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Obama Administration Continues to Defend Bush Torture Policies

This is not unexpected, but still very dispiriting.

The Obama administration argued in court documents filed today that four former detainees at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp who have sued over their treatment have no constitutional rights.

The suit was brought by four British men who say they were beaten, shackled in painful stress positions, threatened by dogs and subjected to extreme medical care during their time in the lockup at the US naval base in Cuba.

They also say they were harassed while practicing their religion, including forced shaving of their beards, banning or interrupting their prayers, denying them prayer mats and copies of the Qur’an, the Muslim holy book, and throwing a copy of the Qur’an in a toilet.

Donald Rumsfeld, war criminal

Donald Rumsfeld, war criminal

Daphne Eviatar briefly summarized the case, Rasul vs. Rumsfeld, in the Washington Independent.

According to their legal complaint, Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed claim they traveled to Afghanistan in October 2001 to offer humanitarian relief to civilians. In late November, they were kidnapped by Rashid Dostum, the Uzbeki warlord and leader of the U.S.-supported Northern Alliance. He turned them over to U.S. custody – apparently for bounty money that American officials were paying for suspected terrorists. In December, without any independent evidence that the men had engaged in hostilities against the United States, U.S. officials sent them to Guantanamo Bay.

Jon Yoo, war criminal

Jon Yoo, war criminal

According to Eviatar, the case, described in detail at the Center for Constitutional Rights, bears a close resemblance to Jose Padilla’s lawsuit against former Bush Justice Department official John Yoo, in which the Obama Justice Department is defending John Yoo on truly questionable moral and ethical grounds.

Here is what Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights had to say about both of these cases.

“The more I think about it, representing Yoo puts the administration in a potential contradiction,” he wrote to me in an e-mail after our phone conversation. “They should not be arguing that there was not a clearly established right to be free from detention without trial, court access or abuse under the Fifth and Eighth amendments. If they do, or have, it would be a grave disappointment and justify many of the nasty Bush administration practices.”

Ratner added: “They need to get Yoo another lawyer, or better, cut him loose, as continued representation is contrary to government interests. A lawyer should represent Yoo who can take positions that they [the Obama administration] should not.”

Likewise with Donald Rumsfeld, added Ratner.

Why is the Obama administration defending John Yoo and Donald Rumsfeld? It’s beyond disgusting. As an American I’m deeply ashamed that the new administration is apparently going to continue the Bush administration policy of pretending that what happened wasn’t torture and arguing that administration officials must be protected from prosecution even in contravention of international law.

During his campaign for the presidency, as Raw story documents,

The department’s request that the Boumediene ruling not be considered in the Rumsfeld case puts the Justice Department directly at odds with statements made by President Obama during the 2008 campaign.

“Habeus corpus … is the foundation of Anglo-American law, which says very simply, if the government grabs you, then you have the right to at least ask, `Why was I grabbed?’ and say, `Maybe, you’ve got the wrong person,” said Obama at a early Sept. 2008 campaign rally where he seemed to refer to a case [like the ones discussed here].

[....]

“The reason we have that safeguard is we don’t always have the right person,” said Obama at the campaign rally. “We don’t always catch the right person. We may think this is Muhammad the terrorist. It might be Muhammad the cab driver.”

Kate Toomey, an attorney representing the detainees in Rasul vs. Rumsfeld, told Raw story:

“We had hoped that they would file something that separated them from the former administration and obviously we had hoped that they would be taking a stronger moral stance about what should be anticipated from senior officers including the Secretary of Defense on legally standing prohibitions,” Toomey said, adding, “There’s no question that the U.S. law forbids people from ordering torture. And so it’s unfortunate that they have sort of squandered an opportunity to have made that point.”

This is so sad, heartbreaking really. Two years ago, we all had such high hopes that 2008 would see the election of a Democratic President, and an opportunity to restore America’s standing in the world–to reverse the policy of the Bush administration and to restore Constitutional rights and basic civil liberaties to American citizens as well as foreign citizens detained at Guantanamo and God knows how many other foreign prisons set up by our government. But we really did get another Bush term.

