whether torture justifies…

L. CHENEY: Well, it wasn’t torture, Norah, so that’s not the right way to lay out the argument.


L. CHENEY: Everything done in this program, as has been laid out and described before, are tactics that our own people go through in SEER training and that our own people have gone through for many years. So it’s really – does a fundamental disservice to those professionals who are conducting this very effective program and to those people who approved the program in order to keep this nation safe and prevent attacks through the program to call it torture.

O’DONNELL: Liz, the CIA, on its own after 2005, stopped waterboarding on its own. The U.S. prosecuted people for waterboarding after World War II.
So to suggest there’s a consensus out there that waterboarding is not torture is not in fact accurate.
Cont’d (click below or on “comments”)

L. CHENEY: No, I think it is accurate. There were three people who were waterboarded. And two of those people are people who gave us incredibly important and useful information, information that saved American lives after they were waterboarded. Both Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah.

And I would just refer your viewers to the really important op-ed piece that Mike Hayden and Attorney General Mukasey wrote laying out why this program worked, why it was effective and what damage has now been done to our national security by releasing the tactics of this program (ph).

O’DONNELL: Well, the current director of the national intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, has said this about those particular memos, he says this, quote, “the information gained from these techniques was valuable in some instances. But there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means.”

We have a full screen of this – no, let me, I want to put this full screen up, because this is very important. Could we please get this up on the screen?

L. CHENEY: It is important, Norah, but let me comment to that.

O’DONNELL: The bottom line – the bottom line is that these techniques have hurt our image around the world.

L. CHENEY: Norah, I’m sure you know…


O’DONNELL: … director says that the damage that has done has far outweighed any information that was gleaned. And in fact, there is a disagreement about whether other tactics other than waterboarding could have gotten valuable information.

L. CHENEY: Norah, I’m sure you know that actually the first statement that DNI Blair put out internally acknowledged the incredible effectiveness of these programs and acknowledged that very important intelligence had been gained. And that it was only after the White House got a hold of the statement, edited the statement, censored it I would say, and put it out publicly that his language changed.

So I think this is another instance where people need to take a very close look at the fact you’ve had four former CIA directors talk about how effective this program is and why memos should not have been released, and the fact that DNI Blair changed his assessment of the program should raise some questions in people’s minds.

O’DONNELL: I want to get back again – we can debate this, but I want to get back to specifically, what role the vice president had in directing lawyers to authorize these memos. Was it from the vice president’s office, Dick Cheney, who said to those men — John Hugh (ph), Jay Bibby (ph)– we need to come up with a way to interrogate these al Qaeda suspects after 9/11? Why doesn’t he own up to the fact that he was the prime mover behind that?

L. CHENEY: Norah, there was no direction of lawyers from the vice president. That’s not how this process worked. And I think that you can look at exactly how the process worked, which is, the CIA said we have Abu Zubaydah and we think he’s got important information that further attacks are imminent and therefore, we need to know what we can do.

And the National Security Council met and discussed this. This is actually all laid out in Senator Rockefeller’s timeline, which doesn’t say what you’re alleging that it says, which makes clear that the questions laid out to OlC were, what’s possible and when. And if you’ve read the memos, in fact, that were released, you’ll see that they were very, very careful in laying out exactly what could be done and for exactly how long.

So the notion…

O’DONNELL: Well, let me put that up on the screen, because we do have that and that’s the first full screen that I was going to get to, which is the Cheney and Rice signed off on these interrogations. Very first graphic…


L. CHENEY: But Norah, what you’re doing is reading a headline – but Norah, you’re reading a headline from an A.P. story or McClatchy story. That’s not what the document itself says.

Now, I think it’s very important, however, to be clear…

O’DONNELL: The Senate Intelligence lays out that in those initial meetings were the vice president..

L. CHENEY: Absolutely.

O’DONNELL: … the national security adviser…

L. CHENEY: That’s absolutely right.

O’DONNELL: … Powell, and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld were not in those initial meetings. So if those were that small group of people, why won’t you say that the vice president was one of the prime movers in..


