Leaked CIA report reveals Obama ignored intelligence, escalated drone strikes

Reprieve + (44) 207 553 8160

For immediate release: Fri Dec 19, 2014

Obama escalated US drones despite CIA document arguing strikes ineffective and risky

A report – from July 2009 – leaked yesterday, has revealed that the CIA warned that covert US drone strikes were not successfully targeting the Taliban and instead often killing unintended targets. After this report was published, President Obama escalated the covert drone programme. US drones have killed thousands of people in Yemen and Pakistan – both countries with which the US is not at war.

A recently produced report by human rights NGO Reprieve, which represents civilian victims of drone strikes, found that the US drone programme has killed hundreds of unintended targets in Yemen and Pakistan – including women and children.

Commenting, Jennifer Gibson, Staff Attorney at human rights NGO Reprieve, said: “President Obama keeps insisting that the US drone programme is precise and effective. Today’s leak shows that in 2009 – before the programme had reached the scale we see today – the CIA produced a report warning that drone strikes were ineffective and counter-productive. Yet after this guidance was published, President Obama ramped up strikes, killing thousands of people in Yemen and Pakistan.

“Many of those killed were mistaken targets – a recent study by Reprieve found that in an effort to kill just 41 men, US drones killed 1,147 other people, including 142 children. Today’s revelation adds to the mounting evidence that US drones are neither effective nor precise.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. The report by Reprieve is available upon request.

2. For further information, please contact Reprieve’s press office: + 44 207 553 8160

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SiX hires Sean Hinga to promote progressive state legislation

 

State Innovation Exchange (SiX) Hires Veteran Grassroots Union Organizer as National Political Director

Sean Hinga joins fast-growing organization dedicated to moving progressive agenda in the states

The State Innovation Exchange (SiX), a new organization devoted to promoting and advancing a progressive agenda at the state level, announced today that it has brought on Sean Hinga, a veteran grassroots union organizer, as its first national political director.

Hinga, who spent 12 years at one of the country’s largest unions, the American Federation of State, County, & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), brings a wealth of campaigning and policy experience to the organization. Sean was also responsible for helping build and support the progressive infrastructure in Colorado, which many across the country hold up as a model for progressive power building at the state level.

“We’re delighted that Sean will be bringing to SiX his expertise in state infrastructure building and legislative engagement “ SiX’s Executive Director, Nick Rathod, said today. “The organizing work Sean has done in Colorado to help advance a progressive agenda and out-organize and out-maneuver those who have stood in the way of popular, progressive reform for too long will be invaluable to the organization. That’s a battle Sean’s been fighting his whole career and we intend to draw upon that experience as we begin the hard work to build progressive power in states across the country.”

Hinga’s hiring comes on the heels of SiX’s inaugural conference, attended by more than 200 state legislators in Washington last weekend. Speakers included Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, Senator Bernie Sanders, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Van Jones, former White House Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

“I am excited to join a great team and work to push back against the conservative tide we saw in the mid-term elections,” Hinga said today. “I am looking forward to working with leaders across the country to strengthen the middle class, enfranchise voters, make our kids safer and protect our air and water.”

Hinga was previously AFSCME’s political and legislative director for Colorado. Over the years he has worked on campaigns in 29 states, including three presidential races.

He also helped to pass progressive comprehensive election reform (HB1303) in Colorado. He began his career as a campaign staffer for Mark Udall and served in his congressional office. He has worked for several congressional campaigns and at the Democratic National Committee.

Contact

Naomi Seligman

310.617.4577

Naomi@SeligmanConsulting.com

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Barack Obama signs Death in Custody Reporting Act

Scott Statement on the Signing of Death In Custody Reporting Act of 2013 into Law by President Obama

December 18, 2014
Press Release

NEWPORT NEWS, VA – Today, President Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 1447, the “Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013,” a bill introduced by Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott. The bill requires states and federal law enforcement agencies to report to the Department of Justice information about deaths of individuals in their custody.

