Torture, and its consequences, for generations

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Water boarding is torture according to international human rights treaties , yet it has a history in the USA military, as above and below

Oh and what about prolonged solitary confinement ,,,,

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1899~1902: Philippine-American War

This cartoon on the May 22, 1902 cover of Life magazine depicts American soldiers waterboarding a Filipino in the Philippine-American War. There was widespread public outcry in the early 1900s after waterboarding was discovered in use during the Philippine-American War. Lieutenant Grover Flint described one such torture session.

May 1902: "Water Cure", Philippine-American WarMay 22, 1902: Life MagazineMay 1902: "Water Cure", Philippine-American War

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This picture of US soldiers supervising the waterboarding of North Vietnamese prisoners was published in a US newspaper in 1968, resulting in an investigation and convictions.

This picture of US soldiers supervising the waterboarding of North Vietnamese prisoners was published in a US newspaper in 1968, resulting in an investigation and convictions.

[Source: Bettmann / Corbis]

In 2007, it will be reported that the CIA used the controversial interrogation technique of waterboarding on at least three detainees.

the picture above

and this below

life-magazine-may22-1902-US soldiers waterboarding a detainee in the Philippines, durring the US- Philippine war, combating against the native insurgents defending againt USA occupation

Torture, and its consequences, for generations

Torture, the other “t” word, and the many various kinds of torture that naturally inspire the tortured, and his or her people, to seek justice.

Of course the torturers are usually part of a state prison system, either at time of war or in relative peace.

The picture above in the header is of a man from the Philippines being tortured by US servicemen during their rebellion against US occupation,,,, or was it a Vietnamese man being tortured by US servicemen during their rebellion against US occupation, or maybe it was ,,,,, well ,,,,, the point is understood.

Here is the full picture as below:


and another picture of,,, the same


and another, this time certainly the Philippines ….

life-magazine-may22-1902-US soldiers water-boarding a detainee in the Philippines, during the US- Philippine war, combating against the native insurgents defending against USA occupation.

And do we need to republish the torture pictures of Abu Ghuraib Iraq, and Bagram Afghanistan, and of so  many proxy torturer cells the world over. And tell their stories.

Maybe knowledge is the beginning of change we can believe in.

Yes torture…in USA prisons, and those under their jurisdiction, and control, and all those clandestine black holes of illegal rendition, detention, experimentation, and lets call it by its name: torture….

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Remember this picture of the “Guard” at Abu Ghuraib prison in Iraq, but well  of course they would be called as civilian “contractors” since the Israelis have lots of experience interrogating Palestinians  in the Arabic Language and in enhanced techniques of interrogation, like electricity,  water boarding, stress,  and other torture techniques,,,  etc. guard_abu_ghraib_prison

And we were told that those that tortured there in the Abu Ghuraib torture cells and halls were called just a few “bad apples” (spoiling the others presumably),,,,

but lets take a peek at what these pictures below tell us better than a thousand words.

This and so many others….


Abu-Ghraib-Prison-Photos11jun04p17

abu ghraib 2

Oh, and maybe you remember this one:

torture-ag211

Courtesy from “Fire John Yoo” dot com

http://www.firejohnyoo.org/2009/04/

John Yoo wrote the famous (Bush-Cheney ?) “torture memo,” a legal opinion filed on Aug. 2, 2002, by the Office of Legal Counsel, a section of the U.S. Department of Justice. The memo examined what methods of inflicting pain and suffering constitute torture, legal basis for so-called “enhanced” interrogation …

….Yoo concluded that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) could not “restrict the president’s ability to engage in warrantless searches that protect the national security” and that “unless Congress made a clear statement in FISA that it sought to restrict presidential authority to conduct warrantless searches in the national security area – which it has not – then the statute must be construed to avoid such a reading.”

http://www.worldcantwait.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5767:the-truth-about-torture-why-john-yoo-should-be-fired-disbarred-and-prosecuted&catid=117:homepage&Itemid=289

Getting It Wrong in Guantánamo

Lisa Hajjar
Wed 24 Nov 2010
I was at Guantánamo Bay prison on Halloween. In a ghoulishly fitting coincidence, that was the same day a former child soldier was convicted for war crimes for the first time since the end of World War II. Eight years and one day after Omar Khadr arrived at Guantánamo, his military commission case concluded with a plea-bargained sentence of eight more years.

Khadr, a Canadian citizen, was 15 on July 27, 2002, when U.S. forces captured him in an Afghan village following a firefight. His father had sent him to Afghanistan the previous month to translate for an al-Qaeda operative.

Blinded in one eye and shot twice in the chest, the critically wounded teen was airlifted to the American prison in Bagram, where his interrogations began as soon as he regained consciousness. A month after he turned 16, he was shipped to Guantánamo, where he, like all detainees, was held for years incommunicado and continuously interrogated.

Of the 779 people ever imprisoned at Gitmo, only Khadr was charged with a hot war offense. He was accused of throwing a grenade during the firefight that fatally wounded Special Forces Sgt. Christopher Speer. As of today, 1,309 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan and 4,427 have been killed in Iraq. Only Khadr has been convicted of killing a soldier in battle – which was never a war crime until the U.S. government reinterpreted the laws of war to prosecute him in the military commissions.

The government’s case was based largely on Khadr’s own self-incriminating statements. How were those statements elicited? At Bagram, he was beaten, threatened with rape and snarling dogs, hung by his wrists, and hooded and soaked with water until he began to suffocate. His captors would shine bright lights into his shrapnel-damaged eyes. At Guantánamo, Khadr was again threatened with rape and dogs, had his hair pulled out, was subjected to protracted isolation and sleep deprivation under the “frequent flyer program,” and was doused with a pine-scented cleaner and used as a “human mop” on the floor where he urinated after being denied access to a toilet.

His lawyers tried to suppress his statements on the grounds that they were the product of torture and abuse and, therefore, were unreliable and legally inadmissible. But on Aug. 9, the presiding military judge, Col. Patrick Parrish, ruled that he found “no credible evidence” that Khadr had been abused or that his treatment constituted violations of (post-9/11) U.S. law. Therefore, all statements would be admissible. The prosecutors were delighted.

Khadr’s trial began on Aug. 12. His military lawyer, Lt. Col. Jon Jackson, planned to re-litigate the abuse issue before the seven-member military jury. But the trial was abruptly suspended on that first day when Jackson collapsed from pain relating to a medical condition.

That interruption gave both sides time to pursue a plea bargain. For the government, a deal would guarantee a conviction. The defense decided that pleading guilty was a safer bet for getting Khadr out of Guantánamo than relying on the jury’s benevolence.

This was a wise move: When the jury was brought back in October for the sentencing hearing, the prosecutors used his guilty plea to repeatedly characterize him as “a murderer and al-Qaeda terrorist.” After two days of deliberation, the jury mercilessly sentenced him to another 40 years. According to the military court rules, however, the applicable sentence is the lesser of the two.

Khadr will serve one more year at Gitmo. Then, according to Canadian diplomatic assurances, he can request repatriation. Once he’s back in Canada, his youth and mistreatment will open the door for an early release.

The defense and the prosecution both touted that macabre Halloween outcome, albeit for different reasons. But the Khadr case is a big loss for the principles of justice and the rule of law.

November 23, 2010, Institute for Policy Studies

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Beasts in Blue Berets

The Reality Of The United Nations


I’m not in the habit of just copying whole articles into my website, but in this case, I feel the following is worth preserving, and as it will soon depart the original website, It’s preserved here.

I’ve been a past supporter of the United Nations and at one time felt that the concept of a one-world government had merit, until I saw the sort of person that aspires to planetary thrones. Also, with just one planetary government, all social evolution and experimentation would cease, I’m not ready to declare that civilization has peaked, or that it is even civilized (as the following will attest).

Here, as it appeared in the New American (their subscription info is at the bottom) is the story even I found hard to believe.


Beasts in Blue Berets
by William Norman Grigg

UN “peacekeepers” torture a Somali child over fire “We are not going to achieve a new world order without paying for it in blood as well as in words and money,” warned Arthur Schlesinger Jr. in the July/August 1995 issue of Foreign Affairs. Schlesinger had taken to the pages of the flagship journal of the Council on Foreign Relations to vindicate the dubious proposition that the United Nations military represents the thin blue line dividing peaceful civilization from savagery — in short, our planetary police. But what happens when the planetary police run amok and become the agents of bloodshed? When local police abuse their power, the abused have avenues of redress. From what body can those abused by the planetary police seek justice? The escalating scandal of unpunished atrocities committed by UN “peacekeepers” illustrates that the planetary police are beyond accountability.
“Perhaps our leaders should put the question to the people: what do we want the United Nations to be?” Schlesinger wrote. “Do we want it to avert more killing fields around the planet? Or do we want it to dwindle into impotence, leaving the world to the anarchy of nation-states?” Critics of the UN should eagerly embrace such a debate — provided that a copy of the above photograph is made available to all participants. First published in the United States on the cover of the June 24th issue of the left-wing weekly Village Voice, the photograph depicts two Belgian paladins of the new world order giddily holding a Somali child over an open flame. Other series of photographs depict UN soldiers kicking and stabbing a Somali, and another soldier apparently urinating on the Somali’s dead body; yet another shows a Somali child being forced to drink salt water, vomit, and worms. A second group of photos published in the July 15th Village Voice shows the dead bodies of bound Somalis — what appears to be the work of a death squad.One atrocity not caught on camera involved the “punishment” of a Somali child by placing him in a metal container and withholding water from him for two days; predictably, the relentless African heat killed the child. One Belgian UN soldier testified that it was a regular practice to use metal boxes as prison cells, and that other Somalis probably died similarly gruesome deaths.

Strangely Silent

One might expect the photographs and first-person accounts of such atrocities to arouse public indignation against the UN’s “planetary police,” just as the endlessly replayed videotape of the Rodney King arrest turned public opinion against the Los Angeles Police Department. Perhaps this is why the photographs have been all but invisible in the United States, and precious little media attention has been devoted to an examination of UN atrocities.

Village Voice reporter Jennifer Gould came across the accounts of the Belgian atrocities while doing an earlier story about sexual harassment of female employees at UN headquarters. “When I spoke with people at the UN, time after time I was told, ‘If you think it’s bad here, you ought to see what happens in peacekeeping operations,’” Gould told The New American. “I started looking into that issue and found that the abuses I reported were well-known and easily documented. They were all over the media abroad, and I was really surprised it hadn’t been written about over here.”

Belgian military authorities launched an investigation into the atrocities following publication of a front-page story by Belgium’s Het Laatste Nieuws. In early July, Privates Claude Baert and Kurt Coelus, the two paratroopers photographed dangling the Somali child over a flame, were acquitted by a military court, which ruled that the incident — described by Baert and Coelus as a punishment for stealing — was “a form of playing without violence,” according to prosecutor Luc Walleyn. And what of discipline from the UN, whose “Code of Personal Conduct for Blue Helmets” requires that peacekeepers “respect and regard the human rights of all”? Gould reports that a UN spokesman dismissed the acquittal of Baert and Coelus by insisting that “the UN is not in the habit of embarrassing governments that contribute peacekeeping troops.”

For its diligence in reporting unwelcome news, Het Laatste Nieuws was rewarded with a bomb threat. Reporter Lieve Van Bastelaere informed The New American that the man arrested for making the threat owned a local bar that is frequented by many people in the military, including veterans of “peacekeeping” missions. “He apparently had been angered by what he had read,” Bastelaere observed dryly. “We’ve enhanced our security here at the paper, and the police took the threat seriously, even though he may have been drunk when he made it. He claimed not to remember phoning in the threat when he was arrested.”

In September, another military tribunal will be held to investigate the actions of Sergeant Dirk Nassel, the soldier photographed forcing a Somali boy to ingest worms and vomit. However, the Belgian military system — which is deeply entwined with the UN “peacekeeping” apparatus — has yet to inflict substantive penalties for abuses committed in the service of the UN. Several years ago, according to Gould, “Belgian soldiers were also accused of holding mock executions for Somali children and forcing them to dig their own graves; though their officer was given a suspended sentence, the soldiers were acquitted.” It is thus firmly established in Belgian military jurisprudence that service in the new world army is a license to commit barbarities with impunity.

Canadian, Italian Atrocities

Nor was the Belgian component of the UN’s “Operation Restore Hope” uniquely barbarous. Three members of a now-disbanded elite Canadian paratroop regiment were tried and convicted of criminal charges in the beating death of a 16-year-old Somali boy named Shidane Arone; the three “peacekeepers” had been photographed smiling beside the bloody corpse of the boy, whose hands had been bound. The incident prompted the creation of a Canadian government commission to review that nation’s military and its involvement in “peacekeeping” missions; however, the inquiry foundered on the obstructionism of political and military bodies and produced what Canadian critics call an incomplete and inadequate report.

On August 8th, Italian military officials admitted that Italian soldiers assigned to UN duty in Somalia had also tortured and otherwise abused Somali civilians. According to the Washington Post, “Two generals who led the Italian forces to Somalia resigned in June following publication of graphic reports of sexual violence against a Somali woman, electric torture of a young man and allegations that an officer had murdered a young boy.” Drugs and prostitutes also were allowed to circulate freely among Italian UN troops.

The Italian government assembled a five-member commission of inquiry, which interviewed 145 people and traveled to Africa to interview Somalis who had been tormented by UN troops or witnessed the bestial acts firsthand. The panel’s 46-page report documented that “the criminal events were not just the result of ‘rotten apples’ that you may find in any structure, but were rather the consequence of a stretched line of command and amused compliance toward such high jinks by some junior officers.”

“Shocking as it is, the UN scandal in Somalia is no anomaly,” wrote Gould in the Village Voice. “[An analysis] of documents and reports relating to recent UN peacekeeping operations has uncovered incidents ranging from murder and torture to sexual exploitation, harassment of and discrimination against local women and children.”

The January 18th New York Times reported that 47 Canadian UN troops who served in Bosnia were accused of “drunkenness, sex, black marketeering and patient abuse at a mental hospital they were guarding.” The soldiers had been assigned the “humanitarian” chore of guarding a mental hospital at Bakovici in order to secure it for the staff’s return. “The hospital instead became the setting for heavy drinking; sex between soldiers, nurses and interpreters that violated regulations; black-market sales; and harassment of the patients….”

During the “frenzy of looting” that broke out in Liberia in the spring of 1996, peacekeepers used UN vehicles to make off with pilfered goods, according to the April 12, 1996 issue of USA Today. UN vehicles — and the troops responsible for them — have also been a boon to Balkan drug smugglers. The August 9, 1996 Washington Times reported that “U.S. and Bosnian officials suspect that high-ranking UN officials from Jordan based in the central Bosnian towns of Bugojno and Travnik have routinely provided UN vehicles to help smugglers get contraband past checkpoints. The officers appear to have received money and the services of prostitutes from the smugglers, led by Islamic foreigners who entered Bosnia with U.S. approval to defend the Muslim government.”

Significantly, the Bosnian narco-ring apparently received critical support from UN police monitors, who were stationed in the Balkans in order to facilitate the creation of a civilian police force dedicated to upholding “world law.” A Pentagon official told the Washington Times that such problems are predictable, given that “the international police task force [in Bosnia] is a compendium of people from diverse countries with different degrees of professionalism and training and different backgrounds in operations and ethics” — a fairly compelling explanation of why UN-style “world law” cannot work.

The UN’s “nation-building” mission in Cambodia — long touted as among the world body’s proudest achievements — added to that unfortunate land’s abundant history of lawlessness. In 1993, 170 residents of Cambodia protested the abusive behavior of blue helmet troops in a letter to Yasushi Akashi, who served as then-Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s representative in Cambodia. Prominent among the complaints was the mistreatment of women, who were treated to abuse and harassment by UN officials “regularly in public restaurants, hotels and bars, banks, markets, and shops.”

New York Times correspondent Barbara Crossette, whose primary beat is the UN, elaborated: “The bad behavior [of UN forces in Cambodia] was not limited to abuse of women. There were bar fights, brawls, and shootouts and a proliferation of brothels, stolen vehicles and general drunken boorishness. Geographical origins were no indicator of what to expect. While some Asian and African troops got out of line, it was the soldiers of a Bulgarian battalion who had the worst reputation. They went down in local legend as ‘the Vulgarians.’” Cambodia has descended again into murderous chaos, and Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, believes that “the mess that Cambodia finds itself in today is in large part a product of the UN’s failure to uphold the rule of law” in the course of its “nation-building” mission.

Nightmare in Rwanda

The same lawlessness infected the UN mission to Rwanda, which suffered a Cambodia-style genocide earlier this decade. Crossette noted that Rwandans accused UN troops “of illicit trading, hit-and-run driving, sexual harassment and criminal abuse of diplomatic immunity they have bestowed on themselves. The disruptive personal behavior of some troops has been a factor in Rwanda’s demand that all peacekeepers be withdrawn from the country….”

Also contributing to that demand is the fact that UN forces in Rwanda actually abetted the worst bloodletting in recent memory — the Rwandan genocide of 1994, in which a half-million Tutsis were annihilated in approximately 100 days. “Many of the mass murderers were employees of the international relief agencies,” testified Peter Hammond of Frontline Fellowship in Holocaust in Rwanda. In one incident recounted by Hammond, Belgian UN troops stationed in a heavily fortified compound in Kigali “deceived the [Tutsi] refugees by assembling them for a meal in the dining hall and then [they] evacuated the base while the refugees were eating. Literally two minutes after the Belgians had driven out of their base, the Presidential Guard poured into the buildings annihilating the defenceless Tutsi refugees.”

When the Tutsi-organized Rwandan Patriotic Front drove many of the worst Hutu murderers from Rwanda into the Congo (then called Zaire), the UN intervened militarily — on the side of the murderers. One year after the genocide, wrote Peter Beinart in the October 30, 1995 issue of The New Republic, “former [Rwandan] government militias, often armed and sometimes in uniform, control many UN refugee camps, terrorizing civilians and plotting to reinvade.” Janet Fleischmann of Human Rights Watch-Africa reported, “The UN clearly took the lead in assisting these refugees who were in uniform and armed … and that helped them establish control over the refugee camps.” This development provoked the renowned French humanitarian group Medecins sans Frontieres and several other charitable organizations to withdraw from militia-controlled UN refugee camps.

When the UN “peacekeeping” mission to Rwanda finally furled its blue banner in March 1996, the reaction on the part of Rwandans was one of unalloyed relief. “Hundreds of genocide survivors protesting outside the UN headquarters in Kigali cheered … as the UN flag was lowered to mark the end of the United Nations’ peacekeeping mandate,” reported a March 3, 1996 Reuters wire service report. Apparently, Rwandans would rather face the prospect of bloody anarchy than submit to the variety of “peace” administered by UN troops.

Follow the Brothels

The market in prostitution — including child prostitution — thrives wherever blue berets decamp. According to Gould, records of UN peacekeeping missions document that “brothels have sprouted nearby — and in one case allegedly inside — UN compounds. In the latter case, prostitutes were allegedly employed by the UN and were reportedly even shipped on UN planes to fornicate with a UN staff member in hotels paid for by the UN.”

Last December a UN study on children in war reported that blue berets had been involved in child prostitution in six of the 12 countries which had been studied. In country after country unfortunate enough to attract the UN’s “humanitarian” intervention, “the arrival of peacekeeping troops has been accompanied with a rapid rise in child prostitution,” the document reported. Following the signing of a peace treaty in Mozambique in 1992, for example, “soldiers of the United Nations operation … recruited girls aged 12 to 18 years into prostitution.”

However, as Jennifer Gould learned, the mistreatment of women is something of a UN tradition — the world body’s enthusiastic support for radical feminism notwithstanding. In a report published in the May 20th Village Voice, Gould described the plight of Catherine Claxon, a UN employee who filed the first-ever sexual harassment complaint against the UN in 1991. After Claxon filed her complaint, “Someone fired a shot through the glass window of a coffee shop by the United Nations” — just above Claxon’s head. “Another bullet shattered Claxon’s windshield as she drove home from her job at the UN one night on the Long Island Expressway.” On three other occasions, Claxon was nearly run off the road — at the same spot where she was nearly killed by the gunshot. According to Gould, “UN women describe a godfather-like institution” — a network of cronyism and corruption. “This is compounded by the fact that in some UN member countries, women are treated as chattel instead of as equals.”

Haunting Prophecy

Gould described the UN as “a bizarre universe of intrigue and outrage, where diplomats from 185 countries — stuffed suits simmering with regional, religious, and class-bred hatreds — try to promote world peace.” Such is the character of the institution whose masters crave the power to enforce “world law.” The essence of that abstraction is captured in the photograph of “peacekeepers” Baert and Coelus playfully swinging a Somali child over a fire: Unaccountable power employed mercilessly against the helpless.

More than seven decades ago, while the U.S. Senate was debating ratification of the League of Nations Covenant, Senator William Borah (R-ID) sought to cool the ardor of the League’s supporters by dousing it with a bracing shower of cold reality. Those who believed that a world army would consist of stainless champions of “world peace” were ignoring the unyielding facts about human nature. A world army, Borah declared, would consist of “the gathered scum of the nations organized into a conglomerate international police force ordered hither and thither by the most heterogeneous and irresponsible body or court that ever confused or confounded the natural instincts and noble passions of a people.” Can there be any doubt that the UN has vindicated Borah’s dismal prophecy?



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Obama And Jihad And How Not To Fight Terrorism

Alan Hart

Sun 21 Nov 2010

In Mumbai President Obama was asked by an Indian student for his “take or opinion on jihad”. He began his answer with the observation that “the phrase jihad has a lot of meanings within Islam and is subject to a lot of different interpretations.” In its report of the discussion, The New York Times noted that Obama “carefully avoided saying that he was opposed to jihad”. (I ask – How could he be opposed if he is aware of its two real and true meanings in Islam? The Greater jihad is the inner struggle for self-improvement to become a good Muslim. The Lesser jihad is struggle against oppression – oppression as in Israel’s occupation and treatment of the Palestinians, for example).

Obama went on (my emphasis added): “I think all of us recognize that this great religion in the hands of a few extremists has been distorted to justify violence towards innocent people that is never justified. And so, I think, one of the challenges that we face is, how do we isolate those who have these distorted notions of religious war?“

He is, of course, right about the nature of the particular challenge. It is to isolate those who can be correctly labeled as Arab and other Muslim terrorists. The question is – How can that be done effectively?

Part of the answer is not the way President George “Dubya” Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair set about doing it, a counter-productive way with bombs and bullets.

Today there are few if any real experts who would deny that Bush and Blair’s approach to counter-terrorism made the two of them the best recruiting sergeants for violent Islamic fundamentalism in all of its forms and franchises. (In the past I have imagined Osama Bin Laden on his knees giving thanks to his god for the folly of the Bush-and-Blair approach).

There is, in fact, only one tried and tested way of defeating non-state terrorism. (State terrorism is that directed and executed by an agency of state such Israel’s Mossad and America’s CIA). In Volume Three of the American edition of my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, I get it down to 146 words, which I would expect an averagely intelligent child to understand, as follows:

Terrorists cannot operate, not for long, without the cover and the practical, emotional and moral support of the community of which they are a part. When that community perceives itself to be the victim of a massive injustice, and if that injustice is not addressed by political means, the community will cover, condone and even applaud the activities of those of its own who resort to terror as the only means of drawing attention to the injustice, to cause it to be addressed. It follows that the way to defeat terrorism – the only successful and actually proven way – is by addressing the genuine and legitimate grievances of the host community. The community will then withdraw its cover and support for its terrorists; and if they continue to try to operate, the community will oppose them by exposing them – reporting them to the authorities if reasoning fails.

