US Government Says CIA Black Site Prisoners' Memory Of Their Own Torture Is Classified And Cannot Be Revealed

from the are-they-serious? dept

I'd missed this story when it came out a few weeks ago, but thanks to Rob Hyndman for calling it to my attention. There was plenty of press around the fact that one of the guys being held by US forces in Guantanamo, and who faces trial as one of the co-conspirators for 9/11, supposedly sustained head injuries while being held by the CIA. But, that's just the tip of the iceberg of the story. Apparently Ammar al Baluchi, and some of the other prisoners are trying to argue that the US violated the UN Convention Against Torture with how they treated prisoners at the infamous black sites. But here's the crazy part: the US is arguing that the prisoners' own recollections of what was done to them cannot be used in court, because it would reveal classified information. Talk about adding insult to injury.

Yes, the US government is arguing that it can torture people (though, of course, it won't call it that), but if you try to call them on it via various courts, domestic or international, the very people who were tortured are not allowed to present evidence of their own torture, because it would reveal classified information. Classified information like how the CIA tortured people. Now, the people in this case may be very bad people, who really were involved in planning 9/11, and if that's true and proven as such, I have no problem with them being punished for their actions. But that doesn't excuse torturing them, no matter what some misguided authoritarians believe. And, furthermore, if the government is going to torture them, then they should at least have the balls to stand up in court and discuss what they did and why -- not telling the people they tortured that their own recollections of how they were tortured are considered classified material.

In the al Baluchi case, his lawyer has been using unclassified medical records to try to show that he was tortured, but remains barred from using anything beyond that.
Attorney James Connell invoked two of Baluchi’s unclassified Guantánamo medical records in a bid to argue that not everything the captives say about their treatment at the CIA’s overseas prison network from 2002 to 2006 constitutes national security secrets.

At issue is the 9/11 defense attorneys’ challenge of a military commissions protective order that, the defenders say, oblige the attorneys to make sure the prisoners don’t tell foreign courts or human rights groups their memories of what the CIA did to them during the years before they were brought here in 2006.
Another (military) lawyer representing some of the accused notes how ridiculous the situation is:
“You cannot use state secrets to classify the observations and experiences of someone who was exposed to torture,” said Army Maj. Jason Wright, Mohammed’s defense attorney, arguing that the U.S. government was using a classification regime to hide what the CIA did to the men in secret overseas prisons, out of reach of U.S. courts and the International Red Cross, from 2002 until 2006.
And yet that's exactly what the government is trying to do.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 9:51am

    Torture is a very effective way of illiciting a false confession.

     

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    •  
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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 10:04am

      Re:

      Indeed, and the worst part is the very people who started the US torture program were supposed 'interrogation experts' who had never conducted a single interrogation in their lives.

      They insisted, and got their way after 9/11, that torture was the most effective means of getting useful information. This is despite the fact that for over a century before 9/11 the US had lots of interrogation experience at getting real and useful information from POW without torture.

      Plus, we had over a centuries worth of information about enemies we were fighting that DID torture. The conclusion? That torture very often got false and misleading confessionals that said what the prisoners thought the torturer wanted to hear, rather than any actual useful or truthful information.

      And really, when there's stories that we tortured some prisoners over 50+ times them in a single month, we should really stop and just admit "if we need to torture someone 50+ times in a month then what we're doing clearly isn't working at getting the information we want/need".

       

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 10:29am

      Re:

      Torture is an effective means of getting admissions to witchcraft, terrorism or whatever reason the government wants to use to justify their actions.

       

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      nasch (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 3:00pm

      Re:

      Torture is a very effective way of illiciting a false confession.

      Eliciting.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 9:52am

    The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 10:02am

    Show Trial

    You cannot use state secrets to classify the observations and experiences of someone who was exposed to torture, said Army Maj. Jason Wright

    Sure you can too!

    It's a SHOW TRIAL. You can do anything you have the guts foras long as you entertain the crowd. This is SHOW BUSINESS.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 10:08am

      Re: Show Trial

      Indeed, military trials, including the military tribunals, are very often just a sham that are almost always hopelessly rigged against the defendant.

      Unless of course the defendant is a US military person rather than a foreigner, then they often get away with all sorts of crimes way more then in civilian courts, including rape. (see all the recent stories about problems with rape in the military if you don't know what I mean. The military handles it so badly that some rape victims in the military have said that what happened to them after reporting the rape was worse then the rape itself)

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 10:12am

    How did classifying something as a secret make it immunite from oversight? Isn't the court system set up to provide the oversight of those who enforce laws? This is how you get a "police" state - when you allow enforcement to run free with no penalty for doing wrong....

