Detainee treatment

  • August 8, 2014
    Guest Post

    by Raha Wala, Senior Counsel, Defense & Intelligence, Human Rights First

    Last week President Obama admitted what most people have long known—that, in the president’s words, “we tortured some folks” after 9/11 in a bid to thwart future terrorist plots.  The president was referring to a soon-to-be released report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) that documents the CIA’s use of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment at secret “black sites” around the world in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. But the CIA has resisted and even undermined oversight on this critical issue from the beginning. And now current and former CIA leaders appear poised to mount a “counterattack” to undermine the report’s key findings and defend the so-called “enhanced interrogation” program. President Obama can’t let that happen.  He should direct members of his administration, including CIA Director Brennan, to get in line with the anti-torture policy he laid out when he—as one of his first official acts as president—signed an Executive Order shuttering the CIA black sites and banning torture and other forms of cruel treatment. 

    The SSCI report is the result of a five-year inquiry into the CIA rendition, detention and interrogation program; it began when the committee discovered that the CIA had disregarded warnings from the White House and destroyed videotapes of waterboarding and other brutal torture sessions. The report—a voluminous account, at 6,700 pages—is based on a review of more than 6 million pages of official documents, and is said to conclude that interrogations in the CIA program were much more widespread and brutal than previously known, and much less effective at gathering intelligence to stop terrorist plots than proponents of so-called “enhanced interrogation” claim. The report will show, for example, how the interrogation program played no meaningful role in gathering intelligence to help discover Osama Bin Laden’s whereabouts. It is also said to document how the CIA systematically misled Congress, the Department of Justice, and the White House about the effectiveness of the program. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chair of the SSCI, has called the investigation into the CIA’s use of torture one of the most significant in the history of the United States Senate, and the most important oversight activity ever conducted by the SSCI. The executive summary, findings and conclusions of the SSCI report—about 600 pages of material—are set to be released in the coming weeks.

  • May 16, 2014
     
    An unclassified report released Wednesday by the departments of Justice and Defense assured  members of Congress that “if Guantánamo Bay detainees were relocated to a prison inside the United States, it is unlikely that a court would order their release onto domestic soil.” Charlie Savage at The New York Times discusses how the report “addresses concerns over President Obama’s plan to close the controversial prison.
     
    Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg upheld Washington, D.C.’s strong post-Heller gun regulations, finding that they “pass constitutional scrutiny.” Ann E. Marimow at The Washington Post has the story.
     
    At The Week, Matt Bruenig argues in favor of term-limiting Supreme Court justices. In his article, Bruenig supports a proposal that would enable Supreme Court judges to serve single, staggered 18-year terms.
     
    Earlier this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit struck down several sections of Wisconsin’s campaign finance law. At Concurring Opinions, Ronald K.L. Collins breaks down Wisconsin Right to Life v. Barland
  • March 5, 2014

    The Justice Department has been asked to investigate accusations of CIA surveillance of computers used by Senate staff to prepare a Senate Intelligence Committee report allegedly detailing “how the CIA misled the Bush administration and Congress about the use of interrogation techniques that many experts consider torture.” Jonathan S. Landay, Ali Watkins, and Maris Taylor at McClatchy DC have the story.

     
    State officials are appealing U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II’s ruling that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages legally performed outside the state. Writing for The Courier-Journal, Tom Loftus and Chris Kenning report on why the Office of the Attorney General is sitting this one out.
     
    The Supreme Court agreed to hear oral argument in a case that challenges the Arkansas Department of Corrections’ no-beard policy for inmates. Ruthann Robson—Faculty Advisor for the CUNY School of Law ACS Student Chapter—reviews Holt v. Hobbs at the Constitutional Law Prof Blog and explores whether the ADC’s policy violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.
     
    Yesterday, the Supreme Court expanded whistleblower protections. In Lawson v. FMR LLC, the justices agreed to extend such protections to businesses working for public companies. Writing for Reuters, Lawrence Hurley breaks down the high court’s decision.
     
    Andrew Cohen at The Atlantic examines United States v. Maloney, a case that features a wrongfully convicted man, an intrepid prosecutor and “a result … that is worthy of respect.”
     
    Alex Rich at Above the Law argues why a new meaning of legal work “may define the work of a generation of lawyers.”
  • February 28, 2014

    by ACS Staff

    Moazzam Begg, an ex-Guantánamo detainee and prominent critic of the West’s War on Terror, was arrested Tuesday in an “anti-terror raid” in Birmingham, England. Begg, a native-born British citizen, was detained for three years after September 11, 2001 without being charged of a crime. Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain at The Intercept discuss the “dubious terrorism charges” that are “part of the effort to criminalize Muslim political dissent.”
     
    Could allowing people to openly carry their firearms reduce the number of guns in public? Writing for The Huffington Post, Adam Winkler—Faculty Advisor to the UCLA School of Law ACS Student Chapter—explains why gun control advocates should consider this creative option.
     
    The Public Campaign Action Fund is spending $1 million to rally New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators to pass a bill that would combat big-money politics and "raise up the voices of everyday people in our political process." Andy Kroll at Mother Jones has the story.
     
    A secretly recorded video of recent Supreme Court oral argument has been released by the advocacy group 99Rise.orgBill Mears of CNN reports on the rare footage that is raising concerns at the high court.
     
    Dana Milbank of The Washington Post comments on the GOP’s frivolous lawsuits against the Obama administration and their ideological shift on judicial activism.
     
    At ACLU’s Blog of Rights, Dennis Parker compares commentary on Adkins et al. vs. Morgan Stanley with the eloquent imagery of Jamaal May’s “There Are Birds Here.”
  • September 11, 2013
    Guest Post

    by C. Dixon Osburn, Director, Law & Security, Human Rights First

    Twelve years after 9/11, those who planned the attacks have yet to be held accountable for causing the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians. Guantanamo policy is to blame.

    While the military commission trial against Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his co-conspirators will resume next week on the isolated base in Cuba, no one should expect progress any time soon.  The commissions, even in their current third incarnation, have been plagued with one misfire after another, leading the chief of staff for the official overseeing Guantanamo to reportedly call the prison “a hot mess.”  The myriad recent problems with the commissions include:

    The military judge failed to determine whether the Constitution applies to the commission proceedings as a whole, leaving the parties to argue over every possible application of the Constitution.

    The court ruled defendants are not able to hear evidence of their own torture because it’s classified.

    The CIA, unbeknownst to the military judge, had the ability to censor testimony, which was discovered when a white noise button was used, but not by the court security officer.

    It was discovered that eavesdropping devices at the court could monitor attorney client communications.

    Defense emails and documents have disappeared from government computers, leading the chief defense counsel to bar use of Pentagon computers for casework.

    In a major counterterrorism speech this spring, President Obama pledged to redouble efforts to close Guantanamo – a symbol of torture and indefinite detention.  He said, “Guantanamo has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law.”