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Bringing Back Waterboarding? Torture Policy in Trump's USA

During the primary season, Republican Party candidate Donald Trump, who is now president-elect of the United States, pledged to bring back  waterboarding "and much...

Torture evidence ignored by Home Office to reject asylum claims, charity claims

Britain’s Home Office is “disregarding and mistreating” medical evidence of torture in order to reject...

Video: US forces in Afghanistan may have committed ‘war crimes of torture, cruel...

The US may have committed war crimes of torture, cruel treatment and rape, when it interrogated dozens of people in Afghanistan between 2003 and...

Installing a Torture Fan at CIA

Exclusive: The CIA’s torturers can breathe a sigh of relief after President-elect Trump tapped a defender of “enhanced interrogation techniques” to become CIA director,...

Ignoring Torture Among the Poor

Torture has been one of the dominant international human rights issues of the last fifteen years. Yet, the vast majority of incidents of torture...

‘War crimes of torture’: ICC Prosecutor Signals Charges Against US Armed Forces, CIA

The US may have committed war crimes of torture, cruel treatment and rape, when it interrogate dozens of people in Afghanistan between 2003 and...

Trump predicted to tap mastermind of Bush torture program as CIA chief

Jose Rodriguez, one of the masterminds behind the infamous George W. Bush torture and retention program,...

British banker ‘filmed torture & murder of victim on iPhone,’ Hong Kong court hears

A British banker filmed himself torturing and killing one of his sex worker victims on...

Not even US president can legalize torture, Abu Ghraib inmates allowed to sue –...

A federal court has ruled in favor of four former Abu Ghraib detainees intending to sue...

Nauru, Refugees and the Torture Complex

Two items of interest have tickled the airwaves and triggered some commentary over the last few days. The first was an ABC Four Corners...

Abducted, Tortured, Held 14 Years Without Trial, ‘Gitmo Diary’ Author Finally Free

Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who documented his torture and imprisonment in the 2015 Guantánamo Diary, on Monday was finally returned home to his native Mauritania. Upon...

Surviving Torture in a CIA Secret Prison: Khaled al-Sharif of Libya Recounts Horrors

A shocking new report details how harsh American interrogation methods have led to devastating psychiatric disorders in former prisoners. The New York...

Video: Journalist James Risen: CIA Torture Methods Caused Long-Term Psychological Harm to Former Prisoners - A New York Times investigation has found at least half of the 39 detainees who went through the CIA's so-called enhanced ... Via...

Gitmo detainee granted rectal surgery after CIA ‘torture by sodomy’

Charged in connection with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Guantanamo detainee Mustafa al-Hawsawi will reportedly miss a pretrial hearing Friday in order to “rest up”...

MI5 lawyer to be grilled by MPs over UK’s role in Guantanamo ‘torture’

MI5’s top lawyer is to answer questions in Parliament over whether the intelligence agency knew...

US Media Ignores CIA Cover-Up on Torture

MEMORANDUM FOR: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Vice Chairman, Senate Select Committee on IntelligenceFROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for SanitySUBJECT: U.S. Media Mum On How Your Committee...

US Media Ignores CIA Cover-up on Torture

A group of U.S. intelligence veterans chastises the mainstream U.S. media for virtually ignoring a British newspaper’s account of the gripping inside story on how...

MI6 dismisses claims Lee Rigby killer Michael Adebolajo was radicalized by Kenyan torturers

Claims by one of soldier Lee Rigby’s killers that he was tortured and mistreated by...

CIA & White House tried to suppress Senate torture probe – report

A Senate report into the CIA’s use of torture and its cover-up was heavily redacted and...

‘MI6 boss who rendered me claims to be a Christian’ – Gaddafi torture victim

Former MI6 chief Mark Allen is mistaken if he thinks that a recent article he...

Abu Zubaydah: Torture’s ‘Poster Child’

Exclusive: The ugly legacy of George W. Bush’s torture program continues to haunt U.S. foreign policy as the “poster child”...

CIA torture prisoner makes case for Gitmo release in first public appearance in 14...

A Guantanamo detainee, who the CIA tortured as a suspected top leader of Al-Qaeda but never officially charged, has made his case for release....

Video: Australia’s shame: ‘Torture’ of kids at juvenile detention center

Shocking footage of abuse in an Australian juvenile detention center has been aired on Australian national television. The video dates back to 2014, when...

British govt urged to come clean on ‘links to torture’ after Iraq invasion

“Faulty evidence” extracted by torture and used to justify the US and UK invasion of...

MH-17 Probe’s Torture-Implicated Ally

Exclusive: The Ukrainian intelligence service at the center of the inquiry into who shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is...

NGOs push for judicial inquiry into UK’s links to post-9/11 rendition & torture

A potent alliance of leading human rights NGOs has called for a full judicial inquiry into Britain’s role in rendition a week ahead of...

100% of Palestinian prisoners have been tortured in Israeli jails

As many as 71 Palestinian prisoners have died in Israeli jails as a result of torture since 1967, Abdel Nasser Farwana, head of the...

Pennsylvania man claims police used dog to torture him

A Pennsylvania man filed a lawsuit claiming Pittsburgh cops ordered a police dog to repeatedly bite...

CIA psychologists admit creating post-9/11 ‘torture’ practice for $81mn

Two former CIA psychologists have partially admitted to having advised torture and inhumane treatment for detainees,...

Video: Latest CIA Torture Docs Show “Evidence of War Crimes” & Level of Brutality... - Shocking new details have been made public about the CIA's torture program as the agency has declassified dozens of once-secret ... Via Youtube

CIA forced to release post-9/11 torture evidence, unclear if arrests will follow

Disturbing details of "illegal" torture techniques used by the US government after the 9/11 attacks were...

160 Killed in Iraq; Torture Arrests Made

160 Killed in Iraq; Torture Arrests Made The Iraqi Ministry of Immigration and Displacement released new figures on the number of internally...

MH-17 Probe Trusts Torture-Implicated Ukraine

Exclusive: The floundering inquiry into who shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014 has relied heavily on a Ukrainian intelligence...

British police ‘teaching Saudi torturers’ – leaked documents

British police are teaching Saudi officers hi-tech crime detection techniques that could lead to the...

MI6 won’t be charged over kidnap, torture of Libyans

Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced Thursday that no charges will be brought against British...

Justice for Torturers?

Originally posted at TomDispatch. If you happen to be a potential American war criminal, you’ve had a few banner weeks. On May...

MI5, MI6 suffered ‘serious rift’ over Libya rendition flights & torture

Britain’s involvement in secret rendition operations during the ‘War on Terror’ caused a serious breakdown...

Bollywood-boarding: UK special forces in Libya ‘torture’ ISIS with Indian pop tunes

UK special forces operating in Libya are blasting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) positions with...

‘Mental torture’: Gitmo inmate testifies against guards at US prison camp

A Somali detainee at Guantánamo Bay has accused guards at the high-security Camp 7 of using...

CIA-tortured Zubaydah called to testify against Gitmo harsh techniques

Captured and tortured by the CIA after 9/11, then locked up in Guantanamo Bay without charges,...

Torture victims of Kenyan Mau Mau uprising take colonial abuse to High Court

The alleged victims of torture, rape and forced labor at the hands of British colonial...

Rebecca Gordon: Terror, Torture and US Wars of Vengeance Diminish Our Humanity

  In this interview, Rebecca Gordon, author of American Nuremberg: The US Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 Crimes, says if US officials are...

Snowden laughs off CIA’s ‘mistaken’ destruction of secret torture report

Following a recent report that the CIA's internal inspectors destroyed their only copy of a top...

Historical Amnesia and the Destruction of the Senate Torture Report

When Winston Smith thinks he has finally made contact with the underground movement he has always hoped existed, in George Orwell’s 1984,...

‘Everything…was a lie’: Former CIA analyst, John Kiriakou on the agency deleting torture report

The CIA’s Inspector General Office reportedly “inadvertently” deleted its only copy of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s...

CIA Watchdog "Mistakenly" Destroys Its Sole Copy of Senate Torture Report

The years-long battle to force the Obama administration to release the nearly-7,000-page Senate Intelligence Committee's report detailing the CIA's post-9/11 torture program...

Report on CIA torture won’t be revealed under Freedom of Information Act

The US legal system has rejected the public disclosure of the full torture report, after American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued federal agencies just...

Video: Tortured, Killed & Driven to Suicide: Whistleblower Exposes Abuse of Mentally Ill in... - A shocking new exposé in The New Yorker magazine documents how prison guards at the Dade Correctional Institution in Florida ... Via Youtube

Stop the sale of torture weapons in Europe – Amnesty

Europe must stop advertising, displaying and selling potential tools of torture, such as spiked shields, weighted leg restraints and thumbcuffs, Amnesty International has said...

Video: After a Landmark Legal Ruling, Will CIA Torture Victims Finally Have Their Day... - A federal judge has allowed a landmark lawsuit to proceed against two psychologists who designed and implemented the CIA's ... Via Youtube

Torture: Stopping Terrorism… Or Is It Terrorism?

Daniel McAdams Just ten years after America was shocked at the treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and just a year and...

Federal judge allows lawsuit to proceed against CIA contractors involved in torture

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Tom Carter On Friday, a US federal district judge denied a motion...

CIA torture psychologists face court hearing over ‘war crimes’ by black site detainees

Former detainees tortured by the CIA at the agency’s notorious black sites are suing the psychologists hired to help design the controversial enhanced interrogation...

Video: Former Abu Ghraib Interrogator: Because of Trump & Cruz, Door Still “Wide Open”... - As Republican presidential candidates promise to bring back the torture techniques used under the George W. Bush administration, ... Via Youtube

Video: A Torturer’s Confession: Former Abu Ghraib Interrogator Speaks Out - Eric Fair served as an interrogator in Iraq working as a military contractor for the private security firm CACI. He was stationed...

Video: Ex-Abu Ghraib Interrogator: Israelis Trained U.S. to Use “Palestinian Chair” Torture Device - As a former interrogator in Iraq working as a military contractor for the private security firm CACI, Eric Fair was stationed at...

A Torturer's Confession: Former Abu Ghraib Interrogator Speaks Out

Eric Fair served as an interrogator in Iraq working as a military contractor for the private security firm CACI. He was stationed...

United States of Torture: When it comes to “enhanced interrogation,” Americans agree with Donald...

As far as we know — which often isn’t much when issues of national security are involved — the U.S. government stopped waterboarding suspected...

Video: Family of Mexican Man “Tortured & Killed” by U.S. Border Agents Seeks Justice... - The family of a Mexican immigrant killed by Border Patrol agents in 2010 is launching an unprecedented effort to hold the United...

Family of Mexican Man "Tortured and Killed" by US Border Agents Seeks Justice at...

The family of a Mexican immigrant killed by Border Patrol agents in 2010 is launching an unprecedented effort to hold the United...

US Intelligence Veterans Warn Against Torture

To those living "outside the Beltway" it may seem counterintuitive that those of us whose analysis has been correct on key issues...

US Intel Vets Warn Against Torture

To those living “outside the Beltway” it may seem counterintuitive that those of us whose analysis has been correct on key issues that the...

The GOP Response to Belgium? Torture and the "Patrolling and Securing" of Muslim Neighborhoods

Following the Belgium attacks, Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz issued a statement saying, "We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees...

