Democracy Now! - December 18, 2015

A stunning new investigation by The New York Times examines claims of military abuses and a possible cover-up that goes up the chain of command. Reporters uncovered accounts that in May 2012 members of a Navy SEAL team stationed at an outpost in Kalach, in southern Afghanistan, abused detainees that had been rounded up as suspects after a bomb exploded at a military checkpoint, killing one member of the Afghan Local Police unit the SEALs had been training. According to a report by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which the Times acquired through a FOIA request, three Navy SEALs dropped heavy stones on the detainees’ chests, stomped on their heads, and poured bottles of water on their faces in a modified form of waterboarding. One of the detainees was beaten so badly that he eventually died from his injuries. But what happened after the incident has many military justice experts questioning whether Navy commanders worked to cover up the case. Four U.S. soldiers working with the SEALs at the outpost reported that they witnessed the abuse, but Navy commanders chose to deal with the matter in a closed disciplinary process, one usually reserved for minor infractions. The SEALs were cleared of any wrongdoing. Two of the SEALs implicated in the abuse of the detainees and their lieutenant have since been promoted, despite calls by one commander to have them forced out of the SEAL team. We speak with Nicholas Kulish, a correspondent with The New York Times and one of the lead reporters on "Navy SEALs, a Beating Death, and Claims of a Cover-Up."

A Denver, Colorado, man has spent 28 years in prison based on a dream—and it wasn’t his. Now he could soon be free. In 1989, Clarence Moses-EL, who is African-American, was sentenced to 48 years in prison after a woman said she dreamed he was the man who raped and beat her in the dark. The victim said she was raped in her apartment after a night out drinking at a party. She was beaten so badly during the attack that she suffered broken facial bones and lost the use of one eye. Initially, the victim named three men she had been drinking with as her possible attackers—none of them was Clarence Moses-EL. But police never investigated any of those men, because, a day and a half later, the victim said she had a dream that Moses-EL was the one who raped her. Moses-EL has always maintained his innocence. But the police threw out a rape kit and any possible evidence, like bed sheets and her clothes. This summer, another man confessed to the attack, yet Moses-EL remained in prison. Now a judge has lifted his conviction, but Moses-EL still remains in jail. He could be freed as early as Tuesday, when a bond hearing has been set. The District Attorney’s Office has not yet said if they will attempt to retry him for the crime. We speak with Colorado Independent editor Susan Greene, who has long covered the story, and with Moses-EL’s attorney, Gail Johnson.

United Nations-brokered peace talks in Yemen’s nine-month-old civil war are faltering, amid disputes between rival factions over the release of prisoners. Meanwhile, local officials have reported intensifying clashes and renewed airstrikes despite an ongoing ceasefire. Over the weekend, U.S.-backed, Saudi-led airstrikes killed 19 Yemeni civilians in their homes and at a market. About half of the nearly 6,000 people killed in Yemen’s conflict are civilians, including more than 600 children. Rima Kamal of the International Committee for the Red Cross in Yemen warned of a deepening humanitarian crisis. The United States has bolstered the Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes in Yemen through arms sales and direct military support. Saudi Arabia is one of the U.S. arms industry’s biggest customers. Last month, the State Department approved a billion-dollar deal to restock Saudi Arabia’s air force arsenal, which was depleted by its bombing campaign in Yemen. The sale included thousands of air-to-ground munitions and "general purpose" bombs. The United States and other countries have also reportedly sold internationally banned cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia that are now being used in Yemen. We speak with reporter Sharif Abdel Kouddous, who has just returned from Yemen. His recent piece for GlobalPost is "With US help, Saudi Arabia is obliterating Yemen."

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Amy Goodman Democracy Now! False Conviction Torture

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