Pres Obama’s 2009 Executive Order 13491 Banning Torture

December 09, 2014

Statement by the President Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Throughout our history, the United States of America has done more than any other nation to stand up for freedom, democracy, and the inherent dignity and human rights of people around the world. As Americans, we owe a profound debt of gratitude to our fellow citizens who serve to keep us safe, among them the dedicated men and women of our intelligence community, including the Central Intelligence Agency. Since the horrific attacks of 9/11, these public servants have worked tirelessly to devastate core al Qaeda, deliver justice to Osama bin Laden, disrupt terrorist operations and thwart terrorist attacks. Solemn rows of stars on the Memorial Wall at the CIA honor those who have given their lives to protect ours. Our intelligence professionals are patriots, and we are safer because of their heroic service and sacrifices.

In the years after 9/11, with legitimate fears of further attacks and with the responsibility to prevent more catastrophic loss of life, the previous administration faced agonizing choices about how to pursue al Qaeda and prevent additional terrorist attacks against our country. As I have said before, our nation did many things right in those difficult years. At the same time, some of the actions that were taken were contrary to our values. That is why I unequivocally banned torture when I took office, because one of our most effective tools in fighting terrorism and keeping Americans safe is staying true to our ideals at home and abroad.

Today’s report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence details one element of our nation’s response to 9/11—the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, which I formally ended on one of my first days in office. The report documents a troubling program involving enhanced interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects in secret facilities outside the United States, and it reinforces my long-held view that these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests. Moreover, these techniques did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners. That is why I will continue to use my authority as President to make sure we never resort to those methods again.

As Commander in Chief, I have no greater responsibility than the safety and security of the American people. We will therefore continue to be relentless in our fight against al Qaeda, its affiliates and other violent extremists. We will rely on all elements of our national power, including the power and example of our founding ideals. That is why I have consistently supported the declassification of today’s report. No nation is perfect. But one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better. Rather than another reason to refight old arguments, I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong—in the past. Today is also a reminder that upholding the values we profess doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us stronger and that the United States of America will remain the greatest force for freedom and human dignity that the world has ever known.

.

Secretary Kerry on Release of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report
Secretary of State John Kerry
U.S. Department of State – Washington, D.C.

12-09-2014
Release of this report affirms again that one of America’s strengths is our democratic system’s ability to recognize and wrestle with our own history, acknowledge mistakes, and correct course. This marks a coda to a chapter in our history.

President Obama turned the page on these policies when he took office and during week one banned the use of torture and closed the detention and interrogation program. It was right to end these practices for a simple but powerful reason: they were at odds with our values. They are not who we are, and they’re not who or what we had to become, because the most powerful country on earth doesn’t have to choose between protecting our security and promoting our values.

Now this report sheds light on this period that’s more than five years behind us, so we can discuss and debate our history – and then look again to the future.

As that debate is joined, I want to underscore that while it’s uncomfortable and unpleasant to reexamine this period, it’s important that this period not define the intelligence community in anyone’s minds. Every single day, the State Department and our diplomats and their families are safer because of the men and women of the CIA and the Intelligence Community. They sign up to serve their country the same way our diplomats and our military do. They risk their lives to keep us safe and strengthen America’s foreign policy and national security. The awful facts of this report do not represent who they are, period. That context is also important to how we understand history.

.

UN expert calls for prosecution of CIA, US officials for crimes committed during interrogations

9 December 2014 – A United States Senate report has confirmed what the international community has long believed – that there was a clear policy orchestrated at a high level within the Bush Administration which allowed to commit gross violations of international human rights law, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights said today.

Released this afternoon, the so-called Feinstein report, after long-time US Senator Dianne Feinstein who chaired the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that compiled the document, probes crimes of torture and enforced disappearance of terrorist suspects by the Bush-era CIA.

“It has taken four years since the report was finalised to reach this point,” said Ben Emmerson in a statement.

Now it is time to take action, he added. “The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes,” he said.

Identities of the perpetrators, and many other details, have been redacted in the published summary report but are known to the Select Committee and to those who provided the Committee with information on the programme.

“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorized at a high level within the US Government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability,” Mr. Emmerson explained.

International law prohibits the granting of immunities to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture. This applies not only to the actual perpetrators but also to those senior officials within the US Government who devised, planned and authorised these crimes.

The US is legally obliged, by international law, to bring those responsible to justice. The UN Convention Against Torture and the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances require States to prosecute acts of torture and enforced disappearance where there is sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction.

For more: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49560#.VIhmd4s9dbw

Guantanamo Bay detention camp

The Guantanamo Bay detention camp, also referred to as GuantánamoG-bay or GTMO (pronounced ‘gitmo’), is a United States military prison located within Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, which fronts on Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. At the time of its establishment in January 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said the prison camp was established to detain extraordinarily dangerous persons, to interrogate “detainees” in an optimal setting, and to prosecutedetainees for war crimes.Detainees captured in the War on Terror, most of them from Afghanistan and much smaller numbers later from Iraq, the Horn of Africa and South Asia were transported to the prison.

The facility is operated by the Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) of the United States government in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Detainment areas consisted of Camp Delta (including Camp Echo), Camp Iguana, and Camp X-Ray (which is now closed).

