2011-04-27 WikiLeaks Notes: Shaker Aamer, Times of India interview, National Institute of Military Justice on Obama

ImageUK fighting for Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer’s release

Foreign Secretary William Hague will raise the case of Shaker Aamer with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she comes to the UK in May. Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt has told the BBC that dealing with the US on the issue is “frustrating”. “We believe we are doing the very best that we can by trying to meet any objections the United States might have and putting the case for Shaker Aamer to return to the United Kingdom.”

The US State Department will not comment on the diplomatic negotiations involving Aamer, except to say that “discussions on the case are ongoing”. Aamer has never been charged and he has been approved for release by both the Bush and Obama administrations, but ‘legal expert’ Benjamin Wittes told BBC “It’s not, just to say you’ll let that person roam around freely.”

But sources close to the case say the sticking point is that the US wants Mr Aamer sent to his homeland of Saudi Arabia where it is argued he would be less able to speak out.

via @Asher_Wolf

Obama guilty of unlawful command influence

Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, told NBC News that Obama’s statement “He broke the law,” regarding Bradley Manning “is unlawful command influence,” which includes an assumption of guilt. “The president shouldn’t have said it. He should have been more circumspect.”

But in the end, Fidell predicts the issue should not adversely affect the prosecution’s case against Manning. While a defense lawyer could claim the president’s statement unlawfully prejudices the case against his client, potential jurors could be screened to ensure they are not aware of the remark.

Interview with Julian Assange

The full Julian Assange interview with the Times of India, part one and part two.

2011-04-26 WikiLeaks notes: David House: WikiLeaks grand jury subpoenas are being issued for violations of the Espionage Act

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David House tweets Wikileaks grand jury subpoenas are being issued

Bradley Manning friend and supporter David House tweeted Subpoenas are being issued in the WikiLeaks grand jury. Violations of Espionage Act. No further comment at this time. two hours after tweeting “Are you now, or have you ever been, a WikiLeaks supporter?”

Julian Assange’s defense attorney Mark Stephens retweeted the subpoenas comment, but followed up with @lockean how do you know? and was answered byHouse @MarksLarks FBI is making house calls

And now from Wikileaks: Fresh subpoenas are being issued in the WikiLeaks Alexandra, VA secret grand jury in relation to the espionage act.

Write to Bradley Manning

Jonathan Getzschman has obtained the following information for anyone wanting to write to Bradley Manning. A large and ongoing volume of mail would remind his new home that we are still watching.

Bradley Manning 89289
830 Sabalu Road
Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027

Letters will be rejected if they contain any of the following:

  • Solicitations for gambling/lottery, business or pen pal correspondence.
  • Blackmail, threats or indecent subject matter
  • Plans or plots for escape
  • Codes

2011-04-26 Julian Assange says Rudolf Elmer is being held hostage for Swiss banking data

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Julian Assange told the Times of India Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, that the Swiss banking data that was handed to him on January 17 of this year has not been released because the source, Rudolf Elmer, gave the data to Assange publically and was immediately arrested pending a criminal investigation. Assange told Goswami, “We have had an indirect offer through a third party that if we return what they believe to be the data then they will work to acquit Mr. Elmer to be free. So my ability to talk about this subject is of course limited by the fact that the Swiss bank has a hostage.”

Assange also stated that India seems like it is losing per capita much more tax money than Germany.

 

2011-04-23 Wikileaks Notes: Manning rally June 4, Obama spokesman denies Obama said what he said

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Rally for Bradley Manning

rally is being planned at Leavenworth on June 4 “to protest the indefinite detention and unconstitutional torture of Bradley Manning.” The Facebook page ishere.

Obama spokesman denies Obama expressed the view he expressed

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor denies that US President Obama was “expressing a view as to the guilt or innocence of Pfc. Manning specifically” whenhe said, regarding Bradley Manning, “He broke the law.”

Regarding Obama’s further statement that he has to abide by the laws as well as Manning, Steven Aftergood, a classified information expert at the Federation of American Scientists,agreed with the point made earlier by WL Central, “There are rules and procedures governing the de-classification process, but those rules also are based in presidential authority. The president has supreme authority over what is classified.”

