Torture: Only Good For False Confessions

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Offline _CREATIONIST_

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Re: Torture at Angola Prison in Louisiana
« Reply #80 on: February 05, 2009, 02:49:49 PM »
Translation: let's watch as you knowingly ignore the point I made about all the non-violent drug offenders that fill our prisons, that way you can continue to live in this delusional fantasy world of yours in which only people convicted of violent offenses are ever incarcerated.

Congratulations on your mastery of intellectual cowardice.

Congrats on avoiding my arguement as well. That makes u just as guilty. As to non violent drug offenders they knew the consequences of their actions. I can't feel sorry for them.

On a side note I will say that I do believe in the NWO because it's been prophesied in the bible, just so u know I'm not trolling.
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Offline donnay

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Re: Torture at Angola Prison in Louisiana
« Reply #81 on: February 05, 2009, 03:08:24 PM »
Let's take for example a serial killer and a child molester. Let's say the serial killer brutally murdered 10 people, dismembered their bodies, and fed then to his pet dogs and put the rest in a bag and throws it in the river. You can't tell me he deserves life in prison he needs to die for his crimes. He deserves whatver brutality he gets. Same with the child molester. You can't cure those sickos, u have to think of the safety Of our children. Put those sickos to death. When u commit a brutal crime u forfeit your rights and liberties. U have to be punished for ur crimes.


Have you heard about the cases of people who have been falsely accused and/or have sat on death row?  Do a google search:  "False Imprisonment"

I personally knew a case in Dallas, Texas back in the 70s.  The man who was falsely accused of murdering a cop name is Randal Dale Adams.  Google this for some enlightenment.

"I should, indeed, prefer twenty men to escape death through mercy, than one innocent to be condemned unjustly."  ~Sir John Fortescue
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Offline Optimus

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Re: Torture at Angola Prison in Louisiana
« Reply #82 on: February 05, 2009, 03:31:32 PM »
Congrats on avoiding my arguement as well. That makes u just as guilty. As to non violent drug offenders they knew the consequences of their actions. I can't feel sorry for them.

On a side note I will say that I do believe in the NWO because it's been prophesied in the bible, just so u know I'm not trolling.

So you are saying it's ok to torture non-violent drug offenders? That the consequences for their actions is torture? You are either a sadistic fool or you just don't get it. Once we say that abuse or torture is OK against prisoners, the next step is for it to be used on the general public. We will see just how pro-torture you will be once they start torturing the average person on the street just for spitting on the sidewalk.
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Offline Geolibertarian

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Re: Torture at Angola Prison in Louisiana
« Reply #83 on: February 05, 2009, 03:41:23 PM »
So you are saying it's ok to torture non-violent drug offenders? That the consequences for their actions is torture? You are either a sadistic fool or you just don't get it.

He is both, and is therefore not even worth the time it takes to argue with.

Trolls like him would rather climb Mount Everest to lick the boots of jackbooted authority than stand still and question it.

But that's okay. They'll find out soon enough just how badly they've been "punked" by their beloved heros in government.


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Offline Murray

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Re: Torture at Angola Prison in Louisiana
« Reply #84 on: February 06, 2009, 07:34:46 PM »
Congrats on avoiding my arguement as well. That makes u just as guilty. As to non violent drug offenders they knew the consequences of their actions. I can't feel sorry for them.

On a side note I will say that I do believe in the NWO because it's been prophesied in the bible, just so u know I'm not trolling.


Ive been lurking these boards for a long time. And i can say as a new member, with my first post, you're the biggest moron i've seen yet. Congratulations!
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Deadpool

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Re: Torture at Angola Prison in Louisiana
« Reply #85 on: February 08, 2009, 09:51:00 AM »
good, when your in prison you dont deserve rights. Im glad those serial killers, rapists, arsonists, child molsters, and other scumbags are getting the crap beat out of them. They deserve it, we need the death penalty. Thank god texas loves using he death penalty

You know something, I can agree with you on Child Molestors but think about this. Plenty of people who are undeserving of prison have ended up in there...even on death row. That's why I'm against the death penalty and support it ONLY in the case of high treason caused by our elected officials.

I trained at Angola eight years ago in preparation for my current DOC job and I can tell you one thing...you'd only cause more problems beating the crap out of them. You should do some legal research on this issue and/or get some experience working in there before you come across as an insufferable know-it-all.

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Re: Torture at Angola Prison in Louisiana
« Reply #86 on: February 08, 2009, 08:49:00 PM »
With all the torture, beatings and mental cruelty like being in solitary for 36 years, a criminal or even innocent person would be better to just get it over with and have it out when caught or die trying to run. Sometimes a death sentence would be a blessing.
But then like I keep saying, these are americans doing this. What gives them the right? The ones doing the torture belong in a nut house  or get life with no parole at least. I know why, because they are cops. And they have places they can pursue their sickness in medevil torture chambers.

Offline Biggs

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Secret Detention, Extraordinary Rendition, & Torture
« Reply #87 on: February 13, 2009, 09:09:43 AM »
Secret Detention, Extraordinary Rendition, & Torture: New Evidence of DOD Cooperation with CIA Ghost Detention Program

by Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)

Global Research, February 13, 2009
ccrjustice.org - 2009-02-12

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=12285


Rights Groups Release Documents Obtained in FOIA Case Relating to Secret Detention, Extraordinary Rendition, and Torture Program

New Evidence of DOD Cooperation with CIA Ghost Detention Program

CONTACT: press@ccrjustice.org

February 12, 2009, New York and Washington, DC—Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit confirm Department of Defense involvement in the CIA's ghost detention program, revealed three prominent human rights groups today. The groups—Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ)—today released documents obtained from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and U.S. Department of State (DOS), resulting from their lawsuit seeking the disclosure of government documents that relate to secret detention, extraordinary rendition, and torture. At a public press conference, the groups revealed that these documents confirm the existence of secret prisons at Bagram and in Iraq; affirm the DOD's cooperation with the CIA's ghost detention program; and show one case where the DOD sought to delay the release of Guantánamo prisoners who were scheduled to be sent home by a month and a half in order to avoid bad press.

"These newly released documents confirm our suspicion that the tentacles of the CIA's abusive program reached across agency lines," said Margaret Satterthwaite, Director of the NYU International Human Rights Clinic. "In fact, it is increasingly obvious that defense officials engaged in legal gymnastics to find ways to cooperate with the CIA's activities. A full accounting of all agencies must now take place to ensure that future abuses don't continue under a different guise."

While 928 of the 950 pages of documents from the Transportation Command of the DOD are reprinted news articles, there is one internal email dated February 17, 2006—relating to Guantánamo detainees scheduled for release—that is of note. It recommends "hold[ing] off on return flights for 45 days or so until things die down. Otherwise we are likely to have hero's welcomes awaiting the detainees when they arrive." The email also recommends transfer in a smaller, more discrete plane and has attached a reference to the United Nations (UN) report released around that time criticizing Guantánamo.

"It is astonishing that the government may have delayed releasing men from Guantánamo in order to avoid bad press," said CCR attorney Gitanjali Gutierrez, who represents many of the men held in Guantánamo and has made 30 trips to the base since 2004. "Proposing to hold men for a month and a half after they were deemed releasable is inexcusable. The Obama Administration should avoid repeating this injustice and release the innocent individuals with all due haste."

The 78 documents obtained from the DOS consist of 55 copies of press reports, transcripts of press briefings and public statements, or talking points for use with the press and public; seven public reports by NGOs, UN bodies, and the U.S. government; and 16 internal documents that disclose no new information.

The 2007 lawsuit is based on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests dating back to 2004. Morrison & Foerster LLP serves as co-counsel in the case.  Previous government releases also included documents largely already in the public record, including, in one instance, a copy of the Geneva Conventions.

 "Out of thousands of pages, most of what might be of interest was redacted," said Tom Parker, Policy Director for Counterterrorism, Terrorism and Human Rights, for AIUSA. "While the sheer number of pages creates the appearance of transparency, it is clear this is only the tip of the iceberg and that the government agencies have not complied with spirit of President Obama's memo on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. We call on Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration to put teeth into the memo and work actively to comply with FOIA requests."


Examples of DOD Joint Chiefs of Staff (JS) and TRANSCOM Documents of Interest:
 
•    JS 986 (May 28, 2004 Information Paper :"Applicability of Geneva Conventions to "Ghost Detainees" in Iraq) shows that the DOD interpreted the "security internee" provisions of the Geneva Conventions to allow for "ghosting" of detainees by prohibiting the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from visiting. It also shows that the DOD recognized that indefinitely prohibiting the ICRC from visiting or failing to notify the ICRC of the existence of detainees was illegal under the Geneva Conventions.

•    JS 1026 & 1048 (Identical pages with different redactions from the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's "Detainee Update" presentation regarding "Internment Serial Number Policy [ISN]," appear to be dated August 2005) show that the DOD did not, as a matter of course, register detainees with the ICRC until they had been in custody for up to 14 days and that authorization was sought to hold some individuals for up to 30 days without ISN/registry with ICRC to "maximize intelligence collection," even though "there is some disagreement as to legal basis to go beyond 14 days." These policies demonstrate the ease with which the CIA could have used DOD facilities as "sorting facilities" without having to worry about ICRC oversight or revelation of the ghost detainee program.

•    JS 712, 713, 903, 919 (December 8, 2005, records from Detainee Senior Leadership Oversight Council Meeting) contain references to a previously unreleased section of the Church Report and discuss the need for the DOD to develop and enforce guidelines governing their relationship with "Other Government Agencies," including the CIA, in order to regulate interrogation and other "operations overseas." These documents demonstrate that the DOD and CIA were in an ad hoc relationship, apparently unconstrained by formal guidelines. 

•    TRANSCOM 1 (February 17, 2006, email exchange between unnamed USTRANSCOM Political Advisor and General Norton Schwartz, then TRANSCOM Commander, currently the Air Force Chief of Staff) shows that in early 2006, in response to the release of a critical UN special rapporteur report on Guantánamo, high-level personnel within the US Transportation Command discussed delaying the return of releasable Guantánamo detainees to avoid bad press.
 
•    JS 43 (July 25, 2007, ICRC Report of Undisclosed Detention Facility at Bagram) Highly redacted report from ICRC concerning secret detention facility at Bagram Air Force Base.

•    Multiple Records detail the implementation of recommendations from the Ryder Report concerning detainee operations in Iraq, including the need to develop appropriate programs for juveniles and mentally ill detainees.  The records also review in detail the efforts to implement the recommendations from numerous reports related to detainee operations, including the following
Comprehensive Reviews: Schlesinger (comprehensive review of detainee operations); Church (review of DOD interrogation operations); Church Gaps & Seams Report;
Assessments: Ryder (Detainee Operations), DAIG (Functional Assessment), NAVY IG (Detainee Care at GTMO), Jacoby (Detainee Operations in Afghanistan), and Miller (Interrogation Operations), USAIR IG (Reserve MP/MI Unit);
Investigations: Taguba (800th MP Brigade); Kerm (205th MI Brigade); CID (serious crimes); Formica (detainee abuse); SOUTHCOM (FBI interrogation memos); and
Ongoing Investigations as of the date of document: DAIG (senior accountability); Navy IG FOIA; Surgeon General Medical review
•    The  records from the Joint Chiefs of Staff include:
April 28, 2005 DSLOC (Detainee Senior Leadership Oversight Committee) Open Recommendations Review (begins at JS 44);
Aug 3, 2005 DSLOC Open Recommendation Review (begins at JS 426);
Dec. 8, 2005, DSLOC Meeting (begins at JS 770);
Aug. 19, 2004, Brief for the Secretary of Defense on Gaps & Seams (Church) (begins at JS 947);
Jan. 27, 2005, DSLOC Briefing for all OSD Components (begins at JS 987); and
Date unclear, Detainee Update  briefing for Vice Chairs Joint Chiefs of Staff (begins at JS 1022)
AIUSA, CCR, and NYU CHRJG filed FOIA requests with several U.S. government agencies, including the CIA, DOD, DOS, DOJ, and DHS beginning in 2004. This is the first time the DOD has provided any documents in response.

To see the most recent documents from the DOD and DOS, as well as the prior filings and the documents previously released through this litigation, click here.

For more information or copies of legal filings in the case and released documents, please contact jnessel@ccrjustice.org, opgenhaffen@juris.law.nyu.edu, or ssingh@aiusa.org,.

For more information about the organizations involved, please see their websites: www.ccrjustice.org, www.chrgj.org and www.amnestyusa.org.


###


The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

- 30 -

Source http://www.ccrjustice.org/newsroom/press-releases/rights-groups-release-documents-obtained-foia-case-relating-secret-detention

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Offline bigron

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Re: Secret Detention, Extraordinary Rendition, & Torture
« Reply #88 on: February 14, 2009, 07:20:34 AM »
Rights Groups Release Documents Obtained in FOIA Case Relating to Secret Detention, Extraordinary Rendition, and Torture Program

New Evidence of DOD Cooperation with CIA Ghost Detention Program

Center for Constitutional Rights
http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m51772&hd=&size=1&l=e

 



February 12, 2009, New York and Washington, DC—Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit confirm Department of Defense involvement in the CIA’s ghost detention program, revealed three prominent human rights groups today. The groups—Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ)—today released documents obtained from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and U.S. Department of State (DOS), resulting from their lawsuit seeking the disclosure of government documents that relate to secret detention, extraordinary rendition, and torture. At a public press conference, the groups revealed that these documents confirm the existence of secret prisons at Bagram and in Iraq; affirm the DOD’s cooperation with the CIA’s ghost detention program; and show one case where the DOD sought to delay the release of Guantánamo prisoners who were scheduled to be sent home by a month and a half in order to avoid bad press.

"These newly released documents confirm our suspicion that the tentacles of the CIA’s abusive program reached across agency lines," said Margaret Satterthwaite, Director of the NYU International Human Rights Clinic. "In fact, it is increasingly obvious that defense officials engaged in legal gymnastics to find ways to cooperate with the CIA’s activities. A full accounting of all agencies must now take place to ensure that future abuses don’t continue under a different guise."

While 928 of the 950 pages of documents from the Transportation Command of the DOD are reprinted news articles, there is one internal email dated February 17, 2006—relating to Guantánamo detainees scheduled for release—that is of note. It recommends "hold[ing] off on return flights for 45 days or so until things die down. Otherwise we are likely to have hero’s welcomes awaiting the detainees when they arrive." The email also recommends transfer in a smaller, more discrete plane and has attached a reference to the United Nations (UN) report released around that time criticizing Guantánamo.

"It is astonishing that the government may have delayed releasing men from Guantánamo in order to avoid bad press," said CCR attorney Gitanjali Gutierrez, who represents many of the men held in Guantánamo and has made 30 trips to the base since 2004. "Proposing to hold men for a month and a half after they were deemed releasable is inexcusable. The Obama Administration should avoid repeating this injustice and release the innocent individuals with all due haste."

The 78 documents obtained from the DOS consist of 55 copies of press reports, transcripts of press briefings and public statements, or talking points for use with the press and public; seven public reports by NGOs, UN bodies, and the U.S. government; and 16 internal documents that disclose no new information.

The 2007 lawsuit is based on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests dating back to 2004. Morrison & Foerster LLP serves as co-counsel in the case.  Previous government releases also included documents largely already in the public record, including, in one instance, a copy of the Geneva Conventions.

 "Out of thousands of pages, most of what might be of interest was redacted," said Tom Parker, Policy Director for Counterterrorism, Terrorism and Human Rights, for AIUSA. "While the sheer number of pages creates the appearance of transparency, it is clear this is only the tip of the iceberg and that the government agencies have not complied with spirit of President Obama’s memo on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. We call on Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration to put teeth into the memo and work actively to comply with FOIA requests."


Examples of DOD Joint Chiefs of Staff (JS) and TRANSCOM Documents of Interest:
 
•    JS 986 (May 28, 2004 Information Paper :"Applicability of Geneva Conventions to "Ghost Detainees" in Iraq) shows that the DOD interpreted the "security internee" provisions of the Geneva Conventions to allow for "ghosting" of detainees by prohibiting the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from visiting. It also shows that the DOD recognized that indefinitely prohibiting the ICRC from visiting or failing to notify the ICRC of the existence of detainees was illegal under the Geneva Conventions.

•    JS 1026 & 1048 (Identical pages with different redactions from the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s "Detainee Update" presentation regarding "Internment Serial Number Policy [ISN]," appear to be dated August 2005) show that the DOD did not, as a matter of course, register detainees with the ICRC until they had been in custody for up to 14 days and that authorization was sought to hold some individuals for up to 30 days without ISN/registry with ICRC to "maximize intelligence collection," even though "there is some disagreement as to legal basis to go beyond 14 days." These policies demonstrate the ease with which the CIA could have used DOD facilities as "sorting facilities" without having to worry about ICRC oversight or revelation of the ghost detainee program.

•    JS 712, 713, 903, 919 (December 8, 2005, records from Detainee Senior Leadership Oversight Council Meeting) contain references to a previously unreleased section of the Church Report and discuss the need for the DOD to develop and enforce guidelines governing their relationship with "Other Government Agencies," including the CIA, in order to regulate interrogation and other "operations overseas." These documents demonstrate that the DOD and CIA were in an ad hoc relationship, apparently unconstrained by formal guidelines. 

•    TRANSCOM 1 (February 17, 2006, email exchange between unnamed USTRANSCOM Political Advisor and General Norton Schwartz, then TRANSCOM Commander, currently the Air Force Chief of Staff) shows that in early 2006, in response to the release of a critical UN special rapporteur report on Guantánamo, high-level personnel within the US Transportation Command discussed delaying the return of releasable Guantánamo detainees to avoid bad press.
 
•    JS 43 (July 25, 2007, ICRC Report of Undisclosed Detention Facility at Bagram) Highly redacted report from ICRC concerning secret detention facility at Bagram Air Force Base.

•    Multiple Records detail the implementation of recommendations from the Ryder Report concerning detainee operations in Iraq, including the need to develop appropriate programs for juveniles and mentally ill detainees.  The records also review in detail the efforts to implement the recommendations from numerous reports related to detainee operations, including the following


Comprehensive Reviews: Schlesinger (comprehensive review of detainee operations); Church (review of DOD interrogation operations); Church Gaps & Seams Report;
Assessments: Ryder (Detainee Operations), DAIG (Functional Assessment), NAVY IG (Detainee Care at GTMO), Jacoby (Detainee Operations in Afghanistan), and Miller (Interrogation Operations), USAIR IG (Reserve MP/MI Unit);
Investigations: Taguba (800th MP Brigade); Kerm (205th MI Brigade); CID (serious crimes); Formica (detainee abuse); SOUTHCOM (FBI interrogation memos); and
Ongoing Investigations as of the date of document: DAIG (senior accountability); Navy IG FOIA; Surgeon General Medical review
•    The  records from the Joint Chiefs of Staff include:

April 28, 2005 DSLOC (Detainee Senior Leadership Oversight Committee) Open Recommendations Review (begins at JS 44);
Aug 3, 2005 DSLOC Open Recommendation Review (begins at JS 426);
Dec. 8, 2005, DSLOC Meeting (begins at JS 770);
Aug. 19, 2004, Brief for the Secretary of Defense on Gaps & Seams (Church) (begins at JS 947);
Jan. 27, 2005, DSLOC Briefing for all OSD Components (begins at JS 987); and
Date unclear, Detainee Update  briefing for Vice Chairs Joint Chiefs of Staff (begins at JS 1022)
AIUSA, CCR, and NYU CHRJG filed FOIA requests with several U.S. government agencies, including the CIA, DOD, DOS, DOJ, and DHS beginning in 2004. This is the first time the DOD has provided any documents in response.

To see the most recent documents from the DOD and DOS, as well as the prior filings and the documents previously released through this litigation, click here.

For more information or copies of legal filings in the case and released documents, please contact jnessel@ccrjustice.org, opgenhaffen@juris.law.nyu.edu, or ssingh@aiusa.org,.

For more information about the organizations involved, please see their websites: www.ccrjustice.org, www.chrgj.org and www.amnestyusa.org.



###

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

 


Offline bigron

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Sen. Whitehouse Prepares the Nation for Torture Horrors
« Reply #89 on: March 02, 2009, 11:13:11 AM »
Sen. Whitehouse Prepares the Nation for Torture Horrors

By Buhdydharma

http://informationclearinghouse.info/article22124.htm

Fri Feb 27, 2009 "Daily Kos" --  Senator Whitehouse is on both the Intelligence Committee and the Judiciary Committee. Thus he perhaps more than anyone else has access to ALL of the available information on the Bush Torture Network. Including the remaining pictures and videotapes from Abu Ghraib that were concealed from the public view. Pictures and videotapes that even Rumsfeld was shocked by, even though, as has become apparent since, he authorized them....or at least the programs that led to them.. Before he was implicated he had this to say...
What is shown on the photographs and videos from Abu Ghraib prison that the Pentagon has blocked from release? One clue: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress last year, after viewing a large cache of unreleased images, "I mean, I looked at them last night, and they're hard to believe." They show acts "that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhumane," he added.

A Republican Senator suggested the same day they contained scenes of "rape and murder." Rumsfeld then commented, "If these are released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse."

buhdydharma's diary :: ::
And that is only one of the horrifying aspects of what has occurred in the Bush Torture Network. Thus Senator Whitehouse's warning to the nation.


H/T tahoebasha!

Whitehouse starts at about 50 seconds in. And here is the most relevant text, thanks to Greenwald.

As we work toward a brighter future ahead, to days when jobs return to our cities, capital to our businesses, and security to our lives, we cannot set aside our responsibility to take an accounting of where we are, what was done, and what must now be repaired.

We also have to brace ourselves for the realistic possibility that as some of this conduct is exposed, we and the world will find it shameful, revolting. We may have to face the prospect of looking with horror at our own country's deeds. We are optimists, we Americans; we are proud of our country. Contrition comes hard to us.

But the path back from the dark side may lead us down some unfamiliar valleys of remorse and repugnance before we can return to the light. We may have to face our fellow Americans saying to us, "No, please, tell us that we did not do that, tell us that Americans did not do that" - and we will have to explain, somehow. This is no small thing, and not easy; this will not be comfortable or proud; but somehow it must be done.

IF the full story of the Bush Torture Network is ever told out loud, on televison, it will shock the nation...and perhaps even the jaded and inattentive conscience of a nation that has been buried under eight years of horror upon Bush horror. None worse than what was done to our fellow human beings, in our names.

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #90 on: March 16, 2009, 01:19:07 PM »
 
Tales from torture's dark world


By Mark Danner

Sunday, March 15, 2009
http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/03/15/opinion/eddanner.php?page=1


On a bright sunny day two years ago, President George W. Bush strode into the East Room of the White House and informed the world that the United States had created a dark and secret universe to hold and interrogate captured terrorists.

"In addition to the terrorists held at Guantánamo," the president said, "a small number of suspected terrorist leaders and operatives captured during the war have been held and questioned outside the United States, in a separate program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency."

At these places, Mr. Bush said, "the C.I.A. used an alternative set of procedures." He added: "These procedures were designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution and our treaty obligations. The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively and determined them to be lawful."

This speech will stand, I believe, as George W. Bush's most important: perhaps the only historic speech he ever gave. In his fervent defense of his government's "alternative set of procedures" and his equally fervent insistence that they were "lawful," he set out before the country America's dark moral epic of torture, in the coils of whose contradictions we find ourselves entangled still.

At the same time, perhaps unwittingly, Mr. Bush made it possible that day for those on whom the alternative set of procedures were performed eventually to speak. For he announced that he would send 14 "high-value detainees" from dark into twilight: They would be transferred from the overseas "black sites" to Guantánamo. There, while awaiting trial, the International Committee of the Red Cross would be "advised of their detention, and will have the opportunity to meet with them."

A few weeks later, from Oct. 6 to 11 and then from Dec. 4 to 14, 2006, Red Cross officials — whose duty it is to monitor compliance with the Geneva Conventions and to supervise treatment of prisoners of war — traveled to Guantánamo and began interviewing the prisoners. Their stated goal was to produce a report that would "provide a description of the treatment and material conditions of detention of the 14 during the period they were held in the C.I.A. detention program," periods ranging "from 16 months to almost four and a half years."

As the Red Cross interviewers informed the detainees, their report was not intended to be released to the public but, "to the extent that each detainee agreed for it to be transmitted to the authorities," to be given in strictest secrecy to officials of the government agency that had been in charge of holding them — in this case the Central Intelligence Agency, to whose acting general counsel, John Rizzo, the report was sent on Feb. 14, 2007.

The result is a document, labeled "confidential" and clearly intended only for the eyes of those senior American officials, that tells a story of what happened to each of the 14 detainees inside the black sites.

A short time ago, this document came into my hands and I have set out the stories it tells in a longer article in The New York Review of Books. Because these stories were taken down confidentially in patient interviews by professionals from the International Committee of the Red Cross, and not intended for public consumption, they have an unusual claim to authenticity.

Indeed, since the detainees were kept strictly apart and isolated, both at the black sites and at Guantánamo, the striking similarity in their stories would seem to make fabrication extremely unlikely. As its authors state in their introduction, "The I.C.R.C. wishes to underscore that the consistency of the detailed allegations provided separately by each of the 14 adds particular weight to the information provided below."

Beginning with the chapter headings on its contents page — "suffocation by water," "prolonged stress standing," "beatings by use of a collar," "confinement in a box" — the document makes compelling and chilling reading. The stories recounted in its fewer than 50 pages lead inexorably to this unequivocal conclusion, which, given its source, has the power of a legal determination: "The allegations of ill treatment of the detainees indicate that, in many cases, the ill treatment to which they were subjected while held in the C.I.A. program, either singly or in combination, constituted torture. In addition, many other elements of the ill treatment, either singly or in combination, constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."

Perhaps one should start with the story of the first man to whom, according to news reports, the president's "alternative set of procedures" were applied:

"I woke up, naked, strapped to a bed, in a very white room. The room measured approximately 4 meters by 4 meters. The room had three solid walls, with the fourth wall consisting of metal bars separating it from a larger room. I am not sure how long I remained in the bed. After some time, I think it was several days, but can't remember exactly, I was transferred to a chair where I was kept, shackled by hands and feet for what I think was the next two to three weeks. During this time I developed blisters on the underside of my legs due to the constant sitting. I was only allowed to get up from the chair to go [to] the toilet, which consisted of a bucket.

"I was given no solid food during the first two or three weeks, while sitting on the chair. I was only given Ensure and water to drink. At first the Ensure made me vomit, but this became less with time.

"The cell and room were air-conditioned and were very cold. Very loud, shouting-type music was constantly playing. It kept repeating about every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day. Sometimes the music stopped and was replaced by a loud hissing or crackling noise.

"The guards were American, but wore masks to conceal their faces. My interrogators did not wear masks."

So begins the story of Abu Zubaydah, a senior member of Al Qaeda, captured in a raid in Pakistan in March 2002. The arrest of an active terrorist with actionable information was a coup for the United States.

After being treated for his wounds — he had been shot in the stomach, leg and groin during his capture — Abu Zubaydah was brought to one of the black sites, probably in Thailand, and placed in that white room.

It is important to note that Abu Zubaydah was not alone with his interrogators, that everyone in that white room — guards, interrogators, doctor — was in fact linked directly, and almost constantly, to senior intelligence officials on the other side of the world. "It wasn't up to individual interrogators to decide, 'Well, I'm going to slap him. Or I'm going to shake him,'" said John Kiriakou, a C.I.A. officer who helped capture Abu Zubaydah, in an interview with ABC News.

Every one of the steps taken with regard to Abu Zubaydah "had to have the approval of the deputy director for operations. So before you laid a hand on him, you had to send in the cable saying, 'He's uncooperative. Request permission to do X.'"

He went on: "The cable traffic back and forth was extremely specific.... No one wanted to get in trouble by going overboard."

Shortly after Abu Zubaydah was captured, C.I.A. officers briefed the National Security Council's principals committee, including Vice President Dick Cheney, the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and Attorney General John Ashcroft, in detail on the interrogation plans for the prisoner. As the interrogations proceeded, so did the briefings, with George Tenet, the C.I.A. director, bringing to senior officials almost daily reports of the techniques applied.

At the time, the spring and summer of 2002, Justice Department officials, led by John Yoo, were working on a memorandum, now known informally as "the torture memo," which claimed that for an "alternative procedure" to be considered torture, and thus illegal, it would have to cause pain of the sort "that would be associated with serious physical injury so severe that death, organ failure, or permanent damage resulting in a loss of significant body function will likely result." The memo was approved in August 2002, thus serving as a legal "green light" for interrogators to apply the most aggressive techniques to Abu Zubaydah:

"I was taken out of my cell and one of the interrogators wrapped a towel around my neck; they then used it to swing me around and smash me repeatedly against the hard walls of the room."

The prisoner was then put in a coffin-like black box, about 4 feet by 3 feet and 6 feet high, "for what I think was about one and a half to two hours.

"The box was totally black on the inside as well as the outside.... They put a cloth or cover over the outside of the box to cut out the light and restrict my air supply. It was difficult to breathe. When I was let out of the box I saw that one of the walls of the room had been covered with plywood sheeting. From now on it was against this wall that I was then smashed with the towel around my neck. I think that the plywood was put there to provide some absorption of the impact of my body. The interrogators realized that smashing me against the hard wall would probably quickly result in physical injury."

After this beating, Abu Zubaydah was placed in a small box approximately three feet tall.

"They placed a cloth or cover over the box to cut out all light and restrict my air supply. As it was not high enough even to sit upright, I had to crouch down. It was very difficult because of my wounds. The stress on my legs held in this position meant my wounds both in the leg and stomach became very painful. I think this occurred about three months after my last operation. It was always cold in the room, but when the cover was placed over the box it made it hot and sweaty inside. The wound on my leg began to open and started to bleed. I don't know how long I remained in the small box; I think I may have slept or maybe fainted.

"I was then dragged from the small box, unable to walk properly, and put on what looked like a hospital bed, and strapped down very tightly with belts. A black cloth was then placed over my face and the interrogators used a mineral water bottle to pour water on the cloth so that I could not breathe. After a few minutes the cloth was removed and the bed was rotated into an upright position. The pressure of the straps on my wounds was very painful. I vomited.

"The bed was then again lowered to horizontal position and the same torture carried out again with the black cloth over my face and water poured on from a bottle. On this occasion my head was in a more backward, downwards position and the water was poured on for a longer time. I struggled against the straps, trying to breathe, but it was hopeless."

After being placed again in the tall box, Abu Zubaydah "was then taken out and again a towel was wrapped around my neck and I was smashed into the wall with the plywood covering and repeatedly slapped in the face by the same two interrogators as before.

"I was then made to sit on the floor with a black hood over my head until the next session of torture began. The room was always kept very cold. This went on for approximately one week."

Walid bin Attash, a Saudi involved with planning the attacks on American embassies in Africa in 1998 and on the Navy destroyer Cole in 2000, was captured in Pakistan on April 29, 2003:

"On arrival at the place of detention in Afghanistan I was stripped naked. I remained naked for the next two weeks.... I was kept in a standing position, feet flat on the floor, but with my arms above my head and fixed with handcuffs and a chain to a metal bar running across the width of the cell. The cell was dark with no light, artificial or natural."

This forced standing, with arms shackled above the head, seems to have become standard procedure. It proved especially painful for Mr. bin Attash, who had lost a leg fighting in Afghanistan:

"After some time being held in this position my stump began to hurt so I removed my artificial leg to relieve the pain. Of course my good leg then began to ache and soon started to give way so that I was left hanging with all my weight on my wrists."

