it's been a long, long time coming - but Special Prosecutor John Durham has actually convened a Grand Jury into the death of 'The Iceman".
It has been nearly a decade since Manadel al-Jamadi, an Iraqi prisoner known as "the Iceman" — for the bungled attempt to cool his body and make him look less dead — perished in CIA custody at Abu Ghraib. But now there are rumbles in Washington that the notorious case, as well as other alleged CIA abuses, could be returning to haunt the agency. TIME has learned that a prosecutor tasked with probing the CIA — John Durham, a respected, Republican-appointed U.S. Attorney from Connecticut — has begun calling witnesses before a secret federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va., looking into, among other things, the lurid Nov. 4, 2003, homicide, which was documented by TIME in 2005.
TIME has obtained a copy of a subpoena signed by Durham that points to his grand jury's broader mandate, which could involve charging additional CIA officers and contract employees in other cases. The subpoena says "the grand jury is conducting an investigation of possible violations of federal criminal laws involving War Crimes (18 USC/2441), Torture (18 USC 234OA) and related federal offenses."
Read more: http://battleland.blogs.time.com/...
Looks like it's almost time for the right wing freak out.
Weekly Standard on Holder's CIA "Witchhunt".
Holder's announcement brought a storm of criticism from senators, former CIA director Michael Hayden, former vice president Dick Cheney, and veteran Justice Department attorneys. CIA employees, already reeling from congressional attacks, were understandably mystified by Holder's words assuring them of his "respect and gratitude" and puzzled as to how naming a special prosecutor could evidence a willingness, as Holder put it, "to look forward, and not backward." Holder's puffing to the effect that all who acted in "good faith and within the scope of legal guidance given by the Office of Legal Counsel" should have nothing to fear is belied by the nature of the investigation, which will examine whether agents really were acting in good faith and correctly applying the OLC's instructions on interrogation.
Within those fairly limited guidelines the Durham investigation has had to stay within the Bybee Standard and definition of Torture.
Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent to intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.
What many of us who would like to see Nuremburg like prosecutions for what occurred at Abu Ghraib, Gitmo and Baghram AFB unfortunately have to live with the reality that the Military Commissions Act changed the law to match Bybee.
The term `serious physical pain or suffering'
means bodily injury that involves--
``(I) a substantial risk of death;
``(II) extreme physical pain;
``(III) a burn or physical disfigurement of a
serious nature (other than cuts, abrasions, or
``(IV) significant loss or impairment of the
function of a bodily member, organ, or mental
If Torture means "Serious physical pain and suffering" - and that essentially requires "risk of death" and losing function of a "bodily member or organ" - then sleep deprivation, stress positions, slaps and even waterboarding are therefore allowed. and "Not Torture".
This is why Bush can openly admit that they Waterboarded Khallid Sheik Mohammad over 100 times without any worry - it's not on the list anymore because he didn't lose any vital organs and lived.
(Of course in order to by that you have to believe that they only had a medical team standing by to do an emergency tracheotomy if KSM's throat closed up and he began to suffocate - just y'know - in case!)
In one of the more nauseating passages, Jay Bybee, then an assistant attorney general and now a federal judge, wrote admiringly about a contraption for waterboarding that would lurch a prisoner upright if he stopped breathing while water was poured over his face. He praised the Central Intelligence Agency for having doctors ready to perform an emergency tracheotomy if necessary.
Yeah, I'm thinking losing your trechea is Organ Damage, however maybe that's just me.
Fortunately the "organ failure" exception is not absolute, because you can prosecute if the person dies - just as they did in the case of "Ice Man". In fact, you can call for the death penalty.
TORTURE: Any person subject to this chapter who commits an act specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control for the purpose of obtaining information or a confession, punishment, intimidation, coercion, or any reason based on discrimination of any kind, shall be punished, if death results to one or more of the victims, by death or such other punishment as a military commission under this chapter may direct, and, if death does not result to any of the victims, by such punishment, other than death, as a military commis-sion under this chapter may direct.
And what's even worse are the details of how al-Jamadi died.
Official investigations ruled al-Jamadi's death a homicide. Investigators concluded that while in CIA custody, the prisoner was hung on a wall before succumbing to asphyxiation and “blunt force injuries.” The CIA's Inspector General referred the case to the Justice Department shortly after it happened for possible prosecution, but no action was taken.
Now Durham is seeking evidence about the Iceman's death from, among others, current and former U.S. military personnel who served at Abu Ghraib, the notorious prison west of Baghdad, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation. And he is asking a lot of questions — like who took photographs of the body, and when. Durham, according to these sources, has also asked about civilian contractors at the site, mentioning one by name, and has probed the source of the multiple shoe prints apparently found on material used to wrap al-Jamadi's body.
If the Grand Jury indicts, this could be a Death Penalty case.
That would be a Shock.
And this isn't nearly the only case of this type, according to Freedom of Information Requests by the ACLU there were over 100 other detainee deaths in customer, and some estimates are that at least as many as 30 of these occurred during interogations.
On October 16, 2009, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the government seeking all records relating to the deaths of detainees in U.S. custody as part of the so-called “war on terror.” On January 14, 2011, the government released its first batch of documents consisting of 2,624 pages, which include approximately 124 autopsy reports and 133 Reports of Investigation by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command. All told, the documents describe the death of approximately 190 detainees in U.S. custody under varying circumstances.
I'm thinking Durham is going to be busy, and even the Military Commissions Act is no protection. Could this investigation go further up the chain into the CIA command structure and/or the White House? That depends on whether some of these lower level targets are willing to make a plea deal and implicate their superiors in a conspiracy to commit acts that went far beyond even the current law.
On that we'll just have to see.