Archive for the ‘Civil Liberties’ Category

54 Countries Helped CIA after 9/11, Report Says

In 9/11 News, Civil Liberties, Rendition, Secret Prisons, Torture on February 6, 2013 at 8:37 am

According to a report:

February 4, 2013

WASHINGTON — Some 54 countries helped facilitate the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret detention, rendition and interrogation program in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a new human rights report that documents broad international involvement in the American campaign against Al Qaeda.

The report, to be made public Tuesday by the Open Society Justice Initiative, a rights advocacy group, is the most detailed external account of other countries’ assistance to the United States, including things like permitting the C.I.A. to run secret interrogation prisons on their soil and allowing the agency to use their airports for refueling while moving prisoners around the world.

The report identifies 136 people who had been held or transferred by the C.I.A., the largest list compiled to date, and describes what is known about when and where they were held. It adds new detail to what is known about the handling of both dedicated Qaeda operatives and innocent people caught up by accident in the global machinery of counterterrorism.

Some of the harsh interrogation methods the C.I.A. used on prisoners under President George W. Bush have been widely denounced as torture, including by President Obama, who banned such techniques. In addition, some prisoners subjected to extraordinary rendition — transferred from one country to another without any legal process — were sent to countries where torture is standard practice.

Such operations remain the subject of fierce debate, with former Bush administration officials asserting that they were necessary to keep the country safe and critics saying the brutal interrogation techniques were illegal and ineffective. The debate has been renewed most recently with the release of the movie “Zero Dark Thirty,” which portrays the use of torture in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, though intelligence officials deny that was the case.

When he took office in 2009, Mr. Obama rejected calls for a national commission to investigate such practices, saying he wanted to look forward and not back. The Senate Intelligence Committee recently completed a 6,000-page study of the C.I.A. detention and interrogation program, but it remains classified, and it is uncertain whether and when it might be even partially released.

Amrit Singh, the author of the Open Society report, “Globalizing Torture,” said she had found evidence that 25 countries in Europe, 14 in Asia and 13 in Africa lent some sort of assistance to the C.I.A., in addition to Canada and Australia. They include Thailand, Romania, Poland and Lithuania, where prisoners were held, but also Denmark, which facilitated C.I.A. air operations, and Gambia, which arrested and turned over a prisoner to the agency.

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Pew Research Center Poll: 10 Years after 9/11

In 10th Anniversary, Civil Liberties on September 18, 2011 at 7:54 am

Pew Research released their latest 9/11 poll, tracking trends in public opinion on terrorism and civil liberties, and on 9/11’s personal impact:

Ten years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the events of that day retain a powerful hold on the public’s collective consciousness. Virtually every American remembers what they were doing at the moment the attacks occurred. Substantial majorities say that 9/11 had a profound personal impact and that the attacks changed the country in a major way.

Yet the public continues to be divided over many of the anti-terrorism policies that arose in the wake of Sept. 11, and these differences extend to opinions about whether U.S. wrongdoing prior to 9/11 may have motivated the attacks: 43% say yes, while 45% disagree. In late September 2001, 33% said U.S. wrongdoing might have motivated the attacks, compared with 55% who said it did not.

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New Leak Sheds Light on Gitmo

In Civil Liberties, Guantanamo Bay, Muslims and Arabs after 9/11, Rendition, Torture on April 25, 2011 at 2:02 pm

A new leak provided to the NYTimes provides new details on Gitmo operations:

WASHINGTON — A trove of more than 700 classified military documents provides new and detailed accounts of the men who have done time at the Guantánamo Bayprison in Cuba, and offers new insight into the evidence against the 172 men still locked up there.

Military intelligence officials, in assessments of detainees written between February 2002 and January 2009, evaluated their histories and provided glimpses of the tensions between captors and captives. What began as a jury-rigged experiment after the 2001 terrorist attacks now seems like an enduring American institution, and the leaked files show why, by laying bare the patchwork and contradictory evidence that in many cases would never have stood up in criminal court or a military tribunal.

