Afghan wedding guests killed again


A girl injured in the recent rocket strike on the Afghan wedding party waits in an ambulance to be taken to hospital. Photograph: Watan Yar/EPA

In Afghanistan, wedding guests do not just die from bombs dropped by United States warplanes. Or from drone attacks, like happened also to wedding guests in Yemen.

They die from rockets as well.

From Associated Press:

Afghan police investigate fatal rocket attack on wedding party

At least 28 killed in apparent army strike day before Afghanistan takes full control of security at end of Nato combat operations

Lashkar Gah

Thursday 1 January 2015 10.16 GMT

Afghan police are investigating an apparent army rocket strike on a wedding party that killed at least 28 people, many of them women and children.

Police in southern Helmand province were looking into how soldiers came to fire a rocket at a house where a wedding was being celebrated late on Wednesday, the deputy provincial police chief, Bacha Gull, said.

The rocket appeared to have been fired from an army checkpoint near the house in Sangin district as guests waited for the bride to arrive, he said.

Police were “keeping an eye” on two army checkpoints to determine whether the soldiers manning them were engaged in a firefight with Taliban insurgents at the time or whether they fired the rockets arbitrarily. The strike wounded 51 people.

Gull said the funerals, usually held within 24 hours of a death, had been delayed to enable investigators to determine the cause of the rocket strike.

Sangin, in the poppy-producing Helmand river valley, has been the scene of fighting between government forces and Taliban in the last six months since US forces left.

The international mission to rid Afghanistan of insurgents under the leadership of the US and Nato officially ended on 31 December. Afghanistan takes full responsibility for its own security from Thursday.

Afghan government security forces and affiliated paramilitary units, developed under the US occupation, are engaged in a daily, ongoing campaign of terror against the country’s civilian population, according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released this week, “Today We Shall All Die”: here.

SEC. OF DEFENSE NOMINEE SAYS HE’S WILLING TO KEEP TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN “[Ashton Carter] says he would consider changing the current plans for withdrawing all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year if security conditions worsen.” [AP]

The killing of three US Pentagon contractors at the hands of a uniformed Afghani Army soldier in Kabul last week casts considerable doubt on President Obama’s recent proclamation that America’s “combat mission in Afghanistan is over”: here.

Despite the official end to US combat operations on December 31, US commandos are intensifying their deadly “counterterrorism” operations in Afghanistan: here.

24 February 2015. Less than two months after President Barack Obama announced an end to US combat operations in Afghanistan, top Pentagon officials have made it clear that these murderous operations are not only continuing, they are escalating, while plans for the withdrawal of American troops are being reconsidered: here.

Innocent Afghan prisoners leave Guantánamo torture camp after twelve years


This video from Channel 4 TV in Britain is called Torture -The Guantanamo Guidebook.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

US releases four Guantánamo Bay prisoners to Afghanistan

Martin Pengelly in New York and agencies

Saturday 20 December 2014 17.52 GMT

The US announced on Saturday the release of four more prisoners from the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay. The four men were repatriated to Afghanistan.

The men, who had been in the camp for more than 10 years, were named as Shawali Khan, Khi Ali Gul, Abdul Ghani and Mohammed Zahir. They had been cleared for transfer for some time and are not considered to represent security risks in Afghanistan, where US troops are still deployed.

A US official told Reuters the men were flown to Kabul overnight, aboard a US military plane, and released to Afghan authorities in the first such transfer since 2009. The official said the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, had requested the transfer.

The release of the men reduces the number of inmates held at Guantánamo to 132, eight of whom are from Afghanistan.

Khan, 51, was sent to Guantánamo 11 years ago “on the flimsiest of allegations”, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights. His lawyers said he had been a driver for the Hamid Karzai government.

According to a database compiled by the New York Times and National Public Radio, Gul, 51, was arrested in 2002 and accused of being a Taliban intelligence officer. He said he never worked for the group and that two of his “enemies” had turned him over to US troops.

Ghani, 42, was captured in 2002 as a suspected member of a Taliban-linked faction and was originally accused of “war crimes”. He said someone falsely accused him of carrying out a rocket attack; he was cleared by an inter-agency review.

Zahir, 61, was arrested in 2003 and accused of links to Taliban weapons caches, but he denied any connection and was also cleared for transfer.

A Pentagon statement said the men had been “unanimously approved for transfer” by an inter-agency task force and that the secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, had informed Congress of the decision to release them.

