JFP 3/14: Obama Disses Dem Sens on Drone Memos; "Aiding the Enemy" Charge Hit

Just Foreign Policy News, March 14, 2013
Obama Disses Dem Sens on Drone Memos; "Aiding the Enemy" Charge Hit

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I) Actions and Featured Articles

*Action: Outlaw Drone Strikes in the United States
You have to start somewhere. Senators Paul and Cruz have introduced legislation that would prohibit the government from using drone strikes in the United States against anyone who is not an imminent threat. Urge your Senators to co-sponsor S. 505.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/s505

Camel's Nose: Let's Outlaw Drone Strikes in the United States
Making the case for starting somewhere.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/camels-nose-lets-outlaw-d_b_2870734.html

OCO Should Be Eliminated; War Spending Should Be Included in the Base Pentagon Budget
As the war in Afghanistan is being wound down, there is less and less justification for having an account for "Overseas and Contingency Operations" separate from the base Pentagon budget.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/1395

CPC "Back to Work Budget" would cut Pentagon budget more than sequester
The Congressional Progressive Caucus ups the ante: "Returns Pentagon spending to 2006 levels, focusing on modern security needs." The sequester only cuts the Pentagon budget to 2007 levels. The CPC budget would also introduce a financial transactions tax, as development advocates have long urged.
http://cpc.grijalva.house.gov/back-to-work-budget/

*Action: Here Comes AIPAC, Lobbying for War
Over 19,000 people have taken action on our alert to Congress, urging Congress to oppose AIPAC's bills for war with Iran. We've modified our alert so it now sends the New York Times editorial and the APN statements against the Senate and House bills.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/aipac-2013

*Action: If you've written Congress, please call.
FCNL has offered the use of its toll free number, 1-855-68-NO WAR. Urge your Senators and Representative not to cosponsor AIPAC's bills for war with Iran. Mention the New York Times editorial and the APN statements. More information, and a place to report your call, here:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/sres65-call-in

*Action: Senate: No Backdoor to Iran War
Sign our petition to the Senate against S. Res. 65 at SignOn.
http://signon.org/sign/senate-no-backdoor-to?source=c.url&r_by=1135580

Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Rand Paul's filibuster scrambled the old-fashioned right-vs.-left way of looking at the world, writes Arianna Huffington at the Huffington Post. The debate on the confirmation of John Brennan to head the CIA provoked a wider debate about the use of drones - a debate that needs to continue well beyond Brennan's confirmation, she writes.

2) Attorney General Holder's responses to Rand Paul's questions about drone strikes in the U.S. cast doubt on the whether the United States is still a government of laws, writes Katrina vanden Heuvel in the Washington Post. The country is waging a war on terrorism that admits no boundary and no end, vanden Heuvel writes. The fact that the national security apparatus termed Nelson Mandela a terrorist ought to give people pause about giving the executive branch unilateral power to decide to kill people termed "terrorists," she notes.

3) President Obama rebuffed Democratic senators Tuesday when they sought greater transparency on drone strikes, arguing that the executive branch has the right to keep such information secret from lawmakers, the Huffington Post reports. Testimony from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper suggested the Administration might claim executive privilege to justify refusal to disclose the memos in the face of a Congressional subpoena.

But Raha Wala, a lawyer with the group Human Rights First, said there were no grounds for the White House to assert privilege. "What we're talking about is essentially the official legal and policy position of the government on when it thinks it can kill people suspected of terrorism," Wala said. "This shouldn't be the subject of an executive privilege claim. We're not talking about pre-decisional advice or interagency deliberations."

4) Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Leahy and Sen. Durbin, chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee, announced two upcoming hearings on the issue of drones beginning with a full committee hearing next week, Leahy's office says. The hearing on March 20 will focus on privacy concerns surrounding the domestic use of drones. On April 16th, the Constitution Subcommittee will hold a hearing on targeted killings. That hearing will be chaired by Durbin and will focus on the constitutional and statutory authority for targeted killings; the scope of the battlefield and who can be targeted as a combatant; and establishing a transparent legal framework for the use of drones. [Another report says the Durbin hearing might be earlier in April - JFP.]

5) Bradley Manning has pleaded guilty to several offenses related to leaking documents to WikiLeaks, a plea that could land him in jail for 20 years, write Floyd Abrams and Yochai Benkler in the New York Times. But Manning still faces trial on the most serious charges, including the potential capital offense of "aiding the enemy" - though the prosecution is not seeking the death penalty in this case, "only" a life sentence.

