A photo of a desperate young Palestinian boy, badly wounded and screaming for his father as he clutches at the shirt of a paramedic in a hospital, has captured the tragic and bloody tension of the Gazan conflict.


Shirtless and with cuts to his face, torso, arms and legs, the child clings to the hospital worker who is attempting to lay him flat on a girdle.

The Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian publication, reports the photo, taken at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City last Thursday, was captioned with the boy’s desperate cry: ‘I want my father, bring me my father’, according to Fairfax.


The Palestinian paper claims the young boy was one of four siblings brought to the hospital wounded, two of them just three years old.



It comes as grinning Israeli tank commanders were pictured flashing the victory signs as they blast their way through Gaza in the bloodiest day of the offensive so far – as one resident of the troubled region said: ‘The gate of hell has opened.’


At least 65 people have been killed since this yesterday’s dawn strike on Gaza City’s Shijaiyah neighbourhood – including the son, daughter-in-law and two small grandchildren of a senior Hamas leader.


Hamas says it has captured an Israeli soldier – a scenario that has proven to be fraught with difficulties for the country in the past – but Israel’s U.N. Ambassador has denied the claims.


The neighbourhood has come under heavy tank fire as Israel widened its ground offensive against Hamas, causing hundreds of residents to flee.

article-2698878-1FD02FEC00000578-309_964x616 article-2698878-1FD199E900000578-366_964x683

The dead and wounded – including dozens of women and children – have reportedly been left in streets, with ambulances unable to approach.


Source: (July 21, 2014)

Michelle Knight, the longest-held captive in the Ohio hell house, was removed from the FBI’s missing persons’ database just 15 months after her disappearance, according to a new report.

Cleveland spokeswoman Maureen Harper claimed the cops did the right thing by taking Knight’s name off the list in November 2003, The Cleveland Plain-Dealerreported.

Harper said cops were unable to contact Michelle’s mother Barbara to verify her daughter was still missing.

However, the paper reports that decision conflicts with the department’s written policy, where an officer must confirm a missing person has been found and then contact the FBI within two hours before the name is removed.


Knight was found more alive more than 10 years after her Aug. 23, 2002 disappearance, along with Amanda Berry, 27, and Gina DeJesus, 23, after allegedly being kept as sex slaves by Ariel Castro in Cleveland. Knight, now 32, was reportedly pregnant several times but Castro allegedly beat her until she miscarried The Post previously reported.

Having Knight’s name in the National Crime Information Center, called by the FBI as the “lifeline of law enforcement,” would have been the only way law enforcement agencies and victims’ groups could have helped in the search, the newspaper reports.

Harper said cops continued to work Knight’s case, confirming with Barbara that her daughter was still missing through May 2003.

After that, cops were unable to reach the estranged mother by phone, with a detective noting Michelle’s case “will remain invalid until new leads develop.”

Missing adult advocate Kym Pasqualini said if Michelle’s mom had called them for help “we would have had to say no” without an NCIC number to go with Knight’s name.


Knight is still in the hospital recovering from her ordeal.

Yesterday Knight’s twin brother recalled his shock at seeing her alive for the first time in more than a decade.

“When I saw her, she was white as a ghost,” Freddie Knight, 32, told The Post. “But she told me, ‘Come over here and give me a hug. It’s been ages!’ ”

“She was happy to see me. It was emotional. She even recognized me — even though it had been 11 years.”

Freddie, who is estranged from their mom, Barbara, was the first family member to see Michelle after her escape.

Michelle was raped as a teen, became pregnant and lost the baby to social services just before she vanished in 2002. She was impregnated in the attack and had a child, which she then lost to state custody.

“We didn’t talk about that bad stuff. She’s been through a lot, so she’s not ready to talk about that,” Freddie added.

“I’m glad he’s in jail,” he said of Castro.

“I wish he was dead. He should have a death sentence; all those miscarriages. It’s crazy.”

Additional reporting by Lorena Mongelli  (May 10, 2013)


‘Daddy’ is a ‘monster’: Ariel Castro’s daughter blasts fiend after women freed from Ohio hell house

Even with her demonic father in all likelihood gone forever, Gregg lives with a living reminder of the troubles that have plagued her family — she takes care of sister Emily Castro’s 5-year-old daughter.


The little girl was taken away from Emily after she slashed her then 11-month-old daughter’s throat in April of 2008.

Things were not always as dark as they are now for the Castro family, although sources told The Post Ariel Castro spent years delivering severe beatings to his late-wife Grimilda Figueroa.