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95 Responses

  1. Not to worry. I’m sure the MSM will be all over this and illuminate the hypocracy of the Obama administration.

    Ha! I made myself laugh.

  2. Gitmo wont be closing and the koolaid drinkers will blame Obama’s minions and pleebs for giving him bad council….

    I can see it now!

    Hope RD camping trip went well or is going well

    • What’s the temperature up there? Camping in the winter up north sounds like extreme self-abuse., with or without all of the 7th graders.

    • Its already happening. Many of the Obots on DU are making excuses along with demanding Obama get rid of Holter.

  3. John Yoo is as reprehensible as Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and the rest of that cabal. And no, I’m not shocked to hear Obama’s Administration defending them. Now I await with baited breath Obama apologists tell us why Rumsfeld and Yoo are good people after all.

  4. Why are they defending it???

    Because Obama ain’t gonna do JACK SHIT about taking Bush’s imperialistic presidential powers off the table.

    Nancy Pelosi made sure of that. That was the deal. Higher up PNAC Repubs said, we’ll give you a Democratic president, as long as you keep our PNAC crap in check.

    And there you you have it. We now have DINO Obama who can’t even say he’s a Democrat tjrough his own mouth – and a DINO majority.

    The only friggin Democrat in office is Hillary & Feingold. And a couple of others.

    Blech. We are defenseless.

  5. I’m going to go see if anyone wrote about this at the Cheeto sites. I already checked Glen Greenwald. Maybe he didn’t get the news before he wrote todays post on Cramer and Stewart battle. BFD.

  6. Nicely researched and presented, as usual, BB. This is very scary stuff.

    • Thanks, grayslady. I practically started crying while I was reading those articles.

  7. I don’t think Obama will ever challenge the Bush era. If he did the hounds would really come out. Everything Obama has tried to conceal would be fair game. But, on the other hand, that might be interesting.

  8. Obama wants this stuff hidden because he wants to hide his own shit. He doesn’t want the next President to expose him and his backroom deals.

    • With this guy as President, the Republic may not survive until 2012.

      • I’m so scared you are right.

        You know what’s pathetic? My DR cousins are telling ME to move to DR with Cub & grandma & they’ll give me a job at their businesses they own there.

        Yeah – talk about ironies.

        • I wonder how the crisis is going to affect DR? Supposedly it’s a global crash. At least you have someplace to escape to, if necessary.

        • I’d go like a shot-your mother would be so happy..

          Your daughter would become bi-lingual…

      • I wonder about that too. We are not the same country today we were when Bush took over. Heaven knows what we’ll be by the time Obama is through with us.

  9. BB, this is shocking. It might in the end be the sort of thing that makes a lot of people wake up.

    Well done. This is a good post.

    • Katiebird,

      How are you? Thanks for the kind words.

      • Hi BB,
        I’ve got my right arm in a sling and I reversed the buttons on my mouse. AND I’ve been sleeping with a hot pad on my shoulder. Keeping it immobilized seems to be helping. I wish I knew what happened.

        • I hope it gets better quickly. I had a shoulder problem that didn’t go away for at least a year. The funny thing is, it improved after I broke my elbow. But at times, if I type too much my elbow gets sore and the pain goes right up to my shoulder. It’s amazing the muscles you use to type.

          • ((shudder)) that’s horrible. But it makes me think I’m on the right track with the sling. I’m not surprised that typing makes it hurt again.

        • Frozen shoulder, maybe?

          I had serious shoulder problems for just over 10 years. Finally one day I decided I wanted to act on my desire to have reflexology done on my feet. It is NOT a foot massage, it involves some pain. He hit a spot on my foot, looked at me at pointed at his right shoulder indicating he knew he hit something. That was 3 years ago and I haven’t had any pain since.

          If you want to try it, make sure you get someone who isn’t just doing foot massage. Reflexology is part of Oriental Medicine. I was so lucky to have a Chinese man who spoke very little english and had practiced many years in China before coming over here.

        • KATIEBIRD !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
          :( :(

          WHY????????????????

