Torture: Only Good For False Confessions

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Offline Angry Patriot

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #120 on: April 21, 2009, 09:44:13 PM »

What the Hell Happened to the Anti-War Movement?
Tuesday, Apr. 21 2009 @ 4:52PM
By Matt Coker in A Clockwork Orange, Crime & Sex, Politics
Photo by Christopher Victorio
A small piece of the Orange County peace movement at Palm and Glassell.

It was unusually warm around 11 a.m. today in Orange and the spectacle was unusually jarring at Palm and Glassell: a dozen or fewer anti-war protesters, ranging from college age to their grandparents, wearing orange "No torture" buttons and politely hoisting signs like the one that read, "Thank Yoo for Torture!"

That's jarring because of the body count: a dozen or fewer anti-war protesters. Keep in mind this was outside a college campus (Chapman University) teeming with media (yours truly et al.) to hear a controversial Bush administration adviser (John Yoo) whose 15 minutes of infamy have been extended indefinitely in recent days thanks to the timely/untimely (depending on your world view) release of memos he John Hancocked greenlighting torture (or advanced interrogation techniques if you don't buy that waterboarding, bodyslamming and confining constitute torture).

When a TV camera's red light went on, peaceniks positioned their faces in front of the lens and quietly chanted something like, "Obama says 'It's okay,' we say 'no way.'" It was so lazily rendered one did not feel compelled to waste the ink writing exactly what they sang in one's new notepad. But the reference was clearly to the president's chief of staff indicating over the weekend the administration would not seek prosecution of Yoo and other Bush lawyers--although the Chosen One seemingly reversed that stance today.

With the chant beginning to fade in the near distance, the sidewalk leading to Memorial Hall, where Yoo and three Chapman School of Law professors would be debating presidential power, was guarded by two sentrys in orange jumpsuits with black shrouds covering their entire heads. Seeming from a distance even more inappropriate than "colored" lawn jockeys, the faux detainees continued to confound when, walking past them, you heard the kind of inane small talk the fox and the hound guarding the henhouse engaged in right after punching their timecards in those old Looney Tunes cartoons.

Finally, before walking up the steps to enter the hall, a couple old enough to have been around when the Memorial was built beamed while posing for a snapshot, making sure to point their orange "No torture" buttons at their photographer friend.

What, pray heaven, happened to the anti-war movement?

This crew would easily be outnumbered, out-energized and out-anarchized by the typical Friday night peace demonstration opposite South Coast Plaza. Do the violent air punchers only come out when a Republican war president is in office? Are the torture/advanced interrogation techniques still left intact now okay because we trust Obama will know when to use them? Or does this goddamn economy have everyone working so hard that they cannot break away from the grind for a little mid-morning peacenikking?

There would be some slightly testy moments inside Memorial Hall (which will be detailed in a later post), but there was not nearly as much acrimony as one would expect. I mean, Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist practically needs a chair in one hand and whip in the other to back out of similar campus appearances. Yoo did not stick around long after his, but he likely made it to his car without the need of his escort.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just, heck, what, pray heaven, happened to the anti-war movement around here?
"The most important lesson of History is that nobody ever learns History's lesson"

Aldous Huxley

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #121 on: April 22, 2009, 09:46:37 AM »
Tough Guys Hayden and Mukasey Defend Torture, Decry Release of the OLC Memos: Why They're Wrong

Former Bush officials are trying to avoid accountability for their inhumane crimes. There is much you can do to make sure they don't get away with it.

By Rep. Jan Schakowsky, AlterNet
Posted on April 22, 2009, Printed on April 22, 2009

Editor's Note: Since the release last week of Bush-era government memos authorizing torture against suspected terrorists, momentum has been building to hold the architects of these inhumane, illegal policies accountable. In a piece published on AlterNet, David Swanson notes that there are many things you can do to help spur legal action against officials and lawyers who greenlit torture and to make sure the Obama administration doesn't sweep the issue under the rug. Writes Swanson:

There are a great many ways you can advance the cause of accountability, and they can all be found at

Remember that a serious attempt at accountability is a tremendous deterrent to future crimes and abuses even if it fails. And remember that they will not tell us we are succeeding until we already have. This is the moment for action. This is the time to pressure your representatives, to work the media, to be the media, to organize your groups and friends and neighbors. This is the moment to punch a hole through the wall that has separated those of us who are subject to laws from those who have not been.



No timid wimp is former CIA Director Michael Hayden. And he's not reluctant to tell you so. You can find out what a tough guy he really is by reading his opinion piece, written with former Attorney General Michael "Not sure waterboarding is torture" Mukasey in the April 17 Wall Street Journal, defending the use of torture and objecting to the release of the nightmarish memos. We're talking here about "walling", (repeatedly smashing a detainee against a wall), stress positions (hanging a person from the ceiling with feet barely touching the floor -- including a one legged man), sleep deprivation for as long as 11 days, cramped confinement (put in a casket-sized box or smaller -- insects optional), and that medieval favorite, waterboarding.

In fact, it was the torture described in these memos, the existence of secret prisons, Guantanamo Bay, and Abu Ghraib that endangered the security of the United States. What better tools could there be to inflame and recruit new terrorists and instill hatred for our country throughout the Muslim world and beyond? Still Mukasey and Hayden clearly believe that these techniques should have been used and should be used in the future. They are in favor of torture.

Hayden and Mukasey accuse the no-torture policy of inviting "the kind of institutional timidity and fear of recrimination that weakened intelligence gathering in the past, and that we came sorely to regret on September 11, 2001." That's a version of history I actually hadn't heard espoused by anyone ever before -- that had the intelligence community not been weakened by timidity and fear, 9/11 might not have happened. All this time I thought it had more to do with the fact that the White House did nothing to follow up on the August 6, 2001 daily briefing entitled "Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S." that included the warning that "FBI information... indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings..."

The Michaels Hayden and Mukasey assert that "public disclosure of the OLC opinions, and thus the techniques themselves, assures that terrorists are now aware of the absolute limit of what the U.S. government could do to extract information from them." Certainly the men who served as CIA Director and Attorney General must be aware that the secret of these techniques has been known by anyone who could read a newspaper beginning as long ago as December 26, 2002. That's when Dana Priest and Barton Gellman of the Washington Post reported on "stress and duress" interrogation tactics. Yes, everyone already knew about this dirty secret, and many have long been genuinely repulsed and offended by the attitude of one official who was quoted years ago as saying, "If you don't violate someone's human rights some of the time, you probably aren't doing your job."

Hayden and Mukasey express concern that terrorists will ridicule us, when in reality Al Qaeda must be deeply disappointed to have lost one of their best propaganda tools. The disclosure, they say, "will incur the utter contempt of our enemies" and that those capable of monstrous acts such as Daniel Pearl's beheading won't be "shamed into giving up violence by the news that the U.S. will no longer interrupt the sleep cycle of captures terrorists..." Are we therefore to conclude that the United States should allow the terrorists themselves to set the standard for us -- that since they have shed their humanity and respect for international law, we should do the same? Senator John McCain, a victim of torture, had it right when he said in rejecting the use of such techniques, "It's not about them; it's about us."

Not torturing prisoners is one of the proudest traditions of the United States, one of the features that define us, one that was honored by George Washington when he insisted that the British captives be treated with humanity and one that has long been embodied in our law and international law. General Washington told his troops, "Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren who have fallen into their hands."

Hayden and Mukasey claim that critical information regarding terrorists and their attacks were derived from use of these "enhanced techniques" and suggest that anyone on the Congressional committees who heard Hayden's briefings could not conclude otherwise. As one of those who was privy to those briefings, I saw no empirical evidence to prove that assertion. Video tapes that were made of the interrogations have been destroyed. It is public knowledge that the interrogators administering the harshest techniques, pleaded to headquarters to stop, saying that Abu Zubaydah had nothing more to offer. Headquarters said no.

The value of information gained from torture has been outright discredited by the most experienced interrogators. Those experts demonstrated that the standard interview used with Abu Zubaydah before he was whisked away by the CIA to one or more "black sites", elicited significant, solid information to government interrogators. I spoke to an early Zubaydah interrogator who believed the process was going well. Note also that the FBI removed itself entirely from the interrogations after the "enhanced techniques" were introduced.

The authors say that it is a "self-fulfilling prophecy" to assume that using these extraordinary (and likely illegal) methods "disgraced us before the world." And throughout their opinion piece they suggest that rejecting those tactics puts our country in danger. To refute that notion, I turn to the simple but eloquent words of President Obama who said when releasing the memos, "I prohibited the use of these interrogation techniques by the United States because they undermine our moral authority and do not make us safer. Enlisting our values in the protection of our people makes us stronger and more secure. A democracy as resilient as ours must reject the false choice between our security and our ideals, and that is why these methods of interrogation are already and thing of the past." The president said that withholding them "could contribute to an inaccurate accounting of the past, and fuel erroneous and inflammatory assumptions about action taken by the United States."

Now that's my kind of tough guy. I'm glad that Hayden and Mukasey have been replaced by people who have faith in the strength of American values and laws. I believe our country is stronger and safer as a result of ending torture and releasing these memos. Thank you President Barack Obama.


© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #122 on: April 22, 2009, 10:07:41 AM »
Published on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 by Consortium News

Connecting CIA Torture to Abu Ghraib

by Robert Parry

By blurring the lines between terrorism and combat - and by linking the 9/11 rationale to groups only tangentially connected to al-Qaeda - the Bush administration spread the policy of harsh interrogations far beyond terror suspects who worked directly for Osama bin Laden, newly released Justice Department memos reveal.

Most significantly, the Bush administration let the interrogation policy spill over into U.S.-occupied Iraq, where ambushes of American and allied troops were regarded as the legal and moral equivalent of terrorist attacks against civilians on U.S. soil, one of the memos [1], dated May 30, 2005, makes clear. That belief, in turn, appears to have set the stage for the Abu Ghaib prison abuse scandal.

The memo - written by Steven Bradbury, then acting head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel - describes the criteria for identifying a "high value" detainee who would be a candidate for "enhanced interrogation techniques." While describing the supposedly restrictive nature of the criteria, Bradbury actually reveals how broad the category was.

Such a detainee is someone "who, until time of capture, we have reason to believe: (1) is a senior member of al-Qai'da or an al-Qai'da associated terrorist group (Jemaah Islamiyyah, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, al-Zarqawi Group, etc.), (2) has knowledge of imminent terrorist threats against the USA, its military forces, its citizens and organizations, or its allies; or that has/had direct involvement in planning and preparing terrorist actions against the USA or its allies, or assisting the al-Qai'da leadership in planning and preparing such terrorist actions; and (3) if released, constitutes a clear and continuing threat to the USA or it allies," the memo states.

In other words, an Iraqi insurgent allegedly linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant who led a particularly violent faction of the Iraqi war against U.S. occupation, could qualify for harsh interrogation if he might know about future attacks on American or allied troops inside Iraq.

Though terrorism is classically defined as acts of violence directed against civilians to achieve a political goal, the Bush administration broadened the concept to include attacks by Iraqis against U.S. or allied soldiers occupying Iraq. So, for instance, a suspected Iraqi insurgent who might know about the location of roadside bombs would fall under these criteria.

Since the Bush administration blamed Zarqawi for much of the violence against U.S. forces in Iraq, that would have opened the door for rough treatment of any number of captured Iraqis. Indeed, that is what some of the prison guards at Abu Ghraib claimed to have thought they were doing, softening up Iraqi detainees for questioning by U.S. intelligence interrogators.

Whistleblower's Testimony

The Justice Department memos also buttress the testimony of former Army Sgt. Sam Provance, who served as a military intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib for four months starting in September 2003 and was the only one in such a position to blow the whistle on the cover-up that sought to focus blame for the scandal on low-level military police.

"While serving with my unit in Iraq," Provance said in a statement [2] submitted to Congress, "I became aware of changes in the procedures in which I and my fellow soldiers were trained. These changes involved using procedures which we previously did not use, and had been trained not to use, and in involving military police (MP) personnel in ‘preparation' of detainees who were to be interrogated.

"Some detainees were treated in an incorrect and immoral fashion as a result of these changes. After what had happened at Abu Ghraib became a matter of public knowledge, and there was a demand for action, young soldiers were scapegoated while superiors misrepresented what had happened and tried to misdirect attention away from what was really going on."

