Thursday, July 30, 2009

Four Important Articles

Democracy Now! has an amazing interview with a number of activists and an ACLU attorney on the stunning revelations around the use of spies (thanks, Wikileaks!), hired through private contracting firms, to infiltrate domestic political groups.
Newly declassified documents reveal that an active member of Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance in Washington state was actually an informant for the US military. The man everyone knew as “John Jacob” was in fact John Towery, a member of the Force Protection Service at Fort Lewis. The military’s role in the spying raises questions about possibly illegal activity. The Posse Comitatus law bars the use of the armed forces for law enforcement inside the United States. The Fort Lewis military base denied our request for an interview. But in a statement to Democracy Now!, the base’s Public Affairs office publicly acknowledged for the first time that Towery is a military operative. “This could be one of the key revelations of this era,” said Eileen Clancy, who has closely tracked government spying on activist organizations. [includes rush transcript]
From OpEd News, and following my own ground-breaking story on the role of former Navy psychologist Michael Gelles's role in the abuse of Daniel King, Stephen Soldz has written an excellent essay, The American Psychological Association and the Missing Ethics Investigation:

What is most important is that the APA Ethics Committee, faced with a complaint of very serious ethical lapses from a highly reputable attorney, failed to open the case or investigate these claims. It thus appears that they never even viewed the videotape containing the Gelles interview of King or sought information from King or his complainant attorneys.

This case is not the only ethics complaint filed against a member of the PENS task force. Another Task Force member faced charges for possible involvement in abuses at Guantánamo in 2003. Here, too, the APA Ethics Committee declined to open a case, even though the same APA Ethics Director, Stephen Behnke, publicly admitted that the acts alleged are unethical. In yet a third case, an ethics complaint against a Guantanamo military psychologist was opened but remains open three years later. Government documents show this psychologist participating in the planning and execution of the of Guantanamo detainees al Qahtani. A fourth psychologist, Col. Morgan Banks, has acknowledged training Guantánamo interrogators in abusive interrogation techniques. Ethics charges could not be brought against Banks because he was not an APA member at the time of the abuse. Nor was he an APA member when Behnke appointed him to the PENS Task Force, though he has joined the APA since. Evidently ethics complaints against psychologists affiliated with the military [Gelles was a civilian NCIS employee at the time of the King interrogation] have an exceedingly high threshold before the APA will even open a case, much less investigate.

Equally important to the failure of the APA to investigate the complaint against Gelles was that Behnke allowed Gelles to be appointed to the PENS task force on the ethics of interrogations, in spite of the fact that an ethics complaint had been filed against him for interrogation abuse.

Bmaz over at Firedoglake has an article on Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni, whose case is finally coming to trial in Britain. Quoting from Reprieve representative Clive Stafford Smith in the Guardian:
"It pains me, then, to report on the role of the British government in the case of Saad Iqbal Madni, whose legal case Reprieve begins today. Madni was seized in Jakarta on 11 January 2002, and badly beaten. The Americans put him in a coffin, and flew him to Egypt, apparently stopping off in the British colony of Diego Garcia en route. When Madni arrived in Cairo, he was still bleeding through his nose and mouth from his earlier abuse, yet this was soon relegated to a minor complaint. At the behest of the Americans, he spent 92 days being tortured with electric cattle prods, before being rendered to Afghanistan and ultimately to Guantánamo Bay."
If you still have time after reading these excellent articles, you might want to bookmark, as well, Andy Worthington's important analysis on the Obama administration's dilatory policy towards ending the worst abuses around torture and detention, Obama And The Deadline For Closing Guantánamo: It’s Worse Than You Think:
The proposals put forward by the Task Force — and clearly endorsed by Obama — are bitterly disappointing, not only because they are so shamefully dismissive of the presumption of innocence, and because they reveal a desire to further turn the judicial system on its head by endorsing preventive detention, but also because they are cowardly in the extreme....

The fact that the Task Force appears not to have fully understood the scale of the Bush administration’s incompetence regarding the capture and interrogation of the Guantánamo prisoners, and the manifold problems with the supposed evidence against them counts, in the end, as a distressing example of the sort of paranoia for which Dick Cheney is best known triumphing over the kind of common sense and dedication to the pursuit of justice for which Barack Obama seemed to stand just a few short months ago.

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