I go on to say there are many case studies to support this analysis. In Northern Ireland, for example, the British Army did not defeat Provisional IRA terrorism. The terrorists called off their campaign when they had no choice – because the Catholic host community would not cover and support them any longer. And that happened only because the British government summoned up the will, about half a century later than it should have done, to risk the wrath of militant Protestantism by insisting that the legitimate grievances of the Catholics of Northern Ireland be addressed.

It follows that the only effective way to defeat Arab and other Muslim terrorism is by addressing the legitimate grievances of its host communities. What are those grievances? The list is quite long but at the top of it is the double standard of Western foreign policy as manifest in its refusal to call and hold Israel to account for its defiance of international law, while at the same time making demands, often backed with punishment including war, for Arab and other Muslim regimes to act in accordance with international law.

It’s worth recalling that in May 2004, the most senior official at the British Foreign Office, Permanent Secretary Sir Michael Jay, wrote a letter to the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Andrew Turnbull. It was a warning to Prime Minister Blair and his ministers that Britain’s foreign policy was fuelling Muslim extremism. (We were not supposed to know about that letter but it was leaked to The Observer).

>> It said that British foreign policy was a “key driver” behind recruitment by Muslim extremist groups.

>> It said that a “recurring theme” among the underlying causes of extremism in the Muslim community was “the issue of British foreign policy, especially in the context of the Middle East peace process and Iraq.” (If written today Afghanistan would be added to the context).

>> It said that “British foreign policy and the perception of its negative effect on Muslims globally plays a significant role in creating a feeling of anger and impotence among especially the younger generation of British Muslims.”

For a while it seemed that Prime Minister Blair was taking the Foreign Officer’s advice. But he subsequently demonstrated his total contempt for it and his absolute rejection of it. He said, “Muslims have a completely false sense of grievance against the West.“

At the time I wrote that if there was a prize for the most dangerously irresponsible statement of recent times, I would recommend it be given to Mr. Blair for that statement. In my view, the least that could be said about it was that it cut the ground – not all of it but a lot – from under the feet of moderate Muslim leaders who are trying to stop the drift to extremism in their communities caused in large part by British foreign policy – correction, by Blair’s foreign policy and in the American context Bush’s foreign policy.

A policy which despite his rhetoric (sometimes) to the contrary, Obama is continuing and, with targeted assassinations by drone attacks over Afghanistan, has escalated.

Alan Hart is a former ITN and BBC Panorama foreign correspondent. He is author of Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews. He blogs at http://www.alanhart.net and tweets via http://twitter.com/alanauthor November 19, 2010, Alan Hart

http://www.alanhart.net/obama-and-jihad-and-how-not-to-fight-terrorism/#more-1316

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Physicians for Human Rights allege Bush regime

used torture victims for research

Sounds like V for Vendetta

Experiments

IN Torture:

Evidence of Human Subject

Research and Experimentation in the “Enhanced” Interrogation Program

A White Paper by

Physicians for Human Rights

June 2010

http://phrtorturepapers.org/?dl_id=9

Did the Bush Administration Experiment on Detainees?

— Flickr/cristophe dune (Creative Commons).

Not only were terrorism suspects tortured, they were also used as human guinea pigs, a new report alleges.

— By Nick Baumann

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Sun Jun. 6, 2010 9:00 PM PDT

In the course of trying to prove that its “enhanced” interrogation program was legal, the Bush administration may have broken the law, according to a new report (PDF) by Physicians for Human Rights. The watchdog group claims that in an attempt to establish that brutal interrogation tactics did not constitute torture, the administration ended up effectively experimenting on terrorism detainees. This research, PHR alleges, violated an array of regulations and treaties, including international guidelines on human testing put in place after the Holocaust.

According to the report, which draws on numerous declassified government documents, “medical professionals working for and on behalf of the CIA” frequently monitored detainee interrogations, gathering data on the effectiveness of various interrogation techniques and the pain threshholds of detainees. This information was then used to “enhance” future interrogations, PHR contends.

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By monitoring post-9/11 interrogations and keeping records on the effectiveness of various techniques, medical professionals could also provide Bush administration lawyers with the information they needed to set guidelines for the use of so-called “enhanced” interrogation tactics. For instance, attorneys in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) who were devising the legal rationale for the interrogation program could use the research to determine how many times a detainee could be waterboarded. Or, based on the observations of the medical personnel monitoring the interrogation sessions, they could assess whether it was legally justifiable to administer techniques like stress positions or water dousing in combination or whether these methods needed to be applied separately.

Physicians for Human Rights makes the case that since human subject research is defined as the “systematic collection of data and/or identifiable personal information for the purpose of drawing generalizable inferences,” what the Bush administration was doing amounted to human experimentation:

Human experimentation without the consent of the subject is a violation of international human rights law to which the United States is subject; federal statutes; the Common Rule, which comprises the federal regulations for research on human subjects and applies to 17 federal agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense; and universally accepted health professional ethics, including the Nuremberg Code… Human experimentation on detainees also can constitute a war crime and a crime against humanity in certain circumstances.

Ironically, one goal of the “experimentation” seems to have been to immunize Bush administration officials and CIA interrogators from potential prosecution for torture. In the series of legal papers that are now popularly known as the “torture memos,” Justice Department lawyers argued that medical monitoring would demonstrate that interrogators didn’t intend to harm detainees; that “lack of intent to cause harm” could then serve as the cornerstone of a legal defense should an interrogator be targeted for prosecution. In 2003, in an internal CIA memo cited in the PHR report, the CIA’s general counsel, Scott Muller, argued that medical monitoring of interrogations and “reviewing evidence gained from past experience where available (including experience gained in the course of U.S. interrogations of detainees)” would allow interrogators to inoculate themselves against claims of torture because it “established” they didn’t intend to cause harm to the detainees.

The Bush administration believed that the medical teams could boost their legal defense in another way, too. In the memos, the OLC lawyers formulated a legal threshold for the level of pain that constituted torture. In a memo drafted on March 14, 2003, John Yoo, a primary author of the torture memos, defined that boundary as treatment leading to “long-term” mental harm or pain and suffering equal to or greater than that caused by organ failure or death. So one purpose of the medical monitoring project was to insure that the techniques interrogators were using did not breach that bright line.

One document cited in the PHR report highlights this practice especially well. On May 10, 2005, then-OLC head Steven Bradbury wrote to then-CIA acting general counsel John Rizzo about the legality of using multiple interrogation techniques simultaneously, as opposed to one by one. Referring directly to data gathered by the CIA’s Office of Medical Services, Bradbury decided that both methods were okay:

But as we understand the experience involving the combination of various techniques, the OMS medical and psychological personnel have not observed any such increase in susceptibility. Other than the waterboard, the specific techniques under consideration in this memorandum— including sleep deprivation—have been applied to more than 25 detainees.… No apparent increase in susceptibility to severe pain has been observed either when techniques are used sequentially or when they are used simultaneously—for example, when an insult slap is simultaneously combined with water dousing or a kneeling stress position, or when wall standing is simultaneously combined with an abdominal slap and water dousing. Nor does experience show that, even apart from changes in susceptibility to pain, combinations of these techniques cause the techniques to operate differently so as to cause severe pain. OMS doctors and psychologists, moreover, confirm that they expect that the techniques, when combined… would not operate in a different manner from the way they do individually, so as to cause severe pain.

It’s possible, of course, that the data about detainees’ “susceptibility to pain” was collected as part of standard medical monitoring of interrogations. But PHR says that doesn’t matter: it’s clear that ” the collection of medical information was acquired and applied to inform subsequent [interrogation] practices,” which amounts to illicit human subject research.

PHR claims that in addition to the data on simultaneous and sequential application of interrogation techniques, the experimentation program focused on two other areas of research: the safety and effectiveness of waterboarding and the effects of sleep deprivation. In each case, PHR points to declassified documents in which Bush administration officials acknowledge how medical information gathered during interrogations is being aggregated and used to inform future questioning.

There is some evidence to suggest that someone in the Bush administration may have realized they could be vulnerable to charges of illegal experimentation. The Military Commissions Act, passed by Congress in 2006, amended the 1996 War Crimes Act, a law that imposes criminal penalties for “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions. Specifically, the language on illegal “biological experiments” was weakened. The new law no longer requires that an experiment be carried out in the interest of the subject in order to be legal. (Research on how to make torture more effective is clearly not in the interest of the person who is going to be tortured.) In addition, it allows experiments that do not “endanger” the subject—rather than simply prohibiting all experiments that “are not justified by the medical, dental, or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and carried out in his interest,” as the previous version did.

The PHR report doesn’t produce a smoking gun—there’s no memo saying “we’re going to experiment on detainees.” The organization acknowledges as much, noting that none of the actual medical monitoring data from interrogations has ever been made public. PHR says that only a “comprehensive federal investigation” can answer the questions raised by its report. But don’t hold your breath for one. To date, the “enhanced interrogation” program itself has yet to be fully probed.

UPDATE: Here’s a video of faith leaders responding to the PHR report and calling for an investigation.

Nick Baumann covers national politics for Mother Jones’ DC Bureau. For more of his stories, click here. You can also follow him on twitter. Email tips and insights to scoop [at] motherjones [dot] com.

http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/06/bush-administration-experimented-detainees-phr-report

Report Details Torture at Secret Baghdad Prison

By SAM DAGHER
Published: April 27, 2010

BAGHDAD — The torture of Iraqi detainees at a secret prison in Baghdad was far more systematic and brutal than initially reported, Human Rights Watch reported on Tuesday.

Karim Kadim/Associated Press

A Baghdad prison. Reports of torture at a secret Iraqi-run prison in Baghdad have fanned sectarian strife. Human Rights Watch spoke to some of the detainees, most of whom are Sunni Arabs.

Related

·         News Analysis: Obama Sticks to a Deadline in Iraq (April 28, 2010)
·         Times Topic: Iraq

The existence of the prison, which housed mostly Sunni Arab prisoners, has created a political furor in Iraq, prompted government denials and fanned sectarian tensions.

“Abu Ghraib was a picnic” compared with the secret prison, said Sheik Abdullah Humedi Ajeel al-Yawar, one of the most influential Sunni Arab tribal leaders in the northern province of Nineveh, where the detainees were rounded up by Iraqi soldiers based on suspicions that they had links to the insurgency and brought to Baghdad with little due process. Abu Ghraib is the prison at which American guards tortured Iraqi prisoners, severely damaging Iraqis’ trust in the United States.

Human Rights Watch gained access on Monday to about 300 male detainees transferred from the once secret prison at the Old Muthanna military airfield to the Rusafa prison in Baghdad and documented its findings, which it described as “credible and consistent,” in a draft report provided to The New York Times on Tuesday by the rights group.

The group said it had interviewed 42 detainees who displayed fresh scars and wounds. Many said they were raped, sodomized with broomsticks and pistol barrels, or forced to engage in sexual acts with one another and their jailers.

All said they were tortured by being hung upside down and then whipped and kicked before being suffocated with a plastic bag. Those who passed out were revived, they said, with electric shocks to their genitals and other parts of their bodies.

“The horror we found suggests torture was the norm in Muthanna,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East program at Human Rights Watch. Mr. Stork called on the Iraqi government to conduct a thorough investigation and prosecute all officials “responsible for this systematic brutality.”

The prison’s discovery comes at a delicate time for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who is vigorously working to keep power after his coalition narrowly lost the March 7 national elections.

The revelations could further polarize Iraqis, still coming to grips with the scars of the sectarian conflict between 2005 and 2007. All those held at the secret prison before it was shut down were brought to Baghdad from Sunni Arab areas in Nineveh where Mr. Maliki, a Shiite, is largely perceived as a sectarian leader with a personal vendetta against anyone associated with the former Sunni-led government of Saddam Hussein.

Sheik Abdullah Humedi, the tribal leader from Nineveh, warned that the torture revelations had once more inflamed sectarian passions and could plunge the country into a fresh cycle of violence.

“This breeds extremism,” he said. “In our country a man who is raped will commit suicide, and how do you think he will do it?”

At least 505 cases of torture were documented in Iraqi prisons in 2009, according to a report released by the State Department in March.

In an interview broadcast on Monday night on the government-controlled Iraqiya television station, Mr. Maliki by turns denied, played down and distanced himself from the latest torture allegations. He described them as “lies” and “a smear campaign” hatched by foreign embassies and the media and then perpetuated by his political rivals.

“There are no secret prisons in Iraq at all,” he said.

Mr. Maliki described the prison at Muthanna as a transit site under the control of the Ministry of Defense, which used it for a “specific period.” He said that seven judges operated at the prison and that most of the approximately 430 detainees held there were transferred to the Rusafa prison. The rest were freed before the existence of the site was first reported last week.

Mr. Maliki maintained that a group of lawmakers from rival political factions visited the prison this year and instructed the prisoners to make false charges and to give themselves scars by “rubbing matches on some of their body parts.”

Nonetheless, Mr. Maliki said that he ordered an investigation and that several officers at the prison were being interrogated.

“America is the symbol of democracy, but then you have the abuses at Abu Ghraib,” Mr. Maliki said. “The American government took tough measures, and we are doing the same, so where is the problem and why this raucousness?”

Mr. Maliki’s comments appeared to contradict information provided by a minister in his own government, officials at the United States Embassy in Baghdad and the latest Human Rights Watch findings.

Wijdan Salim, minister of human rights, said in an interview last week that she insisted on visiting the secret prison after learning of its existence and that she found evidence of abuses that were “against human rights and the law.” Furthermore, the prison was under the control of the Baghdad Operations Command, a security task force answering directly to Mr. Maliki.

While investigative judges were stationed at the secret prison, they appeared to be complicit in the torture, according to Human Rights Watch.

A judge “heard cases in a room down the hall from one of the torture chambers,” the prisoners told Human Rights Watch.

One of the detainees, a former Iraqi Army general who uses a wheelchair and who holds British citizenship, said he was tortured by 10 people: 6 soldiers and 4 members of the investigative team.

“They applied electricity to my penis and sodomized me with a stick,” he told Human Rights Watch. “I was forced to sign a confession that they would not let me read.”

Another detainee, a 21-year-old who was arrested at his home in Mosul in December, said that during one torture session he was blindfolded, handcuffed, stripped naked and then raped by another prisoner as the wardens laughed at his screams of pain.

A third detainee, who was also arrested in December, said that he had been strung upside down and severely beaten to the point where some of his ribs were broken and that he had suffered concussions. The beatings caused him to “urinate blood for days,” he said. The same man said two wardens threatened him with rape unless he had sex with another prisoner.

“Security officials whipped detainees with heavy cables, pulled out finger and toenails, burned them with acid and cigarettes, and smashed their teeth,” Human Rights Watch said.

A version of this article appeared in print on April 28, 2010, on page A9 of the New York edition.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/28/world/middleeast/28baghdad.html

Congress: Stop Funding Torture

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In an open letter to Senator Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, lawyers, clergy and human rights activists voice alarm at mounting evidence of torture and human rights violations in Iraq and Afghanistan. For more information on their campaign, go to StopFundingTorture.com.

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Winthrop U. students are demanding clean energy plans from their gubernatorial candidates — not more calls for offshore drilling.

We call on our Congress to speak out and organize public hearings on the systemic human rights violations occurring with American funding and advisers in Iraq. While there continues to be considerable media and Congressional attention to torture in Guantánamo, there is comparatively little attention to the mounting evidence of human rights violations, including torture and targeted killings of civilians, in Iraq since the 2004 Abu Ghraib revelations, and virtually none at all devoted to Afghanistan.

We recall the powerful and effective public outcry against the Phoenix program during the Vietnam War and the death squads during the Central American wars. Yet the top counterinsurgency adviser to General Petraeus has called for a “global Phoenix program,” and the response in this country appears to be silent ignorance. The American diplomat charged with violating human rights in Central America became our ambassador to Baghdad, where militias, death squads and secret prisons were widespread. But few questions about human rights in Iraq were directed at Ambassador John Negroponte in Congressional hearings.

We believe that few Americans support spending our tax dollars on torture, which violates our moral, religious and legal traditions.

Most Americans expect an American-Iraqi policy leading to political reconciliation, not ethnic cleansing, detention camps, and sectarian militias hidden within the police and security forces that our tax dollars subsidize.

We believe most Americans would favor Congressional hearings as to whether our policies in Iraq violate the 1997 Leahy Amendment prohibiting material assistance to human rights violators.

Evidence of human rights violations sometimes is difficult to amass for purposes of litigation, if only because international observers and defense lawyers have so little access to detainees or secret prisons, and the critical reports of the international Red Cross are classified. But the evidence is more than enough to warrant our concern and justify a Congressional inquiry. This is a brief summary:

There are some 50,000 Iraqis currently detained in facilities operated either by the United States or the Iraqi regime we fund, equip and support. Human Rights Watch is calling on the UN Security Council to address the holding of some 25,000 detainees by the United States “for indefinite periods, without judicial review, and under military processes that do not meet international standards.” Detainees in Iraqi facilities appear to face even worse conditions. The whole process is described by an eyewitness human rights observer as “inquisitorial” with broad scope for relying on forced confessions. Human rights observers are loath to press for transfer of detainees to Iraqi prisons which are “at least as bad as under Saddam.” Rape is reported as widespread in these facilities.

Similarly, tens of thousands of detainees are held in Afghanistan without charge and without access to lawyers. According to a 2004 ICRC report, US intelligence officers admitted that 70-90 percent of detainees were rounded up without evidence or by mistake. Secret trials there proceed based on allegations forwarded by the Pentagon “that would never have been admissible in a US court or even a military commission in Guantánamo.” An Afghan Supreme Court judge says that “all of these trials have been prepared by our friends from the United States.”

Pentagon units in Afghanistan are operating like South American death squads, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council, reports the Daily Telegraph.

A BBC report stated that “it’s all happening under the eyes of American commanders, who seem unwilling or unable to intervene.”

The New York Times has described secret prisons and torture chambers in Baghdad which report directly to the Interior Ministry.

The Times also exposed “black sites” like Camp Nama, where the secret US task force 626 beat, kicked and blindfolded Iraqi inmates, and forced them to crouch in 6-by-8 foot cubicles in a prison called “Hotel California,” where the official motto was “No Blood, No Foul.”

Gen. James Steele, a veteran of Central American counterinsurgency operations, was attached to the US Civil Police Assistance Training Team when sectarian Iraqi militias began their rampages under official cover. Steele was quoted as “not regretting their creation.”

The Baker-Hamilton Study Group reported in 2007 that the Iraqi police “routinely engage in sectarian violence, including the unnecessary detention, torture and targeted execution of Sunni Arab civilians.” The report also quoted an American official as saying that Baghdad is run “like a Shiite dictatorship.”

A Congressionally created commission of military experts concluded in September 2007 that the Iraqi Ministry of Interior “is a ministry in name only…widely regarded as being dysfunctional and sectarian.” The Jones Commission also found that the Iraqi National Police Service is “not a viable organization…despite efforts to reform [the police], the organization remains a highly-sectarian element of the Iraqi security forces and…is almost exclusively Shi’a.”

The White House has acknowledged “evidence of sectarian bias in the appointment of senior military and police commanders [and] target lists that bypassed operational commanders and directed lower-level intelligence officers to make arrests, primarily of Sunnis.”

Top advisers to Gen. Petraeus not only favor a “global Phoenix program” but favor threats to commit “mass violence” against Sunnis while arming and manipulating both sides of the sectarian conflict.

American taxpayers have spent $22 billion on training the Iraqi security forces since 2003. In 2007, there were ninety US advisers assigned to the Iraqi Interior Ministry. Much of the training of police and prison personnel has been outsourced to private contractors, beginning with Vinnell, MPRI and SAIC in 2004. Since 2004, DynCorp has obtained contracts for a potential $1.8 billion for police training.

We are proposing a model different from the Pentagon’s, which asserts that we cannot “stand down” until the Iraqis “stand up.” This is a recipe for a long-term counterinsurgency that breeds new enemies faster than they can be detained, and brings shame to our troops and country. It is time to recognize that our laboratory in Iraq has produced multiple Frankensteins, not a flowering pluralism.

The majority of Iraqis favor the rapid withdrawal of American troops, according to all polling. The majority of the Iraqi parliament has petitioned for a rapid withdrawal as well. This popular Iraqi consensus cannot be expressed effectively under the current occupation. Police state mechanisms like detention without due process or the cloaking of militias in police uniforms suffocate the development of any nonviolent, civic or political opposition to the American occupation, thus forcing many Iraqis into choosing between forced obedience or violent resistance. By comparison, recently in Pakistan lawyers and civic society organizations were able to express effective mass dissent in the streets against the military dictatorship with greater vigor than Iraqis are able to express under the US occupation or Iraq’s judicial or policing institutions. In Iraq, the upcoming provincial elections may exclude opponents of the occupation from participating in any meaningful way.

Meanwhile, Iraq may be dying.

It is time to bring the pressure of the human rights movement, and the clear light of public opinion, to bear against the US-assisted, US-funded, US-armed, and US-trained police, prison and security forces in Iraq and other battlegrounds of the war on terror, before we are completely discredited for fighting terror only with terror of our own.

We believe that the American occupation, including the client regime we have fostered and funded, is a human rights violation in itself, and we wish to begin a public debate with those who purport to see a democratic light at the end of the tunnel where we see only a dungeon with neither exits nor appeals. Even the US Army’s new manual foresees more “dirty” wars stretching into the future, which will create humanitarian crises by their very nature impossible to justify this war-fighting doctrine, which assumes death, destruction and humanitarian crises beyond the casualties of combat itself, as consistent with human rights standards.

Building a forty-acre, $60 million detention facility in Afghanistan, allegedly to provide better conditions for detainees, ignores the question of why our troops are sinking into a deeper quagmire in Afghanistan in the first place. There is no way to safeguard human rights or due process under an unpopular military occupation.

We propose that Congress undertake serious oversight into the extent to which our taxes are funding human rights violations and torture, and provide an alternative roadmap to the restoration of our democratic values.

1. Congress should investigate whether US policies violate Article 3 of the Geneva Convention as it applies to internal armed conflicts. The US rationale for suppressing human rights for “imperative reasons of security” applies, if at all, to conditions of belligerent occupation, which ended in 2004. US policies of internment without judicial review also may violate the US Code of Military Justice, the Convention Against Torture and international covenants against cruel, human and degrading treatment of detainees even in cases of so-called “state emergencies.”

2. Congress should require the effective regulation of private contractors in Iraq, including strict adherence to international human rights standards, or act to de-fund all such rogue mercenary armies.

3. Congress should insist on an exit strategy from the Afghanistan war instead of approving the Pentagon’s monstrous new detention facility north of Kabul.

4. Congress should determine whether the 1997 Leahy Amendment, which prohibits assistance to sectarian and repressive human rights violators, applies to our policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

5. Congress should oppose the proposed $60 million detention facility in Afghanistan, which implies a long-term Western military occupation in violation of basic human rights, judicial due process and national sovereignty.

