02/12/2005: From the Files: Better Late Than Never
Somehow, somewhere, I missed the swearing-in-ceremony of Roberto Gonzales. Drat…I had this good post…So, rather than let it go to waste…it's Better Late Than Never.
Lots of pundits and commentators have richly analyzed the "Torturer's Memo" ad nauseum, but...I wanted to point out one "tweaky" little issue on the Bybee torture memo and the language "unless mistreatment caused the kind of pain associated with 'organ failure, impairment of bodily functions or even death."
This kind of language doesn't actually concern torture at all in the Geneva conventions...it's about what types of situations and conditions are reasons to have to provide "emergency medical treatment."
The redefinition of this to mean "anything up to this point" therefore does not equal "torture" is a complete White House/Gonzales/Bybee et. al. INVENTION. That this language was meant to apply to some "acceptable torture standard or definition" is incorrect on it's face and meaning in the law. That's why I say it's an "extra-procedural process" conducted to get these "new rules" for these conflicts and that it (illegally in my humble opinion...but what do I know...) failed to account for the general legal interpretation guidelines or methods and failed entirely to consider the Congressional role in having a place to decide these "small matters of law."
Sadly...Ouch for the Geneva Conventions.
The NY Times also had this good article about the Yoo Torture analysis.
As a Send Off to John Ashcroft, I'd like to point out the the Dept. of Justice Website (DOJ) had posted this completely bogus "144 terrorism cases prosecuted" as Ashcroft's back-slapping, glad-handed, congratulatory, self-pat on the back.
I had this on-going debate with Greg Rivara, Managing Editor of The Kane County Chronicle, who saw fit to publish this erroneous crap of "144 DOJ prosecutions" as a "Thank You" for all the fine public service Ashcroft had supposedly provided our country. As I pointed pointed out to Greg, there aren't but a Baker's Dozen of cases for successful "Terrorism Prosecutions" in the entire four years of Ashcroft's term (and most are complete rinky-dink crap.)
For more about at least 56 erroneous "terrorism prosecution" claims by the DOJ website....click on "more."
This was in the Duluth News Tribune about those "terrorism" statistics during Ashcroft's tenure.
Posted on Fri, May. 16, 2003
Agency inflates terrorism charges
JUSTICE: Most cases labeled "terrorism" by the Justice Department early this year had nothing to do with terrorists or attacks.
BY MARK FAZLOLLAH
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
PHILADELPHIA - In the first two months of this year, the Justice Department filed "terrorism" charges against 56 people.
But an investigation has found that at least 41 of them had nothing to do with terrorism -- a point that prosecutors acknowledge.
Among the cases:
• 28 Latinos charged with working illegally at the airport in Austin, Texas, most of them using phony Social Security numbers.
• Eight Puerto Ricans charged with trespassing on Navy property on the island of Vieques, long a site of civil protests of ordnance testing.
• A Middle Eastern man indicted in Detroit for allegedly passing bad checks who has the same name as a Hezbollah leader.
• A Middle Eastern college student charged in Trenton, N.J., with paying a stand-in to take his college English-proficiency tests. He received a one-month jail sentence after pleading guilty.
But also included in the new terrorism listings are several cases that involved suspects with ties to foreign militant groups.
Six on the list are alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf Muslim group, charged with murdering two Americans and kidnapping a third in the Philippines.
Several others have pleaded guilty to illegal money transactions believed to have terrorism connections.
And there's Ahcene Benrekia, an Algerian living in Philadelphia with a criminal record that should have kept him out of the United States.
The problems are nothing new. In January, the General Accounting Office reported that three-fourths of all "international terrorism" convictions were wrong in fiscal 2002.
The GAO audit said the exaggeration was serious because it prevented Congress and the public from understanding how much taxpayer money was being spent to prosecute terrorism.
The audit did not take into account another batch of "terrorism" cases filed last fall in New Jersey against 60 Middle Eastern men. An investigation found that they were students and that the only charges against them were allegations that they had cheated on the English test for admission to a U.S. university.
The Justice Department, which promised to fix the problem, says that some prosecutors may have misclassified cases, but that the goal is to accurately report terrorism.
Terrorism prosecutions from January and February show that the goal remains elusive.
Puerto Ricans who have long protested the use of Vieques as a practice bombing range for the Navy were outraged to hear last week that demonstrators had been labeled as terrorists.
"This wasn't terrorism. It was an act of heroism," said Manuel Rodriguez Orellana, former minority leader of the Puerto Rican Senate.
The Vieques protest occurred as the Navy conducted its final live-ammunition practice in January.
"The terrorism was the bombing by the Navy for 60 years," said Rodriguez Orellana, a leader in the commonwealth's Independence Party. "The terrorism was disregard for the people of Vieques that the Marines and Navy always displayed."
The eight Vieques protesters pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and were given sentences ranging from one to four months in jail.
Prosecutor Sonia Torres-Pabon, who handled the eight cases, said she was unclear why they were classified as terrorism. More than 200 people have been arrested in Vieques protests since 1999, but earlier cases were not listed as terrorism.
"I don't see them as any different than the other Vieques cases," she said.
The largest group of "terrorism" cases this year was from Texas, where prosecutors have won guilty pleas from 20 of 28 Latinos charged with illegally working at the Austin airport.
Daryl Fields, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas, said there was no evidence that any were linked to terrorism.
The arrests were part of the Justice Department's Operation Tarmac, started after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Since then, about 1,000 airport workers have been arrested, most of them Latinos. None is known to have links to terrorism. The Justice Department says it is essential to ensure that no illegal workers have access to planes.
Prosecutors in Iowa also listed four January indictments of Des Moines airport workers, all U.S. citizens, as being terrorism. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Des Moines said no court evidence linked the four to any terrorist group.
Meanwhile, in Detroit, the case of Hassan Nasrallah -- whose name is the same as that of the chief of the Lebanese group Hezbollah -- was, like the 55 others, labeled as terrorism.
His attorney, Mark Haidar, said he is charged with using six phony checks to pay his MasterCard bill.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric M. Straus, who is prosecuting the case, said last week:
"He is not the leader of Hezbollah.... This is not a terrorist case."
Still looking for more than those 20 some cases for all that "Job Well Done" we ought to lather on Ashcroft...Greg.
Karen on 02.12.05 @ 04:34 AM CST