Cold water was used on Mr. bin Attash in combination with beatings and the use of a plastic collar, which seems to have been a refinement of the towel that had been looped around Abu Zubaydah's neck:

"On a daily basis during the first two weeks a collar was looped around my neck and then used to slam me against the walls of the interrogation room. It was also placed around my neck when being taken out of my cell for interrogation and was used to lead me along the corridor. It was also used to slam me against the walls of the corridor during such movements.

"Also on a daily basis during the first two weeks I was made to lie on a plastic sheet placed on the floor which would then be lifted at the edges. Cold water was then poured onto my body with buckets.... I would be kept wrapped inside the sheet with the cold water for several minutes. I would then be taken for interrogation."

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the key planner of the 9/11 attacks, was captured in Pakistan on March 1, 2003. After three days in what he believes was a prison in Afghanistan, Mr. Mohammed was put in a tracksuit, blindfold, hood and headphones, and shackled and placed aboard a plane. He quickly fell asleep. On arrival, however, he realized he had come a long way:

"I could see at one point there was snow on the ground. Everybody was wearing black, with masks and army boots, like Planet X people. I think the country was Poland. I think this because on one occasion a water bottle was brought to me without the label removed. It had [an] e-mail address ending in '.pl.'"

He was stripped and put in a small cell. "I was kept for one month in the cell in a standing position with my hands cuffed and shackled above my head and my feet cuffed and shackled to a point in the floor."

"Of course during this month I fell asleep on some occasions while still being held in this position. This resulted in all my weight being applied to the handcuffs around my wrist, resulting in open and bleeding wounds. [Scars consistent with this allegation were visible on both wrists as well as on both ankles.] Both my feet became very swollen after one month of almost continual standing."

For interrogation, Mr. Mohammed was taken to a different room. The sessions lasted for as long as eight hours and as short as four.

"If I was perceived not to be cooperating I would be put against a wall and punched and slapped in the body, head and face. A thick flexible plastic collar would also be placed around my neck so that it could then be held at the two ends by a guard who would use it to slam me repeatedly against the wall. The beatings were combined with the use of cold water, which was poured over me using a hose-pipe."

As with Abu Zubaydah, the harshest sessions involved the "alternative set of procedures" used in sequence and in combination, one technique intensifying the effects of the others:

"The beatings became worse and I had cold water directed at me from a hose-pipe by guards while I was still in my cell. The worst day was when I was beaten for about half an hour by one of the interrogators. My head was banged against the wall so hard that it started to bleed. Cold water was poured over my head. This was then repeated with other interrogators. Finally I was taken for a session of water boarding. The torture on that day was finally stopped by the intervention of the doctor."

Reading the Red Cross report, one becomes somewhat inured to the "alternative set of procedures" as they are described: The cold and repeated violence grow numbing. Against this background, the descriptions of daily life of the detainees in the black sites, in which interrogation seems merely a periodic heightening of consistently imposed brutality, become more striking.

Here again is Mr. Mohammed:

"After each session of torture I was put into a cell where I was allowed to lie on the floor and could sleep for a few minutes. However, due to shackles on my ankles and wrists I was never able to sleep very well.... The toilet consisted of a bucket in the cell, which I could use on request" — he was shackled standing, his hands affixed to the ceiling — "but I was not allowed to clean myself after toilet during the first month.... I wasn't given any clothes for the first month. Artificial light was on 24 hours a day, but I never saw sunlight."

Abu Zubaydah, Walid bin Attash, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed — these men almost certainly have blood on their hands. There is strong reason to believe that they had critical parts in planning and organizing terrorist operations that caused the deaths of thousands of people. So in all likelihood did the other "high-value detainees" whose treatment while secretly confined by the United States is described in the Red Cross report.

From everything we know, many or all of these men deserve to be tried and punished — to be "brought to justice," as President Bush vowed they would be. The fact that judges, military or civilian, throw out cases of prisoners who have been tortured — and have already done so at Guantánamo — means it is highly unlikely that they will be brought to justice anytime soon.

For the men who have committed great crimes, this seems to mark perhaps the most important and consequential sense in which "torture doesn't work." The use of torture deprives the society whose laws have been so egregiously violated of the possibility of rendering justice. Torture destroys justice. Torture in effect relinquishes this sacred right in exchange for speculative benefits whose value is, at the least, much disputed.

As I write, it is impossible to know definitively what benefits — in intelligence, in national security, in disrupting Al Qaeda — the president's approval of use of an "alternative set of procedures" might have brought to the United States. Only a thorough investigation, which we are now promised, much belatedly, by the Senate Intelligence Committee, can determine that.

What we can say with certainty, in the wake of the Red Cross report, is that the United States tortured prisoners and that the Bush administration, including the president himself, explicitly and aggressively denied that fact.

We can also say that the decision to torture, in a political war with militant Islam, harmed American interests by destroying the democratic and Constitutional reputation of the United States, undermining its liberal sympathizers in the Muslim world and helping materially in the recruitment of young Muslims to the extremist cause.

By deciding to torture, we freely chose to embrace the caricature they had made of us. The consequences of this choice, legal, political and moral, now confront us. Time and elections are not enough to make them go away.

Mark Danner, a professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and Bard College, is the author of "Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib and the War on Terror." This essay is drawn from a longer article in the new issue of The New York Review of Books, available at www.nybooks.com.


Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #91 on: March 20, 2009, 10:00:48 AM »
Malak Hamdan on Torture and Violations in Iraq at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva 9th till16th March 2009


Iraqi Rabita Press Office - London
http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m52748&hd=&size=1&l=e


March 18, 2009


Malak Hamdan on Torture and Violations in Iraq at the UN HR Council. Exposing all the crimes and violations committed by the occupation sectarian government and the US occupation forces in Iraq. Impressively stand very close to be the patriotic representative and talk on behalf of all Iraqis desirous to their country.

Malak Hamdan on Torture in Iraq at the UN HR Council
Watch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5G-n0WJIDY&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Euruknet%2Einfo%2F%3Fp%3Dm52748%26hd%3D%26size%3D1%26l%3De&feature=player_embedded

Further More, Malak Hamdan speaks about the plight of Iraqi children and the kind of future have the Iraqi Authorities or the US occupation Armey have created for Iraq. A brave speech of Malak Hamdan at the 10th session of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva 9th till16th March 2009

Malak Hamdan at the UN HR council onthe plight of Iraqi children
Watch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJtYu2COp_s&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Euruknet%2Einfo%2F%3Fp%3Dm52748%26hd%3D%26size%3D1%26l%3De&feature=player_embedded


Enough is enough, that what the brave Iraqi lady Ms Malak Hamdan, when she was speaking about the issues of Food and Housing in Iraq. The destruction of all Iraq info-structures and civilization as well, a specific feature about all what happened since the invasion of 2003 led by the US occupation forces on Iraq which caused of millions of Iraqis leaves their homes and the waste of Hundreds of billions of dollars which been spent on corruption.

Malak Hamdan on Food and Housing in Iraq at the UN HR C
Watch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AL-LAsH6Q-k&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Euruknet%2Einfo%2F%3Fp%3Dm52748%26hd%3D%26size%3D1%26l%3De&feature=player_embedded





Ultimately Ms Malak Hamdan speaks about the plight of Iraqi women right in Iraq. In a discussion of aspects and protection of human rights in Iraq, which has been and still suffering of dramatic and severe systematic violation on their basic rights since the invasion in 2003

Malak Hamdan on the plight of Iraqi women at the UN HR Council
Watch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYTcUk5XFM8&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Euruknet%2Einfo%2F%3Fp%3Dm52748%26hd%3D%26size%3D1%26l%3De&feature=player_embedded



 


Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #92 on: March 21, 2009, 08:37:35 AM »
The Long and Sadistic History Behind the CIA's Torture Techniques

Sleep deprivation, extremes of temperature, noise, and beatings are some of the nastier methods the U.S. employed in the Bush era.


By Darius Rejali, Slate
Posted on March 21, 2009, Printed on March 21, 2009
http://www.alternet.org/story/132743/

In the 20th century, there were two main traditions of clean torture -- the kind that doesn't leave marks, as modern torturers prefer. The first is French modern, a combination of water- and electro-torture. The second is Anglo-Saxon modern, a classic list of sleep deprivation, positional and restraint tortures, extremes of temperature, noise, and beatings.

 All the techniques in the accounts of torture by the International Committee of the Red Cross, as reported Monday, collected from 14 detainees held in CIA custody, fit a long historical pattern of Anglo-Saxon modern. The ICRC report apparently includes details of CIA practices unknown until now, details that point to practices with names, histories, and political influences. In torture, hell is always in the details.

The ice-water cure. "On a daily basis during the first two weeks I was made to lie on a plastic sheet placed on the floor which would then be lifted at the edges. Cold water was then poured onto my body with buckets. ... I would be kept wrapped inside the sheet with the cold water for several minutes. I would then be taken for interrogation," detainee Walid bin Attash told the Red Cross.

In the 1920s, the Chicago police used to extract confessions from prisoners by chilling them in freezing water baths. This was called the "ice-water cure." That's not its first use. During World War I, American military prisons subjected conscientious objectors to ice-water showers and baths until they fainted. The technique appeared in some British penal colonies as well; occasionally in Soviet interrogation in the 1930s; and more commonly in fascist Spain, Vichy France, and Gestapo-occupied Belgium. The Allies also used it against people they regarded as war criminals and terrorists. Between 1940 and 1948, British interrogators used "cold-water showers" as part of a brutal interrogation regimen in a clandestine London prison for German POWs accused of war crimes. French Paras also used cold showers occasionally in Algeria in the 1950s. In the 1970s, Greek, Chilean, Israeli, and Syrian interrogators made prisoners stand under cold showers or in cold pools for long periods. And American soldiers in Vietnam called it the "old cold-water-hot-water treatment" in the 1960s.

Cold cell. Abu Zubaydah, another detainee, says, "I woke up, naked, strapped to a bed, in a very white room. … [T]he cell and room were air-conditioned and were very cold." There, he was shackled to a chair for two to three weeks. "Cold cell" is one of six known authorized CIA interrogation techniques.


Since the 1960s, torturers have adapted air vents to put "the air in a state of war with me," in the words of one prisoner. In the first recorded case in 1961, guards at Parchman, Mississippi's state penitentiary, blasted civil rights detainees with a fire hose and then turned "the air-conditioning system on full blast" for three days. In 1965, detainees in Aden reported that British guards kept them "undressed in very cold cells with air conditioners and fans running at full speed." In other countries, interrogators have forced prisoners to stand or squat for long periods in front of blasting air-conditioning units or fans, as in South Vietnam (1970s), Singapore (1970s), the Philippines (1976), Taiwan (1980), South Africa (1980s), and Israel (1991 to present).

In a scene eerily similar to the CIA interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, South Vietnamese torturers held Vhuen Van Tai, the highest-ranking Viet Cong officer captured, in a windowless white room outfitted with heavy-duty air conditioners for four years. Frank Snepp, a CIA interrogator who interviewed him in 1972 in the room regularly, described Tai as "thoroughly chilled."

Water-boarding. Abu Zubaydah says that after he was strapped to a bed, "[a] black cloth was then placed over my face and the interrogators used a mineral water bottle to pour water on the cloth so that I could not breathe. The contents of the mineral-water bottle were carbonated, this would be a well-known Mexican police technique (tehuacanazo), documented since the 1980s. The Mexican signature mark is to mix in a little chili pepper before forcing the water down the nasal passage.

Water-boarding is not a technical term in torture, and reports have described several different water tortures under this name. The ICRC report puts to rest which kind the CIA used. It turns out to be the traditional "water cure," an antique Dutch technique invented in the East Indies in the 17th century. It migrated here after American troops returned from the Philippine insurgency in the early 20th century. By the 1930s, the water cure was favored by the Southern police. Interrogators tie or hold down a victim on his back. Then they pour water down his nostrils "so as to strangle him, thus causing pain and horror for the purpose of forcing a confession." Sometimes torturers cover the face with a napkin, making it difficult for the prisoner to breathe, as the ICRC report describes.

Sweatboxes and coubarils. Abu Zubaydah says, "Two black wooden boxes were brought into the room outside my cell. One was tall, slightly higher than me and narrow. … The other was shorter, perhaps only [3 feet 6 inches] in height." The large box, which Abu Zubaydah says he was held in for up to two hours, is a classic sweatbox. Sweatboxes are old, and they came into modern torture from traditional Asian penal practices. If you've seen Bridge on the River Kwai, you know the Japanese used them in POW camps in World War II. They are still common in East Asia. The Chinese used them during the Korean War, and Chinese prisoners today relate accounts of squeeze cells (xiaohao, literally "small number"), dark cells (heiwu), and extremely hot or cold cells. In Vietnam, they are dubbed variously "dark cells," "tiger cages," or "connex boxes," which are metal and heat up rapidly in the tropical sun.

Abu Zubaydah was also placed into the smaller box, in which he was forced to crouch for hours, until "the stress on my legs held in this position meant my wounds both in the leg and stomach became very painful." This smaller type of box was once called a coubaril. Coubarils often bent the body in an uncomfortable position. They were standard in French penal colonies in New Guinea in the 19th century, where some prisoners were held in them for 16 days at a stretch.

Both kinds of boxes entered American prison and military practice in the 19th century. They were a standard part of naval discipline, and the word sweatbox comes from the Civil War era. In the 1970s, prisoners described sweatboxes in South Vietnam, Iran (tabout, or "coffin"), Israel, and Turkey ("tortoise cell"). In the last three decades, prisoners have reported the use of sweatboxes in Brazil (cofrinho), Honduras (cajones), and Paraguay (guardia). And after 2002, Iraqi prisoners held in U.S. detention centers describe "cells so small that they could neither stand nor lie down," as well as a box known as "the coffin" at the U.S. detention center at Qaim near Syria.

Standing cells. Walid Bin Attash says, "I was put in a cell measuring approximately [3 feet 6 inches-by-6 feet 6 inches]. I was kept in a standing position, feet flat on the floor, but with my arms above my head and fixed with handcuffs and a chain to a metal bar running across the width of the cell." Over the last century, many prisons had built-in, tall, narrow, coffin-size cells, in which prisoners were forced to stand for hours, their hands chained to the ceiling. In the early 20th century, the women's prison in Gainesville, Texas, had a standing cell in the dining room so that prisoners could smell the food.

High-cuffing. Detainees routinely describe having their hands cuffed high above their heads while they stand with their feet on the ground. This is less damaging than full suspension by the wrists, which causes permanent nerve damage in 15 minutes to an average-size man. High-cuffing increases the time prisoners may be suspended, elongates the pain, and delays permanent injury. It is a restraint torture, as opposed to a positional torture, which requires prisoners to assume a normal human position (standing or sitting), but for a prolonged period of time.

High-cuffing is an old slave punishment of the Americas, once called "hanging from the rafters." John Brown, a free slave, said of it, "Some tie them up in a very uneasy posture, where they must stand all night, and they will then work them hard all day." American military prisons adopted the practice in World War I. High-cuffing was the standard prescribed military punishment for desertion, insubordination, and conscientious objection. Prisoners were handcuffed to their cell door eight to nine hours a day, in one case for up to 50 days. They described high-cuffing as excruciatingly painful, and the American public, otherwise unsympathetic with these prisoners, found the practice appalling, sparking a newspaper debate over "manacling" in November 1918. A month later, the War Department rescinded high-cuffing as a mode of punishment.

Towels, collars, and plywood. Sometimes torturers come up with something entirely new. "Also," says Abu Zubaydah, "on a daily basis during the first two weeks a collar was looped around my neck and then used to slam me against the walls of the interrogation room. It was also placed around my neck when being taken out of my cell for interrogation and was used to lead me along the corridor. It was also used to slam me against the walls of the corridor during such movements."

This is a novel approach to beating someone in a way that leaves few marks. For 30 years, I've studied a long and remorseless two centuries of torture around the world, and I can find only one instance of an account resembling the collars and plywood technique described in the ICRC report. It's American. During World War I, conscientious objectors in military prisons report that their guards dragged them like animals with a rope around the neck, across rough floors, slamming them into walls. This one, as far as I can tell, is entirely homegrown.

AlterNet is making this material available in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.


Darius Rejali is a professor of political science and the author of Torture and Democracy, the winner of the 2007 Human Rights Best Book Award of the American Political Science Association.

© 2009 Slate All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/132743/

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #93 on: March 22, 2009, 09:43:31 AM »
Torture revealed yet again 

22/03/2009 11:45:00 AM GMT
http://aljazeera.com/news/articles/39/Torture_revealed_yet_again.html
 
 We've seen Bush declare his right to torture in signing statements. And we've seen Congress respond to those with renewed proposals to yet again "ban" torture.


(flickr.com) There are dozens of dead bodies, victims of torture, identified, and the torture techniques used to kill them identified

David Swanson

As with the evidence that Bush, Cheney and gang intentionally lied us into a war, or the evidence of illegal and unconstitutional spying, each time a major new piece of evidence of torture emerges, it is impossible not to hope that this is the one that will compel the Justice Department or Congress or the courts or the American people to act decisively.

Certainly I hope that, right now, after Mark Danner reported on a report from the International Committee of the Red Cross.


But let's not kid ourselves. Everyone has known that the United States was torturing for years.

Congress has known it so well that it has both attempted to legislate immunity for the torturers (through the McCain Amendment to the Detainee Treatment Act and through the Military Commissions Act) and put on a show of attempting to "ban" torture, despite its having already been illegal under U.S. law and treaties to which the United States is a party.

We've witnessed high-profile lobbying competitions over whether or not Congress should "ban" torture again. We've seen President Bush declare his right to torture in signing statements. And we've seen Congress respond to those with renewed proposals to yet again "ban" torture.

President Obama was elected promising to stop the torturing, and has announced that he is doing so, as well as that he will someday close one of the many places we illegally detain people without charge. But torture in that place (Guantanamo) has reportedly worsened, and Obama is not letting independent groups in to observe.


There are publicly available videotapes of Bush (April 11, 2008; Jan. 11, 2009) and Cheney (Dec. 15, 2008) confessing to authorizing torture. There are reports and photographs and videotapes from Abu Ghraib, some of which certain members of Congress have seen but the public has not.

There are reports from dozens and dozens of victims, and from torturers and jailers. There are dozens of dead bodies, victims of torture, identified, and the torture techniques used to kill them identified. (This is separate from Cheney's assassination squad recently reported on by Seymour Hersh, which may not have used torture as its murder technique.)

There are full-blown public scandals in nearby and allied nations like Canada, Britain and Germany over our torture of their citizens. Italy is trying members of our secret government in absentia for kidnapping a man in their country and having him tortured.

Victims from around the world are suing former members of our government and corporations involved in the crimes, and Eric Holder's Justice Department is opposing those efforts, seeking to keep information secret and prevent accountability for crimes.

Obama's administration is threatening the British government in order to do the same.


"Five Years of My Life: An Innocent Man in Guantanamo," by Murat Kurnaz resulted in this one victim of torture speaking to a largely empty US congressional committee hearing via satellite. After he'd told part of his story, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, told him that the United States was at war and needed to protect itself even at the price of making some errors.

Public Documents


Publicly available are numerous memos, orders and directives through which President Bush authorized torture and obtained "legal" views that illegality was now legal.

Here are two collections: One, Two. Many more such documents are already known and identified, but not yet released by Bush or Obama. We have reports from torturers and participants on the US side. We have reports that draw on the testimony of both participants and victims.

We have books that draw on the testimony of participants and the findings of secret government reports, books like Jane Mayer's The Dark Side, Philippe Sands' The Torture Team, Jack Goldsmith's The Terror Presidency, Steven Wax's Kafka Comes To America, and Andy Worthington's The Guantanamo Files.

We have reports that organize and summarize the information in these books. We have a report from the Senate Armed Services Committee detailing the authorization of torture by Bush and his subordinates, and rumors that a stronger report has been kept secret.

We have reports that a Department of Justice report that is being kept secret contains e-mails in which the White House asked the Department of Justice for its illegal "legal" opinions. (Activists are demanding a special prosecutor investigation, while just releasing that report would hammer home the fact that no investigation is needed prior to indictments.)

We know that the CIA destroyed 92 "interrogation" tapes, and we have a good idea from Danner's report on the Red Cross report what's on most of the tapes.


Danner reports in the New York Times and the New York Review of Books on the accounts given to the Red Cross by 14 victims of US torture in secret foreign sites who were later transferred to Guantanamo.

Each use of torture was approved from Washington by such people as Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and John Ashcroft, who were briefed almost daily by George Tenet. Danner draws some obvious conclusions, none of which are new:

"1. Beginning in the spring of 2002 the United States government began to torture prisoners. This torture, approved by the President of the United States and monitored in its daily unfolding by senior officials, including the nation's highest law enforcement officer, clearly violated major treaty obligations of the United States, including the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture, as well as US law.


"2. The most senior officers of the US government, President George W. Bush first among them, repeatedly and explicitly lied about this, both in reports to international institutions and directly to the public. The President lied about it in news conferences, interviews, and, most explicitly, in speeches expressly intended to set out the administration's policy on interrogation before the people who had elected him.


"3. The US Congress, already in possession of a great deal of information about the torture conducted by the administration — which had been covered widely in the press, and had been briefed, at least in part, from the outset to a select few of its members — passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and in so doing attempted to protect those responsible from criminal penalty under the War Crimes Act.


"4. Democrats, who could have filibustered the bill, declined to do so — a decision that had much to do with the proximity of the midterm elections, in the run-up to which, they feared, the President and his Republican allies might gain advantage by accusing them of 'coddling terrorists.' One senator summarized the politics of the Military Commissions Act with admirable forthrightness:


"'Soon, we will adjourn for the fall, and the campaigning will begin in earnest. And there will be 30-second attack ads and negative mail pieces, and we will be criticized as caring more about the rights of terrorists than the protection of Americans. And I know that the vote before us was specifically designed and timed to add more fuel to that fire.'


"Senator Barack Obama was only saying aloud what every other legislator knew: that for all the horrified and gruesome exposés, for all the leaked photographs and documents and horrific testimony, when it came to torture in the September 11 era, the raw politics cut in the other direction.

“Most politicians remain convinced that still fearful Americans — given the choice between the image of 24 's Jack Bauer, a latter-day Dirty Harry, fantasy symbol of untrammeled power doing ‘everything it takes’ to protect them from that ticking bomb, and the image of weak liberals ‘reading Miranda rights to terrorists’ — will choose Bauer every time.

“As Senator Obama said, after the bill he voted against had passed, ‘politics won today.’


"5. The political damage to the United States' reputation, and to the 'soft power' of its constitutional and democratic ideals, has been, though difficult to quantify, vast and enduring. In a war that is essentially an insurgency fought on a worldwide scale — which is to say, a political war, in which the attitudes and allegiances of young Muslims are the critical target of opportunity — the United States' decision to use torture has resulted in an enormous self-administered defeat, undermining liberal sympathizers of the United States and convincing others that the country is exactly as its enemies paint it: a ruthless imperial power determined to suppress and abuse Muslims. By choosing to torture, we freely chose to become the caricature they made of us."

Gaps in the Analysis


Point #4 above has a certain weakness as framed by Danner. He does not note the role of the news media in shaping public opinion. Nor does he note the stunning resistance of the public to that shaping, as found in a recent USA Today / Gallup poll showing that Americans favor holding accountable those who authorized torture.

Nor does he sufficiently point out that Obama is evidence against his own claim: he voted No on the Military Commissions Act and was elected President. Nor does Danner mention that Democrats in the House could have voted No as well as filibustering in the Senate.

It would be interesting to know how long the New York Times has sat on this story, as well as how long it took the Red Cross to leak the report (over two years?).


Another important point that this misses is that many of those who have been tortured were not terrorists, at least prior to being tortured.

Andy Worthington has documented that "[A]t least 93 percent of the 779 men and boys in [Guantanamo] -- were either completely innocent people, seized as a result of dubious intelligence or sold for bounty payments, or Taliban foot soldiers, recruited to fight an inter-Muslim civil war that began long before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and that had nothing to do with al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or international terrorism.”


Danner points out that there is no evidence that useful information has been obtained by torture. He leaves open the possibility that some has, but I find this highly dubious. If such evidence of the utility of torture existed, it would have been trumpeted from the rooftops by now.

The important point is #5 above. Whether or not any torturer has learned anything accurate and useful, huge damage has been done that certainly outweighs whatever it was -- even as calculated from a moral standpoint in which only American lives have value.

But Danner fails to fully expand on his point. Not only has US torture been the single biggest recruiting tool for anti-US terrorist groups, but US abuse of human rights has encouraged other nations to follow suit. And this blatant disregard for the law has encouraged other leaders at home and abroad to feel more comfortable disregarding other laws as well.


The New York Review of Books admitted the obvious in point #1 above: our President was a criminal. But Danner and others suggest that perhaps that's not enough, that we must first persuade a majority of Americans to oppose torture before action can be taken to seriously deter its future use.

As I've already noted, this misses the fact that a majority of Americans want action now. But it is also a strangely selective transformation of our constitutional Republic into a direct democracy.

A majority of Americans disapprove of our punitive system for drug use, but the prosecutions continue. A majority of Americans want an end to corporate tax loopholes, but the holes go right on looping.

A majority of Americans think taxes are too high on working people, yet the tax bills keep coming. A majority of Americans want a higher minimum wage, but they can't get employers to pay it.

A majority of Americans want habeas corpus maintained for everyone, but it isn't. Almost all Americans want higher auto fuel efficiency standards, but gas guzzlers keep coughing out black smoke. And so on.

Why is it that when very important people's crimes are involved, we suddenly throw out laws and institute direct democracy (and then ignore the will of the people to boot)?

Enforcement Is Mandated


Enforcement of the law is not legally an option, and is required by treaty obligations. Attorney General Eric Holder effectively admitted awareness of the crimes at his confirmation hearing. Not to do so would have brought into question whether he'd been conscious the last several years. And yet his loyalty is clearly to Obama, not the law.


The Detainee Treatment Act and Military Commissions Act do not provide an excuse. Article VI of our Constitution makes treaties we ratify the supreme law of the land. Torture cannot be legalized and torturers cannot be immunized.

Even assuming such things to be possible, these legislative attempts at immunity left holes, as Larry Velvel has pointed out, including for cases in which the victims were citizens, and cases in which the victims are not "enemy combatants."

Many victims were never determined to be "enemy combatants," a court could easily throw out the term as legally meaningless, and Obama's administration has ceased using it (even while continuing the policies of detention and rendition).


Keeping secret agencies secret is not an excuse. Holder could create a prosecutor for torture by the military if he wanted to let the CIA off. Or he could target Bush, Cheney and other top officials, leaving the underlings alone.

But the secrecy of government operations is what facilitates criminal behavior, and therefore makes a lousy excuse for not punishing it.


In June 2008, 56 Democratic Congress members, led by Rep. John Conyers, wrote to Attorney General Mukasey asking for a Special Prosecutor. Conyers and Rep. Jerrold Nadler wrote to Mukasey again in December 2008. Nadler said weeks ago that he was drafting a new letter.

Just as with Holder, Congress members tend to obey people, not laws or moral requirements. Nadler is unlikely to act without Conyers. Conyers is unlikely to act without Nancy Pelosi. And Pelosi shares blame because she and a handful of other top Congress members were privately told to some extent about the torture early on and kept silent.

Pelosi's comments in the media suggest that she would prefer prosecutions to public hearings, but there is no doubt that her first choice would be neither, and as long as Democrats join Republicans in opposing calls by Conyers and Sen. Patrick Leahy to create "truth commissions," and as long as powerful members of government all refrain from asking Holder to enforce the law, the option of doing nothing will remain available.


The Senate Intelligence Committee is holding secret hearings, or claiming to. But the value of that may be nil, and the point may be to weaken the push for a commission by the Senate Judiciary Committee or to assert jurisdiction over CIA materials that the Judiciary Committee could conceivably make public.

Meanwhile, the proposals by the two Judiciary Committee chairs (Leahy and Conyers) appear counterproductive unless usable as tools for scaring up support for prosecutions instead. Investigations substituted for impeachment for two full years.

Actually holding a "truth and reconciliation" commission as a substitute for prosecution would be counterproductive, as argued by Jonathan Turley, Peter Dyer, David Swanson, Bob Fertik, and Martin Garbus.

The Justice Department itself has argued for "state secrets" blocks on prosecutions on the grounds that commissions can substitute for enforcing laws. They cannot. And they are unlikely to reveal as much information as are whistleblowers and the occasional journalists who do their jobs.


The truth that I think we should all insist upon is that Bush and Cheney committed serious crimes and have yet to be held accountable, and that we risk a slide into presidential dictatorship if we allow our nation to become reconciled to that.


There are several easy steps anyone can take to correct this situation.

-- David Swanson is the author of the upcoming book Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union. He is co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org.



-- Middle East Online

 

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #94 on: March 22, 2009, 09:59:01 AM »
Afghanistan and Iraq: War Crimes Against Children ascribed to former President Bush

Sherwood Ross
http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m52805&hd=&size=1&l=e




March 21, 2009

Torture has received the most attention among the many war crimes of the Bush administration. But those who support Bush’s pursuit of the "war on terror" have not been impressed by recriminations over torture. Worse than torture are the murders of at least 50 prisoners in Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo, but again the hard-hearted are unimpressed when those whom they perceive as terrorists receive illegal extrajudicial capital punishment.

The case for abusing children, however, is more difficult to support. The best kept secret of the Bush’s war crimes is that thousands of children have been imprisoned, tortured, and otherwise denied rights under the Geneva Conventions and related international agreements. Yet both Congress and the media have strangely failed to identify the very existence of child prisoners as a war crime. In the Islamic world, however, there is no such silence. Indeed, the prophet Mohammed was the first to counsel warriors not to harm innocent children.

From jailing children together with adults in prisons where they were raped to failing to notify their parents of their arrest, the U.S. committed numerous war crimes against children in Afghanistan and Iraq, a new book on President Bush states.

"American guards videotaped Iraqi male prisoners raping young boys but took no action to stop the offenses (and) children in Abu Ghraib were deliberately frightened by dogs," writes political scientist Michael Haas in his new book, "George W. Bush, War Criminal?"(Praeger), a question he answers in the affirmative.

"In most cases, weeks or even years elapsed before parents were informed of the imprisonment of their children," says Haas, noting that in Afghanistan alone during 2002 "at least 800 boys, aged 10 to 15 were captured", 64 of whom were sent to Guantanamo, Cuba, where some were flung into solitary confinement. Haas notes that Protocol 1 of the 1977 Geneva Convention states "No Party to the conflict shall arrange for the evacuation of children, other than its own nationals, to a foreign country" unless written consent of the parents is obtained.

In a wide-ranging 389-page volume that documents 269 different classes of war crimes perpetrated by the Bush administration, some of them repeated hundreds or thousands of times, Haas systematically exposes the former president’s reckless disregard for child welfare.

To begin with, Bush’s legal advisors disputed the very definition of "child" as a person under 18 years of age who needs special protection. That’s the definition spelled out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The U.S. defined "child" as someone age 16 or younger. The U.S. last year told the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child(CRC) since 2002 it had detained 2,400 children in Iraq and 100 in Afghanistan although other sources state the latter figure was 800. (Irrespective of the number, it is a war crime to detain any person indefinitely, which was the case here.) Also, as of May, 2008, there were 21 children incarcerated in Guantanamo. The CRC has "upbraided the United States for charging minors with war crimes instead of treating underage persons as victims of war," Haas writes..

