Sun 6 Jan 2008
Fri 4 Jan 2008
The Chicago Tribune is reporting that US citizen Jose Padilla filed a lawsuit in a California federal district court this morning against former deputy assistant Attorney General John Yoo:
“The suit filed this morning in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, turns the spotlight of blame on Yoo, the author of a series of legal memoranda known collectively as the “Torture Memos.” Drafted in 2002, when Yoo was a deputy assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department, they provided the legal justification for the interrogation techniques used on suspected Al Qaeda operatives that many, from former generals to presidential candidates, have since decried as torture.
‘John Yoo is the first person in American history to provide the legal authorization for the instiution of torture in the U.S.,’ said Jonathan Freiman, an attorney representing Padilla in the suit. ‘He [Yoo] was an absolutely essential part of what will be viewed by history as a group of rogue officials acting under cover of law to undermine fundamental rights. It never would have happened without the legal green light. That made it possible.’”
Thu 3 Jan 2008
The UN tribunal for the Cambodian genocide is getting off to a terribly slow start. On December 25, the BBC had a piece about Buddhist monks marching on the courthouse to pressure them to begin having trials……With all the bad things going on in the world now, maybe it’s hard to be excited about something that happened twenty-five years ago. But these tribunals are important and I wish they’d operate more efficiently.
Tue 1 Jan 2008
Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Williams, a JAG officer with the U.S. Naval Reserve, recently resigned his commission over the alleged use of torture by the United States and the destruction of video tapes said to contain instances of that torture.
As ThinkProgress reported in December, Brigadier General Thomas W. Hartmann, the legal adviser at Guantanamo Bay, repeatedly refused to call the hypothetical waterboarding of an American pilot by the Iranian military torture.
Explaining his resignation in a letter to his Gig Harbor, WA, newspaper — the Peninsula Gateway — Williams said Hartmann’s testimony was “the final straw”:
The final straw for me was listening to General Hartmann, the highest-ranking military lawyer in charge of the military commissions, testify that he refused to say that waterboarding captured U.S. soldiers by Iranian operatives would be torture.
His testimony had just sold all the soldiers and sailors at risk of capture and subsequent torture down the river. Indeed, he would not rule out waterboarding as torture when done by the United States and indeed felt evidence obtained by such methods could be used in future trials.
Thank you, General Hartmann, for finally admitting the United States is now part of a long tradition of torturers going back to the Inquisition.
In the middle ages, the Inquisition called waterboarding “toca” and used it with great success. In colonial times, it was used by the Dutch East India Company during the Amboyna Massacre of 1623.
Waterboarding was used by the Nazi Gestapo and the feared Japanese Kempeitai. In World War II, our grandfathers had the wisdom to convict Japanese Officer Yukio Asano of waterboarding and other torture practices in 1947, giving him 15 years hard labor.
Waterboarding was practiced by the Khmer Rouge at the infamous Tuol Sleng prison. Most recently, the U.S. Army court martialed a soldier for the practice in 1968 during the Vietnam conflict.
General Hartmann, following orders was not an excuse for anyone put on trial in Nuremberg, and it will not be an excuse for you or your superiors, either.Despite the CIA and the administration attempting to cover up the practice by destroying interrogation tapes, in direct violation of a court order, and congressional requests, the truth about torture, illegal spying on Americans and secret renditions is coming out.
Williams’ resignation follows on the heels of several high profile issues relating to the JAG corps. In 2006, Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift was passed over for promotion and forced out of the Navy after he vigorously defended Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s driver. And just this month, the Bush administration planned to take control of the promotion system for military lawyers, a plan which was dropped due to the uproar it caused in the military and in Congress.
Tue 1 Jan 2008
From Jurist: The Genocide Accountability Act of 2007 [text, PDF] modifies Section 1091, Title 18 USC [text], which had limited genocide prosecution to US nationals or to offenses by non-nationals committed inside the US. The new law will add aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence, stateless persons whose habitual residence is in the US, and alleged offenders “brought into, or found in” the US, even if the alleged genocidal conduct occurred outside the country.
Mon 31 Dec 2007
Between photo shoots of himself clearing brush, somehow POTUS managed to get some work in. Does anyone have any information on Notre Dame’s holdings in companies that are active in Sudan?
Thu 20 Sep 2007
According to the Washington Post, the International Crisis Group is backing a new plan to “save” Zimbabwe. Just what is this silver bullet, you ask? The plan calls for Robert Mugabe to live out his golden years in peace, with all the silver and gold he has allegedly plundered from international donors while his “liberated” country has sunk deeper and deeper into despair. In addition to keeping his booty, the plan calls for the originator of “the right to bash” to receive full amnesty.
Is this the best that the human rights community can offer the people of Zimbabwe? Do Zimbabwe’s neighbors — who admittedly are paying a price for Mugabe’s deeds by taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees — have the right to hide Mugabe from prosecution?
Thu 16 Aug 2007
The enormous international relief agency, CARE, has turned down $45m of federal funding which would have required CARE to use subsidized American products for food aid rather than locally grown products. The federal funding for food aid has been controversial lately, as selling American-grown food often has a negative effect on the local economy as the subsidized American products compete with local farmers, essentially giving a man the proverbial fish so he can eat for a day rather than teaching him to fish so he can eat for a lifetime.
CARE Food Aid Policy (PDF)
Fri 3 Aug 2007
Soon the U.S. will require that all children adopted by U.S. citizens have their DNA matched to the purported birth mother before they leave the country, to ensure that it is the same baby that was originally given up for adoption. This is welcome news for those of us who follow the child robbery crisis in Guatemala where the adoption process has historically had little oversight, which has resulted in child trafficking. Of course, this isn’t a solution, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Sat 28 Jul 2007
In April, Amnesty USA issued a report on the denial of justice to Native American women who have been victims of sexual assault. Native American women suffer sexual assault at 2.5 times the rate of the general population, but due to the complex relationship between State, Federal and Tribal law a majority of sexual assaults cannot be or are not prosecuted. When sexual assaults occur on tribal lands, tribal authorities can only prosecute the offense if both the victim and perpetrator are members of that tribe. Tribal courts may not impose sentences longer than one year, significantly less than is usual for sex crimes convictions in other courts. However, 80% of victims describe their attackers as non-native. In those cases, crimes occurring on tribal land must be referred to federal authorities; a majority of such cases are never prosecuted. NPR’s All Things Considered reports several cases where Tribal law enforcement officers’ attempts to report such crimes to the US Attorneys were ignored by Federal authorities (the US Attorneys’ Offices declined to be interviewed for the report).