detainees

Debra Burlingame: ‘Those interrogators, CIA case officers are patriots’

Debra Burlingame was interviewed on WMAL radio this morning about her confronting Barack Obama during a meeting at Ground Zero. She explained her reasons for asking the President to express his opinion to Attorney General about dropping the investigation of CIA officers who conducted the enhanced interrogations of detainees:

Try as they might, the Obama administration can not deny the courier was first identified and determined to be a valuable person to find and follow in the hunt for Osama bin Laden during those enhanced interrogations.

Debra Burlingame on Ground Zero meeting with President Obama and CIA interrogations investigation

Debra Burlingame was one of fifty 9/11 family members who met in a closed-door meeting with President Barack Obama today near Ground Zero. She asked him, considering that by all reports the enhanced interrogations of high-value detainees was “part of the mosaic” of the intelligence that led to Osama bin Laden, if he would at least give his opinion to Attorney General Eric Holder about dropping the investigation of CIA interrorgators. President Obama replied, “No, I won’t.” Here is the video of her Fox News interview:

James Cole DAG nominee ‘aggressive demilitarizing of the war': Debra Burlingame

Debra Burlingame spoke with talk radio host Steve Malzberg yesterday after the Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearing of James Cole to become the Deputy Attorney General of the United States:

“[James Cole's] client was Naif Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Foreign Minister who ran the Al Haramain charity, this huge Saudi “charity” was shut down by the Treasury Department in 2004 — and we haven’t been able to confirm that it was shut down. … They gave millions of dollars to terrorists; they supported al Qaeda before 9/11 and after 9/11 … This is a huge, huge conflict of interest because how is this man going to be investigating, prosecuting, detaining, and interrogating the people who in fact are his former clients?”

Here is the full audio of the interview:

To be fair to both Malzberg and the “feckless Republicans” he spoke of, Senator Jeff Sessions made a noble effort within the too few minutes available to him, the nomination was only announced the day before, and committee Democrats consumed two-thirds of the 2-hour hearing with glowing adoration for James Cole, potshots at the previous administration, and posturing on other matters. (Senators Patrick Leahy and Sheldon Whitehouse would willingly submit to months of continuous waterboarding before asking even one probing question of a Democrat President’s nominee.) There was a lot of ground to cover with Cole and not nearly enough time to cover it all. Still, Senator Lindsay Graham came to the hearing with a rubber stamp “yea” vote for Cole and his C-SPAN “thoughtful” face set to further his own agenda: horse trading the closing of Gitmo for passage into law of his vision of the legal war against terror.

You can watch the replay of the hearing here.

AG Eric Holder defends the wrong ‘kids’

Eric Holder alleges that American lawyers are “patriots” if they defend terrorists, to include those who murdered the eight children pictured above — the eight kids that al Qaeda murdered on 9/11. He asserts those lawyers should not have “their reputations dragged through the mud.”

Andy McCarthy took issue Friday with Wednesday’s testimony by Eric Holder before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

So now we know why the self-proclaimed “most transparent administration in American history” continues to stonewall rather than reveal the official responsibilities of Justice Department lawyers who volunteered their services to America’s enemies during wartime. Like any good Democrat, Eric Holder says he is doing it for the children.

The attorney general bristled during Senate testimony on Wednesday that he was “not going to allow these kids” to have their reputations dragged “through the mud.” The “kids” coddled in this touching paternal display include 45-year-old Tony West, who now supervises hundreds of lawyers as chief of DOJ’s Civil Division. It’s been 17 years since Tony the Kid first served as an influential official in the Clinton Justice Department. From there, he went on to nine-year stint as a hot-shot partner at a prestigious San Francisco law firm — in his spare time running both Barack Obama’s lavish presidential campaign in California and the defense of John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban” convicted on terrorism charges after making war on his country.

They grow up so quickly, don’t they? Kids like 40-year-old Neal Katyal, the current deputy solicitor general who, as Byron York observes, was a Georgetown law professor when he volunteered to represent Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s personal driver and bodyguard, who was apprehended transporting missiles in Afghanistan.

Then there’s precocious 38-year-old Jennifer Daskal. Over Holder’s dead body will anyone drag her reputation through the mud, insinuating that she spent her pre-DOJ years cheerleading for terrorists and running down her country when, in point of fact, Daskal spent her pre-DOJ years … cheerleading for terrorists and running down her country.

Yet McCarthy also pointed out the failure to press Holder:

Republicans sat mum as their Democratic counterparts lauded the Gitmo Bar for its “courage” and falsely accused critics of claiming that lawyers who flocked to al-Qaeda’s service are “disqualified” from future government service. Mightn’t one GOP senator have pointed out that critics are simply demanding the transparency and accountability that President Obama and his attorney general promised? They certainly seemed to have reservoirs of indignation when Al Gonzales was attorney general. … READ THE REST

Why is Holder hiding the “kids” at the Justice Department? Could it be that they themselves damaged their own reputations by the manner they so “bravely” and willingly defended America’s enemies?

