Get Adobe Flash player

Daily Archives: April 28, 2008

US Congress told international law could be violated:

The administration of President George W. Bush has told Congress that US intelligence agents trying to prevent terrorist attacks can use interrogation methods that in other circumstances might be prohibited under international law, The New York Times reported on its website Saturday.
Citing unnamed officials, the newspaper said this legal interpretation of the Geneva Conventions was outlined recently in letters sent to lawmakers by the Justice Department.
Last year, President Bush issued an executive order which the White House said would make the Central Intelligence Agency comply with international conventions banning harsh treatment of detainees.
But the new letters, the paper said, show that the administration is arguing that the boundaries for interrogations should be subject to some latitude.
For example, a letter sent on March 5 makes clear that the administration has not drawn a precise line in deciding which interrogation methods would violate that standard and is reserving the right to make case-by-case judgments, the report said.
"The fact that an act is undertaken to prevent a threatened terrorist attack, rather than for the purpose of humiliation or abuse, would be relevant to a reasonable observer in measuring the outrageousness of the act," The Times quoted Brian Benczkowski, a deputy assistant attorney general, saying in that letter.
The letters from the Justice Department to Congress were provided by the staff of Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who sought more information from the department, the report said.
Legal experts critical of the administration, noted the paper, indicated that the Justice Department seemed to be arguing that the task of preventing a terror attack could justify interrogation methods that would otherwise be illegal.
"What they are saying is that if my intent is to defend the United States rather than to humiliate you, than I have not committed an offense," Scott Silliman, a professor of national security from Duke University, was quoted by The Times as saying.

Spanish fishing boat freed for 1.2 million dollars

A Spanish fishing boat seized by pirates off the Somali coast and held for six days was freed after a 1.2 million-dollar ransom was paid, a maritime official said yesterday.
"The Spanish fishing boat Playa de Bakio has been released after a ransom of 1.2 million dollars was paid," Andrew Mwangura of the Kenya chapter of the Seafarers Assistance Programme said in a statement.
The boat was freed on Saturday and headed towards the Seychelles under the escort of a Spanish frigate. It is expected to dock at port Victoria tomorrow.
Mwangura said the boat, which was captured on April 20, "suffered heavy damage caused by gun fire and looting during the piracy attack."
On Saturday, Spanish news media said that a ransom of one million euros (1.55 million dollars) had been demanded and that negotiations were taking place at a London hotel.
But the Spanish government had said there had been "no official contact"with the kidnappers, while not ruling out the possibility of direct contact between the pirates and the boat's owners, who are from the northern Basque region.
Armed pirates seized the 76-metre (250-foot) trawler and its crew were while fishing for tuna off Somalia.
The Spanish government sent a frigate, the Mendez Nunez, to the area from the Red Sea, and a surveillance plane to the French military base in neighbouring Djibouti to carry out reconnaissance.
The coastal waters off Somalia, which has not had an effective central government for more than 17 years and is plagued by insecurity, are considered to be among the most dangerous in the world.
More than 25 ships were seized by pirates in Somali coastal waters last year despite US navy patrols, according to the International Maritime Bureau.