Gregg recalling nothing out of the ordinary going on in her childhood home where Ariel Castro kidnapped and held captive three women for about a decade.

images (1)

However, the shocking revelations about her father have now put his peculiar habits in a whole new light for Gregg.

“All these weird thing I noticed over the years like how he kept his house locked down so tight in certain areas, how if we’d be out at my grandma’s having dinner he would disappear for an hour or so and then come back and there would be no explanation where he went, everything is making sense now, it’s all adding up,” Gregg said.

At the time, however, Gregg did not think her father’s behavior was anything beyond strange.

For example, one time when she went to visit her father she asked if she could go upstairs to see her childhood bedroom but Castro talked her out of it saying, “Oh, honey, there’s so much junk up there. You don’t want to go up there,” she said.

Gregg thought nothing of the incident when it happened, saying that she just thought of Castro as “being a pack rat.”

While the upstairs was off limits later in life, the basement was a complete no-go zone of the house, even when Gregg was a child, seeing as it was always locked with a “cheap Masterlock.”


One time Gregg did pick the locks, however, and made her way downstairs, “I remember there being a fish tank down there which was odd because there was nobody down there to look at the fish.”

There were no signs that women were being held captive or that there might have been a small girl living in the house, according to Gregg.

That doesn’t mean that Gregg didn’t know the girl existed. About two months ago Castro showed Gregg a picture of a little girl on his phone but he insisted it was his girlfriend’s child by another man.

“I figured at the most he had an illegitimate child out there, you know, and I would find out eventually,” Gregg said.

Gregg now knows the origins of her 6-year-old sister and hopes that she and the other women held captive by her father can get the treatment that they need.

She also hopes that they will come to understand that her father’s actions are not a reflection of her and her family.

“We don’t have monster in our blood,” she said.

CIA interrogators threatened an al Qaeda prisoner with a gun and an electric drill to try to scare him into giving up information, according to a long-concealed inspector-general’s report due to be made public on Monday, sources familiar with the report confirmed to CNN.
Attorney General Eric Holder is considering appointing a prosecutor to investigate a CIA interrogation program.

The gun and drill were used in two separate interrogation sessions against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, one of the sources said. Al-Nashiri is accused of plotting the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, which left 17 U.S. sailors dead.

The sources did not want to be identified because the report, completed by the CIA’s inspector general in 2004, has not yet been made public. A federal judge in New York has ordered a redacted version of the report released Monday as part of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU.

The interrogations took place in the CIA’s secret prisons before 2006, when then-President George W. Bush moved all detainees from such facilities to the federal prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, both sources said. Watch why ACLU says tactics are ‘illegal’ »

Details of the report were first published by Newsweek magazine late Friday.

Newsweek also said that, according to its sources citing the inspector-general’s report, interrogators staged mock executions to try to frighten detainees into talking. In one instance, Newsweek reported, a gun was fired in a room next to one terrorism suspect so he would think another prisoner was being killed.

A CIA spokesman would not talk about specifics of the inspector-general’s report but said all the incidents described in it have been reviewed by government prosecutors.

“The CIA in no way endorsed behavior — no matter how infrequent — that went beyond formal guidance. This has all been looked at; professionals in the Department of Justice decided if and when to pursue prosecution. That’s how the system was supposed to work, and that’s how it did work,” CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said.

One of the sources, a former intelligence official who is familiar with the report, said that while the report “reaffirmed” the interrogation program, it “also showed some had strayed off center.”

The official said about a dozen cases of potential misconduct by interrogators were referred to the Justice Department. Of those, only one person was prosecuted, the official said, with the rest being referred to the CIA accountability board, an internal disciplinary board. Two people resigned rather than face the CIA board, the official said.

This official said that when CIA leadership found out about the drill incident, they were “angry as hell.” The official called it “nickel-and-dime foolishness” that was not tolerated. The individual who used the drill was pulled from the program and “sharply reprimanded,” the official said.

Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU, released a statement Sunday saying, “Leaked portions of the CIA Inspector General’s report offer more proof that government officials committed serious crimes while interrogating prisoners. So-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ like mock executions and threatening prisoners with guns and power drills are not only reprehensible but illegal.”

In anticipation of the release of the report Monday, Romero added, “Releasing the report with minimal redactions is essential to knowing what crimes were committed and who was involved.”

The release of the inspector-general’s report comes as Attorney General Eric Holder is considering whether to appoint a prosecutor to investigate the CIA interrogation program, begun by the Bush administration after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

* WASHINGTON (CNN) –August 2009

cartoon20090516525cartoon20090518USA se va de irakJun18#32edificios de cartoncartoons_07

Sleeping detainees CIA interrogators at Guantanamo Bay subjected dozens of detainees to sleep deprivation, shackling the prisoners in a standing position for up to 11 days at a time. Recently released Justice Department memorandums claim sleep deprivation studies show that “surprisingly, little seem[s] to go wrong with the subjects physically.” Wait, is it really safe to go without sleep?