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 10:45am

      Re:

      Isn't the court system set up to provide the oversight of those who enforce laws?

      The military commission system is set up primarily in order to make a practical decision on what to do with these prisoners.

      As a political matter, that is, as a matter of prudent statecraft, the most sensible thing to do is probably to take them all out back and put a bullet in their heads. Whether they're guilty or not. For some value of guilty. For any value of guilty.

      Once the state has tortured them, it's most probably just better to not release them alive. So the real, basic, practical decision that needs to be made is how to dispose of the bodies cleanly.

      Holding a show trial, filled with obvious and blatant [redacted], that the whole world is going to look at and say, That's ridiculous! That's [redacted]! is not a real clean way of getting rid of the bodies. Unless maybe you can keep the press under tighter control.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 10:26am

    You cannot use state secrets to classify the observations and experiences of someone who was exposed to torture,

    Show me the law that says so.

     

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    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
       
      identicon
      out_of_the_blue, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 10:51am

      Re: @ AC: Common law may be unwritten, but it's PRIMARY law.

      Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 10:26am

      You cannot use state secrets to classify the observations and experiences of someone who was exposed to torture,

      Show me the law that says so.


      Common law based on facts of existence is what authorizes the Constitution, and statute is tertiary. Common law is the general opinion of We The People; truths are self-evident, gov't is only a servant of The People, and everyone is equal before The Law.

      I can show it you in action where a jury of your peers, NOT the military tribunal as here, which weighs not only the alleged crime, but the application of the law, and even the law itself. A jury of your peers is precisely to protect against this aspect of tyranny.

      That's The AMERICAN System of gov't, ever since we told the Inherited Tyrants of England that they don't own us and get the hell out. (Yeah there were and are flaws in the former US of A, but we had corrected most up until now, when the Inherited Rich are again seeking to impose literal feudalism. The Rich had better again be limited by high tax rates on their unearned income before they again wreck civilization.)

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 11:15am

        Re: Re: @ AC: Common law may be unwritten, but it's PRIMARY law.

        Hey Blue,

        Taxing unearned income is taxing $0. Any money I didn't make won't get taxed. So no matter how high you tax $0 it will still be $0. What would work better would perhaps have a different tax level for luxury items. As an example, a much higher tax rate on houses over 10 million or a much higher registration cost for luxury vehicles. But overall, I don't think taxing the rich will help with governmental problems. That is like giving alcohol to an alcoholic.

         

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      •  
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        John Fenderson (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 2:41pm

        Re: Re: @ AC: Common law may be unwritten, but it's PRIMARY law.

        So, in other words, you can't show the law because it doesn't exist.

         

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        Karl (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 5:21pm

        Re: Re: @ AC: Common law may be unwritten, but it's PRIMARY law.

        So, you've already shown that you don't know what you're talking about when it comes to copyright.

        And now, you're showing that you don't know what you're talking about when you say "common law." Here's a hint: when talking about "common law" vs. "statutory law," common law basically means "case law."

        Common law based on facts of existence is what authorizes the Constitution,

        The Constitution isn't "authorized" by common law. If the two are in conflict, the Constitution overrides common law. (Just as it does statutory law.)

        and statute is tertiary.

        When statutes and common law are in conflict, statutory laws override common law decisions. A judge cannot override a statute because case law conflicts with it; if the statute conflicts with case law, it is the statute, not case law, that is binding.

        Common law is the general opinion of We The People; truths are self-evident, gov't is only a servant of The People, and everyone is equal before The Law.

        That is not what common law means.

        You know, you would be less of an idiot if you did even the merest sliver of preliminary research before spouting off falsities between insults:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_law

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 5:30pm

          Re: Re: Re: @ AC: Common law may be unwritten, but it's PRIMARY law.

          "the Constitution overrides...statutory law". Um, you really don't know what's going on in the world today, do you?

           

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            Karl (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 8:13pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: @ AC: Common law may be unwritten, but it's PRIMARY law.

            Um, you really don't know what's going on in the world today, do you?

            Well, that's how it's supposed to work, anyway.

             

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 3:37pm

      Re:

      1st amendment.... Those prisoners didn't agree to have their free speech limited by contract like someone with a secutity clearance might.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 5:16pm

        Re: Re:

        1st amendment
        Don't be a loon. These are military prisoners, captured in an armed conflict.

         

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          Anonymous, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 5:18pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          So?

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 5:38pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You are a loon.... You think that war over rides the first amendment? The constitution authorizes war. The first amendmendment amends the constitution. Don't be a flaming jackass.

           

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          •  
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            Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 5:52pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It is a question of proximity and degree. When a nation is at war many things that might be said in time of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight and that no Court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right.

