Iraq 10 years later: 'cycle of human rights abuses'

Ten years after the US-led invasion, Iraq remains enmeshed in a grim cycle of human rights abuses, including attacks on civilians, torture of detainees and unfair trials, said Amnesty International in a new report March 8. "A Decade of Abuses" documents a chronology of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees committed by Iraqi security forces and by foreign troops in the wake of the 2003 invasion. Information was gathered from multiple sources including interviews with detainees, victims' families, refugees, lawyers, human rights activists and others, plus reviews of court papers and other official documents. The report accuses Iraqi authorities of a "continuing failure to observe their obligations to uphold human rights and respect the rule of law in the face of persistent deadly attacks by armed groups, who show callous disregard for civilian life."

Did Iran shelter Sulaiman Abu Ghaith?

Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and al-Qaeda's one-time media voice Sulaiman Abu Ghaith was seized by CIA agents and taken to the US after Turkey deported him to Jordan this month, it was revelaed March 7. AFP reports that Abu Ghaith was seized by Turkish authorities last month at a luxury hotel in Ankara after a tip-off from CIA, and was held there despite a US request for his extradition. Turkey apparently deported Abu Ghaith to Jordan on March 1 to be sent back to his native Kuwait, but he was seized by CIA agents in Jordan and taken to the United States. In a revelation that could be convenient for the slowly mounting war drive, it appears that before arriving in Turkey, Abu Ghaith had been in Iran...

Gitmo: harsh conditions, hunger strike reported

Defense lawyers for detainees held at Guantánamo Bay and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) sent a letter (PDF) to Rear Admiral John Smith Jr.  describing harsh conditions faced by the detainees and indicated that the detainees have begun to protest the conditions, including participating in a hunger strike. The letter alleged that "camp authorities have been confiscating detainees' personal items, including blankets, sheets, towels, mats, razors, toothbrushes, books, family photos, religious CDs, and letters, including legal mail; and restricting their exercise, seemingly without provocation or cause."

Navy lawyers: Gitmo bugs no breach of privilege

Military lawyers from the US Navy on Feb. 12 said that surveillance equipment deployed throughout the Guantánamo Bay detention center was not used to breach attorney-client privilege. The officials indicated that devices used to record audio and video were routinely placed throughout the detention center, but they were only used for security purposes. The surveillance devices were often concealed in common objects such as smoke detectors. The lawyers admitted that a person would not know they were under surveillance, but that the prosecuting lawyers did not review any of the recordings. Officials also indicated that some legal mailings had been opened and searched for contraband and then delivered to the detainee. They said that they did not read any of the documents.

John Kiriakou: CIA whistle-blower?

Hmmm. The last time we made note of retired CIA agent John Kiriakou six years ago, he had just confirmed the use of waterboarding during the interrogation of al-Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah—and by all appearances seemed to be justifying it. Kiriakou said that the tactic's efficacy in helping to disrupt "a number of attacks, maybe dozens" outweighed its harshness. Now he's just been sentenced to 30 months in prison for blowing the cover on a fellow CIA agent. Having copped a plea in the case, he nonetheless portrays himself as a "whistleblower" on CIA torture. The judge didn't buy it. "This is not a case of a whistleblower," US District Judge Leonie Brinkema told Kiriakou at his sentencing hearing. "This is a case of a man who betrayed a solemn trust." (Government Security News, Jan. 28) 

Italy: court convicts three for CIA 'rendition'

The Milan Court of Appeals on Feb. 1 convicted three US nationals for their roles in the 2003 "rendition" kidnapping of Egyptian cleric and terror suspect Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr AKA Abu Omar. Due to diplomatic immunity, all three men had been acquitted in the previous trial where the Milan court convicted 23 former CIA agents. Vacating the acquittals, the court now sentenced former CIA station chief Jeff Castelli to seven years, and the two other Americans, Betnie Madero and Ralph Russomando, to six years. The appeals process has been separated for Castelli and the other two men for technical reasons, and the appellate court's reasoning is expected to be released this month.

Gitmo detainee seeks ECHR ruling on CIA prison

Lawyers for Guantánamo Bay detainee Abu Zubaydah on Jan. 28 asked the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to rule on whether Poland violated their client's rights by aiding the US in detaining and allegedly torturing Zubaydah in a secret CIA prison. Zubaydah, a top al-Qaeda suspect, alleges that he was transferred to Poland and subjected to "enhanced interrogation techniques." An investigation into the prison has been ongoing in Poland since 2008, but Zubaydah's lawyers argued that it has made no noticeable effort to bring any perpetrators to justice. The letter is notice that an application for a hearing will be filed.

Prison evidence at issue in 9-11 trial

Defense lawyers for the five accused 9-11 conspirators petitioned a US military judge at Guantánamo Bay on Jan. 28 to preserve the prisons where the defendants were held as evidence. The defendants claim that they were tortured during their time held in secret CIA prisons. This is one of the many issues that are set to be litigated when pretrial hearings begin Monday at the war crimes tribunal taking place at the Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base in Cuba. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, accused of planning the 9-11 attacks, is among those set to stand trial. Lawyers for the defendants have requested documents from the White House and Justice Department that authorized the CIA to move suspected al-Qaeda members across borders after 9-11 and keep them in secret prisons for interrogations. Defense lawyers will argue that the defendants were subjected to illegal pre-trial punishment. The prosecution maintains that it will not use any information in trial that was obtained through torture or other techniques that violate US or international law.

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