No—extended bouts of sleeplessness can cause an array of physical symptoms and might eventually kill you. The effects begin within the first 24 hours of sleep deprivation. First, the body undergoes subtle hormonal changes—cortisol and TSH levels increase, leading to a rise in blood pressure. A day or two later, it stops metabolizing glucose properly, creating carbohydrate cravings. (This phenomenon may have gone unnoticed among the detainees, who were already on a calorie-restricted diet.) A person’s body temperature will also drop, and his or her immune response becomes somewhat suppressed. All of these physiological changes are reversible, though—take a nap, and you’ll be on the road back to normal.

Amanda Schaffer discussed why people sleep. William Saletan reported on the military’s sleep-reduction program. David Plotz tried a drug for the chronically sleep-deprived. Seth Stevenson tested over-the-counter sleep aids.
It’s possible that given enough time, sleep deprivation can kill you. While no human being is known to have died from staying awake, animal research strongly suggests it could happen. In the 1980s, a University of Chicago researcher named Allan Rechtschaffen conducted a series of groundbreaking experiments on rats.

After 32 days of total sleep deprivation, all the rats were dead. Curiously, researchers still do not agree on the cause of death. It’s possible that the rats’ body temperature dropped so much that they succumbed to hypothermia. Another theory posits that the rats’ immune systems became so depressed that bacteria normally sequestered in their intestines spread throughout their bodies—though Rechtschaffen counters that his rats perished even when they were administered antibiotics. A third explanation points to some evidence of brain damage among the sleep-deprived rats. It’s also possible that extreme levels of stress contributed to the rats’ demise.

There’s every reason to believe that humans would experience the same end result if they were kept awake for long enough. Our knowledge of prolonged, complete sleep deprivation in humans is limited because intolerable psychological effects such as hallucination and paranoia take hold long before the more severe physical symptoms. Most human studies involve no more than two to three days of complete deprivation or a week of partial sleep deficits. Data on more prolonged sleep deprivation come from anecdotes, animal research, or surveys of chronically sleep-deprived groups like medical residents.

Got a question about today’s news? Ask the Explainer .
Explainer thanks Charles A. Czeisler of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, James B. Maas of Cornell University, Amita Sehgal of the University of Pennsylvania, and Jerry Siegel of UCLA.

*By Brian Palmer, May 11, 2009

8135_image1 modelo 108259_image


Overload is a real problem. There is a danger that even the most decent of people can grow numb to the unending reports of atrocities occurring all around the globe. Mass rape. Mass murder.

Torture. The institutionalized oppression of women.
There are other things in the world: a ballgame, your daughter’s graduation, the ballet. The tendency to draw an impenetrable psychic curtain across the worst that the world has to offer is understandable. But it’s a tendency, as Elie Wiesel has cautioned, that must be fought.

We have an obligation to listen, for example, when a woman from a culture foreign to our own recalls the moment when time stopped for her, when she was among a group of women attacked by soldiers:
“They said to us: ‘If you have a baby on your back, let us see it.’ The soldiers looked at the babies and if it was a boy, they killed it on the spot [by shooting him]. If it was a girl, they dropped or threw it on the ground. If the girl died, she died. If she didn’t die, the mothers were allowed to pick it up and keep it.”
The woman recalled that in that moment, the kind of throbbing moment when time is not just stopped but lost, when it ceases to have any meaning, her grandmother had a boy on her back. The grandmother refused to show the child to the soldiers, so both she and the boy were shot.

A team of female researchers, three of them physicians, traveled to Chad last fall to interview women who were refugees from the nightmare in Darfur. No one has written more compellingly about that horror than my colleague on this page, Nick Kristof. When I was alerted to the report that the team had compiled for Physicians for Human Rights, my first thought was, “What more is there to say?”

And then I thought about Mr. Wiesel, who has warned us so eloquently about the dangers inherent in indifference to the suffering of others. Stories of atrocities on the scale of those coming out of Darfur cannot be told too often.

The conflict has gone on for more than six years, and while the murders and mass rapes have diminished, this enormous human catastrophe is still very much with us. For one thing, Sudan has expelled humanitarian aid groups from Darfur, a move that Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, recently told Mr. Kristof “may well amount to genocide by other means.”

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict and the systematic sexual attacks on Darfuri women have been widely reported. Millions have been displaced and perhaps a quarter of a million Darfuris are living in conditions of the barest subsistence in refugee camps along the Chad-Sudan border.