After Bush political appointees at the U.S. Office of Legal CounselDepartment of Justice advised the Bush administration that the Guantanamo Bay detention camp could be considered outside U.S. legal black jurisdiction, military guards took the first twenty detainees to Guantanamo on 11 January 2002. The Bush administration asserted that detainees were not entitled to any of the protections of the Geneva Conventions. Ensuing U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 2004 have determined otherwise and that the courts have jurisdiction: it ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld on 29 June 2006, that detainees were entitled to the minimal protections listed under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. Following this, on 7 July 2006, the Department of Defense issued an internal memo stating that detainees would, in the future, be entitled to protection under Common Article 3.

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guantanamo_Bay_detention_camp#President_Obama.27s_attempt_to_close_the_camp

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President Obama’s attempt to close the camp

During his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama described Guantánamo as a “sad chapter in American history” and promised to close down the prison in 2009. After being elected, Obama reiterated his campaign promise on 60 Minutes and the ABC program This Week.

On 22 January 2009, President Obama stated that he ordered the government to suspend prosecutions of Guantánamo Bay detainees for 120 days to review all the detainees’ cases to determine whether and how each detainee should be prosecuted. A day later, Obama signed an executive order stating that Guantánamo Detention Camp would be closed within the year. His plan encountered a setback when incoming officials of his administration discovered that there were no comprehensive files concerning many of the detainees, so that merely assembling the available evidence about them could take weeks or months. In May, Obama announced that the prosecutions would be revived. On 20 May 2009, the United States Senate passed an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009 (H.R. 2346) by a 90–6 vote to block funds needed for the transfer or release of prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. In November 2009, President Obama admitted that the “specific deadline” he had set for closure of the Guantánamo Bay camp would be “missed.” He said the camp would probably be closed later in 2010, but did not set a specific deadline.

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guantanamo_Bay_detention_camp#President_Obama.27s_attempt_to_close_the_camp

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State names new envoy for Guantanamo Bay

6/30/15 10:07 AM EDT By Martin Matishak – TheHill

Secretary of State John Kerry has appointed a new envoy to negotiate the transfer of detainees from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Lee Wolosky, who served in the National Security Council during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, will act as State’s special envoy for Guantanamo closure, Kerry announced Tuesday.

Wolosky is “ideally qualified to continue the hard diplomatic engagement that is required to close Guantanamo in accordance with President Obama’s directives,” Kerry said in a statement.

He said Wolosky would “assume lead responsibility for arranging for the transfer of Guantanamo detainees abroad and for implementing transfer determinations, and overseeing the State Department’s participation in the periodic reviews of those detainees who are not approved for transfer.”

Wolosky succeeds Clifford Sloan, who stepped down from the special envoy post around the end of last year.

The president pledged during his campaign to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay in his first week in office. But Obama has met stiff resistance on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers have passed multiple laws that tie the president’s hands on closing the controversial facility.

Last week, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter expressed serious doubt that the detention facility could be shuttered before Obama leaves office.

Earlier this month, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he expects Carter to submit a plan for closing the prison to lawmakers sometime soon.

U.S. closes maximum security unit but five tied to 9/11 plot still held

SEP 9, 2016 AFP-JIJI

WASHINGTON – The U.S. military has closed a maximum-security detention center at Guantanamo Bay, an official said Thursday, as the controversial prison’s population continues to dwindle.

Guantanamo’s Camp 5 lockup, built in 2004 at a cost of $17 million, closed Aug. 19 and will be converted into a medical center with a psychiatric wing for detainees, facility spokesman Navy Capt. John Filostrat told AFP.

Only a “handful” of detainees had remained at Camp 5 after 15 inmates were transferred to the United Arab Emirates last month, the biggest single release under President Barack Obama.

The few former Camp 5 inmates are now housed in an adjacent medium-security jail, Camp 6, where they have access to communal areas and computers through which they can Skype family members, Filostrat said.

Twenty of the 40 or so detainees now at Camp 6 have been cleared for transfer and are optimistic they may be released before Obama leaves office in January.

“It’s fair to say there’s a sense of anticipation, maybe hope even,” Filostrat said.

Still, a few detainees continue to protest their indefinite detention by hunger striking.

Many have been locked up for more than a decade without any formal charges being brought, with only limited access to lawyers and amid allegations of detainee abuse.

The riskiest remaining detainees, including the five men accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, are incarcerated at another, secret prison camp called Camp 7 located elsewhere on the base.

Camp 5 once housed noncompliant inmates and hunger strikers. The facility had special equipment in place to protect jailors from “splashing” — the grim practice of prisoners hurling bodily fluids and excrement at guards.

Filostrat said a small number of men at Camp 6 are continuing their hunger strikes and are force-fed, but noted “90 percent are very compliant.”

Camp 5’s closure means the overall guard and staffing force for Guantanamo Bay’s entire prison operation will shrink from 1,950 to about 1,550. Most of the reductions come from military police units that no longer will be sent there.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, about 780 inmates have been housed in the U.S. military-run facility which Obama has repeatedly tried to close.