6. Congress should hold hearings on the Administration’s unilateral right to negotiate a binding post-2008 status-of-forces agreement with Iraq, and make clear that there will be no future funding or authorization of illegal detention and other human rights violations.

We fear that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, even if they begin officially winding down, will devolve into low-visibility, low-intensity counterinsurgency wars replete with arbitrary detention, torture, civilian atrocities, vendettas and sectarian rule.

The opportunity is in your hands to challenge taxes for human rights abuses and torture. “Torture” is a word even the torturers dare not speak, because American and global opinion is deeply opposed to such policies. Instead of the Bill of Rights, the thesaurus is borrowed, and phrases like “harsh interrogation techniques” become our mainstream vocabulary. Or, since it cannot be embraced, torture is outsourced to a shadowy gulag with American advisers, where victims are renditioned and disappeared.

As another close subordinate to Gen. Petraeus, Col. Theodore Westhusing, wrote in a note before taking his own life in 2005, “I cannot support a mission that leads to corruption, human rights abuses, and liars.”

We ask the Congress to concur with Col. Westhusing, before collective guilt becomes the fate of us all.

Sincerely,

Michael Ratner, president, Center For Constitutional Rights
Tom Hayden, author, human rights advocate
Ariel Dorfman, author, human rights advocate
Peter Laarman, executive director, Progressive Christians Uniting />/>/>

Rev. Dr. Susan Brookes Thistleswaite, president and professor of theology, Chicago Theological Seminary
Rev. Dr George Hunsinger, Princeton Theological Seminary
Gary Dorrien, Professor, Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University />/>

Marjorie Cohn, president, National Lawyers Guild Executive Committee
Judy Somberg, executive vice-presdident, National Lawyers Guild
Peter Erlinder, professor, William Mitchell College Of Law, St. Paul
Leonard Weinglass, human rights attorney />/>/>

Salam Al Marayati, executive director, Muslim Public Affairs Council
Ingrid Mattson, professor and president, The Islamic Society Of North America />

Rev. George Regas, rector emeritus, All Saints Episcopal Church
Rev. J. Edwin Bacon, rector, All Saints Episcopal Church
Rev. James Conn, director of new ministries, United Methodist Church />/>

Alexia Kelley, Catholics In Alliance
Dave Robinson, executive director, Pax Christi USA
Marie Dennis, co-president, Pax Christi International
Simone Campbell, executive director, NETWORK />/>/>

Rabbi Leonard Beerman, founding rabbi, Leo Baeck Temple
Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels, Beth Shir Shalom
Rabbi Steven Jacobs, founder, Progressive Faith Foundation
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center />/>/>

Ramona Ripston, human rights advocate, Los Angeles ACLU
Kary L. Moss, Attorney, executive director Michigan ACLU />

Aaron Krager, Faithfullyliberal.com, Chicago Theological School
Terra Lawson-Remer, Law And Society Institute, New York University
Jennie Green, International Women’s Human Rights Law Clinic />/>

What are the five most prevalent forms of torture and why?

by Josh Clark

What are the five most prevalent forms of torture and why?

Amnesty International protest
Stephane de Sakutin/Getty Images
Amnesty International members protest reported abuses of detainees at the hands of U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in Paris in January 2007.

In 2000, human rights group Amnesty International and African social sciences organization CODESRIA published a handbook for watchdog groups monitoring prisons where torture is suspected. The guide offers insight into just what qualifies as cruel, inhuman and degrading (CID) treatment.

The book also mentions the most common forms of torture. The guide cites among the most common torture methods as “beatings, imposition of electric shocks, hanging by the arms or legs,” mock executions and forms of sexualassault, especially rape

. While four are physical — or black torture — mock executions are white torture(psychological)

. There is little distinction between black and white forms of torture; both are equally insidious. As the humanitarian group SPIRASI puts it, “Methods of physical and psychological torture are remarkably similar, such that one should not separate their effects from each other”

.

What follows are the five most prevalent forms of torture that prisoners throughout the world endure. In the next section, learn about beatings.

5: Beatings

Inmates beaten in Filipino jail
Jay Directo/AFP/Getty Images
Inmates in a Manila, Philippines, jail in 2006. The country was criticized by the U.S. for subjecting its inmates to torture, including beatings.

One study of 69 refugees found that 97 percent of survivors reported being beaten at the hands of their captors

. “Beatings are universal, although implements may vary,” writes Vincent Lacopino in “The Medical Documentation of Torture”

. Beating torture can be as simple as punching, slapping or kicking a victim. Beatings may come spontaneously, or in conjunction with other methods. Tibetans held in Chinese prisons in the 1980s and 1990s reported suffering combinations of torture, including beatings and electric shock

. Beatings may also be delivered via instruments like hoses, belts, bamboo shoots, batons and other blunt weapons.

There are some specific methods to this kind of torture, too. The falanga (or falanka, depending on where in the world you’re being tortured) method involves beating the soles of the feet. This type of torture can leave victims’ feet insensitive to touch and temperature. It can also result in “pain in [victims'] feet and lower legs and a compensated gait pattern, usually with severe pain during walking”

.

Read about electric shocks as modes of torture on the next page.

4: Electric Shocks

Electroconvulsive therapy
Carl Purcell/Three Lions/Getty Images
Electroconvulsive therapy devices were developed in the 1930s and shown here used as therapy for depression around 1955. These devices are used in torture because they deliver pain and disorientation without killing the detainee.

Electric shock torture methods haven’t been around as long as many other widely used methods — humans didn’t figure out how to harness electricity until the late 19th century. Once established, however, electricity soon came into use as a method of torture. “Americans didn’t just develop electric power,” writes torture expert Darius Rejali, “they invented the first electrotorture devices and used them in police stations from Arkansas to Seattle

. Electrical shocks can be delivered using stun guns, cattle prods and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) devices.

This type of torture can be as crude as introducing a current to a victim via a cattle prod or other device designed to deliver a shock attached to a car battery. Shocks are used as a torture method because they’re cheap and effective. One 22-year-old Chechen survivor recounts being tortured with electricity at the hands of Russianmilitary personnel: “They gave me electric shock under my fingernails and under the nails of my little toes so later I had to have the nails removed from my fingers and toes”

. What’s more, shocks leave behind little obvious physical trace of the agony they produce. One expert suggests, “Torturers favor electric torture because it leaves no marks other than small burns that, one can allege, were simply self-inflicted”

.

On the next page, ready about sexual assault as a form of torture.

3: Sexual Assault

Rwandan women in 2005.
Jose Cendon/AFP/Getty Images
Rwandan women wait for medical treatment at a clinic in Kibuye in 2005. During the Rwandan genocide in the early 1990s, an estimated 25,000 women were tortured through rape.

Rape is a common form of torture, especially during wartime. Rape of men, women and children has occurred during conflicts across the globe. In the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, Muslim Bosnian women were subjected to systematic rape at the hands of Serb soldiers. In the Congo, from 2000 to 2006 alone, more than 40,000 women and children were raped

. In Rwandain the early 1990s, an estimated 25,000 women were raped. Soldiers reportedly told their victims that they were “allowed to live so that [they] will die of sadness”

.

Both men and women may suffer sexualassault. Whether the assaulter uses his or her body to inflict harm or brandishes a device to penetrate the victim’s body, the act is constituted as rape. What’s more, experts believe estimates of the number of men who’ve endured rape torture are low: “Men tend to underreport experiences of sexual violence. They may have doubts about their sexuality and fear infertility, and both sexes commonly experience sexual difficulties following sexual violence and may need reassurance about sexual function”

.

While sexual assault is defined specifically, some experts assert that all torture is a form of rape because the victim’s body is violated. Read about another prevalent method of torture — hanging by limbs — on the next page.

2: Hanging by Limbs

Man hanging by arms
Rischgitz/Getty Images
A fifteenth century tribunal using ropes to elicit a confession in this engraving from a painting by A. Steinheil.

During the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong employed a form of torture called “the ropes.” In “Human Adaptation to Extreme Stress: From the Holocaust to Vietnam,” the book’s authors describe this type of torture many Americanservicemen faced after capture, explaining, “Although there were many variations of this torture, it usually took the form of tying the elbows behind the back and tightening them until they touched or arching the back with a rope stretched from the feet to the throat”

. The tension created in the muscles by this extreme tightening –exacerbated by hanging victims from their limbs — can cause lasting nerve damage.

Dissident Turkishnational Gulderen Baran was tortured by police when she was in her early 20s. In addition to other forms of torture, she was hung by her arms, both on a wooden cross and from her wrists bound behind her. Baran suffered long-term damage to her arms, losing strength and movement in one arm, and the other suffering total paralysis

.

Next, we’ll learn about the most prevalent form of torture: mock executions.

1: Mock Executions

Blindfolded Iraqi man on his knees surrounded by armed soldiers.
David Furst/AFP/Getty Images
This Iraqi man, if led to believe he will be soon killed, will have endured a mock execution. This is one of the five most prevalent forms of torture.

A mock execution is any situation in which a victim feels that his or her death   — or the death of another person — is imminent or has taken place. It could be as hands-off as verbally threatening a detainee’s life, or as dramatic as blindfolding a victim, holding an unloaded gun to the back of his or her head and pulling the trigger. Any clear threat of impending death falls into the category of mock executions. Water boarding, the method of simulated drowning, is an example of mock execution.

The U.S. Army Field Manualexpressly prohibits soldiers from staging mock executions

. But reports of some U.S. military members staging these executions have emerged from the Iraq War. In 2005, one Iraqi man questioned for stealing metal from an armory was tortured by being asked to choose one of his sons to die for his crime. When his son was taken around a building, out of the man’s sight, he was led to believe that the son had been executed when he heard gun shots fired. Two years earlier, two Army personnel were investigated for staging mock executions. In one circumstance, an Iraqiwas taken to a remote area and made to dig his own grave, and soldiers pretended he would be shot

.

American military are certainly not the only group to violate international law regarding mock executions as torture. In 2007, 15 Britons were captured by Iran’sRevolutionary Guard. After their second night, the prisoners were lined up facing a wall, blindfolded and bound. Behind them, the detainees heard guns cocked, followed by the clicks of firing hammers falling against nothing

.

Despite bans against them, mock executions continue to be used as a means of torture — perhaps because of their effectiveness in breaking a detainee’s will. The effects of such threats on the victim’s life are deep and lasting: The Center for Victims of Torturesay torture victims who’ve undergone mock executions reported flashbacks, “feeling as if they’ve already died,” and said they begged their tormentors to kill them to avoid further constant threat

[/source].For lots more information on torture and other related topics, visit the next page.Lots More InformationRelated HowStuffWorks Articles

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Imperialism: A Beginner’s Guide

1 Mar

In waging its resistance to capitalist exploitation abroad, the worker’s movement has heavily involved itself in anti-imperialism in its actions and stances. In resisting this force, it is essential for us to have a coherent and consistent understanding of imperialism. What is it? What are its forms? What brought it about and how are we to resist it? These questions and more have been engaged in full by the classical theorists of Marxism-Leninism and expounded upon in detail. As such, we at do not pretend that we can summarize every aspect of this phenomena in adequate detail in only one article. Rather, this article is intended as a beginner’s guide to understanding imperialism in general terms. For more information, it is highly recommended that the reader consult the works of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Enver Hoxha on the topic, as well as other Marxist-Leninists who have engaged the subject of imperialism in our time. Imperialism: What is it?

To put it simply, imperialism is the highest evolution of the capitalist system beyond the borders of individual nation-states, allowing for the exploitation of workers and material resources trans-nationally. As capitalists consolidate their institutions and corporations into monopolies, fueling this expanding network of corporate conglomerates through the emergence of a finance industry which gives industrialists additional capital toward these ends, there is increased incentive to exploit material and human resources abroad. What imperialism does is create a means for powerful capitalists in some countries to expand their empire into others, benefitting from the labor power and raw materials which would otherwise belong to another nation-state utilized for that state’s own industry, leading to drastically higher profits for the imperialists.

Imperialism as Capitalism’s Evolution

Imperialism is an inevitable evolution in a capitalist system. What drives this inevitability is the profit motive itself. Where the technology allows for the potential for reaping profits outside of the confines of national and state boundaries, where the need arises for commodities, for means of production and labor resources outside of the immediate surroundings of capitalists in their own country, the incentive to push beyond exists. As well, the existence of other imperialist powers works to encourage increasingly colonialist attitudes towards those countries that already exist in a subservient position to imperialist powers. Why sit idly by when there is a profit to be made, and why sit on their hands when their rivals might take the opportunity sooner? Imperialist War & Transnational Exploitation

This drive for colonies and client states has been a major motivation for war in post-feudal society. The early 20th century saw much in the way of imperialist competition over colonies and protectorates in Africa, Asia and Latin America by Germany, Great Britain, France, and other European countries.

It was in this context that the first genocides of the 20th century, those perpetrated by Germany against the Herero and Nama peoples, took place and set precedents for later genocides which would take place in that century. The drive for profits and power lead the leading capitalists to pour their funds into colonialist projects reaching over much of the face of the earth. The United States played its part in the imperialist blood-letting as well, committing troops to the Philippines in 1899 as well as utilizing the opportunities presented in World War I and World War 2 to expand its influence into Europe and elsewhere. Nationalism and Racism: Imperialism’s fig-leaves

In order to get their populations to go along with bloody acts of imperialism, nationalism and notions of racial superiority have been implemented to justify the domination of other peoples. In 1899, the same year as the United States began its involvement in the colonial domination of the Philipines, Rudyard Kipling published a poem entitled “The White Man’s Burden.” While there are those intellectuals who will defend Kipling for writing this as satire, the essential message of the poem is that imperialism is a positive mechanism for raising up backward and “savage” peoples. He writes:

Take up the White Man’s burden–

In patience to abide,

To veil the threat of terror

And check the show of pride;

By open speech and simple,

An hundred times made plain

To seek another’s profit,

And work another’s gain.

Take up the White Man’s burden–

The savage wars of peace–

Fill full the mouth of Famine

And bid the sickness cease;

And when your goal is nearest

The end for others sought,

Watch sloth and heathen Folly

Bring all your hopes to nought.

This argument, that imperialism endeavors to colonize peoples “for their own good” and is necessary to raise people up from “backwardness” has been used in many an imperialist war. In the United States, as an emerging bourgeois state was trying to capture land and mineral resources from lands occupied by indigenous peoples, the massacre of Native peoples in the process of manifest destiny was made out to be, in part, a means of “taming the wild man.” What followed after decades of massacre, the indoctrination and abuse of children through boarding schools, theft of land and betrayal of treaties was not an “uplifting” of native peoples, but their destruction. Now, as imperialism suggests war as a means of “spreading democracy” in “backward regions of the globe,” one must heed the lesson that imperialism is not about helping the colonized, lest that “help” be helping them into a shallow grave. National Liberation

In their defense against the bloody threat posed by imperialism, the workers and colonized peoples of the world have taken up one principle weapon to defending their lives, livelihoods and homelands from invasion and colonization. That force is national liberation, which comes as the result of a nation’s people organizing and fighting on behalf of their national sovereignty and independence from imperialist powers. It is national liberation movements that pose the greatest means of defense for peoples facing imperialist domination. When these movements continually exert pressure on invaders, from protests and strikes to taking up arms against their armies, national liberation movements sap energy from imperialist forces and make their occupations increasingly more costly. From the Eastern Front in World War II to decolonization in Africa and Asia, from Vietnam to Iraq, Afghanistan to Palistine and elsewhere, national liberation struggles have fought to throw off the chains of imperialism. While some collaborate and preach reformist non-solutions to the travesty of colonialist violence and conquest, there are those willing to sacrifice their lives for liberation.

Internationalism

Imperialism can and must be fought on more fronts than this. Workers of all countries should lend their voices and action to both resisting the implementation of imperialist programs and policies on behalf of their own nation (like, for instance, protesting against the latest imperialist war) and supporting the struggles of those who fight on the front lines against imperialist invasion in their own countries. This force, this solidarity of workers the world over against imperialism and colonialism, is a prime example of internationalism. Internationalism is the consummate thorn in the side of imperialism both in practical and ideological terms. It not only works to resist nationalism and racism, the ideological grease that lubricates imperialism’s gears, but it also brings the battle to imperialism’s doorstep.

We saw such internationalism in the US anti-war movement during Vietnam and see it manifested today in the modern anti-war movement and solidarity work to lend support to movements abroad fighting imperialism. Just as imperialism does everything in its power to break national liberation movements through violence and economic repression (blockades, etc) imperialism also works to battle efforts of solidarity with colonized peoples at home, as we have seen through notorious domestic surveillance programs like COINTELPRO and in the recent raids on peaceful anti-war activists by Obama’s FBI. Carry on the Struggle against Imperialism!

Imperialism is capitalism’s bloodiest and most hegemonic form. It is the most powerful and sadistic force arrayed against the workers of the world. It is a threat to us all, whether we are a Palestinian family fearing massacre at the hands of Israeli White Phosphorus attacks or an anti-war activist having the jack-boots of state-repression kicking down the door for daring to lend your voice to the cause of national liberation. This force is one that requires all of our work to resist, for there can be no peace nor justice in a world of the dominators and the dominated.

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Understanding the US Torture State

Anthony Gregory

Sun 30 Oct 2011

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The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse 
edited by Marjorie Cohn (New York University Press: 2011), 342 pages.

When I was a child in Reagan’s America, a common theme in Cold War rhetoric was that the Soviets tortured people and detained them without cause, extracted phony confessions through cruel violence, did the unspeakable to detainees who were helpless against the full, heartless weight of the communist state. It was torture as much as any evil that differentiated the bad guys, the commies, from the good guys, the American people and their government. However imperfect the U.S. system was, it had civilized standards rejected by the enemy.

In April 2004, the world was shocked to see photos exposing the torment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, one of Saddam Hussein’s most infamous prisons, which was taken over and used by the United States in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Well, most of the world was shocked. Some, mostly conservative commentators, dismissed or defended the barbarity, even comparing it to frat-boy hazing. Others were disgusted but shrugged it off as the work of a few bad apples, not something that should draw judgment down on the whole of U.S. policy and the brave men and women in uniform. Still others of us were horrified but did not see the mistreatment as any sort of aberration — we expected such torture to occur in a war of aggression, figured we had not seen the worst of it, and even argued that what goes on in America’s domestic prisons easily compares with some of the milder photos dominating the nightly news.

A national debate arose out of that scandal. More than one question was pondered: Do these photos depict torture? Is this an anomaly or a systemic problem? Who should be held accountable? Should torture always be illegal?

Over the next few years, more torture controversies came up. The question of whether water-boarding actually constitutes torture was particularly disheartening. Some defenders of the U.S. government said the United States should not and does not torture, but waterboarding doesn’t count. Others said that even if the United States does torture, it is doing so in service of a greater good.

We have actually come to the point where the rhetoric of Reagan’s day no longer holds: American exceptionalists and conservatives no longer claim emphatically that the United States does not and never will torture, as they did before (however disingenuously). An AP poll in June 2009 found that 52 percent of Americans thought torture was justified in some situations — up from only 38 percent in 2005. In Obama’s America, torture is now normalized.

But Americans should recoil from torture absolutely, should recognize it is not an anomaly of the Bush war in Iraq but a practice with decades of U.S. precedent, should understand that responsibility for the Bush-era torture went all the way to the top, should know that domestic and international laws were unambiguously violated in the war on terrorism, should understand and oppose torture even when it’s “only” psychological or used against domestic criminal convicts, and should recognize that Obama has not put a stop to the abuse. A single book will offer a crash course in all these elements of the U.S. torture state: The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse, a remarkable and multidisciplinary collection of chapters by scholars, lawyers, and journalists, all compiled by Marjorie Cohn, past president of the National Lawyers Guild and a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

Not just Bush

It is crucial to recognize that torture is not a new policy that began with George W. Bush’s war on terrorism. Despite the Cold War rhetoric, the U.S. government has been responsible for torture for decades, particularly in Latin America. The preface to the book is written by Dianna Ortiz, a nun who was raped, burnt, beaten, and otherwise tortured in Guatemala in 1989, all under the auspices of a U.S. commander, she is sure. There is no reason to doubt her. A chapter by Bill Quigley surveys the legacy of the School of the Americas (SOA), a U.S. Army installation with origins in Panama in 1946 that was moved to Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1984 and renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) in 2001. “Together these schools have trained more than 60,000 members of the military from 22 Central and South American countries.”

Students were trained in “the systematic use of torture and executions to neutralize dissidents.” In 1996 the Pentagon admitted using torture training manuals in the SOA. The manuals “were based on materials used in the Vietnam War in the 1960s.”

Some of the worst graduates include Bolivian Gen. Hugo Banzer, who seized the country in a violent coup in 1971; the dictator of Guatemala, Gen. Romeo Lucas Garcia, who is implicated in “5,000 political murders and up to 25,000 civilian deaths”; Panama’s famed dictator, Manuel Noriega; and “most of the Chilean military who overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973.”

El Salvador was probably the scene of most of this U.S.-sponsored barbarity. American support for the death squads is the focus of Terry Lynn Karl’s chapter. The Reagan administration repeatedly defended the regime in El Salvador, despite its outright murder of moderate reformers, Jesuit priests and nuns, and other innocent men, women, and children. “On December 10, 1981, units of the Atlactl Battalion and the Third Infantry Brigade detained between 500 and 900 people in the village of El Mozote and the surrounding area, then executed them in groups, first the men, and then the women and children.” It is telling that “U.S. aid totals in the two years of greatest repression (1980–1981) were far greater than the total for the previous 33 years.” This is one great shame of both the Carter and the Reagan administrations.

Even before George W. Bush took office, what became one of his most scandalous torture programs — the outsourcing of abusive interrogation to foreign thugs, known as “extraordinary renditioning” — was already being developed. Jane Mayer tells of its fledgling beginnings in the Clinton years, when it was also used in the war on al-Qaeda, with most of the renditioned detainees handed over to Egypt, “the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid after Israel.” At the hands of Mubarak’s brutal regime, Shawki Salama Attiya claims “that he suffered electrical shocks to his genitals, was hung from his limbs, and was kept in a cell in filthy water up to his knees.” The abuses only expanded under Bush, who renditioned at least dozens of terror suspects. At least some of them, such as Canadian citizen Maher Arar, tortured in Syria, appear to have been completely innocent of any terrorist-related activities.

Just as U.S.-sponsored torture didn’t begin with Bush, it didn’t end with him. The last chapter, written by Thomas Ehrlich Reifer, points out that the Obama administration has “implied that it would continue the practice of extraordinary rendition” and as of his writing Obama “is not complying with the UN Convention Against Torture, the Geneva Conventions, or other obligations under international and domestic law, as reports from the Washington Post and other reputable news organizations indicate that torture continues at various U.S. prisons oversees.” Of course, indefinite detention without charge has also continued and Obama has shielded Bush officials from legal recourse.