In the 1980s, there was an increased focus on conditions in state and local jails and prisons and the problem of prisoners dying in custody.  The interest in oversight of this issue was generated partly by the rising tide of wrongful death cases brought in relation to these deaths. Press reports in the 1990s concerning prison abuses and deaths of those incarcerated being attributed to suicide lead Congress to develop legislation in response to this problem.  The Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2000 was enacted to require states to report quarterly to the Attorney General information regarding the death of any person in the process of arrest or who is otherwise in custody, including in jails, prisons, and juvenile facilities.  After the law was enacted in 2000, reports showed declines in suicides and homicides of those in custody.  That law expired in 2006, which lead to the effort to reauthorize substantially the same requirements on states and to extend them to federal agencies as well, which is what the bill signed by the President today will do.  The new law also requires the Attorney General to study the information the Justice Department receives about deaths in custody and to issue a report to include a discussion of how the data may be used to reduce preventable deaths.

In response to the enactment of the bill he introduced, Scott stated:

“The President’s signing the Death in Custody Act of 2013 into law today represents a critical step in improving and reforming our nation’s criminal justice system. It is clear that the federal government needs to exercise greater oversight of federal, state and local law enforcement personnel to ensure that they are protecting and serving all of our citizens and that the protections embodied in our Constitution apply equally to all citizens. To aid in that measure, we need data on deaths that occur within our criminal justice system.  Without accurate data, it is nearly impossible to identify variables that lead to an unnecessary and unacceptable risk of individuals dying in custody or during an arrest.  The passage of the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013 will make this information available, so policymakers will be in a position to enact initiatives that will reduce incidences of avoidable deaths in our criminal justice system.

“I appreciate the assistance of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate for their efforts to enact the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013, particularly Congressman Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee,  Senator Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Richard Blumenthal, sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, and Senator Rand Paul.  I appreciate the efforts of these and other colleagues who worked together to send this legislation to the President for his signature, and I look forward to continuing to work with them in future bipartisan efforts to improve our criminal justice system”.

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Cases before Moxley while he steered Ashton in Bennett’s persecution

 

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Feds increase oversight of FPL’s St. Lucie nuclear plant

Susan Chandler:

“FPL did not contest the safety significance of the finding, and has agreed to corrective actions that include repair of flood seals, flood response procedure revisions, additional site visual inspections of flood protection features and program improvements to ensure external flood barrier integrity.”

Originally posted on Protecting Your Pocket:

FPL's St. Lucie nuclear plant is under increased federal oversight.

FPL’s St. Lucie nuclear plant is under increased federal oversight. Staff photo by Bill Ingram

The  U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff is increasing its oversight of St. Lucie Unit 1 due to violations linked to plant operators’ failure to ensure that the reactor’s auxiliary building was watertight, the agency said today.

The St. Lucie nuclear plant is operated by Juno Beach-based Florida Power & Light Co.  and is located in Jensen Beach on Hutchinson Island east of Port St. Lucie.
The finding, originally documented in a Sept. 24 NRC inspection report, was found to be “white,” or of low to moderate safety significance. The NRC evaluates inspection findings and performance indicators at commercial power plants with a color-coded system which classifies them as green, white, yellow or red, in increasing order of safety significance. With the white finding, St. Lucie Unit 1 will receive an increased level of inspection and…

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SOA Watch: Torture has a long history in US

for immediate release

December 17, 2014

Contact: Hendrik Voss, SOA Watch National Organizer, 202-425-5128, hvoss@soaw.org

Torture has a long History in U.S. Policy Lack of Prosecution of U.S. Officials Paved the Way for New Abuses

Following the release of the Senate report on state sponsored torture by the CIA, SOA Watch is calling for investigations, prosecutions and firings of U.S. officials involved in torture and human rights abuses in Latin America and beyond.

Washington, DC – Last week’s release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the use of torture by the CIA revealed nothing new. The use of “coercive techniques” that violate international conventions, domestic laws, and human rights has a long history in the U.S. military and predates 9/11 by decades. Unfortunately, the complete lack of U.S. accountability for its role in the international implementation of torture practices has a similarly long history.

For years, the U.S. Army trained Latin American soldiers in torture techniques and how to circumvent laws on due process, arrest and detention in standard lesson plans employed at the infamous School of the Americas, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) in 2001.

