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Coming clean on CIA war-on-terror torture?

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall.

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall.

Sen. Mark Udall asks Obama administration to make a commitment on transparency

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — While some government officials would like nothing better than to sweep the details of the CIA’s brutal detention and interrogation program under the rug, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) continues to push for a full and transparent accounting of the agency’s actions.

As part of the so-called war on terror, the CIA was authorized by the Bush administration to torture prisoners in order to try and prevent terrorist attacks. Some legal experts say those actions violated international law, including the Geneva Convention, and some former Bush administration officials have been indicted in absentia by courts in other countries.

Udall has long claimed that the U.S. needs to come clean about its actions in order to rebuild credibility and trust in the international community. In a Jan. 6 letter to President Barack Obama, Udall said he wants the CIA to release documents needed by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to complete its report on the agency’s activities under the Bush administration. Continue reading

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Sen. Udall keeps pushing for release of torture report

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).

Vice President Joe Biden says secret congressional report should be released

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — While many Americans may have a vague idea of some of the atrocities committed against prisoners and detainees in the war on terror, Congress knows much more, and most of the information is included in a still-secret report compiled by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Along with a few allies, Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) has been pushing the Obama administration to declassify the report and to make it public, and Udall said recent remarks from Vice President Joe Biden are encouraging.

In a policy forum with Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, Biden said very clearly that the report should be made public, and McCain left no doubt that the United States violated international law and broke treaty commitments when the CIA and its private contractors tortured detainees. You can watch the discussion on YouTube (the discussion starts at minute 40). Continue reading

Senate committee gains more access to drone documents

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The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will get more access to documents describing the Obama adminstration’s legal rational for using drones to kill American citizens.

Sen. Mark Udall: “We need to understand what the administration believes the limits on its authorities are.”

SUMMIT COUNTY — Just ahead of voting on the confirmation of John Brennan as head of the CIA, the Obama administration has said it will release additional documents on the targeted killing of Americans by drones.

Sen. Mark Udal (D-Colo.) has long advocated more transparency on the administration’s legal rationale for the drone strikes. Udall announced this week that the administration has agreed to give the committee ongoing access to the Office of the Legal Counsel opinions on targeted killings of Americans. Continue reading

Udall bill seeks to overturn mandatory military detention and ensure court access for terror suspects captured on U.S. soil

English: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Image via Wikipedia.

Senator says the measure balances civil liberties with national security

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Sen. Mark Udall this week said he would introduce legislation aimed at nullifying a controversial provision passed as part of the defense bill that requires the military to detain on U.S. soil any individuals suspected of terrorism.

The bill would ensure access to U.S. courts for anyone detained on U.S. territory and prohibit indefinite detention and transfer to foreign countries for individuals detained in the United States, according to a fact sheet issued by Udall’s office.It also would reverse the mandatory military custody for foreign terrorist suspects linked to al-Qaida.

Udall said the measure he’s proposing strikes a balance between protecting civil liberties and maintaining national security. Rep. Adam Smith, joined Udall at a press conference on the measures and introduced a companion bill in the House.

Some Republican members of the House opposed the measure immediately, issuing statements that the law would hinder the military’s ability to get valuable intelligence information from suspects. Continue reading

Osama bin Laden killed in Pakistan by U.S. troops

Twitter feeds give a world view of the big story

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. Please note: a classified document seen in this photograph has been obscured. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

SUMMIT COUNTY — The quiet peacefulness of yet another snowy spring night in Frisco was jolted by the news streaming across the media — Osama bin Laden is dead, killed by special forces at a mansion in Pakistan, a country that is, at least nominally, an ally of the United States. The reaction, at least as presented on CNN, is typically American; flag-waving, anthem and hymn singing, index fingers raised in the air, with the talking heads of the news network scrambling to provide some much-needed context:  Why did it take 10 years to find him, with all the might, technology and other resources at our disposal — unless he was shielded by elements of the Pakistani leadership sympathetic to his evil cause?  What will it mean, in the end for Al Qaeda operations, and for the safety and security of Americans at home and abroad.

All the major new outlets used Twitter extensively as the news broke and details started to trickle out. Besides the obvious elation and relief, it was interesting to watch a story of this magnitude unfold via social media, as editors recalled their front pages from the presses for a total late-night revision.

Here’s how it looked on Twitter late last night and this morning:

It’s probably too early to speculate on the answers to those questions, but we can be sure they’ll be raised in the days ahead. Meanwhile, this is how the news came across Twitter, which has become the breaking news feed of choice for many people.

Here’s a story from the Denver Post website on former President George Bush’s reaction.

And the first sign that bin Laden’s death is likely to heighten the terror threat, at least for a while. The U.S. State Department is putting embassies on alert and warning Americans abroad that there may attempts at reprisal.

http://twitter.com/#!/AJEnglish/status/64891204139102210 Continue reading

Summit Voice extra: Read the DOJ report on ‘torture memos’

A 2009 report on the Bush administration's so-called torture memos is widely available online and addresses some of the fundamental legal issues associated with authorizing extreme forms of interrogation by a democratic society. Have you read it?

Legal advisers committed ‘professional misconduct’ but the findings were downgraded later by other Justice Department officials

By Bob Berwyn

Have you ever wondered how the Bush administration made its legal determination that it was OK to torture suspected terrorists with “enhanced interrogation techniques” (waterboarding)?

Memos from the Bush administration show that two captured Qaeda operatives were subjected to waterboarding torture a total of 266 times.

A report from the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility has been available publicly for quite a while, but because it’s written in dense legalese, it’s not an easy document to read.

The report is posted in a Scribd.com window at the end of this story, or just click this link.

But in the end, the investigators concluded that two legal analysts who signed the so-called torture memos committed “professional misconduct … by failing to exercise independent legal judgment and render thorough, objective and candid legal advice.”

Those conclusions last month were downgraded to “poor judgment” by Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis in a 60-page memo to Attorney General Eric Holder.

Continue reading

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