Contrary to the CRC’s Article 9, which states that a captured child shall be allowed to "maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis," some children were not allowed to write or telephone home for as long as five years.

And where CRC’s Article 13 guarantees "The child shall have the right to freedom to…seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print," Haas points out "Most children were held incommunicado at Guantanamo until April, 2003" and that one child, Mohammed Jawad "remains in solitary confinement." Jawad received promises of books to study that have not been kept, Haas adds.

Other violations of international covenants pertaining to children include:

# The failure to stop mistreatment of children,

# The failure to investigate the abuse of children.

# The failure to prosecute prison personnel allegedly guilty of such abuse.

# The failure to allow parents to visit children.

# The failure to allow children to have legal counsel.

# The failure to provide children with speedy trials.

# The failure to promptly inform children of the crimes against them.

# The failure to allow witnesses to testify in behalf of children.

# The failure to provide children with social programs.

And although CRC Article 31 requires that children have the right "to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child," Haas writes, "There is no record of recreation for the hundreds of children detained at Bagram or at Abu Ghraib."

The CRC’s Article 37 requires that "No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" yet at Abu Ghraib a girl of about 12 was stripped naked and beaten, according to Iraqi journalist Suhaib Badr-Addin al-Baz, who heard her screams. He also witnessed a 15-year-old boy forced to run up and down the prison carrying two heavy cans of water who was beaten whenever he stopped. On yet another occasion, authorities arrested the 16-year-old son of Iraqi General Hamid Zabar and tortured him before presenting him to his father, whom they wanted to confess. These and several hundred other war crimes are detailed in the new book.

Professor Haas is the author or editor of 33 books on government and world politics. He has taught at a number of outstanding schools, including the University of London and Northwestern University. To receive his book, send check in the amount of $32 to Haas at P.O. Box 46127, Los Angeles, CA 90046. Haas may be reached at mikehaas@aol.com.

Further Information and to arrange for interviews with Professor Haas, contact Sherwood Ross at sherwoodr1@yahoo.com








Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #95 on: March 22, 2009, 10:10:25 AM »
A Forgotten Humanitarian Disaster

 By Lieven De Cauter

http://informationclearinghouse.info/article22267.htm

March 20, 2009 "BRussells Tribunal  " --- The sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq is a sad occasion for the balance sheet: during six years of occupation 1.2 million citizens were killed, 2,000 doctors killed, and 5,500 academics and intellectuals assassinated or imprisoned. There are 4.7 million refugees: 2.7 million inside the country and two million have fled to neighbouring countries, among which are 20,000 medical doctors. According to the Red Cross, Iraq is now a country of widows and orphans: two million widows as a consequence of war, embargo, war again and occupation, and five million orphans, many of whom are homeless (estimated at 500,000). Almost a third of Iraq’s children suffer from malnutrition. Some 70 per cent of Iraqi girls no longer go to school. Medical services, not so long ago the best in the region, have totally collapsed: 75 per cent of medical staff have left their jobs, half of them have fled the country, and after six years of “reconstruction” health services in Iraq still do not meet minimum standards.

Because of the use of depleted uranium in ammunition by the occupation, the number of cancer cases and miscarriages has drastically increased. According to a recent Oxfam report, the situation of women is most worrisome. The study states that in spite of optimistic bulletins in the press, the situation of women keeps deteriorating. The most elementary supplies are still not available. Access to drinkable water is for large parts of the population a problem and electricity is functioning only three to six hours a day, and this in a state that was once a nation of engineers. More than four in 10 Iraqis live under the poverty threshold and unemployment is immense (28.1 per cent of the active population). Besides 26 official prisons, there a some 600 secret prisons. According to the Iraqi Union of Political Prisoners, over 400,000 Iraqis have suffered detention since 2003, among which 6,500 minors and 10,000 women. Torture is practiced on a large scale, and some 87 per cent of detainees remain uncharged. Corruption is immense: according to Transparency International, Iraq, after Somalia and Myanmar, is the most corrupt country in the world. The American Foreign Affairs journal calls Iraq “a failed state”. This is symbolised by the fact that Iraq, a state that has the third largest oil reserves in the world, must import refined oil on a massive scale. Authorities are on the verge of giving oil concessions for 25 years to international (also European) oil companies, though they have no mandate or legal authority to do so. Instead of being paid reparations for the enormous destruction wrought on the infrastructure of the country, entailing billions in oil revenues lost, Iraq is again in line to be robbed. There is large scale ethnic cleansing going on against the Turkmen, the Christians, the Assyrians and the Shebak. Kirkuk is being “Kurdicised” by massive immigration and illegal settlements (of Israeli inspiration) and its history falsified.   

This data, referenced in numerous reports, was presented during an information session in the European Parliament organised by the BRussells Tribunal on 18 March by a panel of Iraqi specialists. On 19 March, there was a session in the Belgian Parliament where a national representative after the statement of Dr Omar Al-Kubaissi, a renowned Iraqi cardiologist and expert on health, frankly admitted that he had no idea of the scale of the humanitarian disaster. Who can blame him? In the European press we hear little or nothing concerning this humanitarian disaster. In the newspapers there is talk of elections, of an occasional bomb attack, of the political process, of the positive results of the “surge”, etc, but concerning the suffering the Iraqi people … next to nothing. We have fallen asleep and we console ourselves: Obama plans the retreat American troops; therefore the issue of Iraq is off the agenda. The truth is that we want to forget this humanitarian disaster, because the West is responsible. Of course, in the first and last instance the administrations of Bush and Blair, but also the Netherlands, Denmark, Hungary, Poland and Italy were part of the coalition and hence accessory while Antwerp was a vital transit port for the invasion. Therefore also Europe bears a heavy responsibility. How is it possible that we can dissimulate the impact of the war, which initially stirred world public opinion, in spite of the flow of shocking reports? “Darfur” sounds a bell meanwhile (and correctly so) as a sort of African holocaust, but the crimes against the humanity of a near “genocidal” scale in Iraq are swept under the carpet. If the press does not do its job, how can public opinion be touched? Even activists and well meaning politicians are not on the level. This type of disinformation, and the indifference that comes with it, one could call a form of negationism, or at least a type of immoral ignorance. Wir haben es nicht gewusst, we will say. But the people of the Arab region will not forgive us. Let this be clear.

Lieven De Cauter

philosopher, initiator of the BRussells Tribunal

20 March 2009

Offline lord edward coke

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #96 on: April 04, 2009, 03:46:15 PM »
Facility 1391: Israel's secret prison

It has been removed from maps and airbrushed from aerial photographs. But Facility 1391 certainly exists - you just have to ask the Palestinians and Lebanese who have been imprisoned and tortured there. Chris McGreal reports

Chris McGreal

Friday November 14, 2003: (The Guardian) The men under the black hoods all have the same question once the blindfolds and manacles are off: Where am I? A voice filtering through a narrow slit in the steel door told Sameer Jadala he was "in Honolulu", Raab Bader that he was "in a submarine" and "outside the borders of Israel", Bashar Jadala that he was "on the moon". None of them imagined it at the time, because only a handful of the political and security establishment knew such a thing existed, but they were prisoners in Israel's Guantanamo: Facility 1391.

"I was barefoot in my pyjamas when they arrested me and it was really cold," says Sameer Jadala, a Palestinian school bus driver. "When I got to that place, they told me to strip and gave me a blue uniform. Then they gave me a black sack. They told me: 'This is your sack. You need to keep it with you. Any time someone comes to your cell, you must put it on your head. Any time they deliver the food, you must put it on your head. You must never see the soldiers' faces. You do not want to know what will happen if you take it off.' Sometimes I thought I would die in that place and no one would ever know."

Facility 1391 has been airbrushed from Israeli aerial photographs and purged from modern maps. Where once a police station was marked there is now a blank space. Sometimes even the road leading to it has been erased. But Israel's secret prison, inside an army intelligence base close to the main road between Hadera and Afula in northern Israel, is real enough. For 20 years or more it has been housed in a large, imposing, single-storey building designed by a British engineer, Sir Charles Taggart, during the 1930s as one of a series of garrison forts designed to contain growing unrest in Palestine. Today, the thick concrete walls and iron gates are themselves protected by a double fence overseen by watchtowers and patrolled by attack dogs.

The prison has held Lebanese abducted by the Israeli army as hostages, Iraqi defectors and a Syrian intelligence officer who tried to defect but was accused of spying and chose to remain in another prison rather than return home and face a firing squad. More recently, scores of Palestinians were incarcerated in 1391 for interrogation, which finally led to the almost accidental disclosure of a prison the state decreed did not exist.

Those who have been through its gates know it is no illusion. One former inmate has filed a lawsuit alleging that he was raped twice - once by a man and once with a stick - during questioning. But most of those who emerge say the real torture is the psychological impact of solitary confinement in filthy, blackened cells so poorly lit that inmates can barely see their own hands, and with no idea where they are or, in many cases, why they are there.

"Our main conclusion is that it exists to make torture possible - a particular kind of torture that creates progressive states of dread, dependency, debility," says Manal Hazzan, a human rights lawyer who helped expose the prison's existence. "The law gives the army enough authority already to hide prisoners, so why do they need a secret facility?"

Unlike any other Israeli prison, the International Red Cross, lawyers and members of the Israeli parliament have been refused access. One leftwing MP, Zahava Gal-On, describes Facility 1391 as "one of the signs of totalitarian regimes and of the third world". The Israeli government declines to discuss the secret prison other than to issue a standard response: "Facility 1391 is situated on a secret military base. The base is used by the security services for various classified activities and thus its location is kept confidential."

But it is not just human rights lawyers and leftwing MPs who have a problem. Ami Ayalon is a former head of Israel's intelligence service, the Shin Bet. He was told about 1391 but says he refused to have anything to do with it. "I knew there was a facility not under the responsibility of the Shin Bet, but under the responsibility of the military. I didn't think then, and I don't think today, that such an institution should exist in a democracy," he says.

Sameer Jadala was detained at his home in Nablus last year at 3 o'clock on a December morning. For three days, the 33-year-old Palestinian was moved from one prison cell to another. On the fourth day, he was blindfolded, handcuffed and his feet manacled. Blacked-out glasses were pushed over his eyes as he was forced into the back of a car and on to the floor. Then he was covered with a blanket.

Jadala estimates that he was driven for about an hour. "We were taken out one by one. The only reason I knew there were two other prisoners in the car was the sound of the chains," he says. "I was blindfolded right up to the time they took me to the cell. There was a small slit in the door. It was not even wide enough to push a cigarette through. A voice said, 'Take the blindfold off but any time I come you must put it on and put your hands on the wall.'"

Raab Bader, a 38-year-old accountant and father of two, was also in the cells, although the two men had no contact. He too had been detained in Nablus, though he was convinced he had nothing to hide. "I was held like a blind mole, except for the prolonged hours that an [intelligence] agent interrogated me," he says.

Bader was variously told that he was on a submarine, in space or outside the borders of Israel. He was pushed into a windowless cell, 6ft square. A fan high in the ceiling drives air into the cell, but inmates say the noise is deafening.

"The cell walls were painted black. I never saw the ceiling. When I looked up, I saw only darkness. Light no stronger than the power of a candle penetrated in a peculiar way from one side of the room," he said in an affidavit.

The bed was a thin, damp mattress on a concrete slab a few inches above the ground. The toilet was a bucket, emptied every few days. Water to the cell came out of a hole in the wall, controlled by the guard. "On the ninth consecu tive day in the stench-filled cell, one of the soldiers was supposed to come and take me out. He almost vomited and rushed out of the cell," Bader says. "I spent many days in that solitary confinement cell and in others like it, and hour after hour I would talk to myself and feel that I was going crazy, or find myself laughing to myself."

Jadala was still trying to work out why he had been arrested in the first place. "I asked the interrogator: why am I here? What do you want from me? When I asked where I was, they told me I was in Honolulu. I didn't ask again," he says.

It later dawned on Jadala that he was there because days earlier his brother, Mohammed, and a cousin, Basher, had been arrested while crossing into the West Bank from Jordan. Israel's intelligence service suspected that Mohammed was a member of Hamas. Sameer Jadala now believes he was detained as part of an elaborate psychological game to pressure his brother into talking. Mohammed Jadala, who is still a prisoner, has signed an affidavit alleging he was tortured into a confession. He says he was beaten during his initial interrogation at a regular prison and then moved to 1391. When he asked where he was, the reply was "on the moon".

"They kept me there in a solitary cell for about 67 days. During this period, they continued with the torture, but they used a different method. They did not let me sleep more than two hours a day. When I started to get drowsy, they woke me up by making noise or by throwing water on me. As a result of the torture, they were able to get me to admit to all kinds of offences," he says.

The interrogators brought the brothers together briefly, apparently as a means of letting Mohammed know that Sameer would pay the price if he didn't talk. "They took my brother and cousin to the secret facility and showed me them crying; the interrogators said that they would be tried because of me," Mohammed says.

Probably the first prisoners at Facility 1391 were Lebanese. The prison is part of a military camp that is home to an army intelligence group, Unit 504, which specialises in interrogation. The unit has a hard reputation, and some of its members have badly blemished records. One has been accused of murder, another of spying. Unit 504's glory days were during Israel's 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon, interrogating captured Hezbollah fighters and running an extensive network of collaborators, some of whom are still being put on trial for their lives by the Lebanese authorities.

In the late 80s, Unit 504 went in search of another kind of prisoner; men who could be held hostage and exchanged for captured Israeli soldiers and airmen. In 1989, the Israelis seized Sheikh Abd al-Karim Obeid, a spiritual leader to Hezbollah. Five years later, they snatched Mustafa Dirani, a leading Shi'ite fighter. Both were taken directly to Facility 1391.

The soldiers who grabbed Obeid also abducted his bodyguards, members of his family and Hashem Fahaf, a young man who happened to be visiting the sheikh to seek his blessing and who found himself locked up for the next 11 years, initially at 1391.

Fahaf was never accused of any crime, but he was refused access to a lawyer and any other contact with the outside world. For the first few years, the Israelis denied they were even holding him. In April 2000, the Israeli supreme court finally ordered Fahaf's release. The government said it had been holding him and another 18 Lebanese as hostages - or "bargaining chips", as Israeli officials prefer to call it - in the hope of winning the release of an airforce navigator, Colonel Ron Arad.

Mustafa Dirani, the primary target of the abductions, had been the head of security in the Shi'ite movement Amal, and held Arad for about two years, at times driving around with the Israeli colonel in the boot of his car. Dirani was questioned for five weeks around the clock. Freed from Facility 1391 eight years later but locked up in another Israeli prison, he filed a lawsuit in the Israeli courts alleging that he was sodomised by his Israeli interrogators. The legal action names a "Major George" who, Dirani alleges, ordered a soldier to rape him. On another occasion, the Lebanese prisoner accuses the major of thrusting a stick up his rectum. Other former prisoners at 1391 have described how they were stripped naked for interrogation, blindfolded and handcuffed, and a stick was pressed against their buttocks as they were threatened with rape.

In its response to the lawsuit, the Israeli government denied Dirani was raped but it confirmed that prisoners were routinely stripped naked for interrogation. However, the state attorney's office later went further and said that "within the framework of a military police investigation the suspicion arose that an interrogator who questioned the complainant threatened to perform a sexual act on the complainant".

"Major George" was sacked. Dozens of other interrogators signed a petition objecting to his punishment for using methods they said were sanctioned by the authorities.

Another Lebanese prisoner, Ahmed Ali Banjek, was convicted of smuggling a surface-to-air missile into the Israeli-controlled zone of southern Lebanon on the basis of a confession made at 1391. He later told a military court that it had been extracted under torture, including being forced to sit on a stick until it penetrated his anus. The court was persuaded that the confession was not reliable, and released Banjek.

Facility 1391 remained a secret for two decades or more because those delivered to its clutches could be made to disappear. But even amid the severity of occupation, Israel does recognise that Palestinians have rights. Last year, as the army rounded up thousands of Palestinians during the reoccupation of West Bank cities, it ran out of places to interrogate them. Some were delivered to 1391.

A Jerusalem human rights organisation, the Centre for the Defence of the Individual (Hamoked), went in search of one man, Muatez Shahin, who was taken from his home by the army a year ago. The military insisted he was not on any of their lists of prisoners. Hamoked petitioned the high court and, after various attempts by the state to block the truth, won an unprecedented admission earlier this year that Shahin had disappeared into the previously unknown prison. State prosecutors initially told the court that the prison was no longer in use. A few weeks later, the state was forced to confess otherwise.

"The circumstances have changed, and the security people have informed us that detainees are currently being held at Facility 1391," prosecutors told the court.

Hamoked's director, Dalia Kerstein, an Israeli, was horrified. "I was shocked to find out there is such a facility. I don't want the country I live in to have such a secret prison," she said. "We're challenging the legality of this place. We're seeking to close it and we're challenging the whole system of interrogation that goes on in the facility and is a byproduct of the fact that this place is secret, including torture.

"The psychological torture is very intense. People have been there for months at a time. I've met five people from different cities across the West Bank, from different organisations, and they all describe the same methods of torture. They're not beating people but there is very strong psychological torture that results in people hallucinating or having breakdowns."

Sameer Jadala was close to breakdown as he was dragged through interrogation after interrogation that seemed to lead nowhere as his inquisitors tried to get him to implicate his brother or to confess to being a member of Hamas. Then his inquisitors offered him the chance to win his freedom with a lie-detector test.

"I said I know beyond doubt that there is nothing on me. I took the test. At the end, they said 'Congratulations, Sameer' and I never saw them again," he says. "During the night I was visited by soldiers. I was blindfolded and had chains on my hands and legs. They put me into the car, covered me in a blanket and I was driven to a court near Jenin.

"First I had to see a doctor, who asked me where I had been. I said: 'I don't know, I really don't know.' The doctor asked the soldier where I had been. The soldier waved his hand in the air as though he were pointing to a distant planet. The doctor stopped asking questions."

Eventually, Jadala was dragged before a judge, who also wanted to know where he had been held. The prosecutor said he didn't know. "The judge wanted to know if I had a lawyer. I asked how I could appoint a lawyer when I didn't even know where I was. There was no way to contact anybody outside," he says.

It wasn't the end of the ordeal. Government lawyers repeatedly asked the military courts to extend his detention on "security grounds" - by a week or two at a time - but never said what it was he was suspected of.

"During one hearing I burst into tears. The judge asked me why I was crying. I said that for 30 days I didn't know where I was, I had no contact with a lawyer, I was transported in a brutal way. The judge finally said they had to come up with some evidence against me or let me go. So they let me go."

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

"Liberty has never come from government.  Liberty has always come from the subjects of government. The history of liberty is a history  of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of limitations of government power, not the increase of it." http://sedm.org/

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #97 on: April 07, 2009, 08:32:16 AM »
Secret Report Reveals Role of Medical Personnel in Torture at CIA Black Sites

The report describes "three principal roles" played by medical professionals, including "monitoring the ongoing ill-treatment" of prisoners.






By Liliana Segura, AlterNet
Posted on April 6, 2009, Printed on April 7, 2009
http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/www.alternet.org/135407/

Medical professionals working for the CIA played a central role in the "ill-treatment" of terror suspects in U.S. custody overseas, according to a previously confidential report by the International Committee of the Red Cross. The 2007 report describes interviews with 14 "high value detainees" who were transferred to Guantanamo Bay in September 2006, revealing the full extent of complicity and participation by medical personnel in a wide and grisly range of torture methods inflicted upon them. Listed in the table of contents of the 41-page report, these methods included "suffocation by water," "prolonged stress standing," "beatings by use of a collar," "beating and kicking," "confinement in a box," "prolonged nudity," and more.


The ICRC report describes "three principal roles" played by medical professionals in the torture of prisoners in U.S. custody. "Firstly, there was a direct role in monitoring the ongoing ill-treatment which, in some instances, involved the health personnel directly participating while certain methods were used."



Secondly, there was a role in performing a medical check just prior to, and just after,each transfer. Finally, there was the provision of healthcare, to treat both the direct consequences of ill-treatment detailed in previous sections, and to treat any natural ailments that arose during the prolonged periods of detention.


According to the report, which was obtained by journalist Mark Danner -- who first published excerpts last month and has now published its full contents on the website of the New York Review of Books -- certain methods required more active participation by medical professions. For example, in subjecting prisoners to "suffocation by water," "it was alleged that health personnel actively monitored a detainee's oxygen saturation using what, from the description of the detainee of a device placed over the finger, appeared to be a pulse oxymeter."


"Mr. Khaled Shaik Mohammed alleged that on several occasions the suffocation method was stopped on the intervention of a health person who was present in the room each time this procedure was used."


KSM, one of the few prisoners who the U.S. government has actually acknowledged having waterboarding, described his experience to ICRC staff.



I would be strapped to a special bed, which can be rotated into a vertical position. A cloth would be placed over my face. Water was then poured onto the cloth by one of the guards so that I could not breathe. This obviously could only be done for one or two minutes at a time. The cloth was then removed and the bed was put into a vertical position. The whole process was then repeated during about 1 hour.


Abu Zubaydah, whose torture has also been widely documented, described it as follows:



I was put on what looked like a hospital bed, and strapped down very tightly with belts. A black cloth was then placed over my face and the interrogators used a mineral water bottle to pour water on the cloth so that I could not breathe. After a few minutes the cloth was removed and the bed was rotated into an upright position. The pressure of the straps on my wounds caused severe pain. I vomited. The bed was then again lowered to a horizontal position and the same torture carried out with the black cloth over my face and water poured on from a bottle. On this occasion my head was in a more backward, downwards position and the water was poured on for a longer time. I struggled without success to breathe. I thought I was going to die. I lost control of my urine. Since then I still lose control of my urine when under stress.


The conclusion by the ICRC was that the interrogation of prisoners at U.S. "black sites" certainly "constituted torture." But additionally, "the alleged participation of health personnel in the interrogation process and, either directly or indirectly, in the infliction of ill-treatment constituted a gross breach of medical ethics and, in some cases, amounted to participation in torture and/or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."



Indeed, the presence of medical professionals seemed itself to augment the psychological torture. "One detainee,who did not wish his name to be transmitted to the authorities, alleged that a health person threatened that medical care would be conditional upon cooperation with the interrogators." Another recalled being told: "I look after your body only because we need you for information."


Liliana Segura is a staff writer and editor of AlterNet's Rights and Liberties and War on Iraq Special Coverage.

© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/www.alternet.org/135407/

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #98 on: April 11, 2009, 12:25:04 PM »
'These People Fear Prosecution': Why Bush's CIA Team Should Worry About Its Dark Embrace of Torture

The New Yorker's Jane Mayer discusses the fallout from the Red Cross' shocking report on CIA torture and its serious legal implications.


By Liliana Segura, AlterNet
Posted on April 11, 2009, Printed on April 11, 2009
http://www.alternet.org/story/136123/

On the night of April 6, a long-secret document was published -- in its entirety for the first time -- that provided a clear, stark look at the CIA torture program carried out by the Bush administration.
http://www.alternet.org/blogs/rights/135407/secret_report_reveals_role_of_medical_personnel_in_torture_at_cia_black_sites/


Dated Feb. 14, 2007, the 41-page report describes in harrowing detail the "ill treatment" of 14 "high-value" detainees in U.S. custody, as recounted by the prisoners in interviews with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Besides listing the various kinds of harsh interrogation tactics undertaken by the CIA -- among them "suffocation by water," "prolonged stress standing," "beatings by use of a collar," "confinement in a box," "prolonged nudity," "threats," "forced shaving" and other methods -- the report reveals the disturbing role of medical professionals in the torture of suspects, which included using doctors' equipment to monitor their health, even as torture was carried out.

Just as Americans have known about Bush-era torture for years, lawyers and human rights activists have long known about the ICRC report and its contents. Both are due in large part to the work of journalists and their sources, who have brought to light the many post-9/11 abuses committed in the name of counterterrorism.

In February 2005, Jane Mayer of the New Yorker magazine published a story called "Outsourcing Torture: The Secret History of America's 'Extraordinary Rendition' Program," which reported in intricate detail the sordid mechanisms of the Bush administration's kidnap-and-torture program -- a practice so violent and dramatic that it inspired a major Hollywood film a few years later.

As Mayer wrote at the time, however, "Rendition is just one element of the administration's new paradigm."

The CIA itself is holding dozens of 'high value' terrorist suspects outside of the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S., in addition to the estimated 550 detainees in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The administration confirmed the identities of at least 10 of these suspects to the 9/11 Commission -- including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a top al-Qaida operative … -- but refused to allow commission members to interview the men, and would not say where they were being held. Reports have suggested that CIA prisons are being operated in Thailand, Qatar and Afghanistan, among other countries. At the request of the CIA, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld personally ordered that a prisoner in Iraq be hidden from Red Cross officials for several months, and Army Gen. Paul Kern told Congress that the CIA may have hidden up to a hundred detainees."
Among the revelations of the ICRC report is that the CIA did indeed hide prisoners from the Red Cross.

Mayer has been a staff writer at the New Yorker since 1995. In the years after 9/11, her investigative articles have been critical to piecing together the story of how the United States became a country that tortures in the name of the so-called "war on terror."

Mayer was recently awarded the Ron Ridenhour Prize for her book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals (Doubleday). Co-sponsored by The Nation Institute and the Fertel Foundation, the Ridenhour prize honors journalists and whistle-blowers whose work has helped to "protect the public interest, promote social justice or illuminate a more just vision of society." Mayer will be honored alongside other winners of the Ridenhour prize on April 16 at the National Press Club in Washington.

AlterNet's Rights & Liberties Editor Liliana Segura spoke to Mayer over the phone from New York, the morning after the release of the ICRC report.

***

Liliana Segura: Last night, the full ICRC report was posted online, detailing the torture at the CIA black sites. Of course, you've been writing for a long time about this; how did you first come to know about the report, and what's the significance of it coming out now, especially with everything it reveals about medical professionals being involved in torture?

Jane Mayer: Well, there are certain confidential source issues that cover how I first came to know about it, but I can say that when I did finally talk to people who were familiar with what was in it -- which was more than a year ago at this point -- what I was hearing was so startling that it just completely stopped me dead in my tracks.

Basically, what I was hearing was that there was a report that was by this independent authority -- the ICRC, which is not a political entity in any way. It's a very cautious group and has tremendous credibility -- saying that there was an actual program of torture that was implemented by the U.S. government, and that the government had been warned that what it was doing was breaking the law.

And what seemed to really catch the eye of the people I was interviewing who were familiar with what was in the report was just the horribleness and the power of the United States government focusing everything that had been learned over the past couple decades on how to break a person down psychologically as well as physically. All that focused on just a couple dozen people who were just basically being tormented in a way that was just kind of unimaginable.

So, people who I interviewed who knew about what was in the report were really upset about it -- really, really upset -- and it certainly caught my eye as a reporter. So I then started to try very hard to see if I could get the report. And I never succeeded. I got close enough to be able to piece together what was in it. And that's what's in The Dark Side. And I'm gratified to see that my sources -- who I consider to have been very brave to tell me what they were able to -- were completely accurate.

So you'll see there are whole scenes from the report that are in The Dark Side and many, many details, including the news that [the treatment of detainees] was considered torture by the ICRC -- not "tantamount to torture," but actual torture.

But, you know, reading the report itself, finally -- there's just no comparison to seeing the actual document.

LS: Is there anything in the report in particular that has struck you that you didn't know before?

JM: One of the things that caught my eye last night was that it's clear that the CIA -- and I think you'd have to guess the Department of Defense -- lied to the Red Cross. They told the Red Cross when it visited Guantanamo [in 2002] that it had seen all of the detainees. But what the report says is that some of the detainees -- some of the high-value detainees -- realized when they were finally sent to Guantanamo in 2006 that they'd been there before. They were there. And yet the Red Cross was not allowed to see them. The Red Cross was told they'd seen everybody.

So the CIA and DOD lied to the Red Cross. There were some hidden prisoners in Guantanamo. That's an overt act; lying to the Red Cross, hiding prisoners from them. So, that's interesting to me.

There are also some specific details [about the torture] I didn't know. I didn't realize they used hospital beds to waterboard people, with motorized reclining backs, which is hideous.

I knew there were doctors there -- I mean, people will tell you that there were doctors there, and it's in the book -- but there's still something so specifically terrible about reading that they would attach some kind of modern monitor that could monitor oxygen to the finger of a prisoner while they were busy depriving him of oxygen.

They told him -- Khalid Sheik Mohammed (and this was in the New Yorker stories I did and it was in the book) -- that they would take him to the brink of death and back but they wouldn't kill him. So, they used sort of the most modern medicine to make sure they did exactly that. Its kind of a horrible combination of modernism and the Dark Ages all in one.

LS: Do we have any idea who these doctors are?

JM: Well, I'm glad people are asking that question, because, really, since the beginning, one of the things that has obsessed me is: Who were the doctors? What kind of doctors would do this? Some of them are described as literally working in ski masks to cover their faces so that people wouldn't know their identity.

LS: Like executioners.

JM: Yeah. So people have to find out, there just absolutely has to be some more accountability about this. Who were the doctors -- and what does the profession say about this? I mean, there's been a tremendous debate about this within the psychiatric profession and within the psychology profession, but there really has not been a similar debate within the medical profession.

I've already heard from one friend who's a doctor this morning, saying "God -- something's got to happen with this." Things will happen, I think.

LS: I wanted to ask you about accountability. It seems like every other day we're hearing about how Obama's Department of Justice is standing up in court and defending some Bush administration practice, or else the administration is making a statement that suggests that there's not going to be any move for accountability. Yet House Judiciary Chairman Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., just released a 540-page report reiterating the allegations against the Bush administration and calling for a special prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Eric Holder. What would it take for that to happen?

JM: What would it take for that to happen? It would take Obama. It would take Obama weighing in on this. And, you know, it seems that his general style is to try to find consensus rather than to isolate people and confront them. I think that an early tip-off to his thinking was when he described possible accountability as "witch hunts" and said we're not going to have witch hunts.

And yet I think that they're going to find it impossible to be where they are. Right now, they're trying to assert some kind of neutral position about the Bush years. They've come out critical, they've said "we're fixing this, it was wrong," and they have started to fix it -- I give them credit for doing a lot of the right things.

But what they're trying to do is not have to open up the past, as they keep saying, and I don't think that's going to work because they're going to have a choice here. They're at a fork in the road, where either they're going to open things up, or they're going to have to cover things up. There's not a real neutral position to be there. And that's what I think they're beginning to realize.

LS: A lot of people have been surprised by the positions Obama has taken -- for instance, saying that prisoners at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan don't have the right to habeas corpus (although a court recently contradicted that). Are there any Bush-era tactics that are now an inextricable part of Obama's counterterrorism policies?

JM: The progress so far is: there's no longer torture -- there's no program of torture that's being practiced by the United States anymore. And there are no more secret prison sites. And they are trying to do something to bring all of the prisoners whose rights were violated in the Bush years back inside the rule of law. They're trying to sort out the people in Guantanamo and charge some. … I think it's also progress that they charged [Ali Saleh Kahlah] al Marri, who was being held forever as an enemy combatant without any rights. So, I see this as progress.

LS: Does this mean that the CIA black sites have been dismantled? Also, what about renditions? Isn't Obama keeping open the possibility of keeping Clinton-era style rendition in place?

JM: Obama's executive orders issued in his first week, direct the government to abide by the Geneva Conventions standards as they are internationally understood, and to allow the ICRC to have access to all detainees. This means the U.S. can no longer treat anyone in its custody cruelly, let alone torture them, and it means that the Red Cross can meet with all prisoners, which ends the Bush practice of hidden, black-site prisons and disappearances.

