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Deep thought

One really good way for Democrats to show people they're not the same as Republicans would be to prosecute Republican criminals.

And those of their own who are also criminals, of course.

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Submitted by jawbone on

with jail time -- for contempt of court. Huh? Where's that ol' "just look forward" attitude, Pentagon and judge? Oh, yeah, laws are for the little people and those outside the power circle.

A former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who accused a Bay Area company of flying him to foreign torture chambers for the CIA is at the center of a bizarre new case, in which his lawyers face possible jail sentences for writing a letter that asked President Obama to disclose how brutally he was treated.

The government says the letter falsely accused a Pentagon review team of censoring details of the alleged torture of Binyam Mohamed from a document the attorneys wanted to send to Obama. The lawyers stand by their accusations but have been summoned to Washington, D.C., by a federal judge for a hearing next month on whether they should be held in contempt of court, punishable by up to six months in jail.

The details of the government's and court's stand are somewhat complicated, so here is the part of the SF Chronicle article about the letter:

The attorneys, Clive Stafford Smith and Ahmad Ghappour of the British human-rights group Reprieve, drafted a letter to Obama on Feb. 9 urging him to release the evidence or to authorize Britain to do so.

They wrote that they were first presenting the letter and a document summarizing the classified evidence to the Defense Department's Privilege Review Team, which monitors lawyer-client correspondence at Guantanamo, to clear it for forwarding to the president.

If the Pentagon refused to pass the evidence on to Obama, the lawyers said in the letter, they would send him a blacked-out document and advise him that he was being "denied access to material that would help prove that crimes have been committed by U.S. personnel."

What happened next is disputed. According to the lawyers, Ghappour submitted the classified memo to the Privilege Review Team four times, removing more material each time, but the team ultimately refused to clear any of the material to be sent to Obama. Shortly afterward, Smith and Ghappour sent the letter and a blacked-out sheet to the president and released them to the media.

But the government, in court papers, said Ghappour approached a member of the review team with the classified document Feb. 10 and was told that the team had no authority to declassify such information, and that he should submit it to a security officer or a Justice Department lawyer.

Ghappour returned with the blacked-out document, asked for clearance, and got it approved after assuring the team member that he would send it only to Mohamed and not to Obama, government lawyers said.

Letter called deceptive
They said the letter that Mohamed's lawyers sent to Obama the next day falsely accused the review team of concealing information from the president and was used to "deceive the press and the public" about the review team's role.

Citing the government's allegations, U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan ordered the two attorneys to appear before him May 11 and face charges that they violated terms of the agreement they signed to gain access to the Guantanamo prisoners they represented. He did not specify the violations.

Smith and Ghappour filed their reply under seal but have denied breaching the agreement. (My emphasis)

Catch 22 lives! I wonder if release of the torture memos will affect this situation.... Or, is the Obama DOJ giving another warning to lawyers who defend torture victims?

Hopefully, the legal beagles over at TL will dive into this.

From Commenter jbindc at Talk Left.

Submitted by jawbone on

Marcy Wheeler points out that John Rizzo, who worked with Jay Bybee and Stephen Bradbury in preparing the torture memos, is still CIA Acting General Counsel. Marcy writes:

As the SASC report notes, Rizzo is the man who provided the list of torture techniques to Jay Bybee for inclusion in the memo--the key link in turning SERE techniques into torture.

According to Acting CIA General Counsel John Rizzo, the techniques that the OLC analyzed in the Second Bybee memo were provided by his office. In his testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Mr. Rizzo stated that his office was "the vehicle" for getting the interrogation practices analyzed in the Second Bybee memo to the Department of Justice.

This suggests it's likely that Rizzo knew that CIA was intending to do one thing with waterboarding but tempering the description of that in the OLC memo. Also, I outlined ways in which it appears the information Rizzo provided to OLC was, at a minimum, under dispute when it was given. In other words, Rizzo may well be the key person who manipulated the OLC process to legalize torture. (My emphasis)

This is so ugly. Why does Obama not see that it is ugly, as well as illegal according to the laws of the nation, which means both those passed internally and those signed onto through treaties?

What kind of Constitutional professor was Obama?

Of course, I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on the internets.

Via Commenter Anne at Talk Left.