            Schenck v United States (1919) (fire in a theatre)

             

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            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 6:05pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              That was an awful decision. If they truly took up arms, they are combatants. However, if they are challenging that status, then they should be afforded every oppurtunity to do so.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 6:23pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                if they are challenging that status, then they should be afforded every oppurtunity to do so.

                Why? Why should they get any opportunity?

                Mr Bush's administration made the decision to torture them at the highest levels. That decision cannot be undone. Nor can its corrosive effects be reversed.

                Now the question is what is to be done with the prisoners?

                The military commission is not a trial court in any conventional sense. Rather, the military commission is charged with making a practical decision. The commission's decision might as well be based on the most crass, rank and rancid considerations of political expediency. It's better to frame it that way, than to honestly point out that prudent statecraft calls for the same end result.

                We can't let these prisoners go. Ever.

                 

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                •  
                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 6:44pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I say we have an obligation to reverse course and correct our mistakes if/when they are made apparent. Just because Bush made a horrible decision doesn't mean Obama must continue. We voted for change, not more of the same.

                   

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                  •  
                    identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 6:56pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    doesn't mean Obama must continue.

                    Early on in his presidency, Mr Obama made a political decision not to prosecute the outgoing admininistration. Whether or not the was the best or wisest decision, Mr Obama does not appear inclined to reverse it.

                    So we are stuck with what Mr Bush's administration did. Putative war crimes and all.



                    Looking back into our history, General Curtis LeMay had no doubt that he would have been put on trial for firebombing Tokyohad we lost that war. Luckily for General LeMay, we didn't lose that war, and he wasn't put on trial for war crimes. The other guys were.

                     

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                    •  
                      identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 7:05pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Just because we didn't prosecute them doesn't mean we must persecute others. You seem to think this is either/or. Neither side MUST be killed.

                       

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                      •  
                        identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 7:22pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        If these prisoners weren't our enemies before they were torturedthey certainly are now.

                        They are dangerous to us. They can't be cut loose.

                         

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                        •  
                          identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 7:28pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          If they have not yet acted, it shouldn't matter. In fact, I say we have an obligation to send them home... and use the NSA to monitor them. IF they start to take up against the US, then deal with them.

                          People with your mindset are the true danger.

                           

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                          •  
                            identicon
                            Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 8:05pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            If they have not yet acted

                            Whether or not they actedwe did. The Bush administration tortured these people. If you listened to the Congressional hearings on the matter a few years ago if you read the reports then you understand that the torture was approved at the highest political levels. It was an act of the United States.

                            Now, neither Mr Obama's administration nor any successor administration is going to prosecute those responsible for the torture. That, unfortunately, further leaves the United States in breach of our international treaty obligations. On the positive side, most of the world has forgotten or chooses to forget what happened. Another decade or so, and it'll just be history.

                            If these prisoners are cut loose, though, then, at the very least, they will be used as propaganda against the United States.

                            You don't leave a weapon and ammo lying on the ground where it will be picked up and used against you.

                             

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                            •  
                              identicon
                              Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 9:06pm

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              You are despicable.

                               

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                            •  
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                              Karl (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 9:16pm

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              If these prisoners are cut loose, though, then, at the very least, they will be used as propaganda against the United States.

                              Say, here's an idea.

                              If the torture of prisoners can be used as propaganda against the United States, then maybe the United States should stop torturing prisoners.

                               

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                              That One Guy (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 9:17pm

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              On the positive side, most of the world has forgotten or chooses to forget what happened. Another decade or so, and it'll just be history.

                              If these prisoners are cut loose, though, then, at the very least, they will be used as propaganda against the United States.


                              First and foremost, I have to say I find it completely revolting that you consider 'most of the world forgetting' that the US condoned and ordered torture of prisoners a good thing, and find the idea that it'll just 'fade into history' if no pesky 'witnesses/victims' are able to talk about it plain disgusting.

                              Good would be such actions never happening in the first place.

                              Good would be, if such abominable actions did somehow happen, it was stopped immediately and the person(s) responsible were charged, publicly, with committing war crimes, to make it absolutely clear to everyone that such action are never acceptable.

                              The most obvious bit out of the way, is it propaganda if it's true? The US did, and likely continues, to torture prisoners(oh I'm sorry, the PC term these days is 'enhanced interrogation' isn't it?), either directly or by handing them off to others, knowing they would do so. Pretending otherwise to avoid looking like massive hypocrites and/or just as bad as terrorist groups is naive at best, as well as being completely dishonest.

                              Worse still, acting like such actions didn't happen, or hiding them, does nothing from keeping them from happening again, and in fact encourages them to do so in the future.