For more: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/09/09/world/u-s-closes-guantanamo-maximum-security-unit-five-tied-911-plot-still-held/#.V9IShDuli91

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33 thoughts on “Pres Obama’s 2009 Executive Order 13491 Banning Torture

  1. WH

    Thursday, December 11, 2014

    All Times Eastern

    President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    11:00 AM
    President Obama meets with The President’s Export Council
    Eisenhower Executive Office Building

    12:00 PM
    Press Briefing by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest

    1:00 PM
    2:00 PM
    3:00 PM
    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM
    6:00 PM
    7:00 PM
    8:00 PM
    9:00 PM
    10:00 PM

  2. Pres Obama’s 2009 Executive Order 13491 Banning Torture

    Executive Order 13491 — Ensuring Lawful Interrogations

    EXECUTIVE ORDER — ENSURING LAWFUL INTERROGATIONS

    By the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to improve the effectiveness of human intelligence gathering, to promote the safe, lawful, and humane treatment of individuals in United States custody and of United States personnel who are detained in armed conflicts, to ensure compliance with the treaty obligations of the United States, including the Geneva Conventions, and to take care that the laws of the United States are faithfully executed, I hereby order as follows:

    Section 1. Revocation. Executive Order 13440 of July 20, 2007, is revoked. All executive directives, orders, and regulations inconsistent with this order, including but not limited to those issued to or by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from September 11, 2001, to January 20, 2009, concerning detention or the interrogation of detained individuals, are revoked to the extent of their inconsistency with this order. Heads of departments and agencies shall take all necessary steps to ensure that all directives, orders, and regulations of their respective departments or agencies are consistent with this order. Upon request, the Attorney General shall provide guidance about which directives, orders, and regulations are inconsistent with this order.

    For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/EnsuringLawfulInterrogations/

    • December 09, 2014

      Statement by the President Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

      Throughout our history, the United States of America has done more than any other nation to stand up for freedom, democracy, and the inherent dignity and human rights of people around the world. As Americans, we owe a profound debt of gratitude to our fellow citizens who serve to keep us safe, among them the dedicated men and women of our intelligence community, including the Central Intelligence Agency. Since the horrific attacks of 9/11, these public servants have worked tirelessly to devastate core al Qaeda, deliver justice to Osama bin Laden, disrupt terrorist operations and thwart terrorist attacks. Solemn rows of stars on the Memorial Wall at the CIA honor those who have given their lives to protect ours. Our intelligence professionals are patriots, and we are safer because of their heroic service and sacrifices.

      In the years after 9/11, with legitimate fears of further attacks and with the responsibility to prevent more catastrophic loss of life, the previous administration faced agonizing choices about how to pursue al Qaeda and prevent additional terrorist attacks against our country. As I have said before, our nation did many things right in those difficult years. At the same time, some of the actions that were taken were contrary to our values. That is why I unequivocally banned torture when I took office, because one of our most effective tools in fighting terrorism and keeping Americans safe is staying true to our ideals at home and abroad.

      Today’s report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence details one element of our nation’s response to 9/11—the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, which I formally ended on one of my first days in office. The report documents a troubling program involving enhanced interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects in secret facilities outside the United States, and it reinforces my long-held view that these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests. Moreover, these techniques did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners. That is why I will continue to use my authority as President to make sure we never resort to those methods again.

      As Commander in Chief, I have no greater responsibility than the safety and security of the American people. We will therefore continue to be relentless in our fight against al Qaeda, its affiliates and other violent extremists. We will rely on all elements of our national power, including the power and example of our founding ideals. That is why I have consistently supported the declassification of today’s report. No nation is perfect. But one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better. Rather than another reason to refight old arguments, I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong—in the past. Today is also a reminder that upholding the values we profess doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us stronger and that the United States of America will remain the greatest force for freedom and human dignity that the world has ever known.

    • Secretary Kerry on Release of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report
      Secretary of State John Kerry
      U.S. Department of State – Washington, D.C.

      12-09-2014
      Release of this report affirms again that one of America’s strengths is our democratic system’s ability to recognize and wrestle with our own history, acknowledge mistakes, and correct course. This marks a coda to a chapter in our history.

      President Obama turned the page on these policies when he took office and during week one banned the use of torture and closed the detention and interrogation program. It was right to end these practices for a simple but powerful reason: they were at odds with our values. They are not who we are, and they’re not who or what we had to become, because the most powerful country on earth doesn’t have to choose between protecting our security and promoting our values.

      Now this report sheds light on this period that’s more than five years behind us, so we can discuss and debate our history – and then look again to the future.

      As that debate is joined, I want to underscore that while it’s uncomfortable and unpleasant to reexamine this period, it’s important that this period not define the intelligence community in anyone’s minds. Every single day, the State Department and our diplomats and their families are safer because of the men and women of the CIA and the Intelligence Community. They sign up to serve their country the same way our diplomats and our military do. They risk their lives to keep us safe and strengthen America’s foreign policy and national security. The awful facts of this report do not represent who they are, period. That context is also important to how we understand history.

    • Guantanamo Bay detention camp

      The Guantanamo Bay detention camp, also referred to as Guantánamo, G-bay or GTMO (pronounced ‘gitmo’), is a United States military prison located within Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, which fronts on Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. At the time of its establishment in January 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said the prison camp was established to detain extraordinarily dangerous persons, to interrogate “detainees” in an optimal setting, and to prosecutedetainees for war crimes.Detainees captured in the War on Terror, most of them from Afghanistan and much smaller numbers later from Iraq, the Horn of Africa and South Asia were transported to the prison.

      The facility is operated by the Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) of the United States government in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Detainment areas consisted of Camp Delta (including Camp Echo), Camp Iguana, and Camp X-Ray (which is now closed).

      After Bush political appointees at the U.S. Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice advised the Bush administration that the Guantanamo Bay detention camp could be considered outside U.S. legal black jurisdiction, military guards took the first twenty detainees to Guantanamo on 11 January 2002. The Bush administration asserted that detainees were not entitled to any of the protections of the Geneva Conventions. Ensuing U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 2004 have determined otherwise and that the courts have jurisdiction: it ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld on 29 June 2006, that detainees were entitled to the minimal protections listed under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. Following this, on 7 July 2006, the Department of Defense issued an internal memo stating that detainees would, in the future, be entitled to protection under Common Article 3.