Psychological abuse and solitary confinement

One misconception about torture is that it has to leave a physical mark, or be physical at all. Alfred W. McCoy’s chapter, “The CIA’s Pursuit of Psychological Torture,” dispels this myth, detailing the agency’s most disturbing past in attempting to master the art of mind control. Starting in the late 1940s and early 1950s and guided by a report on Nazi experiments, chemist Henry Beecher consulted for the CIA in psychological experiments in postwar Germany. Later, “Beecher won a classified military contract to test heavy LSD doses on unwitting human subjects at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1953-4 — a clear violation of the Nuremberg medical code.” McCoy explains how severe psychological torture techniques can be and traces their propagation “among anti-communist allies across Asia and Latin America” and their link to the Phoenix Program in South Vietnam.

The importance of psychological torture is not lost on U.S. officials, who have in the war on terrorism cooperated with professional psychologists to hone this diabolical craft. “[Psychologists] helped to define what constitutes ‘torture’ in general terms of detainee breaking points” to help the administration find the threshold of what would “officially constitute illegal torture,” writes Stephen Soldz. The psychologists “were not just monitors of abuse.” They helped design it. U.S. troops are put through abusive conditions to “evaluate how much stress an individual could tolerate. It was these psychologists on whom the government relied, when it ‘reversed engineered’ … techniques to design ‘counterresistance techniques’ to break down detainees.” Soldz is highly critical of the American Psychological Association for what he says is complicity in this shameful collaboration between members of the profession and the torture state.

Just as physical torture is not the only kind of torture, so wartime enemies are not the only victims. Lance Tapley indicts the entire institution of solitary confinement in America’s supermax prisons as a form of torture. But is he exaggerating?

Severe pain and suffering as punishment are plainly the norm in a supermax. Even when mental suffering alone is considered — ignoring, for example, the coordinated beatings and violent subjugation of recalcitrant prisoners known as “cell extractions” — the prolonged solitary confinement of prisoners has increasingly been described by UN agencies and human-rights organizations as cruel, inhuman, degrading, or torturous.

You don’t have to take the UN’s word for it. Tapley describes compellingly a totalitarian hell for domestic prisoners. Nothing like it can be found in the world of criminal justice, especially the so-called civilized world. And what are “cell extractions”? The author describes one prisoner who endures them “up to five times a day”:

Five hollering guards wearing helmets and body armor charge into a cell. The point-man smashes a big shield into the prisoner, knocking him down. The others spray Mace into his face, push him onto the bed, and twist his arms behind his back to handcuff him, connecting the cuffs by a chain to leg irons. Then they haul him into the corridor, cut off all his clothes, and carry him screaming through the cell block while they continue to Mace him. They put him in an observation room, and bind him to a special chair. He remains there for hours, naked and cold, yelling and mumbling.

Estimates of how many American prisoners sit in supermaxes range between 36,000 and 100,000. Not all inmates are violent rapists and murderers. Many are mentally troubled. Their terrible treatment is one reason some of us were not so shocked by the photos at Abu Ghraib.

Legal violations and philosophical dilemmas

Yet there was something particularly evil about the Bush administration’s torture policies. Many thousands were detained without due process and were exposed to particularly disturbing cruelties. Up to a hundred died in detention, many tortured to death.

The chapter by Marc D. Falkoff, a lawyer for a Guantánamo inmate, humanizes such prisoners, many of whom were swept up in the war in Afghanistan, called the “worst of the worst” by American officials, and deprived of due process for years, even as the Supreme Court struck down one administration attempt after another to circumvent habeas corpus. Falkoff’s client, Adnan, appears to be an innocent victim of circumstance, deprived of the right to see the evidence against him, accused of connections with al-Qaeda, an organization he seems not to know anything about. He suffers from chronic headaches and inner ear pain, the results of a 1994 car accident. He is denied suitable food or anywhere near adequate medical attention for his many health problems. The water he is given has bugs in it. Excerpts from the proceedings and interrogations indicate a code of justice reaching Kafkaesque absurdity. After years of torturous confinement, Adnan went on a hunger strike. In response, “twice a day, soldiers force-feed Adnan a liquid nutrient by inserting a tube up his nose and into his stomach. His arms and legs are strapped to a special restraint chair during the feedings.” Force-feeding is considered torture by the UN.

The legal questions surrounding Bush’s detention and torture policies are discussed at length, in multiple chapters. His narrow redefinition of torture to escape the sanctions of the Geneva Conventions and U.S. law is exposed as a despicable yet still technically failing undertaking. The book confronts the extremist argument that the president could inflict even deadly abuse or torture on a child without being in violation of the law.

Michael Ratner writes about attempts to bring U.S. torturers to justice outside of U.S. borders, in other nations’ courts. Jeanne Mirer makes a comprehensive case that the lawyers who guided Bush administration torture policy are legally culpable. Phillippe Sands demonstrates starkly that the arguments of John Yoo and others that the president was above all international law were completely without merit. According to Jordan J. Paust’s chapter, the various legal memos of infamy, from Yoo, Jack Goldsmith, Steven G. Bradbury, and Jay Bybee, far from providing a legal shield for the administration, demonstrate their authors’ complicity in the U.S. torture state. Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are also exposed for their involvement in “the Bush legacy of serial and cascading criminality.”

Some philosophical issues are also tackled in the book. John W. Lango has an interesting chapter grappling with the common, yet seemingly absurd, argument that torture might be necessary to stop a ticking time bomb and save thousands or millions of innocent lives. After a thoughtful discussion of the potential ethical dilemmas, he convincingly concludes, “Despite real-world counterexamples to moral absolutism about informational torment, torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment must be legally prohibited absolutely.” Richard Falk’s chapter criticizes the left-liberal mind-set that appropriately recoils in horror at the prospect of torture, but not in such completely asymmetrical wars as Vietnam, Kosovo, and Iraq. Although “the prohibition of ‘torture’ has been benevolently inscribed in the political mentality of liberal legality … the reliance on one-sided warfare stirs no comparable moral concern.” He traces that disconnect back to World War II and the reliance on weapons of mass destruction in the Cold War and calls on people to see wars against the defenseless as deserving condemnation in moral terms and not just in practical ones.

Understanding America’s torture state

Abu Ghraib was no aberration. It was the result of policies approved by George W. Bush and his immediate executive, military, and legal subordinates. It was also morally consistent with policies pursued by the U.S. government since at least the dawn of the Cold War. American officials have used torture domestically and internationally, directly and by proxy, through methods both physically brutal and psychologically crippling. It is express U.S. policy, even when the government denies what it is doing is torture, for it has explicitly endorsed techniques long recognized internationally to be forms of torture. Torture is also a predictable outcome of U.S. wars of aggression.

At the center of American government is an ethical bankruptcy. There is a rot at the center of the U.S. warfare and welfare state. But aside from the mass looting and mass killing there is also systematic abuse of helpless detainees — in U.S.-occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, at Guantánamo, in the dungeons of U.S.-backed and U.S.-sponsored foreign dictatorships, in the hands of terrorists trained by the U.S. Army, in the practice of thugs in league with the CIA, and even in America’s state and federal prisons.

Nothing better demonstrates the moral degeneracy of American political culture than the U.S. torture state. Read Marjorie Cohn’s chilling book and learn about the cruelty inflicted in your name, with your tax dollars, on the guilty and innocent, foreigners and American citizens alike.

October 28, 2011, Future of Freedom Foundation

Understanding the US Torture State

Anthony Gregory

Sun 30 Oct 2011

| Share

The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse 
edited by Marjorie Cohn (New York University Press: 2011), 342 pages.

When I was a child in Reagan’s America, a common theme in Cold War rhetoric was that the Soviets tortured people and detained them without cause, extracted phony confessions through cruel violence, did the unspeakable to detainees who were helpless against the full, heartless weight of the communist state. It was torture as much as any evil that differentiated the bad guys, the commies, from the good guys, the American people and their government. However imperfect the U.S. system was, it had civilized standards rejected by the enemy.

In April 2004, the world was shocked to see photos exposing the torment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, one of Saddam Hussein’s most infamous prisons, which was taken over and used by the United States in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Well, most of the world was shocked. Some, mostly conservative commentators, dismissed or defended the barbarity, even comparing it to frat-boy hazing. Others were disgusted but shrugged it off as the work of a few bad apples, not something that should draw judgment down on the whole of U.S. policy and the brave men and women in uniform. Still others of us were horrified but did not see the mistreatment as any sort of aberration — we expected such torture to occur in a war of aggression, figured we had not seen the worst of it, and even argued that what goes on in America’s domestic prisons easily compares with some of the milder photos dominating the nightly news.

A national debate arose out of that scandal. More than one question was pondered: Do these photos depict torture? Is this an anomaly or a systemic problem? Who should be held accountable? Should torture always be illegal?

Over the next few years, more torture controversies came up. The question of whether water-boarding actually constitutes torture was particularly disheartening. Some defenders of the U.S. government said the United States should not and does not torture, but waterboarding doesn’t count. Others said that even if the United States does torture, it is doing so in service of a greater good.

We have actually come to the point where the rhetoric of Reagan’s day no longer holds: American exceptionalists and conservatives no longer claim emphatically that the United States does not and never will torture, as they did before (however disingenuously). An AP poll in June 2009 found that 52 percent of Americans thought torture was justified in some situations — up from only 38 percent in 2005. In Obama’s America, torture is now normalized.

But Americans should recoil from torture absolutely, should recognize it is not an anomaly of the Bush war in Iraq but a practice with decades of U.S. precedent, should understand that responsibility for the Bush-era torture went all the way to the top, should know that domestic and international laws were unambiguously violated in the war on terrorism, should understand and oppose torture even when it’s “only” psychological or used against domestic criminal convicts, and should recognize that Obama has not put a stop to the abuse. A single book will offer a crash course in all these elements of the U.S. torture state: The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse, a remarkable and multidisciplinary collection of chapters by scholars, lawyers, and journalists, all compiled by Marjorie Cohn, past president of the National Lawyers Guild and a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

Not just Bush

It is crucial to recognize that torture is not a new policy that began with George W. Bush’s war on terrorism. Despite the Cold War rhetoric, the U.S. government has been responsible for torture for decades, particularly in Latin America. The preface to the book is written by Dianna Ortiz, a nun who was raped, burnt, beaten, and otherwise tortured in Guatemala in 1989, all under the auspices of a U.S. commander, she is sure. There is no reason to doubt her. A chapter by Bill Quigley surveys the legacy of the School of the Americas (SOA), a U.S. Army installation with origins in Panama in 1946 that was moved to Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1984 and renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) in 2001. “Together these schools have trained more than 60,000 members of the military from 22 Central and South American countries.”

Students were trained in “the systematic use of torture and executions to neutralize dissidents.” In 1996 the Pentagon admitted using torture training manuals in the SOA. The manuals “were based on materials used in the Vietnam War in the 1960s.”

Some of the worst graduates include Bolivian Gen. Hugo Banzer, who seized the country in a violent coup in 1971; the dictator of Guatemala, Gen. Romeo Lucas Garcia, who is implicated in “5,000 political murders and up to 25,000 civilian deaths”; Panama’s famed dictator, Manuel Noriega; and “most of the Chilean military who overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973.”

El Salvador was probably the scene of most of this U.S.-sponsored barbarity. American support for the death squads is the focus of Terry Lynn Karl’s chapter. The Reagan administration repeatedly defended the regime in El Salvador, despite its outright murder of moderate reformers, Jesuit priests and nuns, and other innocent men, women, and children. “On December 10, 1981, units of the Atlactl Battalion and the Third Infantry Brigade detained between 500 and 900 people in the village of El Mozote and the surrounding area, then executed them in groups, first the men, and then the women and children.” It is telling that “U.S. aid totals in the two years of greatest repression (1980–1981) were far greater than the total for the previous 33 years.” This is one great shame of both the Carter and the Reagan administrations.

Even before George W. Bush took office, what became one of his most scandalous torture programs — the outsourcing of abusive interrogation to foreign thugs, known as “extraordinary renditioning” — was already being developed. Jane Mayer tells of its fledgling beginnings in the Clinton years, when it was also used in the war on al-Qaeda, with most of the renditioned detainees handed over to Egypt, “the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid after Israel.” At the hands of Mubarak’s brutal regime, Shawki Salama Attiya claims “that he suffered electrical shocks to his genitals, was hung from his limbs, and was kept in a cell in filthy water up to his knees.” The abuses only expanded under Bush, who renditioned at least dozens of terror suspects. At least some of them, such as Canadian citizen Maher Arar, tortured in Syria, appear to have been completely innocent of any terrorist-related activities.

Just as U.S.-sponsored torture didn’t begin with Bush, it didn’t end with him. The last chapter, written by Thomas Ehrlich Reifer, points out that the Obama administration has “implied that it would continue the practice of extraordinary rendition” and as of his writing Obama “is not complying with the UN Convention Against Torture, the Geneva Conventions, or other obligations under international and domestic law, as reports from the Washington Post and other reputable news organizations indicate that torture continues at various U.S. prisons oversees.” Of course, indefinite detention without charge has also continued and Obama has shielded Bush officials from legal recourse.

Psychological abuse and solitary confinement

One misconception about torture is that it has to leave a physical mark, or be physical at all. Alfred W. McCoy’s chapter, “The CIA’s Pursuit of Psychological Torture,” dispels this myth, detailing the agency’s most disturbing past in attempting to master the art of mind control. Starting in the late 1940s and early 1950s and guided by a report on Nazi experiments, chemist Henry Beecher consulted for the CIA in psychological experiments in postwar Germany. Later, “Beecher won a classified military contract to test heavy LSD doses on unwitting human subjects at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1953-4 — a clear violation of the Nuremberg medical code.” McCoy explains how severe psychological torture techniques can be and traces their propagation “among anti-communist allies across Asia and Latin America” and their link to the Phoenix Program in South Vietnam.

The importance of psychological torture is not lost on U.S. officials, who have in the war on terrorism cooperated with professional psychologists to hone this diabolical craft. “[Psychologists] helped to define what constitutes ‘torture’ in general terms of detainee breaking points” to help the administration find the threshold of what would “officially constitute illegal torture,” writes Stephen Soldz. The psychologists “were not just monitors of abuse.” They helped design it. U.S. troops are put through abusive conditions to “evaluate how much stress an individual could tolerate. It was these psychologists on whom the government relied, when it ‘reversed engineered’ … techniques to design ‘counterresistance techniques’ to break down detainees.” Soldz is highly critical of the American Psychological Association for what he says is complicity in this shameful collaboration between members of the profession and the torture state.

Just as physical torture is not the only kind of torture, so wartime enemies are not the only victims. Lance Tapley indicts the entire institution of solitary confinement in America’s supermax prisons as a form of torture. But is he exaggerating?

Severe pain and suffering as punishment are plainly the norm in a supermax. Even when mental suffering alone is considered — ignoring, for example, the coordinated beatings and violent subjugation of recalcitrant prisoners known as “cell extractions” — the prolonged solitary confinement of prisoners has increasingly been described by UN agencies and human-rights organizations as cruel, inhuman, degrading, or torturous.

You don’t have to take the UN’s word for it. Tapley describes compellingly a totalitarian hell for domestic prisoners. Nothing like it can be found in the world of criminal justice, especially the so-called civilized world. And what are “cell extractions”? The author describes one prisoner who endures them “up to five times a day”:

Five hollering guards wearing helmets and body armor charge into a cell. The point-man smashes a big shield into the prisoner, knocking him down. The others spray Mace into his face, push him onto the bed, and twist his arms behind his back to handcuff him, connecting the cuffs by a chain to leg irons. Then they haul him into the corridor, cut off all his clothes, and carry him screaming through the cell block while they continue to Mace him. They put him in an observation room, and bind him to a special chair. He remains there for hours, naked and cold, yelling and mumbling.

Estimates of how many American prisoners sit in supermaxes range between 36,000 and 100,000. Not all inmates are violent rapists and murderers. Many are mentally troubled. Their terrible treatment is one reason some of us were not so shocked by the photos at Abu Ghraib.

Legal violations and philosophical dilemmas

Yet there was something particularly evil about the Bush administration’s torture policies. Many thousands were detained without due process and were exposed to particularly disturbing cruelties. Up to a hundred died in detention, many tortured to death.

The chapter by Marc D. Falkoff, a lawyer for a Guantánamo inmate, humanizes such prisoners, many of whom were swept up in the war in Afghanistan, called the “worst of the worst” by American officials, and deprived of due process for years, even as the Supreme Court struck down one administration attempt after another to circumvent habeas corpus. Falkoff’s client, Adnan, appears to be an innocent victim of circumstance, deprived of the right to see the evidence against him, accused of connections with al-Qaeda, an organization he seems not to know anything about. He suffers from chronic headaches and inner ear pain, the results of a 1994 car accident. He is denied suitable food or anywhere near adequate medical attention for his many health problems. The water he is given has bugs in it. Excerpts from the proceedings and interrogations indicate a code of justice reaching Kafkaesque absurdity. After years of torturous confinement, Adnan went on a hunger strike. In response, “twice a day, soldiers force-feed Adnan a liquid nutrient by inserting a tube up his nose and into his stomach. His arms and legs are strapped to a special restraint chair during the feedings.” Force-feeding is considered torture by the UN.

The legal questions surrounding Bush’s detention and torture policies are discussed at length, in multiple chapters. His narrow redefinition of torture to escape the sanctions of the Geneva Conventions and U.S. law is exposed as a despicable yet still technically failing undertaking. The book confronts the extremist argument that the president could inflict even deadly abuse or torture on a child without being in violation of the law.

Michael Ratner writes about attempts to bring U.S. torturers to justice outside of U.S. borders, in other nations’ courts. Jeanne Mirer makes a comprehensive case that the lawyers who guided Bush administration torture policy are legally culpable. Phillippe Sands demonstrates starkly that the arguments of John Yoo and others that the president was above all international law were completely without merit. According to Jordan J. Paust’s chapter, the various legal memos of infamy, from Yoo, Jack Goldsmith, Steven G. Bradbury, and Jay Bybee, far from providing a legal shield for the administration, demonstrate their authors’ complicity in the U.S. torture state. Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are also exposed for their involvement in “the Bush legacy of serial and cascading criminality.”

Some philosophical issues are also tackled in the book. John W. Lango has an interesting chapter grappling with the common, yet seemingly absurd, argument that torture might be necessary to stop a ticking time bomb and save thousands or millions of innocent lives. After a thoughtful discussion of the potential ethical dilemmas, he convincingly concludes, “Despite real-world counterexamples to moral absolutism about informational torment, torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment must be legally prohibited absolutely.” Richard Falk’s chapter criticizes the left-liberal mind-set that appropriately recoils in horror at the prospect of torture, but not in such completely asymmetrical wars as Vietnam, Kosovo, and Iraq. Although “the prohibition of ‘torture’ has been benevolently inscribed in the political mentality of liberal legality … the reliance on one-sided warfare stirs no comparable moral concern.” He traces that disconnect back to World War II and the reliance on weapons of mass destruction in the Cold War and calls on people to see wars against the defenseless as deserving condemnation in moral terms and not just in practical ones.

Understanding America’s torture state

Abu Ghraib was no aberration. It was the result of policies approved by George W. Bush and his immediate executive, military, and legal subordinates. It was also morally consistent with policies pursued by the U.S. government since at least the dawn of the Cold War. American officials have used torture domestically and internationally, directly and by proxy, through methods both physically brutal and psychologically crippling. It is express U.S. policy, even when the government denies what it is doing is torture, for it has explicitly endorsed techniques long recognized internationally to be forms of torture. Torture is also a predictable outcome of U.S. wars of aggression.

At the center of American government is an ethical bankruptcy. There is a rot at the center of the U.S. warfare and welfare state. But aside from the mass looting and mass killing there is also systematic abuse of helpless detainees — in U.S.-occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, at Guantánamo, in the dungeons of U.S.-backed and U.S.-sponsored foreign dictatorships, in the hands of terrorists trained by the U.S. Army, in the practice of thugs in league with the CIA, and even in America’s state and federal prisons.

Nothing better demonstrates the moral degeneracy of American political culture than the U.S. torture state. Read Marjorie Cohn’s chilling book and learn about the cruelty inflicted in your name, with your tax dollars, on the guilty and innocent, foreigners and American citizens alike.

October 28, 2011, Future of Freedom Foundation

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Former Guantanamo Inmates Tell of Confessions Under ‘Torture’

Jenifer Fenton

Mon 31 Oct 2011

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KUWAIT — “You know what this is?” Fouad Al Rabiah asked as he held up a photograph of a cell in Guantanamo. “This is my house for eight years.” The cell is small, sterile and resembles a cage. It has a hole in the floor where the toilet is.

Al Rabiah, a Kuwaiti father of four, then held up another piece of paper. “This is the first evidence that the United States government had given to the court to tell them that I am the worst of the worst in Guantanamo.”

The evidence is a two-page letter in Arabic, which Al Rabiah was accused of writing. It was found in Tora Bora and was presented as evidence Al Rabiah and his son Abdullah were the leaders of an attack in Afghanistan in 1991. His oldest son was only one year old in 1991. “This was not me.”

He showed more of the evidence used against him. The U.S. government had accused Al Rabiah of providing material support to al Qaeda and the Taliban. Al Rabiah was interrogated, by his own count, more than 200 times. He says he was tortured: “Lots and lots of torture.” He confessed to any and everything his interrogators said about him.

But in 2009 U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered that Al Rabiah, an aviation engineer who had studied in Scotland and America, be released citing a lack of credible evidence that he was associated with al Qaeda or the Taliban.

The evidence presented by the government to the court was “surprisingly bare,” and interrogators used “abusive techniques,” Judge Kollar-Kotelly wrote in a 65-page opinion. The court said that Al Rabiah’s confessions were so inconsistent or implausible even his interrogators did not believe them.

It is also undisputed that Al Rabiah confessed to information that his interrogators obtained from either alleged eyewitnesses who are not credible and as to whom the Government has now largely withdrawn any reliance, or from sources that never even existed,” the opinion stated.

The court concluded, “If there exists a basis for Al Rabiah’s indefinite detention, it most certainly has not been presented to this court.” Al Rabiah’s petition for habeas corpus was granted.

Al Rabiah returned to Kuwait in December 2009. He had lost eight years of his life. “I lost so many things, but I know that I was right,” he said. “I know that they were wrong.” Al Rabiah is one of 12 Kuwaiti detainees taken to Guantanamo.

Nine other Kuwaitis have been released, including Abd Al Aziz Sayer Uwain Al Shammeri. Al Shammeri had been detained without charge and transferred to Kuwait in 2005 for reasons that remain unclear. Al Shammeri and many of the freed detainees were charged in Kuwaiti courts following their release from Guantanamo but were acquitted of any wrongdoing.

One of those acquitted — Abdallah Saleh Ali Al Ajmi — blew himself up in Iraq, according to Pentagon officials.

Al-Ajmi was one of two Kuwaitis who took part in a suicide attack in Mosul in April 2008, the officials said. Records show an attack that day targeted an Iraqi police patrol and left six people dead, including two police officers.

Two people who knew Al Ajmi described him as unstable when he returned from Guantanamo.

Two Kuwaiti detainees, Fawzi Al Odah and Fayiz Al Kandari, remain in custody and their families and others fear they may be indefinitely detained.

I met with Al Rabiah, Al Shammeri and Khalid Al Odah, Fawzi Al Odah’s father, in Kuwait 10 years after America’s war on terror began.

