Torture Prosecution TV Ad Hits San Fran, Oakland, San Jose

Airing on Colbert, Jon Stewart and Maddow in the Bay area, New York musician of Central Park fame, David Ippolito, has released this TV spot in conjunction with his production team and the National Accountability Network (cool new website!)  The ad urges Attorney General Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor.  Related op-eds last week in NYT, LA Times, others.  National campaign planned.  No place to run.  No place to hide.  For torturers.  Campaign at

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Scholars, Writers, Artists, Advocates Urge AG Holder to Appoint Prosecutor on Torture, Other Crimes

Nationally Renowned Scholars, Writers, Artists, and Advocates Urge Attorney General Holder to Uphold the Rule of Law and Appoint Prosecutor to Investigate Allegations of Torture and Other Serious Crimes

SALT LAKE CITY - Several prominent Americans, including authors, artists, legal experts, and renowned voices of conscience, today transmitted a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urging the appointment of a prosecutor to investigate allegations of torture and other violations of human rights and civil liberties committed by former government officials and others. The signatories to the letter are:

*    Daniel Ellsberg (former Marine commander, former assistant to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, defense specialist, responsible for disclosure of the Pentagon Papers)
*    Bruce Fein (specialist in constitutional and international law, former Associate Deputy US Attorney General (during Reagan administration))
*    Andy Jacobs (represented Indiana's 10th and 11th Congressional Districts, 1965-1973 and 1975-1997, Korean War veteran)
*    Paul Rogat Loeb (author Soul of a Citizen - Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time)
*    Graham Nash (singer-songwriter (The Hollies; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young))
*    Terry Tempest Williams (naturalist, author of several books, including Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place; An Unspoken Hunger; The Open Space of Democracy)
*    Bill McKibben (environmentalist, international organizer, founder of Step It Up, author of several books, including The End of Nature; Deep Economy: the Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future)
*    John Nichols (Washington correspondent for The Nation, author of The Genius of Impeachment: The Founder's Cure for Royalism)
*    Robert Feuer (attorney, 2008 candidate for Massachusetts First Congressional District)
*    Jeremy Pikser (screenwriter, co-wrote Bulworth; wrote The Lemon Sisters and War, Inc.)
*    Rocky Anderson (lawyer, civil and human rights specialist, former Salt Lake City Mayor; Founder and Executive Director, High Road for Human Rights)
*    Mimi Kennedy (author, activist, and television and screen actress, co-star, "Dharma & Greg," recently starring in In the Loop)
*    Naomi Wolf (author of seven books, including The Beauty Myth, The End of America, and Give Me Liberty)
*    Robert C. Fellmeth (Price Professor of Public Interest Law, University of San Diego Law School)
*    David Swanson (activist, author, Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union)  
*    Ralph Nader (lawyer, consumer advocate, author of several books, including Unsafe at Any Speed, The Menace of Atomic Energy, Who's Poisoning America?, Good Works, No Contest, The Good Fight)

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President Carter: Many Children Were Tortured Under Bush

"You have the power to hold your leaders accountable." - President Obama, Ghana, July 14, 2009

While congress says it is gearing up to investigate what is old news, that CIA and Special Ops forces are killing Al Qaeda leaders, a decision of far different gravity is being contemplated by Attorney General Eric Holder.  The new insistence of Congress on its oversight role, conspicuously absent throughout 8 years of Bush, is suddenly rearing its head in the form of questioning a policy which has been in place with no controversy for years.  The U.S. has been hunting and killing Al Qaeda leaders outside of official war zones since 2004, when the New York Times reported that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had signed an order authorizing Special Forces to kill Al Qaeda where they found them.  As recently as September 2008 CBS reported that Special Forces struck Qaeda leadership in Pakistan.

The decision faced by Holder, whether or not to appoint a Special Prosecutor on torture, is of a different gravity altogether.  A weight of evidence keeps building which indicates torture was employed on innocent men, that it didn't work, and that it didn't prevent any attacks.  And it gets worse.  Bush's own FBI DirectorRobert Mueller recently confirmed to the New York Times what he told Vanity Fair a year ago, that "to [his] knowledge" torture didn't prevent a single attack.  Former Legendary CIA Director William Colby has said that torture is "ineffective."