If successful, the prosecution will establish a chilling precedent: national security leaks may subject the leakers to a capital prosecution or at least life imprisonment, they write. They note that the prosecution has acknowledged that its arguments would apply equally to leaking to the New York Times as to WikiLeaks. Manning's guilty plea gives the prosecution an opportunity to rethink its strategy, they write. The extreme charges remaining in this case create a severe threat to future whistle-blowers.

6) The GAO says the Pentagon needs to budget $12.6 billion each year through 2037 to finish developing and paying for all the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighters it plans to buy, Reuters reports. The report said the Pentagon was expected to shell out $316 billion through 2037. The Pentagon estimates it will cost over $1 trillion for the cost of operating and maintaining all 2,443 warplanes it plans to buy, over an estimated 30-year service life.

Afghanistan
7) The US commander in Afghanistan warned his forces that a string of anti-American statements by President Karzai had put Western troops at greater risk of attack both from rogue Afghan security forces and from militants, the New York Times reports.

Guantánamo
8) The U.S. government told a hearing at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that no "indefinite detention" is taking place among detainees at the military prison in Guantánamo, Inter Press Service reports. The IACHR has repeatedly called for the closure of Guantánamo, and has requested permission to meet with the men detained there - a request that has been denied.

Haiti
9) Former Jamaican Prime Minister Patterson has blasted the decision by the UN to invoke "legal immunity" for rejecting compensation claims by some 5,000 Haitian victims of cholera, the Jamaica Observer reports.

Contents:
U.S./Top News
1) The Drone Debate Upends DC's Right/Left Divide
Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post, 3/12/2013
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/the-drone-debate-upends-d_b_2861507.html

It's become accepted wisdom that Washington has become pathologically polarized and partisan, with every new debate inevitably breaking down along party lines. That's why it was so remarkable last week when Rand Paul's old-fashioned talking filibuster scrambled the even more old-fashioned right-vs.-left way of looking at the world. The Paul-provoked debate on the confirmation of John Brennan to head the CIA in turn provoked a wider and critical debate about the use of drones - a debate that needs to continue well beyond Brennan's confirmation.

It's an issue Brennan has been heavily involved with. In February, Paul had sent Brennan a letter asking: "Do you believe that the president has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil?"

A few weeks later, Attorney General Holder replied with a letter that stated:

"The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no president will ever have to confront. It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States."

And so Paul took to the floor to mount the first talking filibuster since 2010, when Bernie Sanders mounted one against the extension of the Bush tax cuts. "When I asked the president, 'Can you kill an American on American soil,' it should have been an easy answer," said Paul. He continued:

'It's an easy question. It should have been a resounding an unequivocal, "No." The president's response? He hasn't killed anyone yet. We're supposed to be comforted by that. The president says, "I haven't killed anyone yet." He goes on to say, "And I have no intention of killing Americans. But I might." Is that enough? Are we satisfied by that?'

Democrat Ron Wyden soon joined the filibuster. "The executive branch should not be allowed to conduct such a serious and far-reaching program by themselves without any scrutiny because that's not how American democracy works," said Wyden. "That's not what our system is about."

On the other side of the aisle, Lindsey Graham called the idea of the U.S. using drones to kill American citizens on U.S. soil "ridiculous" and said the controversy was the result of "paranoia between the libertarians and the hard left that is unjustified," while his frequent ally John McCain, went the other way, calling Paul and fellow filibusterers "wacko birds" (which sounds like a good name for a cereal). Right vs. left was suddenly scrambled.

Not surprisingly, the poles of the debate were only partially dislodged from party affiliation, as Wyden was the only Democrat to join Paul - though Democrats Patrick Leahy and Jeff Merkley, along with Independent Bernie Sanders, did ultimately vote against Brennan. It's hard to imagine that if an attorney general for President Bush had said the same thing as Holder did that this many Democrats would have remained silent. Nor, of course, did this many Republicans speak out for civil liberties when the president asserting his right to limit them had an (R) by his name.

But even if the terms of the debate on drones were only partially rearranged, it was still a step in the right direction.
[...]

2) Above the law
Katrina vanden Heuvel, Washington Post, March 12
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/katrina-vanden-heuvel-above-the-law/2013/03/11/e47f17a2-8a5a-11e2-8d72-dc76641cb8d4_story.html

"The government of the United States," wrote Chief Justice John Marshall in his famous decision in Marbury v. Madison, "has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men." This principle - grounded in the Constitution, enforced by an independent judiciary - is central to the American creed. Citizens have rights, and fundamental to these is due process of the law.