US Intel Vets Warn Against Torture

By Ray McGovern To those living “outside the Beltway” it may seem counterintuitive that those of us whose analysis has been correct on key issues...

With Obama in Cuba, Pro-Torture Pundits Suddenly Concerned With Human Rights

US President Barack Obama landed in Havana Sunday to great fanfare, both in Cuba and stateside. His visit marks a significant shift of the...

Video: Solitary Confinement is “Torture:”

Shoatz attorney and Legal Director of the Abolitionist Law Center Bret Grote discussed this forthcoming trial about the issue of solitary confinement. Via Youtube

Ray McGovern on the CIA, Torture and Blowing the Whistle

In this video acTVism Munich interviews former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst, Ray McGovern, who talks about his experience in the agency...

Saudi Arabia ‘fights torture’ & ‘promotes human rights,’ Gulf state tells UN

Saudi Arabia told the United Nations Human Rights Council that it “fights torture” and leads...

US government ‘silent’ as UAE tortures my family: US citizen

An American citizen whose father and brother are being detained in the United Arab Emirates has accused the Obama administration of keeping silent as...

UK suppresses documents on Gitmo ‘torture collusion’

The British government is withholding key documents which could shed light on allegations of UK's involvement in the torture of detainees in Guantanamo prison,...

Video: Russian prison torture: Shocking video of inmate whipped & urinated on sparks media...

A Russian news website has released video footage which allegedly depicts extreme cruelty towards prisoners in a male penal colony in Russia's Ural region. Via...

Video: What Is the Government Still Hiding? ACLU Continues Fight to Obtain Photos of... - Earlier this month, the Pentagon released nearly 200 photographs relating to the abuse of prisoners by U.S. military personnel in Iraq ... Via...

New GOP Plans for Torture

President Obama’s failure to prosecute Bush-era torturers created an impunity that has encouraged some Republican presidential candidates to tout new plans for more torture...

John Kiriakou: Let’s End Torture in US Prisons

Solitary confinement is exactly what it sounds like. A prisoner is kept in a small cell – usually 6 feet by 10 – alone, for...

Video: Trump Leads GOP Charge Embracing Torture: “I’d Bring Back a Hell of a... - In the final debate before Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, Republican presidential contenders battled it out Saturday night at ... Via Youtube

Obama administration continues suppression of torture photos

Tom Carter On Friday, the Department of Defense released 198 out of around 2,000 photos showing torture and other war crimes perpetrated by US military...

Let’s End Torture in U.S. Prisons

Solitary confinement is exactly what it sounds like. A prisoner is kept in a small cell — usually 6 feet by 10 — alone, for...

Video: Pentagon delays release of images of tortured Afghan, Iraqi prisoners despite court order

The American military has again delayed the publication of images of torture in US prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were supposed to be...

Video: Will U.S. Deport Kurdish Activist Ibrahim Parlak Back to Turkey Where He Was...

We turn now to a case of Michigan resident Ibrahim Parlak, who faces imminent deportation in an asylum case that stretches back more than...

Video: Military Injustice: As Bowe Bergdahl Court-Martialed, Navy SEALs Tied to Torture, Killing Walk...

While Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is court-martialed and faces continued Republican-led attacks, a case of deadly abuse and a potential cover-up in the Navy has...

Video: US Navy accused of covering up abuse, tortures of Afghan detainees

Though several US soldiers accused a SEAL team of beating and waterboarding Afghan men detained after a checkpoint bombing, their commanding officer ... Via Youtube

Video: We Won’t Torture Anymore: APA Tells U.S. to Withdraw Psychologists from Nat. Sec....

The American Psychological Association has officially notified the U.S. government of its new policy barring psychologists from participating in national security ... Via Youtube

Video: Victims of U.S. Rendition & Torture Starting to Reclaim Rights Says Council of...

More than 25 European countries cooperated with the CIA's rendition, torture and secret prison program, and the quest for accountability continues today. Via Youtube

Video: WikiLeaks exposes CIA Chief’s emails on torture tactics, Iran, Afghanstan

WikiLeaks has come into possession of the contents of CIA chief John Brennan's email account. Among the documents, from the period when Brennan worked...

Video: CIA ‘Queen of Torture’ could face trial in Germany

A German human rights group filed a criminal complaint in court against Alfreda Frances Bikowsky, a CIA agent dubbed “Queen of Torture.” The group...

Psychologists Accused of "Criminal Enterprise" With CIA Over Torture

Washington - Two former detainees and the family of a third who died in custody filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the American psychologists who...

Guantanamo survivors sue psychologists who designed CIA torture program

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of three former Guantanamo detainees against two psychologists responsible for creating and overseeing...

Lawsuit Filed Against CIA Torture Psychologists Physicians for Human Rights Welcomes ACLU’s Case, Demands...

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today welcomed a federal lawsuit against psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the architects of the CIA’s post-9/11 torture...

Britain’s Secret State And The Widespread Use Of Torture

The last British prisoner in Guantanamo Bay has claimed that Britain knew flawed evidence, used to justify the Iraq War, had been obtained under...

Court Cites UN Torture Convention to Protect Transgender Immigrants in the US

Earlier this month, a three-judge panel in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that immigration courts must distinguish between sexual orientation and...

US Intel Vets Decry CIA’s Use of Torture

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) SUBJECT: Veteran Intelligence Professionals Challenge CIA’s “Rebuttal” on Torture Former CIA leaders responsible for allowing torture...

US Intel Vets Decry CIA’s Use of Torture

Torture defenders are back on the offensive publishing a book by ex-CIA leaders rebutting a Senate report that denounced the brutal tactics as illegal, inhumane and ineffective. Now,...

Video: As Syrian Colonel Faces Charges in Maher Arar Torture Case, Will U.S. Ever... - In a move to hold government officials accountable for torture, Canada has charged Syrian Colonel George Salloum with allegedly ... Via Youtube

‘Groundbreaking’ Torture Charges Put US Rendition Tactics in Spotlight

'We need to see more accountability happening in Canada, in the U.S., in Jordan and in Syria. The ones who tortured and the ones...

Jeb Bush won’t rule out torture tactics, says they’re effective

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush told an audience in Iowa that he would not rule out resuming the use of torture by the US...

Let’s Talk About Torture

The CIA’s torture-era leadership won’t repent. Even after the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its report saying in no uncertain terms that the...

New York governor implicated in torture by state prison officials

By Eric London An investigation published Tuesday in the New York Times revealed that prison guards at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York systematically...

Video: No More Torture: World’s Largest Psychologists Group Bans Role in National Security Interrogations - By a nearly unanimous vote, the American Psychological Association's Council of Representatives voted Friday to adopt a new policy barring ... Via Youtube

Thousands protest torture-murder of Mexican photojournalist and four women

By Rafael Azul Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Mexico City and other major cities in response to the brutal July 31 murder...

Video: Anti-Torture Psychologists Celebrate New APA Interrogation Ban

Steven Reisner and Stephen Soldz, two founders of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, speak to Amy Goodman in Toronto moments after the American...

Video: Lead the Way Out of the Interrogation Room: Will American Psychological Assoc. End... - We broadcast from Toronto, Canada, where the largest group of psychologists in the world, the American Psychological Association, ... Via Youtube

Video: Gitmo is a “Rights-Free Zone”: Dissident Psychologists Speak Out on APA Role in... - We broadcast from Toronto, Canada, site of the annual convention of the largest group of psychologists in the world, the American ... Via...

Video: Gaddafi’s son torture video guarantees ‘maximum mistreatment’ — lawyer to RT

A video apparently showing the torture of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's son during interrogation in prison has been condemned by both HRW, and...

CIA ran up $40 million tab turning out Senate torture report, documents show

The $40 million cost of producing the Senate torture report was incurred by the CIA, not lawmakers, newly obtained contracting documents reveal, as the...

The Tortured Logic Behind Using Torture

If you watched Batman when you were growing up, chances are you saw him torture someone. If you watched Jack Bauer from the hit...

Psychologists Aiding CIA Torture

by Stephen Lendman (RINF) - Doctors were accused earlier of involvement in torture by: monitoring and participating directly in torture procedures; instructing interrogators to continue, adjust, or...

Video: Psychologists Collaborated with CIA & Pentagon on Post-9/11 Torture Program, May Face Ethics... - A new independent review has revealed extensive details on how members of the the American Psychological Association, the ... Via Youtube

The APA torture scandal and the Nuremberg doctors’ trial

By Tom Carter A 542-page independent report made public by the New York Times on Friday implicates the American Psychological Association (APA) in the CIA torture...

​High Court: 100s of asylum seekers, torture victims CAN sue UK govt for illegal...

A landmark High Court ruling has paved the way for hundreds of torture victims who were illegally detained by the British government to sue...

Legalized Torture: Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Cruel Lethal Injections

The question of whether we, as a nation, should have the death penalty is often framed around whether or not a particular defendant deserves...

100 Groups From Around the World to UN: Demand Accountability for CIA Torture

This Friday, the world will mark International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. This day is commemorated every year to reaffirm the universal...

Torture Is Already Illegal – So Why "Ban" It?

The US Senate voted by a high margin to ban the use of torture on June 16. The bill is an amendment to the...

The Case Against Re-Banning Torture Yet Again, Again

Senator McCain and friends have a new push on to once again ban torture (except for exceptions in the Army Field Manual) that is...

Torture and humiliation enshrined in US history: Activist

Torture and humiliation are enshrined in the United States’ history, according to an American activist and radio host in California. Rodney Martin, the chairman of...

Guantanamo detainee details CIA sexual abuse and torture

  (WSWS) - Newly-released testimony from Guantanamo Bay prisoner Majid Khan has shown that the CIA used torture practices that were “far more brutal and sadistic”...

‘I Wished They Had Killed Me’: CIA Detainee Torture Account Declassified

Majid Khan, kidnapped by U.S. officials in 2003, said abuse was more brutal than anything which appeared in Senate's investigative report last year Nadia Prupis (Common...

The Other Conspirator: Secret Origins of the CIA’s Torture Program

The witness reported men being hung by the feet or the thumbs, waterboarded, given electric shocks to the genitals, and suffering from extended solitary...

Federal court blocks release of CIA torture report

By Ed Hightower (WSWS) - A US District Court judge has thrown out a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that sought the...

US prisons rife with violence and torture against mentally disabled prisoners

By Zaida Green (WSWS) - Mentally disabled prisoners in the bloated US prison system are subject to violent and even deadly abuse, according to a new report....

“Frontline” broadcast documents CIA torture program

  By Eric London (WSWS) -  On Tuesday, May 19, PBS aired an episode of its weekly television program “Frontline” documenting the Central Intelligence Agency’s torture of hundreds of...

Chicago Just Became the First US City to Pay Reparations to Victims of Police...

For nearly 20 years, officers of the Chicago Police Department tortured more than 100 people. How survivors and their lawyers won a decades-long fight. In...

US court rules to keep classified ‘torture’ documents secret

A court has blocked an effort by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to force the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to release secret records...

New torture allegations from Chicago “black site”

By David Brown (WSWS) - New allegations of sexual assault, torture, and the planting of evidence by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) have come to light as...

The Red Line of Torture

After I blew the whistle on the CIA’s torture program in 2007, the fallout for me was brutal. To make a long story short,...

Chicago residents speak on police torture at Homan Square "black site"

By George Marlowe (WSWS) - A string of revelations by the Guardian newspaper have exposed widespread police torture by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) at a...