While the White House is playing down the significance of the president’s statement, Manning supporters are not. UK Friends of Bradley Manning writes: It is not surprising that the White House is keen to play down this incident. Military case law indicates that “pretrial publicity itself may constitute unlawful command influence” (United States v. Simpson, 58 MJ 368) and, if this is raised at court martial, the US Government will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the case has not been prejudiced. (United States v. Reed, 65 M.J. 487) Should unlawful command influence be proven, incidentally, then dismissal of the case is possible “as a last resort.” (United States v. Douglas, 68 M.J. 349)

 

2011-04-22 WikiLeaks Notes: Oral hearing for WikiLeaks Twitter appeal cancelled

Oral hearing for Wikileaks Twitter appeal cancelled

Today’s hearing of oral arguments has been cancelled in the appeal of last month’s order over whether the US government has the right to access the online information of three Twitter users in aid of its WikiLeaks investigation, and also whether they can be informed of what other internet companies have turned over their information without notifying them. The three, Icelandic MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir, US citizen Jacob Appelbaum and Rop Gonggrijp of the Netherlands, were all notified by Twitter of the order against their data. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have been assisting the three users with their challenge.

EFF earlier wrote “cooperating counsel John Keker of Keker and Van Nest will urge the court Friday to require the government to protect the First Amendment freedoms of speech and association of the Twitter users and the Fourth Amendment rights of the users in their locations. ACLU attorney Aden Fine will ask the court to unseal all documents related to other requests for private data”.

US District Court Judge Liam O’Grady canceled the hearing and will instead issue a ruling after reading both sides’ written briefs.

 

2011-04-21 Syrian government lobbies for seat on UN Human Rights Council while preparing large scale attack on Friday protests and students

“We don’t believe the government anymore. All their decisions are just ink on paper for us.” –Omar Ali, a Kurdish-Syrian activist.

Thirteen human rights groups have signed a press release condemning the Arab League’s support of Syria’s bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. The regional group for Syria has the same number of nominations as they have seats available, so at this point Syria seems guaranteed a seat. While the human rights groups feel that support for Syria’s bid is an “an insult to the UN body and its mission”, a quick glance at the current membershipshows Syria, who have killed some 220-250 of their own citizens in recent weeks anddetained and tortured close to a thousand, should feel right at home. While Libya was recently suspended, the council still has Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Gabon, Nigeria, Cameroon and enough other countries with sordid human rights records to constitute a jury of their peers. They need support from half of the members, when the vote takes place on May 20.

SANA state news agency today published the decrees on ending the state of emergency, abolishing the Supreme State Security Court, and regulating the right to peaceful demonstration, signed today by President Bashar al-Assad. Opposition activist Haitham al-Maleh told Reuters the move was “useless”, and “The problem is that the ruling elite and the security have put their hands on the judiciary, and that other legislation they had introduced exempted the security forces from being held accountable to law.”

Abdel Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian vice president based in Paris told BBC Arabic: “The crisis in Syria has nothing to do with the presence or absence of the state of emergency. It is not the state of emergency that arrests people and takes them to jail and it is not the state of emergency that fires on people. … Assad has exposed himself completely before the people, through the crimes committed by his security apparatus. This has created a deep feeling among Syrians that the continuation of the regime would be a catastrophe. The depth of the rift between the regime and the majority of the people… will lead to the collapse of a regime desperately struggling to survive.”

Yesterday protests continued unabated by the announcement, as the country gears up for what both sides are expecting to be a huge demonstration with huge retaliation. This week has seen a concentration on government crackdown on students and universities, with many arrested and beaten. Security is readying for Friday, when protests are expected in 40 or more cites, by deploying armed security in plainclothes everywhere protests are expected. Tanks are reported in Tahrir Square in Homs.

2011-04-19 Khadr defense accuse Guantanamo prosecutors of trickery

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Defense attorneys for Canadian child soldier Omar Khadr, filed a motion yesterday requesting that Khadr’s sentence be reduced from eight years to four. Defense claims that prosecutors had misled them into believing Khadr’s plea bargain would be thrown out if they challenged the prosecution’s star witness, a psychiatrist named Dr. Michael Welner. According to the motion, Army Col. Patrick Parrish, the judge presiding over Khadr’s case, joked that “Dr. Welner would have been as likely to be accurate if he used a Ouija board”.

Dr. Welner, who was called to assess the future danger to be expected from Khadr, wrote in his response to the clemency request, “I encountered…. an area where no systematic guidelines are chronicled and no actuarial measures are available.” Khadr’s lawyers write that Dr. Michael Welner’s testimony was “unscientific” and “designed solely to inflame and mislead the jury.”