      For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guantanamo_Bay_detention_camp#President_Obama.27s_attempt_to_close_the_camp

      • President Obama’s attempt to close the camp

        During his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama described Guantánamo as a “sad chapter in American history” and promised to close down the prison in 2009. After being elected, Obama reiterated his campaign promise on 60 Minutes and the ABC program This Week.

        On 22 January 2009, President Obama stated that he ordered the government to suspend prosecutions of Guantánamo Bay detainees for 120 days to review all the detainees’ cases to determine whether and how each detainee should be prosecuted. A day later, Obama signed an executive order stating that Guantánamo Detention Camp would be closed within the year. His plan encountered a setback when incoming officials of his administration discovered that there were no comprehensive files concerning many of the detainees, so that merely assembling the available evidence about them could take weeks or months. In May, Obama announced that the prosecutions would be revived. On 20 May 2009, the United States Senate passed an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009 (H.R. 2346) by a 90–6 vote to block funds needed for the transfer or release of prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. In November 2009, President Obama admitted that the “specific deadline” he had set for closure of the Guantánamo Bay camp would be “missed.” He said the camp would probably be closed later in 2010, but did not set a specific deadline.

        For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guantanamo_Bay_detention_camp#President_Obama.27s_attempt_to_close_the_camp

      • President Obama on Closing Guantanamo

        December 19, 2014

        Statement By The President on H.R. 3979

        Today I have signed into law H.R. 3979, the “Carl Levin and Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015.” I have signed this annual defense authorization legislation because it will provide vital benefits for military personnel and their families, as well as critical contingency authorities needed to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and to respond to emerging needs in the face of evolving terrorist threats and emergent crises worldwide.

        Earlier this month, the Department of Defense transferred the last remaining third-country nationals held in U.S. custody in Afghanistan, ending U.S. detention operations in Afghanistan. Yet halfway around the world, the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, remains open for the 13th consecutive year, costing the American people hundreds of millions of dollars each year and undermining America’s standing in the world. As I have said many times, the continued operation of this detention facility weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, and emboldening violent extremists. Closing the detention facility is a national imperative.

        I have repeatedly called upon the Congress to work with my Administration to close the detention facility at Guantanamo once and for all. Individuals from across the political spectrum have recognized that the facility should be closed. But instead of removing unwarranted and burdensome restrictions that curtail the executive branch’s options for managing the detainee population, this bill continues them. Section 1032 renews the bar against using appropriated funds to construct or modify any facility in the United States, its territories, or possessions to house any Guantanamo detainee in the custody or under the control of the Department of Defense unless authorized by the Congress. Section 1033 likewise renews the bar against using appropriated funds to transfer Guantanamo detainees into the United States for any purpose. The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, contains similar provisions as well as those relating to existing restrictions on the transfer of detainees abroad. I have consistently opposed these restrictions and will continue to work with the Congress to remove them. More than 80 percent of detainees at one time held at the detention facility have now been transferred. The executive branch must have the flexibility, with regard to those detainees who remain, to determine when and where to prosecute them, based on the facts and circumstances of each case and our national security interests, and when and where to transfer them consistent with our national security and our humane treatment policy. Under certain circumstances, the provisions concerning detainee transfers in both bills would violate constitutional separation of powers principles. In the event that the restrictions on the transfer of detainees operate in a manner that violates constitutional separation of powers principles, my Administration will implement them in a manner that avoids the constitutional conflict.

        The Guantanamo detention facility’s continued operation undermines our national security. We must close it. I call on Members from both sides of the aisle to work with us to bring this chapter of American history to a close.

        BARACK OBAMA

        THE WHITE HOUSE,
        December 19, 2014.

      • State names new envoy for Guantanamo Bay

        6/30/15 10:07 AM EDT By Martin Matishak – TheHill

        Secretary of State John Kerry has appointed a new envoy to negotiate the transfer of detainees from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

        Lee Wolosky, who served in the National Security Council during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, will act as State’s special envoy for Guantanamo closure, Kerry announced Tuesday.

        Wolosky is “ideally qualified to continue the hard diplomatic engagement that is required to close Guantanamo in accordance with President Obama’s directives,” Kerry said in a statement.

        He said Wolosky would “assume lead responsibility for arranging for the transfer of Guantanamo detainees abroad and for implementing transfer determinations, and overseeing the State Department’s participation in the periodic reviews of those detainees who are not approved for transfer.”

        Wolosky succeeds Clifford Sloan, who stepped down from the special envoy post around the end of last year.

        The president pledged during his campaign to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay in his first week in office. But Obama has met stiff resistance on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers have passed multiple laws that tie the president’s hands on closing the controversial facility.

        Last week, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter expressed serious doubt that the detention facility could be shuttered before Obama leaves office.

        Earlier this month, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he expects Carter to submit a plan for closing the prison to lawmakers sometime soon.

    • Senate Staffer Tries To Remove Reference To ‘Torture’ From Wikipedia

      DECEMBER 11, 2014, 11:50 AM EST By CATHERINE THOMPSON – tpm

      An anonymous user tried unsuccessfully to remove a reference to “torture” from a Wikipedia article on the Senate’s report on the CIA’s clandestine interrogation program from an IP address registered to the chamber.