The Obama administration is claiming that it will undertake renditions without torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment. They say they will only snatch suspects against whom there are legitimate charges and only deliver them to stand trial in legitimate justice systems where there is no threat of torture. Essentially, they claim it's a return to the pre-9/11 Clinton program, which was ostensibly "rendition to justice." But some sources who were involved in the Clinton years have told me it was a very rough business. The CIA has fought very hard to keep the program going in a modified form. We'll see if they can do it in the transparent, legal and humane way the executive orders require. I have my doubts.

I think that there's a ton still to do here. And some of the early positions they've taken -- defending state secrets and denying, as you say, habeas corpus rights to prisoners held in Bagram -- you know, they're worrisome. I think there's more going on here, though, which people haven't really focused on, which is: there's a real tug-of-war going on about the confirmation process. A number of top appointees who Obama wants to put in to handle some of these issues have not been confirmed. The Republicans in the Senate are really holding up people that Obama needs to make changes for the better.

You've got Harold Koh, who's been nominated to be the top lawyer for the State Department. He's a great defender of human rights. His nomination confirmation is in trouble because the Republicans are talking about trying to block him.

And the same thing is true of Dawn Johnsen, who has been nominated for the head of the Office of Legal Council. And there are a number of other top positions that are open that are really important. The Obama administration doesn't have enough staff to handle what it needs to do.

Meanwhile, it's being hit by wave after wave of litigation, because the human rights community's approach in the Bush years was "we're gonna litigate." So there is case after case breaking and requiring action from the Obama administration, which doesn't have its people in place yet. And I think that's part of the problem. So, I'm cutting them more slack then some critics, because I don't think we're seeing everything they want to do yet.

LS: So is what you're saying that they are buying themselves time, adopting these Bush positions or defending them for the moment?

JM: Well they're definitely buying themselves time on Guantanamo, but they haven't bought themselves very much time. They gave themselves 180 days; they've got three task forces, which took a long time to get up and running. I hear from people who are involved in this that it's a really complicated process.

And on the state-secrets cases -- you know, I don't know whose really making these decisions. But again, on accountability, I think it comes back to Obama himself. And he is spread so thin and so distracted by so many other emergencies right now, I'm not sure that he's really giving it the attention that some of us think it needs.

So that's what I think is going on. I'm not sure that I would impute terrible motives to them at this point. I think it's more disorganization and delay.

LS: I wanted to ask you about "preventive detention" (of terrorism suspects, including the remaining prisoners at Guantanamo Bay), since you wrote about it a few months back. Do you have any recent information on Obama's plans to use it, or is that something that they're still sorting out?

JM: I think it's going to be a big fight in the administration. We're kind of waiting to see.

I mean, some of Obama's Justice Department appointees think that there might need to be some kind of national security court that would allow for some sort of preventive detention. There have been experiments with this elsewhere in the world, and most of them have become real human-rights problems.

And there are other people who think this is anathema and tell me that there's just no way that Obama is going to back this sort of thing. I mean, he's being faced with a lot of very tough choices here and, meanwhile, I think that the intelligence community is bombarding him with threats, saying "if you become more transparent, you're going to endanger the country" -- they're sounding too much like Dick Cheney, [saying] that if they let out information, it's going to really hurt the country, it's going to really hurt our relations with other liaison intelligence agencies. … So, he's stuck in the middle of a big fight.

LS: I'm glad you brought up Dick Cheney. I wanted to ask you about him since he plays such an important role in your book, and also because there's this bizarre way in which he seems to be more in the public eye now than he ever was as vice president. What do you think that's about?

Also, you've noted that interesting quote by Cheney referring to Guantanamo prisoners, "People will want to know where they've been and what we've been doing with them." Do you think he fears prosecution at all? Do you think that's part of why he's out there talking and defending … ?


JN: Listen, all of these people fear prosecution. And it seems unthinkable to prosecute them to most people. But face it: The ICRC report; from some standpoints, it can be seen as a crime scene. And its a crime scene that was authorized by the top of our government. They all have some legal liability here. Cheney coming out -- you know, I can't really -- it's hard to get inside Cheney's mind, but I can say politically what it has the effect of doing is putting a marker down, so that if there's another attack, the Republicans can say, "You see, the Democrats weakened America. We warned them, and we told you so." So, I think in some ways it's a political gambit. And it's also a play for his legacy. He's trying to say "I'm not a war criminal."

Can I say one thing about the Ridenhour Prize? One thing I wanted to say was that Ron Ridenhour -- who was the whistle-blower about My Lai [in the Vietnam War] -- one of his contentions was always that there was authorized slaughter there. It was not just Lt. William Calley who was going on a berserk spree on his own. And so I think that it's kind of fitting that the ICRC report comes out which shows, again, the point that I was trying to make in The Dark Side, which is: This was not just an isolated episode of bad behavior, it was not just the people at the bottom of the barrel, as Donald Rumsfeld called them.

This was an authorized program of abuse from the top of the U.S. government. So there are a lot of parallels there. In both cases, what makes the headlines is the abuse, but the larger point that people have to grapple with is going up the chain of command, how it was authorized.

LS: The importance of whiste-blowers and journalists in the Bush era was, for many people, undisputed. What do you consider to be the role of journalists now?

JM: Abuse is bipartisan. Abuse of power is bipartisan. So I don't think the role of the press ever disappears. As you're pointing out, there's a lot still to do and a lot still to write about. So we're all struggling to keep at it.


Liliana Segura is an AlterNet staff writer and associate editor of AlterNet's Rights & Liberties Special Coverage.

© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/136123/

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #99 on: April 11, 2009, 12:36:11 PM »
America, Torture and Hypocrisy


Robert Parry

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m53332&hd=&size=1&l=e


April 10, 2009 - Consortium News



The International Committee of the Red Cross's torture report should be required reading for all Americans not just because its contents are shocking - which they are - but because it reveals that the United States is not the special nation that it often pretends to be, and won't be as long as it chooses to look away from such crimes.

A sad lesson from 9/11 is that the United States, which has long lectured the rest of the world about human rights, is no different than any other place after some shocking attack on its national security.

Washington will sink to levels of paranoia and barbarism just as fast as others will, especially if its leadership already has those inclinations as it did under President George W. Bush.

Arguably, the only real differences between the United States and some other government that debases itself with torture and vengeance are that the U.S. can inflict far more damage due to its unprecedented military power and that it is more prone to self-delusion from its sophisticated national PR.

The 41-page ICRC report, dated Feb.14, 2007, depicts scenes that could have come from the Middle Ages: naked prisoners forced to stand for long periods with their hands shackled over their heads or strapped to a bench while subjected to the drowning sensation of waterboarding or locked in tiny boxes as they scream and soil themselves.

The scenes reek of sadism, as if President Bush took some perverse pleasure in inflicting pain and humiliation on these people, much like an ancient king getting satisfaction in a grotesque punishment against someone who dared to challenge his authority. There was a similar sense of sick joy in the way Bush reacted to the hanging of Iraq's Saddam Hussein on Dec. 30, 2006.

But what is perhaps most significant about Official Washington's blasé attitude toward the disclosures about Bush's hearty embrace of the dark side is that it is part of a pattern: the nation's elites have long reacted to evidence of American complicity in torture and war crimes with a convenient blindness and a huge supply of double standards.

Though Bush and his inner circle may have crossed lines by directly involving the U.S. government in gross violations of international law, presidents of both parties have aided and abetted similar brutality when committed by American allies during the Cold War.

Nazi-Like Practices

Indeed, that record of extraordinary cruelty is the largely unwritten history of the Cold War, the U.S. government letting its fear of international communism lead to both tolerance and encouragement of Nazi-like practices: torture, assassination, mass slaughters and political repression.

Even after the Cold War ended, the United States refused to examine this ugly history in any systematic way. Though Democrat Bill Clinton was the first President elected after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he ignored calls for serious examinations of that historical era - until late in his presidency when he did declassify some documents relating to U.S. policy in Guatemala.

Then, after a Guatemalan truth commission based its investigation partly on the declassified U.S. record, Clinton issued an apology to the people of Guatemala for Washington's role in decades of atrocities that killed an estimated 200,000 people, including what was deemed genocide against Mayan Indians in the country's highlands during the Reagan administration.

While the Guatemalan records are starkly illustrative of how successive U.S. administrations enabled torture and mass murder, it represents only a sliver of the sordid Cold War history, with similar policies replicated in countries around the world for nearly half a century.

This wasn't just coincidence, either. Other information that surfaced during the Clinton administration revealed that the U.S. military pulled together the lessons from brutal counterinsurgency warfare in the 1950s and early 1960s into a series of training manuals for Third World militaries.

The U.S. intelligence community began compiling those lessons in 1965 by commissioning what became known as "Project X."

Based at the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School at Fort Holabird, Maryland, the project was tasked with the development of lesson plans which would "provide intelligence training to friendly foreign countries," according to a brief history, which was prepared in 1991.

Called "a guide for the conduct of clandestine operations," Project X "was first used by the U.S. Intelligence School on Okinawa to train Vietnamese and, presumably, other foreign nationals," the history stated.

Linda Matthews of the Pentagon's Counterintelligence Division recalled that in 1967-68, some of the Project X training material was prepared by officers connected to the so-called Phoenix program in Vietnam, an operation that involved targeting, interrogating and assassinating suspected Viet Cong.

"She suggested the possibility that some offending material from the Phoenix program may have found its way into the Project X materials at that time," according to the Pentagon report.

In the 1970s, the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School moved to Fort Huachuca in Arizona and began exporting Project X material to U.S. military assistance groups working with "friendly foreign countries." By the mid-1970s, the Project X material was going to military forces all over the world.

'School of Assassins'

In 1982, the Pentagon's Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence ordered the Fort Huachuca center to supply lesson plans to the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, which human rights activists denounced as the School of the Assassins because it trained some of Latin America's most notorious military officers.

"The working group decided to use Project X material because it had previously been cleared for foreign disclosure," the Pentagon history stated.

According to surviving documents released under a Freedom of Information Act request, the Project X lessons contained a full range of intelligence activities. A 1972 listing of Project X lesson plans covered aerial surveillance, electronic eavesdropping, interrogation, counter-sabotage measures, counter-intelligence, handling of informants, break-ins and censorship.

One manual warned that insurgents might even "resort to subversion of the government by means of elections [in which] insurgent leaders participate in political contests as candidates for government office."

Citizens were put on "'black, gray or white lists' for the purpose of identifying and prioritizing adversary targets." The lessons suggested creation of inventories of families and their assets to keep tabs on the population.

The internal U.S. government review of Project X began in 1991 when the Pentagon discovered that the Spanish-language manuals were advising Latin American trainees on assassinations, torture and other "objectionable" counter-insurgency techniques.

The manuals suggested coercive methods for recruiting counter-intelligence operatives, including arresting the target's parents or beating him until he agreed to infiltrate a guerrilla organization. To undermine guerrilla forces, the training manuals countenanced "executions" and operations "to eliminate a potential rival among the guerrillas."

By summer 1991, the investigation of Project X was raising concerns about an adverse public reaction to evidence that the U.S. government had long sanctioned - and even encouraged - brutal methods of repression.

But the PR problem was contained when the office of then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney ordered that all relevant Project X material be collected and brought to the Pentagon under a recommendation that most of it be destroyed.

The recommendation received approval from senior Pentagon officials, presumably with Cheney's blessings. Some of the more innocuous Project X lesson plans - and the historical summary - were spared, but the Project X manuals that dealt with the sensitive human rights violations were destroyed in 1992, the Pentagon reported.  [For details, see Robert Parry's Lost History.]

Glorifying Reagan

Even more historically significant than eliminating most Project X records was the successful Republican campaign in the mid-1990s to glorify the presidency of Ronald Reagan, which included putting his name on Washington National Airport and transforming him into an iconic figure beyond normal criticism.

In reality, Reagan was the pleasant face put on a long record of U.S. tolerance for the most grotesque actions by pro-U.S. dictators and right-wing terrorists around the world.

In 1980, Reagan's election was greeted with unalloyed joy by Third World oligarchs and tyrants, tired of Jimmy Carter's nagging about human rights. Their optimism was not misplaced. For years, Reagan had been a staunch defender of right-wing regimes engaged in bloody counterinsurgency campaigns against leftist enemies.

In the late 1970s, when Carter's human rights coordinator, Pat Derian, criticized the Argentine military for its "dirty war" -- tens of thousands of "disappearances," tortures and murders -- then-political commentator Reagan joshed that Derian should "walk a mile in the moccasins" of the Argentine generals before criticizing them. [See Martin Edwin Andersen's Dossier Secreto.]

Despite his aw shucks style, Reagan found virtually every anticommunist action justified, no matter how brutal.

From his eight years in the White House, there is no historical indication that he was troubled by the bloodbath, torture and even genocide that occurred in Central America during his presidency, while he was shipping hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to the implicated forces.

The death toll was staggering - an estimated 70,000 or more political killings in El Salvador, possibly 20,000 slain from the Reagan-organized contra war in Nicaragua, about 200 political "disappearances" in Honduras and some 100,000 people eliminated during a resurgence of political violence in Guatemala. Many victims suffered rape and torture before their deaths.

Yet, even as the world community has sought to punish war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and now Sudan, no substantive discussion has occurred in the United States about facing up to Reagan's horrendous record of the 1980s - or holding accountable implicated U.S. officials or the pro-U.S. killers and torturers in Central America and elsewhere.

Some of those U.S. officials, such as former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams and former Ambassador to Honduras John Negroponte, returned to key national security jobs under George W. Bush. Dick Cheney was back, too, as Vice President.

A Troubling Record

So, given that history of U.S. officials sanctioning torture and murder by allies and encountering no accountability, it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that - post 9/11 - the Bush administration would take the next step and authorize the barbarism directly.

Still, that troubling reality had to be kept under wraps to maintain the fiction that "the United States doesn't torture." Which explains why President Bush flew into such a rage - and expressed such personal disgust - when the photographs of the Abu Ghraib abuses in Iraq were leaked.

But Bush couldn't have been outraged by the forced nudity and the humiliation inflicted on the Abu Ghraib prisoners, since he had been authorizing similar tactics at secret CIA prisons and at Guantanamo Bay. Still, he made a lesson out of the low-ranking prison guards by court-martialing those foolish enough to let photographs of the abuses reach the public.

There is also evidence that President Bush authorized "death squad" tactics in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the globe. Linking those sanctioned executions to the atrocities of the 1980s in Central America was the description from some Bush administration officials that they were planning a "Salvador option" in Iraq. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Bush's Death Squads."]

In 2007, military criminal cases surfaced in which elite American snipers and Special Forces units defended themselves against murder charges by citing loose rules of engagement, which let them execute unarmed suspects who were on an authorized death list. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Bush's Global Dirty War."]

Despite all this old and new evidence of Bush's war crimes, the smart money in Washington is still betting that the Obama administration - like the Clinton administration 16 years ago - will take the easy route and opt to look forward, not backward.

Only an outraged populace - Americans who believe that their country should live up to the high standards that it demands of others - could force the politicians to finally take seriously the need for accountability in the face of war crimes and to prosecute those responsible for the worst offenses, however high their rank.

That wouldn't make the United States all that special - other countries have faced up to dark chapters of their own history, most recently Peru in convicting ex-President Alberto Fujimori on April 7 for his role in a political death squad.

But the prosecution of George W. Bush's war crimes would show that America is a land of integrity that means what it says about human rights, not just a place for self-congratulatory hypocrisy.

 

© 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, 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'.

 


Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #100 on: April 11, 2009, 12:37:22 PM »
The Obama administration and torture


Tom Eley

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m53331&hd=&size=1&l=e

April 11, 2009



On Thursday, Leon Panetta, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), issued an internal memo declaring the Obama administration’s opposition to the investigation of intelligence personnel who carried out torture under the Bush administration.

The statement, announcing a blanket amnesty for those who have committed grave violations of international and human rights law, came on the heels of a leaked International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) report that detailed, and defined as torture, the CIA’s horrifying "enhanced interrogation" methods. (See: Red Cross report details CIA war crimes)

The media has largely ignored the ICRC report, instead seizing on parts of Panetta’s memo that indicate the Obama administration will decommission CIA "black site" prisons and cease using private contractors in interrogations.

Panetta claims that CIA personnel cannot be investigated because they were acting under legal findings crafted by Bush administration Justice Department officials—findings the Obama administration has thus far refused to make public. The memo reads, "Officers who act on guidance from the Department of Justice—or acted on such guidance previously—should not be investigated, let alone punished."

Yet international law, including precedents established in the Nuremberg trials of Nazi military and civilian officials, makes clear that this "just following orders" defense is not applicable to violations of human rights and war crimes such as torture. Nuremberg Principle IV states, "The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him."

More importantly, Panetta’s claim that CIA personnel were only following orders begs the question: Why not prosecute those who gave the orders?

There are two primary reasons for the Obama administration’s opposition to any investigation of Bush administration torturers. In the first place, a serious investigation of torture, extraordinary rendition and the global gulag of prison black sites would implicate not only those who carried out these policies and high-ranking Bush administration officials, but also the Democratic Party and the US media.

The entire American political and media establishment is implicated in criminal methods traditionally associated with fascist and totalitarian regimes.

In the wake of the September 11 terrorist bombings, the media, liberal as well as conservative, spearheaded a campaign to justify the torture of terrorism suspects as a necessary part of the so-called "war on terror." At the time, articles appeared in leading publications such as the New York Times and Washington Post uncritically presenting intelligence and military officials’ defense of torture. The magazine Newsweek infamously ran an article entitled "Time to Think About Torture," which argued that "survival might well require old techniques that seemed out of the question."

For their part, Democratic congressional leaders were briefed by Bush officials on the criminal methods being employed, supported them, and provided political cover for the US government’s violations of international law. The Military Commissions Act, passed by Congress with significant Democratic support in 2006, sanctioned the legal chimera "enemy combatant," thus denying terrorism suspects recourse to the legal system of any country or to any international body.

The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is steadfastly opposed to criminal investigation of the Bush administration. Senator Patrick Leahy, who postures as a defender of democratic rights, has proposed a toothless "truth commission," which would take as its starting point the rejection of criminal prosecution of perpetrators. Such a procedure could have but one purpose—to bury the crimes of the Bush years and "move on." Even this meager proposal has been abandoned by the Democratic leadership, which proceeds from the standpoint that the less discussion on torture, the better.

Second, Obama seeks to keep at his disposal similar methods as those used by Bush, while effecting a cosmetic change in image. If the administration is opposed to holding accountable those who perpetrated war crimes and violations of both US statutes and international human rights laws, then all of its verbal disavowals of torture and affirmations of "American values" are worthless. It should be recalled that Bush also declared repeatedly that "We do not torture."

The Panetta memo underscores the essential continuity in Washington’s personnel and policies. Obama has retained leading Bush administration figures who are implicated in all its policies, including the defense secretary, Robert Gates, and the military brass responsible for conducting the brutal colonial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Like all of his attempts to distance his administration from the policies of his predecessor, Obama’s purported closure of the secret prisons is full of loopholes.

Panetta did not say when the secret prisons—which likely exist in Poland, Romania, Jordan, Morocco and Thailand, among other places—would be closed, while claiming that the CIA has not sent any people to the black sites since he took over the CIA’s helm in February.

But since their locations remain classified, it is impossible for third parties, including the ICRC, to investigate Panetta’s assertion that there are currently no suspects in the prisons.

At the same time, Panetta declared that the CIA "retains the authority to detain individuals on a short-term transitory basis." He did not explain on what evidence a suspect could be detained. Moreover, the reference to "short-term and transitory" imprisonment deliberately leaves open the door for extraordinary rendition, whereby those abducted in the "war on terror" are moved, without access to any legal system, to third countries to be tortured there. Panetta and other administration officials have all but acknowledged that this practice will continue.

Nor does the closure affect the large prison camps in Iraq and Afghanistan where the US military holds thousands of captives and where some of the worst examples of abuse have taken place.

Obama’s protection of Bush administration officials and his continuation of its basic policies—whatever the change in rhetoric and tone—shows that these illegal and anti-democratic methods are the consensus policies of the US ruling elite.

The liberal and "left" groups that continue to claim that Obama can be pressured into defending democratic rights and enacting social reforms are only serving to cover up Washington’s crimes.

It is not only a matter of justice that those who carried out torture be brought to justice. It is also a political necessity. Unless the crimes of the CIA and military are brought to light, the US ruling elite will eventually use these methods against its political opponents at home as well as abroad.

The inability and refusal of any section of the US political and media establishment to forthrightly oppose torture and the panoply of related police-state methods openly employed in the Bush years testifies to the political and moral collapse of American democracy and the demise of American liberalism.

The only social force that can put an end to such crimes and defend democratic rights is the working class, which must exert its independent political and social interests in a struggle against both parties of the corporate-financial elite and the capitalist system they defend. This struggle must include the demand for a full and public investigation into the crimes of the Bush administration and the criminal prosecution of all those, beginning with Bush himself, who authorized torture, illegal detention, abductions and similar violations of international law.

Tom Eley



 

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #101 on: April 14, 2009, 10:52:53 AM »
The Red Cross Torture Report: What It Means

Mark Danner
http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m53389&hd=&size=1&l=e


April 15, 2009



ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen "High Value Detainees" in CIA Custody
by the International Committee of the Red Cross
43 pp., February 2007


Download the text of the ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen "High Value Detainees" in CIA Custody by The International Committee of the Red Cross, along with the cover letter that accompanied it when it was transmitted to the US government in February 2007. This version, reset by The New York Review, exactly reproduces the original including typographical errors and some omitted words.:           http://www.nybooks.com/icrc-report.pdf


When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry.... These are evil people. And we're not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.
If it hadn't been for what we did—with respect to the...enhanced interrogation techniques for high-value detainees...—then we would have been attacked again. Those policies we put in place, in my opinion, were absolutely crucial to getting us through the last seven-plus years without a major-casualty attack on the US....
—Former Vice President Dick Cheney, February 4, 2009[1]
1.
When it comes to torture, it is not what we did but what we are doing. It is not what happened but what is happening and what will happen. In our politics, torture is not about whether or not our polity can "let the past be past"—whether or not we can "get beyond it and look forward." Torture, for Dick Cheney and for President Bush and a significant portion of the American people, is more than a repugnant series of "procedures" applied to a few hundred prisoners in American custody during the last half-dozen or so years—procedures that are described with chilling and patient particularity in this authoritative report by the International Committee of the Red Cross.[2] Torture is more than the specific techniques—the forced nudity, sleep deprivation, long-term standing, and suffocation by water," among others—that were applied to those fourteen "high-value detainees" and likely many more at the "black site" prisons secretly maintained by the CIA on three continents.

Torture, as the former vice-president's words suggest, is a critical issue in the present of our politics—and not only because of ongoing investigations by Senate committees, or because of calls for an independent inquiry by congressional leaders, or for a "truth commission" by a leading Senate Democrat, or because of demands for a criminal investigation by the ACLU and other human rights organizations, and now undertaken in Spain, the United Kingdom, and Poland.[3] For many in the United States, torture still stands as a marker of political commitment—of a willingness to "do anything to protect the American people," a manly readiness to know when to abstain from "coddling terrorists" and do what needs to be done. Torture's powerful symbolic role, like many ugly, shameful facts, is left unacknowledged and undiscussed. But that doesn't make it any less real. On the contrary.

Torture is at the heart of the deadly politics of national security. The former vice-president, as able and ruthless a politician as the country has yet produced, appears convinced of this. For if torture really was a necessary evil in what Mr. Cheney calls the "tough, mean, dirty, nasty business" of "keeping the country safe," then it follows that its abolition at the hands of the Obama administration will put the country once more at risk. It was Barack Obama, after all, who on his first full day as president issued a series of historic executive orders that closed the "black site" secret prisons and halted the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" that had been practiced there, and that provided that the offshore prison at Guantánamo would be closed within a year.

In moving instantly to do these things Obama identified himself as the "anti-torture president" no less than George W. Bush had become the "torture president"—as the former vice-president, a deeply unpopular politician who has seized the role of a kind of dark spokesman for the national id, was quick to point out. To a CNN interviewer who asked Mr. Cheney in March whether he believed that "by taking those steps...the president of the United States has made Americans less safe," Cheney replied:

I do. I think those programs were absolutely essential to the success we enjoyed of being able to collect the intelligence that let us defeat all further attempts to launch attacks against the United States since 9/11. I think that's a great success story.[4]
To which President Obama a few days later answered, "I fundamentally disagree with Dick Cheney." He went on:

I think that Vice President Cheney has been at the head of a movement whose notion is somehow that we can't reconcile our core values, our Constitution, our belief that we don't torture, with our national security interests.... That attitude, that philosophy has done incredible damage to our image and position in the world.[5]
The President spoke of justice and reputation and the attitudes of Muslims toward Americans. And he spoke of "the facts"—which, he said of Mr. Cheney, "don't bear him out." It is clear that the President, a former professor of constitutional law and self-professed "optimistic guy" who, when asked whether those who have tortured should be punished, speaks of his preference for "looking forward" over "looking backward," appreciates the political importance of the "great success story" being shaped by Cheney and others out of the recent past, a "success story" that the new president, with his overly "legalistic" concern for the Constitution, is said to be wantonly and foolishly destroying.

Cheney's story is made not of facts but of the myths that replace them when facts remain secret: myths that are fueled by allusions to a dark world of secrets that cannot be revealed. At its heart is the recasting of President George W. Bush, under whose administration more Americans died in terrorist attacks than under all others combined, as the leader who "kept us safe," and who was able to do so only by recognizing that the US had to engage in "a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business." To keep the country safe "the gloves had to come off." What precisely were those "gloves" that had to be removed? Laws that forbid torture, that outlaw wiretapping and surveillance without permission of the courts, that limit the president's power to order secret operations and to wage war exactly as he sees fit.

The logic here works both ways: if "taking the gloves off" was a critical part of the "great success story" that has "kept the country safe," then those who put the gloves on—Democrats who, in the wake of the Watergate scandal during the mid-1970s, passed laws that, among other things, limited the president's freedom to order, with "deniability," the CIA to operate outside the law—must have left the country vulnerable. And if by passing those restrictive laws three decades ago Democrats had left the country defenseless before the September 11 terrorists, then putting the gloves back on, as President Barack Obama on assuming office immediately began to do, risks leaving the country vulnerable once more.

Thus another successful attack, if it comes, can be laid firmly at the door of the Obama administration and its Democratic, "legalistic" policies. Especially in the case of "the ultimate threat to the country," as the former vice-president put it two weeks after leaving office, of

a 9/11-type event where the terrorists are armed with something much more dangerous than an airline ticket and a box cutter—a nuclear weapon or a biological agent of some kind. That's the one that would involve the deaths of perhaps hundreds of thousands of people, and the one you have to spend a hell of a lot of time guarding against.
I think there's a high probability of such an attempt. Whether or not they can pull it off depends [on] whether or not we keep in place policies that have allowed us to defeat all further attempts, since 9/11, to launch mass-casualty attacks against the United States....
If you release the hard-core Al Qaeda terrorists that are held at Guantánamo, I think they go back into the business of trying to kill more Americans and mount further mass-casualty attacks. If you turn them loose and they go kill more Americans, who's responsible for that?
Who indeed? Mr. Cheney's politics of torture looks, Janus-like, in two directions: back to the past, toward exculpation for what was done under the administration he served, and into the future, toward blame for what might come under the administration that followed.

Put forward at a time when Republicans have lost power and popularity—and by the man who is perhaps the least popular figure in American public life—these propositions seem audacious, outrageous, even reckless; yet the political logic is insidious and, in the aftermath of a future attack, might well prove compelling. We are returning here to old principles, the post–cold war national security politics that Karl Rove, scarcely four months after the September 11 attacks, set out bluntly before his colleagues at the Republican National Committee: "We can go to the country on this issue"—the "War on Terror," Rove said, because voters "trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America's military might and, thereby, protecting America." And in 2002 and 2004, just as Rove had predicted, Republicans gathered a rich harvest from this "politics of fear," establishing and adding to majorities in both houses of Congress and managing to reelect a president who had embroiled the country in a deeply unpopular war in Iraq.

Cheney's politics of fear—and the vice-president is unique only in his willingness to enunciate the matter so aggressively—is drawn from the past but built for the future, a possibly post-apocalyptic future, when Americans, gazing at the ruins left by another attack on their country, will wonder what could have been done but wasn't. It relies on a carefully constructed narrative of what was done during the last half-dozen years, of all the disasters that could have happened but did not, and why they did not, and it makes unflinching political use of the powers of secrecy. As the former vice-president confided to the CNN correspondent John King,

John, I've seen a report that was written based upon the intelligence that we collected then that itemizes the specific attacks that were stopped by virtue of what we learned through these programs. It's still classified. I can't give you details of it without violating classification, but I can say there were a great many of them.
Attacks prevented, threats averted, lives saved—all secret and all ascribed to a willingness to do the "tough, mean, dirty, nasty" things that needed to be done. Things the present "anti-torture president" is just too "legalistic" to do. Barack Obama may well assert that "the facts don't bear him out," but as long as the "details of it" cannot be revealed "without violating classification," as long as secrecy can be wielded as the dark and potent weapon it remains, Cheney's politics of torture will remain a powerful if half-submerged counter-story, waiting for the next attack to spark it into vibrant life.