L. CHENEY: There’s no question that the vice president of the United States supported the program, as did the national security adviser, as did the secretary of state, as did the attorney general, as did the entire National Security Council. There is nobody who has been clearer about being out there saying this is a good program, this saved American lives than the vice president. So there’s nothing about owning up here, because this was a good program and people are very proud of what we’ve accomplished.

Now setting aside that, what you’re doing is reading headlines and talking about direction of lawyers, which is a very different thing. And there’s no assertion that that’s what went on. The lawyers’ opinions were sought in order to make sure that the program that the CIA ran stayed within the law. And the lawyers did a very responsible and professional job of laying out exactly what were the limits of how far we could go. And that is precisely what makes it so damaging that these memos have now been released.

O’DONNELL: Listen to yourself – listen to yourself, Liz, “how far we could go.”

L. CHENEY: That’s right.

O’DONNELL: How far could we go with detainees? I mean, how far could we… Torture them in order to get information?

L. CHENEY: How far – no. For how many minutes you could ask them certain kind of questions. How many…


L. CHENEY: I’m sorry, it’s very, very important point.

O’DONNELL: It’s a very important point.

L. CHENEY: It is a very important point.

O’DONNELL: The Geneva Convention were established…

L. CHENEY: Norah, there is nothing…

O’DONNELL: … to protect our men and women in the military. So that America would be a beacon in the world so when our men and women are captured overseas that they would not be tortured. We would never want our people to…

L. CHENEY: Norah, are you going to give me a chance to answer your question?

O’DONNELL: Let me finish my point.

L. CHENEY: I get your point, Norah, but the point is – no, Norah, wait a second…


O’DONNELL: … America no longer cares about torture?

L. CHENEY: That’s not what the world is hearing, Norah. First of all…


O’DONNELL: .. and if gets valuable information, then OK, we’re for it. Is that the message they send?

L. CHENEY: Norah, that may be what you’re saying, but that’s not what I’m saying.


L. CHENEY: What I’m saying that is there were a series of tactics, a series of techniques that had all been done to our own people. We did not torture our own people, these techniques are not torture. The memos laid out…

O’DONNELL: Did we torture other people?


O’DONNELL: You just said, we did not torture our own people.

L. CHENEY: Therefore, the tactics are not torture. We did not torture. The memos laid out the extent of exactly how far we could go before it would become torture, because it was important we not cross that line into torture.

As General Hayden and Attorney General Mukasey laid out, the problem is that now we’ve said to our enemies, look, this is exactly how far we’re g going to go. So our enemies, who we know read this stuff online, will now train to be able to withstand that.

Now, setting that aside, this argument about the Geneva Conventions, in terms of the – you know, this idea that somehow al Qaeda abides by the Geneva Conventions. If al Qaeda captures an American, they cut his head off. So I think it’s very important for us to sort of take a step back from the emotion of this and say we needed to be able to get evidence about imminent attacks.
We knew these guys had information, the information that was provided saved American lives, and the techniques were not torture. And I think it’s important for the American people to be able to see the entire argument laid out.

O’DONNELL: OK. Liz Cheney, stay with us, because we’re going to have much more not only about these particular harsh interrogation memos that some people are calling torture memos, whether the vice president will participate, will testify before a truth commission, and the future of the Republican Party. We’ve got a lot more coming up right after this.



DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The world outside there, both our friends and our foes, will be quick to take advantage of a situation if they think they’re dealing with a weak president or one who’s not going to stand up and aggressively defend America’s interests.


O’DONNELL: Back with us is Liz Cheney, she, of course, the former deputy assistant secretary of state during the Bush administration and the daughter of the former vice president, Dick Cheney.

All right, Liz, did the vice president just call the president a weak president?

L. CHENEY: I think that he is concerned that some of the things that we’ve seen President Obama do, particularly on his overseas trip, in terms of not taking the opportunity to stand up and defend America when Daniel Ortega delivers a 50-minute screed against the United States…

O’DONNELL: Is that really appropriate, though, to call the current sitting president weak?

L. CHENEY: I think what he said is you begin to look weak and there’s a danger if our enemies think we are weak. I think it’s important to be very precise about what he said.