As a computer expert working the night shift, Provance came to know many of the interrogators, including a female who "told me detainees were routinely stripped naked in the cells and sometimes during interrogations (she said one man so shamed had actually made a loin cloth out of an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) bag, so they no longer allowed him to have the MRE bag with his food).

"She said they also starved them or allowed them to only have certain items of food at a time. She said they played loud music - ‘Barney I Love You' being the interrogators' favorite. ... She said they used dogs to terrify and torment the prisoners. She also said they deprived them of sleep for long periods of time."

Provance said these strategies were "all part of a carefully planned regimen that had been introduced after the arrival of the teams from" the Guantanamo Bay prison facility where detainees from the "war on terror" had been concentrated.

Provance also recounted a conversation at the Camp Victory dining facility where one military intelligence guard "told an entire table full of laughing soldiers about how the MP's had shown him and other soldiers how to knock someone out and to strike a detainee without leaving marks. They had practiced these techniques on unsuspecting detainees, after watching, he had participated himself."

What is striking about Provance's account in retrospect are the similarities between the CIA techniques approved by the Bush administration and the treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib, including the notorious photographs of naked Iraqis paraded in front of female soldiers.

In both cases, nudity -- especially in front of women -- was used to degrade the prisoners; their diets were manipulated to weaken their resolve (the CIA fed its detainees Ensure); they were deprived of sleep (the CIA hung prisoners by their wrists and used icy water to keep them awake for a week or more); their personal fears were exploited; and they were roughed up in ways designed not to leave marks (the CIA used a technique called "walling," slamming prisoners repeatedly into a false wall that made a loud noise).

There were some differences, too. While the Abu Ghraib photos revealed prisoners being piled up in fake sexual positions, the CIA program included the near-drowning experience of "waterboarding" against three "high-value detainees," including its use 266 times against two detainees, Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Hiding the Evidence

Perhaps the most significant difference, however, was that photographs of the Abu Ghraib abuses reached the public, while the CIA destroyed 92 videotapes of its interrogations of detainees. Because the Abu Ghraib photos got out, President George W. Bush and other senior officials decided to denounce the humiliating treatment as disgraceful.

"I shared a deep disgust that those prisoners were treated the way they were treated," Bush said. "Their treatment does not reflect the nature of the American people."

Eventually, 11 enlisted soldiers, who were guards at Abu Ghraib, were convicted in courts martial. Cpl. Charles Graner Jr. received the harshest sentence - 10 years in prison - while Lynndie England, a 22-year-old single mother who was photographed holding an Iraqi on a leash and pointing at a detainee's penis, was sentenced to three years in prison.

Superior officers were cleared of wrongdoing or received mild reprimands. For his whistleblowing about the systemic problem at Abu Ghraib, Sgt. Provance was threatened with prosecution and saw his military career destroyed.

The consequences for American troops in Iraq were also unpleasant. The Abu Ghraib scandal fueled the Iraqi insurgency in a war that has claimed the lives of more than 4,200 U.S. soldiers.

The link between the Abu Ghraib abuses and the U.S. death toll was described by a lead U.S. interrogator in Iraq, who used the pseudonym "Matthew Alexander" for a Washington Pos Outlook article [3] on Nov. 30, 2008.

"Alexander," a U.S. Air Force special operations officer, said it was his team's abandonment of those harsh tactics that contributed to the tracking down and killing of the murderous al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Zarqawi in June 2006.

"Alexander" said he arrived in Iraq in March 2006, amid the bloody civil war that Sunni extremist Zarqawi had helped provoke a month earlier with the bombing of the golden-domed Askariya mosque in Samarra, a shrine revered by Iraq's majority Shiites.

"Amid the chaos, four other Air Force criminal investigators and I joined an elite team of interrogators attempting to locate Zarqawi," he wrote. "What I soon discovered about our methods astonished me. The Army was still conducting interrogations according to the Guantanamo Bay model. ... These interrogations were based on fear and control; they often resulted in torture and abuse.

"I refused to participate in such practices, and a month later, I extended that prohibition to the team of interrogators I was assigned to lead. I taught the members of my unit a new methodology -- one based on building rapport with suspects, showing cultural understanding and using good old-fashioned brainpower to tease out information."


By getting to know the captives and negotiating with them, his team achieved breakthroughs that enabled the U.S. military to close in on Zarqawi while also gaining a deeper understanding of what drove the Iraqi insurgency, "Alexander" wrote.

"Over the course of this renaissance in interrogation tactics, our attitudes changed. We no longer saw our prisoners as the stereotypical al-Qaeda evildoers we had been repeatedly briefed to expect; we saw them as Sunni Iraqis, often family men protecting themselves from Shiite militias and trying to ensure that their fellow Sunnis would still have some access to wealth and power in the new Iraq.

"Most surprisingly, they turned out to despise al-Qaeda in Iraq as much as they despised us, but Zarqawi and his thugs were willing to provide them with arms and money," the interrogator wrote, noting that this understanding played a key role in the U.S. military turning many Sunnis against the hyper-violent extremism of Zarqawi's organization.

"Alexander" added that the new interrogation methods "convinced one of Zarqawi's associates to give up the al-Qaeda in Iraq leader's location. On June 8, 2006, U.S. warplanes dropped two 500-pound bombs on a house where Zarqawi was meeting with other insurgent leaders."

From hundreds of interrogations, "Alexander" said he learned that the images from Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib were actually getting American soldiers killed by drawing angry young Arabs into the Iraq War.

"Torture and abuse cost American lives," the interrogator wrote. "I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq.

"It's no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001.

"How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me -- unless you don't count American soldiers as Americans."

Nevertheless, in a series of "exit interviews," Vice President Dick Cheney - and to a lesser degree President Bush - defended their actions that included sanctioning brutal methods of interrogation." [See's "Cheney Defends Waterboarding Order [4]."]

That argument continues to this day with Bush's defenders continuing to insist that the harsh methods were successful.

In an interview [5] with Fox News on Monday, Cheney complained that the Obama administration had released the Justice Department memos on interrogations, "but they didn't put out the memos that showed the success of the effort."

Cheney then said, "I've now formally asked the CIA to take steps to declassify those memos so we can lay them out there and the American people have a chance to see what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was."

Full disclosure also might include how the CIA practices influenced interrogators in Iraq to apply similar methods on suspected Iraqi insurgents, a reality that not only damaged America's image around the world but may have contributed to the deaths of many U.S. soldiers.

© 2009 Consortium News
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush [6], was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat. His two previous books are Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' [7].



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Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #123 on: April 22, 2009, 10:12:59 AM »
How Bush's tortured legal logic won 

22/04/2009 11:50:00 AM GMT
 If legal language can be interpreted any way that a President wishes – and if the U.S. Supreme Court is stocked with like-minded judges – then laws will no longer protect anyone.

By Robert Parry

( Bush administration’s approved menu of brutal interrogation techniques.

Almost as disturbing as reading the Bush administration’s approved menu of brutal interrogation techniques is recognizing how President George W. Bush successfully shopped for government attorneys willing to render American laws meaningless by turning words inside out.

The four “torture” memos, released Thursday, revealed not just that the stomach-turning reports about CIA interrogators abusing “war on terror” suspects were true, but that the United States had gone from a “nation of laws” to a “nation of legal sophistry” – where conclusions on law are politically preordained and the legal analysis is made to fit.

You have passages like this in the May 10, 2005, memo by Steven Bradbury, then acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel:

“Another question is whether the requirement of ‘prolonged mental harm’ caused by or resulting from one of the enumerated predicate acts is a separate requirement, or whether such ‘prolonged mental harm’ is to be presumed any time one of the predicate acts occurs.”

As each phrase in the Convention Against Torture was held up to such narrow examination, the forest of criminal torture was lost in the trees of arcane legal jargon. Collectively, the memos leave a disorienting sense that any ambiguity in words can be twisted to justify almost anything.

So, a “war on terror” prisoner could not only be locked up in solitary confinement indefinitely based on the sole authority of President Bush but could be subjected to a battery of abusive and humiliating tactics, all in the name of extracting some information that purportedly would help keep the United States safe – and it would not be called “torture.”

Some tactics were bizarre, like feeding detainees a liquid diet of Ensure to make “other techniques, such as sleep deprivation, more effective.” The memo’s sleep deprivation clause, in turn, allowed interrogators to shackle prisoners to an overhead pipe (or in some other uncomfortable position) for up to 180 hours (or seven-and-a-half days).

While shackled, the prisoner would be dressed in a diaper that “is checked regularly and changed as necessary.” The memo asserted that “the use of the diaper is for sanitary and health purposes of the detainee; it is not used for the purpose of humiliating the detainee, and it is not considered to be an interrogation technique.”

Beyond the painful disorientation from depriving a person of sleep while chained in a standing position for days, the Justice Department memos called for prisoners to be forced into other “stress positions” for varying periods of time to cause “the physical discomfort associated with muscle fatigue.”

Tiny boxes
The detainees also could be put into small, dark boxes where they could barely move (and in the case of one detainee, Abu Zubaydah, could have an insect slipped into his box as a way of playing on his fear of bugs), according to the Aug. 1, 2002, memo.

“The duration of confinement varies based upon the size of the container,” the May 10, 2005, memo added, with the smaller space (sitting only) restricted to two hours at a time and a somewhat larger box (permitting standing) limited to eight hours at a time and 18 hours a day.

Then, there were various slaps, grabs and slamming a prisoner against a “flexible” wall while his neck was in a sling “to help prevent whiplash.”

Prisoners also were subjected to forced nudity, sometimes in the presence of women, according to the May 10 memo.

“We understand that interrogators are trained to avoid sexual innuendo or any acts of implicit or explicit sexual degradation,” the memo said. “Nevertheless, interrogators can exploit the detainee’s fear of being seen naked.

“In addition, female officers involved in the interrogation process may see the detainees naked; and for purposes of our analysis, we will assume that detainees subjected to nudity as an interrogation technique are aware that they may be seen naked by females.”

Another approved technique was “water dousing” in which a detainee is sprayed with water that can be as cold as 41 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 20 minutes. Slightly warmer water could be used to douse a prisoner for longer periods of time.

Both the 2002 and 2005 memos permitted the “waterboard,” a technique that involves covering a prisoner’s face with a cloth and pouring water on it to create the panicked sensation of drowning. The interrogators also were authorized to prevent a detainee from trying to “defeat the technique” by thrashing about or trying to breathe from the corner of his mouth.

“The interrogator may cup his hands around the detainee’s nose and mouth to dam the runoff, in which case it would not be possible for the detainee to breathe during the application of the water,” the May 10 memo reads. “In addition, you have informed us that the technique may be applied in a manner to defeat efforts by the detainee to hold his breath by, for example, beginning an application of water as the detainee is exhaling.”

At least since the days of the Spanish Inquisition, waterboarding has been regarded as torture. The US government prosecuted Japanese soldiers who used it against American troops in World War II. But the legal reasoning of the Bush administration's memos transformed waterboarding into an acceptable method of interrogation.

Although the four released memos included the most famous one – from Aug. 1, 2002, which provided the initial legal cover for abusive interrogations – the three others from May 2005 may be more significant in destroying the legal cover that President Bush and his senior aides have hidden behind.

Their claim has been that they were simply operating within legal parameters set by lawyers at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which is responsible for advising Presidents on the limits of their authority. In other words, professional lawyers provided objective legal advice and the administration simply followed it.

But that claim now collides with the reality that other Justice Department lawyers – from 2003 to 2005 – overturned the initial memo and resisted its reimplementation until they were ousted. In effect, the Bush administration appears to have gone lawyer-shopping for attorneys who would craft opinions that the White House wanted.

Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee signed the original Aug. 1, 2002, “torture” memo and other opinions granting expansive presidential powers (drafted by his deputy John Yoo).

However, Bybee quit in 2003 to accept President Bush’s appointment of him as a federal appeals court judge in San Francisco, and his successor as head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith, withdrew many Bybee-Yoo memos as legally flawed.

Goldsmith’s actions angered the White House, particularly Vice President Dick Cheney’s legal counsel David Addington. In a 2007 book, The Terror Presidency, Goldsmith described one White House meeting at which Addington pulled out a 3-by-5-inch card listing the OLC opinions that Goldsmith had withdrawn.

“Since you’ve withdrawn so many legal opinions that the President and others have been relying on,” Addington said sarcastically, “we need you to go through all of OLC’s opinions and let us know which ones you will stand by.”

Though supported by Deputy Attorney General James Comey, Goldsmith succumbed to the White House pressure and quit in 2004. Still, despite Goldsmith’s departure, Comey and the new acting head of the OLC, Daniel Levin, resisted restoring the administration’s right to use the harsh interrogation techniques.

