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Solly Mack

Profile Information

Gender: Do not display
Current location: Back of Beyond
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 83,437

About Me

Busy observing the group dynamics of dust bunnies.

Journal Archives

Secret justice plans will put Government above the law ( UK,torture, MI5/6, CIA)

"The government has accelerated plans to expand secret hearings into civil courts. Rather than moving to the preparatory white paper stage, a justice and security bill will be put through parliament this session.

The government has come under severe pressure from MI5 and MI6 to draw up a law imposing a system of secret courts ever since it was disclosed that the security and intelligence agencies had been involved in the brutal treatment, and knew of the torture, of UK residents and citizens detained by the CIA.

So-called closed material procedures would allow sensitive evidence to be given in court but not seen by all the participants. Defendants or claimants and their courtroom representatives would be barred from the closed part of the hearing, removing the adversarial nature of the justice system.

Ken Clarke, the justice secretary, has said the powers are needed to reassure other countries, particularly the US, that they can continue to share intelligence without fear of it being exposed in British courts."


"Intelligence gathered by MI5 and MI6, even if obtained by torture, will never be disclosed in court proceedings and more inquests would be heard in private under proposals announced by the justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke.

Under the government's plans, all "sensitive" information held by MI5 and MI6 would be discussed in secret court hearings. "Special advocates", security vetted and approved by the government, would see the information on behalf of individual defendants or claimants but not would not be able to reveal it to them.

"In many cases, the facts cannot … be used in open court … without risking serious damage to national security or international relations ," Clarke said."

Responding to the plans for 'secret justice' and closed courts set out in the Queen's Speech today, Reprieve's Executive Director, Clare Algar said:

“Closed courts will not strengthen oversight of the intelligence agencies – in fact, they will do precisely the opposite. They will put the Government above the law.

“The proposals for secret justice would massively skew courts in favour of ministers, and prevent the public from finding out the truth about serious wrongdoing.

“The reality is that these plans are designed to spare the intelligence agencies embarrassment. They are a recipe for unfair and unaccountable Government.”

Reprieve’s Legal Director, Cori Crider, said:

“If you think closed courts are a good idea, go talk to Khadidja al-Saadi, who Britain helped render to Gaddafi in 2004 when she was only twelve. This is a clear effort to cover up her case, the Belhadj case, and those like them – to stop the airing of the dirty laundry of the ‘War on Terror.’ The British public should not stand for it.”


The U.S. government committed war crimes. Said war crimes and war criminals have not been prosecuted and probably never will be as the U.S. government is too cowardly to do so.

"In his five-page memo, Zelikow wrote that the state department earlier had agreed with the justice department's view."

Translation - the State Department agreed with the Yoo/Bybee, etc. that torture wasn't torture and Zelikow is claiming the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 changed that agreement. So, he supported torture prior to the DTA? Somehow, that's when he knew torture was wrong? But not before. Seriously? BULLSHIT. I'm not saying his memo draft doesn't exist - I'm saying he's full of shit if it took the DTA to tell him torture was wrong or that he should question Bush's crimes.

McCain's DTA already gave war criminals an out by granting them a defense for committing torture, when there should NO legal defense passed by government for committing defense... a legal out for torture should never come from the government - unless they government wants to allow people to get away with torture...itself included. So let no one pretend McCain was some sort of hero or good guy. Congress passed a protective cover for war crimes. Such should never be forgotten. Providing a legal cover for torture makes you just as guilty as those who did the actual torturing...whether that cover is provided in a memo by the DOJ or by an act of Congress or the actions of the executive.


"a) Protection of United States Government Personnel- In any civil action or criminal prosecution against an officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent of the United States Government who is a United States person, arising out of the officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent's engaging in specific operational practices, that involve detention and interrogation of aliens who the President or his designees have determined are believed to be engaged in or associated with international terrorist activity that poses a serious, continuing threat to the United States, its interests, or its allies, and that were officially authorized and determined to be lawful at the time that they were conducted, it shall be a defense that such officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent did not know that the practices were unlawful and a person of ordinary sense and understanding would not know the practices were unlawful. Good faith reliance on advice of counsel should be an important factor, among others, to consider in assessing whether a person of ordinary sense and understanding would have known the practices to be unlawful. Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit or extinguish any defense or protection otherwise available to any person or entity from suit, civil or criminal liability, or damages, or to provide immunity from prosecution for any criminal offense by the proper authorities."