The report by Physicians for Human Rights, to be released officially on Sunday (available at, focuses on several dozen women in the Farchana refugee camp in Chad. The report pays special attention to the humanity of the women.

“These are real people with children, with lives that may have been quite simple, but were really rich before they were displaced,” said Susannah Sirkin, a deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights.
The conditions in the refugee camps are grim, made worse by the traumas that still grip the women, many of whom were witnesses — or the victims — of the most extreme violence.
“I don’t think I was prepared for the level of just palpable suffering that they are continuing to endure,” said Dr. Sondra Crosby, one of the four interviewers. “Women were telling me they were starving. They’re eating sorghum and oil and salt and sugar.”

Dr. Crosby and her colleagues had a few crackers or cookies on hand for the women during the interviews. “I don’t think I saw even one woman eat the crackers, even though they were hungry,” she said. “They all would hide them in their dresses so they could take them back to their children.”

The women also live with the ongoing fear of sexual assault. According to the report, rape is a pervasive problem around the refugee camps, with the women especially vulnerable when they are foraging for firewood or food.
“It is so much easier to look away from victims,” said Mr. Wiesel, in a speech at the White House in 1999. “It is so much easier to avoid such rude interruptions to our work, our dreams, our hopes.”

But indifference to the suffering of others “is what makes the human being inhuman,” he said, adding: “The political prisoner in his cell, the hungry children, the homeless refugees — not to respond to their plight, not to relieve their solitude by offering them a spark of hope is to exile them from human memory. And in denying their humanity, we betray our own.”

By BOB HERBERT, NYT, May 30, 2009

Photographs of Iraqi prisoner abuse which U.S. President Barack Obama does not want released include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on Thursday.

1 modelo 9

The images are among photographs included in a 2004 report into prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison conducted by U.S. Major General Antonio Taguba.

Taguba included allegations of rape and sexual abuse in his report, and on Wednesday he confirmed to the Daily Telegraph that images supporting those allegations were also in the file.

“These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency,” Taguba, who retired in January 2007, was quoted as saying in the paper.


He said he supported Obama’s decision not to release them, even though Obama had previously pledged to disclose all images relating to abuses at Abu Ghraib and other U.S.-run prisons in Iraq.

“I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one,” Taguba said. “The sequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them, and British troops who are trying to build security in Afghanistan.

“The mere depiction of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it.”

The newspaper said at least one picture showed an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Others are said to depict sexual assaults with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

The photographs relate to 400 alleged cases of abuse carried out at Abu Ghraib and six other prisons between 2001 and 2005.

LONDON, (Reuters) –
May 27, 2009
(Reporting by Luke Baker; Editing by Jon Boyle)


As torture chronicler extraordinaire Mark Danner has pointed out, one of the great paradoxes of the torture scandal “is that it is not about things we didn’t know but about things we did know and did nothing about.”

It was, for instance, in December 2002 that Dana Priest and Barton Gellman first reported on the front page of the Washington Post that American interrogators were subjecting detainees to “stress and duress” techniques. James Risen, David Johnston and Neil A. Lewis first told the world about waterboarding in May 2004.
But that doesn’t mean that the rest of us are as guilty as the people who committed the crimes — or that those who ordered those crimes should avoid accountability.

Jacob Weisberg now joins Michael Kinsley, however, in arguing that the nation’s collective guilt for torture is so great that prosecution is a cop-out. Kinsley, as I noted on Friday, wrote: “If you’re going to punish people for condoning torture, you’d better include the American citizenry itself…Prosecuting a few former government officials for their role in putting our country into the torture business would not serve justice or historical memory. It would just let the real culprits off the hook.”
And here is Weisberg, writing in Newsweek: “By 2003, if you didn’t understand that the United States was inflicting torture upon those deemed enemy combatants, you weren’t paying much attention. This is part of what makes applying a criminal-justice model to those most directly responsible such a bad idea. The issue we need to come to terms with is not just who in the Bush administration did what, but our collective complicity in their decision….Prosecuting Bush and his men won’t absolve the rest of us for what we let them do.”


There are two big problems with this argument, however. While it’s true that the public’s outrage over torture has been a long time coming, one reason for that is the media’s sporadic and listless coverage of the issue. Yes, there were some extraordinary examples of investigative reporting we can point to, but other news outlets generally didn’t pick up these exclusives. Nobody set up a torture beat, to hammer away daily at what history I think will show was one of the major stories of the decade. Heck, as Weisberg himself points out, some of his colleagues were actually cheerleaders for torture. By failing to return to the story again and again — with palpable outrage — I think the media actually normalized torture. We had an obligation to shout this story from the rooftops, day and night. But instead we lulled the public into complacency.

