Coalition Condemns White House Action

   WASHINGTON — 1/27/2017 — Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement after President Trump signed an executive action discriminating against Muslims and banning refugees:
   “President Trump rode a wave of bigotry into the White House and ushered in a new era of hostility against American Muslims. He campaigned as a demagogue and is now governing as a demagogue.
   Banning or profiling people of faith is ineffective for our national security; it fans flames of bigotry and makes us all less safe.
   Trump’s recent actions to build a wall around the country, to strike fear in the heart of immigrants, and now toward banning refugees and religious minorities make his America look more like a police state than the republic we truly are.
   Our republic is stronger and more dynamic because of its refugees, immigrants, and religious diversity. But this administration is governing out of baseless fear and our nation’s immigrants and people of faith are paying a dear price.
   The administration should immediately cancel these actions, stop the bullying, and govern in a way that’s inclusive and actually makes us all safer.”
  The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights represents a diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States.
   The organization works toward an America as good as its ideals. See: www.civilrights.org.

Contract Conspiracy Brings Prison Sentence

   ALEXANDRIA, Va. – 10/27/2016 - Kenneth Apple, 65, of Beaverton, Oregon, was sentenced to 50 months in prison on October 14 for his role in awarding $2 million in micro-dairy contracts from the U.S. government for use in Iraq. The court also ordered Apple to serve three years of supervised release, pay approximately $1.9 million in restitution, and forfeit $551,838.73.
   According to the court documents and evidence presented at trial, Apple, a former employee with the U.S. Department of State, helped to steer the sole-sourcing of $2 million in micro-dairy contracts to a company in which his son, Jonathan Apple, owned a 50 percent interest. However, Jonathan Apple and his partner had no technical experience in the industry. Kenneth Apple conspired to use his official position to pass on non-public information to his son in order to fraudulently award and administer government contracts. The conspirators further provided false information to, and concealed material details from the U.S. government.
   According to the court documents and evidence presented at trial, Kenneth Apple provided templates and technical specifications used in the proposal submitted by Jonathan Apple and his partner to the U.S. government. In addition, Kenneth Apple caused false and misleading statements to be made to the U.S. government regarding his experience, ownership interest, and the status of the projects. For example, Kenneth Apple directed a conspirator to keep Jonathan Apple’s name off the company’s website and any ownership documents. When federal law enforcement agents confronted Kenneth Apple about the scheme, he made false statements, including that he could not recall the owner of the company that won the micro-dairy contracts and that he did not receive any money from the contracts.
   Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Frank Robey, Director of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit (MPFU); and Robert E. Craig, Special Agent in Charge for the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s (DCIS) Mid-Atlantic Field Office, made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Uzo Asonye and Katherine Wong are prosecuting the case.
   Source: Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force  (October 14, 2016)

More Documents Released On Torture Program

   (ACLU) – NEW YORK - June 14, 2016 - In response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Central Intelligence Agency released over 50 documents on June 14 detailing the agency’s torture and rendition program under the Bush administration.
   The ACLU filed the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking documents that were referenced in the Senate report on the CIA program made public in December 2014. The report found that torture did not work and the agency lied about it to Congress, the White House, the Justice Department, and the public.
   “These newly declassified records add new detail to the public record of the CIA's torture program and underscore the cruelty of the methods the agency used in its secret, overseas black sites,” ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer said. “It bears emphasis that these records document grave crimes for which no senior official has been held accountable.”
   The documents include new records about the death of Gul Rahman, who died at a CIA secret prison in Afghanistan in 2002. The CIA “Death Report” on Rahman released on June 14 details the horrific conditions he was subjected to: “Often, prisoners who possess significant or imminent threat information are stripped to their diapers during interrogation and placed back into their cells wearing only diapers. This is done solely to humiliate the prisoner for interrogation purposes. When the prisoner soils a diaper, they are changed by the guards. Sometimes the guards run out of diapers and the prisoners are placed back in their cells in a handcrafted diaper secured by duct tape. If the guards don't have any available diapers, the prisoners are rendered to their cell nude.”
Rahan froze to death in his cell, naked from the waist down. The ACLU represents Rahman’s family in a lawsuit against the two CIA-contracted psychologists who designed and implemented the torture program, James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen.
   “In a visceral way, these raw documents drive home the inhumanity of the torture conceived and carried out by Mitchell and Jessen in collaboration with the CIA,” said Dror Ladin, a staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. “The documents reveal that Rahman was brutalized in part because his torturers decided that complaining about his torture was a form of resistance and he needed to be ‘broken.’”
   Also included is a draft letter from the CIA to the Justice Department — cc-ing Mitchell — concluding that the torture they intended to inflict on Abu Zubaydah “normally would appear to be prohibited under the provisions” of the Torture Act, a federal law against torturing people. The draft letter is a “request” that the attorney general “grant a formal declination of prosecution” for torture.
   Other new disclosures reveal the CIA’s concerns that detainees who had been tortured should be kept hidden from representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross for the rest of their lives.
“We’re seeing just how much Mitchell, Jessen, and their CIA co-conspirators knew that what they were doing was wrong and illegal. They talked about seeking a get-out-of-jail-free card for torturing people, and then discussed how to make sure their victims were silenced forever, even if they survived their torture,” Ladin added.
   In April, a federal court ruled that the ACLU’s lawsuit against the psychologists could proceed. On June 22, Mitchell and Jessen must provide their answer to each of the allegations in the legal complaint.
   The documents also include a 2007 CIA inspector general’s report finding that the kidnapping and torture of German citizen Khalid El-Masri was a case of mistaken identity. The report referenced CIA cables on El-Masri’s despair:
   “The cable cited that al-Masri compared his situation to a Kafka novel—he could not possibly prove his innocence because he did not know what he was being charged with. The cable reported al-Masri as saying he had nearly reached the end of what he could bear and as of May 2004 he would begin a total hunger strike to his death.”
   A 2005 ACLU lawsuit on behalf of El-Masri against former CIA Director George Tenet was dismissed by lower courts on the grounds that it would reveal “state secrets,” and the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. The ACLU now represents El-Masri in a pending case against the U.S. before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
   At least two of the documents concerning Gul Rahman — the IG report and the detainee death investigation — were simultaneously provided to Vice News in response to its FOIA request.

Photo by Steve Rensberry (c) 2014