The Italian trial in absentia of CIA agents and Italian officials for the “extraordinary rendition” into torture is shedding light into Italian collaboration with the dark side. Naturally, the Italian government is trying to shut this down. Swiss Attorney Dick Marty, who wrote a major report on the CIA black sites for the Council of Europe, recently testified against the effort to use “state secrets” as an excuse to protect those who aided the torturers:
Italy: Swiss lawyer testifies at ‘CIA kidnapping’ trial
Milan, 6 Nov. (AKI) – Swiss lawyer Dick Marty is appearing as a witness at the controversial trial of five Italian intelligence agents and 26 Americans, most of them CIA agents, in the northern city of Milan. The defendants are charged with abducting an Egyptian-born Muslim cleric and terrorism suspect there in 2003. Marty last year wrote a report by Europe’s top human rights body The Council of Europe on the CIA’s alleged detentions and illegal flight transfers of terrorism suspects, known as ‘extraordinary renditions’.
The court on Wednesday questioned Marty (photo) closely on his report. In his testimony, Marty argued that the alleged abduction of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr – who is also known as Abu Omar – was part of a global CIA strategy involving several European states.
Marty described what are termed ‘extraordinary renditions’ as “beyond any legal framework and in grave violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.”
“As in the US and Germany, the doctrine of ‘state secrecy’ has been invoked by the Italian government to try and block the judicial procedures aiming to establish the truth about serious human rights violations committed under its responsibility. This is unacceptable and unworthy of a state governed by law. Let justice take its course.” Marty stated.
Two Italian military intelligence agents last month cited state secrecy when they refused to answer questions from lawyers in the ‘Abu Omar’ trial on orders they received from former head of Italian military intelligence, Nicolo Pollari.
“State secrecy is not being invoked to protect secrets – because the facts in question are largely known – but rather to protect the civil servants and politicians responsible for these abuses,” Marty said.
“The Abu Omar affair is one of the rare cases where the alleged perpetrators of kidnapping carried out as part of the CIA’s ‘extraordinary rendition’ programme are facing justice,” he said.
Marty’s report accused 14 countries including Italy of collusion in a ‘global spider’s web’ of CIA abductions of terror suspects carried out on their soil. EU states Poland and Romania also hosted secret CIA prisons where the abducted terror suspects were detained, the report claimed.
A report by members of the European Parliament last January also accused European Union states of violating human rights treaties by covering up clandestine CIA flights across Europe.
November 7th, 2008
The American Psychoanalytic Association has issued a press release denouncing California’s passage of Proposition 8, making gay marriages unconstitutional:
Psychoanalysts Censure California’s Vote to Ban Same-Sex Marriage
NEW YORK, Nov 06, 2008 / The American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) denounces the election results in California that supported Proposition 8, a ballot measure that bans same-sex marriage in the state. In keeping with its overall support of social justice, APsaA issued a position statement earlier this year supporting the legal recognition of same-sex civil marriage while opposing discrimination against same-sex couples. For the full text of the APsaA Marriage Resolution, please visit: http://www.apsa.org/ABOUTAPSAA/POSITIONSTATEMENTS/MARRIAGERESOLUTION/tabid/470/Default.aspx
APsaA President-elect and Pasadena, CA resident Warren Procci, M.D. remarks: “These ballot propositions such as California’s Proposition 8, deny to gay individuals the rights to freedom of choice of partner in marriage as well as access to equal protection which is granted to all of us by our constitution. These denials are based solely on an individual’s sexual orientation.”
“We want people to think about the broad impact the denial of same-sex marriage has on Americans today,” says psychoanalyst Ethan Grumbach, Ph.D., a Los Angeles resident and chair of APsaA’s Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues. “Families exist in many different ways and it is important for same-sex couples to have legal and societal recognition of their unions for themselves, their children, and their extended families. Research continues to demonstrate the stigmatization and discrimination to which same sex couples and families are subjected is traumatizing and damaging to their health.”
APsaA’s Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues has reviewed extensive research on homosexual relationships and gay and lesbian parents and their children prior to issuing its Same-Sex Marriage Resolution. Some relevant statistics and research results are:
-- The Kaiser Family Foundation Survey of 2001 found that 68 percent of lesbians and gays considered lesbian and gay marriage to be very important and 25 percent considered it to be somewhat important.
-- According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 34 percent of cohabitating female couples and 22 percent of male couples were raising children under the age of 18.
-- In a 2006 paper, Charlotte Patterson, Ph.D., renowned researcher and professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, concluded, "Results of the research (of various population samples of lesbian and gay families) suggest that qualities of family relationships are more tightly linked with child (development) outcomes than is parental sexual orientation."
