Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ex-State Dept. official: Hundreds of detainees died in U.S. custody, at least 25 murdered. At today’s House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Rights hearing on torture, Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, told Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) that over 100 detainees have died in U.S. custody, with up to 27 of these declared homicides:

NADLER: Your testimony said 100 detainees have died in detention; do you believe the 25 of those were in effect murdered?
WILKERSON: Mr. Chairman, I think the number’s actually higher than that now. Last time I checked it was 108.
A February 2006 Human Rights First report found that although hundreds of people in U.S. custody had died and eight people were tortured to death, only 12 deaths had “resulted in punishment of any kind for any U.S. official.”
Transcript: Read the rest of this entry.

Also on Feith Chickens Out Of Congressional Hearing On Torture, Refuses To Appear With Wilkerson. Former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith was scheduled to testify today about his role in vigorously pushing to eliminate the standards of the Geneva Conventions and making the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay a “Geneva-free zone.” However, at the opening of the hearing, subcommittee chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) declared that Feith “withdrew from the hearing.” Nadler explained:
Despite his prior commitment to testify, this morning, Mr. Feith informed this
committee through his counsel that he would not appear today because he is not willing to appear alongside one of our other witnesses.
Sources on Capitol Hill told ThinkProgress that Feith was afraid to appear with Colin Powell’s former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson, who was also testifying today. After leaving the State Department in protest over Bush’s policies, Wilkerson became an outspoken critic of Bush’s foreign policy and aggressively criticized Feith’s incompetence. From a speech to the New America Foundation in 2005:
Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, whom most of you probably know Tommy Franks said was the stupidest blankety-blank man in the world. He was. Let me testify to that. He was. Seldom in my life have I met a dumber man.
Nadler emphasized that Feith would “appear before this committee before too much time has elapsed,” adding, “We will reschedule a hearing at which Feith will appear so he can elucidate his testimony on this issue.”

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