According to the Associated Press, the top US commander in Afghanistan, General John Campbell, had opposed the release. Officials said Campbell and all military leaders on the ground had now screened the move. The AP also reported that an official involved in the review said most of the terrorism accusations against the men had been discarded.

President Barack Obama issued an executive order to close Guantánamo in January 2009.

However, now, almost six lears later, it it is still open, with ill-treatment continuing.

Earlier this month, six inmates were released to Uruguay.

Among the men released to Uruguay was Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a Syrian man who is challenging in court the Obama administration’s use of force-feeding at the base.

Want to know the reality of US torture? Ask Shaker Aamer: here.

CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CALLS FOR GUANTANAMO CLOSURE General Martin Dempsey called the prison “a psychological scar on our national values.” [HuffPost]

Prisoners tortured in Guantanamo and Bagram


Protest outside parliament in London, England demanding the release of Shaker Aamer from detention in Guantanamo Bay prison

From daily News Line in Britain:

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

TORTURE & FORCE FEEDING IN G-BAY AND BAGRAM PRISON

GLOBAL youth media company ‘Vice’ on Monday launched a week-long special edition of their website Vice.com about Guantanamo Bay, featuring testimony from clients represented by human rights organisation Reprieve.

The special edition includes first-hand testimony from detainees Shaker Aamer, Emad Hassan and Younous Chekkouri, who have been cleared for release from the prison yet remain detained without charge or trial.

It also includes original essay contributions from Jeremy Paxman, Melvyn Bragg, John le Carré and Frederick Forsyth.

British resident Shaker Aamer has been detained in Guantanamo since 2002 despite having been cleared for release under both the Bush and Obama administrations.

The British government has repeatedly stated that Shaker should be returned as a matter of urgency to his British wife and their four children in London.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond recently dismissed concerns over the abuse faced by Shaker in Guantanamo.

Reprieve has undertaken litigation in the US – on behalf of long-time hunger striking client Abu Wa’el Dhiab – challenging the legality of the methods used to force-feed men in Guantanamo Bay.

Video tapes of Dhiab being manhandled to the force-feeding chair – dubbed ‘torture chair’ by the detainees – and force-fed, have been ordered released by a US federal judge.

Cori Crider, Strategic Director of Reprieve and attorney for the men in Guantanamo, said: ‘Guantanamo is a legal black hole and an affront to justice the world over.

‘This special edition of Vice brings much-needed attention to the plight of those men who remain detained without charge or trial.

‘The US administration is currently trying to stop video tapes of force-feedings being released to public scrutiny as part of its continuing efforts to keep transparency far away from Guantanamo.

‘The US must release these tapes – and the prison from which they came must be closed at once.’

Vice.com article, Growing up, Guantanamo says:

Mohammed el Gharani, a citizen of Chad raised in Saudi Arabia, had just turned 15 when he arrived at Guantánamo Bay in February 2002, shepherded off a military cargo plane wearing shackles and blackout goggles.

‘He weighed 126 pounds, was too young to shave, and for months didn’t know where he was. “Some brothers said Europe,” he later recalled in an interview with the London Review of Books.

‘Others thought the unsparing winter sun suggested Brazil. When an interrogator finally told him he was in Cuba, Mohammed didn’t recognise the name. “An island in the middle of the ocean,” the interrogator said. “Nobody can run away from here and you’ll be here forever.”

Omar Khadr, born in Toronto, was also shipped to the offshore prison as a juvenile.

‘The 16-year-old made an early impression on the Army chaplain on base, who, walking by his cell, found Omar curled up asleep, arms wrapped tightly around a Disney book with drawings of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy. “He definitely seemed out of place,” the chaplain told reporter Michelle Shephard, who wrote about Omar in her book Guantánamo’s Child?

‘Fahd Ghazy, who grew up in a Yemeni farming village, was seized when he was 17. He had recently graduated at the top of his high-school class.

‘One of Guantánamo’s earliest detainees, he was initially housed in the jerrybuilt, open-air cages of Camp X-Ray. Around the time he was transferred to a permanent cellblock, Fahd learned he’d won a university scholarship to study in Yemen’s capitol, Sana’a.

‘Nearly 13 years later, he’s still at the naval base – still without charge.