2.
"Key to what we did" in the "War on Terror," the former vice-president told CNN, "was to collect intelligence against the enemy. That's what...the enhanced interrogation program was all about." It was not about punishment or pain or degradation but rather about intelligence. The question was, how to gather vital intelligence most efficiently and yet do it—as the former vice-president insists it was done—"legally" and "in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles." These "techniques" would not be torture but rather "enhanced interrogation" or "extreme interrogation," or, in President George W. Bush's favored phrase, almost beautiful in its utter and perfect neutrality, "an alternative set of procedures." These "procedures" were "designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution, and our treaty obligations."[6]

Working through the forty-three pages of the International Committee of the Red Cross's report, one finds a strikingly detailed account of horrors inflicted on fourteen "high-value detainees" over a period of weeks and months—horrors that Red Cross officials conclude, quite unequivocally, "constituted torture." It is hard not to reflect how officials concerned about protecting the country arrived at this particular "alternative set of procedures," and how they convinced themselves, with the help of attorneys in the White House and in the Department of Justice, that these "procedures" were legal. Thanks especially to pathbreaking reporting by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker, to the historical work of Alfred W. McCoy, and now to a partially released report by the Senate Armed Services Committee and a series of leaked and declassified memos by the Bush Justice Department, we have a fairly extensive record of the intricate bureaucratic mechanics of how the program came to be. We can find its roots in various CIA studies of sensory deprivation and induced psychosis and "learned helplessness," some of them more than four decades old, and, in the case of the particular "alternative set of procedures," in the work of consultants and psychologists who had been involved in shaping and administering the SERE ("Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape") "counter-resistance" program developed by the US military.[7]

The effort began early in the days after the September 11 attacks. By December 2001, according to the Senate Armed Services Committee report, the general counsel in the Department of Defense "had already solicited information on detainee 'exploitation' from the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), an agency whose expertise was in training American personnel to withstand interrogation techniques considered illegal under the Geneva Conventions." Two months later, on February 7, 2002, President Bush signed a memorandum stating that the Third Geneva Convention in effect didn't apply to prisoners in the "War on Terror." This decision cleared the way for the adaptation of SERE techniques to interrogation of prisoners in the "War on Terror." As the authors of the Senate Armed Services Committee report explain:

During the resistance phase of SERE training, US military personnel are exposed to physical and psychological pressures...designed to simulate conditions to which they might be subject if taken prisoner by enemies that did not abide by the Geneva Conventions. As one JPRA instructor explained, SERE training is "based on illegal exploitation (under the rules listed in the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War) of prisoners over the last 50 years."
The techniques used in SERE school, based, in part, on Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean war to elicit false confessions, include stripping students of their clothing, placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over their heads, disrupting their sleep, treating them like animals, subjecting them to loud music and flashing lights, and exposing them to extreme temperatures. It can also include face and body slaps and until recently, for some who attended the Navy's SERE school, it included waterboarding.[8]
An awareness of this history makes reading the International Committee of the Red Cross report a strange exercise in climbing back through the looking glass. For in interviewing the fourteen "high-value detainees," who had been imprisoned secretly in the "black sites" anywhere from "16 months to almost four and a half years," the Red Cross experts were listening to descriptions of techniques applied to them that had been originally designed to be illegal "under the rules listed in the 1949 Geneva Conventions." And then the Red Cross investigators, as members of the body designated by the Geneva Conventions to supervise treatment of prisoners of war and to judge that treatment's legality, were called on to pronounce whether or not the techniques conformed to the conventions in the first place. In this judgment, they are, not surprisingly, unequivocal:

The allegations of ill-treatment of the detainees indicate that, in many cases, the ill-treatment to which they were subjected while held in the CIA program, either singly or in combination, constituted torture. In addition, many other elements of the ill-treatment, either singly or in combination, constituted cruel and inhuman or degrading treatment.
In view of the roots of the "alternative set of procedures," this stark judgment might be dismissed as the chronicle of a verdict foretold. Both "torture" and "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" are declared illegal under the Third Geneva Convention, to which the Supreme Court ruled in June 2006 that—President Bush's February 2002 memorandum notwithstanding—the United States in its treatment of all prisoners must adhere. They are also illegal under the Convention Against Torture of 1984, to which the United States is a signatory, and illegal under the War Crimes Act of 1996 (though the Military Commissions Act of 2006 makes an attempt to shield those who applied the "alternative set of procedures" from legal consequences under this law). What is more, as the report concludes,

The totality of the circumstances in which the fourteen were held effectively amounted to an arbitrary deprivation of liberty and enforced disappearance, in contravention of international law.
It is a testament as much to the peculiarities of the American press—to its "stenographic function" and its institutional unwillingness to report as fact anything disputed, however implausibly, by a high official—that the former vice-president's insistence that these interrogations were undertaken "legally" and "in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles" continues to be reported without contradiction, and that President Bush's oft-repeated assertion that "the United States does not torture" is still respectfully quoted and, in many quarters, taken seriously. That they are so reported is a political fact, and a powerful one. It makes it possible to contend that, however adamant the arguments of the lawyers "on either side," the very fact of their disagreement makes the legality of these procedures a matter of partisan political allegiance, not of law.

3.
In the long months of confinement, I often thought of how to transmit the pain that a tortured person undergoes. And always I concluded that it was impossible.
—Jacobo Timerman[9]
Whatever the tangled history of the techniques described in the ICRC report—whatever the sources in Communist China or Soviet Russia or wherever else they might be traced—what was done in the end was quite simple. In setting out after September 11 to "do whatever it takes" in the "tough, mean, dirty, nasty business" of protecting the country against "evil people," Bush administration officials were modern people treading a timeless road. However impressive the advanced degrees of the consultants they hired, the techniques of "enhanced interrogation" are in their essence ancient, for they play on emotions and physical realities that are basic and unchanging. Consider, for example, the "crude but effective" methods of the Soviet State Political Directorate (GPU):

They consisted usually of tying the victim in a strait-jacket to an iron bunk. The strait-jacket was his only clothing; he had no blanket, no food and was unable to go to the lavatory. With a gag in his mouth and a stopper in his rectum he would be given periodic beatings with rubber poles.[10]
Brutal stuff; hard to imagine Americans, however intent on "collecting intelligence against the enemy," engaging in such things. And yet as one looks again at those "crude but effective" procedures, one notices certain unchanging necessities. There is, for example, the basic need to keep the subject helpless and restrained, here accomplished with forced nudity and a straitjacket. In the "black sites," the same end was achieved by forced nudity and what the Red Cross terms, in its chapter of the same name, "prolonged use of handcuffs and shackles." One of the fourteen detainees, for example, tells the Red Cross investigators that

he was kept for four and a half months continuously handcuffed and seven months with the ankles continuously shackled while detained in Kabul in 2003/4. On two occasions, his shackles had to be cut off his ankles as the locking mechanism had ceased to function, allegedly due to rust.
This technique, like other of the "alternative set of procedures" detailed by the Red Cross, seems to have been consistently applied to many of the fourteen "high-value" detainees. Walid bin Attash told the Red Cross investigators that

he was kept permanently handcuffed and shackled throughout his first six months of detention. During the four months he was held in his third place of detention, when not kept in the prolonged stress standing position [with his hands shackled to the ceiling], his ankle shackles were allegedly kept attached by a one meter long chain to a pin fixed in the corner of the room where he was held.
As with the GPU set of procedures, prisoners were kept naked, deprived of blankets, mattresses, and other necessities, and deprived of food. As for "the stopper in the rectum," it was supplied by the GPU to deal with the practical if unpleasant problem of how to cope, in the case of a person who is naked and entirely under restraint and at the same time experiencing prolonged and extreme pain, with the inevitable consequences of his bodily functions. The Americans at the "black sites," who had also to face this unpleasant necessity, particularly when holding detainees in "stress positions," for example, forcing them for many days to stand naked with their hands shackled to a bolt in the ceiling and their ankles shackled to a bolt in the floor, developed their own equivalent:

While being held in this position some of the detainees were allowed to defecate in a bucket. A guard would come to release their hands from the bar or hook in the ceiling so that they could sit on the bucket. None of them, however, were allowed to clean themselves afterwards. Others were made to wear a garment that resembled a diaper. This was the case for Mr. Bin Attash in his fourth place of detention. However, he commented that on several occasions the diaper was not replaced so he had to urinate and defecate on himself while shackled in the prolonged stress standing position. Indeed, in addition to Mr. Bin Attash, three other detainees specified that they had to defecate and urinate on themselves and remain standing in their own bodily fluids.
One turns, finally, to those "periodic beatings with rubber poles" that the GPU administered. No rubber poles are to be found in the Red Cross report. Once again, though, as with the stopper in the rectum and the diapers, the rubber poles simply represent the GPU's practical solution to a problem shared by the CIA at the "black sites": How can one beat a detainee repeatedly without causing debilitating or permanent injury that might make him unfit for further interrogation? How, that is, to get the pain and its effect while minimizing the physical consequences?

Where the GPU responded by developing rubber poles, the CIA created its plastic collar, "an improvised thick collar or neck roll," as the Red Cross investigators describe it in Chapter 1.3.3 ("Beating by use of a collar"), that "was placed around their necks and used by their interrogators to slam them against the walls." Though six of the fourteen detainees report the use of the "thick plastic collar," which, according to Khaled Shaik Mohammed, would then be "held at the two ends by a guard who would use it to slam me repeatedly against the wall," it is plain that this particular technique was perfected through experimentation. Indeed, the plastic collar seems to have begun as a rather simple mechanism: an everyday towel that was looped around the neck, the ends gathered in the guard's fist. The collar appeared later and brought with it other innovations:

Mr. Abu Zubaydah commented that when the collar was first used on him in his third place of detention, he was slammed directly against a hard concrete wall. He was then placed in a tall box for several hours (see Section 1.3.5, Confinement in boxes). After he was taken out of the box he noticed that a sheet of plywood had been placed against the wall. The collar was then used to slam him against the plywood sheet. He thought that the plywood was in order to absorb some of the impact so as to avoid the risk of physical injury.
How to inflict pain without causing injury that might inhibit or prevent further interrogation? And how to do so in such a way that the pain inflicted might be said not to be akin to that "associated with serious physical injury so severe that death, organ failure, or permanent damage resulting in a loss of significant body function will likely result"? This was of course the legal definition of torture concocted by White House and Justice Department lawyers (and codified in what has come to be known as the "Torture Memo," written by John Yoo and signed by Jay Bybee on August 1, 2002). The challenging task set before these lawyers was to somehow "make legal" a set of techniques that had originated in a program developed expressly to prepare soldiers for techniques that were illegal, and thereby to offer officials and interrogators a "golden shield" that would suffice to convince them they would be protected from legal consequences.)

In answer to these questions, and with the benefit of experimentation, especially on Mr. Abu Zubaydah, one of the first of the alleged "big fish" al-Qaeda captives, the CIA seems to have arrived at a method that is codified by the International Committee of the Red Cross experts into twelve basic techniques, as follows:

Suffocation by water poured over a cloth placed over the nose and mouth...
Prolonged stress standing position, naked, held with the arms extended and chained above the head...
Beatings by use of a collar held around the detainees' neck and used to forcefully bang the head and body against the wall...
Beating and kicking, including slapping, punching, kicking to the body and face...
Confinement in a box to severely restrict movement...
Prolonged nudity...this enforced nudity lasted for periods ranging from several weeks to several months...
Sleep deprivation...through use of forced stress positions (standing or sitting), cold water and use of repetitive loud noises or music...
Exposure to cold temperature...especially via cold cells and interrogation rooms, and...use of cold water poured over the body or...held around the body by means of a plastic sheet to create an immersion bath with just the head out of water.
Prolonged shackling of hands and/or feet...
Threats of ill-treatment, to the detainee and/or his family...
Forced shaving of the head and beard...
Deprivation/restricted provision of solid food from 3 days to 1 month after arrest...
As the Red Cross writers tell us, "each specific method was in fact applied in combination with other methods, either simultaneously or in succession." A clear picture of this cumulative effect comes from the three long excerpts of interviews with detainees published as annexes at the end of the report, which I have quoted from and discussed at length in my earlier article.[11] To understand the effect one must remember what all experienced torturers know: dramatic results can be achieved with simple techniques. Forced standing, for example:

Ten of the fourteen alleged that they were subjected to prolonged stress standing positions, during which their wrists were shackled to a bar or hook in the ceiling above the head for periods ranging from two or three days continuously, and for up to two or three months intermittently.... For example, Mr. Khaled Shaik Mohammed alleged that, apart from the time when he was taken for interrogation, he was shackled in prolonged stress standing position for one month in his third place of detention.... Mr. Bin Attash for two weeks with two or three short breaks where he could lie down in Afghanistan and for several days in his fourth place of detention.... Mr. Hambali for four to five days, blindfolded with a type of sack over his head, while still detained in Thailand....
This prolonged forced standing is, again, an ancient technique, and a favorite, notably, of the Soviet intelligence services. It can be difficult, when gazing at the stark descriptions of these procedures, to understand their effect. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, for example, when approving in December 2002 a series of interrogation techniques that included forced standing for up to four hours, famously scribbled in the lower margin, beneath his initials: "However, I stand for 8–10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours? D.R." Secretary Rumsfeld, who no doubt was standing at his desk when he scrawled these words, professed to have difficulty comprehending the difference between working at a standing desk in one's office—signing documents, talking on the telephone, speaking to subordinates, drinking coffee—and standing naked in a very cold room with hands shackled to the ceiling for hours and days at a time.

One can gain a hint of the difference simply by rising and standing motionless with one's hands extended directly overhead and trying to maintain the position for, say, thirty minutes. Then imagine maintaining it for several hours, or days, or weeks. The physical effects, as described in a notorious study of Communist interrogation methods by two psychologists, are dramatic:

After 18 to 24 hours of continuous standing, there is an accumulation of fluid in the tissues of the legs. This dependent edema is produced by the extravasation of fluid from the blood vessels. The ankles and feet of the prisoner swell to twice their normal circumference. The edema may rise up the legs as high as the middle of the thighs. The skin becomes tense and intensely painful. Large blisters develop, which break and exude watery serum....[12]
This medical observation is confirmed in the accounts of at least two of the detainees in the ICRC report, including that of Khaled Shaik Mohammed:

...I was kept for one month in the cell in a standing position with my hands cuffed and shackled above my head and my feet cuffed and shackled to a point in the floor. Of course during this month I fell asleep on some occasions while still being held in this position. This resulted in all my weight being applied to the handcuffs around my wrists resulting in open and bleeding wounds.... [Scars consistent with this allegation were visible on both wrists as well as both ankles.] Both my feet became very swollen after one month of almost continual standing.[13]


Continued :

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #102 on: April 14, 2009, 10:56:15 AM »
The Red Cross Torture Report: What It Means    CONTINUATION

Mark Danner
http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m53389&hd=&size=1&l=e

+++++++++

4.
I fundamentally disagree with Dick Cheney.... The facts don't bear him out.
—President Barack Obama, 60 Minutes, March 22, 2009
One fact, seemingly incontrovertible, after the descriptions contained and the judgments made in the ICRC report, is that officials of the United States, in interrogating prisoners in the "War on Terror," have tortured and done so systematically. From many other sources, including the former president himself, we know that the decision to do so was taken at the highest level of the American government and carried out with the full knowledge and support of its most senior officials.

Once this is accepted as a fact, certain consequences might be expected to follow. First, that these policies, violating as they do domestic and international law, must be changed—which, as noted, President Obama began to accomplish on his first full day in office. Second, that they should be explicitly repudiated—a more complicated political process, which has, perhaps, begun, but only begun. Third, that those who ordered, designed, and applied them must be brought before the public in some societally sanctioned proceeding, made to explain what they did and how, and suffer some appropriate consequence.

And fourth, and crucially, that some judgment must be made, based on the most credible of information compiled and analyzed and weighed by the most credible of bodies, about what these policies actually accomplished: how they advanced the interests of the country, if indeed they did advance them, and how they hurt them. For at this point, President Obama's assertion that "the facts don't bear [Cheney] out" remains simply that: an assertion. To that assertion Mr. Cheney and others, including President Bush, respond and will continue to respond with claims of "specific attacks that were stopped by virtue of what we learned through these programs"—about which, of course, they "can't give you details...without violating classification." And when public officials do cite specific cases—as President Bush himself did in describing the use of the "alternative set of procedures" on Abu Zubaydah, who, the President claimed, "was a senior terrorist leader" who "provided information that helped stop a terrorist attack being planned for inside the United States"—other officials, many of them also "in a position to know," leak differing versions to reporters which seem to demonstrate that the claims that were made are exaggerations and worse.[14]

Unfortunately, these contrary accounts, however convincing—and in the case of Abu Zubaydah they have been very convincing—generally come from unnamed officials and cannot serve as definitive proof, or as a sufficiently credible repudiation of what former officials, including the President of the United States, still assert. Far from ending the discussion about whether torture really was, as Cheney insists, "absolutely crucial to getting us through the last seven-plus years without a major-casualty attack," these ongoing battles between extravagant claims and undermining leaks will ensure that it persists.

It is because of the claim that torture protected the US that the many Americans who still nod their heads when they hear Dick Cheney's claims about the necessity for "tough, mean, dirty, nasty" tactics in the war on terror respond to its revelation not by instantly condemning it but instead by asking further questions. For example: Was it necessary? And: Did it work? To these questions the last president and vice-president, who "kept the country safe" for "seven-plus years," respond "yes," and "yes." And though as time passes the numbers of those insisting on asking those questions, and willing to accept those answers, no doubt falls, it remains significant, and would likely grow substantially after another successful attack.

This political fact partly explains why, when it comes to torture, we seem to be a society trapped in a familiar and never-ending drama. For though some of the details provided—and officially confirmed for the first time—in the ICRC report are new, and though the first-person accounts make chilling reading and have undoubted dramatic power, one can't help observing that the broader discussion of torture is by now in its essential outlines nearly five years old, and has become, in its predictably reenacted outrage and defiant denials from various parties, something like a shadow play.[15]

News of the "black sites" first appeared prominently in the press—on the front page of TheWashington Post —in December 2002.[16] A year and a half later, after the publication and broadcast of the Abu Ghraib photographs—the one moment in the last half-dozen years when the torture story, thanks to the lurid images, became "televisual"—a great wave of leaks swept into public view hundreds of pages of "secret" documents about torture and the Bush administration's decision-making regarding it.[17] There have been many important "revelations" since, but none of them has changed the essential fact: by no later than the summer of 2004, the American people had before them the basic narrative of how the elected and appointed officials of their government decided to torture prisoners and how they went about it.

The reports on American torture now fill a shelf next to my desk, beginning with the Taguba Report in 2004, still perhaps the best of them, and then going on to include the ICRC report on Abu Ghraib, the Schlesinger Report, the Fay/Jones Report, the Church Report, the Schmidt Report, and now the Armed Services Committee Report, the full text of which will soon break into the news in all its glory, telling us in much more conclusive detail a story the major outlines of which we already know. More revelations will come from this, and more news, particularly about the mechanics by which prominent senior officials approved use of the "alternative set of procedures" and closely monitored their day-to-day application. We will continue in an endless round-robin of revelation, in which we tell ourselves we are learning something new though in fact, when it comes to the central problem of torture—what we as a society should do about it and whether we will in fact do anything—we are in the end simply repeating to ourselves things, however increasingly detailed and awful, that we already know.

Meantime a number of organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union in a powerful letter by its director, Anthony Romero, have called on Attorney General Eric Holder—who in his confirmation hearings said bluntly that "waterboarding is torture"—to appoint a special prosecutor to look into possible violations of the law under the Bush administration's interrogation program. As I write, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, has called for the establishment of a kind of "truth commission" that will gather information, in part by trading immunity from prosecution for former officials for their truthful testimony, about "how our detention policies and practices...have seriously eroded fundamental American principles of the rule of law." And the chair of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, and its ranking member, Senator Christopher Bond of Missouri, have announced their own investigation into "how the CIA created, operated, and maintained its detention and interrogation program" and—what is crucial—their intention to make "an evaluation of intelligence information gained through the use of enhanced and standard interrogation techniques."

5.
That is the central, unanswered question: What was gained? We know already a good deal about what was lost. On this subject President Obama in his 60 Minutes response was typically eloquent:

I mean, the fact of the matter is after all these years how many convictions actually came out of Guantánamo? How many terrorists have actually been brought to justice under the philosophy that is being promoted by Vice President Cheney? It hasn't made us safer. What it has been is a great advertisement for anti-American sentiment. Which means that there is constant effective recruitment of Arab fighters and Muslim fighters against US interests all around the world.... The whole premise of Guantánamo promoted by Vice President Cheney was that somehow the American system of justice was not up to the task of dealing with these terrorists.... Are we going to just keep on going until the entire Muslim world and Arab world despises us? Do we think that's really going to make us safer?
This is as clear and concise a summary of the damage wrought by torture as one is likely to get. Torture has undermined the United States' reputation for respecting and following the law and thus has crippled its political influence. By torturing, the United States has wounded itself and helped its enemies in what is in the end an inherently political war—a war, that is, in which the critical target to be conquered is the allegiances and attitudes of young Muslims. And by torturing prisoners, many of whom were implicated in committing great crimes against Americans, the United States has made it impossible to render justice on those criminals, instead sentencing them—and the country itself—to an endless limbo of injustice. That limbo stands as a kind of worldwide advertisement for the costs of the US reversion to torture, whose power President Obama has tried to reduce by announcing that he will close Guantánamo.

The question is how to set beside this damage to the country's interests—some of which can be measured by polling data in Muslim countries, by rises in recruitment to violent jihadist groups, and so on—against the claims that attacks have been averted. As is so often the case, the categories are not commensurable. Confronted with former Vice President Cheney's arguments, President Obama says "the facts don't bear him out," but the facts he points to appear to be facts about the political damage caused by torture, or about the difficulties it poses to the country in trying to prosecute prisoners. He appears not to be speaking about the same facts that the former administration officials do—facts that they claim prove that torture, in averting attacks and protecting the country, saved lives.

Investigating what kind of intelligence torture actually yielded is not a popular task: those who oppose torture do not like to admit that it might, in any way, have "worked"; those who support its use don't like to admit that it might not have. It is a regrettable but undeniable fact that torture's illegality, or the political harm it may do to the country's reputation, is not sufficient to discourage the willingness of many Americans to countenance it. However one might prefer that this be an argument about legality or morality, it is also an argument about national security and, in the end, about politics. However much one agrees with President Obama that Cheney's "notion" that "somehow...we can't reconcile our core values, our Constitution, our belief that we don't torture, with our national security interests," the fact is that many people continue to believe the contrary, and this group includes the former president and vice-president of the United States and many senior officials who served them.

There is a reason that the myth of the "ticking bomb" and the daring, ruthless US agent who will do anything to stop its detonation—anything including torture, a step that proves his commitment and his seriousness—is sacralized in popular culture, and not only in television dramas like 24 but in Dirty Harry and the other movies that are its ancestors. The story of the ticking bomb and the torturing hero who defuses it offers a calming message to combat pervasive anxiety and fear—that no matter what horrible threats loom, there are those who will make use of untrammeled government power to protect the country. It also appeals to uglier and equally powerful emotions: the desire for retribution, the urge to punish and to avenge, the felt need in the face of vulnerability to assert power.[18]

In this political calculus, liberals obsessed by "legalisms" are part of the problem, not part of the solution, and it is no accident that it is firmly in that camp that the former vice-president has been seeking to isolate the new president. Cheney's success in this endeavor will not be evident now—he is, after all, the most unpopular member of a deeply unpopular party—but the seeds he is so ostentatiously sowing could, if unchallenged by facts and given the right conditions, flourish dramatically in the future.

The only way to defuse the political volatility of torture and to remove it from the center of the "politics of fear" is to replace its lingering mystique, owed mostly to secrecy, with authoritative and convincing information about how it was really used and what it really achieved. That this has not yet happened is the reason why, despite the innumerable reports and studies and revelations that have given us a rich and vivid picture of the Bush administration's policies of torture, we as a society have barely advanced along this path. We have not so far managed, despite all the investigations, to produce a bipartisan, broadly credible, and politically decisive effort, and pronounce authoritatively on whether or not these activities accomplished anything at all in their stated and still asserted purpose: to protect the security interests of the country.

This cannot be accomplished through the press; for the same institutional limitations that lead journalists to keep repeating Bush and Cheney's insistence about the "legality" of torture make it impossible for the press alone, no matter how persuasive the leaks it brings to the public, to make a politically decisive judgment on the value of torture. What is lacking is not information or revelation but political credibility. What is needed is not more disclosures but a broadly persuasive judgment, delivered by people who can look at all the evidence, however highly classified, and can claim bipartisan respect on the order of the Watergate Select Committee or the 9/11 Commission, on whether or not torture made Americans safer.

This is the only way we can begin to come to a true consensus about torture. By all accounts, it is likely that the intelligence harvest that can be attributed directly to the "alternative set of procedures" is meager. But whatever information might have been gained, it must be assessed and then judged against the great costs, legal, moral, political, incurred in producing it. Torture's harvest, whatever it may truly be, is very unlikely to have outweighed those costs.

6.
Such an investigation would have to begin with an inquiry into the broader issue of the Bush administration's detention policies after September 11. These policies, built on a cascading series of reverse incentives, filled United States facilities, from Guantánamo to Abu Ghraib to the secret prisons, with tens of thousands of prisoners.

The reverse incentives began with the bounties of anywhere from several hundred to thousands of dollars offered by US Special Forces in Afghanistan for any "Al Qaeda or Taliban member" whom Afghans might bring to American soldiers—incentives that led to the imprisonment of hundreds of Afghan farmers and even of lower-level Taliban who offered nothing whatever in the form of intelligence but who nonetheless ended up imprisoned in Guantánamo, often for years. They were sent there by young US Army interrogators, many of them reservists with little training and no language skills, who found themselves with the awful responsibility of deciding whether or not to let these prisoners go—and who, whatever their doubts about the prisoners' value as intelligence sources, in the days after September 11 had no practical incentive to release them and every incentive not to. As Chris Mackey, the pseudonym of an Army reservist who served as an interrogator in Afghanistan in 2002, said:

In talking to some of the officers at Kandahar and Bagram...they all talk about how there was a great fear among them, those who were going to be putting their signatures to the release of prisoners, great fear that they were going to somehow manage to release somebody who would later turn out to be the 20th hijacker. So there was real concern and a real erring on the conservative side, especially early in the war.[19]
This pervasive and understandable concern, together with a lack of competent linguists and interrogators in the combat zone, led to a general policy of rounding up suspects that flooded Guantánamo with prisoners who simply should not have been there. Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired US Army colonel who at the time served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, confirms what other studies have shown: that because of "the utter incompetence of the battlefield vetting in Afghanistan" and "the incredible pressure coming down from Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and others to 'just get the bastards to the interrogators,'" many or even most of those detained "were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released." Colonel Wilkerson goes on:

Several in the US leadership became aware of this improper vetting very early on.... But to have admitted this reality would have been a black mark on their leadership from virtually day one of the so-called Global War on Terror and these leaders already had black marks enough: the dead in a field in Pennsylvania, in the ashes of the Pentagon, and in the ruins of the World Trade Towers. They were not about to admit to their further errors at Guantánamo Bay. Better to claim that everyone there was a hardcore terrorist, was of enduring intelligence value, and would return to jihad if released.[20]
These initial errors, and the adamant refusal to correct or admit them, led to an overwhelmed, inefficient, and fundamentally unjust US detention system, one that displayed for the world, in televised images of orange-suited, shackled, and hooded prisoners at Guantánamo, and later naked, grotesquely contorted, and abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib, a kind of continuing lurid recruitment poster for al-Qaeda—a dramatic visual confirmation and reaffirmation of the very claims of an evil, repressive, imperialistic United States that lay at the heart of its ideology. Many studies have confirmed the essential truth that a great many prisoners, probably a majority, were unjustly held, without adequate cause or sufficient investigation.[21] Of the nearly eight hundred prisoners who have passed through Guantánamo, well over half have been released without charge, often after years of detention.

The initial panicked rush to "round up prisoners," which was replicated in Iraq during the first months of the insurgency in the summer and fall of 2003, led to what Wilkerson calls an "ad hoc intelligence philosophy" developed to "justify keeping many of these people, called the mosaic philosophy."

Simply stated, this philosophy held that it did not matter if a detainee were innocent. Indeed, because he lived in Afghanistan and was captured on or near the battle area, he must know something of importance.... All that was necessary was to extract everything possible from him and others like him, assemble it all in a computer program, and then look for cross-connections and serendipitous incidentals—in short, to have sufficient information about a village, a region, or a group of individuals, that dots could be connected and terrorists or their plots could be identified.
Thus, as many people as possible had to be kept in detention for as long as possible to allow this philosophy of intelligence gathering to work. The detainees' innocence was inconsequential.
I saw the consequences of this policy in Iraq, in the fall of 2003, when "neighborhood sweeps" and "cordon and capture operations" in "hot areas" led to wholesale arrests of young men. These men, about whom nothing was known apart from the fact that they were young and lived in a neighborhood deemed "hot," were flex-cuffed, hooded, and promptly sent to Abu Ghraib, where they...sat. Interrogators were overwhelmed, mostly with prisoners who simply had no intelligence to impart. The interrogators were well aware of this, of course, but in part because officers of the combat units who made the arrests sat on the boards that had to approve prisoner releases, it was almost impossible to release prisoners once they had been brought to Abu Ghraib. "Certain [Coalition Forces] military intelligence officers told the ICRC," according to a 2004 Red Cross report on Abu Ghraib, "that in their estimate between 70 percent and 90 percent of the persons deprived of their liberty in Iraq had been arrested by mistake."[22]

As military interrogators described to me in some detail, these numbers overwhelmed the intelligence collection system that the wholesale arrests were intended to supply and fortify, leading interrogators to spend most of their time working through thousands of prisoners who had nothing to tell them—but who nonetheless could in most cases not be released and had to be interviewed, often repeatedly.

One soon begins to see a pattern: among officials at the top, panic and fear and incompetence lead to a compensating, self-justifying desire to "do whatever's necessary" to prevent attacks and finally to a consequent injustice inflicted on the innocents at the bottom that is both persistent and politically damaging. Thus the movement from Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's call to "just get the bastards to the interrogators" to the overflow of innocent prisoners from Guantánamo to Abu Ghraib, innocents who rendered unworkable the very system that the "get tough" directives were meant to snap into effective action.

Chris Mackey, the US Army interrogator, writes of "the gravitational laws that govern human behavior when one group of people is given complete control over another in a prison. Every impulse tugs downward."[23] All evidence suggests that in the days after September 11, 2001, the very officials who should have been ensuring that there were restraints put on such "gravitational laws" were instead doing all they could to augment them. Fear and a compensating desire to prove that nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of the all-important goal of protecting the country—especially not overly "legalistic" notions about international treaties and limitations on presidential power—were allowed to drive policy, and the country is still struggling to cope with the results.

7.
We know a great deal about the Bush administration's policy of torture but we need to know more. We need to know, from an investigation that will study all the evidence, classified at however high a level of secrecy, and that will speak to the nation with a credible bipartisan voice, whether the use of torture really did produce information that, in the words of the former vice-president, was "absolutely crucial to getting us through the last seven-plus years without a major-casualty attack on the US." We already have substantial reason to doubt these claims, for example the words of Lawrence Wilkerson, who, as chief of staff to Secretary of State Powell, had access to intelligence of the highest classification:

It has never come to my attention in any persuasive way—from classified information or otherwise—that any intelligence of significance was gained from any of the detainees at Guantánamo Bay other than from the handful of undisputed ring leaders and their companions, clearly no more than a dozen or two of the detainees, and even their alleged contribution of hard, actionable intelligence is intensely disputed in the relevant communities such as intelligence and law enforcement.
It is important to note that a great many of those charged with the duty to "keep us safe" do not share the former president's view about the necessity of his "alternative set of procedures." Indeed, on September 6, 2006, a couple of hours before President Bush told the nation in his East Room speech about the "separate program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency" where the "alternative set of procedures" were used, and announced that the fourteen "suspected terrorist leaders and operatives" were being sent from the black sites to Guantánamo (where they would tell their stories at last to the Red Cross investigators), a very different event was taking place across the Potomac. At the Department of Defense, high-ranking officers and officials were introducing the new Army Field Manual for Human Intelligence Collector Operations— the newly rewritten manual for interrogators that was, as Lieutenant General John Kimmons, the Army deputy chief of staff for intelligence, pointed out, unique in a number of ways:

The Field Manual explicitly prohibits torture or cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment or punishment.... To make this more imaginable and understandable to our soldiers...we have included in the Field Manual specific prohibitions. There's eight of them: interrogators may not force a detainee to be naked, perform sexual acts or pose in a sexual manner; they cannot use hoods or place sacks over a detainee's head or use duct tape over his eyes; they cannot beat or electrically shock or burn them or inflict other forms of physical pain—any form of physical pain; they may not use water boarding, they may not use hypothermia or treatment which will lead to heat injury; they will not perform mock executions; they may not deprive detainees of the necessary food, water and medical care; and they may not use dogs in any aspect of interrogations....[24]
Lieutenant General Kimmons's list of procedures is remarkable for including almost all of those that had come to light during the years of the Bush administration, either at Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, or, now, at the "black sites." Indeed, just before his commander in chief's vivid defense to the country of the necessity of the "alternative set of procedures," the general was declaring that the military had expressly forbidden precisely those procedures—and was explaining, in answer to a reporter's question about whether the prohibitions didn't "limit the ability of interrogators to get information that could be very useful," precisely why:

I am absolutely convinced the answer to your first question is no. No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tells us that.
And moreover, any piece of intelligence which is obtained under duress, through the use of abusive techniques would be of questionable credibility. And additionally, it would do more harm than good when it inevitably became known that abusive practices were used. And we can't afford to go there.
And yet the "loud rhetoric" of Dick Cheney, as Colonel Wilkerson remarks, "continues even now" and remains a persistent political fact in our debate about national security. What should be a debate about facts remains instead a debate fueled by reckless assertions about "still classified" intelligence and leaks that undermine those assertions. The debate over the supposed importance of intelligence provided by Abu Zubaydah, whose torture, including waterboarding, is related with awful immediacy in the ICRC report, is only the most prominent of these controversies. Though waterboarding has not been performed on prisoners in American custody since 2003, there is a reason we continue to talk about it. Though we have known about the Bush administration's policy of torture for five years, there is unquestionably more debate about it now than there ever has been. We are having, in a ragged way, the debate about ethics and morality in our national security policies that we never had in the days after September 11, when decisions were made in secret by a handful of officials.