That didn’t occur until White House counsel Alberto Gonzales became Attorney General in 2005 and made Bradbury the acting chief of the OLC. After signing the three “torture” memos in May, Bradbury was rewarded with Bush’s formal nomination in June to be Assistant Attorney General for the OLC (although he never gained Senate confirmation).

Comey departs
With the OLC reaffirming the administration’s interrogation techniques, Comey’s days were numbered.

Though having been a successful prosecutor on past terrorism cases, such as the Khobar Towers bombing which killed 19 U.S. servicemen in 1996, Comey had earned the derisive nickname from Bush as “Cuomey” or just “Cuomo,” a strong insult from Republicans who deemed former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo to be excessively liberal and famously indecisive.

On Aug. 15, 2005, in his farewell speech, Comey urged his colleagues to defend the integrity and honesty of the Justice Department.

“I expect that you will appreciate and protect an amazing gift you have received as an employee of the Department of Justice,” Comey said. “It is a gift you may not notice until the first time you stand up and identify yourself as an employee of the Department of Justice and say something – whether in a courtroom, a conference room or a cocktail party – and find that total strangers believe what you say next.

“That gift – the gift that makes possible so much of the good we accomplish – is a reservoir of trust and credibility, a reservoir built for us, and filled for us, by those who went before – most of whom we never knew. They were people who made sacrifices and kept promises to build that reservoir of trust.

“Our obligation – as the recipients of that great gift – is to protect that reservoir, to pass it to those who follow, those who may never know us, as full as we got it. The problem with reservoirs is that it takes tremendous time and effort to fill them, but one hole in a dam can drain them.

“The protection of that reservoir requires vigilance, an unerring commitment to truth, and a recognition that the actions of one may affect the priceless gift that benefits all. I have tried my absolute best – in matters big and small – to protect that reservoir and inspire others to protect it.”

Though the full import of Comey’s comments was not apparent at the time, it now appears that he was referring to the legal gamesmanship that Bradbury and others had used to circumvent American laws and traditions to enable the Bush administration to engage in torture.

In releasing the four memos on Thursday, President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder repeated their rejection of the Bybee-Yoo-Bradbury legal theories, but also stipulated that they would oppose any legal action against the CIA interrogators who abused detainees under the Bush administration’s legal guidance.

Neither Obama nor Holder spoke specifically about possible legal accountability for Bush’s compliant lawyers -- or for Bush and his top aides who oversaw the torture policies and picked the lawyers. However, Obama recommended a focus on the future, not the past.

Calling the period covered by the four memos a “dark and painful chapter in our history,” Obama added that “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.”

The lack of accountability for Bush and his lawyers, however, may mean that future Presidents will follow Bush's lead and assign some clever legal wordsmiths the job of finding ways around criminal statutes, international treaties and the U.S. Constitution.

If legal language can be interpreted any way that a President wishes – and if the U.S. Supreme Court is stocked with like-minded judges – then laws will no longer protect anyone, whether a suspected Middle Eastern terrorist or an American citizen.

-- Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush , can be ordered at His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to

-- Middle East Online


Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #124 on: April 22, 2009, 10:41:43 AM »
When the Deal Goes Down: Obama Signals Move to Save Bush Bigwigs on Torture

Chris Floyd

April 21, 2009

There has been much throwing about of brains on the matter of Barack Obama's ballyhooed "turnaround" on the torture prosecution issue. As usual, there is much less to the Beltway puffery than meets the eye -- although a key aspect of the burgeoning Torturegate affair can be found buried deep in the New York Times story on the subject.

So what has happened so far? After his groveling trip on Monday to soothe the hurt feelings of the tender little babies at the CIA -- who had been feeling unloved and uncherished since the tiniest ray of media light had shone briefly on their black arts -- Obama then tacked back to soothe the rumblings of his progressive base, parts of which had been disturbed by their hero's guarantee that no Bush torturer would ever face justice.

Of course, in this Obama is only following in the footsteps of his great Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton, who very quickly killed off a number of important investigations into rampant criminality -- including a very credible case of treason -- on the part of the first Bush Administration and its various players, from the president on down. It seems to have become a primary function of the Democratic faction of America's bipartisan ruling elite to bury the crimes of the ruling clique whenever the more exuberant Republican faction lets them get too close to the surface. Iran-Contra, Iraqgate, BCCI, the "October Surprise" deal between candidates Reagan and Bush and Iran's extremist mullahs, etc. -- all were sunk several fathoms deep by Clinton, who of course shared a top fundraiser with George H.W. Bush in 1992, and has since gone on to be warmly welcomed as a "son" by the Bush family.

Anyway, Obama is simply trying to uphold this New Democrat tradition of ass-covering for the other side. But too much of the torture cat has slipped out of the bag to shove it back in quietly. And so on Tuesday, he sought to appease the growing pressure by saying that he was open to the possibility of maybe potentially putting together some kind of commission or something somewhere down the line that could look into whether or not some of these charges might need to be, er, looked into a little further -- although he was quick to add that he was "not suggesting" that such a thing should be done. You musn't get that idea! But he was, magnanimously, willing to say that he would not immediately put the imperial kibosh on the process if and when it ever cranked up.

He also signaled the beginning of a possible "compromise" that could tamp down the heat and get torture off the table, out of the news,  and back into the shadowlands where it belongs -- and where it has been a much-used tool for our bipartisan leadership for many decades, as Bernard Chazelle usefully reminds us. And here's the beauty part: the compromise wouldn't involve anyone who actually carried out or ordered the torture! Thus the security organs and the top dogs in the Bush cabinet would remain untouched.

How to do it? Easy-peasy: grab two or three of the middlemen, the facilitators, and offer them up on the altar as sacrificial lambs. Obama said that he would not interfere if his attorney general decided to look into the possibility of perhaps taking some kind of action against the Bush Administration lawyers who wrote memos providing spurious legal "cover" for the CIA agents carrying out White House orders to torture. Memo-writers Jay Bybee, Steven Bradbury and John Yoo are being put in the frame to take the fall for the big boys and the covert operators.

Yes, that's right: Obama and his team are saying that they will not punish the torturers, and they will not punish the men who ordered the torture -- but they just might, possibly, consider punishing (in some way) those who transmitted the orders from the chief culprits to their frontline minions. The New York Times makes this clear in a passage deep in the story, where the White House tries to fudge over the apparent contradiction between Obama's new stance and his old stance which was enunciated over the weekend by his top aide, Rahm Emanuel:

On Sunday, Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said on the ABC News program "This Week" that "those who devised policy" also "should not be prosecuted." But administration officials said Monday that Mr. Emanuel had meant the officials who ordered the policies carried out, not the lawyers who provided the legal rationale.

Once again, Team Obama is underscoring the fact that they will not prosecute the torturers themselves, and they will not prosecute "the officials who ordered the policies carried out." They will only consider taking some unspecified action (which could be no more than disbarment) against the lawyers who wrote down the weasel-words to "justify" the tortures which Bush and Cheney specifically wanted and ordered.

Yes, of course such lawyers should face criminal prosecution, and serve hard time upon conviction. That's not the point here. The point is the astounding position that Obama is now taking. For how can it possibly be a punishable offense to write a memo condoning torture -- but NOT a punishable offense to order the memo to be written, to order the torture to be carried out, and to actually carry it out? Yet that is precisely what the constitutional lawyer in the Oval Office is suggesting: "We will not prosecute Al Capone for ordering a hit; we will not prosecute the hitman himself. But by golly, we just might think about looking into maybe prosecuting the guy who told the hitman what Al Capone wanted done!"

We've noted often here before that the ruling elite is certainly not averse to offering up a sacrifice now and then to get sticky issues off the front burner, and give the cynical appearance of the rule of law to their reckless and lawless depredations. And if the heat gets high enough, then a deal just might be struck: We'll give you ByBee, Yoo and Bradbury, but you let the worst perps -- the higher perps -- walk. (They might even go as far as throwing the hapless Alberto Gonzales into the stewpot, if the first few nuggets don't do the trick.)

The Bush gang has done this kind of thing before, when they made Scooter Libby walk the plank to save the hide of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney for their treasonous outing of a CIA operative. (Of course, they made sure that Scooter's landing was a comfy as possible.) Just as they didn't care how many people died and suffered as a result of their Terror War policies abroad and their corporate rapine at home, they certainly don't care if a few of their ex-servants bite the dust.

We may never get to that point, of course. No doubt Obama is hoping that his suggestion of possible future action on the side issue of the lawyers will be enough to quell the furor. Or, if not, then perhaps the usual blue-ribbon, "bipartisan" commission of trusted "elders" will obfuscate and bury the issue at last. But what is most remarkable about the situation is Obama's dogged insistence that he will not prosecute the actual authors and perpetrators of these base, foul crimes, no matter what. He is certainly showing an iron-clad consistency in protecting the elite lawlessness at the core of the imperial system.


Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #125 on: April 22, 2009, 10:43:52 AM »
CIA Watchdog Report Says Detainees Died During Interrogations

Jason Leopold

April 21, 2009

According to New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer, Helgerson concluded that some detainees were allegedly killed during interrogations.

In an interview with Harper’s magazine last year, Mayer said Helgerson "investigated several alleged homicides involving CIA detainees" and forwarded several of those cases "to the Justice Department for further consideration and potential prosecution."

CIA Inspector General John Helgerson raised concerns in a 2004 top-secret report his office prepared about the legality of the interrogation techniques agency interrogators used against admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

In the report, Helgerson concluded that the CIA’s "enhanced interrogation" program "appeared to constitute cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, as defined by the International Convention Against Torture" and the interrogation of Mohammed "could expose agency officers to legal liability," according to a Nov. 9, 2005 report published in the New York Times.

Now, thanks to the release last week of four Justice Department "torture" memos Helgerson’s concerns make sense.

In a footnote to a May 30, 2005 memo issued by Steven Bradbury, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003, the same month he was captured. The of times Mohammed was waterboarded was first reported by blogger Marcy Wheeler over the weekend.

Another footnote said that "in some cases the waterboard was used with far greater frequency than initially indicated" and with larger quantities of water than permitted under written guidelines.

Both footnotes directly reference Helgerson’s report and the memo, along with two others issued by Bradbury in May 2005, appears to address specific conclusions Helgerson's report raised questions about the legality of the "enhanced interrogations."

According to the Times report, Helgerson’s investigation into the CIA’s "enhanced interrogation" program, launched in 2003, "expressed skepticism [that] the [torture] treaty does not apply to CIA interrogations because they take place overseas on people who are not citizens of the United States."

"The officials who described the report said it discussed particular techniques used by the CIA against particular prisoners, including about three dozen terror suspects being held by the agency in secret locations around the world," the New York Times reported.

"They said it referred in particular to the treatment of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed...who has been detained in a secret location by the CIA since he was captured in March 2003. Mr. Mohammed is among those believed to have been subjected to waterboarding, in which a prisoner is strapped to a board and made to believe he is drowning."

The report has been highly sought after by members of Congress and civil liberties organizations for some time. It is believed contents of the report were shared with Democratic and Republican members of the House and Senate intelligence committees.

In fact, a little known declaration from the Justice Department in January makes that clear. The declaration, made in response to a lawsuit filed against the CIA by the American Civil Liberties Union over the destruction of 92 interrogation videotapes, says  "at the conclusion of [Helgerson’s] special review in May 2004, [CIA Office of Inspector General] notified DOJ and other relevant oversight authorities of the review’s findings."

In June 2004, one month after Helgerson concluded his investigation, then CIA Director George Tenet asked the White House to explicitly sign off on the agency's "enhanced interrogation" program with a memo that authorized specific techniques, such as waterboarding. A similar request was also made by the agency at the start of Helgerson's probe in 2003, according to a report published in the Washington Post last October.

"The Bush administration issued a pair of secret memos to the CIA in 2003 and 2004 that explicitly endorsed the agency's use of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding against al-Qaeda suspects -- documents prompted by worries among intelligence officials about a possible backlash if details of the program became public," the Post reported.

"The classified memos, which have not been previously disclosed (and remain classified), were requested by then-CIA Director George J. Tenet more than a year after the start of the secret interrogations, according to four administration and intelligence officials familiar with the documents. Although Justice Department lawyers, beginning in 2002, had signed off on the agency's interrogation methods, senior CIA officials were troubled that White House policymakers had never endorsed the program in writing."