As Chicago Pays Victims of Past Torture, Police Face New Allegations of Abuse at...

More victims have come forward to detail recent abuse inside Homan Square, a secret compound used by Chicago police for incommunicado interrogations and detentions...

Poland pays compensation to ex-inmates of CIA torture sites on its territory

Published time: May 15, 2015 19:36

Szymany airport in Poland, allegedly used for covert prisoner transportation by the CIA in 2003 Poland.(AFP Photo / Piotr Placzkowski )

Warsaw has paid €230,000 to two former inmates of CIA "black site" prisons, which used to be on Poland's territory - a move that has raised questions in the country.

"Poland has fulfilled the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights," Deputy Foreign Minister Rafał Trzaskowski said on Thursday, RIA Novosti reports. He said that money had been sent to one victim's bank account. The other's share had been transferred to his court deposit, as he is under international sanctions.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in July 2014 that Poland must pay compensation to the two terror suspects: Palestinian Abu Zubaydah and Saudi Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who were held and tortured in CIA-run detention centers in Poland between 2002 and 2003. The court set this Saturday as the deadline for the payments.

The two men are now being held in America's Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. They are to receive €100,000 each for psychological damage, plus Zubaydah is due an additional €30,000 in court expenses.

READ MORE: Renewed suspicions US was ‘lobbied’ to leave UK out of CIA torture report

Warsaw's decision to pay up raised questions in Poland. Opposition lawmaker Witold Waszczykowski, cited by AP, said: “I think we shouldn’t pay, we shouldn’t respect this judgment. This is a case not between us and them – it’s between them and the United States government.”

However, no US officials have been held accountable to date. The only other related ruling handed down by the European Court of Human Rights was to Macedonia. In 2012, it was ordered to pay €60,000 for the detention of a Lebanese-German, who was subjected to abuse by the CIA on trumped up terror suspicions.

Poland has been investigating allegations of secret CIA detention centers or "black sites" on its territory since 2008. In December 2014, Poland's former President Aleksander Kwaśniewski officially admitted that a secret CIA prison had existed at an airbase, where terror suspects were brought for torture and interrogation. He insisted, though, that Warsaw had no idea about the abuse happening at the site.

Kwaśniewski's statement came on the heels of a US Senate committee report on CIA activities. In August the same year, Barack Obama admitted for the first time that torture had indeed taken place in American custody after the 9/11 attacks.

READ MORE: 'Crimes and Impunity': Amnesty slams US failure to act on torture report

The authorities should have expected to be held accountable sooner or later, criminology professor Ben Davis told RT. "The only people who have been betrayed in all of this are the ordinary people in all of these countries," he said. "The ordinary citizens who count on their governments not to torture people, to comply with their obligations in international law or domestic law."

Closing the Door on Torture

John Kiriakou (Otherwords) - After I blew the whistle on the CIA's torture program in 2007, the fallout for me was brutal. To make a...

Secret Coordination Between American Psychological Association And US Torture Regime

Sarah Lazare A new report from human rights investigators and medical professionals reveals that the prestigious American Psychological Association secretly helped the administration of former...

Investigating CIA Torture: The Bureau and The Rendition Project publish first quarterly report

An unprecedented picture of the 119 individuals secretly detained and tortured by the CIA as part of the US’s war on terror has been...
Reuters / Jim Young

Torture victims to get $5.5 million from Chicago police

The city of Chicago says it will pay $5.5 million to compensate victims who were tortured by law enforcement under the administration of a...

See Ex-CIA Director Porter Goss Squirm As He Gets Grilled About CIA Torture

When questioned by Democracy Now! host and executive producer Amy Goodman, former CIA Director Peter Goss said the bipartisan Senate Committee Report on the...

Master’s Degree: Teaching Torture as a Western Value

In a recent London Review of Books article detailing the abysmal horrors of Egypt's prison system -- a multi-circled hell with visible and invisible...

Did the CIA Really Get a “Bum Rap” on Torture?

Last week, David Cole, the Hon. George J. Mitchell Professor in Law and Public Policy at Georgetown University Law Center, the co-chairman of the...

From Torture to Drone Assassination: How Washington Gave Itself a Global Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card

"The sovereign is he who decides on the exception," said conservative thinker Carl Schmitt in 1922, meaning that a nation's leader can defy the...

US Senate Intelligence committee corrects CIA torture report after Bureau probe

Crofton Black, The Bureau Investigates Reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license The US Senate Committee on Intelligence has issued a significant correction to its summary...

Above the law? UK govt attempts to block torture, rendition lawsuit

Government lawyers are arguing in Britain’s Court of Appeal that the case of a Pakistani man who claims he suffered brutal torture at the...

MPs’ torture statement based on “limited” evidence

A statement published today by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) on whether the UK requested redactions from the Senate torture report has admitted...

6 Heroes Who Refused to Torture

Why was it again that, as President Obama said, “we tortured some folks” after the 9/11 attacks? Oh, right, because we were terrified. Because...

Dick Cheney and the Worship of Torture

“I knew what I was doing,” Harry Truman said after the atomic bombs he ordered dropped not once but twice on Japanese cities–140,000 people...

Freed CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou Says “I Would Do It All Again” to Expose...

In a broadcast exclusive interview, we spend the hour with John Kiriakou, a retired CIA agent who has just been released from prison after...

In Torture Report Face-Off, ACLU Fights GOP Repo Man

If the White House gives in to Sen. Richard Burr's demands, civil rights group says it 'faces the real threat of never securing the...

CIA torture report architect denounces GOP attempt to have all copies returned

The architect of the Senate’s landmark inquiry into Central Intelligence Agency torture is denouncing an unusual demand from her successor to return all classified...

Revealed: Only 29 of 119 Detainees Tortured by CIA Remain in Guantánamo

Less than a quarter of the 119 detainees named in the US Senate’s summary report into the CIA’s secret torture programme remain in the military prison for the most...

Torture’s Time for Accountability

Ray McGovern I trust I was not alone in seeing irony in President Barack Obama’s public chiding of Sony on Friday for caving in to...

Torture and State Power

In his book ‘Discipline and Punish’ Michel Foucault placed the relation of physical torture to subsequent non-violent strategies of social coercion, ‘scientific’ social control...

‘UK govt betrayed us,’ say Al-Sweady soldiers cleared of Iraqi murder, torture

British soldiers recently cleared of accusations including torture, murder and mutilation of Iraqi detainees say they were “betrayed” by the government for having to...

Americans Support Torture … Because They Don’t Know THIS

Reprinted with permission from Washington's Blog What Americans STILL Don’t Know… New polls show that — even after the Senate torture report showed that torture is...

Defenders of the CIA Torture Program Are Driving America to Moral Suicide

The release of the Senate Select Committee report on CIA torture of detainees has exposed America to great peril. But the danger of publication...

UK drone net got torture-grade CIA comms

A computer network that the US Central Intelligence Agency began using a decade ago to conduct the kidnap and torture of terrorist suspects has...

Advocates of CIA Torture Victims Demand: ‘Charge Them, Or Let Them Go’

In the wake of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's bombshell report last week, advocates for those who were victims of the CIA's brutal torture...

CIA Psychological Torture Is Still Torture

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Healthcare Professionals Involvement in US Torture

Healthcare Professionals Involvement in US Torture

by Stephen Lendman

On November 4, an independent panel of military, ethics, medical, public health, and legal experts said Pentagon and CIA officials directed doctors and psychologist to ignore medical ethics, principles and standards.

Post-9/11, the Task Force on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centers said they collaborate in securing intelligence.

"(D)esigning, participating in, and enabling torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment" substituted for do no harm. Established practices continue.

Dr. Gerald Thomson is Columbia University Professor of Medicine Emeritus. He's duly outraged.   
"The American public has a right to know that the covenant with its physicians to follow professional ethical expectations is firm regardless of where they serve," he said.
"It’s clear that in the name of national security the military trumped that covenant, and physicians were transformed into agents of the military and performed acts that were contrary to medical ethics and practice." 
"We have a responsibility to make sure this never happens again."
The Task Force's report is titled "Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the War on Terror. More on it below.
Ethics Abandoned isn't the first report on healthcare professionals abandoning their oath to do no harm.
In April 2009, a confidential February 2007 ICRC torture report was released. It's titled "ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen 'High Value Detainees' in CIA Custody."

It discusses harsh and abusive treatment. It does so from time of arrest, detention, transfer, and incarceration at Guantanamo. 

It explains the involvement of healthcare professionals. It covers:

  • their monitoring of and direct participation in torture procedures;

  • instructing interrogators to continue, adjust, or stop certain ones;

  • informing detainees that medical treatment depended on their cooperation;

  • performing medical checks before and after each torture session; and

  • treating the effects of torture as well as ailments and injuries during incarceration.

Condoning or participating in torture grossly violates medical ethics. Doing so is strictly prohibited.

The World Medical Association (WMA) Declaration of Tokyo "Guidelines for Physicians Concerning Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Relation to Detention and Imprisonment" states:

In all cases at all times, "physician(s) shall not countenance, condone or participate in" torture or any other form of abuse.

They "shall not use nor allow to be used (their) medical knowledge or skills, or health information" to aid abusive interrogations in any way.

They "shall not be present during any procedure during which torture or any other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is used or threatened."

They "must have complete clinical independence" in treating persons entrusted to their care. 

WMA encourages the international community and practicing physicians to support medical professionals who face "threats or reprisals resulting from a refusal to condone" all forms of torture and abuse.

According to Protocol I of the 1949 Geneva Conventions:

"Persons engaged in medical activities shall neither be compelled to perform acts or to carry out work contrary to, nor be compelled to refrain from acts required by, the rules of medical ethics or other rules designed for the benefit of the wounded and sick, or this Protocol."

In July 2006, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) published a report titled, "Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

It included evidence of medical personnel involvement in torture. Eyewitness testimonies confirmed it. So did prisoners CCR lawyers interviewed.

International law is clear and unequivocal. The UN Convention Against Torture prohibits it at all times, under all circumstances, with no allowed exceptions.

Third Geneva bans "violence to life and person (as well as) humiliating and degrading treatment." It mandates proper medical care.

Fourth Geneva affords the same rights to civilians in times of war. The federal anti-torture statute (18 USC, 2340A) prohibits its use. 

It defines is as "an 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."

Constitutional law prohibits cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment.  

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) bans cruelty, oppression, actions intended to degrade or humiliate, and physical, menacing, and threatening assaults.

The US War Crimes Act prohibits grave Geneva breaches.

Geneva's Common Article III prohibits "violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture (as well as) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment."

It doesn't matter. Torture remains official US policy. Medical professionals are criminally involved.

The Task Force report is based on two years research. Its 19 members reviewed public domain records. 

Department of Defense and CIA policies "institutionalized a variety of interventions by military and intelligence agency doctors and psychologists that breach ethical standards to promote well-being and avoid harm." They include:

  • "Involvement in abusive interrogation; consulting on conditions of confinement to increase the disorientation and anxiety of detainees; 

  • Using medical information for interrogation purposes; and 

  • Force-feeding of hunger strikers."

Vital medical care was denied. Healthcare professionals "substantially deviate from ethical standards traditionally applied to civilian medical personnel."

