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  1. Clive Stafford Smith

    What the last British resident in Guantánamo Bay couldn’t tell me

    Clive Stafford Smith on 03 May 2012

    Last week, I travelled 3,500 miles to meet with the last British resident in Guantánamo Bay, Shaker Aamer. Under the Orwellian rules that govern legal visits with a prisoner there, everything he said to me is classified.

    I have to submit my notes – in this case, almost 200 pages – to the US censors and they decide what I can, and cannot, tell his family, his British lawyers, and the world.

    So I can tell you nothing that Shaker said. I can, though, tell you what I said to him.

    I asked him whether he was still being held ...

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  2. Clive Stafford Smith

    Buy Your Own Drone! Now Only $300 Online

    Clive Stafford Smith on 30 April 2012

    We don’t need to imagine the future anymore. In the dystopian reality of 2012, the drone can ruin your life in ways you never imagined.

    The scene is easy enough to picture: In a dark, quiet room at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nev., a CIA “pilot” leans back in his leather chair, sips coffee, and watches a computer screen. He manipulates the joystick of his video console as the camera provides a grainy image of a man with a beard who may just have noticed an angry-sounding buzz overhead. The bearded man—7,000 miles away ...

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  3. Clare Algar 2010 by Emmanuelle Purdon

    It's not just torture victims who should fear the 'justice and security' green paper

    Clare Algar on 19 April 2012

    It's been a good week for those who think governments should not be allowed to get away with torture.

    Although Jack Straw has always said that he couldn't have been aware of everything the intelligence agencies were doing while he was foreign secretary, over the weekend the Sunday Times reported that he had admitted authorising the rendition of Gaddafi opponents back to the dictator's torture chambers in 2004, after being confronted with the evidence by (one presumes) angry spooks, sick of taking all the flak for the excesses of the "war on terror". The news followed the ...

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  4. Cortney Busch BW 2011

    The Americans assist in an American’s defence

    Cortney Busch on 18 April 2012

    In 1967, the Freedom of Information Act (commonly referred to as ‘FOIA’) came into effect.  Its purpose was for full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information.  Its primary purpose is so that American citizens can have some oversight of what the government is doing and is meant to be a means to keep the US government accountable for what it does behind closed doors. 

    However, as demonstrated in the case of Sharif Mobley, ‘partial disclosure’ can really mean nothing at all.

    Sharif, a US citizen, was born and raised in New Jersey.  In 2008, he moved with his wife ...

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  5. Clemency wells by E.Purdon BW

    Forty years in isolation

    Clemency Wells on 17 April 2012

    In 1972: the British government declared a state of emergency over the miners’ strike, the Watergate scandal broke, the last US ground troops were withdrawn from Vietnam. 

    In 1972: a pair of Wrangler jeans cost $12, a gallon of petrol cost 55 cents and ABBA were riding high on the top of the charts.

    In 1972: Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox, and Robert King were convicted for the murder of prison guard Brent Miller. Ever since then the so-called ‘Angola Two’, Wallace and Woodfox (King was released in 2001), have been held in the Louisiana State Penitentiary. 


    The Louisiana State Penitentiary ...

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  6. Ken Macdonald QC

    Does Osborne know what philanthropy is?

    Ken Macdonald QC on 16 April 2012

    Let me start with a confession: I chair an organisation called Reprieve, which campaigns against the death penalty and secret prisons around the world. We have freed scores of men and women from death row in the United States, and our lawyers have returned no fewer than 66 prisoners from Guantánamo Bay.

    We work in China and Pakistan, where we monitor the silent killer drones, and we have brilliant young lawyers and investigators who could increase their incomes tenfold by moving to the City or to Wall Street tomorrow. But instead of drowning themselves in champagne in Stock Exchange ...

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  7. Drone from beneath

    Obama administration silencing Pakistani drone-strike lawyer

    Medea Benjamin on 11 April 2012

    When is the last time you heard from a civilian victim of the CIA’s secret drone strikes? Sure, most of them can’t speak because they’re deceased. But many leave behind bereaved and angry family members ready to proclaim their innocence and denounce the absence of due process, the lack of accountability, the utter impunity with which the U.S. government decides who will live and die.

    Shahzad Akbar (pictured right, on the left), a Pakistani lawyer who co-founded the human rights organization Foundation for Fundamental Right, filed the first case in Pakistan on behalf of family members ...

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  8. Cori Crider

    Smoke and mirrors in the British battle over ‘secret justice’

    Cori Crider on 11 April 2012

    A struggle is brewing in England over the fate of British justice. In a wide category of cases against the government, British spies are seeking to muzzle British judges, supposedly to appease the CIA. It’s a bad idea predicated on a myth, and the British people shouldn’t fall for it.

    Full disclosure: I am not a Briton. I’m from Texas, but for years have watched British courts closely from my perch in London at Reprieve, a human-rights law firm that defends people who have been tortured or held in secret detention around the world. Judges here have ...

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  9. Clive Stafford Smith

    Six lives saved in 2011, thanks to the British Foreign Office

    Clive Stafford Smith on 11 April 2012

    Too much bad news swirls around us; sometimes we should celebrate the positive. Yesterday the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office published William Hague's speech on consular services, committing 'to increase our focus on vulnerable people.'

    This is welcome news for Reprieve and the British nationals we assist: there can hardly be someone more vulnerable than a penniless person who some foreign government wants to put to death.

    Reprieve now has over 25 staff and we fight on the behalf of dozens of people - from those kidnapped and delivered to torture to those facing execution round the world. We began ...

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  10. Crofton Black

    PREAL: the 'torture textbook' that took CIA interrogators to the dark side

    Crofton Black on 05 April 2012

    Ten years ago – 3 April 2002 – US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld hailed the capture of a man by name of Abu Zubaydah, then regarded as a high-ranking al-Qaida operative.

    In reply to fevered speculation about what would happen to the new captive, Rumsfeld said: “He will be properly interrogated by proper people who know how to do those things.”

    Ten years later, who those people were, what they knew how to do, and where they learnt it, has become an increasingly widely circulated story. A new piece fitted into the jigsaw today, with the publication by Truthout’s Jason ...

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