Report: Under CIA Pressure, Obama to Withhold Parts of Torture Memos
President Obama is reportedly wavering on a pledge to fully reveal Bush administration memos authorizing CIA torture. According to the Wall Street Journal, the White House is leaning towards withholding graphic details of tactics authorized in three classified memos from 2005. The details include approval for striking a prisoner’s head against a wall and the practice known as waterboarding. The issue is reportedly centering around warnings from top intelligence officials that the memos’ full disclosure would anger CIA employees and alienate them from the White House. President Obama faces a Thursday court deadline to act on releasing the memos under a lawsuit brought by the ACLU.
Gitmo Prisoner: Torture Has Worsened Under Obama
“I refused to leave my cell as they were not granting me my rights. I was only demanding my basic rights like walking, meeting other inmates, and eating normal food. So a group of six soldiers wearing protective gear and helmets came to my cell. They were accompanied by a soldier carrying a camera, and one with tear gas. They had a thick rubber or plastic baton they beat me with. They emptied out about two canisters of tear gas on me. After I stopped talking, and tears were flowing from my eyes, I could hardly see or breathe. They then beat me again to the ground, one of them held my head and beat it against the ground. I started screaming to his senior ‘see what he’s doing, see what he’s doing’ [but] his senior started laughing and said ‘he’s doing his job.’ He broke one of my front teeth.”
Qaraani was interviewed by the Al Jazeera journalist Sami El-Haj, who was imprisoned at Guantanamo for over six years. Qaraani repeated claims made by other Guantanamo prisoners and their attorneys that the abuse has worsened since President Obama’s election.
Mohammad al-Qaraani: “This treatment started about 20 days before Obama came into power, and since then I’ve been subjected to it almost every day. Since Obama took charge he has not shown us that anything will change.”
Obama Addresses Economic Crisis
President Obama spoke at Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown University Tuesday in his most comprehensive remarks to date on the economic crisis. Obama predicted a worsening recession but said he foresees a long-term recovery.
President Obama: “2009 will continue to be a difficult year for America’s economy. The severity of this recession will cause more job loss, more foreclosures, and more pain before it ends. If we don’t invest now in renewable energy or a skilled workforce or a more affordable health care system, this economy simply won’t grow at the pace it needs to in two or five or ten years down the road. If we don’t lay this new foundation, it won’t be long before we are right back where we are today.”
Survey: More Pay Rises than Cuts for U.S. CEOs
A new survey has found more American CEOs got pay raises than salary cuts last year. According to the AFL-CIO, the median CEO salary rose seven percent while executive perks rose thirteen percent. Some executives that saw cuts to their base pay were granted lavish stock options to offset the losses. Despite reporting an $11 million dollar salary, Vikram Pandit of the bailed-out financial giant Citigroup made $38 million with stock options included.
DHS Links Right-Wing Extremism to Recession
The Department of Homeland Security is warning right-wing extremist groups are gaining new recruits by exploiting fears about the economy and the election of the nation’s first black president. A new report says there’s been a resurgence of right-wing extremism amidst the recession and President Obama’s election last year. Officials predict a worsening economy will lead more people to join militias and skinhead groups, or carry out individual acts modeled after Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
Iran Begins Secret Trial for Jailed Iranian-American Journalist
In Iran, a jailed Iranian-American journalist has gone on trial in secret. Thirty-one-year-old Roxana Saberi has been imprisoned in Iran since January. She was arrested for working without press credentials but was charged with spying last week. Iran says her trial will continue behind closed doors.
Haiti Appeals for International Aid
Haiti is appealing for international aid to avoid what it calls a looming collapse. On Tuesday, Haitian Prime Minister Michele Duvivier Pierre-Louis made the appeal at a donor conference in Washington.
Haitian Prime Minister Michele Duvivier Pierre-Louis: “We are treading on very fragile ground. If no action is taken now, the consequences will be catastrophic. I want to take back with me the commitments and hope we are longing for in our quest for lasting development and democracy.”
The poorest country in the Western hemisphere, Haiti has been devastated by a string of hurricanes and two U.S.-backed coups over the last two decades.
Bolivian Lawmakers Approve Electoral Reform
In Bolivia, lawmakers have passed a landmark electoral law that would increase representation for low-income rural areas. President Evo Morales had gone on a five-day hunger strike to campaign for the bill. On Tuesday, Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia hailed what he called a victory over the country’s elite.
President Evo Morales: “If the oligarchy insults me, if they attack me, it means that I am doing my job. It means that I am defending the people. It means I am doing my constitutional duty of defending the homeland.”
The bill also sets Bolivia’s next presidential and congressional elections for December.
Germany Bans Monsanto Crop
Germany has become the sixth European country to ban genetically-modified maze produced by the American biotech giant Monsanto. The German government said the Monsanto crop is harmful to the environment. Until the new ban, it had been the only Monsanto crop permitted in Germany.
Study: Worst of Global Warming Can be Avoided
In environmental news, a new study says the world can still avoid the worst of global warming if current European Union proposals for cutting greenhouse gases are adopted. A computer simulation by National Center for Atmospheric Research based on a seventy percent emissions cut found world temperatures will still increase but not to an unsustainable level. The Arctic sea shelf would still shrink but not completely disappear, while about half of changes in droughts and floods could be avoided. Heat waves would also be 55 percent less intense.
Tax Resisters to Hold Day of Protest
And today is tax day. As millions scramble to mail in their last-minute returns, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee says tax resisters will hold protests around the country to show their opposition to funding war. The day of protest is being called “The War is Not Over.” A new study meanwhile from the National Priorities Project says that more than 37 cents of every income tax dollar goes to military spending. By contrast, environment, energy and science spending projects split 2.8 cents of every tax dollar, while housing, community and food programs split 3.8 cents.