It's unknown whether Helgerson's review lead Tenet to request the memos from the White House. 

According to the Post report, "the CIA's anxiety was partly fueled by the lack of explicit presidential authorization for the interrogation program" and "Tenet seemed...interested in protecting his subordinates" from legal liability.

Last week, after the four "torture" memos were released, Attorney General Eric Holder said he told the CIA that the federal government would provide legal representation "to any employee, at no cost to the employee, in any state or federal judicial or administrative proceeding brought against the employee based on such conduct and would take measures to respond to any proceeding initiated against the employee in any international or foreign tribunal, including appointing counsel to act on the employee’s behalf and asserting any available immunities and other defenses in the proceeding itself."

"To the extent permissible under federal law, the government will also indemnify any employee for any monetary judgment or penalty ultimately imposed against him for such conduct and will provide representation in congressional investigations," Holder said. "It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department."

But Helgerson's report, if made public, could change all that.

According to New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer, Helgerson concluded that some detainees were allegedly killed during interrogations.

In an interview with Harper’s magazine last year, Mayer said Helgerson "investigated several alleged homicides involving CIA detainees" and forwarded several of those cases "to the Justice Department for further consideration and potential prosecution."

"Why have there been no charges filed? It’s a question to which one would expect that Congress and the public would like some answers," Mayer said. "Sources suggested to me that... it is highly uncomfortable for top Bush Justice officials to prosecute these cases because, inevitably, it means shining a light on what those same officials sanctioned."

In her book, The Dark Side, Mayer wrote that Helgerson was "looking into at least three deaths of CIA-held prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Helgerson "had serious questions about the agency's mistreatment of dozens more, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed," Mayer wrote, adding that there was a belief by some "insiders that [Helgerson's investigation] would end with criminal charges for abusive interrogations." 

The ACLU has filed a Freedom of Information act lawsuit to gain access to Helgerson's report. Portions of the report have already been turned over to the organization, but much of it was heavily redacted. If the ACLU prevails, as it did in its litigation over the "torture" memos, and Helgerson's report is released it will no doubt further fuel the debate over the need for a criminal investigation.

According to Mayer, Helgerson’s report is "tens of thousands of pages long and as thick as two Manhattan phone books."

"It contained information, according to one source, that was simply 'sickening,’" Mayer wrote. "The behavior it described, another knowledgeable source said, raised concerns not just about the detainees but also about the Americans who had inflicted the abuse, one of whom seemed to have become frighteningly dehumanized. The source said, "You couldn't read the documents without wondering, "Why didn't someone say, 'Stop!'"

According to Mayer, Vice President Dick Cheney stopped Helgerson from fully completing his investigation. That proves, Mayer contends, that as early as 2004 "the Vice President’s office was fully aware that there were allegations of serious wrongdoing in The [interrogation] Program."

"Helgerson was summoned repeatedly to meet privately with Vice President Cheney" before his investigation was "stopped in its tracks." Mayer said that Cheney’s interaction with Helgerson was "highly unusual."

One person who was concerned about the CIA’s interrogation program was Mary O. McCarthy, who alleged CIA officials "lied" to members of Congress during an intelligence briefing when they said the agency did not violate treaties that bar, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees during interrogations, according to a May 14, 2006, front-page story in The Washington Post.

"A CIA employee of two decades, McCarthy became convinced that 'CIA people had lied' in that briefing, as one of her friends said later, not only because the agency had conducted abusive interrogations but also because its policies authorized treatment that she considered cruel, inhumane or degrading," The Washington Post reported.

McCarthy "worried that neither Helgerson nor the agency's Congressional overseers would fully examine what happened or why." Another friend said, "She had the impression that this stuff has been pretty well buried." The Post story reported, "In McCarthy's view and that of many colleagues, friends say, torture was not only wrong but also misguided, because it rarely produced useful results."

In April 2006, ten days before she was due to retire, McCarthy was fired from the CIA for allegedly leaking classified information to the media, a CIA spokeswoman told reporters at the time.

Mayer also suggested that the CIA may have decided to destroy 92 interrogation videotapes, which Helgerson viewed at one of the CIA’s "black site" prisons prior to the drafting his report, after Sen. Jay Rockefeller, began asking questions about the tapes referenced in the report.

"Further rattling the CIA was a request in May 2005 from Senator Jay Rockefeller, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, to see over a hundred documents referred to in the earlier Inspector General's report on detention inside the black prison sites," Mayer wrote in her book. "Among the items Rockefeller specifically sought was a legal analysis of the CIA's interrogation videotapes.

"Rockefeller wanted to know if the intelligence agency's top lawyer believed that the waterboarding of [alleged al-Qaeda operative Abu] Zubaydah and [alleged 9/11 mastermind] Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, as captured on the secret videotapes, was entirely legal. The CIA refused to provide the requested documents to Rockefeller. But the Democratic senator's mention of the videotapes undoubtedly sent a shiver through the Agency, as did a second request the made for these documents to [former CIA Director Porter] Goss in September 2005."

In October 2007, former CIA Director Michael Hayden ordered an investigation into Helgerson’s office, focusing on internal complaints that the inspector general was on "a crusade against those who have participated in controversial detention program."


Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #126 on: April 22, 2009, 02:31:14 PM »
'Top Bush hawks fed on torture' 
22/04/2009 05:58:00 PM GMT

The report is 'a condemnation of the Bush administration's interrogation policies'

A Senate report further associates the former US administration with authorization of torture, raising the prospects of high-profile prosecution.

The Senate Armed Services Committee report, which escaped the Department of Defense's declassification labyrinth after a year on Tuesday, claimed senior aides to the former US president George W. Bush endorsed the torture-aided grilling of the 'terrorism suspects'.

It brought into attention the former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld's reported decision on December 2002 to give carte blanche to military interrogators to administer 'enhanced interrogation techniques' - a euphemism for torture used by the Bush administration.

The practice was reportedly made profuse use of at the US Cuba-based detention facility, Guantanamo, as well as, the prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan run by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Standing out among allegations against the military, since its 2003 invasion of Iraq, are the personnel's reported "abuse, torture, sodomy and homicide" of the Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, which later changed its name to Baghdad Correctional Facility.

The Tuesday report confirmed the application of other methods as "religious disgrace" and "invasion of space by a female." One suspect was forced "to bark and perform dog tricks" while another was "forced to wear a dog collar and perform dog tricks" in a bid to break down their resistance, AFP said quoting the report's contents.

The methods were the converted forms of those meant to raise the troops' tolerance threshold under interrogation by the hostile forces who do not subscribe to the Geneva Conventions' ban on torture, The Huffington Post reported.

Some like waterboarding, or simulated drowning, had been extracted from the Chinese Communists' way of eliciting information from the American prisoners of war during the Korean War.

It also confirmed a former Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney's 2006 claims that the interrogators had been warned to extract information that justifies the 2003 invasion amid warnings that the coercion may yield falsehood from the pain-riddled prisoners.

"We were not being successful in establishing a link between Al-Qaeda and Iraq. The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish this link... there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results," the medic had said.

The news came after President Barack Obama said he would not object to the prosecution of the former officials.

Carl Levin, under whose supervision the 261-page report was produced, said that the report belied claims by the then political heavyweights, including ex-deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz, that detainee abuses could be chalked up to the unauthorized acts of a "few bad apples."

The report is "a condemnation of both the Bush administration's interrogation policies and of senior administration officials who attempted to shift the blame for abuse -- such as that seen at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and Afghanistan -- to low ranking soldiers," Levin added.

Source: Press TV

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #127 on: April 23, 2009, 01:59:04 PM »
British soldiers 'tortured and murdered 20 Iraqis, then covered it up with firefight claim'

Neil Sears

April 22, 2009

British soldiers tortured and murdered up to 20 Iraqis in cold blood, the High Court was told yesterday.

It happened after a three-hour gun battle at an Army checkpoint near Basra, a lawyer claimed.

Rabinder Singh said a group of local men were taken prisoner and transported to an Army camp where they were beaten with a rusty tent pole, punched, slammed against walls, denied water, blasted with loud music and forced to strip naked in the presence of a woman – a humiliation for Muslim men.

The next day, he said, only nine were still alive – and 20 corpses were returned to their families. One was teenager Hamid Al-Sweady.

The Army claims the men all died in the initial gun battle, but Hamid's uncle Khuder Al-Sweady and five survivors of the incident yesterday began a court battle in London to win an independent inquiry.

The clash in May 2004 came after insurgents launched a heavy attack on a checkpoint known as Danny Boy in Al Majar-al-Kabir – the town north of Basra where six military policeman had been murdered the previous year.

According to Army accounts, the soldiers were heavily outnumbered but fought back heroically, mounting a bayonet charge at one point, until the attackers were defeated. The Army says only nine Iraqis were taken away alive for questioning.

But Mr Singh said that when the shooting was over, the British troops took bloody revenge. He said: 'It is the claimants' case that at least some of those captured were tortured and killed by British troops between 14 and 15 May 2004, and that there has been no effective investigation into what happened to them in that 24-hour period.

'This constitutes a substantive and procedural breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.'

He added: 'There is a lot of evidence from soldiers at the battlefield that there were more than nine that were taken alive.

'Many of the bodies of the Iraqis returned on 15 May 2004 were severely disfigured and some appeared to show marks of torture and mutilation.'

The Ministry of Defence says a tenmonth Royal Military Police investigation showed the 20 dead were killed in the initial battle. The corpses were taken to be identified before being returned to their families, with no evidence of torture. The hearing continues.


Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #128 on: April 23, 2009, 02:16:24 PM »
On Torture, the Pressure Builds

By Ray McGovern

April 23, 2009 "ICH" -- -Well, well. The New York Times has finally put a story together on the key role that two controversial psychologists played in devising the Bush administration’s torture policies. Guess we should be thankful for small favors.
Apparently, a NYTimes “exposé” requires a 21-month gestation period; just by way of pointing out that the substance of the Times “exposé” appeared in an article the July 2007 issue of Vanity Fair.

Katherine Eban, a Brooklyn-based journalist who writes about public health, authored that article and titled it “Rorschach and Awe.” It was the result of a careful effort to understand the role of psychologists in the torture of detainees in Guantánamo.

She identified the two psychologists as James Elmer Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who she reported were inexperienced in interrogations and “had no proof of their tactics’ effectiveness” but nevertheless sold the Bush administration on a plan to subject captives to “psychic demolition,” essentially severing them from their personalities and scaring them “almost to death.”

In Wednesday’s New York Times, reporters Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti plow much the same ground. But please do not misunderstand. They deserve praise for finally pushing their own article past the Times‘ censors, but let’s not pretend the startling revelations are new.

The Times ought to allow the likes of Shane and Mazzetti to publish these stories when they are fresh. Alternatively, the “newspaper of record” might at least report the findings of the likes of Eban, rather than ignoring them for nearly two years.

It’s pretty much all out there now, isn’t it? Not only the Times‘ better-late-than-never “exposé,” but also:

–The (leaked) text of the report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on the torture of “high-value” detainees;

–The too-slick-by-half “legal opinions” under Department of Justice letterhead;

–The findings of the 18-month investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee highlighting that it was President George W. Bush’s dismissal of Geneva (in his executive order of Feb. 7, 2002) that “opened the door” to abuse of detainees.

The North/Gonzales Shredder

One issue of some urgency has been overlooked in the media, but probably not by those complicit in torture by the CIA and other parts of the government. That issue is the need to protect evidence from being shredded.

I have seen no sign that Director of National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair, or CIA Director Leon Panetta, have proscribed the destruction of documents/tapes/etc. relating to torture, while decisions on if and how to proceed are being worked out.

Many will remember how Oliver North (when the crimes of Iran-Contra were uncovered) and Alberto Gonzales (when White House involvement in the Valerie Plame affair was suggested) made such good use of the days of hiatus between the announced decision to investigate and the belated decision to safeguard all evidence from destruction.

One would think that Attorney General Eric Holder, or President Barack Obama himself, would have long since issued such an order. Indeed, the absence of such an order would suggest they would just as soon avoid as many of the painful truths about torture as they can.

The issue would seem particularly urgent in the wake of Obama’s gratuitous get-out-of-jail free card issued to CIA personnel complicit in torture. They might well draw the (erroneous) conclusion that they have been, in effect, pardoned by the President and thus are within the law in destroying relevant evidence — to the degree that being within the law matters any more.

And what about the President’s decision not to prosecute those in CIA who engaged in torture? What is going on here?