Philip Zelikow, who served the Bush administration in the National Security Council and the State Department and then went on to direct the 9/11 Commission, remarked in an important speech three years ago that these officials, instead of having that debate simply called in the lawyers: the focus, that is, was not on "what should we do" but on "what can we do."[25]

There is a sense in which our society is finally posing that "what should we do" question. That it is doing so only now, after the fact, is a tragedy for the country—and becomes even more damaging as the debate is carried on largely by means of politically driven assertions and leaks. For even as the practice of torture by Americans has withered and died, its potency as a political issue has grown. The issue could not be more important, for it cuts to the basic question of who we are as Americans, and whether our laws and ideals truly guide us in our actions or serve, instead, as a kind of national decoration to be discarded in times of danger. The only way to confront the political power of the issue, and prevent the reappearance of the practice itself, is to take a hard look at the true "empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years," and speak out, clearly and credibly, about what that story really tells.

—April 2, 2009; this is the second of two articles.

Notes
[1]See John F. Harris, Mike Allen, and Jim VandeHei, "Cheney Warns of New Attacks," Politico, February 4, 2009.

[2]See my article, "US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites," The New York Review, April 9, 2009, in which the ICRC report is extensively excerpted, and to which the present essay is a sequel. The report is based on extensive interviews, carried out in October and December 2006, with fourteen so-called "high-value detainees," who had been imprisoned and interrogated for extended periods at the "black sites," a series of secret prisons operated by the CIA in a number of countries around the world, including, at various times, Thailand, Afghanistan, Poland, Romania, and Morocco. Download the full text of the report.

[3]Among others, the Senate Armed Services Committee has made public parts of its Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in US Custody and more of this will doubtless be released in coming days. Meanwhile, a Spanish judge sent to a prosecutor a case against Alberto Gonzales, the former White House counsel and attorney general, and five other senior Bush officials, including John Yoo and Jay Bybee. See Marlise Simons, "Spanish Court Weighs Inquiry on Torture for 6 Bush-Era Officials," The New York Times, March 28, 2009. In the United Kingdom, the Crown Prosecution Service has begun an inquiry into allegations of the torture of Binyam Mohamed during his detention by the CIA. In Poland, prosecutors have reportedly begun an inquiry into allegations that the CIA made use of an abandoned military facility as a "black site" to torture prisoners.

[4]"Interview with Dick Cheney," S tate of the Union With John King, CNN, March 15, 2009.

[5]See "Obama on AIG Rage, Recession, Challenges," 60 Minutes, March 22, 2009.

[6]See "President Discusses Creation of Military Commissions to Try Suspected Terrorists," September 6, 2006, East Room, White House, available at cfr.org. This is the most important speech President Bush gave on the "alternative set of procedures" and is analyzed at length in my previous article.

[7]See, for the definitive account, Jane Mayer, "Outsourcing Torture," The New Yorker, February 15, 2005, and The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals (Doubleday, 2008); and also Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror (Metropolitan, 2006).

[8]See Senate Armed Services Committee Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in US Custody, "Executive Summary and Conclusions," released December 11, 2008, p. xiii. Emphasis added.

[9]See Jacobo Timerman, Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number (University of Wisconsin Press, 1981), p. 32.

[10]See Robin Bruce Lockhart, Ace of Spies (1967; Penguin, 1984), p. 176.

[11]See my "US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites," especially pp. 71–75.

[12]See Lawrence E. Hinkle Jr. and Harold G. Wolff, "Communist Interrogation and Indoctrination of 'Enemies of the State,'" A.M.A. Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, Vol. 76, No. 2 (August 1956), p. 134.

[13]The interpolated words in brackets are as they appear in the Red Cross report.

[14]I discuss the Abu Zubaydah case more fully in my previous article. Nearly three years ago author Ron Suskind offered an extensive account of Abu Zubaydah and the exaggerations that officials had made about him, from President Bush on down—both about his rank and importance in al-Qaeda and about the value of the information he supposedly offered after the application of the "alternative set of procedures." See Ron Suskind, The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 (Simon and Schuster, 2006), especially pages 99–101 and 115–118. The debate about the case has continued to be pursued furiously in the press, an indication of the strong feelings of many, mostly unnamed officials within the intelligence and law enforcement communities. See, most recently, Peter Finn and Joby Warrick, "Detainee's Harsh Treatment Foiled No Plots: Waterboarding, Rough Interrogation of Abu Zubaida Produced False Leads, Officials Say," The Washington Post, March 29, 2009.

[15]Jane Mayer, in her article "The Black Sites," The New Yorker, August 13, 2007, and in her book, The Dark Side, published many of the details of abuse contained in the ICRC report, though not texts from the report itself.

[16]See Dana Priest and Barton Gellman, "US Decries Abuse but Defends Interrogations: 'Stress and Duress' Tactics Used on Terrorism Suspects Held in Secret Overseas Facilities," The Washington Post, December 26, 2002.

[17]In October of that year I published several hundred pages of those documents in my book Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror (New York Review Books, 2004). A few months later Karen J. Greenberg and Joshua L. Dratel published their more comprehensive collection, The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib (Cambridge University Press, 2005).

[18]These emotions affect government officials as well, as this description of those who insisted on the torture of Abu Zubaydah suggests: "They couldn't stand the idea that there wasn't anything new," the official said. "They'd say, 'You aren't working hard enough.' There was both a disbelief in what he was saying and also a desire for retribution—a feeling that 'He's going to talk, and if he doesn't talk, we'll do whatever.'" See Finn and Warrick, "Detainee's Harsh Treatment Foiled No Plots."

[19]See "Interview: Chris Mackey and Greg Miller discuss their book, 'The Interrogators,'" Fresh Air, National Public Radio, July 20, 2004. See Chris Mackey with Greg Miller, The Interrogators: Inside the Secret War Against Al Qaeda (Little, Brown, 2004).

[20]See Lawrence Wilkerson, "Some Truths About Guantánamo Bay," The Washington Note, March 17, 2009.

[21]See, for example, Corine Hegland, "Who Is at Guantánamo Bay," National Journal, February 3, 2006.

[22]See "Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on the Treatment by the Coalition Forces of Prisoners of War and Other Persons Protected by the Geneva Conventions in Iraq During Arrest, Internment and Interrogation," February 2004, reviewed in my article "Torture and Truth," The New York Review, June 10, 2004.

[23]See Mackey and Miller, The Interrogators, p. 471.

[24]See "DoD News Briefing with Deputy Assistant Secretary Stimson and Lt. Gen. Kimmons from the Pentagon," September 6, 2006.

[25]See Philip Zelikow, "Legal Policy for a Twilight War," Annual Lecture, Houston Journal of International Law, April 26, 2007.




Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #103 on: April 14, 2009, 11:26:36 AM »
Torture of Detainees under CIA Custody:
 Damning Exposé of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Stephen Lendman
http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m53379&hd=&size=1&l=e


 

April 13, 2009

On March 12, Mark Danner, in a New York Times op-ed and The New York Review of Books, wrote about the ICRC's revelations of "US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites." He said George Bush (in 2007) "informed the world that the United States had created a dark and secret universe to hold and interrogate captured 'terrorists,' " - at locations outside America, Guantanamo and elsewhere.

Operated by the CIA, it "used an alternative set of procedures....designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution and our treaty obligations. The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively and determined them to be lawful."

He lied to conceal what this writer called "Torture As Official US Policy" in a July 18, 2008 article. It was authorized at the highest government levels and confirmed by a virtual blizzard of official documents beginning with a September 17, 2001 secret finding empowering CIA to "Capture, Kill, or Interrogate Al-Queda Leaders." It authorized establishing a secret global network of facilities to detain and interrogate them without guidelines on proper treatment.

It was followed on November 13 by Military Order Number 1 that amounted to a coup d'etat on  constitutional freedoms and hinted at what would follow.  It let the president, on his say alone, capture, kidnap or arrest anyone, anywhere in the world, then hold them indefinitely in secret locations, without charge, evidence, or due process in a court of law.

Various other documents, findings, Executive Orders, and memos authorized interrogation practices amounting to torture. Most infamous were two memos by John Yoo (as deputy assistant attorney general), Alberto Gonzales (as White House counsel), Jay Bybee (now a federal judge), and David Addington (as Dick Cheney's chief of staff and legal counsel).

On August 2, 2002, they argued for letting interrogators use harsh measures amounting to torture, OK'd them against "terrorists" during wartime, and said US and international laws don't apply for overseas interrogations.

On March 14, 2003, the same quartet issued another memo titled "Military Interrogation of Alien Unlawful Combatants Held Outside the United States." It became known as the "Torture Memo" because it erased all legal restraints and authorized military interrogators to use extreme measures amounting to torture. It also gave the president "the fullest range of power....to protect the nation (and stated he) enjoys complete discretion in the exercise of his authority in conducting operations against hostile forces."

In December 2002, Donald Rumsfeld, as Defense Secretary, approved a menu of illegal interrogation techniques consisting of anything short of what would cause organ failure. He issued direct orders to military commanders to conduct them against "suspected terrorists," meaning anyone in their custody.

Under George Bush, torture was official policy. It remains so under Barack Obama in defiance of US and international laws that prohibit it under all circumstances, at all times, with no exceptions allowed ever. Under the Constitution's Article VI (the supremacy clause), international law is part of US law, and US presidents take an oath under Article II, Section 1, Clause 7 to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution." Article II, Section 3 requires the president to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully exercised."

The US Code's Title 18, Chapter 113C (2340) defines torture as follows:

-- any "act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering....upon another person within his custody or physical control;"

-- it includes "infliction or threatened infliction" of severe mental or physical pain and suffering, including use of "mind-altering substances;"

-- threatening "imminent death;" and/or

-- "the threat that another person" will be subjected to any or all of the above listed offenses.

Various US laws prohibit torture in any form for any purpose, including the 1994 Torture Statute and 1996 War Crimes Act. Numerous international laws do as well, including the:

-- (US 1994 ratified) Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;

-- four Geneva Conventions; the first two protect the sick and wounded in battle; the third defines who is a prisoner of war and establishes minimum treatment standards, and the fourth protects civilians and requires that they be treated humanely - not falsely called "unlawful enemy combatants" to get around the law, which doesn't apply anyway as all forms of torture and mistreatment are strictly banned.

The four conventions have a Common Article Three that prohibits all forms of "violence to life and person," including cruel abuse, torture, and all types of humiliating and degrading treatment among other provisions.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Established in 1863, it states its purpose as follows:

The ICRC "is an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims or war and internal violence and to provide them with assistance." It also strives "to prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles." It has a "legal mandate" to do so under the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

The ICRC report was labeled "confidential" and intended only for senior US officials. On February 14, 2007, it was sent to John Rizzo, the CIA's acting general counsel. Danner got hold of it, reported individual accounts in the The New York Review of Books, and stated:

"Because these stories were taken down confidentially in (detainee) interviews by (ICRC) professionals, and not intended for public consumption, they have an unusual claim to authenticity" - all the more so because all prisoners were isolated, yet corroborated each other's accounts.

On April 9, The New York Review of Books published the full report of what ICRC interviewers learned from visitations with 14 CIA-held "high value detainees" transferred to Guantanamo in September 2006. This article summarizes its findings and recommendations.

It's Titled: "ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen 'High Value Detainees' in CIA Custody"

The ICRC "consistently expressed its grave concern over the humanitarian consequences and legal implications of (America's practice) of holding persons in undisclosed detention in the context of the fight against terrorism."

Beginning in 2002, it made regular "written and oral" requests for information on them - to "various levels of the US Government" without response.

On September 6, 2006, George Bush publicly announced that 14 "high value" detainees were transferred to the Guantanamo-based, CIA-run High Value Detainee Program. Earlier they were at undisclosed locations. Prior to this announcement, ICRC had no knowledge of them or a CIA detention program - even though it requested information on 13 by name.

From October 6 - 11, 2006, ICRC met with all 14 in private for the first time, then again from December 4 - 14. This report described their arrests, transfers, incommunicado detention, and treatment in detail, initially and later on. It also explained their health care, the role of the medical staff, legal ramifications of secret incarcerations, other CIA detainees, and the "future use of the CIA detention program." The Defense Department got a separate report.

Main Elements of the CIA Detention Program

All 14 prisoners described harsh treatment, from the start, lasting for days or months, amounting to physical and psychological torture - "with the aim of obtaining compliance and extracting information." When considered in total and for their duration, the evidence is "all the more disturbing." In addition, all 14 accounts were consistent, adding to their credibility. By "ill-treatment," ICRC meant, singly or in combination, they "amounted to torture and/or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."

Arrest and Transfer

Listed by name, they were arrested in four different countries (Pakistan, Thailand, Dubai and Djibouti) between March 2002 and May 2005, reportedly by their police or security forces, sometimes in the presence of US agents. They were initially held by the arresting country, then transferred elsewhere (reportedly Afghanistan), then on to other nations. US and/or national authorities interrogated them, but America controlled the process. They were in up to 10 locations prior to Guantanamo.

Transfer procedure was as follows:

-- detainees were photographed clothed and naked prior to and after transfer;

-- body cavity checks were conducted;

-- in some cases suppositories were administered;

-- diapers and tracksuits were worn;

-- earphones were used through which loud music was sometimes played;

-- blindfolds and black goggles were applied and, in some cases, cotton was taped over their eyes; in one case, the head gear was so tight it caused wounds to the nose and ears;

-- hands and feet were shackled;

-- sitting positions were reclined with hands shackled in front;

-- trips lasted for one to 30 hours;

-- toilet visits were denied for their entirety so necessary urination and defecation were into diapers;

-- some transport placed detainees flat on the plane's floor with their hands cuffed behind their backs; it caused severe pain and discomfort; and

-- the entire experience was disorienting and created feelings of futility, isolation, and helplessness "making them more vulnerable" to the torture described.

Continuous Solitary Confinement and Incommunicado Detention

Throughout their incarceration (lasting 16 months to four and a half years), all 14 were in solitary confinement. "They had no knowledge of where they were (and had) no contact with persons other than their interrogators or guards." They had no legal or family contacts or access to news from outside, except for some later on. They were effectively disappeared.

Other Ill-Treatment Methods

It was especially harsh during the first few days or months and included:

-- waterboarding "suffocation by water poured over a cloth placed over the nose and mouth, alleged by three of the fourteen;"

-- prolonged stressed standing, naked, with arms extended and chained above their heads, alleged by 10 of the 14, continuously for two or three days, and intermittently up to three months;

-- beatings by use of a collar around their necks used to forcefully bang their heads and bodies against the wall, alleged by six of the 14;

-- beating, kicking, slapping, punching to the body and face, alleged by nine of the 14;

-- confinement in a severely restricting box, alleged by one detainee;

-- prolonged nudity from several weeks to several months, alleged by 11 of the 14;

-- sleep deprivation lasting days, alleged by 11 of the 14;

-- forced stress positions, standing or sitting, cold water, and use of repetitive loud noise or music, alleged by 11 or the 14;

-- exposure to cold temperature, in cells and interrogation rooms, alleged by most of the 14; three had cold water poured over their bodies;

-- prolonged shackling of hands and/or feet, alleged by most detainees;

-- threats of ill-treatment to them and their families, alleged by nine of the 14;

-- forced head and beards shaving, alleged by two of the 14;

-- deprivation and restrictions of solid food from 3 days to a month after arrest, alleged by eight of the 14; and

-- also deprived of access to open air, exercise, appropriate hygiene facilities, and other basic items as well as restricted Koran usage.

Suffocation by Water

Alleged by three of the 14, it was done as follows: they were strapped to a tilting bed with a cloth over their face, nose and mouth. Water was then continuously poured over the cloth, saturating it so they couldn't breathe to create the effect of suffocation, panic, and feeling they would die. At an appropriate point, the cloth was removed and bed rotated into a head-up, vertical position with the person left hanging by straps securing him to the bed. The procedure was repeated two or more times during interrogation and again in subsequent sessions.

Prolonged Stress Standing

Alleged by 10 of the 14, their wrists were shackled to a bar or hook in the ceiling above the head continuously for up to three days and intermittently for two to three months. They were naked throughout the process. Some were allowed to defecate in a bucket. Others at times wore a diaper, had to urinate and defecate in it, and not have it changed.

Detainees said the procedure caused their legs and ankles to swell. For the most part, they couldn't sleep, but when they did it let their full body weight be suspended, causing added pain to their arms and shoulders.

Beating by Use of A Collar

Alleged by six of the 14, a thick collar/neck roll was placed around their necks, then used to slam them against walls, often concrete. The process was done repeatedly during interrogation and in corridors en route to it.

Beating and Kicking

Alleged by nine of the 14, it involved body and face slapping, punching, kicking, and having their heads banged against solid objects, initially for days, and severe enough to cause bleeding and bruising. It continued for about 30 minutes, then repeated throughout the day and on subsequent days. The technique continued for up to three months.

Confinement in a Box

Alleged by one of the 14, it was specially designed to constrain movement. One was tall and narrow, another shorter, forcing him to crouch down. The stress on legs was very painful, and inside it was hard to breathe. The combination of sweat, pain, and friction from the slightest movement made it even more uncomfortable. The process was repeated for about a week in combination with other forms of torture.

Prolonged Nudity

Alleged by 11 of the 14, it continued for extended periods for up to several months intermittently, during interrogation and regular detention. Detainees said being allowed clothing depended on their degree of cooperation.

Sleep Deprivation and Use of Loud Music

Alleged by 11 of the 14, it was used during initial interrogation for seven continuous days, then intermittently for up to three months. It was done in various ways, including loud repetitive noise or music, long interrogation sessions, prolonged stress standing, and/or spraying with cold water.

Exposure to Cold Temperature and Cold Water

During their initial months, they were kept naked in extremely cold cells and interrogation rooms. Requests for clothing and blankets were denied. Cold water dousing was also used - with buckets or by a hose-pipe while they were in a stress standing position with their arms shackled above their heads for prolonged periods.

Prolonged Use of Handcuffs and Shackles

Detainees reported they were used continuously for long periods, even inside their cells, and in one case for six months.

Threats

Alleged by nine of the 14, they were against them and their families. They threatened waterboarding, electric shock, infection with HIV/AIDS, sodomy, arrest and rape of his family, torture to the point of death, and "no rules applied" interrogations.

Forced Head and Beard Shaving

Alleged by two of the 14, it was done abusively, and according to one, made to look undignified.

Deprivation/Restricted Provision of Solid Food

Alleged by eight of the 14, they got none for up to a month. After that, it was restricted, limited, and given as an incentive for cooperation. Items included rice and potatoes or bread and gravy.

Further Elements of Detention

Done to increase its harshness, they included continuous solitary confinement, incommunicado detention, no contact with family or third parties, and other above-listed elements. In combination, it made conditions intolerable.

Basic items were denied, including toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, towels, showers, toilets, toilet paper, clothes, underwear, blankets, and for up to three months mattresses. Things then provided depended on cooperation, but were removed to apply more pressure or for no reason at all. In addition, their prayer schedule and Korans were restricted or denied.

Conditions of Later Stage Detention

To some degree, they improved, depending again on cooperation. Also, after the initial interrogation stages, they got clean clothes on a weekly basis, solid food one to three times a day but of poor quality and in limited amounts. Some got English or their native language books and magazines.

After about eight months of detention, they got in-cell toilet facilities, washbasins, and showers weekly or more often. After several months to up to two and a half years, they could move from their cells to closed indoor areas to use exercise machines. Cell temperatures were also at proper temperatures, and in their final detention period prior to being transferred to Guantanamo, some could watch a weekly film and/or use a portable DVD. Although an improvement from earlier months, they still endured harsh confinement.

Health Provision and the Role of Medical Staff

Detainees said medical personnel:

-- monitored their regular torture and directly participated in the use of certain methods; they also instructed interrogators to continue, adjust, or at times stop particular procedures; they told detainees that treatment depended on their cooperation; condoning and participating in torture is a serious breach of medical ethics;

-- performed medical checks before and right after each transfer; and

-- treated the effects of torture as well as ailments and injuries during incarceration.

Legal Aspects in Relation to Undisclosed Detention

The report noted "a basic tenet of international law" - that "any person deprived of liberty must be registered and held in an officially recognized place of detention," not somewhere in secret. International humanitarian law has provisions for registering persons deprived of their liberty. It requires that organizations like ICRC get access and prohibits forced disappearances.

The 14 in question were denied these rights "outside the protection of the law during the time they spent in CIA custody." They had no access to judicial or administrative review, were denied contacts with their families, and had no idea why they were held or so badly treated. "The totality of the circumstances in which the fourteen were held effectively amounted to an arbitrary deprivation of liberty and enforced disappearance, in contravention of international law."
Their treatment was "severe and multifaceted," absent any "scrutiny by an independent entity, including the ICRC."

Fate of Other Persons Who Passed Through the CIA Detention Program

Post-9/11, many hundreds of them were victimized like the 14 here in question. Some were returned to their home countries "for prosecution or detention by their governments," according to George Bush. Washington provided ICRC no information about them so it's unable to monitor their treatment and "ensure communication with their families."

Given how the above 14 were treated, ICRC expressed grave concerns that many others were subjected to similar tortures and mistreatment.

Future Use of the CIA Detention Program

US authorities told ICRC that "no persons were held in the (program) as of October 2006." Such claims are false given that George Bush (in September 2006) said CIA detentions hadn't been discontinued and could be used at any time in the future.

The same holds under Obama. He pledged to protect CIA, military and Bush officials from investigation and prosecution as well as continue its foreign wars and occupation. The CIA's Director of Public Affairs, Mark Mansfield, told The New York Times that agency chief Leon Panetta said "repeatedly that no one who took actions based on legal guidance from the Department of Justice at the time should be investigated, let alone punished."

Now it's policy in Panetta's April 9 internal memo announcing the administration's blanket amnesty for all Bush officials torturers and war criminals. It's the same position Obama took on ABC's January 11 This Week that he intends "to look forward as opposed to looking backward....we have to focus on getting things right in the future (not) looking at what we got wrong in the past."

He assured continuity from one administration to the next, repeated violations of domestic and international laws, and torture remaining official US policy along with foreign wars, occupation, counterterrorism, and subversion with the largest ever FY 2010 defense budget to pursue them, way exceeding $1 trillion, and excluding extras, 78% more than for FY 2000 at a time America has no enemies.

Conclusion

The above 14 prisoners:

-- "were subjected to (numerous transfers to) unknown locations and continuous solitary confinement and incommunicado detention throughout" their entire captivity;

-- they were force disappeared and deprived of their liberty and rights "in contravention of international law;"

-- "they were subjected to systematic physical and/or psychological" torture and mistreatment;

-- they endured "severe physical and mental pain and suffering" as well as loss of their human dignity; and

-- participation of medical personnel in their treatment "constituted a gross breach of medical ethics" and lawlessness.

"In light of the above, the ICRC remains gravely concerned (for) the fate of" other CIA detainees, "who remain unaccounted for." It also worries that Washington intends to continue its current practices, in secret, with no accountability, or respect for the law.

It urged the Bush administration to reverse this decision and recommended the following:

-- end secret detentions and use of torture and mistreatment;

-- act humanely at all times in accordance with the law;

-- let detainees communicate with their families;

-- assure they have legal representation;

-- notify ICRC of all arrests;

-- grant it access to all persons held;

-- assure allegations of torture and mistreatment are properly investigated, and "take steps to punish the perpetrators;" and

-- provide all names of those held under CIA detention; if appropriate, the countries where they were sent, and "other relevant details to allow the ICRC to seek access to these persons."

The report's Annex I provided verbatim detainee statements as evidence of their gross mistreatment. Abu Zubaydah's was one of them. He's an alleged high-ranking Al-Queda member supposedly close to Osama bin Laden. Excerpts are as follows:

"I woke up, naked, strapped to a bed, in a very white room (about 4m x 4m). The room had three solid walls, with the fourth wall consisting of metal bars separating it from a larger room." After several days, "I was transferred to a chair where I was kept, shackled by hands and feet for what I think was the next 2 to 3 weeks....I developed blisters (under) my legs due to constant sitting."

A bucket was his toilet. Water for cleaning was from a plastic bottle. "I was given no solid food during the first two or three weeks." His liquid food at first made him vomit until he accustomed to it.

"The cell and room were air-conditioned and were very cold. Very loud, shouting type music was constantly playing....twenty-four hours a day," sometimes "replaced by a loud hissing or crackling noise." Guards, not interrogators, wore masks. "I could not sleep at all for the first two to three weeks (as) guards would come and spray water in my face" if I tried.

"After about two or three weeks, I began to receive food, rice (once daily). I could eat with my hand, but I was not allowed to wash....I remained naked and in shackles, but I could sleep a little. It went on like this for about another one and a half months."

He went on to describe torture and mistreatment of the kinds described above. Only later did conditions improve somewhat.

ICRC revelations heighten the need to hold Bush administration torturers (and war criminals) accountable and for Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint an independent special prosecutor to do it. Jameel Jaffer, ACLU National Security Project director called it an "imperative" and said: "Government officials who violated the law should not be shielded from investigation." It starts at the top, including George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, complicit White House officials, ones in the Justice Department, and all others criminally involved.

A Spanish court took the first step by initiating (torture charge) proceedings against Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, Douglas Feith, David Addington, Jay Bybee, and William Haynes. It's time for Obama to stop stonewalling and do it as well - against all parties guilty of torture and war crimes.

On April 7, The New York Times reported that "A three-judge panel of Peru's Supreme Court convicted former president Alberto Fujimori of human rights abuses and sentenced him to 25 years in prison" - on charges of murder, aggravated kidnapping, battery, and crimes against humanity. Should we in America expect less!

A Final Comment

On April 9, The New York Times Scott Shane headlined: "CIA to Close Secret Prisons, Scenes of Harsh Interrogations." He cites CIA claiming it'll "decommission the secret overseas prisons (infamous for their) brutal interrogation methods, bringing to a symbolic close the most controversial counterterrorism program of the Bush administration."

This announcement flies in the face of clear evidence that refutes it. In his confirmation hearings, new CIA director Leon Panetta told senators "extraordinary renditions" will continue, and no-holds barred interrogations remain policy for anyone and in any situations warranting them.

Despite Obama's pledge to end torture and close Guantanamo, conditions at the prison are unchanged. Further, Afghanistan's Bagram Air Base is undergoing a $60 million expansion to hold 1100 more prisoners, above the 600 now there. Also, other detainees are likely held at any number of the hundreds of US bases globally plus a fleet of at least 17 prison ships - out of sight, anywhere at sea, holding unnamed detainees, and subjecting them to the same harsh and brutal treatment.

Closing Guantanamo, Thai, Polish, and other offshore prisons means moving their detainees elsewhere, not ending the "war on terror" or ways chosen to pursue it. Nothing short of that is acceptable.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.



 


Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #104 on: April 15, 2009, 10:45:43 AM »
America, torture and hypocrisy 


15/04/2009 02:30:00 PM GMT
http://aljazeera.com/news/articles/39/America_torture_and_hypocrisy.html

 
 Given that history of U.S. officials sanctioning torture by allies, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that – post 9/11 – the Bush administration would authorize the barbarism directly.


By Robert Parry


(duckdaotsu.org) It shouldn’t come as a surprise that – post 9/11 – the Bush administration would authorize the barbarism directly.


The International Committee of the Red Cross’s torture report should be required reading for all Americans not just because its contents are shocking – which they are – but because it reveals that the United States is not the special nation that it often pretends to be, and won’t be as long as it chooses to look away from such crimes.

A sad lesson from 9/11 is that the United States, which has long lectured the rest of the world about human rights, is no different than any other place after some shocking attack on its national security.

Washington will sink to levels of paranoia and barbarism just as fast as others will, especially if its leadership already has those inclinations as it did under President George W. Bush.

Arguably, the only real differences between the United States and some other government that debases itself with torture and vengeance are that the US can inflict far more damage due to its unprecedented military power and that it is more prone to self-delusion from its sophisticated national PR.

The 41-page ICRC report, dated Feb.14, 2007, depicts scenes that could have come from the Middle Ages: naked prisoners forced to stand for long periods with their hands shackled over their heads or strapped to a bench while subjected to the drowning sensation of waterboarding or locked in tiny boxes as they scream and soil themselves.

The scenes reek of sadism, as if President Bush took some perverse pleasure in inflicting pain and humiliation on these people, much like an ancient king getting satisfaction in a grotesque punishment against someone who dared to challenge his authority. There was a similar sense of sick joy in the way Bush reacted to the hanging of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein on Dec. 30, 2006.

But what is perhaps most significant about Official Washington’s blasé attitude toward the disclosures about Bush’s hearty embrace of the dark side is that it is part of a pattern: the nation’s elites have long reacted to evidence of American complicity in torture and war crimes with a convenient blindness and a huge supply of double standards.

Though Bush and his inner circle may have crossed lines by directly involving the U.S. government in gross violations of international law, presidents of both parties have aided and abetted similar brutality when committed by American allies during the Cold War.

Nazi-like practices
Indeed, that record of extraordinary cruelty is the largely unwritten history of the Cold War, the U.S. government letting its fear of international communism lead to both tolerance and encouragement of Nazi-like practices: torture, assassination, mass slaughters and political repression.

Even after the Cold War ended, the United States refused to examine this ugly history in any systematic way. Though Democrat Bill Clinton was the first President elected after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he ignored calls for serious examinations of that historical era – until late in his presidency when he did declassify some documents relating to US policy in Guatemala.

Then, after a Guatemalan truth commission based its investigation partly on the declassified U.S. record, Clinton issued an apology to the people of Guatemala for Washington's role in decades of atrocities that killed an estimated 200,000 people, including what was deemed genocide against Mayan Indians in the country’s highlands during the Reagan administration.

While the Guatemalan records are starkly illustrative of how successive U.S. administrations enabled torture and mass murder, it represents only a sliver of the sordid Cold War history, with similar policies replicated in countries around the world for nearly half a century.

This wasn’t just coincidence, either. Other information that surfaced during the Clinton administration revealed that the U.S. military pulled together the lessons from brutal counterinsurgency warfare in the 1950s and early 1960s into a series of training manuals for Third World militaries.

The U.S. intelligence community began compiling those lessons in 1965 by commissioning what became known as “Project X.”

Based at the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School at Fort Holabird, Maryland, the project was tasked with the development of lesson plans which would "provide intelligence training to friendly foreign countries," according to a brief history, which was prepared in 1991.


