Pence speaks for 7 hours to grand jury probing Trump’s Jan. 6 actions – National & International News – FRI 28Apr2023


Former VP Mike Pence speaks to federal Jan. 6 grand jury for 7 hours.

IL man fatally shot while using leaf blower in his own front yard.

UN demands release of Gitmo detainee. CIA wants him “isolated and incommunicado” forever after torture.


Former VP Mike Pence speaks to federal Jan. 6 grand jury for 7 hours

Yesterday in a Washington, D.C. federal court, former Vice President Mike Pence spoke to a federal grand jury investigating potential wrongdoing by former President Donald Trump or other officials in the events surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. Jack Smith, a special counsel for the Department of Justice, is leading this probe, as well as a separate probe into Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents.

We don’t know what Pence said or precisely what he was asked about. Grand jury testimony happens behind closed door and federal grand jury investigations are kept secret by federal law. However, we do know that Pence was answering grand jury questions for 7 hours. 

The night before this hearing, the D.C. Court of Appeals dismissed a challenge from Trump which argued Pence should be shielded from testifying. Earlier this month, another federal court rejected an argument from Pence himself that he should be exempt from testifying. That judge ruled that Pence did not have to specifically address any matters pertaining to his former role as president of the Senate. However, Pence must answer questions about potential criminal conduct by Trump in relation to the Jan. 6 riot itself or efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

This is the first time Pence has given testimony about those events in any formal inquiry. Pence himself is also now a candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

In related news, the District Attorney for Fulton County, GA, announced earlier this week that she would issue charging decisions in her probe of potential 2020 election interference by Trump and his team this summer. DA Fani Willis also asked law enforcement to prepare for potential unrest when those charges came out.

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IL man fatally shot while using leaf blower in his own front yard

In yet another case of people being shot over minor confrontations or innocent misunderstandings, a man is accused of fatally shooting his neighbor while the victim was using a leaf blower in his own front yard. The incident occurred in Antioch, IL, an unincorporated town near the Wisconsin border. 

On April 12, William Martys, 59, was using a leaf blower in his yard when his neighbor, Ettore Lacchei, 79, approached him. The two argued, and Lacchei fatally shot Martys in the head, according to the Lake County Sherriff’s Department. Investigators also say they learned that Lacchei “had various perceived grievances with Martys” before the shooting. The gun was found discarded near Lacchei’s property line.

It appears Lacchei was only arrested on Tuesday after a 2-week investigation. While serving the arrest warrant, “detectives also discovered Lacchei had sold his home and had plans to leave the country,” the Lake County State Attorney’s office said. Lacchei is facing two first-degree murder charges.

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UN body calls on US to release Guantanamo inmate

The UN working group on arbitrary detention (UNWGAD) has called on the US to release Guantanamo inmate Abu Zubaydah. Zubaydah, now 52, is a Palestinian who was arrested in Pakistan in 20o2. For years following his arrest, Zubaydah was held and tortured in various CIA “black sites” (which are global CIA outposts where they can torture prisoners outside American jurisdiction). Zubaydah finally arrived at Guantanamo in 2006. By that time, he’d lost an eye and suffered hundreds of hours of various tortures.

UNWGAD declared that Zubaydah’s detention has no basis in law and called on the US to release him immediately. The body also said that the pattern of years-long detention at Guantanamo with no due process may “constitute crimes against humanity”.

Initially, the US labeled Zubaydah as al-Qaeda’s “number three”. However, this claim proved to be false and the US has since concluded Zubaydah was not a member of al-Qaeda at all.

Cases of legal limbo are all too common at Guantanamo. Of the 31 detainees remaining at Guantanamo, 19 have never been charged with any crime, despite most having been there for two decades. Of those 19, the US government has declared 16 ready for release, but haven’t released them.

CIA wants Zubaydah “isolated and incommunicado” forever after torture

Zubaydah’s case is something else again. Zubaydah is one of three who has not been charged and not recommended for release. There hasn’t been any real justification given for this. There’s reason to believe the only reason for detaining Zubaydah’s indefinitely is to prevent him the full horror of the tortures  he suffered in CIA custody.

Zubaydah’s name features several times in the 2012 Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture. The report cites a cable from a CIA black site in Thailand in which Zubaydah’s torturers told their superiors that if Zubaydah died during questioning, his body would be cremated. However, if he survived the ordeal, the interrogators sought assurances that he would “remain in isolation and incommunicado for the remainder of his life”. Their superior granted that request.

According to the same report, a CIA torturer told Zubaydah he would be killed, saying that  “We can never let the world know what I have done to you”.

These are just some of the things done to Zubaydah at various black sites, according to the report:

  • At least 80 waterboardings
  • Forced nudity
  • Cold torture
  • Blaring rock music in his concrete cell
  • Slammed against a brick wall
  • Sleep deprivation
  • ‘Rectal rehydration’ or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity
  • He lost an eye.
  • Interrogators forced him into a box the size of a coffin for a total of 266 hours

There are likely many more, and probably worse, that we’ll never know about. In 2005, the CIA destroyed hundreds of hours of Zubaydah’s interrogation.


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