Obama’s defensive tone on the recent release of the four torture documents issued by the Mafia-style lawyers of the Justice Department doesn’t square with what should be the attitude of a specialist in constitutional law. Oddly, the President and his people seem to think they must justify the release.

In the face of Rush Limbaugh/Dick Cheney-type charges that the revelations endanger national security, they argue that most of the information was already in the public domain (in the recently leaked report of the International Committee of the Red Cross, for example).

Hey, Mr. constitutional-law professor and now President, how about the fact that the Freedom of Information Act requires your administration to release such information? How about acknowledging that you are just obeying the law — or is that quaint, obsolete, or somehow passé these days?

Misplaced Loyalty or Fear?

It is highly unusual for the President to feel it necessary to visit CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Vivid in my memory is the visit by President George W. Bush on Sept. 26, 2001, just two weeks after the intelligence/defense/policy failures permitted the attacks of September 11.

For some time it remained something of a puzzle, why the President felt it prudent to appear at CIA with his arm around then-CIA Director George Tenet, endorsing his leadership without reservation and bragging about having the best intelligence service in the world. In retrospect, it was a Faustian bargain.

Former CIA Director and Medal of Freedom winner, George Tenet, can be forgiven for being somewhat apprehensive these days — especially in the wake of the article by Shane and Mazzetti. But let’s leave aside for now the obviously heinous – like running George W. Bush’s global Gestapo complete with secret prisons and torture chambers, a criminal enterprise that Tenet shoe-horned into the operations directorate of the CIA.

Let’s pick a case of simpler, more familiar white-collar crimes – Scooter Libby-style perjury and obstruction of justice. Those who remember Watergate and other crimes will be aware that the cover-up constitutes an additional – and often more provable – crime, especially when it involves perjury and obstruction of justice.

Until now, Bush has managed to escape blame for his outrageous inactivity before 9/11 because his subordinates – first and foremost, Tenet – have covered up for him. Faustian bargain? Call it mutual blackmail, if you prefer the vernacular.

Tenet gave the President enough warning to warrant, to compel some sort of action on his part. But Tenet’s lackadaisical management of the CIA and intelligence community was at least as important a factor in the success of the 9/11 attacks.

Tenet should have been fired after 9/11. But President Bush needed Tenet, or at least Tenet’s silence, as much as Tenet needed Bush, or at least Bush’s forgiveness.

What developed might be described as a case of mutual blackmail disguised as bonhomie. Bush was keenly aware that Tenet had the wherewithal to let the world know how many warnings he had given the President – reducing Bush to a criminally negligent, blundering fool.

Were that to happen, Bush would have to kiss goodbye the role of cheerleader/war president – and so much else. Thus, Tenet had become critical to Bush’s political survival. And Tenet? All he needed was not to be blamed – not to be fired.

The bargain: I, George Bush, will keep you on and even praise your performance; you, George Tenet, will keep your mouth shut about all the warnings you gave me during the spring and summer of 2001. Tenet, it seems clear, agreed.

On Sept. 26, 2001, the President motored out to CIA headquarters, puts his arm around Tenet and told the cameras, “We’ve got the best intelligence we can possibly have thanks to the men and women of the CIA.”

In his sworn testimony of April 14, 2004, before the 9/11 Commission, Tenet outdid himself trying to honor his bargain with Bush. The commissioners were interested in what the president had been told during the critical month of August 2001.

Answering a question from Commissioner Timothy Roemer, Tenet referred to the President’s long vacation (July 29-Aug. 30, 2001) in Crawford and insisted that he did not see the President at all in August.

“You never talked with him?” Roemer asked.

“No,” Tenet replied, explaining that for much of August he, too, was “on leave.”

That same evening, a CIA spokesman called reporters to say that Tenet had misspoken, and that he had briefed Bush on Aug. 17 and 31, 2001. The spokesman played down the Aug. 17 briefing as uneventful and indicated that the second briefing took place after Bush had returned to Washington.

Funny how Tenet could have forgotten his first visit to Crawford, whereas in his memoir, At the Center of the Storm, Tenet waxed eloquent about the “president graciously driving me around the spread in his pickup and me trying to make small talk about the flora and the fauna.”

But the visit was not limited to small talk. In his book, Tenet writes: “A few weeks after the August 6 PDB was delivered, I followed it to Crawford to make sure the president stayed current on events.”

The Aug. 6, 2001, President’s Daily Brief contained the article “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the US.” According to Ron Suskind’s The One-Percent Doctrine, the President reacted by telling the CIA briefer, “All right, you’ve covered your ass now.”

Clearly, Tenet needed to follow up on that. Was Tenet again in Crawford just one week later? According to a White House press release, President Bush on Aug. 25 told visitors to Crawford, “George Tenet and I” drove up the canyon “yesterday.”

If, as Tenet says in his memoir, it was the Aug. 6, 2001, PDB that prompted his visit on Aug. 17, what might have brought him back on Aug. 24? That was the day after Tenet had been briefed on Zacarias Moussaoui training to fly a 747 and other suspicion-arousing information.

The evidence is very strong that Tenet told Bush chapter and verse. The extraordinary lengths to which Tenet has gone to disguise that has the former CIA director skating very close to perjury – if not over the line.

A note on Moussaoui: despite strong encouragement from FBI special agent/lawyer Coleen Rowley at the time, the government never interviewed Moussaoui for information on a possible “second wave” of 9/11-type attacks.

Moussaoui knew Richard Reid, the shoe-bomber who almost downed an airliner on its way from London to the U.S., and might have provided forewarning, were he to been asked in the three months between 9/11 and Reid’s attempt in December 2001.

It gets worse: it does not seem that Reid was effectively interviewed either. This greatly diminishes the credibility of arguments that torture was felt to be necessary because of overweening fear of follow-up attacks.

The administration claims it was pulling out all the stops – while, in reality, it failed to take rudimentary steps to acquire information from suspected terrorists already in our custody.

Obama’s Faustian Bargain?

In a recent article on torture, I asked what might be holding the administration back on moving forward with investigation and holding accountable those proven guilty, in order to end this shameful chapter in American history once and for all.

A reader offered an answer: What’s holding them back? I’ll tell you, she said. His name is John D. Rockefeller, IV. He and other Democratic (as well as Republican) lawmakers knew of the torture and did nothing, she added.

The writer gave her name as Kathleen Rockefeller; she described herself as a cousin with courage.

The disclosures in the Shane/Mazzetti article today, and plenty of other evidence suggest that Ms. Rockefeller in not far off the mark. Powerful forces are working on our President.

Maybe, just maybe, he insisted on releasing those torture memos with the thought that the rest of us would be appropriately outraged — so outraged that we would put inexorable pressure on him to hold everyone, repeat everyone, accountable.

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #129 on: April 23, 2009, 02:18:53 PM »
The Cancerous Rot at the Center of the Empire

By Jacob G. Hornberger

April 23, 2009 "fff" -- - In obvious response to growing calls for the prosecution of Bush administration personnel who tortured people or who authorized the torture of people, former Vice President Dick Cheney has called on the CIA to declassify information showing that that the torture delivered “good” intelligence. Maybe he is referring to the 183 times that the CIA waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or to the 83 times the CIA waterboarded Abu Zubadah.

My question is: Why limit torture to suspected terrorists? Why not expand it to suspected murderers, drug dealers, robbers, and kidnappers? After all, can’t those types of people commit just as heinous an act as terrorists?

Consider, for example, the drug dealers along the U.S.-Mexico border. They’re killing law-enforcement officers, judges, and other public officials. Suppose the U.S. military or Border Patrol takes a suspected drug dealer into custody. What would be wrong with torturing him into providing information about plans to kill government officials? Wouldn’t this information be just as valuable as information extracted from a suspected terrorist?

Couldn’t the same be true of suspected kidnappers? Wouldn’t the forcible extraction of information help save the life of a kidnap victim? What would be wrong with torturing the person into telling where the victim is being held?

There are, of course, solid and important reasons why it would be wrong, both legally and morally, for U.S. law-enforcement officers to torture criminal suspects in their custody.

For one thing, the U.S. Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land that controls the conduct of government officials, bars government agents from inflicting cruel and unusual punishments on people. It also protects a person from being forced to give information that might tend to incriminate him.

Secondly, in the United States the American people, through their elected representatives, have, by statute, made it a criminal offense, for law-enforcement officers to torture or abuse criminal suspects.

Third, as a moral matter, ever since the founding of our nation the American people have stood squarely in opposition to the power of government officials to torture people, no matter how heinous the crime and no matter how valuable the information that they might be able to disclose.

Finally, there is always the distinct possibility that a criminal suspect might be innocent or might not posses the information that the torturer is seeking.

Several years before 9/11, I visited The Torture Museum in San Gimignano, Italy. It was the most gruesome place I have ever seen in my life. Here are two links that give you an idea of what the place was like, but don’t click on them unless you’re prepared to see some horrible methods by which government officials have tortured other people, including a depiction of waterboarding in medieval times:

As I was walking through that museum, the last thing I would have ever figured was that a time would come when there would actually be a national torture debate in the United States, one in which people were actually debating whether torture should be permitted along with the relative “benefits” of torture. For that matter, it was the last thing I would have ever thought would be considered when I was taking civics and social studies classes in the public schools I attended as I child.

The fact that a torture debate is even taking place in the United States of America convinces me more than ever that it isn’t external enemies that ultimately bring down an empire. Instead, it’s the cancerous rot that the empire produces from within that ultimately destroys the moral foundation of the society.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation, publisher of The Case for Free Trade and Open Immigration.

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #130 on: April 24, 2009, 09:19:41 AM »
Obama administration to release photos showing alleged abuses by U.S. troops

While fearing backlash, White House to release images in May

Peter Wallsten, Greg Miller and Julian E. Barnes

April 24, 2009

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration agreed late Thursday to release dozens of photographs depicting alleged abuse by U.S. personnel during the Bush administration of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At least 44 pictures will be released by May 28, making public for the first time images of what the military investigated at facilities other than the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Defense Department officials would not say exactly what is contained in the photos but said they are concerned the release could incite a Mideast backlash.

The photos, taken from Air Force and Army criminal investigations, apparently are not as shocking as the photographs from the Abu Ghraib investigation that became a lasting symbol of U.S. mistakes in Iraq. But some show military personnel intimidating or threatening detainees by pointing weapons at them. Military officers have been court-martialed for threatening detainees at gunpoint.

"This will constitute visual proof that, unlike the Bush administration's claim, the abuse was not confined to Abu Ghraib and was not aberrational," said Amrit Singh, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained the agreement as part of a long-running legal battle for documents related to Bush-era anti-terror policies.

The decision to release the photos comes as President Barack Obama is trying to quell a drive to investigate Bush administration moves against terrorism. But now the photos and a series of other possible disclosures stemming from the ACLU suit risk inflaming an already explosive controversy.

Additional disclosures to be considered in the coming weeks include transcripts of detainee interrogations by the CIA, a CIA inspector general's report that has been kept mostly secret and background materials of a Justice Department internal investigation into prisoner abuse.

Last week, Obama opted to demand relatively few redactions in released Justice Department memos detailing the Bush administration's justifications and strategies for harsh interrogations.

But those disclosures prompted Democrats and advocacy interest groups to demand a congressional probe. With Obama trying to navigate ambitious legislation through Congress, the White House fears that such an investigation could become a partisan distraction -- and Obama already has rejected the idea of a 9/11 commission-style review of Bush anti-terrorism policies, according to an official.

While Obama's liberal base wants wide disclosure and an investigation of Bush administration practices, that could alienate the intelligence and military communities.

"My sense is the president was trying to please a lot of audiences at one time and that over the last [week] he has totally failed to put the mind of the intelligence community at ease," said Mark Lowenthal, a former senior adviser to onetime CIA Director George Tenet. "He is going to end up with a national clandestine service that will not be willing to do anything because they feel he will not be there for them when they need him."





Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #131 on: April 24, 2009, 03:09:31 PM »
FBI Weren't the Only Ones Objecting to Torture ... So Did the Army, Marines & Air Force

Donald Rumsfeld defied the recommendations of the Army, the Navy, and the Marines when he approved torture.

By Jane Hamsher, Firedoglake
Posted on April 23, 2009, Printed on April 24, 2009

As Digby notes, there were already serious objections to the use of torture in 2002 -- the FBI chief Muller had already refused to let his agents participate in the CIA's "coercive interrogations" in June of 2002 (per Marcy's timeline, the Bybee memo didn't make them legal until August 1).