This ideal, of course, has often been trampled in practice, particularly in times of war or national panic. But the standard remains, central to the legitimacy of the republic.

Yet last week Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking for the administration with an alarmingly casual nonchalance, traduced the whole notion of a nation of laws.

First, the attorney general responded to Sen. Rand Paul's inquiry as to whether the president claimed the "power to authorize a lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil and without trial." After noting that the United States has never done so and has no intention of doing so, Holder wrote that, speaking hypothetically, it is "possible to imagine" an extraordinary circumstance in which that power might become "necessary and appropriate."

This triggered Paul's now-famous 13-hour filibuster against the nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA, as Paul (R-Ky.) promised to "speak until I can no longer speak" to sound the alarm that "no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime" and being found guilty in a court of law.

In response to the growing furor, Holder sent Paul another letter, stating clearly that the president has no authority to use a "weaponized drone" against an American in the United States who is "not engaged in combat."

But that, of course, only underscores the issue. The country is waging a war on terrorism that admits no boundary and no end. Now Holder is saying that the president has the authority to kill Americans in the United States if they are "engaged in combat." No hearing, no review, no due process of law. For those who remember how the FBI deemed Martin Luther King Jr. a communist, and how the national security apparatus termed Nelson Mandela a terrorist, alarm is surely justified.
[...]

3) Obama Rebuffs Democrats On Drone Kill Memos, Asserts Executive Secrecy Prerogative
Michael McAuliff and Ryan Grim, Huffington Post, 03/14/2013 10:45 am EDT
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/drones-obama-rebuffs-demo_n_2869156.html

Washington - President Barack Obama rebuffed senators from his own party Tuesday when they sought greater transparency on drone strikes, arguing that the executive branch has the right to keep such information secret from lawmakers, sources said.

The assertion by Obama, more typical of his recent predecessors in the White House who wanted to withhold information, came in response to questions from Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Pat Leahy (D-Vt.). Both lawmakers are deeply disturbed that the White House has maintained stringent restrictions on information about the nation's war on terror, and has refused to share with Leahy memos from the Office of Legal Counsel justifying the targeted killings of Americans with drones.

Sources familiar with Obama's meeting with the senators - who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was private - said the discussion was calm, although Rockefeller seemed especially dissatisfied with the stance of Obama and the White House. And Obama did not concede.

"It was a reasonable conversation. [Obama] basically said it was privileged information and that the president is entitled to confidential discussions with his advisers," said one source. "The basic deal is that the Office of Legal Counsel memos are confidential advice to [the president], and he did say that," said another.
[...]
Leahy has already threatened to subpoena the OLC kill memos. But Tuesday's confab was an in-person discussion among Democrats, and it's a topic that apparently is becoming more urgent for members of Obama's own party, who largely avoided Paul's filibuster.
[...]
While Rockefeller's office declined to discuss the private meeting, his spokeswoman pointed to the senator's questioning of the administration's Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, also on Tuesday. Rockefeller, who has seen at least some of the kill memos - but only after the Senate Intelligence Committee threatened to spike the nomination of CIA Director John Brennan - complained that the administration's refusal to share data was a "threat" to a functioning relationship with the Senate.

Clapper responded with a phrase that apparently echoed Obama's words in the private meeting, but also raised the stakes. "When there are documents that are elsewhere in the executive branch - OLC opinions just to name one example - or when we are attempting to abide by a long-standing practice, which has been practiced by both Republican and Democratic administrations, of executive privilege, I think that's where we begin to have problems," he said.

Executive privilege is legally invoked only when Congress has subpoenaed the president, and the White House has refused all of Congress' efforts to make it comply. A White House aide insisted that Clapper was only using the phrase in a historic context, not suggesting at all that the battle over drone transparency was headed there.
[...]
"It's as serious as it gets," said Raha Wala, a lawyer with the group Human Rights First. "The president promised more transparency on this in his State of the Union address and we're waiting. A stand-off with Congress on congressional oversight would be a big step backwards."

Wala believed there were no grounds for the White House to assert privilege, anyway, even in the unlikely event of a Democratic Senate pushing a Democratic president into a high-stakes legal showdown.

"What we're talking about is essentially the official legal and policy position of the government on when it thinks it can kill people suspected of terrorism," Wala said. "This shouldn't be the subject of an executive privilege claim. We're not talking about pre-decisional advice or interagency deliberations."