Called "a guide for the conduct of clandestine operations," Project X "was first used by the U.S. Intelligence School on Okinawa to train Vietnamese and, presumably, other foreign nationals," the history stated.


Linda Matthews of the Pentagon's Counterintelligence Division recalled that in 1967-68, some of the Project X training material was prepared by officers connected to the so-called Phoenix program in Vietnam, an operation that involved targeting, interrogating and assassinating suspected Viet Cong.

"She suggested the possibility that some offending material from the Phoenix program may have found its way into the Project X materials at that time," according to the Pentagon report.


In the 1970s, the U.S.Army Intelligence Center and School moved to Fort Huachuca in Arizona and began exporting Project X material to U.S. military assistance groups working with "friendly foreign countries." By the mid-1970s, the Project X material was going to military forces all over the world.

‘School of assassins’

In 1982, the Pentagon's Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence ordered the Fort Huachuca center to supply lesson plans to the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, which human rights activists denounced as the School of the Assassins because it trained some of Latin America’s most notorious military officers.

"The working group decided to use Project X material because it had previously been cleared for foreign disclosure," the Pentagon history stated.


According to surviving documents released under a Freedom of Information Act request, the Project X lessons contained a full range of intelligence activities. A 1972 listing of Project X lesson plans covered aerial surveillance, electronic eavesdropping, interrogation, counter-sabotage measures, counter-intelligence, handling of informants, break-ins and censorship.


One manual warned that insurgents might even "resort to subversion of the government by means of elections [in which] insurgent leaders participate in political contests as candidates for government office."

Citizens were put on "'black, gray or white lists' for the purpose of identifying and prioritizing adversary targets." The lessons suggested creation of inventories of families and their assets to keep tabs on the population.

The internal U.S. government review of Project X began in 1991 when the Pentagon discovered that the Spanish-language manuals were advising Latin American trainees on assassinations, torture and other "objectionable" counter-insurgency techniques.

The manuals suggested coercive methods for recruiting counter-intelligence operatives, including arresting the target's parents or beating him until he agreed to infiltrate a guerrilla organization. To undermine guerrilla forces, the training manuals countenanced "executions" and operations "to eliminate a potential rival among the guerrillas."


By summer 1991, the investigation of Project X was raising concerns about an adverse public reaction to evidence that the US government had long sanctioned – and even encouraged – brutal methods of repression.

But the PR problem was contained when the office of then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney ordered that all relevant Project X material be collected and brought to the Pentagon under a recommendation that most of it be destroyed.

The recommendation received approval from senior Pentagon officials, presumably with Cheney’s blessings. Some of the more innocuous Project X lesson plans – and the historical summary – were spared, but the Project X manuals that dealt with the sensitive human rights violations were destroyed in 1992, the Pentagon reported. [For details, see Robert Parry’s Lost History.]

Glorifying reagan
Even more historically significant than eliminating most Project X records was the successful Republican campaign in the mid-1990s to glorify the presidency of Ronald Reagan, which included putting his name on Washington National Airport and transforming him into an iconic figure beyond normal criticism.

In reality, Reagan was the pleasant face put on a long record of US tolerance for the most grotesque actions by pro-US dictators and right-wing terrorists around the world.

In 1980, Reagan’s election was greeted with unalloyed joy by Third World oligarchs and tyrants, tired of Jimmy Carter’s nagging about human rights. Their optimism was not misplaced. For years, Reagan had been a staunch defender of right-wing regimes engaged in bloody counterinsurgency campaigns against leftist enemies.

In the late 1970s, when Carter's human rights coordinator, Pat Derian, criticized the Argentine military for its "dirty war" -- tens of thousands of "disappearances," tortures and murders -- then-political commentator Reagan joshed that Derian should "walk a mile in the moccasins” of the Argentine generals before criticizing them. [See Martin Edwin Andersen's Dossier Secreto.]

Despite his aw shucks style, Reagan found virtually every anticommunist action justified, no matter how brutal.

From his eight years in the White House, there is no historical indication that he was troubled by the bloodbath, torture and even genocide that occurred in Central America during his presidency, while he was shipping hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to the implicated forces.

The death toll was staggering – an estimated 70,000 or more political killings in El Salvador, possibly 20,000 slain from the Reagan-organized contra war in Nicaragua, about 200 political "disappearances" in Honduras and some 100,000 people eliminated during a resurgence of political violence in Guatemala. Many victims suffered rape and torture before their deaths.

Yet, even as the world community has sought to punish war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and now Sudan, no substantive discussion has occurred in the United States about facing up to Reagan’s horrendous record of the 1980s – or holding accountable implicated US officials or the pro-U.S. killers and torturers in Central America and elsewhere.

Some of those U.S. officials, such as former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams and former Ambassador to Honduras John Negroponte, returned to key national security jobs under George W. Bush. Dick Cheney was back, too, as Vice President.

A troubling record
So, given that history of U.S. officials sanctioning torture and murder by allies and encountering no accountability, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that – post 9/11 – the Bush administration would take the next step and authorize the barbarism directly.

Still, that troubling reality had to be kept under wraps to maintain the fiction that “the United States doesn’t torture.” Which explains why President Bush flew into such a rage – and expressed such personal disgust – when the photographs of the Abu Ghraib abuses in Iraq were leaked.

But Bush couldn’t have been outraged by the forced nudity and the humiliation inflicted on the Abu Ghraib prisoners, since he had been authorizing similar tactics at secret CIA prisons and at Guantanamo Bay. Still, he made a lesson out of the low-ranking prison guards by court-martialing those foolish enough to let photographs of the abuses reach the public.

There is also evidence that President Bush authorized “death squad” tactics in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the globe. Linking those sanctioned executions to the atrocities of the 1980s in Central America was the description from some Bush administration officials that they were planning a “Salvador option” in Iraq. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Bush’s Death Squads.”]

In 2007, military criminal cases surfaced in which elite American snipers and Special Forces units defended themselves against murder charges by citing loose rules of engagement, which let them execute unarmed suspects who were on an authorized death list. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Bush’s Global Dirty War.”]

Despite all this old and new evidence of Bush’s war crimes, the smart money in Washington is still betting that the Obama administration – like the Clinton administration 16 years ago – will take the easy route and opt to look forward, not backward.

Only an outraged populace – Americans who believe that their country should live up to the high standards that it demands of others – could force the politicians to finally take seriously the need for accountability in the face of war crimes and to prosecute those responsible for the worst offenses, however high their rank.

That wouldn’t make the United States all that special – other countries have faced up to dark chapters of their own history, most recently Peru in convicting ex-President Alberto Fujimori on April 7 for his role in a political death squad.

But the prosecution of George W. Bush’s war crimes would show that America is a land of integrity that means what it says about human rights, not just a place for self-congratulatory hypocrisy.

-- 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 neckdeepbook.com. 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 Amazon.com.



-- Middle East Online

 

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #105 on: April 15, 2009, 11:17:58 AM »
Horrors of KLA prison camps revealed

Michael Montgomery, BBC
http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m53405&hd=&size=1&l=e


April 13, 2009

The man spoke plainly as he explained the horrors he lived through in a Kosovo Liberation Army prison camp 10 years ago. He told me about how he watched people beaten with steel pipes, cut with knives, left for days without food, and shot and killed.


Civilians were detained by the KLA and kept in prisons where some were killed

"What can you feel when you see those things?" he said. "It's something that is stuck in my mind for the rest of my life. You cannot do those things to people, not even to animals."

As the man talked, his mother paced nervously in the nearby kitchen. She was panicked and tears were streaming down her face.

"They'll kill him, they'll kill him," she moaned, clutching one of her grandchildren.

But her son persisted. We spent hours in the family's sitting room as our source detailed allegations of possible war crimes by KLA officers in a military camp in the Albanian border town of Kukes.

It was a crucial interview for a delicate story I have been investigating for years.

Mystery of the missing

Soon after the war ended in Kosovo, I started looking into the thousands of civilians who disappeared during and after the conflict. Many Albanian victims were dumped in wells or transported to mass graves as far away as Belgrade.




 LISTEN TO THE FULL REPORT
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7993660.stm
 
But others - mainly Serbs - simply vanished without a trace. There were no demands for ransom, no news of any kind.

I had met sources who spoke vaguely about secret camps in Albania where Kosovo Serbs, Albanians and Roma were interrogated, tortured and in most cases killed.

I met another source who agreed to share important details about KLA prison camps. This man cut a very different profile.

He had returned from a successful career abroad to join the KLA in its fight for Kosovo's independence from Serbia.

The man was still proud of the goals he fought for, but he had become haunted by the treatment of civilians he had seen at a KLA prison camp. More than that, he said he felt angry and betrayed by KLA commanders who tolerated and even ordered the abuses.

"It didn't seem strange at the time," he told me as he described seeing desperate civilians locked in a filthy agricultural shed.


  Now, looking back, I know that some of the things that were done to innocent civilians were wrong .
Former KLA Fighter



He said the civilians were Serbs and Roma seized by KLA soldiers and were being hidden away from Nato troops. The source believes the captives were sent across the border to Albania and killed.

"Now, looking back, I know that some of the things that were done to innocent civilians were wrong. But the people who did these things act as if nothing happened, and continue to hurt their own people, Albanians."

This man was one of eight former KLA fighters who revealed some of their darkest secrets from the war.

A soldier's story

Yet another source spoke of driving trucks packed with shackled prisoners - mainly Serbian civilians from Kosovo - to secret locations in Albania where they were eventually killed.

He recalled hearing two of the captives begging to be shot rather than tortured and "cut into pieces".

"I was sick. I was just waiting for it to end," the source told me. "It was hard. I thought we were fighting a war [of liberation] but this was something completely different."


A long silence over the atrocities has held strong throughout Kosovo

It has taken these men 10 years to speak to an outsider about the dark side of the war. They were breaking a code of silence that has held strong in Kosovo.

Very few Kosovo Albanians have publicly revealed crimes committed by their own side. And for good reason. Witnesses who have agreed to provide testimony for prosecutions of KLA commanders have faced intimidation and death threats.

Some have been killed, according to United Nations officials in Kosovo.

There is another reason. All the men we spoke with insisted they were Kosovan patriots and would take up arms again to defend the country's independence.

But that is precisely the point: independence - of a sort - arrived for Kosovo last year. Their wartime goal has been attained.

As one of the former KLA fighters told me: "Now is the time to be honest to ourselves and build a real state."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Crossing Continents: Kosovo was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Thursday, 9 April 2009 at 1100 BST and repeated on Monday, 13 April at 2030 BST.

You can also listen to Crossing Continents on the BBC iPlayer or subscribe to the podcast .

 


Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #106 on: April 16, 2009, 10:43:30 AM »
Video: New Guantanamo abuse claim

AlJazeeraEnglish

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m53459&hd=&size=1&l=e



April 15, 2009

A detainee at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay is claiming that tear gas was used on him and he was beaten by guards.

In a phone call to Al Jazeera, Mohammad al-Qurani said the abuse continued this year, after Barack Obama, the US president, took power and promised to end abuse at the jail.

Al Jazeera's Monica Villamizar reports.

 
New Guantanamo abuse claim 14 Apr 09

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&hl=en&v=53Ysu30pjMA&gl=US&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.uruknet.info%2F%3Fp%3Dm53459%26hd%3D%26size%3D1%26l%3De



Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #107 on: April 16, 2009, 11:32:59 AM »
Why Are Robert Gibbs and the White House Press Corps Laughing About a Torture Investigation?

The White House press briefing is often a laughable exercise. But that doesn't mean reporters should let crucial topics be mocked and trivialized.

By Liliana Segura, AlterNet
Posted on April 15, 2009, Printed on April 16, 2009
http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/www.alternet.org/136765/




There was a time during the Bush years when I was addicted to the White House press briefing. Not watching it, but reading the transcript. There was something sort of awe-inspiring about the back-and-forth, the inane dialogue of the whole artificial process, in which Scott McClellan (though never the pugnacious asshole Ari Fleischer was) would respond to reporters with answers that were so baldly dishonest, they did not even need to be shrewd. It was as if there were a common understanding: "I am bullshitting you, and you will accept it." And for the most part, they did. Some reporters would appear obviously frustrated in their attempts to follow-up. But others just seemed genuinely glad to be there. (How long did you say the president's bike ride with Lance Armstrong would be again? Right on.)


McClellan of course, went on to write a book attacking the administration on whose behalf he so dutifully lied. But that's another story.



White House press secretaries have always been bullshit artists, of course, and the press room is their stage. As Matthey Yglesias pointed out earlier last year, "Reporters ask questions that they know perfectly well won't be answered, and then the press secretary does his best to dodge him. Nine days out of ten, the result is a not-very-amusing spectacle for mid-day C-SPAN viewers. If the world is lucky, the Press Secretary commits some kind of gaffe. But nothing real is ever learned."


Which brings me to Robert Gibbs. As communications director for Barack Obama during the election, Gibbs no doubt did a masterful job responding to many of the ugly smears against the then-candidate. But today, when he stands before the White House press corps -- a group of people who obviously find him an affable fellow -- it feels more and more like he's insulting our intelligence.


Take the issue of torture and accountability for Bush's crimes. Yesterday, Mother Jones Washington editor David Corn asked Gibbs whether the Obama administration would cooperate with the Spanish court that is bringing forward an investigation against former Bush officials for their role in making illegal torture a policy of the U.S. government. As Corn wrote later, "He had a predictable response: 'I don't want to get involved in hypotheticals.' He quickly pivoted to point out that Obama has moved to prohibit torture at Gitmo and elsewhere."



I posed a follow-up: Have you spoken to the Spanish government about this case? He seized on my use of the word "you" and, with a broad smile, said, "I have not spoken with the Spanish." Reporters in the room laughed. I obviously did not mean him personally; the "you" had referred to the Obama administration ... The point was whether the administration had been in contact with the Spanish government about the Bush Six investigation. "The Justice Department?" I asked. Gibbs, though, essentially brushed off the question: "I would send you to Justice. Like I said, I've not spoken" to the Spanish government.
... Often White House press secretaries say, take your query elsewhere. Yet moments later, when a reporter asked Gibbs if Obama had any reaction to the conservative groups organizing "tea parties" of protest on tax day, he replied, "I've never monitored them nor spoken with the Spanish about them." People in the room laughed. And when the questioning in the room turned to the all-important subject of the Obama's new Portuguese water dog, Gibbs continued the joke. Noting that the dog might be spotted on the White House lawn later in the day or that it might not, he added that "the dog has also not talked to the Spanish about impending torture cases." More laughter. But I wondered, had the press secretary just made a joke about a torture investigation?


So maybe the mood of the White House press briefing under Obama is not as confrontational as it (sometimes) was under Bush. And maybe Gibbs is an all around nice guy. But the smug laughter in the room yesterday is a reminder of how happily and shamelessly Beltway reporters cozy up to power, and what gets lost in the process.


Thankfully, then there's Helen Thomas. Yesterday the veteran White House reporter asked Gibbs point blank: "Why is the President blocking habeas corpus from prisoners at Bagram? I thought he taught constitutional law."


Gibbs piped up -- "You're incorrect that he taught on constitutional law" -- and then vaguely referred to "several issues relating to that that have to do differently than in some places than others," Referring to Bagram's prisoners as in an "active theater of war," he then said that "we want to ensure protection and security of the American people."


That particular platitude was old in the first Bush term. So is Gibbs's contention that "the President has taken strong and swift actions to ensure that whatever actions were either permissible or carried out previously are no longer the policy of this government and will no longer be undertaken by this government."


"I think that is important for people to hear throughout the world," Gibbs said. But that's the point. People have heard the promises. They just haven't seen much else.



For more, see David Swanson's take on yesterday's briefing.:
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/41709


Liliana Segura is a staff writer and editor of AlterNet's Rights and Liberties and War on Iraq Special Coverage.

© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/www.alternet.org/136765/

Offline Angry Patriot

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #108 on: April 16, 2009, 03:49:24 PM »

Spain, Chapman University Debaters Are Out to Get John Yoo
Wednesday, Apr. 15 2009 @ 12:29PM
By Matt Coker in A Clockwork Orange, Crime & Sex
John-Yoo.jpg
So the big question when John Yoo speaks at Chapman University next week about presidential power is: Will he be shackled? Probably not, seeing as how this is not Spain, but were Orange within the Iberian Peninsula nation and NATO ally, he'd be under criminal indictment for sanctioning torture at Guantánamo.

The Fletcher Jones Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law's presence at Chapman certainly has sparked debate, and not just the one he's participating in Tuesday morning.

The National Lawyers Guild hosts a teach-in titled "National Security and Torture: Human Rights, Rule of Law, and War Crimes; The Torture Memos of John Yoo" from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in Chapman University School of Law's Kennedy Hall, Room 237. Panelists include Oil, Power and Empire author Larry Everest and Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute president Ann Fagan Ginger. For more information, email Shirly Peng.

Yoo, a professor at UC Berkeley's School of Law at Boalt Hall, will be alongside John C. Eastman, dean and Donald P. Kennedy Chair in Law at Chapman's School of Law, debating Chapman law professors Katherine Darmer and Larry Rosenthal on "Presidential Power and Success in Times of Crisis." The fun begins at 11 a.m. in the big room, Memorial Hall, but you need tickets available through Chapman's ticket office or by calling (714) 997-6812.

Yoo is among "The Bush Six" targeted in Spain's criminal investigation, the others being: former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; Federal Appeals Court Judge and former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee; former Defense Department general counsel and current Chevron lawyer William J. Haynes II; Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff David Addington; and former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith.

Prosecutors accuse The Bush Six of having given the green light to the torture and mistreatment of prisoners held in U.S. detention in "the war on terror," in the context of a pending proceeding before the Spanish court involving terrorism charges against five Spaniards formerly held at Guantánamo.

"The Bush Six labored at length to create a legal black hole in which they could implement their policies safe from the scrutiny of American courts and the American media," writes Scott Horton, a law professor and legal affairs writer for Harper's, The American Lawyer and other publications, on his blog, The Daily Beast. "Perhaps they achieved much of their objective, but the law of unintended consequences has kicked in. If U.S. courts and prosecutors will not address the matter because of a lack of jurisdiction, foreign courts appear only too happy to step in."
"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 #109 on: April 16, 2009, 08:58:44 PM »

More Join Chapman U's Debate on John Yoo Torture Memos
Thursday, Apr. 16 2009 @ 12:37PM
By Matt Coker in A Clockwork Orange, Apples and Oranges, Main

Clockwork informed you yesterday about controversial law professor John Yoo being at the center of two upcoming Chapman University School of Law debates, one he is participating in and another that he is not participating in.

When it comes to Saturday's "Forum on National Security, Rule of Law & Torture: The Torture Memos of John Yoo," which the National Lawyers Guild hosts from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Kennedy Hall, Rooms 237 A&B, we'd noted the speakers Include Larry Everest, author of Oil, Power & Empire, and Ann Fagan Ginger, president of Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations' Los Angeles office informs others have joined the debate. For one, there's CAIR-LA's staff attorney, Ameena Qazi. Also scheduled to be on the panel are Tim Goodrich of Iraq Veterans Against the War and Chapman University law professor Katherine Darmer. Emceeing will be Michael Slate, who hosts KPFK's Tuesday edition of Beneath the Surface. (Email here or call 949-257-8501 for more information.)

Of course, it will be a decidedly different crowd in the Orange campus' Memorial Hall 11 a.m. Tuesday, when Yoo, a visiting professor to Chapman from UC Berkeley's School of Law at Boalt Hall, and John C. Eastman, dean and Donald P. Kennedy Chair in Law at Chapman's School of Law, debate Darmer and fellow Chapman law professor Larry Rosenthal on "Presidential Power and Success in Times of Crisis." (Tickets available through Chapman's ticket office or by calling 714-997-6812.)

http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/a-clockwork-orange/more-join-chapman-us-debate-on/
"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 #110 on: April 17, 2009, 09:37:54 AM »
Friday, April 17, 2009
09:14 Mecca time, 06:14 GMT   
News Americas 
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2009/04/200941619836194757.html


 
No charges over CIA waterboarding

 
 
Simulation of waterboarding technique that US officials have now called torture [AP]
 

 
Barack Obama has said that intelligence officials who used waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques on so-called terrorism suspects will not be prosecuted for their actions.

The US president issued the statement before the release of several memos dating from the Bush administration era which authorised the harsh interrogation of detainees by CIA employees.

"It is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the department of justice that they will not be subject to prosecution," he said in Thursday's statement.

"We must protect their identities as vigilantly as they protect our security and we must provide them with the confidence that they can do their jobs."

The documents include justice department memos from 2002 and 2005 approving the CIA's use of interrogation techniques including "waterboarding" which simulates the sensation of drowning.

The memos document in detail techniques lawyers believed would not break laws against torture.


In depth :
 
Video: Fresh claims of abuse at Guantanamo prison camp:
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2009/04/20094152492399891.html

Video: Al Hajj on Guantanamo abuse:
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia-pacific/2009/04/200941515657595129.html

Video: Armitage attacks use of torture in prison camp:
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2009/04/200941612853952904.html

Fault Lines on Obama's take on the 'war on terror' :
http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/faultlines/2009/04/20094119053680208.html
 

 
As well as waterboarding, the memos describe the repeated slamming of a prisoner's head against a padded wall, face-slapping and sleep deprivation.

Withholding food, forcing prisoners to stand in uncomfortable positions for long periods, confinement in a cramped box and putting insects into the box with a prisoner who had a strong fear of insects were also authorised by the documents.

A US federal judge ordered the release of the memos following a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, but the CIA reportedly wanted sensitive information on the memos to be withheld.

Diane Feinstein, the chair of the senate intelligence committee, said the memos showed the Office of Legal Counsel had "inaccurately interpreted Article III of the Geneva Conventions, the Convention Against Torture, and US law".

"Waterboarding and slamming detainees head-first into walls, as described in the OLC opinions, clearly fall outside what is legally permissible," Feinstein said in a statement.

Prosecution 'unfair'

Eric Holder, the US attorney-general, said in a statement that the Obama administration had "made clear from day one" that it did not condone torture.

Related
Full text of released memos :
http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/olc_memos.html
 
"We are disclosing these memos consistent with our commitment to the rule of law," he said.

But he added: "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."

The CIA has admitted using waterboarding on three detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US.

'Torture' controversy

The harsh interrogation methods have been criticised by rights groups as torture, and both Holder himself and Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, have said they consider waterboarding to be torture.


Obama said intelligence agents had carried out waterboarding 'in good faith' [AFP]


Panetta told the US congress last week that the secret sites where CIA prisoners were waterboarded and interrogated by other harsh means were to be closed.

However, he said he had no intention of prosecuting any CIA employees for their role in a secret programme that was deemed legal at the time.

In an interview with Al Jazeera's Fault Lines programme, Richard Armitage, a former deputy secretary of state under George Bush, Obama's predecessor, said he hoped he would have resigned had he known that detainees were being waterboarded.

"Torture is a matter of principle as far as I'm concerned. I hope, had I known about it at the time I was serving, I would've had the courage to resign," he said.

Shortly after taking office, Obama ordered the Guantanamo prison camp closed within a year and also signed an order instructing the CIA to abide by rules set out in the US army field manual, saying the US will never again condone torture.

The release of the memos comes as US media reported on Thursday that the US National Security Agency had overstepped its remit in spying on US citizens in recent months.
 
 Source: Al Jazeera and agencies 
 
 

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #111 on: April 17, 2009, 09:42:43 AM »
New Bush Torture Bombshell Memos: 10 Horrifying Discoveries


Slamming prisoners into walls, locking them in boxes with insects; these memos are the smoking gun for the sadistic crimes of the Bush administration.


By Liliana Segura, AlterNet
Posted on April 17, 2009, Printed on April 17, 2009
http://www.alternet.org/story/137093/

The Obama administration has finally released four long-awaited legal memos used by the Bush administration to design its torture program -- and although their existence,  like U.S. torture itself, has been an open secret for years, the memos are nonetheless shocking.

Written in a dispassionate legal tone, the documents contain the professional opinion of Office of Legal Council attorneys Jay Bybee and Steven Bradbury as they assessed the CIA's "harsh interrogation techniques" between 2002 and 2005. Each method is described in sadistic detail, and each would surely be heinous if experienced on its own. But, as pointed out in the famous "Bybee" memo, dated August 1, 2002 -- the "interrogation team planned to use these techniques "in some sort of escalating fashion, culminating with the waterboard, though not necessarily ending with this technique."

The torture memos are available on the ACLU website:
http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/olc_memos.html
 But if you can't bring yourself to read them, below are ten disturbing excerpts that provide a hideous glimpse of what was done in the name of Americans in the so-called "war on terror." As you read them, keep in mind that the Obama administration has already announced that it will not seek charges against the people who carried out the actions they describe. "In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution," Obama said in a statement.

"This is a time for reflection, not retribution. ... We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history. But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past."

Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement, too. "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," he said.

Which was exactly what the Bush administration intended.
 


1. Walling (Bybee memo, August 1, 2002)

"A flexible false wall will be constructed. The individual is placed with his heels touching the wall: The interrogator pulls the individual forward and then quickly and firmly pushes the individual into the wall. It is the individual's shoulder blades that hit the wall. During this motion, the head and neck are supported with a rolled hood or towel that provides a c-collar effect to help prevent whiplash …

"You have orally informed us that the false wall is in part constructed to create a loud sound when the individual hits it, which will further shock or surprise the individual. In part, the idea is to create a sound that will make the impact seem far worse than it is and that will be far worse than any injury that might result from the action."

2. The Facial (or Insult) Slap (Bybee memo, August 1, 2002)

"With the facial slap or insult slap, the interrogator slaps the individual's face with fingers slightly spread. The hand makes contact with the area directly between the tip of the individual's chin and the bottom of the corresponding earlobe. The interrogator invades the individual's personal space. The goal of the facial slap is not to inflict physical pain that is severe or lasting. Instead, the purpose of the facial slap is to induce shock, surprise, and/or humiliation …"

3. Cramped Confinement & insects Placed In a Confinement Box (Bybee memo, August 1, 2002)

"You would like to place (Abu) Zubaydah in a cramped confinement box with an insect. You have informed us that he appears to have a fear of insects. In particular, you would like to tell Zubaydah that you intend to place a stinging insect into the box with him. You would however, place a harmless insect in the box. You have orally informed us that you would in fact place a harmless insect such as a caterpillar in the box with him...

"Focusing in part on the fact that the boxes will be without light, placement in these boxes would constitute a procedure designed to disrupt profoundly the senses...

"With respect to the small confinement box, you have informed us that he would spend at most two hours in this box ... For the larger box, in which he can both stand and sit, he may be placed in this box for up to eighteen hours at a time ..."


4. Dietary Manipulation (Bradbury memo, May 10, 2005)

"This technique involves the substitution of commercial liquid meal replacements for normal food, presenting detainees with a bland, unappetizing, but nutritionally complete diet. You have informed us that the CIA believes dietary manipulation makes other techniques, such as sleep deprivation, more effective.

"Medical officers are required to ensure adequate fluid and nutritional intake, and frequent medial monitoring takes place while any detainee is undergoing dietary manipulation."

5. Nudity (Bradury memo, May 10, 2005)

"This technique is used to cause psychological discomfort, particularly if a detainee, for cultural or other reasons, is especially modest. When the technique is employed, clothing can be provided as an instant reward for cooperation. During and between interrogation sessions, a detainee may be kept nude, provided that ambient temperatures and the health of the detainee permit.

"... 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 … we will assume that detainees subjected to nudity as an interrogation technique are aware that they may be seen naked by females."

6. Abdominal Slap (Bradbury memo, May 10, 2005)

"In this technique, the interrogator strikes the abdomen of the detainee with the back of his open hand. The interrogator must have no rings or other jewelry on his hand. The interrogator is positioned directly in front of the detainee, generally no more than than 18 inches from the detainees. With his fingers held tightly together and fully extended, and with his palm toward the interrogator's own body, using his elbow as a fixed pivot point, the interrogator slaps the detainee in the detainee's abdomen. The interrogator may not use a fist, and the slap must be delivered above the navel and below the sternum. This technique is used to condition a detainee to pay attention tot the interrogator's questions and to dislodge expectations that the detainee will not be touched."

7. Water Dousing and "Flicking" (Bradbury memo, May 10, 2005)

"Cold water is poured on the detainee either from a container or from a hose without a nozzle. This technique is intended to weaken the detainee's resistance and persuade him to cooperate with interrogators. … A medical officer must observe and monitor the detainee throughout application of this technique, including for signs of hypothermia.

"… You have also described a variation of water dousing involving much smaller quantities of water; this variation is known as 'flicking.' Flicking of water is achieved by the interrogator wetting his fingers and then flicking them at the detainee, propelling droplets at the detainee. Flicking of water is done 'in an effort to create a distracting effect, to awaken, to startle, to irritate, to instill humiliation, or to cause temporary insult … Although water may be flicked into the detainee's face with this variation, the flicking of water at all times is done in such a manner as to avoid the inhalation or ingestion of water by the detainee."

8. Sleep Deprivation (more than 48 hours) (Bradbury memo, May 10, 2005)

"The primary method of sleep deprivation involves the use of shackling to keep the detainee awake. In this method, the detainee is standing and is handcuffed, and the handcuffs are attached by a length of chain to the ceiling. The detainee's hands are shackled in front of his body, so that the detainee has approximately a two- to three-foot diameter of movement. The detainee's feet are shackled to a bolt in the floor.

"… In lieu of standing sleep deprivation, a detainee may instead be seated on and shackled to a small stool. The stool supports the detainee's weight, but is too small to permit the subject to balance himself sufficiently to go to sleep…

"… We understand that a detainee undergoing sleep deprivation is generally fed by hand by CIA personnel so that he need not be unshackled…

"If the detainee is clothed, he wears an adult diaper under his pants … If the detainee is wearing a diaper, it is checked regularly and changed as necessary. 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.

"The maximum allowable duration for sleep deprivation authorized by the CIA is 180 hours ... You have informed us that to date, more than a dozen detainees have been subjected to sleep deprivation of more than 48 hours, and three detainees have been subjected to sleep deprivation of more than 96 hours."

9. Combination of Techniques (Bradbury memo, May 10, 2005)

"Your office has outlined the manner in which many of the individual techniques we previously considered could be combined …

"In a prototypical interrogation, the detainee begins his first interrogation session stripped of his clothes, shackled, and hooded, with the walling collar over his head and around his neck. … The interrogators remove the hood and explain that the detainee can improve his situation by cooperating and may say that the interrogators 'will do what it takes to get important information.' As soon as the detainee does anything inconsistent with the interrogators' instructions, the interrogators use an insult slap or abdominal slap. They employ walling if it becomes clear that the detainee is not cooperating in the interrogation. This sequence 'may continue for several more iterations as the interrogators continue to measure the [detainee's] resistance posture and apply a negative consequence to [his] resistance efforts.' The interrogators and security officers then put the detainee into position for standing sleep deprivation, begin dietary manipulation through a liquid diet, and keep the detainee nude (except for a diaper). The first interrogation session, which could have lasted from 30 minutes to several ours, would then be at an end.

"If the interrogation team determines there is a need to continue, and if the medical and psychological personnel advise that there are no contraindications, a second session may begin."

10. Waterboarding (Bybee memo, August 1, 2002)


"Finally, you would like to use a technique called the 'waterboard.' In this procedure, the individual is bound securely to an inclined bench, which is approximately four feet by seven feet. The individual's feet are generally elevated. A cloth is placed over the forehead and eyes. Water is then applied to the cloth in a controlled manner. As this is done, the cloth is lowered until it covers both the nose and mouth. Once the cloth is saturated and completely covers the mouth and nose, air flow is slightly restricted for 20 to 40 seconds due to the presence of the cloth. This causes an increase in carbon dioxide level in the individual's blood. This increase in the carbon dioxide level stimulates increased effort to breathe. This effort plus the cloth produces the perception of "suffocation and incipient panic," i.e., the perception of drowning...