There is absolutely no way anyone thought that torture or the cruel & inhumane was legal...not in "good faith" ...not in any manner. It's a bullshit cowardly get-out-of-jail-free clause.


"In 2005, he wrote, both the Justice and State Departments had decided that international prohibitions against “acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture” do not “apply to CIA interrogations in foreign countries.” Those techniques included contorting a detainee’s body in painful positions, slamming a detainee’s head against a wall, restricting a detainee’s caloric intake, and waterboarding."

Waterboarding IS torture. It has ALWAYS been torture and absolutely anyone claiming otherwise is a liar. Anyone in government (or its agents or the military) pretending they didn't know better is a liar.

"Zelikow wrote that a law passed that year by Congress, restricting interrogation techniques, meant the “situation has now changed.”"

Seriously? Now it has changed? Because before torture was just so wonderful and the legal thing to do? Seriously?

What bullshit.

Fuck this shit.

Some bird photos from the Great Backyard Bird Count (pic heavy)

I saw this thread in GD and decided to participate.

I spent 4 days counting the birds I could see and posting the results at the GBBC website.

I didn't record every bird I saw because I wasn't exactly sure what kind of bird it was. I also didn't take photos of every bird I saw because I was busy counting the smaller birds.

However, I did take some shots after I was finished with my count. I submitted my last report this morning.

American Robin


Dark-eyed Junco (we also have the Slate-colored Junco)

Chipping Sparrow (I was shooting through the fence)

Northern Cardinal

Northern Mockingbird

and....of course

That evil bird

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (a keystone species, btw)

Which I've renamed 'ULittle' for, 'You little @#$%!'.

I had a great time counting birds.

11 additional CIA OIG reports on torture and abuse from ACLU FOIA.

Two and a half years ago, the government released a damning report by the CIA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) relating to the “enhanced interrogation” program of the CIA. The report was released in response to an ACLU Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. It made headlines because of its criticism of the CIA’s program and because it is said to have prompted Attorney General Eric Holder to launch a criminal investigation into some of the CIA’s abuses.

We’ve known for some time that there were more CIA OIG reports about the torture and detention program, but a new revelation by the government confirms just how many: 11.

Over the years, we’ve counted references (in both government documents and the media) to at least six additional OIG reports, several of which relate to the deaths of detainees in CIA custody. So, in April 2011, we filed a FOIA request for those and any other reports that analyzed the CIA’s detention and interrogation programs.

In November, the government confirmed to us (in this index) that there were indeed eleven additional reports. Based on the minimal information we have so far, among the most interesting are reports on the deaths of two CIA prisoners, Abid Hamad Mahawish Al-Mahalawi and Manadal Al-Jamaidi, which are reportedly being investigated by the Justice Department. Also notable is a report on the “nonregistration” of detainees, which relates to the CIA’s practice of holding “ghost” (or unacknowledged) detainees.

Manadel al-Jamadi aka Abu Ghraib's "Ice Man"

Detainee died during an interrogation by OGA, and was placed in the shower area of tier 1, hard site. No NDRS or ISN numbers, as he was never processed in the system.

Gul Rahman

More than seven years ago, a suspected Afghan militant was brought to a dimly lit CIA compound northeast of the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. The CIA called it the Salt Pit. Inmates knew it as the dark prison.

Inside a chilly cell, the man was shackled and left half-naked. He was found dead, exposed to the cold, in the early hours of Nov. 20, 2002.

Subsequent forensic examinations determined that he had frozen to death. Until the A.P. disclosed the details, on

Sunday, March 28th, the C.I.A. kept the dead man’s name and fate secret for seven years. His wife and four daughters were given no notification of his death.

“The CIA’s then-station chief in Afghanistan was promoted after Rahman’s death,” the A.P. reported, “and the officer who ran the prison went on to other assignments, including one overseas.”

The actual reports (11) were not released - just the index. Reason cited: "endangering national security"

Group protests Belmont's hiring of ex-attorney general Alberto Gonzales

Group protests Belmont's hiring of ex-attorney general Alberto Gonzales


A small group rallied on Belmont Boulevard and at Belmont University’s temporary law school on Friday morning to protest the institution’s hiring of Alberto Gonzales as a law professor.

The demonstrators, supported by the Tennessee chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, claimed Gonzales was “one of the key architects” of the Bush administration’s torture policies.

“It’s really shameful that Belmont would honor him by hiring him as a law professor,” said protester Mark Brooks, who also thought it was “deeply ironic to hire him to teach constitutional law.”

During the protest, the demonstrators were photographed by Jeff Kinsler, dean of the Belmont College of Law. He declined to comment about the protest.

