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U.S. Defence releases torture documents

Notable US political journalist Jason Leopold has kindly allowed us to publish this update on the slow unravelling of the secrets behind Guantanamo. Thank you, Jason!

The Department of Defence released redacted documents Thursday related to abuse and torture of detainee held e in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay and other overseas prisons.

The 12 documents were released as part of the American Civil Liberties Union's long-running Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the government.

"These documents provide still more evidence of the widespread and systemic abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other overseas locations," said Amrit Singh, an ACLU staff attorney. "They further underscore the need for a congressional select committee to examine the roots of the torture program as well as an independent prosecutor to investigate issues of criminal responsibility.

"Key details relating to the Defence Department's use of illegal and abusive interrogation methods have, however, been redacted from these documents. In some documents, the Obama administration has even withheld details previously disclosed by the Bush administration. The withholding of this information makes a mockery of President Obama's promise of transparency."

In a separate case on Thursday, the CIA told a federal court judge that it can not turn over a report prepared by the agency's inspector general that called into question the legality of the Bush administration's torture program until the end of the summer.

The announcement was made following several delays over the past few weeks in a long-running court case between the agency and the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to gain access to the report and other documents related to the treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Justice Department, acting on behalf of the CIA, told a U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein earlier this year that the agency would turn over a reprocessed version of the report on June 19. The CIA then requested two extensions – to June 26 and then July 1.

"As we explained to the Court and Plaintiffs when Plaintiffs first raised the prospect of expediting the Special Review Report, the Report poses unique processing issues,” the Justice Department said in a letter Thursday. “It is over 200 pages long and contains a comprehensive summary and review of the CIA's detention and interrogation program.

"The Report touches upon the information contained in virtually all of the remaining 318 documents remanded for further review. Although the Government has endeavored in good faith to complete the review of the Special Review Report first, as we have gone through the process, we have determined that prioritizing the Report is simply untenable."

“In this instance, we have determined that the only practicable approach is to first complete the review of the remaining 318 documents, and then apply the withholding determinations made with respect to the information in those documents to the Special Review Report... One month into that process, we have concluded that we must review all of the documents together, and that the review will take until August 31, 2009.”

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pushing envelopes

Without seeking to offend Fiona thru lack of direct relevance, will suggest that out treatment of aboriginals actually provides circumstantial evidence of the likelihood of the other claims made here. Our treatment of indigenes alone, over two centuries, from Palm Island to Fremantle jail,  is notorious.

Most recently the horrible death of Doomadgee and the ritual exoneration of his police tormenter may be far closer to the norm than the exception. Even more recently, we have seen socially conservative governments of both colours reluctant also to remove the latest toys of the police, Tasers (over/ ab)used in arguably sadistic ways, removed from them. It is well within the Australian nature to apply or countenance cruelty, as with other members of the human family at their worst. And the bikie laws are good cover for more Haneef style abuses of custody and detention, since they can be applied not only to thugs but others unppoular with politicians, if things are wangled right.

Alan Curran, your inferences that Hicks and Habib were not ill treated , against all reports over recent years, is possibly an example of contempt prior to investigation, altho the media obfuscation for politicisation purposes means that it is difficult to report the facts to them, because of the coveringings up.

But you may be heading in the right direction when you hint at the likelihood of government collusion in obscuring the facts as they have eventuated over the last decade in particular.  Smith indeed would not want to bring grief for Rudd, and you can bet both would be continuing on with  the supine behaviour the web of our weasel-worded so-called treaty obligations, particularly with the US, would demand of us.

On another front Marilyn Shepherd and others have brought forth copious evidence as to the reality against the confected media whitewashing of treatment of refugees detained over the last decade, and current reports seem to demonstrate our troops behaviours and tactices in places like Aghanistan and Iraq may not all we would have desired of them.

No, Richard is right to protest that we do not drop civilised standards, not just because they are a repugnant affront to our sensibilities and sense of fair play - "do unto others", etc. 

We wish not to be associated with torture and sadism even for less contentious reasons, let alone the spurious ideology and propaganda-backed military campaigns against the resistance of poor people in poor countries trying to rid themselves of invaders who plunder their resources but window-dress this with chatter about "defending democracy". 

But also, because in a world of deteriorating standards the chances of inappropriate methods eventually being used on us increases, their use becomes a universal, if the politicians have their control-freaky way

I refer again to previous examples re Aboriginies and Tasers - enough already, although public apathy and media spin will ensure that the thing is never properly examined while it is still soon enough to have it nipped in the bud.


Paul Walter: "Alan Curran, your inferences that Hicks and Habib were not ill treated , against all reports over recent years...".