"We find that the use of the waterboard constitutes a threat of imminent death. As you have explained the waterboard procedure to us, it creates in the subject the uncontrollable physiological sensation that the subject is drowning ...

"Although the waterboard constitutes a threat of imminent death, prolonged mental harm must nonetheless result to violate the statuatory prohibition on infliction of severe mental pain or suffering ... you have advised us that the relied is almost immediate when the cloth is removed from the nose and mouth. In the absence of prolonged mental harm, no severe mental pain or suffering would have been inflicted, and the use of these procedures would not constitute torture."



© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/137093/

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #112 on: April 17, 2009, 10:48:46 AM »
Tortured Logic: Obama Writes Off Old Crimes While Promoting New Outrages

Chris Floyd
http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m53484&hd=&size=1&l=e



April 16, 2009

I have little to say at the moment on details of the Bush torture memos released by the Obama Administration, beyond what I have been saying for many years now about these sickening practices, and what they say about America's bipartisan, imperial elite, which countenanced them, and often openly championed them. (I think my first piece on America's torture system was written in early spring 2002 -- a column printed in the Moscow Times, drawn from readily available stories in the mainstream press. America's willing practice of torture as an official policy has been open knowledge for almost the entire decade. But I will admit the bit about using putting insects into the torture box of a wounded, deranged captive was new.)

Barack Obama is being given great credit for releasing the memos, although as the president himself points out in his statement, their release was actually required by law. I suppose it's true that the United States government has become so degraded that we must be surprised and glad when a president actually obeys the law when it suits him, but I must say that I can't find any great cause for rejoicing -- especially as Obama's statement immediately and definitely ruled out prosecuting any of the direct perpetrators of these criminal actions.

I know that some are holding on to the hope that Obama's carefully worded statement leaves open the door to prosecuting the actual instigators of the crimes -- the top officials of the Bush Administration, including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, and a host of other very senior officials and advisers; but I believe this is wishful thinking in the extreme. Look again at what Obama actually said:



But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past. Our national greatness is embedded in America’s ability to right its course in concert with our core values, and to move forward with confidence. That is why we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.


If Obama truly believes that prosecuting unknown CIA operatives would constitute some kind of disturbing disunity that the country could not bear in the present situation, then how likely is he to pursue the even more "disturbing" prospect of investigating and indicting a former president and his top officials?

And now focus closely on this astonishing phrase:


...we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.


It is clear in the context of his statement that "the forces that would divide us" refers to those who are calling for the instigators and perpetrators to be prosecuted. They are the ones insisting on the disturbing, disunifying course of "laying blame for the past."  But what, in the name of God, are America's "core values," if they do not include prosecuting people who order and commit the high crime of torture?

And cannot every criminal on the face of the earth now claim the Obama defense: "Surely, your honor, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past. So let's forget the fact that I (raped/murdered/robbed/tortured), and move forward, shall we?" For the Obama defense is nothing other than the Nuremberg defense: "I was only following orders. I was given assurance by the highest authority that my actions were legal in all respects." Is this what we have come to? Is that what now constitutes bold, progressive action? Is this, really, part of our "core values," an essential embedded component of our "national greatness?"

The more one considers Obama's remarks, the more offensive they become, and the more flagrantly they insult the intelligence. For the very memos that he has released give the lie to his own statement. Obama says it would be wrong to prosecute CIA underlings for carrying out actions that they were told were legal. Leaving aside the fact that apparently none of these great, courageous, self-sacrificing, vigilant defenders of our "core values" (as Obama lauds them) considered these tortures to be inherently immoral, but simply wanted to cover their ass legally before they wall-slammed the hell out of somebody or poured water down their throats until they began to choke and drown -- the fact is, they were told quite specifically by Bush's White House shysters that there was no guarantee that their actions would be considered legal by a court.

Glenn Greenwald points out the "smoking gun" memo that destroys Obama's entire defense -- for it is a defense -- of the CIA tortures:  A signed statement by Steven Bradbury, one of the key paper-pushers in the torture regimen. Bradbury told the front-line torturers:


Given the paucity of relevant precedent and the subjective nature of the inquiry, however, we cannot predict with confidence that a court would agree with this conclusion [i.e., the green light for heinous tortures].


To be sure, Bradbury was politically astute enough to recognize that the essential unity of America's power-structure elite means that it is almost impossible for anyone who would genuinely and actively pursue imperial crimes to ever reach the top, for he added:


...the question [of prosecution for the torture techniques] is unlikely to be subject to judicial inquiry.


And just as Bradbury foresaw, Obama has slammed the door shut on such judicial inquiries.

In the overblown, self-regarding prose that has become his trademark, Obama lauds himself and his administration for their fealty to the "rule of law" in releasing the memos. But of course, the "rule of law" also dictates that those who have planned, ordered and committed torture be prosecuted. The law has no special dispensation for crimes that might be "too disturbing" to prosecute. And so his ringing conclusion -- "we have taken steps to ensure that the actions described within them never take place again" -- rings completely hollow. How will failing to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes deter any future perpetrator in high office? The latter will know that their crimes will be "too disturbing" to prosecute -- in much that same way that the biggest fraudsters on Wall Street today are "too big to fail," and must be allowed to escape the consequences of their actions.

In the end, of course, it doesn't matter. This story will be buried in a day, or less, just as all the other many, many stories about the American torture program have been buried, year after year after year. And even this story -- as morally repulsive as it is -- deals only with the tip of the iceberg of America's global gulag. It refers only the CIA's treatment of a very limited number of high-profile prisoners. Yet tens of thousands of people have passed through the belly of the gulag beast, where many have been tortured, held captive for years, even murdered. And not only is this still going on, but the Obama Administration is moving strenuously in court to drive these captives even deeper into limbo, asserting that no one who is plunged into the netherworld of America's little Gitmos in Afghanistan has the slightest right to any tincture of legal redress -- even they had been kidnapped from the streets of some foreign city and "renditioned" to Afghanistan.

The old crimes are being written off; the new crimes keep going on.



 

Offline Angry Patriot

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #113 on: April 17, 2009, 05:31:18 PM »

Yoo in Clear or Not So Fast?
Friday, Apr. 17 2009 @ 1:11PM
By Matt Coker
World events are moving so fast and furious, one wonders how participants in the Saturday and Tuesday Chapman University School of Law debates featuring visiting professor and Bush White House torture enabler John Yoo at the center of each are keeping up with their talking points.

CBSNews.com Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen:

What a remarkably good day it has been for Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, and Jay Bybee (who is now, inexplicably, a federal judge). In the span of just a few hours, those ignominious men and dozens more learned that they would be spared from prosecution either here in the United States, where they formulated our odious torture policies, or in Spain, where or upon whose citizens those illegal policies were evidently practiced. Somewhere, Dick Cheney is smiling.

First, Obama's Justice Department announced it would not just pass on prosecuting any Bush-era offenders but offer those very same offenders indemnity from prosecution or even Congressional investigation.

Cohen:

This means that former Bush officials will be given legal support by the U.S. government if and when they are questioned about their role in water-boarding and other tactics. Merry Christmas, John Yoo; you may go down in history as one of the worst government lawyers ever but at least you won't have to stand in the dock.

A few hours later, Spain's attorney general announced that he, too, was not inclined to prosecute any former officials over torture if the United States itself wasn't so inclined--a complete about-face from reports of impending indictments against Yoo and the rest of the so-called "Bush 6."

It is believed, but unconfirmed, the Obama administration exerted extreme political and diplomatic pressure on Spain to back off. This, despite Justice just releasing an August 2002 memo Yoo wrote concluding controversial interrogation techniques the CIA wanted to employ against terror suspects--including waterboarding and slapping--did not violate the federal statute against torture. Bybee, then the assistant attorney general, signed off on the memo.

As Yoo spends the spring as a visiting faculty member at Chapman, critics are demanding that he be fired from his teaching position or face criminal sanctions from his regular gig at UC Berkeley's School of Law at Boalt Hall. The memo's release has intensified the criticism.

Meanwhile, Scott Horton, a New York attorney specializing in international law and human rights and a legal affairs contributor to Harper's Magazine and a writer at The Daily Beast, told Amy Goodman this morning that Yoo may not be out of the woods yet when it comes to Spain. Unlike the U.S., in Spain it is not up to prosecutors to choose whether or not to investigate a potential crime, but the judge who manages the case. In this instance, that judge is TK, whose claim to fame was

So maybe those talking points are still valid--heck, with the memo, even more valid. See or hear Horton's Democracy Now! appearance 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 #114 on: April 18, 2009, 09:36:45 AM »
Obama's Immunity For CIA Agents Still Leaves Prosecutions of Senior Bushies on the Table


Obama's statement was carefully worded to include only "those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice."


By Ali Frick, Think Progress
Posted on April 17, 2009, Printed on April 18, 2009
http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/http://www.thinkprogress.org//137274/

Yesterday, as he released four Bush-era legal memos authorizing the torture of terrorist suspects, President Obama made it clear he would not support any prosecutions of low-level interrogators who actually carried out Bush’s policies. “t is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.”



Obama also added, “This is a time for reflection, not retribution,” and said “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.” Some progressive commentators were outraged; Keith Olbermann pleaded, “Prosecute, Mr. President.” CBS’s Andrew Cohen interpreted this to mean Obama would not support any prosecutions for torture:





One by one, the hammer blows fell upon civil libertarians and millions of other Americans who believe that the people who legally sanctioned and then implemented torturous “enhanced interrogation tactics” should have had to defend their conduct in our courts of law. One by one, those enthusiastic supporters of the Obama administration’s legal values and policies realized that they had just lost a battle (been wiped out, in fact) that they had every reason to believe they would win. There will be no torture trials. Period.





However, Obama’s statement was carefully worded to include only “those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice” — not the Bush officials who actually gave out that advice. ACLU lead counsel Jameel Jaffer told Glenn Greenwald that Obama did not shut the door to all prosecutions:





I think it’s a mistake to read the grant of immunity too broadly. I don’t think that President Obama’s statement should be taken as a sign that there’s no chance that the architects of torture program will be prosecuted. And even with respect to the interrogators, it’s only the interrogators who relied “in good faith” on legal advice who are protected.





 



Indeed, Marc Ambinder reported yesterday that “senior administration officials have made it clear” to him that the immunity would not apply to those officials who “who did NOT act in good faith, or who did not act according to the guidelines spelled out by the OLC.” Obama himself seemed to indicate that some sort of investigations have already begun, telling CNN en Espanol, “I think that we are moving a process forward here in the United States to understand what happened.”



Greenwald notes that the door for investigations and prosecutions is still open, but it will take enormous pressure from the American public to push Obama through. “[T]he burden is on us to demand that something be done,” he writes.


Ali Frick is a Research Associate for The Progress Report and ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

© 2009 Think Progress All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/http://www.thinkprogress.org//137274/

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #115 on: April 18, 2009, 10:42:20 AM »
Bush Memos Parallel Claim 9/11 "Mastermind’s" Children Were Tortured With Insects

John Byrne
http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m53503&hd=&size=1&l=e



Bush Administration authorized use of insects in interrogations

April 17, 2009

The Bush Administration Office of Legal Counsel authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to put insects inside a confinement box as part of the Administration's "harsh interrogation" practice, as well as throwing detainees into walls, according to memos released by President Barack Obama on Thursday.

Read the full memos here.

"You would like to place Zubadayah in a cramped confinement box with an insect. You have informed us he has a fear of insects," the Bush White House said.

"As we understand it, no actually harmful insect will be placed in the box. Thus, though the introduction of an insect may produce trepidation in Zubaydah (which we discuss below), it certainly does not cause physical pain."

But, the memo cautioned, to comply with the law, the CIA "must inform him that the insects will not have a sting that would produce death or severe pain."

Part of the text beneath a description of the insect torture was redacted.

Time's Michael Scherer notes, "The insect interrogation technique, as it turned out, was never used by the CIA, according to a second declassified memo released Thursday. 'We understand that — for reasons unrelated to any concerns that it might violate the [criminal] statute — the CIA never used the technique and has removed it from the list of authorized interrogation techniques,' wrote Steven Bradbury, a principal deputy assistant attorney general, in the footnote to a on May 10, 2005 document."



Detailed description of 'walling' detainees
It also provides a detailed description of "walling," a practice in which detainees were thrown against walls as part of the interrogation process (one detainee said his neck was tied with a towel and thrown against a plywood wall in a recently leaked Red Cross report).

"For walling, a flexible false wall will be constructed. The individual is placed with his heels touching the wall. The interrogator pulls the individual forward and then quickly and firmly pushes the individual into the wall. It is the individual's shoulder blades that hit the wall.

"During this motion, the head and neck are supported with a rolled hood or towel that provides a c-collar effect to help prevent whiplash. To further reduce the probability of injury, the individual is allowed to rebound from the flexible wall. You have orally informed us that the false wall is in part constructed to create a loud sound when the individual hits it, which will further shock or surprise in the individual. In part, the idea is to create a sound that will make the impact seem far worse than it is and that will be far worse than any injury that might result from the action."

The White House lawyers characterized this practice as "rough handling."

"While walling involves what might be characterized as rough handling, it does not involve the threat of imminent death or, as discussed above, the infliction of severe physical pain. Moreover, once again we understand that use of this technique will not be accompanied by any specific verbal threat that violence will ensue absent cooperation. Thus, like the facial slap, walling can only constitute a threat of severe physical pain if a reasonable person would infer such a threat from the use of the technique itself. Walling does not in and of itself inflict severe pain or suffering."

As part of the release of the memos Thursday, the Justice Department said they would provide attorneys to any CIA interrogator who engaged in the practice thinking it was lawful under the aegis of the memo.

According to Newsweek's Michael Isikoff, writing earlier this year, former Bush officials may find themselves in hot water over one of the memos released Thursday.

"An internal Justice Department report on the conduct of senior lawyers who approved waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics is causing anxiety among former Bush administration officials," Isikoff wrote. "H. Marshall Jarrett, chief of the department's ethics watchdog unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), confirmed last year he was investigating whether the legal advice in crucial interrogation memos 'was consistent with the professional standards that apply to Department of Justice attorneys.' According to two knowledgeable sources who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive matters, a draft of the report was submitted in the final weeks of the Bush administration. It sharply criticized the legal work of two former top officials—Jay Bybee and John Yoo—as well as that of Steven Bradbury, who was chief of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the time the report was submitted, the sources said. (Bybee, Yoo and Bradbury did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)"

"The matter is under review," Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller is quoted as saying.

Read the full memos here. :

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/politics/20090416_memos.pdf
 

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #116 on: April 18, 2009, 11:53:58 AM »
Report Shows Torture Is Widespread in Iraq

By MARK KUKIS / BAGHDAD Mark Kukis / Baghdad
Fri Apr 17, 4:40 pm ET
http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20090417/wl_time/08599189203800
 
The White House release of Bush administration torture memos marked another step towards closure in what President Obama called a "dark and painful chapter in our history." But in Iraq, torture is not a thing of the past, according to the findings of a new study on civilian causalities.


Published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, the report examined the causes of death for 60,481 Iraqi civilians killed violently during the first five years of the war, using statistics compiled by Iraq Body Count. The findings are surprising to anyone familiar with the regular headlines from Iraq blaring explosions around the country. Executions with firearms, not bomb blasts, have killed most civilians in Iraq. Researchers say 33% of the victims examined in the study died by execution after abduction or capture. And 29% of those victims had signs of torture on their bodies such as bruises, drill holes or burns. Suicide bombers in cars or on foot were responsible for 14% of the victims in the study, while U.S. airstrikes killed 4%. (See pictures of the aftershock in Iraq and the U.S. from torture allegations at Abu Ghraib.) :http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/time/wl_time/storytext/08599189203800/31694258/SIG=11h4vobj5;_ylt=ArCGeu952ZjPdEXvZuEar8S9F4l4;_ylu=X3oDMTE4ZnU2MTJrBHBvcwMxBHNlYwN5bl9zdG9yeV9ib2R5BHNsawNzZWVwaWN0dXJlc28-/*http://www.time.com/time/photoessays/abughraib/


Undoubtedly many of the documented instances of torture came when sectarian violence raged at crisis levels for more than a year starting in 2006. At that time Shi'ite militias, chiefly the Mahdi Army, drew much of the blame for widespread torture and executions as Sunni militants developed a reputation for killing with bombs. But torturing has not been an activity just for militiamen and militants in Iraq. The Iraqi government has consistently faced accusations of torture and maltreatment of prisoners through the years - and still does. The most recent human rights report from the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq cites "continuing reports of the widespread and routine torture or ill-treatment of detainees, particularly those being held in pre-trial detention facilities, including police stations." (Read how the Bush Administration approved the use of insects during torture.)


How widespread torture remains in Iraqi jails at present is not publicly known. So far, neither the U.N. nor the Iraqi government has made any verifiable statistics available. But few doubt the practice continues today among Iraqi authorities and criminal elements. Torture, of course, has had a long history in Iraq, achieving particular notoriety during the era of Saddam Hussein. Observers say the recent years of war have created a social environment in which torture can continue to flourish. "In Iraq, we can notice all these acts of torture were done by young ages, people between 20 and 30," says Nahith Noras Shaker, professor of psychology at Baghdad University. "It's almost normal for them according to the violence they have witnessed on a daily basis. How do you think a child will act when grown after seeing hundreds of torn and burned bodies?"


Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #117 on: April 20, 2009, 01:16:11 PM »
The Abuses in Iraq were Learned in Operation Condor


By Manuel E. Yepe

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m53547&hd=&size=1&l=e

April 19, 2009

Original source: CubaNews

In a report presented last February in Geneva by former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) called upon President Barack Obama to put an end to the violations of human rights that have been a part of United States policy since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The Commission asked Obama not only to overturn this policy but also to investigate those responsible for having carried it out. The report was prepared by a panel of prestigious international jurists who spent three years traveling to all regions of the world holding hearings that revealed that the planet had made a terrible return to the past with regard to respecting international law and human rights. It stated that "if we do not act now, we run the risk that the damages inflicted on international law could become permanent."

The panel’s conclusions paint a picture of the scope of the terror carried out by the world’s number one power, which then spread to numerous other countries around the world who took advantage of the prevailing climate to settle their own accounts, according to a piece published by Página/12 in Argentina by journalist Eduardo Febbro, which was based on an interview with Federico Andreu Guzmán, general counsel of the ICJ.

Andreu Guzmán points out that the report "calls upon the new US administration to revise the entire policy that was adopted after September 11, 2001 through the Patriot Act....For example: the practice of keeping people in prison completely incommunicado and for indefinite periods violates basic precepts of international law, human rights, and international humanitarian law. The gains that have been made since passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have been set back;...the well-known practice of extraordinary renditions [wherein terrorism suspects are sent to countries other than the United States to be held and interrogated], are a form of international kidnapping. Therefore the time has come to put an end to this."

When the journalist compared the US forms of carrying out kidnappings, indiscriminate arrests, tortures, clandestine movements, and detentions without charges with what took place in Argentina at the Navy Mechanical School (ESMA), Andreu Guzmán notes: "If you look back at the report on Argentina issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 1987, you see that a lot of what was done then during the antiterrorist struggle looks very familiar. Operation Cóndor is very similar to the policy of extraordinary renditions implemented by the United States. In Operation Cóndor people were kidnapped in one country and then surfaced in another country. There are many similarities with the old authoritarian methods of confronting real or supposed problems.

"And you need to remember that right after the terrible events of September 11, the Security Council of the UN adopted Resolution 1371, which called on all member states of the UN to fight terrorism. This resolution allowed immense discretion about how to do that, without any reminder of the obligations regarding human rights, international humanitarian law, or the rights of refugees.... The fact is that there is no single war against terrorism. There are acts of terror in certain countries. When they take place in times of peace they can be dealt with through police operations. And when they take place in times of war, they can be dealt with using the standards laid out by international humanitarian law."

The ICJ’s report calls upon President Obama to address the abuses of the antiterrorist struggle and to carry out a "far-reaching and transparent" investigation. In this regard, Abreu Guzmán points out: "In the course of this so-called war against terrorism many abuses have been committed.... Knowing that all this was not a result of individual decisions but rather a state policy, you would have to ask if this does not fall under the definition of crimes against humanity. Torture was widely practiced, as were arbitrary detentions for indefinite periods. We believe that not only is it now time to eliminate these measures, but also to investigate those responsible for planning and carrying out these measures."

Although the worldwide corporate media may try to hide it, there is an obvious and unhappy similarity between the abuses committed by the US occupation forces against its prisoners in Iraq and the outrages committed some years ago against revolutionaries and those suspected of being revolutionaries who were held in the jails of the military tyrannies of Latin America, with US military experts as advisors...but who still are waiting for justice.

--A CubaNews translation by Will Reissner. Edited by Walter Lippmann.





 

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #118 on: April 20, 2009, 01:19:36 PM »
Iraqi detainee talks of 'horror film' experience at the hands of the US military


Wail al-Hafoth
http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m53546&hd=&size=1&l=e




April 19, 2009

One 40-year-old Iraqi man - who did not want to give his name - spent 18 months in Camp Cropper and Camp Bucca. He was arrested in September 2006 in the aftermath of an attack on a checkpoint south of Baghdad. He insists he had nothing to do with the attack.

"I had never even entered a police station before," he told The Times. "I own a shop and live in Sadr City with my wife and six children.

"This experience was very difficult for me. It felt like I was in another world. It was as if time had stopped - I didn't know what to think or do."

He spent a fortnight in Camp Cropper, where he was given a detention number and a medical examination, before being sent to Bucca. "Going to Camp Bucca was a horror story fit for a film. I think they [the US military] treat animals better than us when they transferred us in aeroplanes. On board they crowded the detainees in like a herd of sheep. There were about 300 of us - they were shouting at us all the time."

Upon arrival at Basra airport the detainees were loaded into buses for the journey to Bucca. There, each person was registered and given a yellow jumpsuit, underwear, a T-shirt, prayer mat and blanket.

"The guards would do searches in the middle of the night. They would come with their dogs and drag us from our beds, handcuff us and put us out in the open. We had to avoid eye contact with the guards or they would demand to know why we were looking at them.

"We busied ourselves by reading the Koran and latterly they allowed our families to bring books. But not knowing how long we would stay was miserable. The case against us inmates was assaulting Iraqi forces, assaulting US forces, terrorising citizens, killings, kidnappings - charges that could carry 400 years in jail.

"One happy moment was when my brother came to see me and brought my smallest son. The other was when I finally rode on what they call the Happy Bus to be released and go home. Once you are told you will ride the Happy Bus, that means things will be OK.

"My message to the US military is, if you call for democracy and human rights, you should apply them as well."





 

Offline bigron

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Re: Torture: Only Good For False Confessions
« Reply #119 on: April 21, 2009, 12:08:22 PM »
Process Philosophy: Immorality and Imbecility in the Torture Memo Mess

Chris Floyd
http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m53569&hd=&size=1&l=e



 

April 20, 2009

Let's do something we rarely do around these parts. Let's do a "process story," looking at an issue from the standpoint of how it plays out in the political game. As a rule, we prefer to focus much less on political kibitzing in the imperial courts, and more on the actual products of imperial policy: i.e., corpses, chaos and corruption. But just for a moment, let's "processize" Barack Obama's bold, progressive, morality-restoring decision not to prosecute anyone at all for the filthy, KGB-derived torture system installed by the very highest officials of the Bush Administration, even as he releases memos showing clearly that practices which are high crimes under U.S. law were explicitly authorized by the White House.

(And make no mistake; Obama has not only decided to let the actual, ground-level waterboarders, wall-slammers and child torturers get off scot-free; he is also going to let the gilded creators and framers of the system live on untroubled in peace, prosperity and privilege. Obama's chief gatekeeper and hatchet man, Rahm Emanuel, made this clear over the weekend, telling Beltway waterboy George Stephanopoulos: "But those who devised the [torture] policies – [Obama] believes that they were — should not be prosecuted either.")

Leaving aside the moral perversion of this action, consider what a boneheaded move it is politically. By releasing the memos, Obama has guaranteed the enmity of many powerful factions in the security organs -- the secretive, lawless, military-covert complex that holds such vast and deadly sway over imperial affairs. Yet by promising not to prosecute any of them for their glaring misdeeds, he has merely angered and embarrassed them to no good purpose. He has allowed them to roam free around the political landscape, denouncing and deriding him at every turn in the corporate media that is only too happy to treat torturers and mass-murdering war criminals as respectable, "serious" figures in affairs of state.

They won't thank him for absolving them of their capital crimes -- any more than they will thank him and laud him for his "continuity" of their imperial aggression in the never-ending Terror War. As we have often noted here, all of the major factions in America's imperial system share the same basic values and goals: the domination of national and world affairs by a wise elite -- who are of course entitled to a lion's share of power and privilege in return for bearing the terrible burden of leadership for the ignorant herd. (For a quintessential expression of the elite's underlying philosophy, see Dostoevsky's chapter on "The Grand Inquisitor" in The Brothers Karamazov.) However, the broad agreement on general themes means that much smaller differences over details will be fought all that much more fiercely, as factions jockey for position. Hairsplitting factional differences within a general movement often produce savage energies far out of proportion to the difference itself (much like the splitting of the atom): a dynamic that Lenin, for example, utilized to such great and vicious effect throughout his career. But you can see it anywhere and everywhere -- in the office, in a family, in a church. In the case of American politics, the imperial factions viciously exploit their minute differences in order to retain -- or regain -- the top rungs of power. The fact that they all share a general belief in the system doesn't matter in the primitive, gang-style mentality that rules our politics.

And so in this regard, Obama has made an egregiously stupid mistake. He has given his imperial rivals a big stick to beat him with, while failing to strike any kind of genuine, substantial blow at them. If he had instigated investigations and prosecutions across the board, bringing the full power of the state to bear, they would have spent the next few years reeling and squealing and scrambling to save their skins. Instead, he has shown that he is unwilling -- or too weak -- to do them any real harm in the factional warfare at court. And of course he continues to advance their own policies of militarism, authoritarianism and oligarchy at home and abroad, so he is obviously no threat to them at all on that score. (He would never have reached the White House if he was.) They will merely bide their time, disgorge their bile, and use their freedom and tranquility to undermine or stifle any minor mitigations of the system's excesses that the current imperial management might attempt from time to time.

Thus even in the amoral context of political gamesmanship, Obama's policy of transparency without accountability is a maladroit botch. Much like torture itself, it is hugely self-damaging -- and doesn't even work.

II.
Of course, the political imbroglio ignores the fact that Obama is absolutely obligated under the law to investigate and prosecute credible allegations of torture by government officials. Despite the deep, wise analysis of Rahm Emanuel, prosecuting torture is not a "decision" that Obama can make or not as he sees fit. It is a legal requirement under the UN Convention Against Torture, which the United States signed, thereby making it part of binding U.S. law. Not only does Obama's failure to prosecute constitute an illegal act in itself, the very excuses he offers for his action -- that CIA operatives tortured in "good faith" because the White House told them it was OK -- are specifically rejected under the torture law, as ThinkProgress reports:



Indeed, Article 2 of the convention on torture explains that "no exceptional circumstances whatsoever" can be used to legally justify torture. Further, the convention states that an "order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture."

[In an interview with the Austrian newspaper Der Standard, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Professor Manfred] Nowak explained that by invoking the OLC’s memos as justification for the actions of CIA agents against terrorist suspects in U.S. custody, Obama is acting contrary to U.S. obligations under the treaty:

STANDARD: In other words, by making this announcement, Obama has violated international law?

NOWAK: Correct. It is a violation of binding international treaty law in this case, because this is an international law convention — and it provides unequivocally that states are not merely obligated to make torture a crime, but also to prosecute any incidents of which credible evidence can be found.


None of this comes as any surprise, of course. It was clear during the presidential campaign that candidate Obama was not going to prosecute anyone for torture. As we noted exactly one year ago, drawing on an interview that the then-candidate gave to the Philadelphia Daily News:


Obama says that any decision to pursue "investigation" of "possibilities" of "genuine crimes" would be "an area where I would exercise judgment." He stressed the need to draw a distinction between "really dumb policies and policies that rise to the level of criminal activity." He said he would not want "my first term to be consumed by what would be perceived by Republicans as a partisan witch hunt."

He then tied his thinking on torture, illegal wiretapping, aggressive war and all the other depredations of the Bush Regime to his stance on impeachment:

"I often get questions about impeachment at town hall meetings. And I've often said, I do not think that would be something that would be fruitful to pursue. I think impeachment should be reserved for exceptional circumstances."

In other words, very strong, credible, evidence-based charges of launching a criminal war of aggression based on deception is not an "exceptional circumstance" worthy of the investigative and prosecutorial process of impeachment. It might just be a "very dumb policy." Very strong, credible, evidence-based charges of knowingly, deliberately creating a regimen of systematic torture is not an "exceptional circumstance" worthy of impeachment; it might not even be worth further investigation by the Justice Department. It too could just be a "dumb policy" that we should forget about – especially if Republicans are going to make a fuss about it.


Now all of that has come to pass. The Iraq War, far from being a war crime worthy of investigation -- or even a dumb policy -- is now "an extraordinary achievement," Obama says. As for obeying the law of the land and prosecuting officials for ordering and carrying out heinous tortures, we are told to forget it and just move on. Trust me, says Obama -- even as he outstrips George Bush in making aggressive claims for authoritarian power; even as he seeks to strip helpless, nameless, renditioned captives in Afghanistan of any shred, any crumb of legal redress; even as he (and his liberal champions) promote the use of a Pentagon interrogation manual that still allows a range of practices that any decent person would consider torture; and even as he promotes some of the key CIA officials overseeing the torture program to even greater heights of power.

I don't pretend to know all the ins and outs of the political considerations behind Obama's decision to release the torture memos but protect the perpetrators. And this of course is one of the major drawbacks of any "process" piece: a lack of information on the process itself -- coupled with the unfathomability of that ever-shifting mixed bag of conscious and unconscious impulses that we call "motivation" or "intention."

But actions and end results speak far more loudly than words or intentions. Obama's illegal absolution of Bush's torturers -- and his continuation of the gulag, the Terror War and the tortures of the Pentagon manual -- are not suppositions. They are facts -- deadly, disgraceful, degrading facts. And we have seen, time and again, just what such facts produce: more suffering, more extremism, more upheaval, more corruption.

We are not done with torture in America; not by a long shot. And note that the current non-prosecution scandal -- as heinous as it is -- only deals with the tip of the iceberg: a very small CIA program for "high profile" detainees. Literally tens of thousands of other people have passed through the guts of the American gulag -- and are passing through there still, in Bagram, Baghdad, Diego Garcia, and other points known and known (including the torture chambers of client states and proxies). Nor does the controversy encompass the tortures that go on every day in America's overflowing state and federal penitentiaries, corporate prisons and country jails. As we noted in that piece last April:


You cannot compartmentalize the evil of torture. You cannot tame it, domesticate it, separate it into neat categories. [Nor can you sanitize it and "forget" it, as Obama is now trying to do.] It is a sinister acid that eats through all walls, and spreads throughout any system or organization that practices it. You begin with "light slapping" and loud music, and you end up with waterboarding, beating, and murder. There is no exception in human history to this process.