      The Twitter account @congressedits, which has been automatically tweeting edits to Wikipedia pages made from IP addresses in Congress since last summer, caught two attempts on Tuesday and Wednesday:

      The user tried to remove a line describing so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” as a “euphemism for torture.”

      Mashable pointed out that in both instances, the anonymous editor explained that the revision was intended to remove bias from the article. Both attempts to edit the article were blocked.

    • White House: Cheney is wrong

      December 15, 2014, 02:49 pm By Justin Sink – TheHill

      President Obama believes former Vice President Dick Cheney’s defense of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program is “wrong,” press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.

      Earnest could not say whether Obama had seen the former vice president’s appearance on “Meet the Press” over the weekend, in which Cheney said he would order up the CIA program again “in a minute.”

      Cheney said CIA “very carefully avoided” torture, argued that the rectal feeding of detainees was “done for medical reasons” and said he was not concerned about the harsh treatment of foreign nationals who were later revealed to be innocent.

      Earnest said, “I can say unequivocally that the president certainly believes that the former vice president’s assessment is wrong.”

      Debate over the interrogation practices has been renewed after the release last week of a Senate Intelligence Committee report detailing the interrogation program. The document, citing CIA records, revealed new information about the techniques that were used on prisoners and accused the agency of misleading the public and Congress about them.

      Obama has said that he believed the practices did amount to torture and that they were a mistake, although has not said whether he thinks they provided useful intelligence or whether he believes the officials responsible should face criminal prosecution.

      Earnest repeated Monday that the program had damaged the nation’s international standing, and said he guessed that even Cheney would probably agree that “our moral credibility around the globe is an important tool in our arsenal for advancing and promoting America’s interests around the world.”

    • February 23, 2016

      Remarks by the President on Plan to Close the Prison at Guantanamo Bay

      Roosevelt Room

      10:30 A.M. EST

      THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. In our fight against terrorists like al Qaeda and ISIL, we are using every element of our national power — our military; intelligence; diplomacy; homeland security; law enforcement, federal, state and local; as well as the example of our ideals as a country that’s committed to universal values, including rule of law and human rights. In this fight, we learn and we work to constantly improve. When we find something that works, we keep on doing it. When it becomes clear that something is not working as intended — when it does not advance our security — we have to change course.

      For many years, it’s been clear that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security — it undermines it. This is not just my opinion. This is the opinion of experts, this is the opinion of many in our military. It’s counterproductive to our fight against terrorists, because they use it as propaganda in their efforts to recruit. It drains military resources, with nearly $450 million spent last year alone to keep it running, and more than $200 million in additional costs needed to keep it open going forward for less than 100 detainees. Guantanamo harms our partnerships with allies and other countries whose cooperation we need against terrorism. When I talk to other world leaders, they bring up the fact that Guantanamo is not resolved.

      Moreover, keeping this facility open is contrary to our values. It undermines our standing in the world. It is viewed as a stain on our broader record of upholding the highest standards of rule of law. As Americans, we pride ourselves on being a beacon to other nations, a model of the rule of law.

      For more: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/02/23/remarks-president-plan-close-prison-guantanamo-bay


      • On his last day, Obama shrinks Guantanamo population to new low

        01/20/17 08:41AM By Steve Benen – maddowblog

        Congress made it effectively impossible for President Obama to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, but lawmakers couldn’t stop the outgoing president from coming close to his goal.

        The Obama administration’s long and fitful effort to wind down the Guantánamo Bay wartime prison came to a close on Thursday with an announcement that it had transferred four more men out of the detention complex. Their departures are expected to be the last before President Obama leaves office on Friday.

        The transfer of the four detainees means that President-elect Donald J. Trump, who has called for an end to such transfers, will inherit the fates of 41 men there, 31 of whom are being held without charges or trial.

        “As president, I have tried to close Guantánamo,” Obama said in a letter to congressional leaders yesterday. “When I inherited this challenge, it was widely recognized that the facility — which many around the world continue to condemn — needed to close. Unfortunately, what had previously been bipartisan support for closure suddenly became a partisan issue. Despite those politics, we have made progress.”

        That’s quantitatively true. Updating the tally we’ve been keeping an eye on, the detention facility’s population peaked in 2003 with 680 prisoners. The Bush/Cheney administration began moving detainees out in its second term, and by the time President Obama took office, the population was down to 242 prisoners.

        Now, as Obama exits the stage, the total is down to 41. Two weeks ago, Donald Trump, who’s never demonstrated any real understanding of this issue, declared, “There should be no further releases from Gitmo.” Fortunately, the current president ignored him.

        For more: http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/his-last-day-obama-shrinks-guantanamo-population-new-low#break

  3. December 09, 2014

    Presidential Proclamation — Human Rights Day and Human Rights Week, 2014

    HUMAN RIGHTS DAY AND HUMAN RIGHTS WEEK, 2014

    – – – – – – –

    BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

    A PROCLAMATION

    On December 10, 1948, nations from six continents came together to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This extraordinary document affirmed that every individual is born equal with inalienable rights, and it is the responsibility of governments to uphold these rights. In more than 430 translations, the Declaration recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of all people and supports their right to chart their own destinies. On the anniversary of this human rights milestone, we join with all those who are willing to strive for a brighter future, and together, we continue our work to build the world our children deserve.

