< /head > Colorado Coalition for Human Rights: January 2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

U.S. Officials Agree to Release Domestic Spying Documents

From the Washington Post:

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and other officials said they have agreed to turn over classified documents about the government's domestic spying program to the congressional judiciary and intelligence committees as early as today, ending a standoff that had included threats of subpoenas from Capitol Hill.

The agreement follows Gonzales's announcement two weeks ago that the Bush administration was abandoning a controversial program that allowed the National Security Agency to spy on Americans without warrants because it now has approval for the monitoring from a secret intelligence court.

But the administration has refused to release the court's Jan. 10 orders publicly, and leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary committees had been rebuffed in their demands for copies of the documents.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

World Court Takes First Case

From the Washington Post:

The International Criminal Court ruled Monday that Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, charged with recruiting child soldiers as young as 10 and sending them into battle, will be the first defendant to face trial at the newly established court.

At a public hearing in The Hague, presiding Judge Claude Jorda announced that evidence presented by prosecutors was sufficient to "establish strong grounds to believe" that Lubanga was responsible "for war crimes consisting of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15."

Lubanga, 46, led a faction in the civil war that broke out in Congo in 1998, drawing in forces from numerous neighboring countries. He was arrested in Kinshasa in March 2005 and moved to a high-security detention facility near the Dutch North Sea coast the following year. A father of seven, he holds a degree in psychology.

Jorda said that children were "led to kill" in clashes between ethnic Hema and Lendu people in the Ituri region, and that some fighters under age 15 lost their lives. Many of the underage soldiers were systematically drugged to numb them against the fear of warfare, he said.

Three boys and three girls, one only 10 years old when Congo's civil war broke out, were among those interviewed in preparing the case.

Backed by 104 countries, the International Criminal Court is meant to replace the current system of ad hoc courts prosecuting war crimes suspects in specific conflicts, such as the ethnic wars in the former Yugoslavia. The United States has declined to join, saying the court's proceedings are likely to be politicized and result in unjust prosecution of Americans.

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Scientists Gather to Finalize Climate Report

From the New York Times:

Scientists from across the world gathered here today to hammer out the final details of an authoritative report on climate change that is expected to project centuries of rising temperatures and sea levels unless curbs are placed on emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that trap heat in the atmosphere.

According to scientists involved with writing or reviewing the report, the fourth since 1990 from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body overseen by the United Nations, it is nearly certain to conclude that there is at least a 90 percent probability that human-caused emissions are the main driver of warming since 1950.

The report, according to several authors, who spoke only on condition of anonymity saying that details could still change, will describe a growing body of evidence showing that warming is likely to profoundly transform the planet.

Three large sections of the report will be forthcoming during the year, with the summary for policymakers and sections on basic climate science coming on Friday.

Among findings in recent drafts are that the Arctic Ocean could largely be devoid of sea ice in summers later in the century; the Alps could shift from snowy winter destinations to summer havens from the heat; growing seasons in temperate regions will expand, while droughts will likely further ravage semi-arid regions of Africa and southern Asia.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Contractors Are Cited in Abuses at Guantanamo

From the Washington Post:

New allegations of detainee abuse at Guantanamo Bay released by the FBI on Tuesday put private contractors at the center of interrogation operations, raising questions once again about where they fit in the military's chain of command.

The FBI's disclosures, which are based on eyewitness reports, refer several times to contractors directing the Army's interrogation efforts at the military detention center in Cuba. In at least one case, FBI agents were told that detainees may have been mistreated on orders from a contractor.

Taken together, the documents suggest a greater role for contractors than was previously known, and contracting experts said they indicate a further blurring of the limits on how much responsibility the private sector can carry in doing the public's work.

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