But it's not like the FBI was the only one who had a problem. On October 1, Major General Michael Dunlavey sent a memo to General James Hill, Commander of US Southern Command, requesting the authority to use "aggressive interrogations techniques" like those use in SERE training. The memo reached Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Joint Staff solicited views of the military services. Here's what came back in November 2002 (PDF):

Air Force: "serious concerns regarding the legality of many of the proposed techniques...Some of these techniques could be construed as 'torture' as that crime is defined by 18 U.S.C 2340." Further, they were concerned that "implementation of these techniques could preclude the ability to prosecute the individuals interrogated," because "Level III techniques will almost certainly result in any statements obtained being declared as coerced and involuntary, and therefore inadmissible....Additionally, the techniques described may be subject to challenge as failing to meet the requirements outlined in military order to treat detainees humanely and to provide them with adequate food, water, shelter and medical treatment." They called for an in-depth legal review.

Criminal Investigative Task Force (CITM): Chief Legal Advisor to the CITF at Gitmo, Maj Sam W. McCahon, writes "Both the utility and the legality of applying certain techniques identified in the memorandum listed above are, in my opinion, questionable. Any policy decision to use the Tier III techniques, or any techniques inconsistent with the analysis herein, will be contrary to my recommendation. The aggressive techniques should not occur at GTMO where both CITF and the intelligence community are conducting interviews and interrogations." He calls for further review and concludes by saying "I cannot advocate any action, interrogation or otherwise, that is predicated upon the principal that all is well if the ends justify the means and others are not aware of how we conduct our business."

Army: The Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans writes: "As set forth in the enclosed memoranda, the Army interposes significant legal, policy and practical concerns regarding most of the Category II and all of the Category III techniques proposed." They recommend "a comprehensive legal review of this proposal in its entirety by the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice."

Navy: recommends that "more detailed interagency legal and political review be conducted on proposed techniques."

Marine Corp: expressed strong reservations, since "several of the Category II and III techniques arguably violate federal law, and would expose our service members to possible prosecution." Called for further review.

Legal adviser to the Joint Chiefs, Jane Dalton, commenced the review that was requested by the military services. But before it was concluded, Myers put a stop to it -- at the request of Steven Haynes, the Department of Defense General Counsel, who was told by Rumsfeld that things were "taking too long." Over the objections of the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force and the Criminal Investigation Task Force, Haynes recommended that the "aggressive technique" be approved without further investigation. He testified that Wolfowitz, Feith and Myers concurred. On December 2, 2002 Rumsfeld approved Haynes' recommendation with the famous comment "I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?"

One of the conclusions of the Senate Armed Services Committee report is that Myers screwed up:

Conclusion 11: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers's decision to cut short the legal and policy review of the October 11,2002 GTMO request initiated by his Legal Counsel, then-Captain Jane Dalton, undermined the military's review process. Subsequent conclusions reached by Chairman Myers and Captain Dalton regarding the legality of interrogation techniques in the request followed a grossly deficient review and were at odds with conclusions previously reached by the Anny, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Criminal Investigative Task Force.

They also conclude that "Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo Bay was a direct cause of detainee abuse there. Secretary Rumsfeld's December 2,2002 approval of Mr. Haynes's recommendation that most of the techniques contained in GTMO's October 11, 2002 request be authorized, influenced and contributed to the use of abusive techniques, including military working dogs, forced nudity, and stress positions, in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Objections to torture aren't the exclusive terrain, as Bill Kristol likes to pretend, of "President Obama" and his "leftist lawyers" looking back on a "bright, sunny safe day in April" with "preening self-righteousness" and forgetting how "dark and painful" that chapter in our history was.

When Donald Rumsfeld approved "enhanced interrogation techniques" for Guantanamo Bay in 2002, he did so in defiance of the recommendations of the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force and the Criminal Investigation Task Force.

Jane Hamsher is the founder of FireDogLake. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect.

© 2009 Firedoglake All rights reserved.
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Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #132 on: April 25, 2009, 08:29:10 AM »
MoJo Videos : Inside the Secret Cellblocks of Abu Ghraib

A soldier-narrated tour of the detainee camp during its final days.

By Justine Sharrock | Thu April 23, 2009 12:51 PM PST

With the recent release of new torture memos, and the news that Obama isn't entirely ruling out prosecutions, it's important to remember just how widespread America's use of torture has been. This video footage was taken of Abu Ghraib during its final days in 2006, after the prisoners left but before it was torn down, and evidence of the camp was buried and burned. While not as dramatic as hundreds of rounds of waterboarding, the abuse outside interrogation rooms was another cog in the torture machine. The thousands of detainees living in the sprawling tents were kept in squalid conditions, exposed to the elements and mortar fire. The soldiers who filmed this tape point out the outdoor segregation cells where detainees were kept and deprived of sleep—even years after the Bush administration said the camp had been cleaned of any abusive practices. Abu Ghraib has closed, but these two matter-of-fact video tours remind us what it was like. That chapter in American history is not over.

Mother Jones: Abu Ghraib Level 1 :

Mother Jones: Abu Ghraib Levels 4 and 5 :

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #133 on: April 25, 2009, 08:45:19 AM »
The Psychologists of Torture

Medical professionals designed and helped to implement Bush administration interrogation practices.

Frederick Clarkson


Licensed psychologist and Army Col. Larry James was the director of Guantanamo's "Behavioral Science Consultation Team," which oversaw the use of harsh interrogation techniques widely condemned as torture. (Photo by Army Spc. Shanita Simmons.)

'The conclusion that these interrogation techniques cause no lasting harm is the equivalent of psychological malpractice,' says Physicians for Human Rights' Steven Reisner.

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One of the key, if underreported, findings in Tuesday’s bombshell Senate committee report on the Bush-era treatment of U.S. military detainees was the role of civilian and military psychologists in devising, directing and overseeing the torture of prisoners.

While the report highlights the role of senior Bush administration officials in approving "aggressive" interrogation techniques, it also exposes how medical

April 24, 2009

One of the key, if underreported, findings in Tuesday’s bombshell Senate committee report on the Bush-era treatment of U.S. military detainees was the role of civilian and military psychologists in devising, directing and overseeing the torture of prisoners.

While the report highlights the role of senior Bush administration officials in approving "aggressive" interrogation techniques, it also exposes how medical professionals helped to transform the Pentagon’s torture resistance program into tactics used against prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and CIA "black" sites.

Understanding the role of these professionals should be a "specific focus" of an investigation into the use of these tactics, according to Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which has condemned the tactics as illegal and medically unethical.

In a series of reports available on its Web site, PHR details the tactics, which it says include beating, sexual and cultural humiliation, forced nakedness, exposure to extreme temperatures, exploitation of phobias, sleep deprivation and sensory deprivation.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based organization, which won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, says psychologists "led the way" in legitimizing the Pentagon’s approval and use of the tactics. It has joined the Senate Armed Services Committee in calling on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate who should be held accountable.

From Korea to Gitmo
The carefully worded Senate report reveals how the torture tactics developed directly from the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training program, which was designed to help downed American pilots resist torture.

The SERE program was based on interrogation methods used by the Chinese during the Korean War that aimed to elicit false confessions from American prisoners for propaganda purposes. Designed to enhance resistance to torture, the SERE program was reverse-engineered by psychologists working within a joint Army and CIA command to become the Bush administration’s "enhanced interrogation methods."

Early in the Senate report, we learn that the SERE program’s adaptation began with two senior military psychologists. In December 2001, Dr. James Mitchell, the senior SERE psychologist at the Pentagon’s Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, asked his former colleague Dr. John "Bruce" Jessen to review a recently obtained al Qaeda interrogation resistance training manual.

"The two psychologists reviewed the materials and generated a paper on al Qaeda resistance capabilities and countermeasures to defeat that resistance," according to this heavily redacted section of the Senate report. Mitchell and Jessen became CIA interrogation consultants the next year.

In April of 2002, Jessen created an "exploitation draft plan" for Guantanamo detainees. According to this plan, Jessen would direct SERE training of interrogators at the "exploitation facility," which would be "off limits to non-essential personnel." The Senate report makes several references to changing conditions at Guantanamo whenever the International Committee of the Red Cross came to visit.

Eventually, the Cuban military base became known as a "Battle Lab for new interrogation techniques," which were then applied at military prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan and at CIA detention centers.

Military and law enforcement professionals repeatedly warned against the application of SERE tactics, but the Senate report shows that their use was urged by top Bush administration figures eager to find information linking Al Qaeda and Iraq. (And it concludes that their use at Guantanamo Bay, authorized by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, led to the abuse of detainees there – as well as in Afghanistan and Iraq.)

The Senate report notes that SERE-based interrogation techniques were presented to Guantanamo personnel in September of 2002, despite the objections of instructors from Fort Bragg. In an interview with the Army’s Inspector General, Army psychiatrist Major Charles Burney said "interrogation tactics that rely on physical pressures or torture…do not tend to get you accurate information or reliable information." According to Burney, instructors repeatedly stressed that harsh interrogations don’t work and that the information gleaned "is strongly likely to be false."

Nonetheless, the SERE techniques came to be used by members of the newly created "Behavioral Science Consultation Teams" (BSCT), a joint operation of the Army and CIA. The first of those teams worked at Guantanamo.

The role of 'safety officers’
The Senate report confirms the intimate involvement of health professionals in designing, supervising and implementing the Army and the CIA’s "enhanced" interrogation program. (The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel memos, released April 16, revealed that medical professionals had served as "safety officers" during waterboarding and other interrogation sessions.)

Tactics used by psychologists and supervised by medical personnel clearly constituted torture and a grave breach of medical and professional ethics, according to both PHR and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

In a February 2007 report made public earlier this year, the ICRC states that health professionals who participated in the interrogation process "constituted a gross breach of medical ethics" at times amounting to "participation in torture."

"The monitoring of vital signs and giving instructions to interrogators to start and stop are some of the most severe abuses of the Hippocratic Oath and medical ethics imaginable," says Nathanial Raymond, of PHR. "Strangely, the memos and the statements of former senior Bush Administration officials use the presence of medical professionals in contravention of their professional ethics as a defense, when it is in fact, itself, a crime."

Steven Reisner, PHR’s adviser on psychological ethics, believes that U.S. psychologists were busy perpetrating torture even before Justice Department lawyers wrote their opinions justifying the interrogation practices.

"These individuals must not only face prosecution for breaking the law," Reisner says. "They must lose their licenses for shaming their profession’s ethics."

Debate among psychologists
The role of psychologists in torture became a hot issue within the American Psychological Association in 2005, when the board of the organization of mental health professionals endorsed psychologists’ role in interrogations as consistent with APA ethics, for the purpose of making it safe, legal and effective.

But a 2007 resolution of the APA membership proscribed member involvement in a number of interrogation tactics. Then, in 2008, the organization passed a further resolution against members’ presence at any facility where U.S. and international law was being violated, unless they were working for the benefit of the people held.

Prior to the 2008 APA resolution, Guantanamo’s public affairs office published an article in January 2008 describing the Behavioral Science Consultation Team as "integral" to the success of Guantanamo.

In that article, Army Colonel Larry James—a licensed psychologist and the director of Guantanamo’s Behavioral Science Consultation Team—says he feels validated by the APA’s approval (at its August 2007 convention) of psychologists working in military detention facilities.

"It’s clear given the vote at the APA convention that there is overwhelming support for psychologists who wear the uniform all around the world in defense of this nation," James says.

"During my time here, I am proud to say that I have not seen a guard or interrogator abuse anyone in any shape or form," he continues. The article reports that James worked with another licensed psychologist, a behavioral science specialist and leaders within the Joint Detention Group and the Joint Intelligence Group.

Push for accountability
Since 2005, PHR has been working to hold accountable health professionals it believes were complicit in torture. The APA "has never comprehensively addressed the troubling ethical entanglement of some members of its leadership in the intelligence apparatus," PHR’s Sara Greenberg wrote Wednesday.

"In January 2005," Greenberg writes,

the American Psychological Association issued its Report of the Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security, which seeks to legitimize the involvement of psychologists in interrogation; a role that is fundamentally inconsistent with ethical principles and both US and international law. In concluding that psychologists have a central role in interrogations, the Task Force gave short shrift to the ethical and human rights implications of coercive interrogation practices used by U.S. forces that relied on psychological expertise. Nor has the APA sanctioned its members responsible for designing and implementing torture.
PHR contrasts the APA’s flip-flopping with the unequivocal opposition to torture expressed by other leading organizations of health professionals, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association.