‘Swept up as juveniles, Mohammed, Omar, and Fahd were among some 15 to 20 detainees whose adolescence and early adulthood unfolded within the desolate confines of the prison camp, marked by isolation, abusive treatment and the chronic stress of indefinite detention.

‘For years, the Pentagon misreported how many children had been seized. “They don’t come with birth certificates,” a Guantánamo public affairs officer told the New York Times in 2005.

‘To this day, the government considers Fahd to be older than he is, explains his lawyer, Omar Farah of the Centre for Constitutional Rights.

‘While visiting Fahd’s relatives in rural Yemen last year, Farah confirmed the birth date Fahd has consistently maintained, recorded in his family’s Koran.

‘“Because they’re developing, they’re more vulnerable to being traumatised,” says Dr. Stephen Xenakis, a retired brigadier general and child psychiatrist who’s served as a medical expert in several cases at Guantánamo. “They’re detached from their families, they don’t have schooling, and they’re thrown in with adults in this adversarial climate.”

‘International juvenile justice standards identify child soldiers first and foremost as victims in need of representation and rehabilitation.

‘The first prisoner Xenakis evaluated was Omar – deemed high profile because his father had ties to Osama bin Laden – who’d been accused of lobbing a grenade that killed an American medic during a firefight in Afghanistan.

‘Gravely injured in the confrontation, Omar was found under a pile of debris with two bullet holes in his back and shrapnel in his eyes.

‘But Omar was air-evaced to Bagram and interrogated almost immediately – pain relief for his injuries withheld during questioning.

‘Years later, in an interrogation room that doubled as an office for doctor-patient interviews, Omar would say to Xenakis, “I’ll tell you what happened in this room.”

‘He described being used as a “human mop”: after painful stress positions caused him to urinate on the floor, he said, military police poured pine oil on his body and dragged him through the liquid.

“These were kids,” says Xenakis. “They’re threatened and harshly interrogated, they’re frightened. I just didn’t think it was consistent with our values as a country.’

‘Dennis Edney, Omar’s longtime civilian lawyer, recalls his client’s bearing during their first meeting in 2004. “I went into one of those cold, windowless cells,” Edney says, “and saw a young boy chained to the floor, trying to keep himself warm. He was blind in one eye, with paralysis in his right arm. He reminded me of a little broken bird. I recall the absolute shock I felt witnessing this lonely, abject figure.”

‘Plagued by procedural snarls and an ever-changing rulebook, Omar’s military commissions case dragged on for years.

‘Had he gone to trial as scheduled in 2010, he would have been the first child soldier to be prosecuted for war crimes since World War II, “a terrible precedent”, according to Human Rights Watch.

‘Instead, after a military judge ruled admissible his statements obtained under torture, Omar pled guilty to all charges, avoiding further entanglement with a system he’d described before the court as “constructed to convict detainees, not find the truth”.

Now 28 and serving an eight-year sentence in Canada, Omar remains close to Xenakis, who provides ongoing support. “He’s going to have some real challenges when he’s out,” Xenakis says. “How does he recover the skills to communicate and socialise outside the prison setting? How does he act in an environment where he can make his own choices? He’s very conscientious and diligent, but he’s got a lot of ground to make up.”

‘According to Polly Rossdale, who directs the Life After Guantánamo project for the human rights group Reprieve, the most ordinary tasks and desires often strike former detainees as insurmountable and unachievable. “When they get out,” she says, “the main things that men call me up about are, ‘How am I going to find a wife?’ Or they want to go to computer class and get computer skills.” Some have been consumed by panic in the shampoo aisle, while others can’t remember how to put on a seatbelt.

The article reveals that an ex-G-Bay prisoner Mohammed, who finally made it out of Chad in 2011, is married now, his second child born earlier this year.

‘He named the baby Shaker, after Shaker Aamer, a mentor and friend still imprisoned at Guantánamo. “Shaker was one of the men who really looked after Mohammed because he was a young boy,” Rossdale explains. “This is his way of saying thank you.’

‘Of the 779 men imprisoned at Guantánamo, roughly 600 were eventually released without charge. Nevertheless, heavy stigma has burdened former detainees looking for work or community acceptance . . .

‘Eighty-seven of Guantánamo’s remaining 148 detainees are from Yemen, 58 of whom have been cleared for transfer . . .’

Poet Hilaire read out a piece for Shaker Aamer in Parliament at a meeting demanding the release of Britain’s last prisoner still held in Guantanamo Bay: here.