But I there’s a real concern. I mean the message that we saw coming out of the last few foreign trips, you know, set aside republican and democrat, as an American, it concerns me when I’ve got a president who doesn’t stand up and say, wait a minute. You know, I’m going to defend the United States of America because we are the beacon of hope for people all around the world.

O’DONNELL: He didn’t said he wasn’t going to defend America.

L. CHENEY: He didn’t do it though, Norah. He didn’t do it. He stood up after Ortega attacked the nation, attacked our policies for the last 40 years, and President Obama said, well, look I was only three months old.

Now, you know, that’s not the kind of strong defense of the nation that I’d like to see.

O’DONNELL: Let me read to you what the former president, George W.
Bush, said on March 17th in Calgary. He said, quote, “I’m not going to spend my time criticizing him,” talking about President Obama. “There are plenty of critics in the arena. He deserves my silence.”

So Liz, what are you doing here? What’s the vice president doing?

L. CHENEY: Well, the vice president thinks it’s very important when you see the country begin to go down paths that are concerning and dangerous, and when you see the current administration making decisions that really do have the potential to make us less safe, in those circumstances, I would say the vice president doesn’t’ think that there’s an obligation to be silent. In fact, I think he believes the opposite, which is that there’s an obligation to stand up and say, wait a second. You know, there are important reasons why we put policies in place. They clearly kept us safe for seven years.

And it’s very important as this administration now begins to dismantle some of those things, that the public, you know, understand and have the ability to have a debate about what direction we’re going to go in.

O’DONNELL: The latest former vice president’s approval ratings, Cheney, favorable, 21 percent, unfavorable 58 percent.

Is it possible that the American people have already made a judgment about whose right on this issue? They voted for change, they don’t agree with your point of view, with your father’s point of view?

L. CHENEY: You know, I think – obviously, they voted for change. I think there are lot of reasons why the republicans lost this election. I do think that the Republican Party needs to do some rebuilding.

But I think that all of that is domestic politics and poll numbers.
And I think that we are at a crossroads as a nation. We’re at a moment where we can either remember that we’re at war and remember that there are people out there who really would like to do us great damage and great harm and keep those policies in place that have kept us safe, or we go back to treating this like a law enforcement matter.

And I think when you’re dealing with issues that are of that grave importance, spending a lot of time looking at poll numbers is irresponsible.

O’DONNELL: Well, the former vice president is now calling the sitting vice president essentially a weak president. That he’s concerned he’s going — he said essentially said he’s worried that he’s no longer going to ask terrorists tough questions, which I’m sure our men and women are going to ask terrorists tough questions.

L. CHENEY: The question is, Norah….


O’DONNELL: … answer the questions, I think that’s the question.


O’DONNELL: … did Vice President Cheney get permission from President Bush to speak out like this?

L. CHENEY: He doesn’t need permission. But we were just watching…

O’DONNELL: Do they talk regularly?

L. CHENEY: They do.

But let me say one thing. We were just watching Attorney General Holder, and he made a very important point. He talked about the task forces that have been set up to review interrogation techniques. And this is one of the things that’s so concerning about the release of these legal memos and it’s another thing General Hayden points out.

President Obama said to his National Security Council, you tell me whether or not the tactics in the Army Field Manual are sufficient and you report back to me about whether those are sufficient to protection the nation.
And they haven’t reported back yet. That is underway. That review is underway. And in the meantime, we have released the information about what other tactics are.

So it’s really a situation where there’s, you know, the president has not only tied his own hands, but he’s tied potentially the hands of all future presidents by putting this material out before he himself even knew whether his task force was going to tell him, yes, you need those tactics.

O’DONNELL: Well, the Senate Armed Services Committee came out with a report yesterday. And the chairman of that committee, Carl Levin, said essentially, there’s a direct link between what happened in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. That these types of interrogation practices led to what we saw at Abu Ghraib. And I think there’s been a pretty general agreement across the world that what happened at Abu Ghraib was despicable.

L. CHENEY: Absolutely what happened at Abu Ghraib is despicable. What Senator Levin is saying and the report that you’ve mentioned, clearly you’ve heard republican members of Congress and republican senators on TV all day today pointing out that that was a partisan report.