With the debate over how to hold Bush administration-era officials accountable for alleged torture now reaching a fever pitch, PHR spokespeople have fanned out in the media, calling for the psychologists who justified, designed and implemented the interrogation programs to lose their professional licenses and face criminal prosecution.

"The conclusion that these interrogation techniques cause no lasting harm is the equivalent of psychological malpractice," Reisner recently told the Inter Press Service. "How can you compare U.S. soldiers who volunteered for SERE training, and could have stopped their interrogations at any time, with the effects on a prisoner who has been 'disappeared,’ is in fear for his life, and believes he will never see his family again?"


Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #134 on: April 26, 2009, 07:19:53 AM »
Straight to the Top

Scott Horton

April 25, 2009

The torture trail starts and ends in the White House. That is perhaps the most inescapable conclusion to be drawn from the flurry of documents released in the last week—first the OLC memoranda, then a newly declassified report of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and finally an amazing document that Attorney General Eric Holder released yesterday, which has still gained little attention. The Holder note presents a summary of CIA interaction with the White House in connection with the approval of the torture techniques that John Yoo calls the "Bush Program." Holder’s memo refers to the participants by their job titles only, but John Sifton runs it through a decoder and gives us the actual names. Here’s a key passage:

"[The] CIA’s Office of General Counsel [this would include current Acting CIA General Counsel John Rizzo] met with the Attorney General [John Ashcroft], the National Security Adviser [Condoleezza Rice], the Deputy National Security Adviser [Stephen Hadley], the Legal Adviser to the National Security Council [John Bellinger], and the Counsel to the President [Alberto Gonzales] in mid-May 2002 to discuss the possible use of alternative interrogation methods [on Abu Zubaydah] that differed from the traditional methods used by the U.S. military and intelligence community. At this meeting, the CIA proposed particular alternative interrogation methods, including waterboarding."

The report continues to implicate more Bush officials: "On July 13, 2002, according to CIA records, attorneys from the CIA’s Office of General Counsel [including Rizzo] met with the Legal Adviser to the National Security Council [Bellinger], a Deputy Assistant Attorney General from OLC [likely John Yoo], the head of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice [Michael Chertoff], the chief of staff to the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation [Kenneth Wainstein], and the Counsel to the President [Alberto Gonzales] to provide an overview of the proposed interrogation plan for Abu Zubaydah."

It makes clear that sign-off for torture comes from Condoleezza Rice, acting with the advice of her ever-present lawyer, John Bellinger. Another figure making a key appearance is an Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel named M. Edward Whelan III–presumably the same Ed Whelan who is presently melting his keyboard with defenses of the torture-enablers at National Review. (Update: Andrew Sullivan also reported on the appearance of Whelan in the memo, but Whelan responded with a categorical denial that he was involved. This suggests that the memo’s chronology is incorrect and requires some clarification.) The central role played by Rice and Bellinger helps explain the State Department’s abrupt about-face on international law issues related to torture immediately after Rice became Secretary of State and Bellinger became Legal Adviser. It also makes clear that Vice President Cheney and President Bush were fully informed of what has happened and approved.

This disclosure comes after the Senate Armed Services Committee’s detailed report, which debunks almost all the claims that Bush Administration officials have thrown up to put investigators off the trail of the torture policy. The claim that the decision to introduce torture was done to accommodate interrogators who were frustrated by their inability to get results, for instance, is belied by the fact that the White House was busy pursuing torture techniques and authority to introduce them before any prisoners had yet been taken.

But each of these disclosures points again to a great mass of potential evidence remaining securely hidden. Colin Powell himself has repeatedly noted that the National Security Council was the center of activity with respect to the introduction of torture and that it carefully documents its internal processes with minutes and records. He urged those pursuing the issue to press for full disclosure of these materials. His guidance (which is remarkable among other things because he will himself be at the center of the inquiry) is revealed by the Holder memorandum to be spot-on.

President Obama and several of his senior advisors are now plainly concerned about the torture issue and the momentum it has achieved. They are troubled that it will seize center stage in Washington and disrupt the president’s ability to implement his agenda. These concerns are reasonable to some extent, but in fact that very concern provides a very good reason to remove the next steps in this crisis from the political process. Unlike the Beltway chatterboxes who fill our airwaves, most Americans appreciate the importance of the torture question. It is not a matter of partisan intrigue. It is a fundamental question of national identity and principle. And this points to a two-pronged solution. First a blue-ribbon commission should be constituted to get to the bottom of what happened, to declassify and publish the still hidden documents concerning the NSC process and what went on in the Justice Department, the Pentagon, and the CIA. The commission should take a long, hard look at Richard Cheney’s self-serving claims that "torture works." And it should try to steer the country to a solution of these questions that restores a national consensus. If you support the idea of an accountability commission, take a few seconds to go on line here and note your endorsement of the proposal. The second prong will be a prosecutor who can take a look at all the facts and decide who should be charged for criminal wrongdoing. We know now that the White House considers it politically "inconvenient" to do this. So the big open question is whether we have an attorney general who enforces the law, or a Democratic version of Alberto Gonzales. That will become apparent soon enough.


Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #135 on: April 26, 2009, 07:45:03 AM »
How Torture Worked to Sell the Iraq War

Steve Weissman, t r u t h o u t | Perspective


(Photo-illustration: Everett Bogue / t r u t h o u t)

Saturday 25 April 2009

Three cheers for Dick Cheney. The former vice president has urged, however rhetorically, that the Obama administration release more of the torture memos. "One of the things that I find a little bit disturbing about this recent disclosure is they put out the legal memos, the memos that the CIA got from the Office of Legal Counsel, but they didn't put out the memos that showed the success of the effort," the former vice president told FoxNews.

"I've now formally asked the CIA to take steps to declassify those memos so we can lay them out there and the American people have a chance to see what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was."

News reports differ as to whether Mr. Cheney has formally made the request, but he is absolutely right that the American people need to see the complete record. He is wrong about what the record will show. From the material already released or ferreted out by journalists, it is clear that he and Mr. Bush succeeded in using torture, not primarily to secure needed intelligence, but to create the propaganda they used to sell their invasion of Iraq.

The evidence comes from a variety of sources, including the report on the military's treatment of detainees, which Sen. Carl Levin's Armed Services Committee has just released. The report revealed that Pentagon officials began preparing to use torture - or "abusive interrogation techniques" - as early as December 2001. This was less than two months after the start of the war in Afghanistan and eight months before the Department of Justice gave legal authorization in two memos dated August 1, 2002, and signed by Jay Bybee, then-assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel. The first memo redefined physical and mental torture and suggested that the president, acting pursuant to his constitutional powers as commander-in-chief, could override the federal anti-torture statute. The second analyzed and approved specific interrogation tactics, including isolation, prolonged sleep deprivation, stress positions and waterboarding, which makes the victim feel that he is drowning.

If not the Justice Department lawyers, who gave the earlier go-ahead? The Senate report puts the onus directly on the decider-in-chief, President George W. Bush. He issued a written determination on February 7, 2002, "that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment, did not apply to al-Qaeda or Taliban detainees."

Former White House terrorist adviser Richard Clarke has confirmed that Mr. Bush gave an informal go-ahead even earlier. According to Clarke's account in his book, "Against All Enemies," Bush addressed his national security advisers late on September 11, 2001. "We are at war and we will stay at war until this is done," Bush told them. "Any barriers in your way, they're gone." Later he added in a heated exchange with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, "I don't care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass."

The Senate report also pointed the finger at Mr. Cheney and other top officials of the Bush administration. "Members of the President's Cabinet and other senior officials participated in meetings inside the White House in 2002 and 2003 where specific interrogation techniques were discussed," the committee concluded. "National Security Council principals reviewed the CIA's interrogation program during that period."

Why so much attention from the top? McClatchy news has provided the obvious answer. According to a former senior US intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist, the Bush administration wanted "to find evidence of cooperation between al-Qaeda and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime."

"There were two reasons why these interrogations were so persistent, and why extreme methods were used," said the former official. "The main one is that everyone was worried about some kind of follow-up attack (after 9/11). But for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al-Qaeda and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there."

In part to get that smoking gun, the CIA waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times and Abu Zubaydah 83 times. But neither man told the interrogators what Bush and Cheney wanted to hear about Iraq and al-Qaeda. That came from Ibn al Sheikh al Libi, whom the Bush administration sent to Egypt for what CIA Director George Tenet called "further debriefing." As PBS Frontline reported back in November 2007, al Libi "confessed" - after being beaten repeatedly and locked in a small box for some 17 hours - that Saddam Hussein had trained al-Qaeda in chemical weapons. Al Libi later retracted his statement and the CIA later rejected it as reliable intelligence. But the torture of al Libi worked to sell the war in Iraq, providing the "evidence" that Secretary of State Colin Powell used when he spoke before the United Nations Security Council in February 2003.

"I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these [chemical and biological] weapons to al-Qaeda," Powell asserted. "Fortunately, this operative is now detained, and he has told his story."

Torture might not work as well as conventional interrogation to provide sound intelligence, but it certainly worked for Bush and Cheney in exactly the way they most wanted.


Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #136 on: April 26, 2009, 09:41:52 AM »
April 26, 2009

Torture? It probably killed more Americans than 9/11

A US major reveals the inside story of military interrogation in Iraq.
By Patrick Cockburn, winner of the 2009 Orwell Prize for journalism

The use of torture by the US has proved so counter-productive that it may have led to the death of as many US soldiers as civilians killed in 9/11, says the leader of a crack US interrogation team in Iraq.

"The reason why foreign fighters joined al-Qa'ida in Iraq was overwhelmingly because of abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and not Islamic ideology," says Major Matthew Alexander, who personally conducted 300 interrogations of prisoners in Iraq. It was the team led by Major Alexander [a named assumed for security reasons] that obtained the information that led to the US military being able to locate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qa'ida in Iraq. Zarqawi was then killed by bombs dropped by two US aircraft on the farm where he was hiding outside Baghdad on 7 June 2006. Major Alexander said that he learnt where Zarqawi was during a six-hour interrogation of a prisoner with whom he established relations of trust.

Major Alexander's attitude to torture by the US is a combination of moral outrage and professional contempt. "It plays into the hands of al-Qa'ida in Iraq because it shows us up as hypocrites when we talk about human rights," he says. An eloquent and highly intelligent man with experience as a criminal investigator within the US military, he says that torture is ineffective, as well as counter-productive. "People will only tell you the minimum to make the pain stop," he says. "They might tell you the location of a house used by insurgents but not that it is booby-trapped."

In his compelling book How to Break a Terrorist, Major Alexander explains that prisoners subjected to abuse usually clam up, say nothing, or provide misleading information. In an interview he was particularly dismissive of the "ticking bomb" argument often used in the justification of torture. This supposes that there is a bomb timed to explode on a bus or in the street which will kill many civilians. The authorities hold a prisoner who knows where the bomb is. Should they not torture him to find out in time where the bomb is before it explodes?

Major Alexander says he faced the "ticking time bomb" every day in Iraq because "we held people who knew about future suicide bombings". Leaving aside the moral arguments, he says torture simply does not work. "It hardens their resolve. They shut up." He points out that the FBI uses normal methods of interrogation to build up trust even when they are investigating a kidnapping and time is of the essence. He would do the same, he says, "even if my mother was on a bus" with a hypothetical ticking bomb on board. It is quite untrue to imagine that torture is the fastest way of obtaining information, he says.

A career officer, Major Alexander spent 14 years in the US air force, beginning by flying helicopters for special operations. He saw combat in Bosnia and Kosovo, was an air force counter-intelligence agent and criminal interrogator, and was stationed in Saudi Arabia, with an anti-terrorist role, during the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Some years later, the US army was short of interrogators. He wanted to help shape developments in Iraq and volunteered.

Arriving in Iraq in early 2006 he found that the team he was working with were mostly dedicated, but young, men between 18 and 24. "Many of them had never been out of the States before," he recalls. "When they sat down to interrogate somebody it was often the first time they had met a Muslim." In addition to these inexperienced officers, Major Alexander says there was "an old guard" of interrogators using the methods employed at Guantanamo. He could not say exactly what they had been doing for legal reasons, though in the rest of the interview he left little doubt that prisoners were being tortured and abused. The "old guard's" methods, he says, were based on instilling "fear and control" in a prisoner.