In addition, APsaA’s Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues is currently developing a proposed position statement on the United States’ military policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
The American Psychoanalytic Association is a professional organization of psychoanalysts throughout the United States and is comprised of approximately 3,300 members.
Available Topic Expert(s): For information on the listed expert(s), click appropriate link.
Mark D. Smaller, Ph.D.
Prudence Gourguechon MD
SOURCE American Psychoanalytic Association
November 7th, 2008
As we turn away from the dark side, one of Obama’s crucial appointments will be as head of the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel. As we discovered to our horror, the OLC gets to decide what is legal for the executive branch. OLC decisions have great force.
Anonymous Liberal is suggesting Marty Lederman for head of OLC. That seems like a truly inspired idea:
Lederman for Head of OLC
To be perfectly honest, I don’t care all that much who Barack Obama chooses to appoint to the multitude of positions that now have to be filled. I’m confident that he’ll choose competent people who generally share his views, at least with respect to the area of government under their charge.
I will make one suggestion, though. Obama should consider appointing Georgetown Law Professor (and prolific legal blogger) Marty Lederman to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.
As we saw with the Bush administration, the OLC is a tremendously powerful office. It functions as the chief internal arbiter of legality within the executive branch. After 9/11, John Yoo used his perch at the OLC to authorize a number of illegal activities–from torture to warrantless surveillance–that are not only deeply troubling but have badly damaged America’s image in the world. Yoo was allowed to do most of this because the head of the OLC at the time, Jay Bybee, was not familiar with the relevant executive power issues and therefore allowed Yoo to run amok.
When Jack Goldsmith took over the OLC in 2003, he discovered–to his horror–that a multitude of Bush administration programs rested on entirely indefensible legal opinions drafted by the OLC during his predecessor’s tenure. He was forced to walk most of them back, a move that caused a major internal dispute within the Bush administration and nearly resulted in the total implosion of the administration just prior to the 2004 election.
Whoever President Obama selects to head the OLC will have a critically important job. Virtually every opinion the OLC has issued during the post 9/11 era–even those written after Yoo’s departure–will need to be reviewed and, in all likelihood, rewritten. Moreover, many of the terrorism-related laws that have been passed in the last few years–relating to surveillance, detention, torture, etc.–are filled with ambiguities and language that will require careful interpretation. Many new legal opinions, opinions that will be of enormous consequence, will need to be drafted.
Professor Lederman is exactly the sort of person I would want in charge of this important task. First, he’s deeply familiar with all of the relevant executive power issues, having written about them extensively over the last few years. He is also intimately familiar with the workings of the OLC, having worked there from 1994-2002. And most importantly, I think Lederman has a good sense of what the OLC’s role should be (i.e., not merely rubber-stamping whatever the president wants to do).
I have no idea if Marty is interested in the job. Perhaps he’s not. But if he is, he’d be a very reassuring choice.
UPDATE: My suggestion is seconded by Glenn Greenwald, and interestingly, by Professor Orin Kerr.
November 7th, 2008
Revere at Effect Measure joins those opposing Robert Kennedy, Jr. for head of EPA:
RFK, Jr. for EPA? Thumbs down
Lots of speculation about Obama’s appointments and perhaps the most science oriented one is Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Wired has a list of the rumored possibles, via Bloomberg:
Leading candidates for the position, reports Bloomberg News, include former Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection head Kathleen McGinty; California Air Resources Board leader Mary Nichols; Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection leader Ian Bowles; Kansas governor Kathleen Sibelius; New Jersey environmental commissioner Lisa Jackson; and environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (Brandon Keim, Wired)
I join my fellow SciBlings Orac, PalMD, Blake and Coturnix (and Wired’s Keim) in a big thumbs down on RFK, Jr. He may be the favorite of some in the environmental movement but he is not a favorite of scientists for a simple reason: his uninformed championing of the vaccination/autism case speaks poorly for his commitment to relying on scientific evidence. Scientists, like progressive Democrats, prefer to live in a reality-based world. Aas Wired’s Keim aptly put it:
Only Kennedy strikes me as weak. His environmental track record is excellent, but he’s clung to the vaccines-causing-autism hypothesis long after large-scale epidemiological studies have discredited it as anything but a statistically insignificant cause. America doesn’t need more political officials who skew science to fit personal beliefs. And perhaps more importantly, heading the EPA, with its thousands of employees and $7.2 billion budget, will be a far more difficult managerial task than negotiating environmental lawsuits.
The list of possible EPA candidates is pretty good, except for RFK, Jr. The Obama campaign needs to hear the reality-based community, not the ideologically based community.
November 7th, 2008