The documents meticulously record the detainees’ “pocket litter” when they were captured: a bus ticket to Kabul, a fake passport and forged student ID, a restaurant receipt, even a poem. They list the prisoners’ illnesses — hepatitis, gout, tuberculosis, depression. They note their serial interrogations, enumerating — even after six or more years of relentless questioning — remaining “areas of potential exploitation.” They describe inmates’ infractions — punching guards, tearing apart shower shoes, shouting across cellblocks. And, as analysts try to bolster the case for continued incarceration, they record years of detainees’ comments about one another.

The secret documents, made available to The New York Times and several other news organizations, reveal that most of the 172 remaining prisoners have been rated as a “high risk” of posing a threat to the United States and its allies if released without adequate rehabilitation and supervision. But they also show that an even larger number of the prisoners who have left Cuba — about a third of the 600 already transferred to other countries — were also designated “high risk” before they were freed or passed to the custody of other governments.

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Obama Administration Enshrining Bush Administration War on Terror Policies

In Civil Liberties, Guantanamo Bay, Post-9/11 Domestic Anti-Terrorism Efforts on August 14, 2010 at 8:44 am

According to ACLU, Obama is establishing a “new normal” that enshrines Bush era policies into permanance:

National Security, Civil Liberties, and Human Rights Under the Obama Administration
An 18-Month Review

In the eighteen months since the issuance of those executive orders, the administration’s record on issues related to civil liberties and national security has been, at best, mixed. Indeed, on a range of issues including accountability for torture, detention of terrorism suspects, and use of lethal force against civilians, there is a very real danger that the Obama administration will enshrine permanently within the law policies and practices that were widely considered extreme and unlawful during the Bush administration. There is a real danger, in other words, that the Obama administration will preside over the creation of a “new normal.”

Did Washington Posts’s “Top Secret America” Reveal Top Secret Secrets?

In Civil Liberties, Post-9/11 Domestic Anti-Terrorism Efforts on July 22, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Aggregation of public information can become top secret:

By Peter Grier Peter Grier Wed Jul 21, 9:44 am ET

Christian Science Monitor

Washington – Did The Washington Post’s “Top Secret America” series reveal any top secrets? Not many, literally speaking.

The Post’s two-year investigation into the nation’s massive post-9/11 security buildup was constructed almost entirely from public records, according to the paper. But in a larger sense the project may have produced an overall picture that the US government would consider classified, had it produced such a report itself.

In recent years the US has consistently pushed a “mosaic theory” of intelligence gathering. This holds that individually harmless pieces of information, when combined with other pieces, can produce a composite picture that reveals national security vulnerabilities.

“Under the mosaic theory, even if the individual pieces are part of the public domain, a particular aggregation of data, or method by which the data was compiled, could in fact be classified,” says Stephen Vladeck, a professor and expert in national security law at American University’s Washington College of Law.

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Top Secret America: A Washington Post Investigation

In Civil Liberties, Post-9/11 Domestic Anti-Terrorism Efforts on July 19, 2010 at 6:25 pm

The Washington Post investigates the massive security apparatus erected after 9/11:

A hidden world, growing beyond control

by Dana Priest and WIlliam M. Arkin

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

The investigation’s other findings include:

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings – about 17 million square feet of space.

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The Torture of Maher Arar

In Civil Liberties, Rendition, Torture on January 10, 2010 at 9:32 pm

From the New York Review of Books:

In the fall of 2002, Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen on his way home from Tunisia, was pulled out of line by US officials while changing planes at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. He was locked up for twelve days, much of that time incommunicado, and harshly interrogated. When he was finally allowed to make a phone call, after a week in captivity, he called his mother in Canada, who found him a lawyer.