Harper's Magazine's Scott Horton nows suggests there are two Eric Holders at war with each other: Holder the good soldier who knows well the preference of his boss for prosecutions to not take place, and Holder the servant of the law who is aware that what he does now may determine what is likely to happen again.  

It is becoming clear that such an investigation, if it happens, will not stop with a few low-ranking scapegoats.   Horton notes:

"President Obama's assurance to CIA officials who relied on the opinions of government lawyers in implementing these programs, an assurance that Holder himself repeated, would have to be worked in.  That suggests that the focus would likely be on the lawyers and policymakers who authorized use of the new techniques."

And CIA whistleblower Ray McGovern writes this week:

the buck stops - actually, in this case, it began - with President Bush. Senate Armed Services Committee leaders Carl Levin and John McCain on Dec. 11, 2008, released the executive summary of a report, approved by the full committee without dissent, concluding that Bush's Feb. 7, 2002, memorandum "opened the door to considering aggressive techniques."

What changed with Holder?  Horton writes in "The Torture Prosecution Turnaround?":

Holder began his review mindful of the clear preference of President Obama's two key political advisers--David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel--that there be no investigation. Axelrod and Emanuel are described as uninterested in either the legal or policy merits of the issue of a criminal investigation. Their concerns turn entirely on their political analysis...Holder initially appeared prepared to satisfy their wishes.

This attitude seemed to change after Obama's speech at the CIA, when Emanual and Axelrod moved out front to say there would be no prosecutions.  According to Horton:

"In the days after Obama's speech at the CIA, both Axelrod and Emanuel insisted that the White House had made the decision that there would be no prosecutions. According to reliable sources, that incensed Holder, who felt that the remarks had compromised the integrity both of the White House and Justice Department by suggesting that political advisers made the call on who would or would not be criminally investigated."

To make things worse for the Bush administration, evidence is emerging that they can no longer even rely on exhibit A and B of the Torture Works theory, Al Zabudaya and Kalid Shiek Mohammed, the latter of whom is still confessing to everything short of being the real Boston Strangler.  I guess if I'd been waterboarded 82 times I'd be babbling too.  The FBI Special Agent who interrogated Abu Zubayda, recently breaking a 7-year silence after reading the "torture memos,"wrote in the New York Times:

"One of the most striking parts of the memos is the false premises on which they are based. The first, dated August 2002, grants authorization to use harsh interrogation techniques on a high-ranking terrorist, Abu Zubaydah, on the grounds that previous methods hadn't been working. The next three memos cite the successes of those methods as a justification for their continued use.

It is inaccurate, however, to say that Abu Zubaydah had been uncooperative. Along with another F.B.I. agent, and with several C.I.A. officers present, I questioned him from March to June 2002, before the harsh techniques were introduced later in August. Under traditional interrogation methods, he provided us with important actionable intelligence...This experience fit what I had found throughout my counterterrorism career: traditional interrogation techniques are successful in identifying operatives, uncovering plots and saving lives."

Then there is the political risk to the Obama administration that Axelrod and Emanual have miscalculated, and that, in fact, the rest of the president's agenda is hamstrung while a growing number of Americans call for existing laws to be enforced.  What is haunting Americans could be, in Washington jargon, "sucking oxygen" out of the debate, and "moving forward" is a pipe dream until pending business is dealt with.  Spontaneous and planned rallies calling for a Special Prosecutor are growing, not diminishing.  In addition, the worse revelations may be yet to come in the horrifying saga of what happened when, as Major General Anthony Taguba says:

[a] permissive environment [was] created by implicit and explicit authorizations by senior US officials to "take the gloves off"...