How Postwar Germany Let War Criminals Go Free

How Postwar Germany Let War Criminals Go Free

The German occupiers wanted to avenge an attack that communist partisans had carried out a day earlier on a German police unit in Rome's Via Rasella. The victims of this retaliatory act were chosen at random. Most of them had been imprisoned in a Gestapo jail in the Italian capital or were being detained by the Wehrmacht, Germany's Nazi-era military. None of them had been involved in the attack.

Damning Documents Discovered in Berlin

The documents entail an exchange of letters begun in 1959 between officials at the German Embassy in Rome and their counterparts at the Foreign Ministry in Bonn, Germany's capital at the time. With unprecedented clarity, the documents testify to how German diplomats and Italian officials cooperated in shielding the soldiers in Kappler's charge from criminal prosecution. As embassy adviser Kurt von Tannstein put it, the goal was a "putting (the affair) to rest, as desired by both the German and Italian side."

Agreeing to Sweep the Matter under the Rug

In the case of the Ardeatine Caves, the initiative came from the Italian government. Their initial attempts to see that the German crimes wouldn't go unpunished were abandoned early. Many of the perpetrators were living in postwar Germany, and the Christian Democrats ruling in Rome were hoping to avoid having to make any extradition requests. As one leading diplomat in Rome warned: "On the day that the first German criminal is extradited, there will be a wave of protests in countries that are demanding the extradition of Italian criminals." After all, Italy had sided with Nazi Germany until 1943 and occupied parts of the Balkans, where hundreds of thousands of people fell victim to the Italians' reign of violence.

Willful Blindness, Feigned Ignorance

Klaiber's sympathy for the perpetrators was typical of the early days of new, postwar Germany. Only later, as SPIEGEL reported in 1968, did it emerge that Gawlik took advantage of his position in the Foreign Ministry to warn former Nazis against traveling abroad should they have been convicted in absentia in their destination countries and were thus at risk of arrest.

Newt's 'Your Nose for Your Vote' Campaign

Newt Gingrich "pinches" the nose of Bonnnie Ellison, 78, of Easley, South Carolina. While campaigning at Mutt's Barbeque in Easley, SC.


Frontline:Vanity Fair:Newt Gingrich from 1995

I think you can write a psychological profile of me that says I found a way to immerse my insecurities in a cause large enough to justify whatever I wanted it to." Newt Gingrich"

"Newt's friends have told me that his primary references are movies. They have informed his heroic ideal. "When he watches John Wayne or Jimmy Stewart on TV, he lives out these movies," says Melvin Steely, a former colleague at West Georgia College."

"I'm a mythical person," says Newt, no stranger to revolutions. "I had a period of thinking that I would have been called 'Newt the McPherson,' as in Robert the Bruce."

"Robert the Bruce," Newt continues, "is the guy who would not, could not, avoid fighting...He carried the burden of being Scotland." Like the Bruce, Newt feels he must carry the burden of being his nation."


Also, read the part where Marianne Gingrich talks about her not wanting Newt to be President.

Winter (in my neck of the woods...pic heavy)

Southwest Louisiana.

Auschwitz Museum Publishes Prisoner Sketchbook

The sketches are chilling -- prisoners arriving at a concentration camp, children being torn from their parents' arms, a guard casually smoking outside a gas chamber as bodies are loaded into a truck. The images, recently published in a book by the Auschwitz Memorial Museum, were taken from a unique sketchbook drawn around 1943 at the Birkenau camp. A former prisoner working as a watchman discovered the 32 sketches in a bottle near the death camp's crematorium in 1947.

"The Sketchbook from Auschwitz" includes the 22 pages of drawings from an unknown prisoner whose initials were apparently MM. They represent a rare first-hand historical account of the Holocaust. "These sketches are the only work of art made in Birkenau that depict exterminations," museum spokesman Pawel Sawicki told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

While the circumstances make it hard to identify or trace the author, details in the images themselves provide several clues as to when they were created. The main gate at Birkenau, for example, is depicted before an extension was added.

"The second wing of the main gate was built between 1943 and 1944, but is absent from the sketches. Thus we concluded that the sketches were drawn in 1943 or before. From our records we believe that the author would have worked in the hospital sector or gathering luggage from the ramp," Sawicki explained.


"The Sketchbook from Auschwitz" includes 32 sketches by an unknown prisoner at Birkenau. They depict detailed scenes from the extermination camp in 1943. Here prisoners are seen arriving by train."

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