Debra Burlingame and Thomas Joscelyn recently wrote in The Weekly Standard of Daskal’s “heroics”:

On November 2, 2005, Dana Priest of the Washington Post reported that the “CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe.” The Post, citing the government’s security concerns, did not name the countries where the facilities were located. But just a few days later, on November 6, 2005, Human Rights Watch revealed the countries in a posting on its website. The organization said it had “collected information that CIA airplanes traveling from Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004 made direct flights to remote airfields in Poland and Romania.” The organization encouraged European officials to investigate further, and the Europeans did just that.

In May 2006, the European parliament sent a delegation to Washington to discuss the CIA’s secret detention and interrogation program with various interested parties. The delegation met with Human Rights Watch on May 10. Here is how a document produced by the European parliament describes the meeting:

The delegation met with John SIFTON (Counterterrorism Researcher) and Jennifer DASKAL (US Advocacy Director) who provided the delegation with circumstantial evidence linking Poland and Romania to secret CIA prisons, including flight records, statements by Polish and Romanian government officials, as well as precise details of specific planes used by the CIA. Both recognized that they do not have formal evidence of these allegations, but stressed the indications of these facts were actually very strong. Their information was that there had been detainees in CIA custody well before the Guantánamo Bay detention center had been established.

Although the Europeans listed Daskal’s colleague, John Sifton, as a “counterterrorism researcher,” he was really researching the CIA—not the terrorists. In The Guantánamo Lawyers, a collection of short, sentimental memoirs written by dozens of lawyers, who sanitized their clients’ histories and glorified their work on behalf of war on terror detainees, Sifton offered an intriguing account of how Human Rights Watch assisted in uncovering details of the CIA’s operations.

“Throughout the years after 2001, journalists, human rights investigators, and lawyers managed to obtain a surprising amount of information about U.S. detention and interrogation operations,” Sifton wrote. He elaborated (emphasis added):

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the [New York] Times found and interviewed former CIA detainees. FOIA litigation by the Associated Press, the ACLU, and the Center for Constitutional Rights produced information about former CIA detainees at Guantánamo—lower-level prisoners who had been kept short-term in CIA detention. Every piece of the story seemed to come from a different source. .?.?.

Lawyers and human rights groups worked together, sharing “intelligence” to uncover what intelligence agencies were doing with detainees. When I was working at Human Rights Watch, I managed to piece together a good deal of information about the CIA’s detention facilities in Afghanistan by collecting accounts from former CIA detainees at Guantánamo, mostly from notes provided by habeas attorneys. I called and met with numerous Guantánamo attorneys to inquire whether their clients had been in CIA custody. In several instances, attorneys I reached were not aware that their clients had been in CIA custody until I explained that their clients’ own accounts matched those of other CIA detainees. In one notable example, I spoke with one of the editors of this book, Mark Denbeaux, after I came to suspect his client had been in a secret site in Afghanistan—the detainee had described one of his earlier places of detention in ways that closely matched other detainees’ descriptions of a CIA site in Afghanistan. The next time Mark went to Guantánamo, he confirmed this previously secret fact with the detainee.

Human Rights Watch published Sifton’s investigation of the CIA’s detention facilities in Afghanistan in a February 2007 report entitled “Ghost Prisoner.” The report draws on graphic descriptions offered by former detainees. That same report was “reviewed and edited” by Jennifer Daskal.

The America people have a right to know whether “heroes” and “patriots,” like Jennifer Daskal, are involved in formulating the detention policy of the United States and decisions on where and whether to prosecute war criminals. Eric Holder ought to disclose the information about the “kids” for the real children, the ones al Qaeda has already murdered, as well as those they are still trying to kill.

We need a ‘Rule of War Act’ (Graham negotiating 9/11 trial, Obama steps in, paging C-SPAN)

Colleagues of Senator Lindsay Graham have leaked that he and the White House are negotiating over where and how to conduct the 9/11 trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-conspirators. In additional, President Barack Obama will apparently take a personal role in the negotiations and may overrule Attorney General Eric Holder’s decisions to this point.

We need a statute, a ‘Rule of War Act’, with no special date, sunset provisions, or naming it after some personage or group.

It would be the civilian authority providing for the common defense, while informed by the governed.

First, the entire negotiation and [formalized, federal debate *] needs conducted in the open — televised on C-SPAN — over the course of this year.

The top issues should be placed in simply, uniform terms on the November 2 national election ballot to express the people’s will. Congress should then create the statute in 2011 and the President can veto or sign it.

We should learn from the past, cover those enemies we now detain, and keep in mind this war may take some time and there will be future wars.

Here is my further two cents, my general thoughts on the statute’s provisions, for what they are worth.

When enemy war criminals are captured, we should prosecute them by military tribunal solely based upon our national security, what protects our people;

Lawful enemy belligerents should be detained for as long as hostilities last;

Unlawful enemy belligerents should be detained for as long as each remains a threat;

America’s foreign enemies should be afforded none of our Constitutional rights;

The Judiciary’s sole role should be classified detention review akin to determining probable cause;

and all long-term enemy detentions should take place isolated far from the civilian populace.

——

Note: * revised text.