Grave breaches include:

  • "Excus(ing) violations of ethical standards by inappropriately characterizing health professionals engaged in interrogation as 'safety officers;' 

  • Implement(ing) rules that permitted medical and psychological information obtained by health professionals to be used in interrogations; 

  • Requir(ing) physicians and nurses to forgo their independent medical judgment and counseling roles, as well as to force-feed competent detainees engaged in hunger strikes even though this is forbidden by the World Medical Association and the American Medical Association; 

  • Improperly designat(ing) licensed health professionals to use their professional skills to interrogate detainees as military combatants, a status incompatible with licensing; and 

  • Fail(ing) to uphold recommendations by the Army Surgeon General to adopt international standards for medical reporting of abuse against detainees."

CIA Office of Medical Services personnel were criminally involved in approving so-called "enhanced interrogation" methods (aka torture and other forms of abuse).

The Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) endorsed the Task Force's report. IMAP promotes professionalism in medicine.

It conducts research on past, present and future professionalism roles. It wants it to be relevant to physicians, medical organization leaders, policy analysts, public officials and consumers.

Its president, David Rothman said:

"Putting on a uniform does not and should not abrogate the fundamental principles of medical professionalism."

" 'Do no harm' and 'put patient interest first' must apply to all physicians regardless of where they practice."

Task Force members say US agencies continue "follow(ing) policies that undermine standards of professional conduct."

They do so with regard to interrogations, hunger strikes, and reporting abuse. Ethical breaches include:

  • "issuing protocols requiring doctors and nurses to participate in the force-feeding of detainees, including forced extensive bodily restraints for up to two hours twice a day;

  • enabling interrogators access to medical and psychological information about detainees for exploitation by interrogators; and

  • permitting clinical care for detainees to suffer from the inability or failure of clinicians to address causes of detainee distress from torture."

Task Force member Leonard Rubenstein is a Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Center for Human Rights and Berman Institute of Bioethics legal scholar.

"Abuse of detainees, and health professional participation in this practice, is not behind us as a country," he said.

"Force-feeding by physicians in violation of ethical standards is illustrative of a much broader legacy in which medical professionalism has been undermined."

Task Force members urge current unethical practices be fully and independently investigated. 

They call for establishing codes of conduct complying fully with proper medical and psychological practices.

They want what they're not likely to get. It bears repeating. Torture is official US policy. 

Guantanamo is the tip of the iceberg. America maintains torture prison black sites. It does so globally. Abusive practices continue out of sight and mind.

Washington is by far the world's leading human rights abuser. It's unaccountable. Media scoundrels ignore it.

America gets away with the worst kinds of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. Obama exceeds the worst of George Bush. 

He bears full responsibility for unspeakable crimes against humanity. They continue out-of-control on his watch.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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In the best known of these cases, Gaddafi opponent Abdulhakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar are taking the Government, MI6 and former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to court next week over their alleged role in their kidnap and ‘rendition’ to Libya in 2004, where Mr Belhaj was tortured.  Mr Straw was Foreign Secretary, with responsibility for MI6, at the time.
Lawyers for the UK Government have claimed that the case should not proceed as it would damage UK-US relations and the US’ willingness to share intelligence with the UK.   However, asked today by Reprieve’s Strategic Director, Cori Crider, whether he agreed with UK ministers’ claim that rendition and torture cases cannot be tried in Britain without endangering the intelligence-sharing relationship with the US, Asa Hutchinson, who also headed the Drugs Enforcement Administration under Bush, said “no.”
Mr Hutchinson was speaking at the UK launch of a report on ‘Detainee Treatment’ produced by a panel of former security officials, military figures, and senior US politicians.  He was joined by former US Ambassador to the UN, Thomas Pickering, also a member of the panel, who agreed with his view on the UK Government’s claims.  Ambassador Pickering stated that the information being shared and the partnership between the US and UK were “too important” and that, as a result, “of course” the information would be shared.
Ambassador Pickering also criticised the recently-passed Justice and Security Act, which rolls out secret courts known as Closed Material Procedures across the civil justice system in Britain, arguing that it seems it will lead to “more secrecy, not less.”
On Shaker Aamer, the British resident detained at Guantanamo Bay despite having been cleared for release, he said that “The US should immediately release Aamer or give reasons for his continued detention.”
Commenting, Cori Crider said: “When a Bush-era senior security official and a former US ambassador both dismiss the UK Government’s claims on why torture cases should not come before the court, it becomes clear that ministers do not have a leg to stand on.   Government lawyers are trotting out the same tired old line to try to avoid accountability: that it will harm national security, and the US will stop sharing intelligence with us.  Under-Secretary Hutchinson’s and Ambassador Pickering’s comments show that this claim is nonsense.”
Notes to editors
1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8166 / [email protected] uk

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

Nermeen Shaikh: On the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led attack on Iraq, a series of deadly bomb blasts has hit the capital city of Baghdad. The first attack came early morning Tuesday and killed a Finance Ministry official. It was followed by more than a dozen bombings that targeted a vegetable market, a bank and a restaurant. At least 65 people were killed, and hundreds more were wounded. The spate of violence comes as many Iraqis are reflecting on what has changed in their country since the invasion, which led to the ouster of longtime leader Saddam Hussein. Many say they have yet to see any of the benefits they were promised.

Ghali Al-Atwani: [translated] The decision to go to war in Iraq was incorrect. Firstly, Iraq was put under Chapter VII. Then the war was waged. Nothing has changed in Iraq. There was Saddam’s dictatorship before, but now there’s a collective dictatorship in Iraq. What has changed in Iraq? The economic situation is very bad. The public services are in poor condition. Baghdad was flooded with water because of heavy rains. So the Americans always bring destruction and death in every place they go and invade.

Amy Goodman:The almost nine-year U.S. occupation of Iraq led to the deaths of at least 134,000 Iraqi civilians and contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands more. Many in Iraq continue to suffer the consequences of the invasion.

Later we’ll also talk about the war’s impact on U.S. military veterans, but first we’re joined by longtime Democracy Now! contributor Dahr Jamail, now an investigative reporter for Al Jazeera English in Doha. If you watched our coverage during the 10 years of the invasion, you will remember his reports from Fallujah and elsewhere. Dahr recently returned to Baghdad, where he filed several major reports. His recent stories for Al Jazeera include  and  He’s also reported on the million displaced Iraqis who are struggling without government aid. Dahr Jamail is the author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq and The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Welcome welcome back to Democracy Now!, Dahr. It’s good to have you with us. We last saw you when we were in Doha, as well. That’s where you are, at the studios of Al Jazeera. Dahr, talk about what you found in your most recent trip to Iraq.

Dahr Jamail:Well, it’s a huge question, Amy, because the situation in Iraq today, 10 years after the U.S.-led invasion and occupation began, it’s just utter devastation. It’s a situation where, overall, we can say that Iraq is a failed state. The economy is in a state of crisis, perpetual crisis, that began far back with the institution of the 100 Bremer orders during—under the Coalition Provisional Authority, the civil government set up to run Iraq during the first year of the occupation. And it’s been in crisis ever since.

The average Iraqi is just barely getting by. And how can they get by when there’s virtually no security across much large swaths of country to this day, where, you know, as we see in the headlines recently, even when there’s not these dramatic, spectacular days of dozens of people being killed by bombs across Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, on any given day there’s assassinations, there’s detentions, there’s abductions and people being disappeared and kidnapped? One of the demands, for example, of the ongoing Sunni protests in Fallujah and across much of Al Anbar province is to ban silencer weapons, as they describe them, because there are so many hidden executions happening. Iraq has basically become a lawless state where the government is laughingly referred to oftentimes as the "sidewalks government," because one of the only things visible that they’ve actually accomplished is to install some new sidewalks across parts of Baghdad.

But it’s really hard to describe the amount of devastation. I mean, we’re having to talk about a country where, since 2003 began, we can cite the Lancet study that was published in the peer-reviewed Lancet medical journal in 2006, which way back in that time, seven years ago—excuse me, seven years ago now, found 655,000 excess deaths in Iraq. And that’s now a grossly outdated study, particularly given the level of violence we saw in 2006, 2007, and the low-level chronic violence that perpetuates to this day.

Nermeen Shaikh: Dahr Jamail, a lot of people say that what’s going on in Iraq now is not so much the result of the U.S. invasion but rather sectarian war between Sunnis and Shias. Could you respond to that? Do you agree?

Dahr Jamail:I don’t agree. I think all of this is a direct result of—either direct or indirectly a result of the U.S. invasion and occupation and the strategy applied. I mean, we saw something come out just last week in a joint investigation of BBC Arabic and The Guardian, which gave hard evidence, insider evidence, of the machinations of the U.S. using retired Lieutenant Colonel James Steele, infamous during the Reagan administration of orchestrating so many of the death squads in Central America along with Negroponte. Well, Negroponte happened to be the U.S. ambassador to Iraq for some of the occupation and, of course, brought in his old buddy James Steele to set up the same types of tactics, the detentions, the types of torture techniques that we’re seeing rampant across today—across Iraq today, the blatant attempts to foment sectarian violence, sort of a divide-and-conquer policy. Even Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld under Bush, back around 2006, 2007, referred to kind of casually using the "Salvador Option" in Iraq, and that’s precisely what he was describing.

So, the sectarianism fomented where, you know, we don’t have a natural sectarianism or animosities between the sects in Iraq, but it was only after the occupation began and these strategies were applied by the Bush administration that we saw the violence, the purging in the mixed neighborhoods, that continues to this day, and the sectarianism, and basically turning Iraqis against one another very effectively. And this is a direct result of the Bush administration policy, as well as bringing in Maliki as prime minister himself.

We have to remember that when neoconservative Zalmay Khalilzad was the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Maliki was basically the guy that the U.S. government and Iran could agree with as having as prime minister. And so, there wasn’t a whole lot of democracy involved in that whatsoever. I say, tongue in cheek, he was basically appointed by Zalmay Khalilzad and agreed upon by the powers that be in Iran, and he of course remains prime minister to this day despite—we’ve had elections that clearly he has not won, yet he remains in power.

Amy Goodman:Dahr, I wanted to go to that Guardian/BBC Arabic report that found that a key U.S. general behind the effort, James Steele, as you said, had firsthand knowledge of brutal torture carried out by Iraqi surrogates but did nothing to stop it. Steele served as then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s liaison with Iraq’s Special Police Commandos. His stint in Iraq came 20 years after overseeing the U.S. special operations forces that trained government death squads in El Salvador. Speaking to The Guardian, an Iraqi general said Steele was unfazed when the torture of a young prisoner interrupted his lunch.

Gen. Muntadher Al-Samari:[translated] One of the detainees was screaming. By chance, James Steele was there outside, washing his hands. He opened the door and saw the detainee. He was hanging by his legs, upside down. James Steele didn’t react at all when he saw this man. It was just normal. He closed the door and came back to his seat in the advisers’ room.

Amy Goodman:Steele was a colonel. Dahr Jamail?

Dahr Jamail:Well, he’s a veteran of that kind of tactic. This goes way back to the ’80s all across Central America, which, you know, he clearly had plenty of opportunity to streamline his techniques. And that type of torture described in the clip that you just played is rampant.