So, Abu Ghraib was despicable, the people that did those things are being prosecuted and have been prosecuted and punished. That is not the CIA interrogation program. That was a situation in which people were doing things that were clearly against the law and they shouldn’t have been doing. And it’s a very convenient thing for, you know, democrats in Congress and people who are trying to sort of make partisan attacks here to point Abu Ghraib. I think we all should be able to say we agree that was a crime and that was despicable.
And that’s not part of this current debate.

O’DONNELL: Well, the question is whether that led – some of those — opening the door to those harsh interrogation tactics led to a misunderstanding that happened at Abu Ghraib.

We’re going to have much more with Liz Cheney…

L. CHENEY: But I don’t think there’s any evidence that it did, by the way.

O’DONNELL: All right, when we come back, more with Liz Cheney, including what Megan McCain had to say to day about the former vice president.


O’DONNELL: And we are back with Liz Cheney.

And Liz, I want to play for you something that Megan McCain, who of course is the daughter of John McCain, was co-hosting on “The View” this morning and she had some tough words for your father, the former vice president.

Let’s listen.


MEGAN MCCAIN, THE VIEW: The DNC just did an ad. And it has Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich and Dick Cheney as the new faces of the Republican Party…

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my God, how scary.

MCCAIN: Well, I mean, it’s hard people like me that really want new energy and new blood when they – it’s very unprecedented for someone like Karl Rove or Dick Cheney to be criticizing the president. It’s very unprecedented a former vice president, you know, obviously Karl Rove – and I just – you know, my big criticism is just, you had your eight years, go away.


O’DONNELL: You have a reaction to that?

L. CHENEY: Look I disagree with her. But I think it’s great to have young people actively engaged in politics. And I think that one of the things that we’re seeing that’s, I think, is fascinating, in the early months of this administration, something that I thought would take longer, frankly. And I think you’re seeing people around the country, young people in particular, look at those tea parties we had a couple of weeks ago, people coming out just saying, wait a second here. There are a lot of things that we love about this nation and we don’t want to see those things take away.

So I think that, you know, it’s terrific to have people engaged in the process. I would encourage more people to get engaged and I think it’s a good thing for the party.

O’DONNELL: Do you think Sarah Palin is the future of the Republican Party?

L. CHENEY: I think that Sarah Palin’s terrific. I think that there are a lot of young, you know, leaders out there that we see, people in Congress. I’m a big fan of Adam Putnam, who I hope will one day run for governor of Florida. People like Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan. You know, we’ve got a lot of very smart, very talented, young members of Congress, some governors out there as well, who I really do think represent, you know, where the party will go in the future.

O’DONNELL: And given that 90 percent of John McCain’s voters were white in this past election, do you acknowledge your party has a long way to go when it comes to minorities and reaching out to younger people, too?

L. CHENEY: I do think we have a lot to do. And I think that the Obama campaign was a masterful campaign. And I think the new techniques that they set out and that they implemented are ones that we need to be studying closely and learning from and stealing the next time around.

O’DONNELL: All right, Liz Cheney, thank you so much for joining us
here on MNSBC.

L. CHENEY: Thanks, Norah. Great to be here.

Makes an interesting read.

Indeed, as (waterboarding) for example is clearly not “torture”, then it should most certainly be tried out on Cheney, Bush and Rice (amongst others) – after all, if it works, and they tell the truth in response to some very hard questions which are currently being asked of them, then everyone will be happy, no?

You know, freezing Jews in cold water in concentration camps wasn’t very pleasant, but we did learn lots of valuable things about human physiology, so . . . it was OK?

Torture and the Banality of Evil

From www.craigmurray.org.uk

I feel sick. I have that sunk, painful feeling as though my stomach had emptied, and that shakiness though the central nervous system. I feel dirty, like I want to shower for ages.

I have just read all 124 pages of the Top Secret torture memos from Bush’s lawyers in the CIA and Department of Justice, which were obtained and released yesterday by the American Civil Liberties Union.

These are just a small sample of the acres of casuistry devoted to justifying the return to medieval barbarity under the Bush regime. The ACLU is pressing for more. Please do read them, but do not be sucked into their crazy internal logic. Remember they are deliberately underdescribing and downplaying the pain and terror this torture causes.