          FEEL BETTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          *sending healing vibes to you!!*

        • KB: YOu shouldn’t sleep on a heating pad. There can be some nasty burns. Try a hot water bottle instead. The heat there is self-limiting.

  10. OK, I know this guy is a right winger, but this is funny.

    When they start making jokes about you, it’s hard to recover. And that’s what is happening now to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

    It’s not just “Saturday Night Live” poking fun at him — you saw the skit depicting a Geithner so clueless that he offered a huge reward to anyone who called his hotline, 1-800-IDEAS, with a plan to get us out of the financial crisis. Beyond the TV shows, Geithner, who was confirmed despite having to pay $48,000 in back taxes and interest, is also the target of suppressed snickers on Capitol Hill whenever the subject turns to the IRS. And now, he is widely thought to be not up to the job.

    The fundamental problem, of course, is that Geithner hasn’t come up with a financial rescue plan. There is nearly unanimous agreement among economists and policymakers that the single most important thing the Secretary of the Treasury should do now is develop a plan to deal with the “toxic assets” that threaten the survival of financial institutions. But Geithner, who has been acutely aware of this problem for months, doesn’t have such a plan. If he had, the comedians wouldn’t be talking about 1-800-IDEAS.

  11. I was looking at the About Us tab just now and the last post in that thread from August 25th was by someone named Ash who implores people not to vote for McCain. She writes in part: “John McCain wants to continue this madness. [snip] So if the pain and disappointment you feel has not gone away by November and, when you’re in that voting booth you feel your hand inching toward the McCain lever, please pause and give it another thought. My kids would appreciate it.”

    Well, the madness isn’t ending. I wonder where Ash is these days.

    • We tried to warn them, but they just wouldn’t listen.

    • HAH!! Well, I voted for McCain, and I did that for MY kids and grandkids.

    • They really expected Obama to provide Change.

      I cannot understand why. He was obviously so much part of the machine. All you had to do was look at the media buzz, and the dreadful, soap box, mother on food stamps ads, that were being run.

  12. Here is the 1996 US War Crimes Law…Yoo et al need to be indicted.

    US Code Title 18..2441:

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/usc_sec_18_00002441—-000-.html

  13. Well now we know why the Republicans did not unleash info on backtrack. This is probably why the conservatives stayed home.
    Why vote for a man that would change policies when you can have one that will do all that you want and the other party selected him. They were dumb enough to cheat to get him in office and basically destroy their own party to do it.
    I can hear them thinking ” Its good to be a republican right now. We can sit back and laugh our asses off.”

    WOMEN WITH INTELLIGENCE AND EXPERIENCE,MEN WHO SUPPORT THEM AND COUNTRY BEFORE PARTY ALWAYS

    PUMAS,BUBBAS,EQUALISTS AND THOSE PEOPLE RULE

  14. Aw Geeze! I wish you had posted a warning that you were going to show that sack of crap Rumsfeld’s face!

    Incidentally, I don’t think Barack plans to close Gitmo at all. I think he said it to placate the mob, but let’s face it, he has absolutely no timeline other than “One of these days”.

    • Hey Uppity Woman! I have a comment in moderation at your site under the Beethoven/Karajan post. My comments alerting you to my being in moderation also ended up in moderation!

    • I’m afraid you’re right.

      • DYB, i saw that and fished you out. Sorry about that. I have some regulars who land in mod now and then too. So if it happens again, please know it’s not deliberate and you will ALWAYS be fished out.

  15. This is a little off topic but at No Quarter there is post with some of the letters sent to FDR about the WPA during the 1930s.
    The difference between a real democrat and a New democrat is amazing.
    What could have been done with someone who gave a damn about the American people/////////

    WOMEN WITH INTELLIGENCE AND EXPERIENCE,MEN WHO SUPPORT THEM AND COUNTRY BEFORE PARTY ALWAYS

    PUMAS,BUBBAS,EQUALISTS AND THOSE PEOPLE RULE

  16. Meanwhile, the headline on aol is:

    Obama Abandons Key Bush Position

    Can you guess what it is? He will not use the words “enemy combatant”

    Smell the change!