    The desires for freedom and opportunity are universal, and around the world, yearnings for the rule of law and self-determination burn within the hearts of all women and men. When people can raise their voices and hold their leaders accountable, governments are more responsive and more effective. Children who are able to lead healthy lives and pursue an education without fear are free to spark progress and contribute to thriving communities. And when citizens are empowered to pursue their full measure of happiness without restraint, they help ensure that economies grow, stability and prosperity spread, and nations flourish. Protecting human rights around the globe extends the promise of democracy and bolsters the values that serve as a basis for peace in our world.

    It is our obligation as free peoples to stand with courageous individuals who raise their voices to demand universal rights. Under extremely difficult circumstances — and often at grave personal risk — brave human rights defenders and civil society activists throughout the world are working to actualize the rights and freedoms that are the birthright of all humankind. The United States will continue to support all those who champion these fundamental principles, and we will never stop speaking out for the human rights of all individuals at home and abroad. It is part of who we are as a people and what we stand for as a Nation.

    My Administration supports free and fair elections, and we will always oppose efforts by foreign governments to restrict the freedoms of peaceful assembly, association, and expression. We will continue to defend the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, call for the release of all who are unjustly detained, and insist that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons be treated equally under the law. We will press forward in our efforts to end the scourge of human trafficking, our fight to ensure the protection of refugees and other displaced persons, and our tireless work to empower women and girls worldwide.

    The United States will always lift up those who seek to work for the world as it should be. This is part of American leadership. On Human Rights Day and during Human Rights Week, let us continue our urgent task of rejecting hatred in whatever form it takes and recommit to fostering a global community where every person can achieve their dreams and contribute to humankind.

    NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim December 10, 2014, as Human Rights Day and the week beginning December 10, 2014, as Human Rights Week. I call upon the people of the United States to mark these observances with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

    IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.

    BARACK OBAMA

  4. Hello CR,

    All this torture craziness is well beyond humanity. I guess when people get power and a title, they forget that karma can still come around. So far, with all things considered, the Creator has blessed this country greatly… Also, before leaving office, I hope PBO will be able to close Guantánamo Bay detention camp.

    Thanks for post.

    • Hi Isaac

      It is so sad that people can do things like torture to another with a free conscious. Pres Obama’s high morals is one reason why I voted, volunteered and continue to back him. If Congress will ‘allow’ it them PBO will close Guantánamo Bay detention camp.

  5. Six ways Democrats lose out in the 2015 spending bill

    The bill guts sweeping laws on banking and campaign finance, slashes environmental and IRS funding, and rolls back trucking safety rules

    12/10/14 By Meredith Shiner Yahoo News

    Late Tuesday night, congressional negotiators unveiled a spending deal to keep most of the government funded through September 2015, but on Wednesday it became clear that the substantial policy concessions made by Democrats in a bid to attract enough Republican votes to keep the government open are likely to shrink the coalition supporting the last-minute bill.

    The 1,600-page spending document could be forced through the House and Senate in less than one week, giving lawmakers little time to review its contents but enough time to be angered that certain controversial provisions were included, most notably major changes to two of the biggest laws approved by Congress since 2000, which had rewritten Wall Street rules and reformed the campaign finance system.

    The current government spending bill expires on Thursday, and failure to pass new legislation by then will trigger another shutdown a little more than a year after Republicans forced a 16-day government closure in October 2013. That GOP standoff over defunding the Democrats’ health care law cost the nation an estimated $24 billion.

    Though the so-called cromnibus bill funds the majority of the government through an omnibus package for the rest of the fiscal year, it pays for the Department of Homeland Security only through February via a stopgap measure known as a continuing resolution, or CR. Conservatives hope to isolate the department, which is tasked with implementing President Barack Obama’s recent executive order exempting millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, and the bill will give Republicans a chance to freshly debate its funding in the new year, when they will control both the House and Senate.

    Yahoo News’ list of the most interesting and significant policy changes in the year-end spending bill:

    * Eliminating a key Wall Street reform
    * Dismantling what was left of campaign finance reform
    * Meddling in D.C. politics. Because the District of Columbia is not a state, it relies on Congress annually to appropriate its budget
    * Cutting IRS and EPA funding
    * Setting up a messy immigration funding fight
    * Rolling back truck safety regulations

    For more: http://news.yahoo.com/six-ways-democrats-lose-out-in-the-2015-spending-bill-231616578.html

    • Sen. Warren Calls on House to Strike Repeal of Dodd-Frank Provision in Funding Bill

      Published on Dec 10, 2014

      Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke on the Senate floor on December 10, 2014 to call on the House of Representatives to remove from the government funding bill a reckless provision that would repeal important financial protections in Dodd-Frank.

  6. Jobless Claims in U.S. Decreased 3,000 Last Week to 294,000

    Dec 11, 2014 5:48 AM PT By Victoria Stilwell – bloomberg

    The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to a three-week low as an improving economy limited dismissals.

    Jobless claims decreased by 3,000 to 294,000 in the week ended Dec. 6, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for first-time applications to hold at the prior week’s 297,000. Claims have been below 300,000 for 12 of the past 13 weeks.

    Companies are retaining staff and hiring at the strongest pace since 1999 as they try to meet stronger demand for their goods and services. Retail sales rose in November by the most in eight months, indicating continued labor market progress is bolstering confidence and spending prospects during the holiday-shopping season, another report showed.

    “The trend in claims is still very, very low,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates Inc. in St. Petersburg, Florida. “Job destruction really hasn’t been the issue — the key has always been new hiring — and the new hiring appears to have picked up this year.”

