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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Facts About “Torture Memos” Must Come to Light

A distinguished panel of legal scholars and practitioners held a spirited discussion today about how best to hold accountable lawyers whose legal advice provided cover for torture in the Bush administration. Watch the web cast of the discussion.

In addition to the panel, the event featured a keynote speech by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) at the event titled, “The Torture Memos: Lawyers, Ethics, and the Rule of Law” and a screening of the new film by AFJ, Tortured Law.

“We need transparency and accountability, to remember that we are not a country that acts independent of the law, even in times of fear and danger,” said Nan Aron, president, Alliance for Justice.

Daniel Levin, former Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel from 2004-2005 when the DOJ was reviewing CIA interrogation techniques, said “I personally am not opposed to criminal investigation of the conduct of myself and others during the period in question, because I think any government employee is appropriately subject to investigation of their conduct while they are serving in the government.”

Levin and the other speakers agreed that the country would benefit from the establishment of a national commission to investigate the facts about the use of torture.

The investigation of the conduct of the lawyers by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility was discussed at length, and several panelists and Senator Whitehouse agreed that releasing OPR’s report on that inquiry was an important first step in determining whether laws were broken.

“We still don’t know all the facts. Information has emerged in bits and pieces over the last several years, thanks to extensive litigation by civil liberties advocates and to the selected release of certain documents by the Obama Administration,” Aron said.

“On Friday the government dumped hundreds more documents about interrogation and detainee policies pursuant to a court order, adding more insight to how detainee abuse developed and was legally justified,” Aron continued. “But so long as the record is incomplete and disjointed, the evidence that emerges raises more questions than it answers – which is all the more reason why Holder should promote full transparency and take the important first step of releasing the OPR report.”

You can join Alliance for Justice on Thursday, November 12, AFJ for National Torture Accountability Day by calling Attorney General Holder to urge him to release the OPR report.


Ariel said...

We may not know all the facts, but Reprieve, the British charity, has done more to document the use of torture than any other agency that I know of. There's enough material documented at this website to support a major investigation that will take years to carry out unless a lot of people are put on this issue. I have been trying to get the use of torture at Diego Garcia investigated for years, to no avail.


I'm providing a link to a Reprieve pdf document that has extensive information about torture at Diego Garcia. http://www.reprieve.org.uk/static/downloads/Microsoft_Word_-_2009_05_20_FAC_Submission_DG.pdf

If anyone reads this or chooses to follow up on the information contained therein, please contact me.

Ariel said...

If the U.S. does carry out an investigation on the use of torture, here is a list of places where secret renditions have taken place that would be a good place to start. You can find more information on each of these sites on Reprieve's website at www.reprieve.org.uk/secretrenditions

Abu Ghraib
• This notorious prison was in the city of Abu Ghraib, 20 miles west of Baghdad.

Ariana Hotel
• Located near the presidential palace in the city centre, CIA officials have occupied Kabul’s Ariana Hotel since 2001.

Bagram Airbase
• Originally used to process prisoners captured during Operation Enduring Freedom, Bagram has become backlogged with prisoners who are held for many years without legal rights.

Camp Bucca
• A temporary holding facility near the Kuwait border in Iraq, Camp Bucca rose to public attention after an unidentified female soldier spoke openly about how she and colleagues shot and killed prisoners.

Camp Cropper
• This maximum security prison near Iraq’s Baghdad International airport is run by the US military and contains a High Value detention facility.

Diego Garcia
• British Indian Ocean Territory Diego Garcia has been used for illegal rendition and detention of prisoners including Mustafa Setmarian Naser and Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni.

Eagle Base
• Reprieve has identified eight prisoners held beyond the rule of law at Bosnia's Eagle Base since 2001, including Nihad Karsic and Almin Hardaus.

ISI Unit
• Controlled by Pakistani Intelligence, the ISI unit allows the FBI full access to prisoners here.

Lazogley State Security Intelligence Regional Headquarters
• Located directly under the Ministry of Interior, Ahmed El Maati was secretly held in this state security branch for several weeks in July 2002.

Mukhabarat al-Aama Headquarters
• Beatings here were so professional that it seemed as though the interrogators were trained in martial arts.

Mulhaq Mazra
• Part of the Tora Prison Complex, Ahmed Agiza and Muhammed al-Zari report that they were regularly subjected to electric shocks and other torture in Mulhaq Mazra.

Palestine Branch
• Run by Syrian Military Intelligence, this prison is known for its brutal interrogation methods.

• A vast Afghan prison complex, Pol-e-Charki contains a new American-financed high-security wing called the Afghan National Defence Facility.

Szymany Airport
• A former Soviet-era military compound, Szymany is the biggest CIA jail in Poland, and has been described as the main base for CIA interrogations in Europe.

• Located in the headquarters of the Direction de la Securité du Territoire (DST), the Moroccan secret police, Témara was used to torture Binyam Mohamed for 18 months.

The Dark Prison
• Afghanistan’s most notorious prison chains prisoners in total darkness, with heavy metal music blaring for weeks at a time.

The Salt Pit
• Housed in an old brick factory outside of Kabul's business district to the north of the city, the Salt Pit was considered by many to be the largest CIA prison in Afghanistan.

Tora Prison Complex
• This complex includes Istikbal Tora prison, Mazra Tora prison and its annex Mulhaq Mazra, the Leman Tora pison and its hospital and Scorpion high security prison.

USS Bataan
• USS Bataan is one of the US government’s most infamous 'floating prisons'. Prison ships have been used by the US to hold terror suspects illegally since the days of President Clinton.

USS Peleliu
• The USS Peleliu held around 8 detainees before they were transferred to the USS Bataan.