Secondly, while it’s certainly worth exploring why any number of people were either actively or passively complicit in our torture regime — and I’m all for some national self-flagellation here — that has nothing to do with whether senior administration officials willfully broke the law, and whether they should be held accountable. It doesn’t change the law.

Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald has repeatedly marveled at the Washington elite’s nearly lockstep opposition to criminal prosecutions. Here he is last month: “The very same pundits and establishment journalists who today are demanding that we forget all about it, not look back, not hold anyone accountable, are the very same people who…played key roles in hiding, enabling and defending these crimes. In light of that, what is less surprising than the fact that, almost unanimously, these very same people oppose any efforts to examine what happened and impose accountability?”
And here he is in January: “Now added to the pantheon of ‘liberal’ dogma is the shrill, ideological belief that high government officials must abide by our laws and should be treated like any other citizen when they break them….Apparently, one can attain the glorious status of being a moderate, a centrist, a high-minded independent only if one believes that high political officials (and our most powerful industries, such as the telecoms) should be able to break numerous laws (i.e.: commit felonies), openly admit that they’ve done so, and then be immunized from all consequences. That’s how our ideological spectrum is now defined.”

Meanwhile, Philip Gourevitch writes for the New Yorker about who, exactly, has been held accountable thus far: “It was exactly five years ago that some of the photographs that Charles Graner and his comrades took at Abu Ghraib were aired on CBS’s ‘Sixty Minutes’ and published in this magazine. At that time, the Administration claimed that [Corporal Charles A. Graner, Jr., the military-police officer in charge of the night shift] was the mastermind of the abuse represented in the photographs, and that they showed nothing more than the depravity of a group of rogue soldiers who had fallen under his sway.

Yet it became almost immediately apparent—and has been confirmed repeatedly in the years since, most recently with President Obama’s decision to release four Bush Administration memorandums seeking to establish a legal justification for the use of torture—that the Abu Ghraib photographs showed not individuals run amok but American policy in action.”

Graner remains in prison, serving ten years. “His superior officers enjoy their freedom, and C.I.A. interrogators, who spent years committing far worse acts against prisoners than Graner did even in the darkest days at Abu Ghraib, have been assured immunity.
“But, if full justice remains impossible, surely some injustices can be corrected. Whenever crimes of state are adjudicated—at Nuremberg or The Hague, Phnom Penh or Kigali—the principle of command responsibility, whereby the leaders who give the orders are held to a higher standard of accountability than the foot soldiers who follow, pertains. There can be no restoration of the national honor if we continue to scapegoat those who took the fall for an Administration—and for us all.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy writes in a Boston Globe op-ed about the recently released “torture memos”: “This was not an ‘abstract legal theory,’ or ‘hypothetical,’ as Alberto Gonzales dismissively described in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. These were specific techniques, authorized by high-ranking US government officials and used on real people. We have prosecuted people for these kinds of acts against Americans, and condemned other nations for sanctioning these methods….

“The apparent predetermined outcome of these legal memos raises the question of where the demand for this outcome and for approving these policies arose. Press accounts indicate that these were not the results of requests from CIA officers on the ground and in the field, but arose through pressure from senior administration officials in Washington….

“I still believe my proposal for a Commission of Inquiry remains the best way to move forward with a comprehensive, nonpartisan, independent review of what happened. Torture was and is against the law. Condoning it puts the men and women who bravely serve in our own armed forces at risk. It disregards the values that make this country great. Torture is illegal, immoral, and wrong. That is why Obama ended these practices.
“Let us reaffirm our guiding principles as a nation by joining together to come to a shared understanding of what happened and why. The risk of failing to learn from our mistakes is that they will be repeated.”

I wrote on Friday (also see Harper’s blogger Scott Horton) about a video in which former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice seemingly restated President Nixon’s view that if the president does it, it’s not illegal. “[B]y definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Conventions Against Torture,” she said, after being questioned by Stanford University students.

Alec MacGillis writes in The Washington Post about Rice trying to explain her torture decisions yesterday — to a fourth-grader. And afterward, Rice was pressed to clarify her remarks by an Al Jazeera television crew.
This time, Rice said: “Let me be very clear: The president said he would not authorize anything that was illegal. It was not legal because he authorized it; it was because he said he would do nothing illegal and the justice department and the attorney general said that it was legal.”

Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane, writing in the New York Times, take us back to Bush’s issuance in June 2003 of the standard proclamation to mark the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
“The United States is committed to the world-wide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example. I call on all governments to join with the United States and the community of law-abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment,” the proclamation said.
Not surprisingly, the CIA freaked.

* Source’s  Text: Washington Post (May, 2009)


But that’s just the top to a long article — full of anonymous sources — chronicling how the “consensus of top administration officials about the C.I.A. interrogation program, which they had approved without debate or dissent in 2002, began to fall apart.”
They write: “The real trouble began on May 7, 2004, the day the C.I.A. inspector general, John L. Helgerson, completed a devastating report. In thousands of pages, it challenged the legality of some interrogation methods, found that interrogators were exceeding the rules imposed by the Justice Department and questioned the effectiveness of the entire program.”
But even after 2006, “Mr. Cheney and top C.I.A. officials fought to revive the program. Steven G. Bradbury, the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and author of the recently declassified 2005 memorandums authorizing harsh C.I.A interrogations, began drafting another memorandum in late 2006 to restore legal approval for harsh interrogation.”

And: “When Mr. Bush finally reauthorized C.I.A. interrogations with an executive order in July 2007…forced nudity was banned, and guidelines for sleep deprivation were tighter….But Mr. Cheney and his allies secured other victories. The executive order preserved the secret jails and authorized a laundry list of coercive methods.”
Peter Finn and Carrie Johnson write in The Washington Post that the recently resolved case of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri “suggests that as the government pushes forward with plans to prosecute detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, it may again have to accept lesser sentences for those who were subjected to physical and psychological abuse.”

Bush had Marri “swept out of federal court and into a U.S. Navy brig so he could be interrogated without the legal protections afforded by the criminal justice system.”
But: “By removing Marri from the courts in June 2003, the Bush administration effectively sacrificed the ability of prosecutors to throw the book at Marri when he was returned to the system, military and legal experts say.”


They also write: “The fear that some Guantanamo cases are not prosecutable in federal court has sharpened debate within the Obama administration about the need to maintain military commissions, in which the rules of evidence are less stringent, according to sources involved in the discussions.”
Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball write for Newsweek that “a Justice Department special counsel is quietly ratcheting up his probe into… the CIA’s destruction of hundreds of hours of videotape showing the waterboarding of two high-value Qaeda suspects.”

And Deepak Chopra writes in a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed: “This is one of those moments when painful truth is the only way to heal.
“People don’t want to hear about bad things from the past when the present is loaded down with more than enough bad things. But inconvenience and fatigue aren’t good excuses. There is anger from the left — and not just the left — about an inexcusable Bush policy. There are demons in the closet, and shutting the door on them won’t make them go away. Better to deal with it now, when a new president’s idealism is still fresh. It will take idealism to face the torture issue. Otherwise, any truth commission will either turn into a vengeance squad or go the other way and sweep too much under the rug.



Though the president’s decision to expose but not prosecute those responsible for torture is surely unsatisfying, it is the best solution for right now.

Editors’ Selections NYTimes aim to highlight the most interesting and thoughtful comments that represent a range of views:


I have to say that I’m rather disappointed in this latest column by Friedman. While the point that moving forward on a prosecution would ultimately lead to targeting the highest members of the Bush administration and provide irreparable damage to our country’s internal stability is quite valid, he loses me is in his attempts to extend an olive branch to the judgment of the previous administration in their handling of so-called “enhanced interrogation.”

Pointing out that Al Qaeda is a legitimate threat that poses unique challenges to our national security is a disingenuous attempt at moderation that seems to deliberately hide from what’s really outrageous about the situation at hand. That the Bush administration approved torture is minutia when one examines the laws that were broken and the responsibility that was shirked in doing so. Whether or not torture should be allowed is a legitimate debate, however there is no debating that the Bush administration came down on the riskiest side of the debate but boorishly declined to understand implicit complexity of their own decision. Furthermore when this incompetence was exposed, the administration attempted to save itself from leadership initiative by underhanded tactics such as passing the buck to our soldiers.

I usually applaud Friedman’s moderate and practical stance on most issues, however much of his attempt at moderation in this piece is mostly accomplished by addressing minutia rather than the larger issue. That Obama made the correct decision in withholding prosecution is a legitimate position, however extending an olive branch to the Bush administration’s conduct in light of the unique military challenges with which we’re faced is not. Let’s be honest, the real issue behind this hypothetical prosecution isn’t a debate about interrogation tactics; it’s a commitment to punish criminal negligence in an overinflated executive branch that repeatedly backed risky decisions by falling terribly short on providing the leadership needed to execute them properly.