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“Enemy Combatant” Ali al-Marri Finally Sentenced

In Civil Liberties on October 30, 2009 at 9:14 am

This court decision is an indication of how Guantanamo Bay prisoners may be processed on U.S. soil.  Imprisoned since 2001, Ali al-Marri is finally given an official prison sentence:

A former “enemy combatant” who was held in a South Carolina Naval brig for six years with no charges was sentenced Thursday to eight years and four months in prison, a Justice Department spokesman said.  Ali al-Marri pleaded guilty in federal court in Illinois in May to conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization. He could have received a maximum of 15 years in prison. “This administration is committed to bringing terrorists to justice for their crimes,” Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said. “Al-Marri, who has been in U.S. custody since December 2001, was dispatched by the highest levels of al Qaeda to carry out its terrorist objectives in America.”A defense attorney for the Qatari citizen, who had been a student at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, when he was arrested, said the judge ruled on a lesser sentence to reflect the nearly six years al-Marri already spent at the Naval brig in Charleston, South Carolina. “We’re pleased with the result,” said the attorney, Larry Lustberg. “Mr. al-Marri is also very pleased.” Al-Marri was transferred to a federal prison in Illinois in March after President Obama ordered a review of his case. The case was ultimately referred to the Justice Department, which filed charges.

The Pentagon said he trained at a terror camp in Afghanistan, met al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and “volunteered for a martyr mission,” according to court documents filed earlier in the case. According to a copy of his plea agreement, al-Marri admitted that he “knowingly conspired and agreed with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed” to provide support to al Qaeda and to work under the organization’s direction and control. “Between 1998 and 2001, the defendant attended various training camps because he wished to engage in jihad,” the document said. While in the training camps and in al Qaeda safe houses in Pakistan, he was known by the name Abdul-Rahman al-Qatari, according to the plea agreement. Mohammed approached al-Marri in 2001 about his offer to assist al Qaeda, the plea agreement said. “The defendant was instructed by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to enter the United States no later than September 10, 2001, with an understanding that he was to remain in the United States for an undetermined length of time,” the documents said.

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iWatch: Citizen “Anti-Terrorism” Watch Program Spurred by Najibullah Zazi Arrest

In Civil Liberties, Post-9/11 Domestic Anti-Terrorism Efforts on October 5, 2009 at 10:08 am

Everyday citizens watching out for terrorists in America:

A store clerk’s curiosity about why Najibullah Zazi was buying large quantities of beauty supply products indicated that something about the transaction wasn’t quite right — and it’s an example of the kind of citizen vigilance that can combat terror, a police commander said Saturday. Los Angeles police Cmdr. Joan McNamara cited this summer’s incident as police chiefs meeting in Denver adopted a model for a nationwide community watch program that teaches people what behavior is truly suspicious and encourages them to report it to police.Federal authorities allege Zazi, 24, tried to make a homemade explosive using ingredients from beauty supplies purchased at Denver-area stores. He has been jailed in New York on charges of conspiracy to detonate a weapon of mass destruction in a plot that may have targeted New York City. Zazi has denied the charges. Zazi reportedly told an inquisitive clerk he needed a large amount of cosmetic chemicals because he had “lots of girlfriends.” While his purchases weren’t reported to authorities because suppliers often buy large quantities, the police chiefs hope a coordinated publicity effort will make people think differently about such encounters.

Los Angeles police Chief William Bratton, who developed the iWatch program with McNamara, called it the 21st century version of Neighborhood Watch.

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Obama Administration to Continue Rendition Flights

In Civil Liberties, Guantanamo Bay, Rendition, Secret Prisons, Torture on August 25, 2009 at 11:23 am

Promising strict supervision, the Obama administration will continue rendition of detainees to third country parties:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will continue the Bush administration’s practice of sending terrorism suspects to third countries for detention and interrogation, but pledges to closely monitor their treatment to ensure that they are not tortured, administration officials said Monday.

The announcement, by President Obama’s Interrogation and Transfer Policy Task Force, seemed intended in part to offset the impact of the release on Monday of a long-withheld report by the C.I.A. inspector general, written in 2004, that offered new details about the brutal tactics used by the C.I.A. in interrogating terrorism detainees.

Though the Obama administration previously signaled that it would continue the use of renditions, some civil liberties groups were disappointed because, as a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama had strongly suggested he might end the practice. In an article in Foreign Affairs in the summer of 2007, Mr. Obama wrote, “To build a better, freer world, we must first behave in ways that reflect the decency and aspirations of the American people.”

Mr. Obama continued, “This means ending the practices of shipping away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries, of detaining thousands without charge or trial, of maintaining a network of secret prisons to jail people beyond the reach of the law.” In January, the president ordered secret prisons run by the C.I.A. to be shut down.

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