Obama deconstructs Bush´s torture policies

Waterboarding Santa, cartoon

This cartoon from the USA about George W. Bush´s torture policies is called Waterboarding Santa.

From British daily The Guardian:

Obama shuts network of CIA ‘ghost prisons’

Rendition and torture to be barred

• Terror fight ‘must not breach ideals’

* Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
* Friday 23 January 2009

Barack Obama embarked on the wholesale deconstruction of George Bush’s war on terror, shutting down the CIA’s secret prison network, banning torture and rendition, and calling for a new set of rules for detainees.

“The CIA shall close as expeditiously as possible any detention facilities that it currently operates and shall not operate any such detention facility in the future,” the order from Obama said.

The president’s decision to shut down the CIA’s clandestine interrogation centres, or “black sites”, went far beyond the widely anticipated move to wind down the Guantánamo Bay detention centre.

Obama carried on his demolition of the legal apparatus Bush set up for al-Qaida suspects by outlawing waterboarding and other coercive interrogation methods, and banning rendition.

A critical comment on this: here.

From British daily The Morning Star:

BRITISH human rights campaigners welcomed US President Obama’s executive order closing Guantanamo Bay on Friday but warned that his administration had a long way to go.

See also here.

Investigate US torture and prosecute those responsible: here.

17 thoughts on “Obama deconstructs Bush´s torture policies

  1. Is it just me… or is US mainstream media ignoring this?

    Posted by: “Becky Nondisplay” sagacious_ness@yahoo.com

    Sat Jan 24, 2009 11:38 pm (PST)
    Hello folks!
    I’d really appreciate your answers because I don’t watch mainstream media news and I’m not aware of mainstream press reporting this story. Am I missing something? Is it deemed unimportant?

    Three days ago, during an interview on German TV, the UN Rapporteur on Torture said that the US should bring Bush and Rumsfeld to justice for War Crimes.
    — UN body wants Bush tried for torture
    — U.N. special rapporteur on torture calls on U.S. to prosecute Bush and Rumsfeld.

    All Opinions appreciated!


  2. Obama preserves rendition two days after taking office
    Jeremy Gantz
    Published: Sunday February 1, 2009

    Two days after taking the helm of a country ready for change after eight years of George W. Bush, President Obama has allowed one controversial “War on Terror” tactic to remain in place: rendition.

    Despite frequent condemnation of the practice around the world, rendition — the secret capture, transportation and detention of suspected terrorists to foreign prisons in countries that cooperate with the U.S. — remains in the CIA’s playbook, thanks to a recent executive order issued by President Obama.

    Other executive orders shuttered the CIA’s secret prisons and banned the harsh interrogation techniques that have been termed torture. And in his most widely noticed break with his predecessor, Obama signed an order to close Guantanamo Bay’s prison within one year.

    But rendition will remain. Obama and his administration appear to believe that the rendition program was one piece of the Bush administration’s war on terrorism that it could not afford to discard, the Los Angeles Times reported.

    An administration official told the newspaper anonymously: “Obviously you need to preserve some tools — you still have to go after the bad guys. The legal advisors working on this looked at rendition. It is controversial in some circles and kicked up a big storm in Europe. But if done within certain parameters, it is an acceptable practice.”

    The momentous decision by Obama and his young administration appeared in a small provision of one executive order, which states that instructions to close the CIA’s secret prison sites “do not refer to facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis.”

    Under that language, the Soviet-era black site used by the CIA between 2002 and 2004 and revealed by Raw Story in 2007 would remain open.

    In late 2007, the U.S. House voted to effectively end CIA renditions. But that prohibition, part of a $50 billion Iraq funding bill, was never passed in the Senate. Also in 2007, Congress apologized for the wrongful detainment of Canadian citizen Maher Arar, who was “rendered” to Syria, where he was tortured into making a false confession.

    Obama’s decision to continue rendition on an apparently limited basis revives questions about the tactic’s effectiveness — not to mention legality.

    “The reason we did interrogations [ourselves] is because renditions for the most part weren’t very productive,” a former senior CIA official told the Los Angeles Times anonymously.

    But surprisingly, Human Rights Watch — the worldwide watchdog group that vehemently opposed Bush-era secret detentions facilities and torture tactics — supports Obama’s decision to continue the practice of rendition.

    “Under limited circumstances, there is a legitimate place” for renditions, Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, told the Los Angeles Times. “What I heard loud and clear from the president’s order was that they want to design a system that doesn’t result in people being sent to foreign dungeons to be tortured…”

    But the former CIA official wasn’t quite so optimistic.

    “In some ways, [rendition] is the worst option,” the former official said. “If [the prisoners] are in U.S. hands, you have a lot of checks and balances, medics and lawyers. Once you turn them over to another service, you lose control.”



  3. Defence role in CIA’s secret jails

    * February 14, 2009

    THREE human rights groups have obtained documents that confirm US Department of Defence involvement in the CIA’s “ghost” detention program, and the existence of secret prisons at Bagram air base in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

    The documents obtained as part of a long-running legal battle using freedom-of-information laws were released by the Department of Defence to Amnesty International USA, the Centre for Constitutional Rights and the Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice last week.

    The groups received about 1000 documents from Defence out of more than 12,000 that have been identified as coming within their request but which are still being withheld by agencies including the CIA and the Department of Justice.

    The groups said these documents confirm the existence of secret prisons at Bagram and in Iraq; affirm the Defence Department’s co-operation with the CIA’s “ghost” detention program; and show one case where Defence sought to delay the release of Guantanamo prisoners who were scheduled to be sent home by a month and a half in order to avoid bad press.

    The document from the transport division recommended “hold(ing) off on return flights for 45 days or so until things die down. Otherwise we are likely to have hero’s welcomes awaiting the detainees when they arrive.”

    The email also recommended transfer in a smaller, more discreet plane. Around that time a UN report on Guantanamo had been released.

    The groups said the documents also revealed that Defence had a policy not to register prisoners with the Red Cross for 14 days and sometimes for 30 days in the interests of collecting intelligence and that this policy was known to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    “These newly released documents confirm our suspicion that the tentacles of the CIA’s abusive program reached across agency lines,” said Margaret Satterthwaite, director of New York University’s International Human Rights Clinic. “In fact, it is increasingly obvious that Defence officials engaged in legal gymnastics to find ways to co-operate with the CIA’s activities.”

    The head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democrat Patrick Leahy, is pushing for the establishment of a “truth commission” answerable to both chambers of Congress to investigate the actions of the Bush administration and departments.

    Senator Leahy called his proposal a “middle ground” between those critics of the Bush administration seeking to prosecute officials, and others wishing to concentrate on the future as opposed to investigating the past.

    But on Sunday, President Barack Obama was non-committal. While he repeated his line that torture was wrong and would cease under his Administration, he also noted that he was of a mind to look forward not backwards.



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