4) Leahy: Judiciary Committee Will Hold Two Hearings On Drones
Separate Hearings Focusing On Domestic Use and Targeted Killings
Ofc. of Senator Leahy, March 13, 2013
http://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/leahy-judiciary-committee-will-hold-two-hearings-on-drones

Washington – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee, today announced two upcoming hearings on the issue of drones beginning with a full committee hearing next week.

The hearing on Wednesday, March 20th is titled "The Future of Drones in America: Law Enforcement and Privacy Considerations," and will focus on privacy concerns surrounding the domestic use of drones. That hearing will be chaired by Leahy, who announced in January that the Committee would look in to this issue this year.

"Drones have the potential to assist law enforcement and other first responders, but they could also pose a significant threat to the privacy and civil liberties of millions of Americans. This is another example of a fast-changing policy area on which we need to focus to make sure that modern technology is not used to erode Americans' right to privacy," Leahy said. "I look forward to hearing testimony on this issue next week."

On Tuesday, April 16th, the Constitution Subcommittee will hold a hearing on targeted killings. That hearing, entitled "Drone Wars: The Constitutional and Counterterrorism Implications of Targeted Killing," will be chaired by Durbin and will focus on the constitutional and statutory authority for targeted killings; the scope of the battlefield and who can be targeted as a combatant; and establishing a transparent legal framework for the use of drones.

"Targeted killing raises important legal and policy questions that require a public debate," Durbin said. "President Obama has made it clear he wants to work with Congress to establish 'a legal architecture' for drone strikes to prevent abuses. My subcommittee will begin this important constitutional debate when we meet next month."

Information on both hearings, including witness lists, will be available on the Committee's website soon.

5) Death to Whistle-Blowers?
Floyd Abrams and Yochai Benkler, New York Times, March 13, 2013
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/14/opinion/the-impact-of-the-bradley-manning-case.html

[Abrams is a lawyer and the author of the forthcoming book "Friend of the Court: On the Front Lines With the First Amendment." Benkler is a law professor at Harvard and co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.]

Last month Pfc. Bradley Manning pleaded guilty to several offenses related to leaking hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, a plea that could land him in jail for 20 years. But Private Manning still faces trial on the most serious charges, including the potential capital offense of "aiding the enemy" - though the prosecution is not seeking the death penalty in this case, "only" a life sentence.

If successful, the prosecution will establish a chilling precedent: national security leaks may subject the leakers to a capital prosecution or at least life imprisonment. Anyone who holds freedom of the press dear should shudder at the threat that the prosecution's theory presents to journalists, their sources and the public that relies on them.

You don't have to think that WikiLeaks is the future of media, or Private Manning a paragon of heroic whistle-blowing, to understand the threat. Indeed, the two of us deeply disagree with each other about how to assess Private Manning's conduct and WikiLeaks's behavior.

Mr. Abrams, who represented The New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case, has argued that both Daniel Ellsberg, who provided the documents to the newspaper, and The Times acted with far more restraint and responsibility than Private Manning and WikiLeaks have, and that both have repeatedly behaved with a devil-may-care obliviousness to genuine national security interests.

Mr. Benkler, a law professor, has argued that Private Manning and Mr. Ellsberg (himself a Manning supporter) played a similar public role, that WikiLeaks behaved reasonably under the circumstances and that the revelations, including American forces' complicity in abuses by Iraqi allies, understatement of civilian casualties and abuses by contractors deserve recognition, not criticism.

We write together because we believe our disagreements are characteristic of many who think about the WikiLeaks/Manning affair; public feelings range from respect to deep discomfort. When it decided the Pentagon Papers case, in 1971, the Supreme Court was well aware that, as Justice Potter Stewart put it, "It is elementary that the successful conduct of international diplomacy and the maintenance of an effective national defense require both confidentiality and secrecy."

Despite this clear understanding of the risks involved in leaks and disclosure, the court's decision was encapsulated in Justice Hugo L. Black's simple statement: "The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security for our Republic."

And what could be more destructive to an informed citizenry than the threat of the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole for whistle-blowers?

Under the prosecution's theory, because Private Manning knew the materials would be published and that Al Qaeda could read them once published, he indirectly communicated with the enemy. But in this theory, whether publication is by WikiLeaks or The Times is entirely beside the point. Defendants are guilty of "aiding the enemy" for leaking to a publishing medium simply because that publication can be read by anyone with an Internet connection.