    • Yep, I noticed that too. So hilarious it makes one want to cry!

    • Yeah, I saw that. I was hoping you would show up and give your professional viewpoint on this. Is this going to end up back in SCOTUS?

      • bb — eek! I popped in & then left (Mildred Pierce was on!) I wasn’t ignoring you.

        It is very difficult to predict what the SCOTUS will do — they have complete discretion on whether to hear a case or not. Nonetheless, I can’t imagine ANY court allowing another branch of the government to unilaterally make the judicial branch *less* powerful. They would be crazy not to stand up to him. (but then again, they may have be owned by the same guys who own Obama). If the courts allow Obama to prevail on this then we will know whether they are or not.

        • I can’t see them reversing a decision they made less than a year ago. I simply can’t understand why Obama’s guys are doing this. I thought he wanted to restore respect for the U.S. around the world?

          • bb — like I said — if they rule FOR Obama then we will know whose pocket all 3 branches of are government are in.

  17. Obama’s extraconstitutional thuggery is much more hopey, changey and virtuous than bush’s. God bless America.

    Is it just me or does the treatment of the Koran, etc, sound like typical obot frat style behavior? Why don’t they just drop the pretense and get together.

    • I wonder how all the people in the Middle East who illegally donated to BO’s campaign feel now?

    • Obama’s M.O. — denounce Bush. do everything just like Bush. bask in the adoration of millions of morons.

      • Denounce Bush. Praise Reagan. Do everything just like Bush (and Reagan). Bask…

      • His followers seem to fall into 3 categories–oblivious dip—–, misogynists, and oblivious dip—- misogynists. :)

  18. Hi Boomer…great post…the upbeat data just keeps on pouring in doesn’t it?

    Add this to the pile…

    The Obama transition team spent $44,000 vetting donors, $5,000 shredding documents, $10 on a sewing kit and $126,000 on the charter jet that flew the soon-to-be first family to Hawaii for a pre-Inauguration vacation.

    Those are just a few of the expenditures listed in budget documents released Thursday by the General Services Administration, which is charged with overseeing the federal funds allocated to help incoming presidents with their transition into office.

    So I have to ask…why the hell are taxpayers paying for the Obamas to have a Hawaiian vacation??? at a cost of 126K no less. WTF? This is just unfckingbelievable! We’re eating surplus handouts and pitching tents and he’s jetting off to the islands for R & R.

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0309/19988.html

    • Hi SOD. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

      It says the transition team spend those funds. I don’t think that was paid for by taxpayers. But why should donors to Obama’s transition pay for his vacation?

      • Oh, wait a minute. You’re right, GSA report. WTF?!

      • No, if you read the article these are the FEDERAL funds he is required to report on. Later in the article it talks about the private donor funds he does not have to report on.

      • 4000.00 in Unspecified UPGRADES for a 2 week stay…how nice.

        • Typical nouveau riche!

          (h/t AngieNC)

          • But leave it up to good-ole-Joe. This is what he submitted in transition costs:

            Meanwhile, then-Vice President-elect Joe Biden, an Amtrak fan, spent $758 on train fare.

            I wonder how much was fare and how much bar tab? ;-)

    • No f*cking shit — he wasn’t even President yet! Furthermore, I don’t think we should be paying for him to rub elbows with DC insiders.

    • Gee, my family was on Oahu at the same time as the Obama’s and we didn’t spend nearly that much…

  19. Hey everyone, sorry to interrupt the conversation but does anyone know where one can get the 410 billion bill just signed this past wednesday?

  20. I’m watching The Postman Always Rings Twice (Lana Turner version) & then I’m going to bed.

    Good night all!

  21. I saw on TV tonight that the transition team spent $5.1 million on getting “ready for Day 1″. Do you think we can ask for our money back?

    • That’s actually a real bargain when you consider that every day will be Day 1 for this administration. Obama’s will be known as the Groundhog Era.