Life before Guantanamo

Al Rabiah, now 52, had a documented history of doing charitable work with reputable organizations in Kosovo, Bosnia and Bangladesh. Before leaving for humanitarian trips Al Rabiah routinely requested leave from his employer Kuwait Airlines, where he had worked since 1981.

For the first 30 minutes of our meeting Al Rabiah, a serious and intense man, enthusiastically told me about his previous missions and expressed his view that as a wealthy Muslim country, Kuwait should help those less fortunate. “We are well off in comparison to other countries….We cannot see famine and natural disasters and do nothing about it.”

Al Rabiah traveled to Afghanistan twice in 2001, July and October, for charitable reasons. He was on a fact-finding mission related to Afghanistan’s refugee problems and lack of medical infrastructure, he said. The government said that Al Rabiah was a “devotee of Osama bin Laden who ran to bin Laden’s side after September 11.” The U.S. court ruled that the evidence strongly supported Al Rabiah’s story.

Al Shammeri, 37, also said he traveled to Afghanistan in October 2001 for charitable reasons — to teach Islamic law in Afghanistan. His life was “normal” before Guantanamo. He was married and had two children, who in 2001 were six and two years old.

He was an Islamic scholar and worked at the Ministry of Islamic Affairs in Kuwait. He was planning to get a master’s degree in Egypt, where he had paid registration dues. He was accepted, he later learned, the same day he was captured in Afghanistan. He was 28 years old at the time.

I met Al Shammeri at Khaled Al Odeh’s house, where the former detainees meet on a regular basis for support. He is a tall, relaxed and very funny man who smiles without interruption. He understands basic English. He is far from fluent, but he said with time he understood all the jargon related to Guantanamo.

“Terrorists,” he said and laughs. “Guilty,” that word too he added. “They never used the word innocent.”

The U.S. said Al Shammeri was a member of al Qaeda and one of his known aliases was on a list of hard drives associated with al Qaeda.

Road to Guantanamo

In October Al Rabiah entered Afghanistan through Iran, where he had been looking at the situation of Afghan refugees. “The day that I went into Afghanistan is the day the [American] bombing started. Of course this is all documented because I had the stamp,” he said. The U.S. authorities later took possession of his passport and they saw the stamp, he added.

But when the bombing started, the Iranians closed the border. He decided he would try to leave Afghanistan through Pakistan and wrote a letter to his family about the situation.

Al Rabiah said at the time he weighed 108 kilograms (240 pounds) and could not see at night, which made him ill suited physically for the Afghan terrain. On December 25, he was captured in a village outside of Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

The villagers took him to the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, who he alleged tortured him. Al Rabiah was in their custody he believes for about a month, and then, he alleges, the Northern Alliance sold him to the Americans for $5,000, the same price as his watch.

He was then sent to Bagram Air Base, a U.S. military-controlled facility north of Kabul, where he said he was treated well. According to legal documents, at this point he told his family he was “detained by the American troops and thanks to God they are good example of humanitarian behavior.”

Al Rabiah said he was told at Bagram that they were preparing for his transfer back to Kuwait, but that he would first need to move to Kandahar, Afghanistan. Al Rabiah spent two and half months in Kandahar, where he alleges he was tortured.

“There are more ways of torturing a person than you can imagine,” he said.

A report by Human Rights Watch in 2004 called attention to what it said was systemic abuse of detainees by U.S. military and intelligence personnel.

Abuse of detainees in Afghanistan included being stripped, kicked and punched, being forced to endure freezing temperatures, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation and forcing detainees to sit or stand in painful positions for extended periods of time, according to HRW.

“Abuse of detainees was an established part of the interrogation process,” the report said.

If the U.S. Department of Defense “receives specific, credible information of mistreatment by its personnel, those allegations are taken seriously and thoroughly investigated,” according to Lt. Col. Joseph Todd Breasseale, a defense spokesperson.

He added, the “DoD does not tolerate the mistreatment of detainees and will continue to ensure proper training and accountability measures.”

Al Shammeri was also sent to Kandahar. Before he was captured he said he realized the situation in Afghanistan was becoming increasingly more dangerous. He heard that every Arab was wanted dead or alive and Arabs were being bought and sold. So he said decided to leave via Pakistan, where he was arrested trying to cross the border.

He said he turned himself in to the Pakistanis thinking they would contact Kuwait and send him back home. “What first comes to anyone’s mind is that once a citizen of any particular nation travels abroad…when a problem takes place, the logic dictates that he should be handed to his native country of origin and not to be extradited to a third party nation. That’s what anyone in their sane mind would think,” he said.

“If I only knew that this would have been the way, I’d have just gone in hiding.”

The Pakistani government told him that they were going to send him back home, Al Shammeri said. But according to Al Shammeri, U.S. forces took him by plane to a military camp in Kandahar. Al Shammeri said he had no recollection of time or place. He too alleges he was tortured in Kandahar.

He was interrogated and beaten. He says he did not know what was happening because he did not understand all of the English, his eyes were covered, his hands and feet were tied and all he heard was the voice of an Arab interrogator.

When he was leaving Kandahar, Al Shammeri said he had no idea where he was going.

“They just recited my number…and they took me, shaved my head and then they tied me up and blindfolded me,” he said.

“While I was walking toward the plane, there was a female military personnel who took the mufflers off my ears and told me that I am going home, in English, she said ‘you are going back to your home’ then she put them back on and for a second, I thought they are taking me back to Kuwait.”

However Al Rabiah, who speaks fluent English, knew that none of the detainees would be going home. Everybody would be going to Guantanamo.

Camp X-Ray, Guantanamo

Al Rabiah arrived in Cuba on May 1, 2002. His first impression of the place was “heaven,” he said compared to his detention in Afghanistan. The camp was clean. It was not blistering hot during the day and freezing at night like Afghanistan. There were no sandstorms and no planes taking off around the clock. They were allowed to shower.

He was told that they would not be held at Guantanamo for more than six months, which he thinks now was a tactic to keep them from rioting. “The first year in Cuba, I left my cell… for recreation only 24 hours for the whole year,” Al Rabiah said. He passed his time by reading the Koran. He spent a lot of time in isolation.

He said early on he was told by a woman working at the camp “‘We have nothing against you. We know nothing about you, but the president said there is no innocent [person] in Cuba’.”

Al Rabiah said she continued advising him: “You cannot leave here so confess to something so we can charge you, sentence you and you go home. But if we don’t charge you, sentence you, you are not leaving’.”

Al Rabiah said he thought it was crazy and that he was not going to play that game. “I said this is absurd… that was way in the beginning and then they changed the tactics and started the torture.”

The U.S. court opinion — parts of which are redacted — which freed Al Rabiah reads: “The following day marked a turning point in Al Rabiah’s interrogations… After using a [redacted] … featuring … for approximately [redacted]. From that point forward, Al Rabiah confessed to the allegations that interrogators described to him.”

I asked Al Rabiah what changed and why he started to “confess.”

“I was threatened by two major things. First, they asked: ‘Would you like to go home a drug addict,'” Al Rabiah said. Then they threatened to send him to a place where he would “disappear.”

He said that he believed that these were not empty threats and he believed that people were sent to other countries and were tortured and “those people when they came back from there they were different people.” They were broken “beyond repair.”

In response to a query from CNN about alleged renditions and drug abuse, CNN was referred to a report by the Department of Defense on detainee conditions which said: “It is our judgment that the conditions of confinement, in Guantanamo, are in conformity with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions,” which among other things prohibits violence to life and person and humiliating and degrading treatment.

In 2003, a U.S. Justice Department memo by a Justice Department lawyer at the time John Yoo, based on a previous memo to then attorney general Roberto Gonzalez argued the drugs could be used on prisoners if the drugs did not “disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality,” and U.S. law “does not preclude any and all use of drugs.”

Several released detainees have said they were drugged, according to media reports. The Department of Justice and the CIA denied the accusations, according to the Washington Post, which reported on allegations of detainees being drugged.

A U.S. court said that threats against Al Rabiah included “rendition to places where Al Rabiah would either be tortured and/or would never be found,” and threats against him “were also reinforced by placing Al Rabiah into the frequent flier program,” a sleep deprivation program where detainees were frequently moved from one cell to another.

Al Rabiah concluded that if he resisted he was not going to be of any use to his family. But If he gave his captors what they wanted , he thought, “maybe I will be able to go back home and I will clear my name when I go back home. I reached a stage of desperation. I could not live any longer. I lost all hope. I had to play the game with them.” This is how his confessions were made, according to Al Rabiah.

Al Rabiah recounted the sort of questioning he faced. The interrogator would say: “‘Fauod, you were with so and so, doing so and so.'”

Al Rabiah would say: “Yes I have been there.”

The interrogator said: “Did you see so and so person.”

Al Rabiah would say: “I don’t know did I?”

They said: “Yes you did.”

Al Rabiah: “Ok I did.”

Interrogator: “What did you talk about?”

Al Rabia said the interrogators would also take him to a detainee recreation area to collect “intelligence” from other detainees, who knew that he was reporting it back to the interrogator.

“Can you believe that?” Al Rabiah said. “This is the kind of intelligence gathering” they did. The U.S. court noted Al Rabiah once “made a full confession that is entirely different than his initial confession,” and “Al Rabiah did not know what to admit” to.”

Al Shammeri, however said he never “confessed” even though he alleged he was tortured. “If I did confess, I wouldn’t be here,” he said, referring to Kuwait. But he too reached a point of desperation, not unlike Al Rabiah’s.

Al Shammeri said he was so desperate in 2005 that he went on a 100-day hunger strike which ended only when he was released. He also protested his detention in 2002 by refusing to eat.

Al Shammeri denied all of the government’s claims against him.

According to a Department of Defense memorandum published by WikiLeaks, Al Shammeri was alleged to have “received training on advanced counter-interrogation techniques, as well as above average terrorist training typically taught by al Qaeda.”

According to court documents, Al Shammeri said if he has wanted to kill Americans he did not need to travel to Afghanistan to do so as there were many Americans in Kuwait.

“If I wanted to fight with them, I would have fought them in Kuwait. You saw how people are bombing Americans in Saudi Arabia. If I had any hatred on my part, I would have done that to the Americans in Kuwait. There was no need for me to travel.”

Al Shammeri said every time he was interrogated they would accuse him of something else, (something Al Rabiah said as well.) For example, because he studied Islamic law, he said he was accused of being a Taliban judge, which he said would not be possible because he was in Afghanistan for such a brief time and because he did speak the language.

He said he was tortured. “Yes, by God. I was tortured,” Al Shammeri said. There are many ways of being tortured he added, but he did not elaborate on specifics. “I believe that… if the devil would have been there and witnessed these torture sessions, he would…have said ‘how would you come up with such twisted thoughts.’ Satan would say ‘please come on.’ These thoughts would be even surprising to the Devil himself. “

In response to a query about detainee abuse, CNN was told via email by Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde of U.S. Defense Operations: “The Department of Defense requires all its detention operations to meet a high standard of humane care and custody…We have updated our laws, policies, procedures and training to ensure respect for the dignity of every detainee in our custody.”

Life after Guantanamo

When Al Rabiah returned to Kuwait he said he was warmly received. Those who knew him never thought he was guilty, he said. When repatriated Al Rabiah was supposed to — according to a U.S. request — live in a rehabilitation center, according to David Cynamon, the lead lawyer for the Kuwaiti detainees.

Cynamon said the request was improper. “It would be like the U.S. demanding conditions of parole on a prisoner that the court ordered released because the prisoner didn’t commit a crime.”

But Kuwaiti authorities decided there was no case against Al Rabiah and they allowed him to go free.

Al Rabiah returned to his job at Kuwait Airways. But he says he has lost so much.

While he was in Guantanamo his father died, his brother died, two uncles passed away and his mother had a stroke while he was away and could not speak to him when he returned.

“I lost the childhood of my children,” he said. His youngest child was six years old when he left, and 15 when he finally returned home.

Al Rabiah said he was blessed that God kept him sane during his Guantanamo ordeal. But he is not a free man. Per a U.S. request, he is monitored, has to regularly report to a security post and he cannot travel, according to Al Rabiah. He fears that if he doesn’t comply the U.S. will hold his actions against the remaining two Kuwaiti detainees.

Al Shammeri also has the same restrictions, which he follows mainly for the same reasons. For him, the Guantanamo issue is not finished. Since he was released he says he has continued to suffer because of the association. Unlike Al Rabiah, he was not ordered released by the court but rather he was released because a U.S. government decision. The details of his release are unknown.

When Al Shammeri, who now works for a private oil company in Kuwait, was told he was going to be released, officials at Guantanamo took his DNA and his photograph, he said. The guards presented him with a paper with a clause that they said Al Shammeri had written, which he denied, and they wanted him to sign it.

The clause said if Al Shammeri was found at any time to be with terror suspects, the U.S. would be allowed to imprison him for life, according to Al Shammeri. This was frightening to Al Shammeri, who said the list of the American suspects is huge and he worried about what would happen if he was with a suspect but did not know it. He refused to sign the document.

“The situation in Guantanamo is wrong 100%,” Al Shammeri said. “In my case, I don’t even know why I was transferred there and how and then I have no idea how I was released.” He continued, ” I am so confused … I never understood the guidelines they used to release the detainees,” Al Shammeri said.

“No one should just rule on the go, as they please. They can’t just imprison whomever as they wish and when you ask about the charge, they say ‘it is classified evidence that incriminates you.’ This is what opens new gateways to terrorize people under the pretext of the law and this is not the law in any way.”

At its peak, Guantanamo held at least 779 men. But over the years some 600 men have been sent to their country of origin or to a country willing to take them. There are now fewer than 200 held at the facility.

When asked, what the U.S. should do about alleged terrorists, people who are a security threat at Guantanamo, Al Rabiah answered “take them to trial, let justice take its route. If a person is a terrorist, kills innocent people he should not be set free.” But, he added, “I was kept there for eight years…saying about me that I am the worst of the worst. Only when I went to court I was cleared.”

Al Rabiah fears that the evidence against the two remaining Kuwaiti detainees in Guantanamo may be as weak as the evidence was against him. “if you [America] are sure they are bad people, don’t you trust your legal system…or is it justice only for U.S. citizens… since when do people not have a right for justice… isn’t that what the U.S. is known for?”

In Al Rabiah’s case the courts also ruled that “none of the alleged eyewitnesses have provided credible allegations against Al Rabiah.”

Fawzi Al Odah is one of those two Kuwait detainees being held. According to a Department of Defense memorandum published by WikiLeaks at least one person who provided evidence against Al Rabiah gave evidence against Al Odah.

“YM-252 stated detainee (Al Odah) and Fuad Mahmud Hasan al-Rabia assisted KU-552 in the production and distribution of jihad videos in Kuwait. The videos were created to encourage people to provide contributions or to fight in Bosnia and

Chechnya….YM-252 also reported detainee was well-connected to religious leaders in Kuwait, and stated detainee recruited young males in Kuwait to fight in Afghanistan. He also collected money that was then funneled to Afghanistan in support of KU-217.”

Khalid Al Odah, Fawzi Al Odah’s father, says he spoke to him on August 28, and he said his son was not well. Fawzi Al Odah was on a long hunger strike, close to two months, and he was in isolation.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Fawzi Al Odah challenging his indefinite detention. Fawzi Al Odah said he went to Afghanistan to do charity work, but the government claims he was associated with al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Fayiz Al Kandari, the other Kuwait detainee at Guantanamo, has an appeal in November in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, but his lawyer is not hopeful about the case.

The main difficulty in defending the detainee cases is the government is allowed to rely entirely on hearsay, which is not normally admitted in the U.S. courts, according to Cynamon, who also represents Al Kandari.

“They don’t have to bring any witnesses who are subject to cross examination.” The government can simply submit “raw intelligence reports which basically are the summary write up of what an interrogator says, the detainee or what other people have said,” Cynamon said.

Khalid Al Odah, fears his son is being punished in part because Kuwait has an independent judiciary. The U.S. cannot force Kuwait to hold former detainees in jail.

Here in Kuwait “you cannot bring someone and put in them in jail unless you try them,” Khalid Al Odah said. But the U.S. has decided to release detainees to other countries that can put anyone they want to in jail without reason, he added. He feels these countries, which lack proper judicial systems, are being rewarded.

He also does not know what more he can do to assist his son’s case.

Khalid Al Odah was told that the U.S. wanted to make sure that the two Kuwaiti detainees previously released, which included Al Rabiah, were monitored and reported back often to the Kuwaiti authorities.

After four months, if the system was working his son would be released. But time passed and the U.S. said it would not release the remaining two Kuwaitis, including his son, for security reasons. Khalid Al Odah was told that the U.S. said they were very dangerous.

“But they will never tell you why,” Khalid Al Odah said.

© 2011 CNN

October 29, 2011, CNN

Ex-Guantanamo Guard Tells of Violence Against Detainees

Jenifer Fenton

Mon 31 Oct 2011

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“We were told that they were all guilty … that these were the worst of the worst,” Brandon Neely said about the detainees who were arriving at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“We were told that these guys, all of them, had either helped plan 9/11 or were caught red handed on the battlefield, weapon in hand, fighting American soldiers … These are the people that would kill you in a heartbeat if you turn your back on them.”

In June 2000, Specialist Neely, now 31, enlisted for five years as a military police officer. He left later that summer for Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for training and was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas upon graduating. In early January 2002, Neely boarded a plane to Guantanamo Bay, where he would be stationed for the next six months. He had volunteered for the deployment not knowing what it was or where it would take him.

“I was asleep in my barracks one morning. They knocked on my door and … told me there were two deployments that were going to happen in the deployment area.”

Neely agreed to go on one and then went out with his friends later that night. The next day, he was informed that he would be stationed at Guantanamo. “I was kind of mad that I was going to go to Guantanamo instead of the front lines of the war,” Neely recalled.

His superiors told him he would be stationed a detention facility, Neely said. “They had decided from the start that it was different from an enemy prison of war camp … We were told in the first couple of minutes at Gitmo that this was a detention facility and the Geneva Conventions would not be in effect … There was no army manual on this, no standard operation procedure.”

Neely did not receive any special or additional training for working at Guantanamo, he said. He, and the rest of the company (about 110 people), arrived just a few days before the first detainees did. Contractors “were still welding the cells at the time,” he said.

As a military policeman, Neely was not involved in interrogations. The company’s assignments included escorting duties — taking detainees to the showers or a medical examination and filling the water buckets in the cells.

“At Camp X-Ray you would have to take a water hose and put water in their buckets … They had two buckets, one for water and one to use as the restroom,” Neely said. Personnel could also be assigned to check identifications or to the Internal Reaction Force team. The jobs rotated on a daily basis for the most part.

On January 11, the prisoners began to arrive. “We were told those [detainees] were the top guys. This is the group that they had to get out of Afghanistan because they were literally the worst of the worst,” Neely said. He was not sure what to expect.

“I didn’t really understand what a terrorist was going to look like. I know that sounds funny and really naive. I was kind of shocked that a lot of them were very little and malnourished.” Neely remembered commenting at the time: “If these are the world’s most dangerous men, we don’t have very much to worry about.”

The detainees were wearing blacked out goggles, leg shackles, three-piece suits and ear muffs. Some had gloves on, Neely said.

There was an incident on the first day that he was involved in. He said after the detainees were processed, their pictures and fingerprints were taken and they were given a quick check over. Then they were to be escorted to their cells.

Neely said he and his escorting partner were taking one detainee assigned to Alpha Block. They started to walk but the detainee was shaking and would not walk. “So we started yelling and screaming at him to walk faster … We were actually walking so fast and he wouldn’t walk so we had to pick him up off the ground and we were carrying him.”

The detainee was put in his cell with Neely taking control of his upper body. His leg shackles and right handcuff were taken off. Neely said when he went to take off the left handcuff the detainee jerked toward him.

“We started yelling at him and screaming at him not to move,” Neely said. Neely said the detainee continued to jerk when he and his partner tried again to remove the cuff.

“Next thing I know I slammed him on the ground and I was on top of him. He was trying to get up. I kept pushing his head down to the… concrete floor.” Neely said he could hear people on the radio calling “code red Alpha Block.” His escorting partner had backed out of the cell and closed the cell door.

“It was just me and the detainee in there.” The IRF team “opened the cell door, grabbed me by the back of my uniform and pulled me outside and they just went in there hogtied him and left him there for I don’t know how long.”

A few weeks later, Neely said he was told by one of the English-speaking detainees why the man kept moving. “The reason he had moved was not to fight… He still had the blacked out goggles on so he could not see. He thought he was going to be executed,” Neely said. “A lot of those guys thought they were going to be executed when we put them on their knees and started talking their cuffs off.”

Neely said he felt ashamed. He said he witnessed abuse by the guards and others during his six months at the camp.

He said in one incident that occurred in the first few weeks at the camp, a detainee refused to drink a can of the protein drink Ensure, which many detainees were given because they were malnourished. The IRF was called to restrain the detainee so a medic could give him the drink. Upon entering the detainee’s cell, one of the IRF team hit the detainee with a shield, Neely said.

The entire team was soon on top of the detainee so it was difficult to see what has happening, according to Neely. The IRF team then stood the detainee up and handcuffed him to the cage fencing and the medic entered the cage, grabbed the detainee by the neck and emptied the can of Ensure into his mouth, but he detainee did not swallow it, Neely said.

The medic then punched the detainee and walked out of the cage like nothing had happened, he added. The detainee was un-cuffed from the cage, hogtied and left that way for several hours, according to Neely, who said he later learned that the detainee thought he was being poisoned.

In another incident, when the camp had been operational for about two months, a detainee allegedly made a comment about one of the female guards and the IRF team was called to Bravo Block.

“They went up to the cell door and they told [the detainee] to turn around and put his hands on his head. He didn’t listen,” Neely said. The IRF team unlocked the cell door, at which point the detainee turned around put his hands on his head and went on his knees.

The IRF team opened the cell door and the one team member carrying a riot shield threw it off to the side. “And whatever little speed he could gather from that short distance he jumped up in the air and came down with his knee right in the middle of the back of [the detainee] and landed right on top of him.”

The other four men started punching the detainee. “Then someone on the inside called the female MP… in there to hit him. And she did,” Neely said.

When it was all over the detainee was in a pool of blood unconscious, according to Neely. The detainee was taken by ambulance to the main hospital in Guantanamo. The detainee was later released from Guantanamo Bay without charge, Neely said.

Asked about the allegations, a U.S. military spokeswoman told CNN via email that the Department of Defense does not tolerate the abuse of detainees and takes such allegations seriously. She however denied there was a pattern of systematic mistreatment.

“All credible allegations of abuse are thoroughly investigated, and appropriate disciplinary action is taken when those allegations are substantiated,” Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde said.

But she added: “Although there have been substantiated cases of abuse in the past, for which U.S. service members have been held accountable, our enemies also have employed a deliberate campaign of exaggerations and fabrications. The suggestion that DoD personnel, the overwhelming majority of whom serve honorably, are or ever were engaged in systematic mistreatment of detainees is false and does not withstand scrutiny.”

As for Neely, he still recalls his conversations with the detainees who spoke English.

“I was always kind of worried about them because of all the stuff I had heard,” Neely said. “We were told they were all guilty.” The two prisoners he spoke to the most were former British detainees Ruhal Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul. At Guantanamo, they would talk about music and normal subjects. “Eminem and Dr. Dre… at the time [they] were real big,” Neely said.