President Barack Obama’s half-hearted five-year bid to to close the US concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba suffered a major setback on Monday. Reactionary senators finalising the annual Defence Policy Bill rejected steps toward shutting the torture camp: here.

Kashmir musk deer not extinct in Afghanistan


This video says about itself:

RARE KASHMIR MUSK DEER SEEN AGAIN ~ FIRST TIME IN 66 YEARS!

2 November 2014

The elusive Kashmir Musk Deer was recently spotted by scientists in Northern Afghanistan, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, for the first time since 1948!

By Richard Farrell:

First Afghan Fanged Deer Seen in More Than 60 Years

Oct 31, 2014 03:20 PM ET

A fanged creature not seen in Afghanistan for more than 60 years has been spotted by a research team in the northeast part of the country.

The Kashmir musk deer was last seen in Afghanistan in 1948. But a team headed up by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) reports in the October 22 issue of the journal Oryx that it made five sightings in a range of land that included alpine meadows and steep, rocky outcrops.

The sightings featured a solitary male that was spotted three different times in the same area, as well as one female with a juvenile deer and one solitary female. The area where they were seen was scattered with dense bushes of juniper and rhododendron.

Unfortunately, the extremely skittish deer, already difficult to spot, did not remain in place long enough to be photographed, the team said.

The Kashmir musk deer is one of seven similar species in Asia and is considered endangered due to habitat loss and poaching. The deer’s scent glands are a high-ticket black market item — deer musk has been used for ages in perfume, incense, and medical applications — and can be worth more than $20,000 per pound.

The male of the distinctive herbivores has telltale fangs used during mating season as weapons to joust for mates. For deer, they are small and a bit stocky, topping out at barely more than 2 feet tall at the shoulder.

Musk deer are one of Afghanistan’s living treasures,” said Peter Zahler, co-author of the study and WCS deputy director of Asia programs. “This rare species, along with better known wildlife such as snow leopards, are the natural heritage of this struggling nation. We hope that conditions will stabilize soon to allow WCS and local partners to better evaluate conservation needs of this species.”

Britain and the Afghan war, 2003-2014


This video from Britain is called Kate Hudson, CND: The War on Terror Today; Confronting War Ten Years On 09 02 13.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Kate Hudson

Tuesday 28 October 2014

However you spin it, the story of British intervention in Afghanistan is a tragedy

In the thirteen years of our military involvement, tens of thousands of innocent civilians were killed and the lives of 453 British troops were lost

It’s strange how 13 years after we went to war on Afghanistan, the actual reasons for doing so seem to be almost entirely obscured. ‘Leaving the country in better shape’ seems a favourite – if anodyne – description, or perhaps making it ‘more stable’. Beyond that, we have assisting in nation-building, tackling the drugs trade, improving gender equality… the list of constructive and humanitarian-sounding tasks is a long one.

Does anyone now remember or refer to the actually stated reason – the War on Terror – declared by President Bush in the days following the 9/11 attacks on the United States? The war on Afghanistan was its first manifestation, inflicted on the people of Afghanistan by Bush and Blair on 7 October 2001. This was Operation Enduring Freedom – launched on the grounds that the Taliban government refused to hand over Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda operatives.

The stated goal was to continue the War on Terror until every terrorist group had been found, stopped and defeated. Whilst this goal may have found emotional resonance with many shocked by the terrible attacks on innocent civilians there were also many at the time who argued against the collective punishment of an entire people because of the actions of a foreign-originated terrorist cell. Tens of thousands of innocent civilians have died as a result.

But the arguments made for alternative courses of action to bring the criminals to book fell on deaf ears. And though targeted alternatives were derided at the time, Bin Laden was eventually killed in Pakistan in 2011 by a team of US navy seals.

This was not so surprising as it turned out, for as time passed it became clear that the US had actually decided to overthrow the Taliban before the 9/11 attacks and spoke of regime change in other countries too. The tragedy of 9/11 was an opportunity to bring about the change in the region that the Bush administration sought. In that context, the illegal war on Iraq – following hard on the heels of Afghanistan – was made all of a piece in Bush and Blair’s War on Terror narrative. Many at the time rightly observed that there was no al-Qaeda in Iraq but that war would be the midwife of terrorism there. Over a decade on, that couldn’t be clearer as the region is engulfed in catastrophic and brutal conflict and attendant humanitarian crises. The shocking and seemingly unstoppable events of the last months are indeed part of the legacy of that opportunist and disastrous ‘War on Terror’.