Which reports were those?The ones from Hick's father and Habib's lawyer?

Try the FBI

Who admitted that they had tortured Habib and Hicks in Gitmo.


Marilyn Shepherd, could you point me to where this info can be found?

Richard:  The answer to this serves as an appropriate segue to Irfan's thread.   


Paul Walter, I have no problems with the treatment of indigenous Australians, the (ab)use of tasers by the police, or the iniquitous "anti-terrorism" and anti-group (not just bikies - could easily be extended to the CWA or - shock horror - to any political group that the government of the day doesn't like - but that latter point is in my opinion a discussion for another thread) being discussed here. These matters are interconnected.

However, I fail to see the relevance of Mr Rudd's visit to the Pope, or Australia's bid for the Football World Cup, to the present topic. 

I see

Fiona: "...I fail to see the relevance of Mr.Rudd's visit to the Pope, or Australia's bid for the Football World cup."

Must I instruct you of all people? 

It is precisely because they are irrelevant that they are relevant.

But are they?

Can you think of anything more relevant than an appeal for the canonisation of sister Mary MacKillop, for example?

Ps,  I haven't personally mentioned above mentioned events. I have been much more preoccupied with Michael Jackson's funeral and Barry Hall retiring because he can't hold his temper - serious subjects!


On exposed form (Abu Grahib for example) the US (not to mention ourselves) is quite capable of routine abuse and its denial. To believe that abuse / torture of prisoners in the hermetically sealed Guantanamo camp did not occur is to indulge in fantasy. All the elements are in play: the camp is removed from the cover of US law; it is sealed off from any scrutiny and the "judiciary" is also the jailer.

This is a bit like those who stridently assert that homoerotic relationships did not occur in the  Spartan agoge. Boys, seven years old, removed to common "messes" untill eighteen and were encouraged to form relationships with their adult mess companions. Of course homosexual sex did not take place. Even though all the conditions were met...

Father Park


Marilyn beat me to it, Alan!  In spite of other things we've done wrong, inflicting pain to extract information remains abhorrent to most. That we've been doing so in other countries should invoke similar sentiments.  It astounds me that this is not the case.

UN Rapporteur's submission

Alan, it wasnj't just for British pounds.  Aussie dollars are involved.

Paul Walter, David Davis' words take me right back to little old footnote 68 of the Special Rapporteur's submission to the U.N. Human Rights Council in February:

Evidence proves that Australian, British and United States intelligence personnel have themselves interviewed detainees who were held incommunicado by the Pakistani ISI in so-called safe houses, where they were being tortured 

The Guardian info is the first i've seen publicly confirming the Special Rapporteur's findings.  Considering that Mick Keelty dismissed Habib's claims of Pakistani torture as a flight of fantasy, it seems to me that Stephen Smith's refusal to implement an independent Australian inquiry into such matters on the grounds that the Americans are looking into it is, to say the least, a rather pathetic sweeping of our shame under the nearest rug.

The UN's International Day for Victims of Torture (on June 28( has slipped past with little fanfare from Government folks.  Why?

Obviously we're going to have to wait for a local equivalent of UK MP Davis to drag proof of our participation into the public domain.  I hope it happens sooner than later.


Richard, it looks as though Stephen Smith, like most Australians also does not believe the fantasies of Hicks and Habib.

I can't imagine Smith wanting to get his boss Rudd into trouble, better to sweep it under the carpet if there is anything in it.

If we are going to spend money on inquiries, let's have one on what happened to Broadband, the homeless and Aboriginal affairs.

Britain outed in Parliament


They have been outsourcing torture to Pakistan and the UAE and covering it up. Bravo to David Davis for blowing the whistle on the lying liars.


Marilyn Shepherd, fancy the Pakistanis and Arabs trying to outdo each other as the best torturerers of their Muslim brothers, and all for a few British pounds.

Rangzieb Ahmed is lucky he is not a homeless Aboriginal. Can you imagine how Rudd and Gillard would have treated him?


We don't pull off the nails of aborigines in this country.

Doing nothing

Marilyn, of course we don't pull the nails off aborigines in this country, we are too civilised for that. Our pollies make a big deal of saying sorry to them and then in the next two years do nothing, except give themselves some overseas trips. We then get the sight of Rudd throwing his hands up in horror when he finds out what his governement has done for the aborigines. However, it did not stop him jumping on his plane and heading off to see the Pope to try and get us another saint, and also trying to get us the World Cup. I'll bet the aborigines can't wait for these two things to happen.

Fiona: Alan, could you possibly confine your comments to the thread topic? There are other threads where you could be raising what you perceive as the iniquities of Mr Rudd and his government.