  22. Looks as though Backtrack is cutting a deal with CEOs.

    http://tinyurl.com/bgvjzj

    “Obama Offers CEOs Corporate Tax Cuts”

    President Barack Obama says he is willing to cut a deal with corporate America, telling business leaders he’d consider cutting the corporate tax rate if they cooperate with his overall agenda.

    Obama met on Thursday with 65 CEOs from the Business Roundtable, a chief executives organization, and stressed that he wants the business community’s cooperation in promoting his agenda of overhauling healthcare and the energy sector, and expanding the federal role in education, according to The Wall Street Journal.
    [...]
    Also at the meeting on Thursday, one Business Roundtable member questioned Obama on his proposal to cap carbon emissions, and he suggested he could compromise on his plan to combat global warming.

    • Also at the meeting on Thursday, one Business Roundtable member questioned Obama on his proposal to cap carbon emissions, and he suggested he could compromise on his plan to combat global warming.

      Apparently he’s willing to compromise on most anything. However, that cap and trade shit would have hit, not industry, but consumers, because industry (i.e. utilities) would just pass the increase on to the consumers.

      • Is there a way to combat global warming without all of us paying for it?

        • The thing is, making us pay more right now when the U.S. economy (and world economy) is literally on the verge of complete collapse is not a good idea. He needs to get real pretty soon. It may already be too late. It could take a few years for us to completely collapse, but right now Obama isn’t doing anything but making it worse.

  23. There is now sufficient evidence proving Obama did and said anything to get elected. Where’s Olberman’s special comment?

    What a fraud.

  24. You’re right, of course, bb. We can’t hold people in high office accountable lest the new people in high office get the same treatment one day. We know how those “Republicans” are…. Just like the Democrats.

    Justice must come through karma for them. That’s a long wait.

    We’ll go after Madoff and make an example out of him. The government regulators, who ignored the whistle blowers, and could have stopped the losses sooner? What’s happening there?

    We act swiftly toward individuals who steal money from the wealthy – not toward people in high office who torture foreigners in our name.

    • Purplefinn,

      Madoff donated money exclusively to Democrats–quite a lot to the DSCC and also to individuals. He apparently had a lot of friends on the SEC. The media is also to blame, especially the WSJ which had all the info on Madoff years ago and never published it–just let him keep stealing.

      Those people on the SEC who ignored the warnings about Madoff should be prosecuted IMO. I also think the bankers who ripped us off should be prosecuted. At least some state prosecuters are starting to look into that, but not the DOJ so far.

  25. He’s worse than Bush, because Bush, as reprehensible as he was, had an ideology that he mistakenly thought was best for the country,

    Obama has no ideology other than his own narcissism. His guiding principle is ” the influential and powerful must like me.” He will do anything, and compromise on anything, in order to suck up to the Big Boyz, on either side of the aisle.

    Bush was heavy-handed and idiotic and sometimes cruel in his pursuit of his agenda, but Obama is agenda-less and spineless.

    During a time of crisis, a spineless and plan-less and self-obsessed leader is worse than one with a faulty agenda, in my experience.

    • I don’t know who’s worse. “Selected” presidents don’t get my respect from the get-go. An unecessary war and rudderlessness just compound the misery.

      I’m helping a friend in her campaign for the local school board. She will do a great job. That’s the politics I can believe in now.

      • I think that a leader like Bush, with a f**ked up agenda, FOLLOWED by a spineless rudderless narcissist who will correct nothing and muddle about with even the things that were operating well, is about as worse case scenario as a country can have.

    • hey WM!

      Did you ever, ever think you’d see the day when you said another president was *worse* than Bush?

      I didn’t think it was possible-but I’d trade and take Dubya back if it meant I never had to look at or listen to this arrogant and clueless fool again. It’s that bad.

      • Hi catarina! *waves* I’ve been lurking, but not much posting due to a long story on my personal life. Short version:

        My eldest son showed up on the doorstep with the 2-year-old baby, and has moved back in. I am now helping raise a 2 year old, which keeps me VERY busy.