— SH, Troy NY


You ought to review article 2.2 of the U.N. Convention Against Torture, to which the U.S. became a State Party in 1998 under Ronald Reagan. It’s quite clear on this point:

“No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

The circumstances most certainly include the political fallout that would be engendered by the prosecution of senior members of the Bush administration for torture. And while you claim that bringing Rumsfeld and Bush to trial “would rip our country apart,” I’d argue that they already *have* ripped our country apart. Not just our country, either, but the Constitution, the rule of law, and our moral standing in the world.

Essentially, your argument is that Bushy, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Bybee, Yoo, etc. are “too big to fail”. If some average Joe imprisoned somebody in his basement, chained them from the ceiling, kept them awake for 11 days straight, and waterboarded them 183 times you would doubtless be shocked and outraged and wouldn’t question for a moment the need for prosecution. Mr. Friedman, with all due respect, do you really think that the laws in this country ought only to apply to ordinary citizens, and not politicians?

History will not treat us kindly if we choose to look the other way for the sake of political expediency.
— Jacob Park, San Francisco

Isn’t about time we retired the hoary argument that Al Qaeda is an exceptionally ruthless movement that cannot be controlled except by using the most brutal of methods? Haven’t there been religious fanatics and martyrs throughout human history? And Israel, of course, has been dealing with suicide bombers for decades. Have their agressive methods of addressing that threat really worked?

Governments and their apologists always claim in time of war that the opponent is uniquely evil and is capable of wreaking havoc unlike any the world has ever known. Why do we keep falling for this tired propaganda? The laws against torture and abuse of prisoners were not put in place to stop crimes against people we like, but to stop interrogators from misusing their power to harm people we despise. Physical and mental abuse is both counterproductive and damaging to victim and torturer alike. The question is not how much we hate and fear someone, the question is what the right and effective thing to do is when we have someone in custody we believe to be dangerous. Do we give ourselves permission to commit crimes we claim to abhor when they are perpetrated by others?

At best, officials of the last administration can claim temporary insanity in defense of their decision to torture prisoners. But there is nothing temporary about that insanity–they are still openly proclaiming their defiance of the law. Or has Dick Cheney apologized recently and I just didn’t hear about it?

And that is where the real problem comes in: the Bush administration violated both domestic and international laws before the eyes of the world, not once in a moment of carelessness, but as part of a systematic and deliberate strategy that could easily be reactivated the next time the U.S. feels “threatened.”

What is Barack Obama, who has sworn to uphold the laws of the United States, going to do to make sure that doesn’t happen?
— Miriam Hils, Berlin, Germany


A “unique enemy?” The US never officially embraced torture when it fought the Nazis. Give me a break. There is no excuse for what we did during the Bush administration. It makes me ashamed.
— rkreier, Port Jefferson, NY

Unconvincing. We wonder how Germany managed to rise to a major global economic power and a vibrant democracy after being “torn apart” by the Nuremburg trials.
Take note: Those who argued against the pursuit Nazi war criminals such as Eichmann and Barbie used arguments not unlike Mr. Friedman’s; i.e., it would be better to move on, and of course the classic, You have to understand how things WERE back then!
— MarkWoldin, Navarra, Spain

Mr. Friedman,
You might also wish to check out The Detainee Project, which has portraits of some of the thousands of innocent Iraqis who were detained, tortured, and then released without charge (

Would you dare tell them to their faces that the crimes they suffered should not be investigated because to do so would be politically inconvenient?

The torture went *far* beyond the small number of prisoners at Guantanamo whom we’re told were confirmed terrorists. (Claims that any thinking person would take with a whole mountain of salt.)
— Jacob Park, San Francisco

It’s very disturbing to read an article like Friedman’s in a widely respected newspaper like the New York Times promoting torture and describing America’s right to torture and kill as its leaders see fit lifted out of Orwell’s Animal Farm .And this is what is supposed to be the leader of the free world?! As a Saudi woman with many hurdles ahead before we as Saudi women are treated fairly, found our part of the world far more humane than Thomas Friedman’s world.
— fadia basrawi, beirut, lebanon


As a veteran I feel this is an embarrassing time for the United States. By condoning torture we have become worse than them. By playing semantics with definitions of “prisoners of conflicts” we undermined any civility we have as a nation of laws and threatened the citizen soldiers/servants we ask to defend and protect us. Investigate,Prosecute, you bet.
Throw them in jail, no.
Confiscate all their blood money,retirements and make them greeters at Wal-marts for a little humility. Oh, that might be a little too demeaning.
— Dale R., Macomb, Mich.