President Jimmy Carter wrote that the Red Cross, Amnesty International and the Pentagon "have gathered substantial testimony of torture of children, confirmed by soldiers who witnessed or participated in the abuse." In "Our Endangered Values" Carter said that the Red Cross found after visiting six U.S. prisons "107 detainees under eighteen, some as young as eight years old." And reporter Hersh, (who broke the Abu Ghraib torture scandal,) reported 800-900 Pakistani boys aged 13 to 15 in custody.

Journalist Seymour Hersh's (who broke the Abu Ghraib scandal) bombshell before the ACLU some years ago has been in a temporary slumber, as there is question as to whether the videotapes in possession of the Pentagon were among those claimed to be destroyed.  Destroyed or not, there is still the conscience of soldiers and agents who bore witness to contend with, as the reign of political terror against whistleblowers which characterized the Bush administration subsides.  Hersh said:


" Some of the worst things that happened you don't know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib ... The women were passing messages out saying 'Please come and kill me, because of what's happened' and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It's going to come out."

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said at the time:
"The American public needs to understand, we're talking about rape and murder here. We're not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience. We're talking about rape and murder and some very serious charges."

History is just beginning to sort out the Bush era, with stubborn facts showing a resilience that Fox News talking points cannot, and more emerging.  Today, even among Republicans, it is difficult to find those who will embrace Richard Nixon, though for a while he was every bit the perceived victim of "left-wing hate" that Bush and Cheney are now.  Incredibly, to compare Nixon to Bush-Cheney is to do a deeply flawed man a disservice.  Nixon inherited Vietnam.  He did not orchestrate from whole cloth a campaign to link Saddam with 9/11, and strenuously push to war despite the objections of his countrymen and the world.  Nixon spied on political enemies.  He did not use a tragedy to illegally spy on millions, the true numbers of which we still do not know because congress has never investigated.  

It's almost possible to feel sorry for the shifty, friendless Nixon.  It is less possible to feel so for the smirking Bush, who thought nothing of telling soldier's families that war critics were saying that their loved ones "had died in vain."   

A compilation in November2008 of other evidence of alleged incidents involving children at the time recounts:

-- Iraqi lawyer Sahar Yasiri, representing the Federation of Prisoners and Political Prisoners, said in a published interview there are more than 400,000 detainees in Iraq being held in 36 prisons and camps and that 95 percent of the 10,000 women among them have been raped. Children, he said, "suffer from torture, rape, (and) starvation" and do not know why they have been arrested. He added the children have been victims of "random" arrests "not based on any legal text."

-- Former prisoner Thaar Salman Dawod in a witness statement said, "[I saw] two boys naked and they were cuffed together face to face and [a U.S. soldier] was beating them and a group of guards were watching and taking pictures and there was three female soldiers laughing at the prisoners."

-- Iraqi TV reporter, Suhaib Badr-Addin al-Baz, arrested while making a documentary and thrown into Abu Ghraib for 74 days, told Mackay he saw "hundreds" of children there. Al-Baz said he heard one 12-year-old girl crying, "They have undressed me. They have poured water over me." He said he heard her whimpering daily.

-- Al-Baz also told of a 15-year-old boy "who was soaked repeatedly with hoses until he collapsed." Amnesty International said ex-detainees reported boys as young as 10 are held at Abu Ghraib.

-- German TV reporter Thomas Reutter of "Report Mainz" quoted U.S. Army Sgt. Samuel Provance that interrogation specialists "poured water" over one 16-year-old Iraqi boy, drove him throughout a cold night, "smeared him with mud" and then showed him to his father, who was also in custody. Apparently, one tactic employed by the Bush regime is to elicit confessions from adults by dragging their abused children in front of them.

-- Jonathan Steele, wrote in the British "The Guardian" that "Hundreds of children, some as young as nine, are being held in appalling conditions in Baghdad's prisons...Sixteen-year-old Omar Ali told the "Guardian" he spent more than three years at Karkh juvenile prison sleeping with 75 boys to a cell that is just five by 10 meters, some of them on the floor. Omar told the paper guards often take boys to a separate room in the prison and rape them.