In a January hearing the judge, Col. Denise Lind, asked prosecutors directly whether they would have brought the same charges had Private Manning leaked the materials to The New York Times instead of WikiLeaks. The prosecutors' answer was unambiguously yes.

That yes was not courtroom bluster, but a necessary concession regarding what their theory means. And nothing in that theory would limit its application to the release of hundreds of thousands of documents. It could apply as effectively to a single abuse-revealing document.

So yes, we continue to disagree about what to make of Private Manning and WikiLeaks. But we agree that WikiLeaks is part of what the Fourth Estate is becoming, that the leaks included important disclosures and that their publication is protected by the First Amendment no less than the publication of the Pentagon Papers was.

Private Manning's guilty plea gives the prosecution an opportunity to rethink its strategy. The extreme charges remaining in this case create a severe threat to future whistle-blowers, even when their revelations are crystal-clear instances of whistle-blowing. We cannot allow our concerns about terrorism to turn us into a country where communicating with the press can be prosecuted as a capital offense.

6) Pentagon needs $12.6 billion per year through 2037 for F-35 - report
Andrea Shalal-Esa, Reuters, Mon, Mar 11 2013
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/03/11/uk-lockheed-fighter-report-idUKBRE92A13P20130311

Washington - The Pentagon needs to budget $12.6 billion (8.4 billion pounds) each year through 2037 to finish developing and paying for all the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighters it plans to buy, according to a report released by a congressional watchdog agency on Monday.

This amounts to $2 billion more in projected annual funding needs than the Government Accountability Office (GAO) had included in a draft report obtained and published by Reuters on Saturday.

The draft report excluded the cost of the fighter's single engine, which is built by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp, said Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the Pentagon's F-35 program office.

The report said the Pentagon was expected to shell out $316 billion through 2037 on the remaining development and purchase of the radar-evading warplane, on top of billions of dollars already spent, for a total program cost of around $400 billion.
[...]
The F-35 is an advanced fighter meant to serve the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marines for decades to come. The program, which has seen costs rise 70 percent from initial projections amid numerous technical complications, is facing a critical phase in which any new setbacks or reductions in orders from the U.S. military and its allies would further boost the cost per plane.
[...]
The Pentagon estimates it will cost over $1 trillion for the cost of operating and maintaining all 2,443 warplanes it plans to buy, over an estimated 30-year service life. The Pentagon and F-35 program office are working to reduce those costs, which the GAO report said were 60 percent higher than those applicable to aircraft the F-35 is slated to replace.

The GAO report said the Pentagon's Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) office recently forecast annual operations and maintenance costs of $18.2 billion for all three models of the F-35, compared to $11.1 billion spent in 2010 to operate and sustain the legacy aircraft.
[...]

Afghanistan
7) U.S. General Puts Troops on Security Alert After Karzai Remarks
Alissa J. Rubin and Rod Nordland, March 13, 2013
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/14/world/asia/karzais-remarks-draw-us-troop-alert.html

Kabul, Afghanistan - The American commander in Afghanistan quietly told his forces to intensify security measures on Wednesday, issuing a strongly worded warning that a string of anti-American statements by President Hamid Karzai had put Western troops at greater risk of attack both from rogue Afghan security forces and from militants.

The order came amid a growing backlash against Mr. Karzai's public excoriation of the United States, including a speech on Tuesday in which he suggested that the government might unilaterally act to ensure control of the Bagram Prison if the United States delayed its handover.
[...]
Frustration with Mr. Karzai was clear in the alert, known as a command threat advisory, sent on Wednesday by Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. to his top commanders. "His remarks could be a catalyst for some to lash out against our forces - he may also issue orders that put our forces at risk," the advisory read.

Senior American military officials confirmed that a copy of the advisory obtained by The New York Times was genuine, although they said it had not been intended to be released publicly. While threat advisories are circulated routinely, one directly from the commanding general is unusual, one Western official said.

The threat advisory specifically mentioned Mr. Karzai's comments about Bagram Prison, calling it an "inflammatory speech," and warning commanders to be on guard against heightened insider attacks by Afghan forces against Westerners, as well as opportunistic Taliban violence. The order came after a recent rise in violence, including an insider attack that killed two American servicemembers and a bombing that struck the capital just after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived for a visit last week.
[...]

Guantánamo
8) U.S. Claims No Indefinite Detention at Guantánamo
Joe Hitchon, Inter Press Service, Mar 13 2013
http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/03/u-s-claims-no-indefinite-detention-at-guantanamo/

Washington - In an unusual public testimony, the U.S. government has publicly stated that no "indefinite detention" is taking place among detainees at the military prison in Guantánamo Bay.

