Saturday, March 26, 2005
Tim Golden, New York Times, March 27, 2005:
The Defense Department is considering substantial changes to the military tribunals that the Bush administration established to prosecute foreign terror suspects at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, military and administration officials say.Eggen and Babbington, Washington Post, 1/19/05:
The proposed changes, many of which are detailed in a 232-page draft manual for the tribunals that has been circulating among Pentagon lawyers, come after widespread criticism from the federal courts, foreign governments and human rights groups.
Those changes include strengthening the rights of defendants, establishing more independent judges to lead the panels and barring confessions obtained by torture, the officials said.
Attorney general nominee Alberto R. Gonzales, responding to questions about his role in setting controversial detention policies, told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that any form of torture by U.S. personnel is illegal, according to new documents released yesterday . . . .AP wire, 3/17/05:
"The president has consistently stated that the United States will not use torture in any circumstances, so it is simply implausible that I would ever be called upon to address whether the president's constitutional authority as commander-in-chief would permit him to, in effect, nullify the torture statute for national security reasons," Gonzales wrote in one response. He added later: "I would approach such a question with a great deal of care."
CIA Director Porter Goss defended U.S. interrogation practices and rejected any notion that the intelligence community engages in torture following months of criticism of Americans’ treatment of foreign prisoners . . . .Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe, 3/17/05:
“I can assure you that I know of no instances where the intelligence community is outside the law on this,” Goss said. “And I know for a fact that torture is not productive. That’s not professional interrogation. We don’t do torture.”
But surely, [Vice Admiral Albert] Church was asked at a congressional hearing, someone should be held accountable for the scores of abuses that even the government admits to? ''Not in my charter," the admiral replied.Tim Golden, New York Times, March 27, 2005
So the buck stops nowhere. And fresh revelations of horror keep seeping out.
In addition, some of the White House aides who supported changes to the commissions have recently moved to new jobs, leaving behind a small but powerful group of officials, led by Vice President Dick Cheney and his staff, who have opposed changing the commission rules unless forced to do so by the courts, officials said.
"There are a number of folks who would like to make changes," one Pentagon official said of the rules governing the military commissions. But, the official added, "Cheney is still driving a lot of this."