                              You seem to be arguing that committing one atrocity(permanent detainment of someone because their release might endanger the US) is an acceptable way to cover up for another atrocity(the torture of prisoners), which not only does not get rid of the original action, it compounds it and makes it all the worse.

                              The idea you seem to be suggesting, that life imprisonment and (likely) continued torture of prisoners, just so they don't inconvenience or are used against the USG at some point in the future were they released, is in direct conflict with the most basic human rights, decency, and the core ideas of justice.

                              Were I you, I'd step back and take a good, long look at what you consider acceptable in the name of 'safety' and 'security', and in particular examine how much it has apparently eroded or flat out eliminated any empathy, decency, or even humanity you would otherwise have with regards to your fellow man.

                               

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                            •  
                              icon
                              Niall (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 6:59am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              We haven't, we won't, and we are supposedly your closest 'allies'. How about actual enemy peoples?

                               

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 5:17pm

      Re:

      While we're at it, show me the law that says cops can pose as escorts, johns, drug dealers, underage girls, etc., and pull off stings.

       

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  •  
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    john senchak, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 10:40am

    dummy down society

    It's all labeled classified the federal government doesn't want the American people to the know the real truth about anything that is going on. The American people are so complacent and won't speak out against anything that is going on right, which would includes A.C.A.

     

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    Greg Burton, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 10:42am

    Guantanamo Project Monarch

    Well, of course, they can't let these people talk. It would expose the continuation of Project Monarch, originally worked on by Josef Mengele at the NaZi death camps, continued in the US via Operation Paperclip. Guantanamo is nothing more than a Project Monarch torture laboratory.
    http://vigilantcitizen.com/hidden-knowledge/origins-and-techniques-of-monarch-mind-contro l/

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 10:56am

    So there's no hope of release

    This is ridiculous. Since they can't trust these people to not reveal this classified info, I suppose that means they can never let them go.
    (Unless, through further inhumane treatment, they drive the prisoners insane enough that no one listening to them can distinguish the reality from the hallucination.)

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 10:59am

    But here's the crazy part: the US is arguing that the prisoners' own recollections of what was done to them cannot be used in court, because it would reveal classified information.


    Assuming this is true and assuming the prisoners do not have a security clearance, those individuals responsible for giving the prisoners those memories - that is, the ones who tortured them - should be prosecuted for divulging classified information. To the enemy, no less.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 11:25am

      Re:

      [T]ose individuals responsible for giving the prisoners those memories - that is, the ones who tortured them - should be prosecuted for divulging classified information. To the enemy, no less.

      In this administration, and under Commander-In-Chief Barack Obama, those individuals are not going to be prosecuted. Shall not be.

      So, if you want to give the torturers notice that they fucked-up a little bit of administrative punishment then the best thing to hope for is that those individuals are personally given the orders to execute the prisoners.

       

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      John Fenderson (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 3:07pm

      Re:

      I wish I could click Insightful a few dozens times for this.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 11:38am

    isn't it about time the USA was seriously called to account for all the gross violations of human beings that they have conducted? like in the article, i have no problem with a person being proved guilty of committing a crime, even one as horrendous as 9/11, from being punished to the full extent of the law, but i thought we, as a society, were at least better than those we accuse and ultimately prove, as being lesser minded beings. part of that is how we treat people, whether they are 'bad' or 'done wrong' and committed the 'ultimate crime'. they deserve to be treated better than their victims. that, surely, is one of the things that keep us at the top of the social tree, isn't it?

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 11:46am

      Re:

      isn't it about time the USA was seriously called to account

      You and what army?

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 12:42pm

        Re: Re:

        Well... I think that is the intent of militarizing the police... But they will probably just get absorbed.

         

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 1:24pm

      Re: dealing with the unstable

      isn't it about time the USA was seriously called to account for all the gross violations of human beings that they have conducted?

      well you know what they say about trying to restrain a guy with alot of guns alot of freinds and a god complex....

       

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    haiku, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 11:38am

    Not living in the USA, I was wondering if it is mandatory for your lawyers, judges and politicians to be members of Equity - sub-section unfunny clowns ?

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Obama Bin Laden, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 1:11pm

    Was Al-Queda right?

    All this stuff from the government and I'm starting to think that perhaps Al-Queda is right.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Cow, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 5:59am

    Now our memories will copyrighted by corporate government.

    The copyright trolls will love this.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 6:03am

    By claiming it's classified, don't they admit that they actually tortured these people?

     

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  •  
    icon
    ahow628 (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 9:33am

    Just do it...

    These guys are dead in the water already. Why not just go for the gusto and commit some treason or whatever?

     

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