Watching the Shadows

NYT: "Time for an Accounting" on torture, detainment

In an uncharacterstically strong and principled lead editorial Feb. 19, the NY Times says its "Time for an Accounting" on Abu Ghraib and the administration's policy on torture and detainment generally. Maybe, finally, a sign that elite consciences are beginning to stir. It is worth quoting at length:

Negroponte and the death-squad connection

The NY Times' Feb. 18 front-page profile of John Negroponte, Bush's appointment as Director of National Intelligence, did at least mention—albeit towards the end, at the bottom of page 16—"allegations that he played down human rights violations in Honduras when their exposure could have undermined the Reagan administration's Latin American agenda." (NYT, Feb. 18)

ACLU protests Chertoff confirmation

The American Civil Liberties Union has called for creation of an independent special counsel to investigate "torture policies" following the Senate's confirmation Feb. 15 of Michael Chertoff as Homeland Security Secretary. (ACLU, Feb. 15) Chertoff headed the Justice Department's criminal division during the post-9-11 sweeps, in which many detainees were physically abused—as documented in a 2003 report by the DoJ's own Inspector General. See WW4 REPORT #89

ACLU: more torture in US prison camps

More horrific claims of rights violations in Uncle Sam's military prison camps in Iraq and Afghanistan—including threatening detainees who dared to complain of beatings and torture. One Iraqi detainee who was apparently beaten and injured was forced to drop his claim before being released, the American Civil Liberties Union says in a new report.

Negroponte fingered for intelligence czar

John Negroponte has been named by Bush to be the first Director of National Intelligence, a post created by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Act, recommended by the 9-11 Commission and signed into law in December. If confirmed by the Senate, Negroponte will oversee some 15 agencies, including the CIA, FBI, NSA, Homeland Security Dept., etc. (LAT, Feb. 17)

Madrid office tower inferno: lessons for 9-11

Madrid's landmark Windsor office tower was gutted by fire the night of Feb. 12, and much of downtown Madrid remains closed off by authorities. The fire (apparently caused by a short-circuit) resulted in only seven injuries, none serious--but several of the building's top floors have collapsed, and it is feared the entire 30-story tower could implode unless it is quickly demolished. (EITB24, Spain, Feb. 14)

9-11 Commish FAA revelations: more fodder for conspiranoia mill

A newly declassified report from the 9-11 Commission--released five months late and heavily censored, with several passges blotted out by thick black ink lines--reviews Federal Aviation Administration daily intelligence briefings to airport administrators in the months leading up to the attacks.

Kuwaiti GitMo detainees: We were tortured

Tom Wilner, attorney for 11 Kuwaiti men arrested by US forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan and now held at Guantanamo Bay, told the press his clients say they were beaten, tortured and subjected to electro-shock and sodomy to extract confessions. According to Wilner's notes, one detainee said: "The American soldiers kept saying, 'Are you Taliban or are you al-Qaeda?'... They kept hitting me, so eventually I said I was a member of the Taliban." He says the 11 are all innocent.