        We’ve also been intensively house-hunting for more space, and just put a contract on a house this week. We are paying cash, for only about a fourth of what we can technically afford – with the economy what it is, we are battening down and preparing to live lean. We’ll have ZERO debt and about a third of an acre. We’ll survive, if push comes to shove.

        • aww-grammy!

          busy is good if it distracts you from the news.
          I’ll bet keeping up with the little one is way more fun than reading all those articles about MO’s toned arms and fashion sense…

          Are you staying in Texas?

          always good to *see* you and hope you’ll comment when the baby lets you :-)

        • {{{WMCB}}} It’s sounds like you’ve got a good & wise plan for dealing with a stressful situation.

  26. OT, people may have seen this yesterday from Peggy Noonan. Has Peggy always been this spacey. Is she becoming the designated cultural psychiatrist for our times. She’s saying that drugs like Xanax led to moral hazard which led to the financial bubble and collapse which now leads to economic and spiritual depression which leads to need for a new pill. I’m guessing Peggy dropped acid when she was young, and that’s cool.

    The sale of antidepressants and antianxiety drugs is widespread. In New York their use became common after 9/11. It continued through and, I hypothesize, may have contributed to, the high-flying, wildly imprudent Wall Street of the ’00s. We look for reasons for the crash and there are many, but I wonder if Xanax, Zoloft and Klonopin, when taken by investment bankers, lessened what might have been normal, prudent anxiety, or helped confuse prudent anxiety with baseless, free-floating fear. Maybe Wall Street was high as a kite and didn’t notice. Maybe that would explain Bear Stearns, and Merrill, and Citi.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123689292159011723.html

    • Maybe she’s offering comic relief? That’s ludicrous!

      From wiki:
      “Peggy Noonan (born Margaret Ellen Noonan on September 7, 1950, in Brooklyn, New York) is an author of seven books on politics, religion and culture, a weekly columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and was a primary speech writer and Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. She is considered a political conservative.”

      She’s still an apologist for Reagan. Since greed and deregulation got a jump start from Ronnie, and people are attributing our current state in part to him – she’s all over Xanax!

    • good article-thx. Sounds like WMCB has taken its advice:

      Five weeks ago, when I asked a Wall Street titan what one should do to be safe in the future, he took me aback with the concreteness of his advice, and its bottom-line nature. Everyone should try to own a house, he said, no matter how big or small, but it has to have some land, on which you should learn how to grow things. He also recommended gold coins, such as American Eagles. I went to the U.S. Mint Web site the next day, but there was a six-week wait due to high demand. (I just went on the Web site again: Production of gold Eagle coins “has been temporarily suspended because of unprecedented demand” for bullion.)

    • She has always been a space cadet, 3W. As a psychologist, I get so annoyed when I see this kind of garbage about psychoactive drugs. Xanaz/Klonopin are benzodiazapines like Valium and Librium. They are muscle relaxants/tranquilizers that reduce anxiety. But I seriously doubt they would contribute to risky behavior. Zoloft is an SSRI antidepressant, not an anxiety reducer. If a person isn’t clinically depressed, they really don’t have much effect.

      If someone wanted to speculate about psychological reasons for the bankers’ out-of-control greed and risk-taking, one possibility could be hypomania–that’s much more likely than depression, which immobilizes people and makes it unlikely they would be able to survive in a high pressure job. But most of all, it’s just human nature to take whatever you can when there are no limits being put on criminal behavior.

      • Sounds right bostonboomer.

      • She seriously rivals Modo for lunacy. Two Special lowlights are the column she once wrote in what she was representing as some sort of supposed African American dialect, and when she rhapsodized about elian gonzales being rescued by loving dolphins sent by god.

  27. I find it sadly laughable, but typical, that the Obots are all in orgasms of praise that The One will change the WORDS by not using “enemy combatant” anymore, but are completely ignoring the fact that he’s not closing Gitmo or restoring any constitutional protections.

    Once again, they are dazzled by pretty rhetoric, and refusing to look at the reality of what the man is DOING (or not.)

  28. bb, thanks for your responses to comments. You have done your homework!

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