How long till Aussie stuff comes out?

Fingernails ripped off, beating with staves and lengths of rubber tyre ... don't forget it wasn't just UK and US Intel doing this sort of ISI outsourcing. Remember that UN Rapporteur's submission in February?  Australian intel officers were apparently participating as well.


Richard Tonkin: "Australian intel officers were apparently participating as well."

Does Richard meaning participating in outsourcing arrangements, or the actual interrogation "process", if you know what I mean?

UNHCR protecting smuggled people

UNHCR Summary Position on the Protocol Against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime

1. UNHCR has followed with interest the recent adoption of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, including the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air ("Protocol against Smuggling") and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children ("Protocol against Trafficking"). The Office is pleased to be present at the High-Level Political Signing Conference held in Palermo, Sicily, from 12 to 15 December 2000.

2. UNHCR shares the concerns raised by many States that criminal and organized smuggling of migrants, on a large scale, may lead to the misuse of national asylum or immigration procedures. However, given an increasing number of obstacles to access safety, asylum-seekers are often compelled to resort to smugglers. UNHCR is also aware of cases of trafficked persons, particularly women and children, who may, under exceptional circumstances, be in need of international protection. The Office therefore participated in the preparatory work of the Ad Hoc Committee in Vienna, supporting its efforts to elaborate international instruments which would enable governments to combat smuggling and trafficking of persons, whilst upholding their international protection responsibilities towards refugees.

3. The Protocol against Smuggling, for instance, contains a number of provisions which may impact on smuggled asylum-seekers. The authorization to intercept vessels on the high seas, the obligation to strengthen border controls and to adopt sanctions for commercial carriers, or the commitment to accept the return of smuggled migrants may indeed affect those who seek international protection. A number of comparable provisions of the Protocol against Trafficking may have a similar effect.

4. During the sessions of the Ad-Hoc Committee, UNHCR therefore emphasized the need to reconcile measures to combat the smuggling of migrants and the trafficking of persons with existing obligations under international refugee law. The Office welcomes the adoption of a saving clause in both Protocols, designed to safeguard the rights of asylum-seekers and refugees under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, in particular in relation to the principle of non-refoulement.

5. In addition, UNHCR appreciates the adoption of provisions for the protection of smuggled migrants, such as the obligation of States Parties to take appropriate measures to afford smuggled migrants protection against violence and to take into account the special needs of women and children. The Protocol against Smuggling is also clear in that it does not aim at punishing persons for the mere fact of having been smuggled or at penalizing organizations which assist such persons for purely humanitarian reasons. Indonesian fishermen do not deserve to be charged or jailed.6. In conclusion, UNHCR hopes that States Parties will respect the international legal framework set out by both Protocols through the adoption of similar safeguards in all bilateral or regional agreements or operational arrangements implementing or enhancing the provisions of these Protocols.

11 December 2000

Well we pay them to do it

That smug thug of a soldier last night made me want to hit him and good for Sophie for aggressively attacking him. Then to switch to ABC and watch a reprise of Women of the Sun 25 years later disgusted me.

The crimes have never changed and we sit in our smug castles and pretend we are the good guys.

Back to Hicks

All well and good for Stephen Smith to say there will be no Oz inquiry because the U.S. is handling the situation...

Look, I can understand why Obama doesn't want those happysnaps the UCLA fought for being exposed.  It's hardly useful, when you're occupyiing  another country, to spread around postcards of your soldiers torturing the local citizenry.  However, it looks more and more like that the whole sordid mess is going to be swept under the Presidential rug.  Given that Obama received so much support for his stance on Guantanamo, and showing the world that "we don't torture" it's a bloody shame that the US locals aren't raising much more of a stink. 

Paul, I share your concerns.  For Australia to be a passenger on this ride is, IMHO, all too convenient. 

Catch-22 in Oruzgan

Amazing. An hour ago was writing a post commenting on the suppression by the CIA of reports on torture.

Since then have caught up with Dateline report on Afghanistan, with our own defence forces also suppressing information about serious incidents involving "collateral damage" with Afghani civilians, events which according to one observer, constitute "major strategic defeats".

Also, the arrogant response of the (Australian) military to a call by the Afghani President Kharzai that bombings cease due to civilian casualties of the "we'll bomb them if we feel like it"  type.

Torture is a god-given right?

 "The CIA told a federal court judge that it cannot turn over a report...that called into question the Bush adminstrations torture program until the end of summer."

Cannot/ will not?

Why are they not interested in finding out from the court whether torture is legal or not?

 Surely they would welcome a court decision/clarification/ ruling, particularly since being decent people, they could then have a way out of using it?

Sounds just a bit sick, to me.


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