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German human rights group files suit against CIA 'Queen of Torture'

CIA torturerA German human rights group has filed a criminal complaint against Alfreda Frances Bikowsky, a CIA official who allegedly authorized torture of suspected al Qaeda militants. The complaint, submitted in federal court on Mondaynon, presents proof of Bikowsky’s involvement in the torture of German citizen Khaled El Masri and asks that she be prosecuted in Germany.

It also puts Bikowsky, nicknamed the “Queen of Torture,” in the spotlight of European efforts to hold CIA officials accountable for allegations of abuse.


Judge allows Texas to deny birth certificates to children of immigrants

Texas judge bars birth certificates for US born children of illegalsA federal judge has chosen not to force Texas health officials to change their stance in denying birth certificates to immigrant families with U.S.-born children, saying that the families raised "grave concerns" but more evidence is needed, according to a ruling issued Friday.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman in Austin denied an emergency injunction on behalf of immigrant families seeking birth certificates for their children after the Department of State Health Services refused to recognize as valid certain forms of identification.


Virginia quietly grants death row inmates new privileges

Death row prisoner Alfredo Prieto— Only a few months ago, the condemned men on Virginia's death row left their tiny cells just three days a week for showers, and an hour a day five days a week for recreation in a fenced outdoor cell. A sheet of glass separated them from family during visits.

Now, the seven men awaiting execution get an extra half-hour of recreation each day, and officials are building a new yard with a basketball court and exercise equipment. They can hang out with up to three other death row inmates for an hour daily, and the state is building a room where they can watch TV, make phone calls, play games and send emails. They can hug and hold hands with relatives when they visit.


Court reinstates lawsuit over NYPD surveillance of Muslims

Court reinstates spying lawssuit against NYPDA federal appeals court on Tuesday reinstated a lawsuit challenging the New York Police Department's surveillance of Muslim groups in New Jersey after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, saying any resulting harm came from the city's tactics, not the media's reporting of them.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, reversing a judge's decision last year to dismiss the case, found the Muslim plaintiffs raised sufficient allegations of religious-freedom and equal-protection violations and put the case on track for trial. The court compared the spying to other instances of heightened scrutiny of religious and ethnic groups, including Japanese-Americans during World War II.


Supreme Court won't decide if solitary confinement is constitutional

SC won't take up solitary confinementThe Supreme Court declined Tuesday to decide whether states' use of solitary confinement for prisoners on death row is constitutional, putting off a major test of the 8th Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The justices denied the case at least in part because of the execution of the original plaintiff, Alfredo Prieto, who was given a lethal injection Oct. 1 by the state of Virginia even before the high court could rule on his final stay application. They also turned down a motion that he be replaced by another death-row inmate.


ACLU sues psychologists over CIA interrogation tactics

ACLU sues psychologists over tortureThe American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Tuesday against two CIA contractors who designed and implemented the agency's harsh interrogation program, which has widely been denounced as torture.

According to the ACLU, James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen — psychologists who had previously worked for the military — designed and participated in the CIA's interrogation methods, which the U.S. government has since renounced. The agency paid their company, Mitchell Jessen & Associates, $81 million, according to an unvarnished Senate report on the interrogation program, a summary of which was released last December.


National Review Helped Cover Up Pinochet's Crimes

Pinochetewly declassified documents released by the Obama administration confirm the long-held suspicion that in 1976 the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was responsible for killing two people on American soil.

Other evidence had long pointed to Pinochet’s culpability, but these new documents leave the question of guilt beyond doubt. On September 21, 1976, a car bomb went off in Washington, D.C., killing Orlando Letelier (an exiled Chilean diplomat and critic of the Pinochet dictatorship) and his assistant Ronni Moffitt, whose husband, Michael, was badly wounded in the attack.


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