US Justice Dept. Lawyers Join Resistance Against Torture Regime

Via Prof. Stephen Soldz’s blog Psyche, Science, and Society this seems to have been kept very quiet, their own career government lawyers are becoming conscientious objectors to the Bush regime’s corruption of the justice system and use of torture-

The government’s legal arguments justifying the detention of hundreds of people at the Guantánamo Bay naval base have been repudiated three times by the U.S. Supreme Court. But it’s not just outsiders who take issue with the U.S. Justice Department strategy: Up to one fourth of the department’s own civil appellate staff has recently opted out of handling the government’s cases against detainee appeals, two sources familiar with the matter tell U.S. News.

These conscientious objectors—their exact number is not known—have decided not to take part in the government’s litigation against the detainees because of disagreements with the legal approach, these sources say. They would not elaborate on the specific reasons for the objections, but critics have long objected to the government’s failure to formally charge detainees and have pushed for closing Guantánamo because of allegations of torture and inhumane conditions. Defense lawyers also contend that the government has stymied their cases by withholding documents and curbing client access.

The quiet rebellion has emerged in recent months among the approximately 56 attorneys in the appellate section of the Justice Department’s civil division following a court ruling in February that placed the defense of the approximately 130 remaining Guantánamo cases under the responsibility of the appellate lawyers.

This is encouraging, a small step, government employees refusing to do the state’s bidding. They will not want this to be widely known especially as there may be more examples yet to be uncovered in other branches, wider coverage of this could encourage more opposition. In the absence of real democratic opposition people are taking it upon themselves in small ways, I hope conscience is at play here more than simply legal squabbles or self preservation out of concern at any future jeopardy their work could put them in.

Occupation Monkey

So UK forces are getting the heel out of Basra and holing up somewhere else, not in any way a withdrawal but let’s let that get in the way of political soap opera. Charmingly the Grauniad reports Bush as supporting Brown in the redeployment, the Independent is less deferential-

The American President said: “We need all our coalition partners. I understand that everybody’s got their own internal politics. My only point is that whether it be Afghanistan or Iraq, we’ve got more work to do.” In a Sky News interview, he made clear his irritation with Mr Brown’s approach on Iraq. He said Western troops should only think of pulling out once they had completed the “hard work” of defeating al-Qa’ida and Iranian-backed insurgents.

Although Mr Brown has rejected demands to set an exit timetable for the 5,000 British troops in southern Iraq, ministers have said that the decision on their future will be taken independently of Washington. They insist a pull-out of British forces would depend on local conditions in Basra – whatever the plight of US troops in Baghdad.

The Prime Minister is expected to announce next month that Britain will hand over control of security to Iraqi troops and police across the whole of southern Iraq, with British troops switching to “overwatch” status.

He widened his remarks to include all of America’s allies. “What matters is success, and I believe we can be successful. This hard work will achieve what we all want, which is, over time, fewer troops and peace. The main thing we want is to make sure that we deal these radicals and extremists a major blow, which is success in Iraq.” 

Yesterday, two of Mr Brown’s cabinet ministers hit back at claims by the retired American general Jack Keane that the British mission in southern Iraq is failing and that the gradual withdrawal of troops was fuelling the insurgency.

Writing in the Washington Post, David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, and Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, insisted that Britain was “on track” and defended plans to hand over to the Iraqis.

So while our ministers write pieces in the Washington post like aggrieved fanboys the whole kerfuffle does not address any real withdrawal. Meanwhile-

The former head of the British Army has attacked US postwar policy, calling it “intellectually bankrupt”. General Sir Mike Jackson, who headed the army during the war in Iraq, described as “nonsensical” the claim by the former US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that US forces “don’t do nation-building”. He has also hit back at suggestions that British forces had failed in Basra.

Mr Rumsfeld was “one of the most responsible for the current situation in Iraq,” Gen Jackson says in his autobiography, Soldier. He describes Washington’s approach to fighting global terrorism as “inadequate” for relying on military power over diplomacy and nation-building.

But funniest of all was this sign of the utter failure of the occupation forces-

A military cargo plane carrying three senators and a House member was forced to take evasive maneuvers and dispatch flares to avoid ground fire after taking off from Baghdad on Thursday night. The lawmakers said their plane, a C-130, was under fire from three rocket-propelled grenades over the course of several minutes as they left for Amman, Jordan.

After the first burst, the pilots maneuvered aggressively and set off flares used for drawing incoming fire away from aircraft.

“It was a scary moment,” said Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., who said he had just taken off his body armor when he saw a bright flash outside the window. “Our pilots were terrific. … They banked in one direction and then banked the other direction, and they set off the flares.”

Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and James Inhofe, R-Okla., as well as Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Ala., were also on the plane.

Despite the scare, Shelby, Martinez and Cramer said they believed the recent increase in troop levels has helped stabilize parts of the country.

So visiting members of the Imperial elite are not safe yet when the get home they still back the occupation, better luck next time fellas.

BAA Grease Some Palms

BAA extended its management shake-up to the boardroom yesterday as the airport group’s new chairman, City grandee Sir Nigel Rudd, admitted that restoring Heathrow’s reputation was “important to the nation”. Sir Nigel, deputy chairman of Barclays and former chairman of Boots, said the job was the “most challenging role I have ever undertaken” as he declared improving Heathrow his priority. He will be joined on the board by Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan police commissioner who is currently international security adviser to the prime minister.

“Heathrow is such an important part of the British presentation. People coming into the UK often come through Heathrow, so it’s important to the nation that we get this right,” Sir Nigel said. The appointment of a City big-hitter underlined BAA’s determination to reconnect with politicians and the media ahead of a crucial few months for the business, which is the subject of two regulatory inquiries and is campaigning for a third runway at Heathrow airport.  

Of course there are no conflicts of interest with Stevens being both a BAA shill and a very important adviser to Brown. Notice BAA didn’t hire any environmentally concerned suits (ok that is an oxymoron), just very well connected members of the elite. Does Heathrow represent Britain? Will a huge shiny airport make everything alright? Ludicrous business & marketing obsessed eejits.

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