-- Raad Jamal, age 17, was taken from his Doura home by U.S. troops and turned over to the Iraqi Army's Second regiment where Jamal said he was hung from the ceiling by ropes and beaten with electric cables.

-- Human Rights Watch (HRW) last June put the number of juveniles detained at 513. In all, HRW estimates, since 2003, the U.S. has detained 2,400 children in Iraq, some as young as ten.

-- IRIN, the humanitarian news service, last year quoted Khalid Rabia of the Iraqi NGO Prisoners' Association for Justice(PAJ), stating that five boys between 13 and 17 accused of supporting insurgents and detained by the Iraqi army "showed signs of torture all over their bodies," such as "cigarette burns over their legs," she said.

-- One boy of 13 arrested in Afghanistan in 2002 was held in solitary for more than a year at Bagram and Guantanamo and made to stand in stress position and deprived of sleep, according to the "Catholic Worker."

Attorney General Holder is a man of conscience who now serves both President Obama and the law.  A Newsweek piece last week says he has no illusions that:

Such a decision [to appoint a Special Prosecutor] would roil the country, would likely plunge Washington into a new round of partisan warfare, and could even imperil Obama's domestic priorities, including health care and energy reform. Holder knows all this, and he has been wrestling with the question for months. "I hope that whatever decision I make would not have a negative impact on the president's agenda," he says. "But that can't be a part of my decision."

There can be redemption for a nation which faces its past. One that does not can only become more monstrous.

Call the Office of the Attorney General, "Appoint a Special Prosecutor" at (202) 353-1555. Then email the Justice Department.

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Darth Vader-Protector CIA Story is Prosecution Repellant

After a build-up like that all we learn is that Dick Cheney was trying to protect 'Merica?  (CIA Secret Teams Targeted Al Qaeda) What great timing.  Just as Holder hints that he is leaning toward a special prosecutor for torture, give the right wing the chance to crow "Those libtards are getting on Cheney because he wanted to kill Al Qaeda! And he wasn't going to wait fer congress to give him no damn permission slip!" 

Point number one, Bush had already reserved the right to hunt and kill Al Qaeda leaders wherever we found them, back in 2004, and no one had a problem with it.  The New York Times reported in "Secret Order Lets U.S. Raid Al Qaeda ":

The United States military since 2004 has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, according to senior American officials.

These military raids, typically carried out by Special Operations forces, were authorized by a classified order that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed in the spring of 2004 with the approval of President Bush, the officials said. The secret order gave the military new authority to attack the Qaeda terrorist network anywhere in the world...

Snore.  It's news to me if they were NOT doing this.  Full-blown invasions of countries is what I'm against.  The former is how we were supposed to wage the war on terrorists.

The ultra-conservative Weekly Standard tracks the same theme in "Secret Order to Target al Qaeda Not So Secret"

anyone who has been remotely following operations against al Qaeda and its allied terror groups has long been able to deduce the U.S. government has granted approval for the military and CIA to attack high value targets outside of the hot zones of Iraq and Afghanistan...One of the most brazen attacks occurred in the country of Madagascar in January 2007. U.S. special operations forces from the hunter killer teams of Task Force 88 killed Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, one of Osama bin Laden's brothers-in-law...

Wake me when they've killed bin Laden, the same one Bush and Cheney let slip through at Tora Bora, according to Delta Forces commander code-name Dalton Fury, who was there.

The New York Times cites a 2006 example:

In 2006...a Navy Seal team raided a suspected militants' compound in the Bajaur region of Pakistan, according to a former top official of the Central Intelligence Agency. Officials watched the entire mission -- captured by the video camera of a remotely piloted Predator aircraft -- in real time in the C.I.A.'s Counterterrorist Center at the agency's headquarters in Virginia 7,000 miles away.

So why the "libtards-criticize-Cheney-for-protectin g-'Merica" gambit just now?  To get the focus off the growing realization that Bush-Cheney torture tactics placed the country in far greater danger, according to US interrogators themselves, like the Air Force's Matthew Alexander? Because Attorney General Eric Holder is making scary noises about a Special Prosecutor for torture in Newsweek, that his place in history will not be determined by the political conveniences of the time?