Ahmed “would tell us he was from London. It was kind of weird, because here this guy was in Guantanamo behind this cell door and here I was on the outside … He was actually doing a lot of the same stuff that I was doing in the United States … We had a little bit in common.”

Ahmed and Rasul were released from Guantanamo and transferred to Britain in 2004. They sued for damages against Donald Rumsfeld, the former U.S. secretary of state, and other senior military officers over alleged inhumane treatment at Guantanamo. The case was dismissed because the alleged abuse occurred before the U.S Supreme Court said that the constitution covered detainees in Guantanamo.

Neely returned to Fort Hood after his six-month deployment at Guantanamo was up. When he left, he signed a non-disclosure statement — which he said was routine — stating that he would not talk to the press, write a book or make a movie. He was told he could be prosecuted if he did, but has gone public about his concerns because he disagrees with U.S. policies in places like Guantanamo and Iraq. He has also testified to the Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas at the University of California, Davis.

“I have no problem fighting and dying for this country, but I am not going to kill or be killed for something I don’t believe in,” he said.

Neely deployed to Iraq in 2003, returned to the U.S. the following year and left the military in 2005, when his contract was up. In 2007, Neely did not respond to a recall for active duty and he was honorably discharged. He now works as a police officer in Texas, where he is raising three children.

He thinks the detention center should be closed. “I think someone would be naive to say that everybody that ever stepped foot in Guantanamo was innocent,” Neely said. We know they are not, but “the fact is there is a better way to do it … you can’t just throw the principles and the values of the country and the law of the land out the window because it benefits you.” Detaining innocent people and depriving them of their due process is “a significant black eye on the Unites States,” Neely added.

There will be a time and a place when Neely will tell his children — the oldest is now 10 — about Guantanamo. I will “give them all the information and let them make their own opinion … I’ll just tell them the truth … I will tell them that I have been part of it.”

Neely initially contacted Rasul via Facebook and then met with Ahmed and Rasul, the two former British detainees, in London almost two years ago.

Neely wanted to get in touch with them to say that he was sorry for the part he played in their detention at Guantanamo. “I was very nervous to meet them,” Neely said. He did not know what might happen. “I wasn’t sure if they would hate me, yell at me,” he added. “I can honestly say though when I left London I left with two more friends then I arrived with.”


© 2011 Cable News Network

October 31, 2011, CNN

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A brief history of waterboarding

<img title=”1902watercure” src=”http://alarob.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/1902watercure.jpg?w=313&h=311&#8243; alt=”American soldiers torture a Philippine captive as European despots look on with delight (Life magazine cover, 1902).” width=”313″ height=”311″ />American soldiers torture a Philippine captive as European despots look on with delight (Lifemagazine cover, 1902).“Waterboarding” is the latest name for a form of water torture going back to the Middle Ages in Europe, but condemned as illegal and immoral since the 1700s. Banned from Europe, water torture persisted in other parts of the world, including some European colonies, until the mid-20th century.In the United States, water torture first appears as a means to terrorize slaves. It persists into the 20th century as a routine punishment for African American convict laborers in the Deep South. Most notoriously, it was used by U.S. soldiers on Philippine captives during the Philippine-American War (1899-1902). After that war, the technique shows up sporadically in some domestic police departments as a way to force detainees to confess to a crime.1The “water cure”:Here’s a description by 1st Lt. Grover Flint, 35th U.S. Infantry, of a typical field interrogation in the occupied Philippines:

A man is thrown down on his back and three or four men sit or stand on his arms and legs and hold him down, and either a gun barrel or a rifle barrel or a carbine barrel or a stick … is simply thrust into his jaws … as a gag. In the case of very old men I have seen their teeth fall out — I mean when it was done a little roughly. He is simply held down, and then water is poured onto his face, down his throat and nose …, and that is kept up until the man gives some sign of giving in or becomes unconscious.… A man suffers tremendously; there is no doubt about that. His suffering must be like that of a man who is drowning, but who can not drown.2

Soldiers and officers called this technique “the water cure,” after a type of alternative health care, popular in the 1800s, in which applying cold water to the body was considered therapeutic. By using this term to name an excruciating torture, the soldiers were making what ethicist Jonathan Glover calls a “cold joke” — a humorless witticism that distances the torturer from his own action by making nonsense of the victim’s suffering.

As far as I know, no one has yet uncovered the origin of the term “waterboarding.” But if it was coined by the men who practice it today, it probably also originates in a cold joke — possibly an attempt to call the torture an “extreme sport,” by analogy with snowboarding, sandboarding, dirtboarding, etc. [Update: Why we call it waterboarding]

Water torture and slavery: As mentioned, water torture probably made its first appearance in North America as a means to control African slaves. At least one slaveholder seems to have regarded it as an appropriate punishment for slaves considered too small or weak for whipping. The earliest reference I’ve seen is an oblique one, contained in an 1815 verse satire lampooning James Caller, a politician in Mississippi Territory. Believing himself surrounded by Indian warriors, Caller is seen promising God that, if spared, he will no longer starve or abuse his slaves: “Nor will I shave their heads, for small offence, / Nor pour on water, ’til deprived of sense.” The author adds that this water torture was “a mode of punishment adopted by [Caller], among his small slaves, for trivial offences: and to which a gentleman was an eye witness.”3

Modern innovations: Convict laborers in the post-Civil-War South — often black men arrested on trumped-up charges to fill labor quotas or to break strikes at southern mines — endured a loss of freedom identical to slavery, but under even more brutal conditions. Punishments included routine whippings and, what was considered worse, the “water cure,” which sometimes resulted in death. Atlanta industrialist Joel Hurt considered the “water cure” an improvement on whipping because the prisoner, if he didn’t die, could be returned to work immediately afterward.

Convict labor bosses used the tools available to them to develop variations on the water torture. In one of these, the victim was stripped naked and made to stand under an ice-cold shower until he collapsed with hypothermia. In another, he was stripped and tied to a chair, then a high-pressure water hose was turned on him, pounding his skin and filling his nose and mouth with water until he felt he was drowning.4

It’s difficult not to infer some continuity between this latter technique (used at Birmingham, Alabama mines) and the fire hoses turned on civil-rights demonstrators at the direction of Birmingham Police Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor in 1963.

“Waterboarding” is water torture. I hope this sketch makes plain that to refer to waterboarding as anything other than torture is to commit euphemism in the service of centralized power.


1 The last reported episode of water torture by U.S. police occurred in 1983 in Texas. 
2 U.S. Senate Doc. 331, Hearings Before the Senate Committee on the Philippine Islands, 57th Cong., 1st Sess., 1902, vol. II, p. 1767; quoted in Richard Drinnon, Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-hating and Empire-building (New American Library, 1980), p. 320. 
3 [Lewis Sewall], The Last Campaign of Sir John Falstaff the II.; or, The Hero of the Burnt-Corn Fight (St. Stephens, 1815), p. 13. 
4 Douglas A. Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name: The Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (Anchor Books, 2009), pp. 71, 319, 347, 368. 

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A Visual History of Water-Based Tortures

Waterboarding is not a new or modern technique; it is one of many water-based tortures with long and well-documented histories of use by religious officials, military officers, and civilians. Many of those uses have resulted in public trials and convictions. These pictures depict a variety of water-based tortures including but not exclusively waterboarding, to place current practices in a historical context.This chronology is far from complete; if you’re aware of other pictures of waterboarding please let us know.

1478~1574: The Spanish Inquisition

“The toca, also called “tortura del agua”, consisted of introducing a cloth into the mouth of the victim, and forcing them to ingest water spilled from a jar so that they had the impression of drowning.”

1478~1574: The Spanish Inquisition

1556~1559: The Flemish Inquisition

A less famous but no less brutal persecution of Anabaptists in Belgium. Several fatal water-based tortures are depicted in “Martyrs Mirror” (1685) with illustrations by Jan Luiken.1556: "The Water Torture", Antwerp1558: Drowning of Joris Wippe, Dordrecht1560: The Drowning of Leonard Pluvier, Jannetje, and Marietje van Aken, Antwerp

1800s: A Common Scold

Scolding was a common punishment for antisocial women in early Europe and America. Water-based tortures were used to identify witches or inflict suffering on suspects as a trial by ordeal. Presuming that God would help the innocent by performing a miracle on their behalf, suspects would be mistreated to see if God (or Satan) would intercede.

1800s: The Ducking Stool

1858: “Negro Convict Showered to Death”, Auburn State Prison, New York

In what Harper’s Weekly would call a “fearful picture of the mismanagement of our public institutions … a convict named More was, imprisoned in the State Prison at Auburn, was showered to death by the prison officials. … all the water that was in the tank — amounting to from three to five barrels, the quantity is uncertain — was showered upon him in spite of his piteous cries; a few minutes after his release from the bath he fell prostrate, was carried to his cell, and died in five minutes.” “The use of the shower-bath as a means of coercing criminals into submission to the orders of prison authorities began to be general about the year 1845.”

The use of the shower-bath as a means of coercing criminals into submission to the orders of prison authorities began to be general about the year 1845.

1899~1902: Philippine-American War

This cartoon on the May 22, 1902 cover of Life magazine depicts American soldiers waterboarding a Filipino in the Philippine-American War. There was widespread public outcry in the early 1900s after waterboarding was discovered in use during the Philippine-American War. Lieutenant Grover Flint described one such torture session.

May 1902: "Water Cure", Philippine-American WarMay 22, 1902: Life MagazineMay 1902: "Water Cure", Philippine-American War

1956~1957: The Algerian Occupation

The French military used waterboarding against civilians suspected of cooperation with FLN in “Battle of Algiers“, including their fellow French citizens. In this video, Algerian journalist Henri Aleg talks about how he was tortured with “simulated drowning”.

1968: United States soldiers, Da Nang, Vietnam

On Jan. 21, 1968, The Washington Post ran a front-page photo of a U.S. soldier supervising the waterboarding of a captured North Vietnamese soldier near Da Nang. The caption said the technique induced “a flooding sense of suffocation and drowning, meant to make him talk.” This picture led to an Army investigation and, two months later, the court martial of the soldier.

December 21, 1968: Da Nang, Vietnam

1975~1979: Khmer Rouge, Cambodia

Between 1975 and 1979 the Khmer Rouge used a variety of water-based tortures at their prison camps which housed Cambodian civilians, suspected Khmer Rouge defectors, and at least one American reporter.

WaterboardWaterboarding BarrelWaterboarding by BarrelWater TableDSCF1265.JPGWaterboard, Table, Barrel

1980: Hissene Habre, Chad

Drawings by a human rights group in Chad show examples of waterboarding used in the 1980s by Chadian forces under the command of military ruler Hissene Habre, who was indicted in 2005 by a Belgian court for torture and crimes against humanity and faces prosecution in Senegal.1980 Chad Barrel

1980~2000: Latin America

Waterboarding and other water-based tortures such as “el submarino” — the submarine — were practiced against prisoners of both sides of the Peruvian Internal conflict. Similar interrogations were practiced in the Argentine Dirty War.

December 12, 1978: Uruguay

2002~2003: United States Central Intelligence Agency

“The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner’s face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.” As depicted by ABC News, “Only Three Have Been Waterboarded by CIA“, November 02, 2007

2005 CIA Waterboarding

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This picture of US soldiers supervising the waterboarding of North Vietnamese prisoners was published in a US newspaper in 1968, resulting in an investigation and convictions.This picture of US soldiers supervising the waterboarding of North Vietnamese prisoners was published in a US newspaper in 1968, resulting in an investigation and convictions. [Source: Bettmann / Corbis]In 2007, it will be reported that the CIA used the controversial interrogation technique of waterboarding on at least three detainees. The Associated Press will claim the detainees are:
bullet Abu Zubaida, who is captured in March 2002 and tortured around May 2002 (see March 28, 2002 and Mid-May 2002 and After).
bullet Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is captured in November 2002 (see Early October 2002 and (November 2002)).
bullet Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM), who is allegedly captured in early 2003 (see February 29 or March 1, 2003 and Shortly After February 29 or March 1, 2003). [Associated Press, 12/11/2007]
bullet NBC News will report a list of three that includes Hambali, who is captured in August 2003 (see August 12, 2003 and Shortly After August 12, 2003). NBC’s list also mentions KSM and Zubaida, but does not mention al-Nashiri. [MSNBC, 9/13/2007] In a 2007 book, former CIA Director George Tenet will hint that slightly more than three may have been waterboarded, writing, “The most aggressive interrogation techniques conducted by CIA personnel were applied to only a handful of the worst terrorists on the planet, including people who had planned the 9/11 attacks…” [Tenet, 2007, pp. 242] ABC News will claim in September 2007, “It is believed that waterboarding was used on fewer than five ‘high-value’ terrorist subjects…” [ABC News, 9/14/2007] Prior to 2002, waterboarding was classified by the US government as a form of torture, and treated as a serious criminal offense. US soldiers were court-martialled for waterboarding captives as recently as the Vietnam War. The technique is said to simulate death by drowning. [New Yorker, 8/6/2007] In the 1600s, King James I of England wrote about the torture his government was using and stated that waterboarding was the most extreme form of torture used, worse than the rack and thumbscrews. [Harper's, 12/15/2007] In 2007, it will be revealed that at least some of the interrogations of Zubaida and al-Nashiri were videotaped, and it is suspected by some that their waterboarding may have been taped (see Spring-Late 2002). These tapes will later be destroyed under controversial circumstances (see November 2005). A government official will later claim that waterboarding is no longer used after 2003. The CIA and US military will prohibit the use of waterboarding in 2006. [Associated Press, 12/11/2007]

Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Hambali, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaida

Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives, Complete 911 Timeline

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life-magazine-may22-1902-US soldiers waterboarding a detainee in the Philippines, durring the US- Philippine war, combating against the native insurgents defending againt USA occupation

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A brief history of waterboarding

<img title=”1902watercure” src=”http://alarob.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/1902watercure.jpg?w=313&h=311&#8243; alt=”American soldiers torture a Philippine captive as European despots look on with delight (Life magazine cover, 1902).” width=”313″ height=”311″ />American soldiers torture a Philippine captive as European despots look on with delight (Lifemagazine cover, 1902).“Waterboarding” is the latest name for a form of water torture going back to the Middle Ages in Europe, but condemned as illegal and immoral since the 1700s. Banned from Europe, water torture persisted in other parts of the world, including some European colonies, until the mid-20th century.In the United States, water torture first appears as a means to terrorize slaves. It persists into the 20th century as a routine punishment for African American convict laborers in the Deep South. Most notoriously, it was used by U.S. soldiers on Philippine captives during the Philippine-American War (1899-1902). After that war, the technique shows up sporadically in some domestic police departments as a way to force detainees to confess to a crime.1The “water cure”:Here’s a description by 1st Lt. Grover Flint, 35th U.S. Infantry, of a typical field interrogation in the occupied Philippines:

A man is thrown down on his back and three or four men sit or stand on his arms and legs and hold him down, and either a gun barrel or a rifle barrel or a carbine barrel or a stick … is simply thrust into his jaws … as a gag. In the case of very old men I have seen their teeth fall out — I mean when it was done a little roughly. He is simply held down, and then water is poured onto his face, down his throat and nose …, and that is kept up until the man gives some sign of giving in or becomes unconscious.… A man suffers tremendously; there is no doubt about that. His suffering must be like that of a man who is drowning, but who can not drown.2

Soldiers and officers called this technique “the water cure,” after a type of alternative health care, popular in the 1800s, in which applying cold water to the body was considered therapeutic. By using this term to name an excruciating torture, the soldiers were making what ethicist Jonathan Glover calls a “cold joke” — a humorless witticism that distances the torturer from his own action by making nonsense of the victim’s suffering.

As far as I know, no one has yet uncovered the origin of the term “waterboarding.” But if it was coined by the men who practice it today, it probably also originates in a cold joke — possibly an attempt to call the torture an “extreme sport,” by analogy with snowboarding, sandboarding, dirtboarding, etc. [Update: Why we call it waterboarding]

Water torture and slavery: As mentioned, water torture probably made its first appearance in North America as a means to control African slaves. At least one slaveholder seems to have regarded it as an appropriate punishment for slaves considered too small or weak for whipping. The earliest reference I’ve seen is an oblique one, contained in an 1815 verse satire lampooning James Caller, a politician in Mississippi Territory. Believing himself surrounded by Indian warriors, Caller is seen promising God that, if spared, he will no longer starve or abuse his slaves: “Nor will I shave their heads, for small offence, / Nor pour on water, ’til deprived of sense.” The author adds that this water torture was “a mode of punishment adopted by [Caller], among his small slaves, for trivial offences: and to which a gentleman was an eye witness.”3

Modern innovations: Convict laborers in the post-Civil-War South — often black men arrested on trumped-up charges to fill labor quotas or to break strikes at southern mines — endured a loss of freedom identical to slavery, but under even more brutal conditions. Punishments included routine whippings and, what was considered worse, the “water cure,” which sometimes resulted in death. Atlanta industrialist Joel Hurt considered the “water cure” an improvement on whipping because the prisoner, if he didn’t die, could be returned to work immediately afterward.

Convict labor bosses used the tools available to them to develop variations on the water torture. In one of these, the victim was stripped naked and made to stand under an ice-cold shower until he collapsed with hypothermia. In another, he was stripped and tied to a chair, then a high-pressure water hose was turned on him, pounding his skin and filling his nose and mouth with water until he felt he was drowning.4

It’s difficult not to infer some continuity between this latter technique (used at Birmingham, Alabama mines) and the fire hoses turned on civil-rights demonstrators at the direction of Birmingham Police Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor in 1963.

“Waterboarding” is water torture. I hope this sketch makes plain that to refer to waterboarding as anything other than torture is to commit euphemism in the service of centralized power.


1 The last reported episode of water torture by U.S. police occurred in 1983 in Texas. 
2 U.S. Senate Doc. 331, Hearings Before the Senate Committee on the Philippine Islands, 57th Cong., 1st Sess., 1902, vol. II, p. 1767; quoted in Richard Drinnon, Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-hating and Empire-building (New American Library, 1980), p. 320. 
3 [Lewis Sewall], The Last Campaign of Sir John Falstaff the II.; or, The Hero of the Burnt-Corn Fight (St. Stephens, 1815), p. 13. 
4 Douglas A. Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name: The Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (Anchor Books, 2009), pp. 71, 319, 347, 368. 

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Robert Fisk: Why torturers film their handiwork

Saturday 26 November 2011

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When prisoners were brought to Saddam Hussein’s intelligence service for interrogation, their torturers often videotaped the torment.

In the years after his downfall, I lectured around the world on the illegality and the immorality and the outrageous civilian slaughter of the invasion of Iraq by George W Bush and Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara (now, of course, Lord Blair of Isfahan). But I also carried with me extracts from those obscene videos – just in case the war’s detractors forgot just what an iniquitous man Saddam actually was.

To spare the sensitivities of audiences, I cut hours of video down to a raw and terrifying minute and a half in which prisoners in underpants were whipped with wire by uniformed guards, made to crawl in sewers and were eventually piled in a bloody heap of the semi-dead. Blood was the colour. The only sounds were of the guards’ abuse and the screaming and pleading of the captives. The videos were originally shot to shame the prisoners, but also, I suspect, for the sense of domination it gave the torturers.

The Abu Ghraib pictures – US torturers taking over the role of the Iraqi thugs in the very same prison in which many of the earlier Saddam videos were shot – had perhaps the same purpose. Lynndie England saw nothing particularly wrong with them. That was what Iraq was like, wasn’t it? And we must forget, of course, that other American pictures from Abu Ghraib, which Obama the Good has decided we must not see, show the rape of Iraqi women and boys.

Janina Struk’s new book on soldiers’ private pictures of war, which I wrote about last week, contains some paragraphs about the new military art of filming, editing and producing war by video, the soldiers’ very own version of Hollywood, in which real soldiers play themselves in real life and real Iraqis are cut down and killed in front of the camera. If the Vietnam-era US army could take photos of its own atrocities, American soldiers in Iraq have gone a step further.

On one website, Struk found a photograph “that showed five American marines smiling and fooling around for the camera beside a charred corpse”, alongside the comment “Cooked Iraqi”. A rotting corpse lying in the street carried the comment: “Bad day for this dude.” A picture of a dead man with entrails and brains hanging from his body carried the following comment: “What every Iraqi should look like… Kill ‘EM ALL and let ALLAH sort them out!” (An almost identical expression to that on a Jewish settler’s assault rifle in an exhibition of Israeli soldiers’ pictures from the occupied territories: “Kill ‘em all, Let God sort ‘em out.”) In some videos Struk watched, pounding rock music accompanies images of US soldiers apparently firing at random Iraqis in Fallujah. But this isn’t the only location for filmed atrocities. “One,” writes Struk, “explicitly entitled ‘Troops Throw Flashbang Grenade at Iraqi Farmer and His Sheep’ … shows precisely what its title suggests. A grenade is thrown from a moving vehicle at an elderly shepherd tending his flock of sheep grazing by the side of the road. It hits the target and explodes. There is laughter and the film ends… Another film, made up of four separate clips, shows someone with an automatic weapon randomly shooting from the back of a fast moving vehicle at approaching civilian cars. This film is thought to have been made by British contractors.” Images of civilian cars shot up because they moved too close to US military vehicles provoked the comment: “I say blast the fuck outta those moron’s [sic] that come up on the tail end of that marked vehicle.”

The insurgents of Iraq have used the same system, albeit for more grimly doctrinal reasons. The videotaping of the mass shooting of captured police officers north of Baghdad (a colour version of 1942 Nazi images from the Ukraine and Belarus) and the beheading-execution of hostages was intended to dissuade Iraqis from collaborating, and of frightening the West into retreating from Iraq. Outside a mosque in Fallujah, I came across a video for sale which showed a man brought into a room and forced to lie face down on the floor. A knife is then placed beneath his chin and, as the man tries to control his pain, his head is slowly cut off.

I suspect this was film of a Russian soldier in Chechnya, the video on sale to teach Iraqi insurgent executioners how to butcher a human being. This, I think, was a “teaching tool”, as our educationalists like to say. The guy will scream; there’ll be a lot of blood. I noticed that later execution videos showed the murderers wearing rubber gloves. But do American videos, many obviously recorded by helmet-cameras, not contain a similar purpose? To desensitise soldiers to human suffering? Struk compares them with photographs of the 1914-18 Great War displayed at an anti-war exhibition in Berlin – until the Nazis shut it down in 1933.

And who of us has clean hands? In 1992-93, I was a reporter on a three-part film series called From Beirut to Bosnia, which showed terrible scenes of suffering from hospitals in Beirut, Cairo, Sarajevo and Gaza. In Gaza City, a Palestinian Hamas member was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier and we filmed him – with the permission of his family – as doctors tried to prevent him from swallowing his tongue as they operated. I don’t know if he could see us or hear us. But he died as we filmed him. And, if conscious, the last thing he saw and heard on earth was the black and white clapperboard snapping shut in front of his face to the words: “Three and one on the end!”