Welner’s testimony, based on a brief interview with Khadr, covered a great deal of territory, including statements that Khadr’s family was a big influence on him (he was captured at 15 and spent the ensuing eight years in Guantanamo), and simultaneously that because he had been imprisoned without trial in maximum security torture facilities for eight years, he had been “marinated in jihad” and could not be “deradicalized”. Despite the statement that he was radicalized at Guantanamo, he could not be released to Canada because of insufficient “deradicalization” programs in Canada. Welnar also stated that a devout Muslim would not fit in in Canada.

Interviews with Welnar and his testimony all concentrate on Khadr’s “easy smile” and other seeming virtues that appear sinister to the psychiatrist. The same psychiatrist says of Khadr, he is very dangerous because “he’s physically resilient”, “socially agile”, ”street smart”, “the other detainees give him regard”, athletic and taller than most detainees, “charming”, speaks various languages and that he “has attracted more attention to Cuba than Fidel”. Also, he is a prayer leader and speaks fluent English so can communicate with guards and has become a leader. He has the “stardust of royalty”, is “devout”, “identifies with his family,” and has become his family’s “white sheep”. He is “charming” and carries himself with “grace.” On a “superficial” level he seems very “Westernized.” And he is a “rock star” of Guantánamo. All of this makes him very dangerous.

As if being a tall, athletic, ambitious, charismatic, graceful, resilient, street smart, charming, multi-lingual, prayer leader was not enough, he has read Harry Potter. Which is escapism. For someone to want to escape Guantánamo or Bagram seems strange to this psychiatrist. He has also read CS Lewis, Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Ismael Beah, Danielle Steele and John Grisham, along with many educational texts etc., but Harry Potter seemed much more worthy of note. He is obviously not a Christian.

Khadr and his lawyers are hoping that when he has served his first year in maximum security, ‘near’ solitary confinement in Guantanamo, where he continues to be interrogated by US officials with no legal counsel present, he will be returned to Canada for the remainder of his sentence. Despite diplomatic notes that suggest willingness on the part of Canada’s government, there are no guarantees of this, and Canada’s record in the entire case has been abysmal, leading to accusations that Canadian officials have been complicit in Omar’s torture and illegal interrogation.

The Canadian government has fought against providing Omar’s defense with the documentation regarding his case, resulting in a 2008 Supreme Court of Canada unanimous decision that the government had acted illegally, contravening §. 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and an order that the videotapes of the interrogation be released. In April 2009, the Federal Court of Canada ruled once again that Khadr’s rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms had been violated. It concluded that Canada had a “duty to protect” Khadr and ordered the Canadian government to request that the U.S. return him to Canada as soon as possible. In August 2009, the Federal Court of Appeal upheld the decision in a 2–1 ruling. In January 2010, in a unanimous 9–0 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the participation of Canadian officials in Khadr’s interrogations at Guantanamo clearly violated his rights under the Charter but stopped short of ordering the government to seek Khadr’s return to Canada, leaving it to the government to determine how it would balance foreign policy and uphold Khadr’s constitutional rights.

The question of Canada’s complicity has been dependent on whether the government was actually aware of Khadr’s torture, while they have for years insisted they were receiving assurances that he was being treated properly. At the six minute mark in Khadr’sinterrogation video, he tells the Canadian interrogator that his testimony was untrue and he only gave it to stop the torture at Bagram. Wikileaks cable 08OTTAWA918 tells of Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Director Judd’s reaction to the video release and Canadian law in general.

Judd derided recent judgments in Canada’s courts that threaten to undermine foreign government intelligence and information-sharing with Canada. These judgments posit that Canadian authorities cannot use information that may have been derived from torture, and that any Canadian public official who conveys such information may be subject to criminal prosecution. This, he commented, put the government in a reverse-onus situation whereby it would have to prove the innocence of partner nations in the face of assumed wrongdoing.

Judd credited Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s minority Conservative government for taking it on the chin and pressing ahead with common sense measures despite court challenges and political knocks from the opposition and interest groups. When asked to look to the future, Judd predicted that Canada would soon implement UK-like legal procedures that make intelligence available to vetted defense lawyers who see everything the judge sees.

Judd commented that cherry-picked sections of the court-ordered release of a DVD of Guantanamo detainee and Canadian citizen Omar Khadr (ref D) would likely show three (Canadian) adults interrogating a kid who breaks down in tears. He observed that the images would no doubt trigger knee-jerk anti-Americanism and paroxysms of moral outrage, a Canadian specialty, as well as lead to a new round of heightened pressure on the government to press for Khadr’s return to Canada. He predicted that PM Harper’s government would nonetheless continue to resist this pressure.

A CBC documentary is one of the best sources for the Khadr story up to the 2008 date when his trial was supposed to be held.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5