As you look at their careful discussion of how to characterise different levels of pain inflicted on shackled and helpless captives, you are in the crazed world of Dr Mengele. It is obvious even to the most unqualified person that what they are discussing is, to any reasonable person in any normal definition, torture. And that their legal arguments are continually strained to breaking point. The acknowledgement that waterboarding induces “Fear of imminent death by drowning” but argument that this can be “contextualized”, would be laughably bad if it were not so appalling.

Compare the tortured logic of the Bush lawyers with the simple clarity of the UN Convention Against Torture, to which the US is a party and which is the applicable international law.

“For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”


The UK is guilty. Every intelligence report released by the CIA as a result of these torture sessions was copied to MI6 under the UK/US intelligence sharing agreement. Jack Straw took a deliberate and informed decision that in the “War on Terror” the UK would obtain intelligence from torture, by the CIA, by Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia and the various thug security services involved in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programme.

To the best of my knowledge and belief, I was the only official in the entire British civil sevice who tried internally to oppose this use of torture intelligence. In consequence I was not only sacked but subjected to a sustained campaign of slurs and smears, orchestrated by 10 Downing St and the FCO, with the deliberate aim of destroying my reputation.

That is the evidence which I shall be giving to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights on 28 April. I will also be arguing that, as in the US, the Top Secret documents on the UK’s attitude to torture must now be released, including the telegrams and minutes of meetings to which I allude in my evidence.

Obama’s decision that none of the CIA operatives, bosses or lawyers who instituted this barbarity should be prosecuted, is a dreadful harbouring and encouragement of criminality. If Obama really is genuine about improving the image of the US in the world, that is a retrograde step.

The most important single step he could take now would be to sign the United States up to the International Criminal Court, as evidence of a genuine desire to be part of the community of nations.

14 YEARS?!

November 14, 2008


The killer of baby P was more than 6ft 4ins with broad shoulders, a sadist with a fascination for Nazi memorabilia, he claimed he was “toughening P up for when he was older”, he treated him the same way he trained his dog. When he and the lodger clicked their fingers the child would touch his forehead on the floor in fear of another beating.

From Court reports:

The boyfriend, a knife-obsessed sadist, wore combat gear, collected Nazi military memorabilia including helmets and daggers decorated with swastikas

and was always seen with his beloved Rottweiler. He even kept martial arts weapons and a crossbow at the family’s home. Relatives described how as a child he had tortured guinea pigs and particularly frogs, which he would skin alive before breaking their legs.
He had been prosecuted by the RSPCA for torturing animals and faced a police investigation over claims he tortured his own grandmother, allegedly to make her change her will in his favour. The elderly woman died of pneumonia before a decision was taken on whether he should face prosecution, police sources said.

Baby P’s wounds began within weeks of the 32-year-old illiterate odd-job man moving into his mother’s four-bedroom council house in Haringey, North London.

The stepdad also “trained” Baby P to sit on the floor with his head between his legs for half an hour until he clicked his fingers. Police images of the tot’s injuries and stained clothes were shown to jurors.
Prosecuting QC Sally O’Neill told how a family friend revealed the depth of the abuse as the child was used like a punchbag.

She said the stepdad would “pick him up by his throat, punch him and spin him around on the computer chair until he fell off”.


Baby P’s back was broken by being forced over a bent knee or banister, the court heard.

His ears were torn where he had been lifted off the ground and fingernails, fingertips and a toenail were missing. His fingernails were pinched – and possibly ripped by pliers – until they fell off. He had lesions on his scalp — and his lips were ripped.

On Baby P’s final day alive, August 2, police told his mother that they would take no further action over suspicions she had assaulted him.

Medical experts told the trial that Baby P probably received a final, fatal blow that night which stopped him breathing and knocked out a tooth, later found in his stomach.

Is it really right that he faces a maximum sentence of only 14 years?


UPDATE : All the parties in the case were white, in fact the lodger was an NF member. The legal reasons for not reporting the names of the mother and boyfriend are probably that they are facing other charges that might be prejudiced if their names became public.