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The real definition of Terrorism

VIDEO

The FBI yesterday announced it has secured an indictment against Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa, a 38-year-old citizen of Iraq currently in Canada, from which the U.S. is seeking his extradition. The headline on the FBI’s Press Release tells the basic story: “Alleged Terrorist Indicted in New York for the Murder of Five American Soldiers.” The criminal complaint previously filed under seal provides the details: ‘Isa is charged with “providing material support to a terrorist conspiracy” because he allegedly supported a 2008 attack on a U.S. military base in Mosul that killed 5 American soldiers. In other words, if the U.S. invades and occupies your country, and you respond by fighting back against the invading army — the ultimate definition of a “military, not civilian target” — then you are a . . . Terrorist.

Here is how the complaint, in the first paragraph, summarizes the Terrorism charge against ‘Isa:

By “outside of the United States,” the Government means: inside Iraq, ‘Isa’s country. The bulk of the complaint details conversations ‘Isa allegedly had over the Internet, while he was in Canada, with several Tunisians who wanted to engage in suicide attacks aimed at American troops in Iraq; he is not alleged to have organized the Mosul attack but merely to have provided political and religious encouragement (the network of which he was allegedly a part also carried out a suicide attack on an Iraqi police station, though ‘Isa’s alleged involvement is confined to the attack on the U.S. military base that killed the 5 soldiers along with several Iraqis, and the Terrorism indictment is based solely on the deaths of the U.S. soldiers).

In an effort to depict him as a crazed, Terrorist fanatic, the complaint includes this description of conversations he had while being monitored:

Is that not exactly the mindset that more or less anyone in the world would have: if a foreign army invades your country and proceeds to brutally occupy it for the next eight years, then it’s your solemn duty to fight them? Indeed, isn’t that exactly the mentality that caused some young Americans to enlist after the 9/11 attack and be hailed as heroes: they attacked us on our soil, and so now I want to fight them?

Yet when it’s the U.S. that is doing the invading and attacking, then we’re all supposed to look upon this very common reaction with mockery, horror, and disgust– look at these primitive religious fanatic Terrorists who have no regard for human life — because the only healthy, normal, civilized reaction someone should have to the U.S. invading, occupying, and destroying their country is gratitude, or at least passive acquiescence. Anything else, by definition, makes you a Terrorist. That’s because it is an inherent American right to invade or occupy whomever it wants and only a Terrorist would resist (to see one vivid (and darkly humorous) expression of this pathological, imperial entitlement, see this casual speculation from a neocon law professor at Cornell that Iran may have committed an “act of war” if it brought down the American drone that entered its airspace and hovered over its soil without permission: “if it is true, as the Iranians claim, that the drone did not fall by accident but was brought down by Iranian electronic means, then isn’t that already an act of war?”).

It’s one thing to condemn ‘Isa’s actions on moral or ethical grounds: one could argue, I suppose, that the solemn duty of every Iraqi was to respectfully treat the American invaders as honored (albeit uninvited) guests, or at least to cede to invading American troops the monopoly on violence. But it’s another thing entirely to label someone who does choose to fight back as a “Terrorist” and prosecute them as such under charges that entail life in prison (by contrast: an Israeli soldier yesterday killed a Palestinian protester in a small West Bank village that has had much of its land appropriated by Israeli settlers, by shooting him in the face at relatively close range with a tear gas cannister, while an Israeli plane attacked a civilian home in Gaza and killed a father and his young son while injuring several other children; acts like that, or the countless acts of reckless or even deliberate slaughter of civilians by Americans, must never be deemed Terrorism).

Few things better illustrate the utter meaninglessness of the word Terrorism than applying it to a citizen of an invaded country for fighting back against the invading army and aiming at purely military targets (this is far from the first time that Iraqis and others who were accused of fighting back against the invading U.S. military have been formally deemed to be Terrorists for having done so). To the extent the word means anything operationally, it is: he who effectively opposes the will of the U.S. and its allies.

This topic is so vital because this meaningless, definition-free word — Terrorism — drives so many of our political debates and policies. Virtually every debate in which I ever participate quickly and prominently includes defenders of government policy invoking the word as some sort of debate-ending, magical elixir: of course President Obama has to assassinate U.S. citizens without due process: they’re Terrorists; of course we have to stay in Afghanistan: we have to stop The Terrorists; President Obama is not only right to kill people (including civilians) using drones, but is justified in boasting and even joking about it, because they’re Terrorists; of course some people should be held in prison without charges: they’re Terrorists, etc. etc. It’s a word that simultaneously means nothing and justifies everything.

* * * * *

Here are two videos relating somewhat to this: (1) Sen. Carl Levin claimed as part of the debate over the detention bill he sponsored with John McCain that it was the Obama White House that demanded the removal of language that would have exempted U.S. citizens from military detention without charges:

(2) Last month, I sat for an hour-long interview with Berkeley’s Harry Kreisler as part of that university’s Conversations With History series. Although the event was nominally part of my book tour, Kreisler was a very good interviewer who asked a lot of probing questions unrelated to the book which I’m not generally asked — about my background, intellectual influences and foundations, motives — and so some may find this discussion worthwhile:

Glenn Greenwald
Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.More Glenn Greenwald

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List of Likely CIA Prisoners Who Are Still Missing

by Dafna Linzer
ProPublica, April 22, 2009, 8:15 a.m.

ProPublicaProPublica

The CIA has not released the names of terrorism suspects it held in secret detention with the exception of 14 who were transferred to Guantanamo Bay, in September 2006. Human rights groups have tried to track those identities using publicly available information about high-profile captures, eyewitness accounts from former detainees and family inquiries. In June 2007, six human rights groups released the names of nearly three dozen apparent CIA prisoners (PDF) whose fates remained unknown. We’ve updated that list based on the most current information available to Human Rights Watch. (For more details, also see our accompanying story.)We asked the CIA whether any of the people on the list were in CIA custody, whether any of them were among those detainees whom the CIA transferred to other countries for prosecution or detention, as former President Bush said had been done when he publicly acknowledged the program in September 2006, and whether the CIA is aware of and can disclose the current locations of any of these people.

CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano sent the following response: “The agency has not, as a rule, commented on these kinds of lists, which are typically flawed.” We invited him to clarify those flaws but have not yet heard back.

1. Hassan Ghul, a Pakistani citizen who was detained in Iraq in 2004.  As we wrote last week, one of the recently released memos revealed Ghul had been in CIA custody. He was reportedly last seen in Pakistani custody in late 2006. His whereabouts now are unknown.

2. Ali Abd al-Rahman al-Faqasi al-Ghamdi, detained in Saudi Arabia in June 2003. He is believed to be in Saudi custody.

3. Ali Abdul-Hamid al-Fakhiri, also known as Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi. Was detained in Pakistan in November 2001 and is believed to now be in Libyan custody.

4. Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, a Syrian national captured in Pakistan in November 2005. He is believed to be in Syrian custody.

5. Abdul Basit, believed to be a Saudi or Yemeni national taken before June 2004. His whereabouts are unknown.

6. Adnan. His last name and citizenship are unknown. He was captured before June 2004 and whereabouts are unknown.

7. Hudaifa. His last name and citizenship are unknown. He was captured before June 2004 and whereabouts are unknown.

8. Mohammed al-Afghani. An Afghan citizen detained in Pakistan in May 2004. Believed to be at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

9. Ayoub al-Libi, a Libyan held in Pakistan in January 2004. He is believed to be in Libyan custody now.

10. Yassir al-Jazeeri is an Algerian captured in early 2003 in Pakistan and whose whereabouts is unknown.

12. Mohammed Omar Abdel-Rahman is an Egyptian who was captured in Pakistan in early 2003 and is now believed to be in Egyptian custody.

13. Majid, a Libyan. His last name and whereabouts are unknown.

14. Hassan Rabai, a Libyan who is believed to be in Libyan custody.

15. Khaled al-Sharif, a Libyan who is believed to be in Libyan custody.

16. Osama bin Yousaf is a Pakistani citizen who may have been captured in Pakistan in August 2005 and whose whereabouts are unknown.

17. Osama Nazir is a Pakistani citizen believed to have been detained in Pakistan in November 2004. He is believed to be in Pakistani custody.

18. Sharif al-Masri is an Egyptian believed to have been nabbed on the Pakistan-Afghan border in August 2004. His whereabouts are unknown.

20. Mustafa Mohammed Fadhil is a Kenyan or Egyptian national who was reportedly detained in Pakistan in August 2004. His whereabouts are unknown.

21. Musaab Aruchi is a Pakistani citizen detained in Pakistan in June 2004. His whereabouts are unknown.

22. Ibad Al Yaquti al Sheikh al Sufiyan is a Saudi citizen believed to have been detained in Pakistan in January 2004. His whereabouts are unknown.

23. Walid bin Azmi, his nationality is unknown. He was reportedly captured in Pakistan in January 2004 and his whereabouts are unknown.

24. Amir Hussein Abdullah al-Misri, an Egyptian who was reportedly arrested in Pakistan in January 2004. His whereabouts are unknown.

25. Safwan al-Hasham is a Saudi national reportedly detained in Pakistan in May 2003. His whereabouts are unknown.

26. Jawad al-Bashar is an Egyptian who was reportedly captured in Pakistan in May 2003. His whereabouts are unknown.

27. Saif al Islam el Masry is an Egyptian citizen reportedly detained in Georgia in September 2002. His whereabouts are unknown.

28. Sheikh Ahmed Salim is a Tanzanian citizen reportedly detained in Pakistan in July 2002. His whereabouts are unknown.

29. Anas al-Libi is a Libyan who was detained in Sudan in February 2002. His whereabouts are unknown.

30. Al-Rubaia. His first name is unknown. He is believed to be an Iraqi citizen arrested in 2002 and whose whereabout are unknown.

31. Speen Ghul was arrested in Pakistan. He is believed to be Somali and his whereabouts are unknown.

32. Khalil al-Uzbeki, an Uzbek citizen. His whereabouts and the details of his capture are unknown.

33. Ahmed Abdul Rashid a Somali citizen. His whereabouts and the details of his capture are unknown.

34. Hiwa Abdul Rahman Rashul, an Iraqi citizen arrested in Iraq in 2003. His whereabouts and the details of his capture are unknown.

35. Abdullah Ahmad Salih al-Rimi, believed to be Yemeni. His whereabouts and the details of his capture are unknown

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Judges Reject Interrogation Evidence in Gitmo Cases

U.S. military guards walk a detainee through Camp Delta in the Guantanamo Bay detention center on March 29, 2010. (John Moore/Getty Images)

by Chisun Lee
ProPublica, Aug. 13, 2010, 4:19 p.m.

This story was co-published with The National Law Journal.

The government’s case for keeping the Guantánamo Bay prisoner locked away seemed airtight. He had confessed to overseeing the distribution of supplies to al-Qaida fighters battling U.S. forces in Afghanistan, even describing the routes where pack mules hauled the packages.

But a federal judge rejected Fouad Mahmoud Al Rabiah’s confessions, concluding that he had concocted them under intense coercion. Even statements that the government insisted Al Rabiah had made under noncoercive, or “clean,” questioning were tainted, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled, and she ordered that Al Rabiah be released.

The government has lost eight of 15 cases in which Guantánamo inmates have said they or witnesses against them were forcibly interrogated, according to ProPublica’s review of 31 published decisions that resolve lawsuits filed by 52 captives who said they’ve been wrongfully detained. Because some of the judges’ opinions are heavily redacted, it’s impossible to be sure there aren’t more cases in which the government offered interrogation evidence collected under questionable circumstances. More than 50 such lawsuits are still pending, two years after the U.S. Supreme Court gave Guantánamo inmates the green light to challenge their detention in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Judges rejected government evidence because of interrogation tactics ranging from verbal threats to physical abuse they called torture. Even in the seven cases the government won, the judges didn’t endorse aggressive methods. In six, they decided the detainees’ stories of abuse simply weren’t credible or were irrelevant to the outcome. In one, the prisoner had repeated self-incriminating statements in military hearings, which the judge viewed as less intimidating than the interrogations he found unacceptable.

The 15 decisions offer the most detailed accounting to date of how information obtained from the Guantánamo inmates through controversial tactics is standing up in court. They come in cases initiated by detainees seeking release via a writ of habeas corpus, not cherry-picked by prosecutors. Criminal law experts say the judges’ opinions help explain why the government has decided not to pursue criminal convictions against some detainees. Such evidence would pose even greater problems in criminal trials, for which requirements of proof are more demanding.

The Obama administration has already said that at least 48 of the remaining 176 prisoners at Guantánamo will be held indefinitely because they’re too dangerous to release but can’t be prosecuted successfully in military or civilian court. They’ve said that coercion-tainted evidence is one obstacle.

In most of the cases the government lost, the judges rejected statements even from the “clean” sessions that the Bush administration began administering in 2002 to collect evidence to use in court. The fear prisoners experienced during improper interrogations bled over to corrupt those statements too, the judges said. In Al Rabiah’s case, Kollar-Kotelly found that interrogators fed him incriminating details “that the Government has not even attempted to rely on as reliable or credible,” including a story of his handing Osama bin Laden “a suitcase full of money.” Then interrogators used “abusive techniques,” such as sleep deprivation, threats of torture and other methods described in redacted passages, to get him to admit to them. Al Rabiah is now free in his home country, Kuwait.

“We thought all along that this could happen,” said Brittain Mallow, the former commander of the Department of Defense Criminal Investigation Task Force, who supervised the clean interviews from 2002 to 2005. “There was no question in our minds that that would be a defense strategy, to say, ‘This person was treated badly, and you can’t trust anything he told anyone.’ But we didn’t control all the interviews of the detainees, so what we could do was limited.”

Where the judges draw the line for acceptable tactics affects how interrogators question U.S. prisoners in ongoing hostilities, said Robert Chesney, a former adviser to President Barack Obama’s Detainee Policy Task Force. In May, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied U.S. captives in Afghanistan the same right to legal review as the Guantánamo detainees, but after three prisoners sought a rehearing, the court this month ruled that they could present new evidence in a lower court to continue fighting their detention.

“You have to assume that, if you’re in charge of a detention facility, you’re operating in the shadow of these rulings,” said Chesney, who teaches national security law at the University of Texas School of Law.

Lawyers familiar with the Guantánamo case files expect many of the remaining habeas cases will also turn on judges’ assessments of interrogation evidence.

“I’m not aware of a single case that doesn’t rely extensively on statements of detainees,” said Philip Sundel, deputy chief defense counsel in the Defense Department’s Office of Military Commissions. An administration review recently obtained by The Washington Post supports his assessment: “Much of what is known about such detainees comes from their own statements or statements made by other detainees during custodial debriefings.”

At this point, the government has lost 37 of the 53 habeas cases that have been decided, most because it couldn’t produce enough reliable evidence that the men were al-Qaida or Taliban militants.

No Do-Overs

The government is borrowing its clean-evidence approach from criminal law, by which prosecutors occasionally succeed in arguing that a change in time, scene or interrogator has reduced a suspect’s fears enough that a court should accept his subsequent words as voluntary and true.

But almost no change has been enough to convince judges that the unusual pressures experienced by the Guantánamo inmates had been eased. Many of the detainees were aggressively interrogated at foreign prisons. Once at Guantánamo, each captive was questioned “dozens of times, over the course of weeks and months, by different entities, different persons, different interviewers, sometimes for completely different purposes and with different kinds of questions,” Mallow said. Driven to get actionable intelligence, some interrogators used now widely criticized tactics such as prolonged sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, stress positions, threats with military dogs and, as Mallow put it, “experimentation and ad hoc methodologies.”

In the 15 decisions ProPublica reviewed, only once did the government succeed in persuading a judge that the taint of coercion had been removed from specific pieces of evidence. Moving detainees from harsh prisons abroad to Guantánamo didn’t work, nor did sending in cordial interviewers rather than aggressive interrogators. In some cases, judges still saw taint in “clean” statements taken months or even years after coercive interrogations.

Last year, Justice Department lawyers tried to show that Farhi Saeed bin Mohammed was an al-Qaida fighter by using statements from another detainee, Binyam Mohamed, whose “harrowing” interrogation ordeal was described in an 81-page opinion by Senior Judge Gladys Kessler. For two years, beginning with his capture in April 2002, foreign interrogators holding him “at the behest of the United States” beat and kicked him, chained him to a wall, kept him half-standing for long stretches and cut him with a blade, including on his genitals. He was “fed information” and “told to verify it.” During that time, he was also interrogated by the FBI and CIA.

The government’s lawyers didn’t contest the allegations of mistreatment but instead argued that the treatment of the informant didn’t undermine the evidence he gave later. They submitted statements he’d made after being transferred to Guantánamo, where a U.S. interviewer “developed a relationship with him that was non-abusive and, in fact, cordial and cooperative.”

But Kessler didn’t buy that better treatment had done the trick. Given that, “throughout his detention, a constant barrage of physical and psychological abuse was employed in order to manipulate him and program him into telling investigators what they wanted to hear,” she wrote, it was “more than plausible” that he had also manufactured details in nonabusive questioning.

Had Binyam Mohamed’s statements been clean, Kessler suggested, they would have made all the difference in the case against the other detainee, who according to other, reliable evidence had some tie to “a terrorist pipeline.” Instead, Kessler ordered in November that Farhi Saeed bin Mohammed be released. The government is appealing her decision.

Binyam Mohamed, the informant whose torture Kessler described so vividly, had already been released. He’s now free in Britain, where he has mounted a public campaign to have the British officers he claims were complicit in his torture held accountable.

The U.S. government’s bid to block Saeed Mohammed Saleh Hatim’s habeas lawsuit met a similar fate. He had confessed to receiving military training from al-Qaida, but later said he’d made up the story in fear of punishment.

Government lawyers didn’t contest that Hatim, while held for six months at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, had been beaten repeatedly, kicked and “threatened with rape if he did not confess to being a member of the Taliban or al-Qaida,” according to U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina’s opinion. Instead, they submitted confessions he gave after arriving at Guantánamo, under cleaner questioning. But Urbina found that Hatim’s confession was “tainted by torture” and ordered that he be released. The government is appealing the decision.

Mallow said he never thought the clean-interrogations strategy was surefire: “Do you believe the argument that, if someone was abused as a child, they’re going to be affected for the rest of their life? I think it depends on the individual. You don’t have an absolute argument that after 30 days that everything you do now is completely separate and clean.”

Coercion challenges and other problems with detainees’ reliability were pivotal in these cases, because the government had little to show besides questionable interrogation evidence. In Al Rabiah’s case, for instance, the government’s other proof amounted to statements from four detainees that Kollar-Kotelly rejected as unbelievable and even “demonstrably false.” In Hatim’s case, the government’s other key evidence came from a fellow prisoner who, according to the military’s own evaluators, suffered “severe psychological problems,” including “psychosis” and “auditory hallucinations.” Other judges had already rejected evidence from that informant, Urbina noted.

The Obama administration is appealing five of the eight coercion cases it lost, all to the D.C. Circuit. Three detainees who won habeas cases by alleging forced interrogations have been released, while four who lost have appealed. In at least one case, there is still time for the losing party to file an appeal.

Cleaner Evidence

The six cases the government has won despite a claim of coercion weren’t endorsements of harsh interrogations. Rather, the judges ruled in the government’s favor because they were skeptical of the detainees’ claims of abuse or for other reasons.

Government lawyers scored their most direct victory in the case of Yasein Khasem Mohammad Esmail, convincing U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy that the prisoner had invented much of his claim of mistreatment.

Esmail’s lawyers had submitted three ever more elaborate accounts saying he had been threatened with death, thrown from a plane and buried to his neck in the ground, Kennedy said in his April 8 decision. To counter the detainee’s claims, the government submitted medical records that undercut his story and produced sworn statements from two U.S. interrogators who denied using or witnessing most of the techniques Esmail described.

In a discussion that took up nearly half his 43-page opinion, Kennedy said he found the interrogators to be more credible than Esmail. Esmail had been “mistreated,” he said, but his claims were “exaggerated.”

Esmail’s legal team consisted of S. William Livingston, Alan Pemberton and Brian Foster of Covington & Burling; David Remes, founder of the nonprofit Appeal for Justice; and Marc Falkoff, a professor at Northern Illinois University College of Law. Remes and Falkoff declined to comment, and counsel at Covington did not respond to e-mails.

Chesney, the University of Texas law professor, said Kennedy’s decision was “a big win for the government. It shows that it is possible to rebut claims of torture, that the courts don’t simply accept detainees’ claims of abuse.” But the judge’s opinion didn’t address the broader question of which interrogation methods will find acceptance in court. The judge thought Esmail was “a little bit abused,” Chesney said, but not so abused as to poison the interrogation evidence. “It’s bad that the courts are not speaking more clearly about where the line is. Is it torture? Is it cruel and inhuman treatment? Is it any kind of interrogation?”

In upholding the detention of another prisoner, Omar Mohammed Khalifh, Senior Judge James Robertson, now retired, said it was unnecessary to decide whether his interrogation statements were tainted, because the government’s other evidence was enough to show he was an explosives instructor for al-Qaida.

The closest the government got to erasing the taint of substantial coercion was in its victory against Musa’ab Omar Al Madhwani. Senior Judge Thomas Hogan said “a variety of harsh interrogation techniques” had tainted 23 interrogation statements the government obtained from the detainee. But Hogan determined that the self-incriminating testimony the prisoner gave during formal military hearings was clean. Two years had passed between the worst abuse and the military hearings, Hogan reasoned, and at the hearings, Al Madhwani apparently spoke voluntarily and had been able to seek help from a military-assigned “personal representative.”

The Criminal Arena

If coerced evidence is costing the government wins in the habeas cases, criminal law experts say, it would pose worse problems if those cases were prosecuted in civilian or military courts. The rules for excluding tainted evidence are stricter in both kinds of criminal trials, yet the government’s need to marshal evidence is greater. To win a habeas case it need prove only that a detainee is “more likely than not” a member of the enemy, but to win a civilian or military criminal conviction it must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

A death threat alone could undermine a prosecution, if the believability of a prisoner’s statement in response to that threat was crucial to the case, said retired U.S. Army Major General John Altenburg, who until November 2006 was in charge of deciding which Guantánamo detainees would face military commission trials. Altenburg is currently of counsel to Greenberg Traurig.

So far, only 24 of the 779 men held at Guantánamo at some point have been charged with a crime to be heard by a military commission. Four of them have been convicted. Only one detainee, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, has been moved from Guantánamo to face charges in a civilian court; that case is currently unfolding in federal court in New York.

A January report by the Guantanamo Review Task Force said tainted evidence was hindering prosecution “in some cases,” but that it was not, overall, a “principal obstacle.” Administration spokesmen declined to elaborate or to disclose the names of detainees who will not be tried for this reason.

The coercion issue has cropped up in a few high-profile instances. In the case of Omar Khadr, who was 15 when detained in 2002 for allegedly killing a U.S. Army medic in Afghanistan, the judge in his ongoing military commission trial ruled on Aug. 9 that prosecutors may use his confessions despite his claim that he spoke out of fear. In pretrial proceedings, a U.S. interrogator said he’d told Khadr a tale of an uncooperative Afghan teen who was raped by inmates in an American prison.

But a top Bush official revealed to journalist Bob Woodward that Mohammed al-Qahtani, the suspected 20th hijacker of Sept. 11, 2001, couldn’t be prosecuted in a military commission because of “life-threatening” torture. And the military case against alleged Sept. 11 plotter Mohamedou Ould Slahi — who recently won his habeas petition, partly by claiming coercion — ended in 2007 before formal charges were filed, after the lead prosecutor said that key admissions had been extracted by torture.