The story that I did, talking primarily about the tactics and strategies being used by Maliki’s security forces, and particularly within the prisons—first of all, we have a situation where detentions across Iraq, primarily in Sunni-dominated parts of Baghdad, as well as in areas like Fallujah, predominantly Sunni cities, where people are being detained, en masse at times, nightly home raids, same type of stuff that the U.S. military used when they were in Iraq. And then the types of torture being described coming out of the prisons is truly horrific: people being hung by their ankles for days at a time while their heads are in buckets of water on the ground; people having their hands tied behind their backs and then hung from their hands for sometimes days at a time; electrical shock being used on people’s limbs, on their genitals, on their tongues; men being raped by broom handles as well as bottles; women in prison being raped. I spoke with one woman released just over a week ago at this point, talking about how she had been in prison for four years and was raped repeatedly by Iraqi forces.

Other types of techniques being used—and again, all of this comes back to the types of workings of Colonel James Steele, where as people are being—men are being threatened. And I interviewed several Iraqis who said this, that when they were detained, they said, "Look, they threatened me that if I didn’t talk and give them the information they wanted or give them some names that would help them acquire the information that they wanted," that their sisters, their mothers, their wives would be brought in and raped repeatedly in front of them. So, of course people would just start giving them anything that they thought they wanted to hear.

But the types of torture is ongoing. It’s rampant. It’s one of the driving factors as to why we’re seeing massive Friday protests now, well into the three month, across Al Anbar province and the Adhamiyah district of Baghdad, where Sunnis are demanding a halt for the detentions, a halt of the so-called Article 4, which is the legislation passed and being used in the Iraqi government that—basically where they took a page out of the Bush playbook of giving them carte blanche to arrest anybody for any reasons under the guise of terrorism charges, of suspected terrorism, and then they can be held indefinitely. I spoke with people both at Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch about this, and they said one of the problems now is, it’s the detentions and the being held secretly is so rampant now by the Iraqi security forces that there isn’t really even a need for secret prisons anymore. Remember a ways back, we had—it all came out that there were secret Maliki prisons. Well, now, today in Iraq, they’re referring—they’re being referred to by a lot of Iraqis as "secret prisoners," because people are being detained, their families aren’t—there’s no law requiring that the families be notified, nobody knows where these people are. They can be held in any prison anywhere in broad daylight, because no name is being registered anywhere. So, literally, we have untold numbers of people being detained, being treated horrifically.

And as people in Fallujah have told me, they said, "Look, we think that the Maliki regime tactics are even worse than the Americans," because when the Americans—when they detain people, there was at least hope that they would eventually be released, and likelihood that they would. Under Maliki, that hope is gone; there’s not a hope. The Fallujahns also referred to as the Americans therefore being at least somewhat more merciful than the tactics being employed by the Maliki regime, because people are being detained and not being heard from again, except in one instance, I interviewed the mother of a young man. He was 17 years old when he was detained. He was held for a year and a half. They never could find him, until she received a phone call from him saying, "Look, I’ve been a prisoner in these prisons, and I’m getting one last phone call to say goodbye to you, because tomorrow I’m going to be executed."

Amy Goodman:Dahr Jamail, we’re going to come back to you. Dahr Jamail, investigative journalist who has just returned from Iraq, he’s speaking to us from Al Jazeera headquarters in Doha. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back with him in a minute.

Maliki’s Iraq: Rape, Executions and Torture

Iraq is wracked by detentions, torture, and executions, and fingers are pointing at Prime Minister Maliki.

Baghdad - Heba al-Shamary (name changed for security reasons) was released last week from an Iraqi prison where she spent the last four years.

"I was tortured and raped repeatedly by the Iraqi security forces," she told Al Jazeera. "I want to tell the world what I and other Iraqi women in prison have had to go through these last years. It has been a hell."

Heba was charged with terrorism, a fate faced by many Iraqis who are detained by security forces.

"I now want to explain to people what is occurring in the prisons that [Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki and his gangs are running," Heba added. "I was raped over and over again, I was kicked and beaten and insulted and spit upon."

Heba's story, horrific as it is, unfortunately is but one example of what a recent report from Amnesty International refers to as "a grim cycle of human rights abuses" in Iraq today.

The report, "Iraq: Still paying a high price after a decade of abuses", exposes a long chronology of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees committed by Iraqi security forces, as well as by foreign troops, in the wake of the US-led 2003 invasion.

One Iraqi woman, speaking on condition of anonymity, said her nephew was first detained when he was just 18. Held under the infamous Article Four which gives the government the ability to arrest anyone "suspected" of terrorism, he was charged with terrorism. She told, in detail, of how her nephew was treated:

"They beat him with metal pipes, used harsh curse words and swore against his sect and his Allah (because he is Sunni) and why God was not helping him, and that they would bring up the prisoners' mothers and sisters to rape them," she explained to Al Jazeera. "Then they used electricity to burn different places of his body. They took all his cloths off in winter and left them naked out in the yard to freeze."

Her nephew, who was released after four years imprisonment after the Iraqi appeals court deemed him innocent, was then arrested 10 days after his release, again under Article 4. This law gives the government of Prime Minister Maliki broad license to detain Iraqis. Article four and other laws provide the government the ability to impose the death penalty for nearly 50 crimes, including terrorism, kidnapping, and murder, but also for offenses such as damage to public property.

While her nephew was free, he informed his aunt of how he and other detainees were tortured.

"They made some other inmates stand barefoot during Iraq's summer on burning concrete pavement to have sunburn, and without drinking water until they fainted. They took some of them, broke so many of their bones, mutilated their faces with a knife and threw them back in the cell to let the others know that this is what will happen to them."

She said her nephew was tortured daily, as he wouldn't confess to a crime he says he didn't commit. He wouldn't give names of his co-conspirators, as there were none, she said.

"Finally, after the death of many of his inmates under torture, he agreed to sign up a false confession written by the interrogators, even though he had witnesses who have seen him in another place the day that crime has happened," she added.

He remains in prison, where he has told his aunt he is now being tortured by militiamen and one of his eyes has been lanced by them.

Yousef Abdul Rahman has an equally shocking story, from being detained in 2011 and spending four months in "the worst of prisons".

"I was kept in a Maliki prison, where they dumped cold water on me and used electricity on me," he told Al Jazeera. "Many of the prisoners with me were raped. They were raped with sticks and bottles. I saw the blood on their bodies, and I saw so many men this happened to."

In today's Iraq, it is unfortunately all too easy to find Iraqis who have had loved ones who have been detained and tortured, and the trend is increasing, according to Iraqis Al Jazeera spoke with, along with several human rights groups.

'This was really harmful to me'

Ahmed Hassan, a 43-year-old taxi driver, was detained by Iraqi police at his home in the Adhamiyah district of Baghdad in December 2008. He was charged with "terrorism", and held in a federal police prison in nearby Khadimiyah.

Hassan told Al Jazeera the prison was run by the Ministry of Interior, but alleged it was overseen by Prime Minister al-Maliki himself.

He said he was regularly tortured and held in a six-by-four metre cell with "at least 120 detainees, with a small toilet that has no door, and scarce running water".

Prisoners received one meal a day that was often undercooked. And it was so crowded that "most of us would be forced to sleep standing", he said.

Hassan explained that his jailors had "various techniques of torture".

Iraqis held in what are now commonly referred to as "Maliki's jails" are telling horror stories of torture techniques used, including beatings, hangings, and electricity. [GALLO/GETTY]

"They forced me to drink huge amounts of water and then would tie up the head of my penis so I could not urinate. This was really harmful to me," said Hassan.

Another method was to "take off my fingernails with a pair of pliers, one by one."

This was an attempt to elicit confessions for crimes he said he never committed.

Hassan said he was also hung upside down from his feet with his head placed in a bucket of water while he was whipped with plastic rods.

Stories of detentions and torture and executions are everywhere in today's Iraq.

Sheikh Khaled Hamoud Al-Jumaili, a leader of the ongoing demonstrations in Fallujah against the Maliki government, told Al Jazeera there that "thousands of Fallujans have been detained and we don't know how many are now dead or on death row."

"The fighting from 2004 has never stopped," he added. "We simply switched from fighting the Americans to fighting Maliki and his injustice and corruption."

Another Fallujah sheikh, who asked to speak on condition of anonymity, told Al Jazeera he was detained and tortured by "Maliki's forces" in 2012.

"I was taken to the Khadamiyah prison [in Baghdad] and tortured there," he said while pulling up his shirt to reveal dark puncture wounds across his back. "I was beaten with sticks, punched, starved, spit upon, and hung by my ankles and then wrists. Maliki is even worse than the Americans."

Iraq currently has one of the highest rates of death sentences in the world, and Sunnis say they are suffering disproportionately from the killings.

Stories like those from Jassim and Hassan are exactly the kind referenced in the recent Amnesty International report.

"Torture is rife and committed with impunity by government security forces, particularly against detainees arrested under anti-terrorism while they are held incommunicado for interrogation," the report states.

"Detainees have alleged that they were tortured to force them to 'confess' to serious crimes or to incriminate others while held in these conditions. Many have repudiated their confessions at trial only to see the courts admit them as evidence of their guilt, without investigating their torture allegations, sentencing them to long term imprisonment or death."

Executions and International Condemnation

Saadiya Naif, 60, has had three of her sons executed – two by American forces during the occupation, and one in 2008 by Iraqis.

"Baker was arrested by Iraqi police and held for one and a half years," she told Al Jazeera, while weeping. "He was only 19 when they executed him. I tried to use lawyers to get him out of prison, but all three of them received death threats. Then, after one and a half years in prison, he phoned me to say goodbye, because he was to be executed the next day."

According to international human rights groups, at least 3,000 Iraqis received death sentences since 2005, which was the year capital punishment was reinstated after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

At least 447 prisoners have been executed since 2005, and hundreds of prisoners wait on death row. In addition, 129 prisoners were hanged in 2012.

The government of Prime Minister Maliki has been strongly criticised by both the UN and several other human rights groups for the number of executions being carried out.

Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said last year he was alarmed by reports of individuals who remain at risk of execution. "I am appalled about the level of executions in Iraq. I deeply deplore the executions carried out."

The surge in state-sanctioned killings has also drawn sharp criticism from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, who called it "a sharp increase from previous years".

"Given the lack of transparency in court proceedings, and the very wide range of offences for which the death penalty can be imposed in Iraq, this is truly a shocking figure," Pillay said.

Human Rights Watch's deputy Middle East director, Joe Stork, said Iraq "has a huge problem with torture and unfair trials".

Lisa Hajjar is a professor of sociology at University of California Santa Barbara and a visiting professor at American University Beirut. Her work focuses on torture and detention issues in the context of war.

She said the situation in Iraq is common in ongoing civil wars, with the regime in power attempting to eliminate opponents from the past. Hajjar described the executions and torture as "intentional state terror".

"I call it terroristic torture," Hajjar told Al Jazeera. "When people are tortured or there are extrajudicial executions, the purpose is to dissuade others. The goal is to create a visible spectacle, and the purpose is to terrorise communities into quiescence."

In response to this kind of international criticism, Iraq's Justice Ministry said torture might happen in isolated incidents, and the media exaggerates it.

"The international community has not been fair with the Iraqi people," Justice Ministry spokesman Haider al-Sadee recently told Al Jazeera. "When there is an explosion in America the whole world is rocked and countries are invaded as a result. But when Iraq defends its rights and executes a person after convicting him of a crime, international organisations condemn it."

"Speaking as an Iraqi citizen," he added. "I believe the least that should be done to show justice to the families of victims is to execute them publicly."