Mr Friedman, I agree that prosecutions would tear the country apart and I wouldn’t look forward to them. I also agree that al-Qaeda is a unique enemy, though certainly not invincible. And suicide strikes are nothing new. The Viet Cong used them. They didn’t use car bombs, but the attacks they staged during the Tet Offensive were suicidal, for all intents and purposes. And what about the kamikaze pilots in WW II? Today’s suicide pilots and bombers haven’t broken as much new ground as people tell themselves.

But that was the mindset in the first days and weeks after 9/11. “This is a whole new ball-game!” a friend of mine insisted. But that was a bad analogy, as ball-games have many rules, and the “new” ball-game being proposed on the country’s behalf had none. President Bush was in a hurry to wrap up the war on terrorism on HIS “watch”, and his hurry-up offense, paying no mind to the rules, stalled at mid-field.

I don’t want to see prosecutions, but the people calling for them are not to be faulted for supporting high ideals. They apparently believe that the rules apply under all circumstances, and perhaps especially in the extremes. I’m reminded of some relevant lines from the film “Citizen Cohn”, from a scene in which father and son wrangle over the ideal of abiding by principles and doing “what is right.”

The son responds: “What’s ‘right’ changes every five minutes in this town.”

And the father answers: “What is right NEVER changes.”
— Basil Marasco, Jr., Rochester, NY


Humbug and chazerei. All this dancing around one simple notion: The President (or ex-President) is above the law, because treating him as a responsible citizen would “tear the country apart.” And therefore the VP, Atty-Gen, Bybee, Yoo, are also above the law. Glad we got that clear: Now we can burn the Declaration of Independence and apologize to george II.

What’s more, we can rip out of Good Friday “looking backward” to remember the torture of Jesus by the Roman Empire, and rip out of Yom Kippur the memory of ten great rabbis tortured to death by the Roman Empire. After all, that’s what Empires do, and charging the Emperor with crimes would tear the Empire apart.

Translation of Friedman: Empires need to use torture; charging the Emperor with crimes will tear apart not America the democratic republic but the American Empire.

That is true.

Shalom, Rabbi Arthur Waskow
The Shalom Center
— Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Philadelphia

Evil is evil, Mr. Friedman — and a country is generally defined by how it engages and disables it. There is nothing “new” about this enemy. What’s new is the United States of America is now practicing evil in retaliation.
— Sue Robbins, Panama, Republic of Panama


People like Tom Friedman disgust me they have been preaching that Osama uses dirty tricks yet when dirty tricks are done by The israelis and the American he justifies it with Poker face. IS the law only for the muslim countries and that they should abide by that. If the rapes murder and war crimes are committed by the West and their cronies State Of Israel it is looked the other way who is responsible for the 27 Homicides commited agains the helpless prisoners. Sudan should be held responsible for less Human deaths then deaths that have been infliceted on IRAQ a million plus. Solobodan Milosovic is ent to trial for less couple of thousand dead to HAgue Trial. Where is the International Court now or it just designed to convict Non Powerful members of the world since Elites like Friedman are claiming look the other way. Oligarch is in full bloom. Tom Firedman is lower then the terrorists.
— khalid, nj, usa



I don’t know where most of these commenters spend their time, but I eat lunch every day in a manufacturing plant in Ohio. The majority of the people here support torture of suspected terrorists. Don’t kid yourself. I’ve had this debate and found myself in the minority. Prosecuting the torturers will rip this country apart far worse than Watergate, because most people agreed that what Nixon did was wrong, but a majority of Americans will have grave misgivings about prosecuting American soldiers and spies who tortured suspected terrorists while trying to defend their country. This will be more akin to calling the cops on your brother because you think he might be abusing his kids. Thanksgiving dinner will be awkward.

Now I don’t agree with Friedman, and I think we should prosecute. But to do so would require the full support of the Obama administration and congress, which will lose substantial support, especially in those swing states that secured him the presidency, like Ohio and Virginia. It will embolden the critics of his domestic policies. It could mean the end of substantial health care reform and carbon emission reduction. Indirectly it could extend the recession by tying the administration’s hands. It is the single best way for the Democrats to hand the presidency back to the Republicans, and maybe congress too.

Now I’m OK with defeating those domestic initiatives, as I’m not a big supporter anyway. I also think that condoning torture will hurt this country far more than Al Quaeda ever will, or global warming. But there will be a big price to pay, especially when we suffer our next terrorist attack. Is prosecuting the torturers important enough to risk losing Obama in 2012 and most of his domestic initatives? I think that’s the question Obama is asking himself (Friedman too). And that’s why he won’t prosecute. But he should.
— Tom, Ohio


* Source: “A Torturous Compromise” Text by THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
(NYT, April 29, 2009)