It's the morning after Independence Day, and Eric Holder Jr. is feeling the weight of history....

The night before, he'd stood on the roof of the White House.  Four knowledgeable sources tell NEWSWEEK that he is now leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices, something the president has been reluctant to do. While no final decision has been made, an announcement could come in a matter of weeks, say these sources, who decline to be identified discussing a sensitive law-enforcement matter. Such a decision would roil the country, would likely plunge Washington into a new round of partisan warfare, and could even imperil Obama's domestic priorities, including health care and energy reform. Holder knows all this, and he has been wrestling with the question for months. "I hope that whatever decision I make would not have a negative impact on the president's agenda," he says. "But that can't be a part of my decision.

You go, Attorney General Holder.

Segue. You get the idea.  Now something positive which will make you proud to be an American, a hidden chapter of our history.  It turns out they were thinking of using the the US Army to suppress dissent during the Chicago 1968 Democratic Convention, a watershed in American politics when people felt that now both parties were responsible for the war in Vietnam going on forever.  At a coffeehouse which had just opened outside Ft. Hood, the nation's largest military base, the anti-war soldiers' movement was coalescing.  Now from the website of a NEW anti-war soldier's coffeehouse which has opened outside Ft. Hood, the history:

The coffeehouse was given the name "The Oleo Strut." An oleo strut is a shock absorber, and we saw this as a metaphor for what we hoped the place would be for the soldiers we hoped to work with. We had no idea what a shock we were about to absorb.

Within a week of opening, soldiers were coming in at night to tell us of riot control training they were taking part in during the day. They'd been told they were going to Chicago to "fight the hippies and the commies" who were going to show up for the Democratic Convention the next month. They were terribly upset at the thought of having to possibly open fire on Americans who they agreed with about the war and the need for change here in America. Soldiers were talking about deserting, about running away to Mexico, about "doing something." 

Our response was a little yellow sticker, two inches by two inches. On it was a white hand flashing the "peace sign," backed by a black fist. We printed up 1,000 of them and passed them out. GIs said they would put these on their helmets if they were called into the streets, to identify themselves to the protestors. At this point, the Army got very upset with us.   The Monday of the convention, 5,000 troops were ordered to board the transports. They were headed for the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Chicago, as backup for the Chicago Police Department.

As the soldiers were preparing to board the airplanes, the bravest act of antiwar protest I ever knew of happened.  43 Black soldiers, all combat veterans, refused to board the airplanes. Due to the self-separation of the races on the base, we had no idea this was going to happen. The Black troops had organized themselves. They knew what they were going to get for this. The minimum qualification to be one of those who would refuse was the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, so the Army wouldn't be able to call them cowards.  

As this was happening on the base, we were on the way from our house to the Oleo Strut, when we were stopped by the Killeen Police. A search of the car found drugs - we knew immediately we were set up, since we were completely drug-free. We also knew immediately what a terrible threat this was, since at that time the possession of a joint could get one a sentence of 20 years in Huntsville Prison, as had recently happened to an SNCC organizer in Houston who'd had marijuana planted on him by an undercover officer. We were scared. In the end, only Josh Gould was held, since he had been identified as our "leader." He would stay in the Bell County Jail for six weeks until the Bell County Grand Jury would vote a "no bill" on the indictment, thanks to the tireless efforts of local attorney Davis Bragg.

The world knows what happened in Chicago. A government cannot put soldiers on the street without the prior knowledge that if they are ordered to crack heads, they all will. No one knew how many of the GIs would carry out their threat of resistance if put in the streets, so all were held back. Deprived of their military backup, the Chicago Police Department staged their historic "police riot." The GI antiwar movement had inflicted its first major blow against the government.

We don't need you to take our freedoms and trample our laws and our image in the world to protect us, Dick Cheney.  We need you to go to jail.  We are proud Americans, with history like the above to remind us of who we are.  

Call the Office of the Attorney General at (202) 353-1555. Then email the Justice Department.





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