The rebranding began some years ago. In April 2007, the British government announced that it was no longer using the term ‘War on Terror’. President Obama abandoned it in favour of ‘Overseas Contingency Operation’ as he sought to distance himself from the most extreme and unpopular policies of his predecessor, without making significant changes to the policy direction. In Britain, the shift was not surprising given the shattering impact of popular opposition to Blair’s War on Terror at home. The consequences of Blair’s lies continue to reverberate around the corridors of power and they have reshaped the politics and practice of military intervention for a generation.

In the meantime, the way we talk about our military intervention in Afghanistan has gone through a number of rationalisations. But whether we were supposed to be there to counter terrorism, to help the Afghans build a new society and democratic infrastructure, to support and advance the rights and opportunities of women and girls, or to tackle the drugs trade as it re-emerged post-Taliban, the reality is, we weren’t equipped for any of it and we just shouldn’t have been there.

In the thirteen years of our military involvement in Afghanistan, the sorry truth is that tens of thousands of innocent civilians were killed and the lives of 453 British troops were lost. Opium production is at record levels, providing around 90% of global supply. There has indeed been a rise in women’s rights – around 3 million girls now attend school – but these advances have been offset by a rise in gender specific violence including rape and acid attacks. These results have cost us anything between £20-£40 billion.

Whatever the narrative, however you describe it, the story of British intervention in Afghanistan is a tragedy – for our troops whose lives have been lost needlessly and for the people of Afghanistan who once again have to start rebuilding their lives. Let us hope that the lessons will be learned.

Right-of-centre ideology has lost us the war in Afghanistan and much more besides. The ignominious retreat from Afghanistan is emblematic of a wider malaise that is afflicting Britain today: here.

General John Campbell, who assumed command in August of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that is occupying Afghanistan, suggested this week that he may request more troops remain in the country than is presently scheduled: here.

On September 29th, power in Afghanistan changed hands for the first time in 13 years. At the Arg, the presidential palace in Kabul, Ashraf Ghani was sworn in as president, while the outgoing Hamid Karzai watched calmly from a front-row seat. Washington, congratulating itself on this “peaceful transition,” quickly collected the new president’s autograph on a bilateral security agreement that assures the presence of American forces in Afghanistan for at least another decade. The big news of the day: the U.S. got what it wanted. (Precisely why Americans should rejoice that our soldiers will stay in Afghanistan for another 10 years is never explained.): here.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force’s (ISAF) Joint Command, which has overseen the 13-year-long US-led war in Afghanistan, formally ceased operations in Kabul Monday amid declarations that the combat role for American and allied troops has ended. The flag-lowering ceremony, however, was eclipsed by announcements and decisions from Washington making it clear that the active US military intervention in the impoverished country is continuing and plans for the drawdown of American forces are being revised accordingly: here.

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen warned against an “abrupt withdrawal” of NATO forces from Afghanistan: here.

On December 28, the US-led International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, formally ended its combat operations in Afghanistan. President Barack Obama issued a statement declaring the step “a milestone for our country,” adding, “the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion.” Like virtually everything else that comes out of the American president’s mouth, this is a lie. The shabby little ceremony in Kabul Sunday, in which a US commander hauled down one battle flag and ran up another, only confirmed that the murderous 13-year US war in Afghanistan continues: here.

WHITE HOUSE CONSIDERS SLOWER AFGHANISTAN WITHDRAWAL PLAN “The Obama administration is considering slowing its planned withdrawal from Afghanistan for the second time, according to U.S. officials, a sign of the significant security challenges that remain despite an end to the U.S. and NATO combat mission there.” [WaPo]

US military torture in Iraq, Afghanistan on photos


This video is called Iraq – Torture and prisoner abuse by American soldiers.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

US judge sets deadline in lawsuit over Iraq, Afghanistan torture photos

23 October 2014

The Obama administration is fighting a bitter rearguard action against the release of further damning evidence that the US military engaged in the torture of prisoners in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The most recent development came Tuesday in a brief hearing before US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Washington DC, part of a long-running Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and several journalists seeking the release of 2,100 photographs depicting the torture of people detained by the US military.

The pictures are said to be more disturbing than those released in 2004 showing the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad, which caused worldwide revulsion against the US occupation regime in Iraq.