    For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-11/jobless-claims-in-u-s-decreased-3-000-last-week-to-294-000.html

  7. Retail Sales in U.S. Increase by Most in Eight Months

    Dec 11, 2014 5:57 AM PT By Shobhana Chandra – bloomberg

    Gains in wages and cheaper fuel gave American consumers the means to shop for more holiday gifts in November, propelling the biggest gain in retail sales in eight months and giving the economy a lift.

    The 0.7 percent increase in purchases matched the highest estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg and followed a 0.5 percent advance in October that was larger than previously reported, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Demand improved in 11 of 13 major store categories.

    A surge in hiring and the lowest gasoline prices in four years are giving households the wherewithal to sustain spending, which accounts for almost 70 percent of the economy. Rising confidence also has put Americans in the mood to shop during the holiday season, helping retailers such as Costco Wholesale Corp. and Gap Inc. beat analyst sales estimates.

    “The consumer is doing pretty well,” said Thomas Simons, an economist at Jefferies LLC in New York, who predicted a 0.5 percent gain in retail sales. “Any money consumers are saving from lower gasoline prices is being deployed elsewhere. The broad-based increase in sales is quite encouraging.”

    Last month’s sales gain was the biggest since a 1.5 percent advance in March. The increases at building materials, clothing and department stores were the biggest since April.

    For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-11/retail-sales-in-u-s-climbed-in-november-by-most-in-eight-months.html

  8. US Import and Export Prices

    Released On 12/11/2014 8:30:00 AM For Nov, 2014

    Prior Prior Revised Consensus Consensus Range Actual
    Export Prices – M/M change -1.0 % -0.9 % -0.2 % -1.4 % to 0.0 % -1.0 %
    Export Prices – Y/Y change -0.8 % -1.9 %
    Import Prices – M/M change -1.3 % -1.2 % -1.7 % -2.1 % to -0.5 % -1.5 %
    Import Prices – Y/Y change -1.8 % -2.3 %

    Highlights
    Cross-border price pressures are nowhere to be found in the import & export price report where import prices dropped 1.5 percent in November, the 5th straight drop and the steepest since June 2012, and export prices fell 1.0 percent for the 4th straight drop and matching the steepest drop since June 2012. The year-on-year rate for import prices is at minus 2.3, the steepest negative reading since April 2013, with export prices at minus 1.9, the steepest since October 2013.

    And it’s not just oil-related prices that are falling. Excluding petroleum, import prices fell 0.3 percent in the month for a 4th straight drop and the steepest since April this year while export prices, excluding both food and fuels for this reading, fell 0.5 percent for a third straight drop. The year-on-year reading for ex-petroleum import prices is at only plus 0.1 percent with ex-food & ex-fuel export prices at minus 0.4 percent.

    A look at finished goods shows extended declines for nearly all readings. Prices of imported motor vehicles are down 0.1 percent in the month for a 1.0 percent year-on-year decline while prices of exported consumer goods are down 0.3 percent for both the monthly and year-on-year comparisons.

    The strong dollar is an important factor that is keeping import prices down, but it’s more than the dollar as evidenced by the export side of the data. Falling oil prices are having a spillover effect throughout the global price picture.

    Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/markets/economic-calendar/

  9. Consumer Comfort Rises to 7-Year High on U.S. Jobs, Cheap Fuel

    Dec 11, 2014 6:45 AM PT By Nina Glinski – bloomberg

    American consumer confidence reached a seven-year high last week as job gains and plunging fuel costs propelled the economy and boosted spirits in the midst of the holiday-shopping season.

    The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index (COMFCOMF) increased to 41.3 in the period ended Dec. 7, its highest since December 2007, from 39.8 the week before. Measures on the economy and buying climate also climbed to the strongest levels in seven years.

    The lowest gasoline prices since 2010 and the biggest job gains in more than a decade are giving consumers the means to boost spending. AutoZone Inc. (AZO) is among companies saying the benefits are rippling through the economy, reaching even lower-income households.

    “The positive trends come just in time for the crucial holiday-retail season,” Gary Langer, president of Langer Research Associates LLC in New York, which produces the data for Bloomberg, said in an e-mailed statement. “The improvements are broadly based.”

    For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-11/consumer-comfort-rises-to-7-year-high-on-u-s-jobs-cheap-fuel.html

  10. Materials Innovation for the 21st Century

    JANUARY 14, 2013 AT 10:57 AM ET BY CYRUS WADIA

    Summary: This Administration has taken a proactive approach to improve our domestic materials capabilities. A significant milestone in this effort was President Obama’s 2011 launch of the ambitious Materials Genome Initiative—a collaboration between government, private-sector, and academic leaders to discover and deploy new cutting-edge materials faster and cheaper than ever before. This week, in another important milestone, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $120 million award over five years to establish a new Energy Innovation Hub—the Critical Materials Institute (CMI).
    Materials are the basic building blocks of society. They make up the remarkably wide range of physical “stuff” that people depend on to live and thrive—batteries, cell phones, airplanes, and the seemingly infinite list of other tangibles used by so many of us each day.

    Historically, access to materials and the ability to make usable stuff out of them has defined the frontiers of American industry. A century ago, plentiful elements like iron, lead, and copper fueled our Nation’s transition to an industrial economy. But today, many of the materials that characterize the industrial cutting-edge—such as rare earths, indium, and lithium—are not as naturally abundant or easy to access as their predecessors. When coupled with the rapid expansion of materials-intensive industries such as clean energy, this new cohort of so-called “critical materials” run the risk of falling into short supply. Continuing to push the innovation envelope in American industry while meeting our Nation’s array of growing needs in clean energy and other sectors will require not only more stable access to critical materials, but also the discovery of altogether new material alternatives.

