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Sep 19 2010

Liberal Democrats Set Terms for Torture Inquiry

(4 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Sounds great only problem is that headline is from England. It seems that Liberal Democrats in Britain have far less problem “looking back” in order to “look forward” than the US.

The Liberal Democrats today set out what they think the terms of the government’s upcoming inquiry into torture should be.

In July David Cameron announced a judicial inquiry into Britain’s role in torture and rendition since the al-Qaida attacks on New York and Washington, DC, in September 2001.

The three-person inquiry panel will be headed by Sir Peter Gibson, a former appeal court judge who is currently commissioner for the intelligence services. He will be assisted by Dame Janet Paraskeva, the head of the civil service commissioners, and Peter Riddell, the former Times political commentator who is now a senior fellow at the Institute for Government.

Most of the inquiry will be held in secret, but victims of torture and their representatives will be able to give evidence during open sessions, as will representatives of human rights groups.

In a letter to Gibson, Cameron set out the “parameters” of the inquiry, but the final terms have yet to be made public. These parameters included the changing attitude of “other countries” towards counterterrorism detainees, although it makes clear that “this is an inquiry into the actions of the UK, not any other state”.

Meanwhile despite all his campaign rhetoric, Pres Barack Obama defends torture, rendition, indefinite detention and denies detainees habeus corpus, claiming national security concerns and using state secrets to cover up war crimes.

The President has used the courts and the power of his office to not only defend these horrific policies of the Bush/Cheney administration but has expanded them to include targeting American citizens for assassination and manipulating the law to prevent the courts from reviewing the legality of this practice that denies the victim not only his rights as a US citizen under the Constitution but the victim’s human rights .

The administration’s legal team is debating how aggressive it should be in a brief responding to the lawsuit, which is due Sept. 24. The suit, filed last month, seeks an injunction that would prevent the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric who is accused of playing a leading role for Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen.

Justice Department lawyers are circulating a draft brief with several potential arguments for dismissing the case, and lawyers from national security agencies have met to discuss what should go into the final version. But they have not reached a consensus, according to officials familiar with the discussions, because the arguments seen as strongest also carry significant political and legal risks.

“There are a lot of cross-cutting things going on here, and they have to be very careful about how they litigate this,” said Jack Goldsmith, who was a senior Justice Department lawyer in the Bush administration. “It’s not just a question of winning the case. There is the public diplomacy side, and there are implications for everything else they are doing in the war on terrorism: detention and targeting and other things, too, I imagine.”

The US is still in the shadows and descending even deeper into the darkness.

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