The photographs were taken by individual soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, mainly between 2003 and 2006, for their own use and to exchange with fellow soldiers as trophies or memorabilia of their wartime activities. They were confiscated in the course of more than 200 internal investigations into charges of mistreatment and abuse of prisoners, all of which have been closed without charges being brought.

The US Army released descriptions of the photos to the ACLU plaintiffs, and even these brief captions make for chilling reading. They include soldiers pointing guns at the heads of detainees who are hooded and bound, soldiers beating detainees with their fists or objects, soldiers posing with groups of bound and restrained prisoners, soldiers posing with corpses, and, in at least one case, a female soldier pointing a broomstick at the rectum of a hooded detainee.

The Pentagon reportedly catalogued the 2,100 images in May 2009, dividing them into three categories according to the degree of political damage their release would cause. The categories were described as follows:

* Category A: Will require explanation; egregious, iconic, dramatic

* Category B: Likely to require explanation; injury or humiliation

* Category C: May require explanation; injury without context

The proceedings before Judge Hellerstein are the result of a protracted political and legal conflict going back to 2009, when President Obama released a few legal memorandums justifying torture that were written by the Bush Justice Department, and initially agreed to release the photographs as well.

After a month of intense lobbying by the military brass and former Bush administration officials, Obama reversed himself and withheld the photos, claiming, “The most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.”

The administration appealed to the Supreme Court against a lower court order to release the photographs and prevailed on Congress to pass legislation giving the secretary of defense the authority to suppress such photographs for a three-year period (renewable indefinitely) by certifying that they would endanger US national security. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued that certification in November 2009, and his successor, Leon Panetta, did the same in November 2012.

The plaintiffs challenged the 2012 certification on a new ground, because Panetta had simply issued a half-page statement declaring all the photographs off-limits. Under the terms of the law, they argued, the Pentagon had to give specific reasons for withholding each photograph.

Last August, Judge Hellerstein agreed and issued an order for the administration to release the material in redacted form—that is, showing the victims but with the faces of the torturers obscured—or give specific reasons why each photograph should be kept secret.

At Tuesday’s hearing, the judge set a deadline of December 12 for the Justice Department to release the photographs or provide the explanations. He also set the date for a subsequent hearing, January 23, 2015, where the plaintiffs will be able to challenge the withholding of any photographs.

The case before Judge Hellerstein is only one of at least four different legal and political venues in which the Obama administration is engaged in an all-out defense and cover-up for American government personnel, both CIA and military, who engaged in the torture of prisoners.

The White House, Justice Department and CIA have been stalling for months the release of a massive report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on torture at CIA black sites overseas between 2003 and 2006. The committee voted to declassify the report and release it to the public last April, but Obama assigned the task of vetting the report to the agency that carried out the torture, and the CIA has continuously pushed back the deadline, now set for October 29.

According to a report last week by McClatchy News Service, the report fails to hold any officials of the Bush administration responsible for the torture of prisoners at CIA black sites, limiting its criticism to lower-level CIA personnel.

In another federal district courtroom in Washington, before Judge Gladys Kessler, the Justice Department is fighting an order to release videos of the force-feeding of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, the result of a lawsuit by one of the prisoners, Abu Wa’el Dhiab.

At a hearing last week, Judge Kessler agreed to delay for 30 days her order to release the videos, giving the Obama administration time to file an appeal. (See: Judge delays order to release Guantanamo force-feeding videos).

According to a report Sunday in the New York Times, the Obama administration is now debating how to proceed at an upcoming session of the Committee Against Torture, a United Nations panel set up under the UN Convention Against Torture, which the US government ratified in 1994.

The Bush administration took the position that the torture convention applied only to actions by US personnel committed within the United States, but not to the actions taken overseas, as in war zones or CIA secret prisons. The Obama administration had distanced itself from that interpretation, which was a flagrant assertion of the “right” to torture, but officials were now said to be having second thoughts.

“But the Obama administration has never officially declared its position on the treaty, and now, President Obama’s legal team is debating whether to back away from his earlier view,” the Times wrote. “It is considering reaffirming the Bush administration’s position that the treaty imposes no legal obligation on the United States to bar cruelty outside its borders, according to officials who discussed the deliberations on the condition of anonymity.”

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US Supreme Court suppresses torture photos
[2 December 2009]