    Recognizing this important challenge, this Administration has taken a proactive approach to improve our domestic materials capabilities. A significant milestone in this effort was President Obama’s 2011 launch of the ambitious Materials Genome Initiative—a collaboration between government, private-sector, and academic leaders to discover and deploy new cutting-edge materials faster and cheaper than ever before.

    For more: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/01/14/materials-innovation-21st-century

    ——-

    On the Clock: Manufacturing Innovation Institutes

    Published on May 9, 2013

    Director of the National Economic Council, Gene Sperling, breaks down the importance of the President’s efforts to create more manufacturing innovation hubs and the progress that is being made towards the goals he outlined in his State of the Union address.

    • December 11, 2014

      Remarks by the President at Meeting of the Export Council

      Eisenhower Executive Office Building

      11:30 A.M. EST

      THE PRESIDENT: Well, good morning, everybody. I just want to offer a few thoughts before you return to the meeting. Obviously we’ve seen some significant economic progress here in the United States over the last year. Our businesses have added almost 11 million jobs over the past 57 months. This year our economy has already created more jobs [than] in any year since the 1990s, with still a month to go. All told, since 2010, we’ve created more jobs here in the United States than Japan, Europe, and all advanced nations combined.

      And one of the reasons that we’ve been able to create so many jobs here in the United States is because our exports have been strong. Last year our businesses sold a record $2.3 trillion of Made in America goods and services. And these exports support more than 11 million American jobs — typically, by the way, jobs that pay higher wages.

      And so this Council is designed to build on this progress. It is in part a factor in the progress that we’ve made. We’ve had some terrific suggestions from some of our leading businesses, but also some small businesses and medium-sized businesses who are starting to sell overseas. The recommendations that have been generated by the Council have been implemented by our various agencies, and we’re here not to rest on our laurels but rather to continue to make a big push to sell even more overseas.

      I’ve said before I will go anywhere around the world to go to bat for American companies and American workers. We’re going to keep on pushing trade agreements that benefit American companies and American workers and ensure that we’ve got a fair and even playing field, particularly in the fastest-growing markets. We’re going to work with Congress to try to renew trade promotion authority and secure approval for a very ambitious TransPacific Partnership agreement, which would create a higher standard for trade in the fastest-growing, most populous and dynamic region in the world, the Asia Pacific region.

      We’re also announcing — because manufacturing has been a real bright spot in our growing economy — some additional measures to boost manufacturing here in the United States so we can sell more manufacturing goods overseas. We’re announcing today more than $290 million in new investments to launch two additional high-tech manufacturing hubs. One is going to be focusing on flexible computer chips that can be woven into everything from the gears in a helicopter to the fabric in your shirt. Another is going to focus on advance sensors that can dramatically cut energy costs for our factories.

      For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/12/11/remarks-president-meeting-export-council

    • December 11, 2014

      FACT SHEET: President Obama Launches Competitions for New Manufacturing Innovation Hubs and American Apprenticeship Grants

      Today, at a meeting of the President’s Export Council (PEC), President Obama will announce nearly $400 million to help improve the competitiveness of American businesses and workers by spurring new manufacturing innovations and giving America workers additional opportunities to improve and expand their skill sets for middleclass jobs.

      To help support new advancements in manufacturing, the President will announce more than $290 million in public-private investment for two new Manufacturing Innovation Hub Competitions. Today’s announcement fulfills the President’s 2014 State of the Union pledge to launch four new institutes this year, for a total of eight institutes launched so far, and puts the Administration past the halfway mark on the President’s original goal of creating 15 manufacturing innovation institutes supported through executive action.

      In addition, the President will announce $100 million to expand apprenticeships for American workers – a proven training strategy for workers to learn the skills that employers need for American businesses to grow and thrive in a competitive global environment. Apprenticeships are also a path to the middle class – 87 percent of apprentices are employed after completing their programs and the average starting wage for apprenticeship graduates is over $50,000.

      During today’s meeting, President Obama will also highlight the continued need to reform and simplify our tax code and the importance of opening up new markets abroad for American-made goods and services through tough, fair new trade agreements.

      For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/12/11/fact-sheet-president-obama-launches-competitions-new-manufacturing-innov

    • April 01, 2016

      FACT SHEET: Obama Administration Announces New Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles Manufacturing Innovation Hub in Cambridge, MA and New Report on $2 Billion in Manufacturing R&D Investments

      Eighth manufacturing innovation institute brings over $300 million in public-private investment from leading universities and manufacturers to develop futuristic fabrics and textiles, helping accelerate the revival of textiles manufacturing in the United States

      Today, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that a leading consortium of 89 manufacturers, universities, and non-profits organized by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will spearhead a new manufacturing innovation institute in partnership with the Department of Defense focused on securing U.S. leadership in revolutionary fibers and textiles manufacturing.

      The new Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Cambridge, MA, will combine over $75 million of Federal resources with nearly $250 million of non-Federal investment in innovative fabrics and textiles with novel properties ranging from being incredibly lightweight and flame resistant, to having exceptional strength and containing electronic sensors.

      For more: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/04/01/fact-sheet-obama-administration-announces-new-revolutionary-fibers-and

  11. *******************
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    Come on over to my newest post titled: ”Thanks to Pres Obama for US Economy Gains ″

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