This cavalier attitude, along with increasing rates of detentions, reports of ongoing torture, and increasing executions, have factored largely into why predominantly Sunni areas of Iraq, like Baghdad's Al-Adhamiyah neighbourhood and much of Al-Anbar province, are holding regular demonstrations against Maliki's government.


Every Friday in Fallujah, for three months now, hundreds of thousands have demonstrated and prayed on the main highway linking Baghdad and Amman, which runs just past the outskirts of that city.

People in Fallujah, and the rest of Iraq's vast Anbar province, are enraged at the government of Prime Minister Maliki. They say his security forces, heavily populated by members of various Shia militias, have been killing and detaining Sunnis in Anbar Province, as well as across much of Baghdad.

Sheikh Khaled Hamoud Al-Jumaili, a leader of recent demonstrations, made it clear to Al Jazeera why the protests have been ongoing.

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is currently being accused of "being worse than the Americans" by people in Fallujah, or told Al Jazeera of ongoing detentions and executions being carried out by the Maliki government [GALLO/GETTY]

"We demand an end to checkpoints surrounding Fallujah, we demand they allow in the press, we demand they end their unlawful home raids and detentions, we demand an end to federalism and gangsters and secret prisons," he told Al Jazeera inside a tent just prior to recent Friday demonstrations.

Sheikh Jumaili went on to tell Al Jazeera that the millions of people in Anbar province had withdrawn all their demands on the Maliki government, because none of them had been met.

"Now we demand a change in the regime and a change in the constitution," he said. "We will not stop these demonstrations."

The Sheikh was then asked what would happen if the Maliki government did not listen to the demands of the protestors.

"Maybe armed struggle comes next," he replied.

While there is no way of linking the events, on March 14 Iraq's Ministry of Justice was attacked by at least one car bomb and a suicide bomber, as part of a series of coordinated attacks that rocked Baghdad, killing 24 and injuring at least 50 others.

Meanwhile, protests against the Maliki government's ongoing use of detentions, torture, and executions continue in Sunni areas around Iraq, with no sign of abatement.

Ongoing Condemnation

"Death sentences and executions are being used on a horrendous scale," Amnesty International's Hadj Sahraoui said in the group's recent report. "It is particularly abhorrent that many prisoners have been sentenced to death after unfair trials and on the basis of confessions they say they were forced to make under torture."

"It is high time that the Iraqi authorities end this appalling cycle of abuse and declare a moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty for all crimes," he added.

Human Rights Watch's Erin Evers, a Middle East Researcher working on Iraq, said she has received a wide range of figures from various sources as to the number of actual detainees.

"Iraq's Ministry of Justice claims 30,000 people in Ministry of Justice and Interior Ministry detention facilities, but there are a lot contradictions from the government," Evers told Al Jazeera. "I've had another source put the number at 50,000. The fact that the number varies so widely and that information on where and how people are detained is not widely available points to a larger problem."

A point made to Al Jazeera by many Iraqis is this: perhaps the Maliki government does not need secret prisons anymore, because it instead has "secret prisoners."

What is meant by this is that since the Iraqi security apparatus is not operating by the rule of law by carrying out arbitrary detentions and no due process, it is thus easy enough to detain people and hold them in normal facilities without having any record of them.

In this way it is possible for the government to interrogate ordinary Iraqis using any method it chooses, because the families and friends of the detainees have no idea where the detainee is, or how long they will be kept there.

Human Rights Watch told Al Jazeera the problem in Iraq today is "secret prisoners" since so many Iraqis are being detained that are not being registered with the government [GALLO/GETTY]

Evers went on to point out that the fact that the Iraqi justice system is so opaque points to the route of the problem.

"Which is that these institutions are failing, and it is a misnomer to call it a justice system as it's certainly not actually meting out justice," she said.

Amnesty International's report is based on information gathered from multiple sources, including interviews with detainees, victims' families, refugees, lawyers, human rights activists and others, plus reviews of court papers and other official documents.

Amnesty International sent its latest findings to the Iraqi government in December 2012 but has yet to receive any response.

"The real tragedy here is that not only are ordinary Iraqis suffering from ongoing terrorist attacks, but from the fact that the institutions that are supposed to protect them are instead targeting them," Evers concluded. "By invoking ordinary Iraqis' suffering from ongoing terrorist attacks and instability, the government implies that somehow it's OK to violate people's human rights under the guise of protecting them, and clearly even this not working."

Towards the Globalization of CIA Torture and Rendition


by Jeff Lincoln

A report released in early February by the Open Society Justice Initiative titled “Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition” establishes that the Central Intelligence Agency, acting under the direction of the highest levels of the US government, has utilized a global network of secret prisons, foreign intelligence agents, and interrogation and torture centers to send detainees to without any legal protections.

This arrangement is worldwide and includes the involvement of at least 54 different countries touching almost every continent.

There is enormous diversity among the countries involved. They include Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, Syria and Jordan, which carried out the torture on suspects that the CIA rendered to them. Poland, Lithuania, Romania and Thailand hosted secret prisons operated by the CIA where detainees could be held clandestinely and have interrogations or torture conducted directly by American intelligence operatives.

European nations such as Macedonia, Georgia, and Sweden detained and delivered suspects to the CIA to be tortured. Larger countries such as Britain or Germany conducted some of the interrogations themselves while smaller countries such as Iceland, Denmark, Belgium, or Greece provided intelligence, logistical support, use of airspace, etc.

On the whole, the report stands as an indictment against all of Washington’s allies and client states in its self-proclaimed “war on terror.”

The Australian government stands implicated in the rendition of Mamdouh Habib, an Australian national, to Egypt where he was tortured and then later transferred to Guantanamo Bay where he was detained until he was released without charge in 2005.

Egypt stands as the country that has interrogated, tortured and abused the most people subject to extraordinary rendition. The relationship between the US and Egypt dates back to the Clinton administration that used the country almost exclusively for its rendition program, which was dramatically ramped up after September 11, 2001.

Italy’s secret services played a role in the abduction of Abu Omar, an Egyptian cleric who was previously given asylum in Italy but was abducted in Milan in 2003; he was then placed on a flight to Egypt. Italian authorities authorized some 46 stopovers by CIA operated aircraft at Italian airports.

The United Kingdom, the country that enjoys the closest relationship with US imperialism, has extensive involvement with America’s rendition program. In addition to providing airspace, MI6 and other British intelligence worked hand in glove with the CIA to abduct and interrogate suspects. Omar Deghayes, a Libyan national but a British resident was arrested in 2002 and transported by US and British intelligence agents to Bagram, where he was subjected to abuse. After interrogation by MI5 agents, he was sent to Guantanamo where he underwent further physical abuse, suffering a broken finger, a broken nose, and damage to his right eye.

In 2004, the British government arranged to have a former member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, Sami al-Saadi, rendered into Libyan custody by approaching him in China and convincing him to fly to the British embassy in Hong Kong where he would be allowed to return to the UK. Instead, his whole family was taken into custody in Hong Kong and flown over to Libya where Mr. al-Saadi remained for six years and was subjected to torture by physical beatings and electric shocks.

While the report sheds some light on what countries are involved, the numbers of individuals subjected to rendition remains unknown. By 2005, it is estimated that about 150 persons were rendered to foreign countries according to admissions made by then-president George W. Bush. The real number is likely much higher, as Egypt alone has had to acknowledge that it received sixty to seventy terror suspects since September 11, 2001. Human Rights Watch has attempted to compile a list of persons who have been held in CIA prisons, and they have identified almost forty people who have either gone missing or whose whereabouts are unknown.

There are dozens more countries detailed in the report than just the ones mentioned above. Still, the report is extremely limited in scope in that it does not document transfers or detentions by any agency other than the CIA. It does not include the detention practices of the Defense Department, for example, and its notorious facilities in Guantanamo Bay or Afghanistan. Moreover, what is known is only based on the experiences of 139 individuals who have been released from custody. Nevertheless, it is now clear that the US government has been running a detention and “enhanced interrogation” operation with tentacles that span the globe.

It appears likely that the United States intentionally sought out the widespread involvement of so many countries to ensure that those who might later nominally reject these practices would themselves be so implicated that they would be unwilling to publicly expose the details of Washington’s dirty deeds.

Indeed, none of the countries mentioned in the report, save one, has even admitted any culpability for their participation in gross human rights violations. The lone exception is Canada, which assisted in the rendition of Canadian citizen Maher Arar in 2002 to Syria where he was tortured. A hastily conducted commission placed blame on the Royal Mounted Police but absolved those higher up in government of any responsibility. Other nations, such as Britain, Sweden and Australia have quietly settled lawsuits alleging their participation but have made no admission of liability.

As a matter of fact, far from acknowledging their complicity in abduction, rendition, and torture, many of the countries in the report were publicly denouncing these practices by the US government at the same time they were secretly abetting them.

A number of liberal and human rights organizations have reacted to the revelations in the Open Society Justice Initiative report by calling for and supporting the efforts of international tribunals to hear cases brought against officials of some of the countries complicit in assisting in the rendition of persons by the US Government.

While there are some actions pending in the European Court of Human Rights and other high courts against some of the countries named in the report for their role in assisting in rendition, the cases will have no impact on the operations of the CIA.

Setting aside the obvious fact that cases can only be brought by individuals whom the CIA has already decided to release, the outcome of these actions hinge on the narrow issue of the extent to which the participating countries knew or should have known torture was likely to occur. This glosses over the more fundamental issue that, unlike extradition, extraordinary rendition is, by definition, a transfer without legal process. In fact, the whole CIA program is designed to place detainee interrogations completely beyond the reach of law. Moreover, the US government has refused to recognize the jurisdiction of international courts of human rights.

President Barack Obama for his part, despite making claims of reversing the Bush-era CIA policies, has further escalated the crimes committed by his predecessor.

In January 2009, Obama issued a series of executive orders that purported to close down then existing CIA detention facilities and also created a task force to examine rendition practices and make recommendations to ensure humane treatment. These orders were nothing more than a sham to conceal the fact that, rather than restricting the ability of the CIA to conduct extraordinary renditions, the orders were purposely crafted to preserve it.

While Obama has ordered the CIA to shut down certain detention facilities, the directive specifically exempts facilities designed to hold people on a temporary or transitory basis. In other words, the executive order essentially codifies the CIA’s authority to detain suspects and then to render them to other countries to face interrogation, trial, or worse. Furthermore, if the CIA wanted the detainees to remain in the custody of the United States, they could be sent to a facility operated by the Department of Defense or kept offshore on a Navy vessel.

The task force created by Obama’s order functions merely as a fig leaf for the continuation of Bush-era policies. The report, which was completed in 2009, has not been made public and is not binding on any agency. However, as an example of its toothlessness, a Justice Department press release disclosed that one of the recommended safeguards was relying on assurances from the receiving country that the detainees would be treated humanely.

The Justice Department under Obama appointee Eric Holder has closed inquiries into the treatment of over 100 detainees who were in CIA custody overseas, including several who died while in custody, stating that no criminal charges would be pursued.

Pope Francis Accused by Family and Friends of Tortured Priests

Jorge Mario Bergoglio known for his opposition to progressive governments and clerics, is accused of silence, cooperation with Argentinean dictatorship.