Even if the administration doesn’t prosecute any more of the Guantánamo prisoners, the legal damage caused by harsh interrogations is likely to keep emerging as their detention challenges move through court. At least 50 more prisoners have filed habeas lawsuits before federal judges in Washington.

7 comments

What an extraordinary record of malfeasance and disproportionate response. The shameful record of these failures, brought about as a direct result of Bush/Cheney regime corruption and its perversion of justice, will live long in our history. Your reports, doggedly following up on the results, form documents that must never be forgotten. Thank you.

And Obama comes along and repeats the same mistakes as Bush. Obama please release these innocent men so they can blow up another building or two and kill some more innocent people and first responders.

It’s amazing to me that the civilian judges are tuned to these kind of egregious activities by Gitmo jailers but the military judge in the Khadr case isn’t.

So now our intelligence community is prohibited from using the tactics our enemies are allowed to use unchecked. Don’t you just love it how the goal posts for our team keep getting moved by our own judges?

Pastor,  That IS the way the game is supposed to be played in a democracy…moving the goal posts to higher standards.

Of course they did.  Most of the “enemy combatants,” which all wars have, including amerikins have been released anyway.  Most, if not all, have done nothing except being Arab, and male.  the US has lied continuously since the beginning trying to and succeeding running a scam on the americunt sheeple.  The US Invaded Iraq without cause, not the other way around.  Now this sick pathetic country has military bases in Iraq, as well as the Largest US embassy in the world.  The US has murdered well over a hundred thousand Iraqi people.  Since they all look alike, there’s no way the stupid bastard amerijerks could identify one from another.  Were I an Iraqi citizen, you’d find me with any weapons I could find, and prepared to kill the white trash from the US.

until the torturers bush and cheny are brought to justise our wonderful republic is just another banana republic   also yoo bibey rumsfeld wolfowitz ashcroft et al

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Newly Released Memo Inadvertently Reveals CIA Held (and Abused) Missing Prisoner

by Dafna Linzer
ProPublica, May 3, 2011, 2:57 p.m.

.(Getty Images)

Update May 3, 2011: According to various reports, a U.S.-held detainee named Hassan Ghul provided key intelligence on the courier who ultimately led authorities to Osama bin Laden. In 2009 we reported that, despite the U.S. government’s silence on his case, Ghul had been captured in Iraq and held in a secret CIA prison. His whereabouts today are still unknown as are those of dozens of others.

This story was originally published on April 16, 2009.

Among the OLC memos released today, one appears to inadvertently reveal that a top al-Qaida suspect captured in northern Iraq in January 2004 was held by the CIA in a secret prison.

After Hassan Ghul was arrested in early 2004, President Bush told reporters: “Just last week we made further progress in making America more secure when a fellow named Hassan Ghul was captured in Iraq. Hassan Ghul reported directly to Khalid Sheik Mohammad, who was the mastermind of the September 11 attacks. He was captured in Iraq, where he was helping al Qaeda to put pressure on our troops.”

Military officials and former CIA director George Tenet described Ghul as an al-Qaida facilitator who delivered money and messages to top leaders.

The U.S. government never publicly discussed Ghul again.

The 9/11 Commission report said Ghul was in “U.S. custody.” But the government itself never discussed Ghul’s whereabouts. And the CIA has never acknowledged holding Ghul.

Three years after his capture, human rights groups were surprised when Ghul was not included among 14 high-value detainees who were transferred out of the CIA’s black sites program and sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2007.

Since then, he has been considered a missing, or ghost detainee. But in the heavily redacted OLC memo dated May 30, 2005, government censors appeared to have missed a single reference to his name and confinement during a lengthy description of the interrogation techniques used against him. The reference can be found at the bottom of Page 7 in the memo, where Ghul’s surname is spelled “Gul.”

According to the memo, Ghul was one of 28 CIA detainees at the time who had been subjected to the agency’s “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Specifically, the memo says he was subjected to “facial hold,” “facial slap,” “stress positions,” “sleep deprivation,” a technique called “walling,” in which a detainee’s shoulders are repeatedly smashed against a wall, and the “attention grasp,” in which the detainee is placed in a choke-hold and slapped.

So it appears we now have evidence Ghul was in a CIA prison. Where he is today is still a mystery.

We’ve called the CIA, and they declined to comment.

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Poles Talk About CIA Prison, Breaking Silence; CIA Murderers Now Under Gun as They Are Exposed

These murdering bastards must be rounded up en masse, interrogated,* and publicly executed for their crimes, no quarter given to treasonous CIA scum; Poland authorities scrambling now attempting to avoid War Crimes chargesAssociated Press
By Vanessa Gera
WARSAW, Poland —For years, the notion that Poland could allow the CIA to operate a secret prison in a remote lake region was treated as a crackpot idea by the country’s politicians, journalists and the public.

CIA “Black Site” in Poland

A heated political debate this week reveals how dramatically the narrative has changed.

In a string of revelations and political statements, Polish leaders have come closer than ever to acknowledging that the United States ran a secret interrogation facility for terror suspects in 2002 and 2003 in the Eastern European country.

Some officials recall the fear that prevailed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and defend the tough stance that former U.S. President George W. Bush took against terrorists.

But the debate is sometimes tinged with a hint of disappointment with Washington, as if Poland’s young democracy had been led astray — ethically and legally — by the superpower that it counts as a key ally, and then left alone to deal with the fallout.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Thursday that Poland has become the “political victim” of leaks from U.S. officials that brought to light aspects of the secret rendition program.

Poland drops the dime on CIA “Black Sites” on it’s soil

In his most forthcoming comments on the matter to date, Tusk said an ongoing investigation into the case is proof of Poland’s democratic credentials and that Poland cannot be counted on in the future in such clandestine enterprises.

“Poland will no longer be a country where politicians — even if they are working arm-in-arm with the world’s greatest superpower — could make some deal somewhere under the table and then it would never see daylight,” said Tusk, who took office four years after the site was shuttered.

Another CIA “black Site” in Poland where “terrorists”were brought from all over the world to be tortured, killed

“Poland is a democracy where national and international law must be observed,” Tusk said. “This issue must be explained. Let there be no doubt about it either in Poland or on the other side of the ocean.”

To some, it sounded like a long-delayed admission that Poland allowed the U.S. to run the secret site, where terror suspects were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics that human rights advocates consider torture.

CIA “Black Site” at Szczytno, Poland

“This statement is quite different from any others,” said Adam Bodnar, a human rights lawyer with the Helsinki Foundation in Warsaw. “From the general context, he’s kind of admitting that something is in the air. You can feel that this is an indirect confirmation.”

For years Polish officials and the public treated the idea that the CIA ran a prison in Poland as absurd and highly unlikely — even after the United Nations and the Council of Europe said they had evidence of its existence. Polish officials repeatedly rebuffed international calls for serious investigations. The idea slowly only began to get serious consideration after Polish prosecutors opened an investigation into the matter in 2008.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Bush and his CIA could kidnap, torture anyone they suspected of being a “terrorist,” including American Citizens, authorization was also given to U.S. “contractors”

A new breakthrough came Tuesday when a leading newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, reported that prosecutors have charged a former spy chief, Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, for his role in allowing the site. Siemiatkowski was reportedly charged with depriving prisoners of war of their freedom and allowing corporal punishment.

Obama could care less if Americans were tortured, murdered

Siemiatkowski has refused to comment, telling The Associated Press he was bound by secrecy laws on the matter. But he did not deny the report.

The issue is hugely sensitive because any Polish leaders who would have cooperated with the U.S. program would have been violating Poland’s constitution, both by giving a foreign power control over part of Polish territory and allowing crimes to take place there.

Any officials who were involved could — in theory — be charged with serious crimes, including crimes against humanity.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush writes in his memoir “Decision Points” that he ordered the CIA to subject about 100 terror detainees to harsh interrogation techniques, arguing the methods did not constitute unlawful torture and that they produced intelligence that prevented further attacks. Neither he nor the CIA have officially said where the “black sites” were based, but intelligence officials, aviation reports and human rights groups say they included Afghanistan and Thailand as well as Poland, Lithuania and Romania.

War Criminal Blair, MI6 operated CIA “Black Sites” in the UK

Former CIA officials have told the AP that a prison in Poland operated from December 2002 until the fall of 2003, and that prisoners were subjected to harsh questioning and waterboarding in Stare Kiejkuty, a village set in a lush area of woods and lakes. Human rights groups believe about eight terror suspects were held in Poland, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi national charged with orchestrating the attack in 2000 on the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors; and Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian terror suspect.

Poland is the only country that has opened a serious investigation into the matter, something which Bodnar says is a sign of maturing in this 23-year-old democracy, with prosecutors, journalists and human rights lawyers all trying to seek truth and accountability.

“Poland deserves credit for this step, as the first European state to begin to deal with CIA torture on its own soil,” said Cori Crider, legal director for Reprieve, a British human rights group.

The Polish leaders in office at the time — former President Aleksander Kwasniewski and former Prime Minister Leszek Miller — have vehemently denied the prison’s existence.

Ripping a page out of Nazi Gestapo interrogation manual CIA torture toys used on Americans:  Bought and paid for with U.S. taxpayer money

But they nonetheless have voiced support for the rendition program in principle, arguing that the U.S. and its allies were at war with terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks and that tough measures were needed.

“I will always stand on the side of hurt women, children and the victims of attacks,” Miller said in a radio interview this week. “I won’t shed tears for murderers. A good terrorist is a dead terrorist.”

CIA illegal “rendition” sites worldwide; War Criminal Condoleeza Rice approved CIA torture, murder

Even former President Lech Walesa, the iconic democracy fighter, said he is “against torture … but this is war and war has its particular rules.”

Miller, the head of the Democratic Left Alliance, an opposition party, has been the main target of criticism by political opponents this week. Some even say he should face the State Tribunal, a special court charged with trying state figures.

Architects of illegal CIA kidnap, torture program:  Bush, Rove

Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, a senator who was the foreign minister when the site operated, said Miller should take responsibility for what happened 10 years ago.

“About a CIA prison in Poland, if it existed, I didn’t know,” Cimoszewicz said on Radio RMF FM. “But everything indicates that the CIA used a villa in Stare Kiejkuty.”

Human rights lawyers and activists welcome the new openness.

“There is some satisfaction here,” said Bodnar. “The most important thing is accountability. Intelligence agencies cooperate with each other, but after this they will remember that they need to obey the constitution and that some things they cover up could become public at some point.”

Vanessa Gera can be reached at http://twitter.com/VanessaGera.

* The Editor of The 5th Estate hereby volunteers for the job, pro bono.
Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.
Images:  Google royalty free unless otherwise attributed.
This news site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

category: , , , , ,

>

Poles Talk About CIA Prison, Breaking Silence; CIA Murderers Now Under Gun as They Are Exposed

These murdering bastards must be rounded up en masse, interrogated,* and publicly executed for their crimes, no quarter given to treasonous CIA scum; Poland authorities scrambling now attempting to avoid War Crimes chargesAssociated Press
By Vanessa Gera
WARSAW, Poland —For years, the notion that Poland could allow the CIA to operate a secret prison in a remote lake region was treated as a crackpot idea by the country’s politicians, journalists and the public.

CIA “Black Site” in Poland

A heated political debate this week reveals how dramatically the narrative has changed.

In a string of revelations and political statements, Polish leaders have come closer than ever to acknowledging that the United States ran a secret interrogation facility for terror suspects in 2002 and 2003 in the Eastern European country.

Some officials recall the fear that prevailed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and defend the tough stance that former U.S. President George W. Bush took against terrorists.

But the debate is sometimes tinged with a hint of disappointment with Washington, as if Poland’s young democracy had been led astray — ethically and legally — by the superpower that it counts as a key ally, and then left alone to deal with the fallout.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Thursday that Poland has become the “political victim” of leaks from U.S. officials that brought to light aspects of the secret rendition program.

Poland drops the dime on CIA “Black Sites” on it’s soil

In his most forthcoming comments on the matter to date, Tusk said an ongoing investigation into the case is proof of Poland’s democratic credentials and that Poland cannot be counted on in the future in such clandestine enterprises.

“Poland will no longer be a country where politicians — even if they are working arm-in-arm with the world’s greatest superpower — could make some deal somewhere under the table and then it would never see daylight,” said Tusk, who took office four years after the site was shuttered.

Another CIA “black Site” in Poland where “terrorists”were brought from all over the world to be tortured, killed

“Poland is a democracy where national and international law must be observed,” Tusk said. “This issue must be explained. Let there be no doubt about it either in Poland or on the other side of the ocean.”

To some, it sounded like a long-delayed admission that Poland allowed the U.S. to run the secret site, where terror suspects were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics that human rights advocates consider torture.

CIA “Black Site” at Szczytno, Poland

“This statement is quite different from any others,” said Adam Bodnar, a human rights lawyer with the Helsinki Foundation in Warsaw. “From the general context, he’s kind of admitting that something is in the air. You can feel that this is an indirect confirmation.”

For years Polish officials and the public treated the idea that the CIA ran a prison in Poland as absurd and highly unlikely — even after the United Nations and the Council of Europe said they had evidence of its existence. Polish officials repeatedly rebuffed international calls for serious investigations. The idea slowly only began to get serious consideration after Polish prosecutors opened an investigation into the matter in 2008.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Bush and his CIA could kidnap, torture anyone they suspected of being a “terrorist,” including American Citizens, authorization was also given to U.S. “contractors”

A new breakthrough came Tuesday when a leading newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, reported that prosecutors have charged a former spy chief, Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, for his role in allowing the site. Siemiatkowski was reportedly charged with depriving prisoners of war of their freedom and allowing corporal punishment.

Obama could care less if Americans were tortured, murdered

Siemiatkowski has refused to comment, telling The Associated Press he was bound by secrecy laws on the matter. But he did not deny the report.

The issue is hugely sensitive because any Polish leaders who would have cooperated with the U.S. program would have been violating Poland’s constitution, both by giving a foreign power control over part of Polish territory and allowing crimes to take place there.

Any officials who were involved could — in theory — be charged with serious crimes, including crimes against humanity.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush writes in his memoir “Decision Points” that he ordered the CIA to subject about 100 terror detainees to harsh interrogation techniques, arguing the methods did not constitute unlawful torture and that they produced intelligence that prevented further attacks. Neither he nor the CIA have officially said where the “black sites” were based, but intelligence officials, aviation reports and human rights groups say they included Afghanistan and Thailand as well as Poland, Lithuania and Romania.

War Criminal Blair, MI6 operated CIA “Black Sites” in the UK

Former CIA officials have told the AP that a prison in Poland operated from December 2002 until the fall of 2003, and that prisoners were subjected to harsh questioning and waterboarding in Stare Kiejkuty, a village set in a lush area of woods and lakes. Human rights groups believe about eight terror suspects were held in Poland, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi national charged with orchestrating the attack in 2000 on the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors; and Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian terror suspect.

Poland is the only country that has opened a serious investigation into the matter, something which Bodnar says is a sign of maturing in this 23-year-old democracy, with prosecutors, journalists and human rights lawyers all trying to seek truth and accountability.

“Poland deserves credit for this step, as the first European state to begin to deal with CIA torture on its own soil,” said Cori Crider, legal director for Reprieve, a British human rights group.

The Polish leaders in office at the time — former President Aleksander Kwasniewski and former Prime Minister Leszek Miller — have vehemently denied the prison’s existence.

Ripping a page out of Nazi Gestapo interrogation manual CIA torture toys used on Americans:  Bought and paid for with U.S. taxpayer money

But they nonetheless have voiced support for the rendition program in principle, arguing that the U.S. and its allies were at war with terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks and that tough measures were needed.

“I will always stand on the side of hurt women, children and the victims of attacks,” Miller said in a radio interview this week. “I won’t shed tears for murderers. A good terrorist is a dead terrorist.”

CIA illegal “rendition” sites worldwide; War Criminal Condoleeza Rice approved CIA torture, murder

Even former President Lech Walesa, the iconic democracy fighter, said he is “against torture … but this is war and war has its particular rules.”

Miller, the head of the Democratic Left Alliance, an opposition party, has been the main target of criticism by political opponents this week. Some even say he should face the State Tribunal, a special court charged with trying state figures.

Architects of illegal CIA kidnap, torture program:  Bush, Rove

Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, a senator who was the foreign minister when the site operated, said Miller should take responsibility for what happened 10 years ago.

“About a CIA prison in Poland, if it existed, I didn’t know,” Cimoszewicz said on Radio RMF FM. “But everything indicates that the CIA used a villa in Stare Kiejkuty.”

Human rights lawyers and activists welcome the new openness.

“There is some satisfaction here,” said Bodnar. “The most important thing is accountability. Intelligence agencies cooperate with each other, but after this they will remember that they need to obey the constitution and that some things they cover up could become public at some point.”

Vanessa Gera can be reached at http://twitter.com/VanessaGera.

* The Editor of The 5th Estate hereby volunteers for the job, pro bono.
Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.
Images:  Google royalty free unless otherwise attributed.
This news site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

category: , , , , ,

>

4 April 2012 Last updated at 06:33 ET

Forty years in solitary confinement and counting

By Tim FranksRadio 4, Crossing Continents

Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox

As two men in Louisiana complete 40 years in solitary confinement this month, the use of total isolation in US prisons is on the rise. What does this do to a prisoner’s state of mind?

Robert King paces the front room of his small, one-storey house in Austin, Texas.

“I imagine I could put my cell inside this room about six times,” he says. “Probably more.”

For 29 years Robert King occupied a cell nine feet by six – just under three metres by two – for at least 23 hours a day.

He spent most of his time incarcerated in one of the toughest prisons in the United States – Louisiana State Penitentiary.

The prison, the largest in the US, is nicknamed Angola after the plantation that once stood on its site, worked by slaves shipped in from Africa. King, who was released from prison in 2001, still calls himself one of the Angola Three – three men who have been the focus of a long-running international justice campaign.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

It’s impossible to get dipped in waste and not come up stinking”

Robert KingAngola Three

Between them, they have served more than 100 years in solitary. All three say they were imprisoned for crimes they did not commit, and where convictions were only obtained after blatant mistrials.

King has the open face, lean physique and broad chest of a man in good shape, even on the cusp of his 70th birthday.

And he is reluctant to delve too deeply into what those years in solitary were like, beyond saying that “it’s impossible to get dipped in waste and not come up stinking”.

There is, he says, a physical toll to long-term isolation: “People become old and infirm before their time.”

But more, there is a psychological effect. He stayed strong, he says, but it was “scary” to see how others crumpled through lack of human contact.

Robert KingRobert King spent nearly three decades in solitary confinement in the Louisiana State Penitentiary

Angola in the 1960s and 1970s was a place known for its brutal forced labour, its sexual slavery and its violence. Even so, Robert King is on record as saying that solitary was much, much worse.

His reticence is not matched by Nick Trenticosta, the lawyer for the other two members of the Angola Three – Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox.

“I have interviewed a number of of people who’ve spent 10-12 years in solitary confinement,” says Mr Trenticosta, in his basement legal offices in New Orleans.

“Almost all of the people are severely damaged. They’re potted plants. Their will to live really doesn’t exist any more.

“They become shells of their former selves. If I take them to the visitors’ area, it’ll be two hours before I can get an answer to my questions, and then I might just hear gobbledygook.”

Back in the early 1970s, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox were already in Angola, serving time for armed robbery.

Herman Wallace's sketch of the dimensions of his prison cellHerman Wallace’s sketch of the dimensions of his cell

They became involved in the Black Panther Party – they say in order to try to improve the abysmal conditions for prisoners. Then in 1972, a prison guard called Brent Miller was murdered.

Wallace and Woodfox were convicted, and placed in solitary – where, apart from a short spell in 2008 in a high security dormitory, they have remained ever since.

Both men have always maintained their innocence – saying that grave questions were raised about an inmate being secretly rewarded for his incriminating testimony, and pointing to the lack of forensic evidence linking them to the murder.

Wallace’s sister Vicky lives on the poor side of New Orleans, in the lower ninth ward. Her health has, she says, suffered from the constant worry about her brother – and he is not in good shape either.

“He need to talk to a psychiatrist,” she says.

Continue reading the main story

Find out more

The perimeter fence at the Louisiana State Penitentiary

Listen to the full report on Crossing Continents on BBC Radio 4 on Thursday, 5 April at 11:00 BST and on Assignment on the BBC World Service

When she does get to visit him “he slips sometimes, when we talking,” she says.

“His ears are not so good at all. His ear is hard like this table,” she says, knocking on her wooden dining table, “because it looks like they beat him so much.”

Neither the Department of Corrections – the US prison service – or the state attorney general’s office were available to speak about the case of the Angola Three or the use of solitary confinement.

But in the town closest to Angola – St Francisville – chief of police Scott Ford was clear on the matter.

“I absolutely don’t mind if somebody who took the life of somebody’s loved one doesn’t see but an hour of sunlight a day.

“I’m probably a little more on the other side that says that one hour that you are letting them see sunlight, if we could shave some time off that, it would be better.”

Reliable figures on the numbers held in solitary in the US are hard to come by.

What does seem clear is that in that recent decades, the number has grown hugely, into the tens of thousands, as some states put greater emphasis on solitary confinement, and the overall prison population rises. Campaigners put the figure at 80,000.

Continue reading the main story

Louisiana State Penitentiary

Louisiana State Penitentiary
  • Known as Angola, the Alcatraz of the South, or The Farm
  • The largest maximum security prison in the US, with 5,000 prisoners
  • Bordered on three sides by the Mississippi river
  • It covers a larger area than Manhattan 28 sq miles (73 sq km) to Manhattan’s 23 sq miles (59 sq km)

Compare this estimate to a statement to the BBC from the Prison Service of England and Wales: “At any one time there would only be a small handful of exceptionally dangerous prisoners held in these conditions (under five)… prisoners are never left in an isolated state for long periods of time.”

The practice may have hit its high-point in the US. “Supermax” maximum security prisons are very expensive. Isolation units within them, all the more so.

So as money dries up, so there may be pressure to put fewer prisoners in solitary. The case of the Angola Three has won the support of organisations such as Amnesty International.

And the former Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, Pascal Calogero, suggests there could be room for a legal challenge to the practice.

The use of extended solitary is not, he argues, provided for in law.

“It is beyond what the legislature has directed should be imposed for a felony conviction. And excessiveness in this regard cannot be in accordance with the law.”

Jean Casella, of the campaign group Solitary Watch, puts it more starkly: “It’s torture, when it goes beyond a few days or a few weeks.”

She cites the testimony of people such as Senator John McCain, who spent years in solitary as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

And the prisoner in a supermax in Illinois, who said: “Lock yourself in your bathroom for 10 years, then come out and tell me that that’s not torture.”

Herman Wallace is 70. Albert Woodfox is 65. In the middle of this month, they will each have spent 40 years in solitary.

Listen to the full report on Crossing Continents on BBC Radio 4on Thursday, 5 April at 11:00 BST and Monday, 9 April at 20:30 BST.

You can also hear the report on Assignment on the BBC World Service.

Listen again via the Radio 4 website or the Crossing Continentspodcast.

>

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