He refused to take part in torture and abuse, and forbade the team he commanded to use such methods. Instead, he says, he used normal US police interrogation techniques which are "based on relationship building and a degree of deception". He adds that the deception was often of a simple kind such as saying untruthfully that another prisoner has already told all.

Before he started interrogating insurgent prisoners in Iraq, he had been told that they were highly ideological and committed to establishing an Islamic caliphate in Iraq, Major Alexander says. In the course of the hundreds of interrogations carried out by himself, as well as more than 1,000 that he supervised, he found that the motives of both foreign fighters joining al-Qa'ida in Iraq and Iraqi-born members were very different from the official stereotype.

In the case of foreign fighters – recruited mostly from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and North Africa – the reason cited by the great majority for coming to Iraq was what they had heard of the torture in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. These abuses, not fundamentalist Islam, had provoked so many of the foreign fighters volunteering to become suicide bombers.

For Iraqi Sunni Arabs joining al-Qa'ida, the abuses played a role, but more often the reason for their recruitment was political rather than religious. They had taken up arms because the Shia Arabs were taking power; de-Baathification marginalised the Sunni and took away their jobs; they feared an Iranian takeover. Above all, al-Qa'ida was able to provide money and arms to the insurgents. Once, Major Alexander recalls, the top US commander in Iraq, General George Casey, came to visit the prison where he was working. Asking about what motivated the suspected al-Qa'ida prisoners, he was at first given the official story that they were Islamic Jihadi full of religious zeal. Major Alexander intervened to say that this really was not true and there was a much more complicated series of motivations at work. General Casey did not respond.

The objective of Major Alexander's team was to find Zarqawi, the Jordanian born leader of al-Qa'ida who built it into a fearsome organisation. Attempts by US military intelligence to locate him had failed despite three years of trying. Major Alexander was finally able to persuade one of Zarqawi's associates to give away his location because the associate had come to reject his methods, such as the mass slaughter of civilians.

What the major discovered was that many of the Sunni fighters were members of, or allied to, al-Qa'ida through necessity. They did not share its extreme, puritanical Sunni beliefs or hatred of the Shia majority. He says that General Casey had ignored his findings but he was pleased when General David Petraeus became commander in Iraq and began to take account of the real motives of the Sunni fighters. "He peeled back those Sunnis from al-Qa'ida," he says.

In the aftermath of his experience in Iraq, which he left at the end of 2006, Major Alexander came to believe that the battle against the US using torture was more important than the war in Iraq. He sees President Obama's declaration against torture as "a historic victory", though he is concerned about loopholes remaining and the lack of accountability of senior officers. Reflecting on his own interrogations, he says he always monitored his actions by asking himself, "If the enemy was doing this to one of my troops, would I consider it torture?" His overall message is that the American people do not have to make a choice between torture and terror.

How to Break a Terrorist: The US interrogators who used brains, not brutality, to take down the deadliest man in Iraq, by Matthew Alexander and John R Bruning (The Free Press)

Offline Angry Patriot

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #137 on: April 26, 2009, 10:14:09 AM »

Though administration officials at the time chose not to think about it, the harsh tactics employed at Guantanamo originated had an extremely troubling history.

    According to several former top officials involved in the discussions seven years ago, they did not know that the military training program, called SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, had been created decades earlier to give American pilots and soldiers a sample of the torture methods used by Communists in the Korean War, methods that had wrung false confessions from Americans.

    Even George J. Tenet, the C.I.A. director who insisted that the agency had thoroughly researched its proposal and pressed it on other officials, did not examine the history of the most shocking method, the near-drowning technique known as waterboarding.

    The top officials he briefed did not learn that waterboarding had been prosecuted by the United States in war-crimes trials after World War II and was a well-documented favorite of despotic governments since the Spanish Inquisition; one waterboard used under Pol Pot was even on display at the genocide museum in Cambodia.

    They did not know that some veteran trainers from the SERE program itself had warned in internal memorandums that, morality aside, the methods were ineffective. Nor were most of the officials aware that the former military psychologist who played a central role in persuading C.I.A. officials to use the harsh methods had never conducted a real interrogation, or that the Justice Department lawyer most responsible for declaring the methods legal had idiosyncratic ideas that even the Bush Justice Department would later renounce.

    The process was “a perfect storm of ignorance and enthusiasm,” a former C.I.A. official said.
"The most important lesson of History is that nobody ever learns History's lesson"

Aldous Huxley

Offline Angry Patriot

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #138 on: April 26, 2009, 10:50:35 AM »
Waterboarding Didn't Stop LA Terror Attack
Posted April 24, 2009 7:44 AM

The waterboarding of Sheikh Mohammed couldn't have led to the disruption of an attack on LA's Library Tower. Why? Mohammed wasn't captured until after the attack had been disrupted.

    What clinches the falsity of Thiessen's claim, however (and that of the memo he cites, and that of an unnamed Central Intelligence Agency spokesman who today seconded Thessen's argument), is chronology. In a White House press briefing, Bush's counterterrorism chief, Frances Fragos Townsend, told reporters that the cell leader was arrested in February 2002, and "at that point, the other members of the cell" (later arrested) "believed that the West Coast plot has been canceled, was not going forward" [italics mine]. A subsequent fact sheet released by the Bush White House states, "In 2002, we broke up [italics mine] a plot by KSM to hijack an airplane and fly it into the tallest building on the West Coast." These two statements make clear that however far the plot to attack the Library Tower ever got—an unnamed senior FBI official would later tell the Los Angeles Times that Bush's characterization of it as a "disrupted plot" was "ludicrous"—that plot was foiled in 2002. But Sheikh Mohammed wasn't captured until March 2003.

    How could Sheikh Mohammed's water-boarded confession have prevented the Library Tower attack if the Bush administration "broke up" that attack during the previous year? It couldn't, of course. Conceivably the Bush administration, or at least parts of the Bush administration, didn't realize until Sheikh Mohammed confessed under torture that it had already broken up a plot to blow up the Library Tower about which it knew nothing. Stranger things have happened. But the plot was already a dead letter. If foiling the Library Tower plot was the reason to water-board Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, then that water-boarding was more than cruel and unjust. It was a waste of water
"The most important lesson of History is that nobody ever learns History's lesson"

Aldous Huxley

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #139 on: April 26, 2009, 05:45:36 PM »
Waterboarding Approved Specifically To Justify Iraq War

Craig Murray

April 26, 2009

I have just learnt something which has convinced me that Bush, Cheney and Rice are indeed evil in the sense that Hitler was evil. I did not actually believe that until today.

The excellent and much-respected Marjorie Cohn, President of the National Lawyers Guild of the USA and Professor of Law at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, has discovered that waterboarding was first approved in July 2002 by Condoleeza Rice, specifically to force confessions of links between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein.

Everybody in the intelligence and security worlds knew there were no such links - Bin Laden and Hussein were enemies. Only torture could yield "intelligence" of such links to provide a justification of the invasion of Iraq. There could be no clearer indication that these evil people wished to launch an illegal war of aggression for their other reasons.

If it is not evil to use torture to try to create a pretext for launching aggressive war, then what is evil?

Here is the full text of Marjorie's article.

When I testified last year before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties about Bush interrogation policies, Congressman Trent Franks (R-Ariz) stated that former CIA Director Michael Hayden had confirmed that the Bush administration only waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashirit for one minute each. I told Franks I didn’t believe that. Sure enough, one of the newly released torture memos reveals that Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times and Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times. One of Stephen Bradbury’s 2005 memos asserted that "enhanced techniques" on Zubaydah yielded the identification of Mohammed and an alleged radioactive bomb plot by Jose Padilla. But FBI supervisory special agent Ali Soufan, who interrogated Zubaydah from March to June 2002, wrote in the New York Times that Zubaydah produced that information under traditional interrogation methods, before the harsh techniques were ever used.
Why, then, the relentless waterboarding of these two men? It turns out that high Bush officials put heavy pressure on Pentagon interrogators to get Mohammed and Zubaydah to reveal a link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 hijackers, in order to justify Bush’s illegal and unnecessary invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to a newly released report of the Senate Armed Services Committee. That link was never established.

The Senate Intelligence Committee revealed that Condoleezza Rice approved waterboarding on July 17, 2002 "subject to a determination of legality by the OLC." She got it two weeks later from Bybee and John Yoo. Rice, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales and George Tenet reassured the CIA in spring 2003 that the abusive methods were legal.

Team Bush claimed - and still claims - that it had to use harsh techniques to protect us from the terrorists. They really sought to create evidence to rationalize an illegal, unnecessary, and tragic war.

That is absolutely stunning in its implications. How much of this did Blair and Straw also know?


Offline Angry Patriot

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #140 on: May 01, 2009, 09:45:21 PM »

The Heat is Back on John Yoo
Friday, May. 1 2009 @ 4:09PM
By Matt Coker in A Clockwork Orange, Crime & Sex, Politics

The April 21 morning "terror memo" lawyer John Yoo appeared at the Chapman University debate, President Barack Obama said it would be up to his attorney general whether to prosecute former Bush administration advisors like Yoo. Since that day in Memorial Hall, the heat has turned up on AG Eric Holder to push the case forward, the U.S. Senate is leaning toward its own probe and, as many believed would happen, Spain's top investigative judge formally launched a new criminal investigation into allegations of torture at Guantánamo Bay and other U.S. prison camps that will target the "possible material authors, enablers and accomplices" of the illegal abuse of detainees.

In his strongly worded court order, Judge Baltasar Garzón indicated that he would investigate the role of high-level Bush administration officials in what he called an "authorized and systematic plan for torture and harsh treatment of people deprived of their freedom without any charges and without the most basic elemental rights for detainees, set forth and demanded by international treaties."

Garzón did not name any specific Bush administration officials in his announcement, although he did say he is also seeking to have the criminal complaint of a Spanish human-rights organization against the so-called "Bush Six" recently reassigned by the chief judge of the Audiencia Nacional to Judge Eloy Velasco, referred back to him for purposes of consolidation with his new preliminary investigation. The targets of that complaint are former attorney general Alberto Gonzales, former chief of staff to the vice president David Addington, former general counsel of the Department of Defense William J. Haynes II, former undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith, former assistant attorney general and current federal judge in California's ninth U.S. district Jay Bybee and Yoo, the former deputy assistant attorney general and now professor of law at UC Berkeley.

Yoo spent the spring semester as a visiting professor at Chapman's School of Law. Debating presidential power against Chapman law professors and former federal prosecutors Katherine Darmer and Lawrence Rosenthal, Yoo said, "I do not endorse" an investigation into his role in the terror memos. His debate partner, Chapman law school dean John C. Eastman, also rejected the notion on grounds that the U.S. did not torture and what's actually in the memos is being misrepresented.
"The most important lesson of History is that nobody ever learns History's lesson"

Aldous Huxley

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #141 on: May 14, 2009, 01:21:23 PM »
UN tells Obama to stop human rights abuse 

14/05/2009 05:13:00 PM GMT
The UN High Commissioner for Human rights has urged the US to bring to justice those held responsible for human rights abuse and torture.

The UN High Commissioner for Human rights has urged the US to bring to justice those held responsible for human rights abuse and torture.

Navi Pillay called on Washington on Thursday to launch a probe into the rendition sites used by the US to transfer terrorist suspects and to ensure that those involved in the abuse of detainees are prosecuted for violating the global ban on torture.

She described the US appointment to the 47-member forum as a "welcome step in restoring international trust in US support for human rights".

"Although much more needs to be done, President Obama's determination to resolve the untenable situation of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, ban CIA prisons and implement the prohibition on torture in compliance with international standards is highly welcome," the former UN war crimes judge said.

Within days after the election of the US to the UN rights panel, President Barack Obama reversed a decision to release photos of torture scenes at US military prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, citing fears that the pictures could endanger US troops.

President Obama has also been considering transferring Guantanamo inmates onto US soil and indefinitely keeping them under surveillance without trial.

This is while the UN human rights Commissioner has pledged to convince the US to "shed light into the still opaque areas that surround capture, interrogation methods, rendition and detention conditions of those alleged to have been involved in terrorism, and ensure that perpetrators of torture and abuse are held to account."

The US has long blocked UN resolutions against Israel in spite of the severe violations of international human rights laws by Tel Aviv and its atrocities against Palestinians.

-- Press TV


Offline Truthseeker93

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #142 on: January 27, 2015, 04:06:07 PM »
Oh men, the link is dead, does anybody have the picture? I am really interested.
"From the darkness we fight the darkness"