Pope Francis accused by family and friends of tortured priests

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Oscar León is an experienced international press correspondent and documentary filmmaker based in Arizona. His work has reached continental TV broadcast in many occasions on Telesur, ECTV, Ecuavisa, Radio Canada, Canal Uno and even Fox Sports Latin America and El Garaje TV; he has been a TRNN correspondent since 2010. Oscar has reported from as many as 9 countries and more than 12 cities in US; his coverage includes TV reports, special reports and TV specials, not only covering social movements, politics and economics but environmental issues, culture and sports as well. This includes the series "Reportero del Sur", "Occupy USA - El Otoño Americano", "Habia una vez en Arizona", "Motor X" all TV mini series broadcasted to all Americas and "Once upon a time in Arizona" finalist in Radio Canada's "Migration" 2010 contest.


OSCAR LEON, PRODUCER, TRNN: Pope Francis I assumes the rule of the Catholic Church, an institution with undisclosed net worth as well as an enormous influence over a number of Roman Catholics. The congregation that was estimated in about 1.2 billion people at the end of 2010.In Argentina outside the cathedral in Buenos Aires, many people expressed their joy and pride for the first Latin American Pope.Fernando Cibeira, a journalist from Argentina's newspaper Pagina 12.FERNANDO CIBEIRA, JOURNALIST, PAGINA 12 (TRANSL.): This first signs he gave of austerity, of not using golden in the papal robes, of avoiding the limousine and ride in the bus along with many other cardinals are in deed Bergoglio's own. Here in Buenos Aires he uses public transportation. He really kind of does a show of his austerity, which is kind of contradictory, but he really goes to lengths to show that side of him. Over the last years there has been many press reports talking about him riding the subway and public buses like everybody else.LEON: Jorge Mario Bergoglio's record shows a grave stain. According to many, he did knew about the kidnapping and torture of thousands of people under Argentina's military rule from 1976 to 1983. He actually declared as a witness on two judicial causes against military torturers.Estela de la Cuadra was a former chairman of the Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo, a human rights NGO, the Grandmas From the Mayo Plaza, sadly known to be the mothers and relatives of the tortured and murdered family members.Estela says there is legal proof in a court case of appropriation of children born in torture cells, that Cardinal Bergoglio did knew about the disappearance of thousands of people as it was happening in 1977. She testified in that case.ESTELA DE LA CUADRA (TRANSL.): The Church as an institution participated actively in many aspects in times of dictatorship, even consulting, calming, and counseling those agents who participated on the "flights of the death" when they threw people alive into the sea. So the Church was part of it. Even now in many judicial process against the torturers, the role of the Church is being investigated.Two priests, Orlando Yorio and Francsco Jalics, former Jesuits, were kidnapped and tortured after being expelled from the order by Bergoglio, then local head of the Jesuits. They were allegedly branded "subversive" because of their work in poor neighborhoods.GRACIELA YORIO, SISTER OF ORLANDO YORIO (TRANSL.): My brother was kidnapped along with Francisco Jalics on May 23, 1976. He was then a Jesuit working on a very poor settlement--we call those emergency villas. His regional leader, who is now the Pope, had authorized that work. At some point after the work was underway, Bergoglio tells them to stop working, because dictatorship was approaching and any work with the poor was seen as "subversive."He expels them from the congregation, asking them to leave, and suggest them to go to other congregations to find shelter and maybe work as priests there. At the same time, he writes bad reports about them and he sends them to the bishops.So while he tells my brother and Francisco Jalics to go look for shelter at those convents, he ask the bishops not to receive them. That is why we say (Bergoglio) did not protect them.It was precisely at that time that they were kidnapped by the armed forces. They are then taken to the Army School of Mechanics, a place of torture, kidnap, and death. There they were interrogated, naked, with their heads covered and chained all the time.LEON: Orlando Yorio died claiming that Jorge Mario Bergoglio not only had left them unprotected, but he directly signal them to be taken. However, it has not been proved that Bergoglio sent the military to take Orlando Yorio as the priest died claiming. This fact was not uncommon, as it has been proved that schools, university, public and private corporations, they gave list of people deemed to be leftist and undesirable to the military.YORIO: As far as we have documented, the new pope was not new to this situation. He collaborated with the dictatorship. He not only left my brother and Francisco Jalics unprotected, but he did spread rumors of them being subversives or guerrilla members.There are documents to prove it. Journalist Horacio Vervistky made an extensive investigation. He found documents at the Department of State, were Bergoglio ask that authority to deny a passport to Francisco Jalics, who by then was a refugee in U.S.A.LEON: Francisco Jalics, who underwent this Calvary with Orlando Yorio, lives now in Germany and recently said in a statement that he had forgiven Father Bergoglio and reconciled with him. He says that he consider this matter to be closed.Father Eduardo De la Serna, pastor of Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish in Quilmes, Buenos Aires, Argentina, knew personally both Orlando Yorio and Jorge Mario Bergoglio back in those days.FATHER EDUARDO DE LA SERNA, PASTOR, JESUS THE GOOD SHEPHERD PARISH, QUILMES, ARGENTINA (TRANSL.TION): I lived with Orlando Yorio more than a year in parish. I knew him very well. we were not close friends, but we had shared quite a lot of time, even on theological events we have attended, me from a more biblical perspective, him from a theoretical one--he was accomplished in theology.Graciela Yorio's version is exactly what Orlando told us from day one, is not an exaggeration--those are Orlando's exact words. Orlando was naive to believe that the Church was changing for good (after the return to democracy). I personally believe that not only he was devastated when Bergoglio was pronounced Buenos Aires' bishop, but he completely fell apart. He sank. He left the country. He went to Uruguay, where after three years he died of a heart attack. His heart couldn't take it any longer.I understand anyone that tells me: I got frightened, I got scared, I didn't know, I was afraid to act. I understand that as long as they are telling me that straightforward. If they tell me, I understand I should have done otherwise but I was scared, I can understand that.The problem is when you stood silent and then it looks like you act appropriately.LEON: Forty-four accused tormenters of 471 people in a case of tortures at La Perla complex wore badges with the Vatican colors to celebrate Bergoglio's appointment, spreading rumors and causing reactions on the families of the victims.The Vatican quickly released an statement to respond at the accusations made against Jorge Mario Bergoglio for its alleged ties to the military regime, branding these arguments as "defamations of anticlerical leftist" and as "not credible ones". Reverend Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said, "there have been many declarations of how much he did for many people to protect them from the military dictatorship."The support for Jorge Mario Bergoglio is broad in Argentina, but not always free of criticism. Fernando Pino Solanas, a progressive congressman and film director, described Pope Francis as a man of "enormous fairness and wisdom", while Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Nobel Price for Peace, declared that: "Bergoglio was not part of the crimes, but he did not had the courage to fight with us."The influence of the pope is not merely spiritual. The Catholic Church was one of, if not the first, transnational corporation. It has an autonomic state--the Vatican--inside Rome, but independent from Italy, and it has diplomatic relations with 177 countries, from many of which it receives money, this according to the Concordatos Treaties with those countries.It would pretty much take a statesman to run such transnational organization. Father De la Serna believes Pope Francis I is prepared to deal with the organizational aspect and the power struggle known to take place at the Vatican.DE LA SERNA: In that aspect I have hope in others not so much, but in that one I have hope, this because Bergoglio knows how to handle power. This can be proven by the facts that he was elected fairly fast when he was not a favorite in the Vatican experts' forecast.Because Bergoglio thrives in power, I really doubt that the Roman Curia can step all over him like they did to Pope Benedict XVI. In that regard, the former pope proved to have no skill whatsoever to handle power, no executive skills.So I think Bergoglio is going to handle the power much better, and to the eyes of society and the Christian community he may also show a more humble and austere side of the Church.LEON: As far as Pope Francis's position torwards the theology of liberation, which calls for the need for social equality, Father de la Serna says Jorge Mario Bergoglio is not friend of such line of thought.DE LA SERNA: I don't think he is a close friend or is any friend at all of the Theology of Liberation. I don't know if he is an enemy of it, which is very different. I mean, he has attitudes close to the poor, but I dint think it's a liberate them attitude.We are still to see if he has words of criticism towards the causes of poverty, which is what the Theology of liberation does, meaning not only to be with the poor, but to bring them down from the cross.Around 1974, '75, '76, many Jesuits and other kinds of priest started abandoning the great congregations to go live in the poor neighborhoods called "misery villas", Bergoglio was adamantly opposed to that. He became the main detractor of that movement of priests.That denoted issues related to his close relationship with the dictatorship. Following that trend he latter became close to the right wing of the Peronist political movement and a group called Iron Guard.LEON: Fernando Cibeira also believes that Jorge Mario Bergoglio has a political side and he has actually been a player on the last years of Argentinean politics.CIBEIRA: Bergoglio is regarded from the government as an opposition leader. He regularly meets rather in secret with opposition leaders. Every now and then you hear strong declarations by him, which is why the government consider Bergoglio an opposition leader.LEON: Father De la Serna agrees and expands that argument even further, suggesting that in many countries the Church seems to favor the non-socialist administrations.DE LA SERNA: As regrettably has happen in Latin America with progressive administrations, the leader of the opposition seems to be some bishop, as it has happen with Guayaquil's Bishop in Ecuador, Caracas in Venezuela, Santa Cruz's in Bolivia, and Buenos Aires' in Argentina.One wonders why there are not bishops in the opposition with Uribe or Santos in Colombia or Pineira in Chile or Alan Garcia (former Peru president).LEON: Fernando Cibeira believes Bergoglio's fierce opposition to same sex marriage as was approved on 2011 by the Argentinean state was the inflection point between the Argentinean Church and Cristina Kirchner's administration.CIBEIRA: He's had some very harsh pronouncements against projects that the government was pushing for, especially the one about equal marriage rights to same-sex couples, which was one of the administration central projects, and to which Bergoglio was its main opposition leader--he called it "the devil's project" and such. That was the point of no return between Bergoglio and the government.LEON: President Cristina Kirchner, however, congratulated Pope Francis I and is scheduled to attend the ceremony of installation at the Vatican.Now with the ceremony of installation just days away, Latin America is watching to see if Pope Francis will use his new position to oppose the progressive governments and liberation theology clerics.For The Real News, this is Oscar Leon.


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Why Is the U.S. Funding International Drug Rehabs Known for Torture and Abuse?

Despite calls to close the centers, the U.S. government continues to fund them.

Photo Credit: (c) RDaniel/

March 14, 2013  |  

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The United States is not just funding an abusive drug war at home; taxpayer funds are propping up violently oppressive "drug treatment" centers that act more like detainment camps abroad. At the U.S.-backed Somsanga Rehabilitation Center in Laos, detainees are subjected to shocking physical abuse, including beating to the point of unconsciousness for showing withdrawal symptoms or attempting to escape. Allegations of sexual assault are also rampant.

According to reports, younger residents are raped by older detainees whom the center gives power to enforce rules and regulations. One Somsanga detainee interviewed by Human Rights Watch said he saw "supervisors rape boys between the ages of 10 and 14." Children are not exempt from indefinite detainment in these camps. UNICEF-sponsored investigations in Laos found 150 detainees under 18 in 2003, and more than 600 children in 2006.

Despite calls from human rights organizations, the United States has continued to pump money into the Somsanga Rehabilitation Center.

In March of last year, 12 United Nations agencies, including the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Health Organization, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and UNAIDS, issued a  joint statement calling for the closure of drug-user detention centers where they identified grave human rights violations. Abused patients, perhaps better described as inmates, should be released "without delay," the report urged. Nonetheless, a new report from UN's special expert on torture, Juan Mendez, explains that many nations, including the US, continue to send hundreds of thousands of dollars to "rehabilitation" centers that act as hubs for indefinitely holding and systematically abusing marginalized people.  

