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U.N. says U.S. broke torture rule in denying access to Manning

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On the same day that a major human rights organization issued a scathing report on Bush-era prisoner abuses, the United Nations alleged that the United States had violated a “long-standing” rule meant to prevent the torture of prisoners, by denying an official access to Pvt. Bradley Manning, the lone soldier accused of turning over secret documents to WikiLeaks.

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Juan Mendez, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on torture, criticized the U.S. government for preventing a meeting with Manning, meant to ascertain whether the conditions of the soldier’s confinement constituted torture. He insisted that an unmonitored meeting is standard practice around the world.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, that’s something even Bush officials permitted (PDF) for their alleged high value al Qaeda detainees, but Manning seems to be a special case for the Obama administration.

“At the Special Rapporteur’s request and after several meetings, the US Department of Defense has allowed Mendez to visit Pfc. Manning but warned him that the conversation would be monitored,” a prepared statement from the U.N. Human Rights Commission explained.

“Such a condition violates long-standing rules that the UN applies for prison visits and for interviews with inmates everywhere in the world. On humanitarian grounds and under protest, Mendez offered to Manning, through his counsel, to visit him under these restrictive conditions, an offer that Manning has declined.”

“The United States, as a world leader, is a strong supporter of the international human rights system,” Mendez is quoted as saying. “Therefore, its actions must seek to set the pace in good practices that enhance the role of human rights mechanisms, ensuring and maintaining unfettered access to detainees during enquiries.”

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Despite repeated petitions from Mendez, the U.S. has continued to refuse an unmonitored visit for Manning and insists his detention at Ft. Leavenworth is consistent with human rights standards.


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Fresno Bee burns Nunes to the ground in scathing editorial

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The editorial board of the Fresno Bee has written a scathing takedown of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) for his extraordinary fealty to President Donald Trump, which the editors say is harming the country.

Specifically, the editorial accuses Nunes of forsaking his oath of office as a congressman to serve as Trump's most loyal toady on the House Intelligence Committee.

"As has been true for nearly all of Trump’s first term, Nunes has relinquished his proper role as an independent representative of Congress and has instead acted like a member of the Trump 2020 re-election team," the editorial states.

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Republicans blundered badly as their own impeachment expert witness wrecked their defenses of Trump: columnist

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Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee pinned their hopes on George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, their sole expert witness on the panel at the hearing on Wednesday, to discredit the impeachment probe into President Donald Trump.

But as anti-Trump conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote for the Washington Post, even Turley's testimony ended up damaging the GOP more than Democrats, because he undercut one of the GOP's most solid narratives in defense of the president: that trying to extort Ukraine with military aid would not be impeachable even if it was proven.

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‘Dirty’ Jared Kushner should be targeted if GOP makes impeachment trial about Bidens: strategist

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President Donald Trump has signaled that he wants Senate Republicans to turn his impeachment trial around on Democrats by actually making it a trial of the Biden family.

The president on Thursday signaled that he wants former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, to testify at his impeachment trial in an effort to make the trial less about his own misconduct and more about purported misconduct by the Democrats.

However, Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg on Thursday proposed a plan to counter this kind of misdirection: Going after Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose shady dealings with world leaders have so far escaped significant scrutiny.

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