On September 20, 1996, under intense public pressure, the Pentagon was forced to release seven Spanish-language training manuals that were used at the School of the Americas. They explicitly recommended abusive and unlawful interrogation techniques such as torture, extortion, blackmail and the targeting of civilian populations. A Washington Post article by Dana Priest first broke the story. Not a single School of the Americas official has ever been prosecuted for the use of the “torture manuals.” Their content was based on materials from CIA and Army manuals that date even further back to the 1950’s and 1960’s. In the early 1980s the CIA distributed training manuals of similarly disturbing content to the contras in Nicaragua. All of which outlines a history of systematic disregard of international law through the promotion of torture. More than a thousand copies of the booklets used that the School of the Americas were distributed for use in countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, Ecuador and Peru, and at the School of the Americas between 1987 and 1991.

The release of these manuals, just like the release of the recent CIA torture report, proved what SOA Watch, thousands of Latin Americans and numerous human rights organizations had been saying for years: millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars have been spent to pay for the teaching of torture and repression. The consequences of these trainings for the proliferation and institutionalization of torture practices in the hemisphere have become clear in the publication of Brazil’s National Truth Commission report, released just one day after the CIA torture report. It specifically mentions the School of the Americas, which trained over 300 members of the Brazilian military, and how U.S. military officials spent years teaching torture techniques to Brazil’s military.

Another striking line of continuity and neglect of responsibility is exposed when the new report outlines the case of one senior CIA agent, put in charge of interrogating the most important prisoners of America’s secret detention program, who had previously been accused of abuses against captives during the agency’s covert operations in Latin America in the 1980s. Yet, the CIA did not hold this officer accountable, assumed institutional responsibility or fired him. Instead he was promoted to the position of chief of interrogations in 2002.

SOA Watch is an independent organization that seeks to close the SOA/WHINSEC, to end torture, and to change U.S. foreign policy through vigils and fasts, demonstrations and nonviolent protest, as well as media and legislative work. SOA Watch started an online pressure campaign directed at the US Congress and the White House to call for prosecutions of the US officials involved in torture and for the closing of the SOA/ WHINSEC.

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Reprieve: Many to be executed in Pakistan “simply aren’t terrorists”

Reprieve + (44) 207 553 8160

For immediate release: Wed Dec 17, 2014

Many facing execution in Pakistan are ‘simply not terrorists’ – Reprieve

Many of the prisoners likely to be executed in Pakistan as the country resumes executions were convicted of crimes that bear no relation to a terrorism threat, Reprieve has said.

According to early media reports in Pakistan, executions could start being scheduled in the country within the next 48 hours, and will initially include people convicted on anti-terrorism charges and “heinous crimes”. They could include a fifteen year old boy who was convicted of kidnapping, on the basis of a forced confession extracted after nine days of torture.

The decision to lift the country’s 2-year moratorium on executions is consistent with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s recent public stance against the “existential threat” of terrorism; concerns have been raised, however, about his government’s sweeping use of anti-terrorism courts. In the province of Sindh, where Pakistan’s most populous city is located, nearly 40 per cent of the prisoners on death row were tried as terrorists in the special courts – apparently in the interests of securing swift convictions – despite many cases involving non-terror related crimes such as involuntary manslaughter. Trials in the anti-terrorism courts have been criticised as falling short of international standards.

Pakistan has the world’s largest death row, with over 8,000 people currently awaiting execution.

Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said: “Today’s announcement puts thousands of lives at risk. The prospect of executions in the next 48 hours should be cause for immediate action from countries with strong links to Pakistan, such as the US and the UK. Our research suggests that many of the individuals who would be first in line for execution are simply not terrorists, and that the law is being abused in a way that perverts justice and fails to keep anyone safe. [emphasis added]

“The swift execution of large numbers of people, convicted in trials falling well short of basic standards, is not justice. The tragic events in Peshawar this week require a measured and reasoned response, not a knee-jerk reaction that could see thousands of lives wantonly put at risk.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

For further information, please contact Reprieve’s press office: + 44 207 553 8160

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