"The United States only detains individuals when that detention is lawful and does not intend to hold any individual longer than is necessary," Michael Williams, a senior legal advisor for the State Department, told a hearing at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The testimony took place Tuesday as a panel of human rights lawyers appealed before an international human rights body over what they called an "unfolding humanitarian crisis" at the military prison, calling for an end to ongoing human rights violations they say are being committed against the detainees.

The hearing, at the Organisation of American States headquarters here in Washington, marked the first time since President Barack Obama's re-election that the U.S. government has had to publicly answer questions concerning Guantánamo Bay. Legal representatives for the detainees also presented disturbing eyewitness accounts of prisoner despair at the facility, brought on by prolonged indefinite detention and harsh conditions that has led to a sustained hunger strike involving more than 100 prisoners at the U.S. base in Cuba.

Established in 2002, the Guantánamo Bay military prison held, at its height, more than 700 suspects of terrorism. The facility currently holds 166 prisoners, of whom 90 – most of them Yemenis – have reportedly been cleared for repatriation, while another 36 are due to be prosecuted in federal courts, although those trials have yet to take place.

The remaining are being held indefinitely without trial because evidence of their past ties to terrorist groups is unlikely to be admissible in court. In some cases, this is reportedly due to its acquisition by torture, while in other cases because the U.S. government believes that the suspects would return to extremist activities if they were to be released.

The IACHR has repeatedly called for the closure of the Guantánamo Bay detention centre, and has requested permission to meet with the men detained there. The U.S. government has failed to allow the hemispheric rights body permission to make such a visit, however.

The IACHR held Tuesday's hearing to learn more about the unfolding humanitarian crisis at the Guantánamo prison. It also focused on new components to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed earlier this year, which has been criticised for authorising indefinite detention and restricts the transfer of Guantánamo detainees.

Tuesday's hearing saw testimony from experts in law, health and international policy, covering the psychological impact of indefinite detention, deaths of some suspects at Guantánamo, the lack of access to fair trials, and U.S. policies that have restricted the prison's closure.
[...]
Human rights activists claim the Obama administration has not only broken his promise to rapidly close Guantánamo, but that his administration has also extended some of the worst aspects of the system. They point to the administration's continuance of indefinite detention without charge or trial, employing illegitimate military commissions to try some suspects, and blocking accountability for torture.

At Tuesday's hearings, the State Department's Williams made extensive note of the health facilities and services that the U.S. government has made available for the detainees. And while critics do admit that the government facilities do meet international standards for detainees' physical needs, they note that the mere fact of indefinite detention inflicts a toll all its own.

"The hopelessness and despair caused by indefinite detention is causing an extremely pressing and pervasive health crisis at Guantánamo," Kristine Huskey, a lawyer with Physicians for Human Rights, an advocacy group, told IPS.

"A person held in indefinite detention is a person deprived of information about their own fate. They are in custody without knowing when, if ever, they will be released. Additionally, they do not know if they will be charged with crimes, receive a trial, or ever see their families again. If they have been abused or mistreated, they also do not know if this will happen again."
[...]

Haiti
9) Patterson blasts UN for 'anti-Haiti' cholera stand
Rickey Singh, Jamaica Observer, Wednesday, March 13, 2013
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Patterson-blasts-UN-for--anti-Haiti--cholera-stand_13842151#ixzz2NQSJktN2

Bridgetown, Barbados - Former Jamaican Prime Minister P J Patterson has blasted the decision by the United Nations to invoke "legal immunity" for rejecting compensation claims by some 5,000 Haitian victims of cholera.

"It is simply appalling, a most reprehensible behaviour... for the UN to claim such immunity," Patterson told the Jamaica Observer in a telephone interview.

"The moreso when scientific evidence substantates that the cholera epidemic was originally introduced in Haiti at the time by peace-keeping soldiers (from Nepal) under UN command," Patterson continued.

Patterson, who has often served as "special adviser" to the Caribbean Communirty (Caricom) on matters involving developments and events in Haiti, was responding to concerns over prevailing silence by the 15-member Community over the UN stance.
[...]

--
Just Foreign Policy is a membership organization devoted to reforming US foreign policy so it reflects the values and interests of the majority of Americans. The archive of the Just 'Foreign Policy News is here:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/blog/dailynews


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