 "These centers continue to operate often with direct or indirect support and assistance from international donors without any adequate human rights oversight," the UN report says. Detainment in punitive drug-free centers still "exponentially" exceeds evidence-based treatment for drug dependence, Mendez said.

Mendez notes that "numerous calls by various international and regional organizations to close compulsory drug detention centers" --  as well as several recommendations and resolutions from WHO, UNODC, and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs -- "are routinely ignored." 

This June, the U.S. agreed to donate an additional $400,000 to the Somsanga center. US officials heeded no warnings issued by at least three separate reports (2003 UNICEF report, 2004 WHO report, and 2011 Human Rights Watch report), each of which warned against the center's deplorable conditions and inhumane treatment of detainees. The UN report says past US funds have been used to build dormitories "to expand the capacity of the government to detain drug users, street children, and ethnic minorities," as well as fences surrounding the center.

“International donors claim that Somsanga is a legitimate drug treatment center,” Joe Amon, director of health and human rights at Human Rights Watch, said in a press release prompted by the UN report. “The reality is that people, including children and the homeless, are held in Somsanga against their will, behind barbed wire fences, and are beaten and brutalized.”   

Inside Somsanga

Human Rights Watch says that while only a minority of amphetamine-users (the most popular drug in Laos) actually become addicted, legislators pressure local officials to declare their villages “drug-free.” Eager to comply with public policy, village officials and locals request for detainment in Somsanga people who use drugs only occasionally and do not necessarily require rehabilitation. 

Located in Laos near the capital of Vientiane, Somsanga’s patients did not voluntarily commit to drug addiction rehabilitation, nor is there always evidence that they are drug addicts. Rather, Somsanga detainees are picked up by police or sent away by relatives bowing to pressure to cleanse their villages of drug users. The result is not more addicts in drug treatment, but the detainment of "beggars, homeless people, street children, and people with mental disabilities" without due cause. One detainee cited in the report says an arrest for being out too late landed him in Somsanga for nine months. 

5 officers acquitted in Bahrain torture death case, 2 found guilty in separate murder

Published time: March 12, 2013 16:04

Shiite Bahraini protestors clash with security forces following a protest to mark the second anniversary of an uprising in the Sunni-ruled kingdom of Bahrain, on February 14, 2013 in the village of Sanabis, West of the capital Manama (AFP Photo)

Two Bahraini police officers were sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of torturing a Shiite protester to death. Three others were acquitted for “failing to report the crime,” a judicial source said.

The two policemen were convicted of "torturing to death Ali al-Saqr,” who was arrested during the February 2011 uprising, the source told AFP.

Saqr died on April 9, 2011, from “hypovolemic shock resulting from several traumas,” according to a report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Investigation (BICI), an international panel that investigated the events that unfolded during March and April of that year.

All five officers were found not guilty for the murder of another protester, Zakeriya Asheeri, who also died in 2011 while in detention.

“For the 4th time in 3 months a police officer [is] acquitted for killing a civilian. #bahrain culture of impunity," Said Yousif Almuhafda, the head of the monitoring section at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

Several other officers are currently being investigated or standing trial on allegations of torture after hundreds of demonstrators were detained following a crackdown on the protest movement in mid-March 2011.

In late January, a court sentenced a police officer to seven years in prison for torturing a protester to death.

Complicity in torture expands beyond rank-and-file police officers, as Bahraini Princess Nora Bint Ebrahim Khalifa also appeared in court over torture allegations in January. Princess Nora, who serves in Bahrain’s Drugs Control Unit, allegedly collaborated with another officer in the torture of three activists who had been taken into custody.

Two of the Bahraini King’s sons – Nasser Bin Hammad Khalifa and Khalid Bin Hammad Khalifa – as well as one other member of the royal family, Khalifa Bin Ahmed Khalifa, were also accused of directly taking part in torturing activists in the country, a 55-page report titled ‘Citizens in the Grip of Torture’ charged.

Authorities in the kingdom have said they are implementing the recommendations of an independent commission of inquiry appointed by the king, which confirmed the use of excessive force by security forces during the uprising.

Bahrain – home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet – is ruled by a Sunni monarchy, while over 75 percent of the population is Shia.

On February 14, 2011, thousands of protesters took to the streets of the capital Manama, demanding democratic reforms and the resignation of Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Khalifa, the longest-serving prime minister in the world.

Since the start of the uprising, opposition activists say at least 88 protesters have been killed, including nine children.

Civilian Torture And Human Rights Abuse Rife In Iraq

A new report released today has found that 10 years after the US-led invasion, Iraq remains “enmeshed in a grim cycle of human rights abuses, including attacks on civilians, torture of detainees and unfair trials.”

Pentagon Implicated In Iraq Torture Units

The investigation conducted by The Guardian and BBC Arabic, was sparked by the release of classified US military logs on WikiLeaks that detailed hundreds of incidents where US soldiers came across tortured detainees in a network of detention centres.

UK inquiry into Iraqi prisoner deaths reveals evidence of ‘torture’

Published time: March 05, 2013 00:59

A public inquiry into allegations that British soldiers in Iraq murdered 20 unarmed prisoners and tortured 5 others has begun in London, with further legal arguments expected to slow the inquiry in the deaths of the Iraqi men nine years ago.

The Al-Sweady inquiry will examine claims that Iraqi prisoners were tortured by British soldiers following the Battle of Danny Boy in Maysan province, southern Iraq in the summer of 2004.

Evidence has also come to light that several of the corpses suffered severe mutilation. Iraqi death certificates recorded that one man had allegedly had his penis removed while another two bodies were missing eyes.

Several of the corpses were also said to have signs of torture when they were handed back to their families by British personnel at Camp Abu Naji. 

However, there is major dispute between the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the families of the dead Iraqi men over the way in which the deaths occurred.

“The Iraqi witnesses say that the evidence points to there having been a number of Iraqi men having been taken into camp Abu Naji alive by the British military on 14th May, and who were handed back to their families dead the next day,” said Jonathan Acton Davis QC, counsel to the inquiry.

“The military say the evidence points to 20 Iraqi dead having been recovered from the battle and handed back to their families the next day,” he added, continuing that the two sides couldn’t even agree about the number of those killed or captured, or their identities.

On May 14th 2004, the troops embroiled in the allegations were involved in a fierce battle known as Danny Boy, the name of a permanent vehicle check point, which was on route six in Iraq. 

A group of insurgents launched an attack against vehicles of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. It soon developed into a fierce firefight, which also involved soldiers from the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, with many Iraqis shot dead and two British soldiers being wounded.

The Iraqi dead would normally have been left on the battlefield but British soldiers were allegedly told to try and identify an insurgent thought to be involved in the murder of 6 British soldiers a year earlier in 2003.

One of the first jobs of the inquiry is to try and establish whether the 20 Iraqis were killed in battle as the MoD claims or if in fact they were captured alive and then unlawfully killed.

The inquiry will also try to determine if five men taken prisoner following the battle of Danny Boy were mistreated at a second British base in Shaibah, near Basara, between 14 May and 23 September 2004.

The al-Sweady inquiry as it is known is named after Hamid al-Sweady, a 19 year old alleged victim.

The inquiry was set up after former prisoners and relatives of the dead men took their case to the High Court in London in February 2008. They are entitled to an independent inquiry because the UK is a signatory of the European convention on human rights.

But even as the enquiry opened on Monday, there were signs of legal disagreements to come. Lawyers for the relatives of the dead Iraqis are saying that its terms of reference are too narrow, while the MoD is arguing that it should be limited to allegations of mistreatment that were already decided in previous High Court rulings.

This is potentially the most embarrassing inquiry since the killing of 26-year-old Iraqi citizen Baha Mousa while in British custody in Basara in 2003. He was severely beaten on suspicion of being an insurgent. The Ministry of Defense never accepted any liability for Mousa's death.

According to Christpher Stanley of the UK-based Rights Watch group, "today [the MoD] is trying to manage it and put a cap on it. These are people getting away with grave human rights violations – including killing – without punishment or due process of law. “

So far the MoD has not come out well in the proceedings. The inquiry was ordered by then defense secretary Bob Ainsworth, after high court judges found that the MoD had made “serious breaches” of its duty.

Furthermore, British Foreign Minister William Hague has written a private memo to other ministers on March 1, urging them not to discuss Iraq and its legality in the run-up to the tenth anniversary of the NATO-led invasion.

Investigators have faced problems trying to access MoD documents concerning events covering the battle of Danny Boy and at Camp Abu Naj.

In 2010 investigators found in files of the Royal Military Police  a number of relevant papers which had been entirely absent from evidence disclosed by the MoD in previous court proceedings. While another 9 files were handed over by the MoD in 2011, a six week search by investigators of MoD archives found 600 documents that were relevant to the case.

Last week the inquiry was still waiting to receive emails from the MoD about a visit to the Shaibah base by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The inquiry has already cost the taxpayer £15 million and that is expected to double. Up to 200 military witnesses will be called and 45 Iraqis will give evidence through a video link from Beirut.

MoD Opposed Inquiry Into Torture And Death of Iraqi Civilians

The British Ministry of Defense "vigorously opposed" an inquiry into the death and torture of Iraqi civilians by UK soldiers, a lawyer representing Iraqis in the al-Sweady case, has claimed.

Bahrain jails 7 protesters as rights group claim ‘torture’ of activists

Published time: February 28, 2013 15:59

A protestor cries after being pepper sprayed as she is arrested by riot policemen on January 18, 2013. (AFP Photo / Mohammed Al-Shaikh)

Seven Shia Muslim men, three of whom are minors, have received 10-year jail sentences in Bahrain after being found guilty of attempting to murder police during protests last year. A day earlier, two policemen were acquitted of murdering a protester.

The trial took place on Wednesday. Attorney General  Mhanna al-Shayji said in an official statement that the group were accused of "intentionally attempting to kill policemen in the (Shiite) town of Sitra... using petrol bombs." Seven of the men received jail terms, and 13 others were acquitted.

The men were arrested in the wake of mass protests that took place in February 2012. Human rights groups voiced criticism of the arrests at that time, claiming the detainment was illegitimate, no arrest warrants had been presented, and the confessions of the accused were extracted under torture.

Bahraini protestors run for cover from tear gas fired by riot police during clashes with protestors, who tried to reach Salmaniya hospital to get the dead body of Mahmud al-Jaziri, on February 25, 2013. (AFP Photo / Mohammed Al-Shaikh)

Following the Wednesday ruling, the main Shia opposition bloc Al-Wefaq alleged that all 20 men, including the five minors, were "tortured" during their interrogation and spoke "under duress."

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights also noted that the judge presiding in the case, Mohammed Bin Ali Al-Khalifa, is a member of the ruling family.

In February 2012, violent clashes broke out in Bahrain at the funeral of a teenager killed during protests marking the one-year anniversary of a revolt by the Shia majority against the ruling Sunni monarchy. Police blocked and dispersed  the procession with stun grenades and tear gas.

Protester Fadhel Al-Matrook died of wounds from the police fire. However, the police officers were acquitted on Tuesday – a judge ruled they had no intent to kill, and were performing their duty during protests. Jalila al Sayed, a Bahraini human rights lawyer, described the verdict as "a very sad day for justice in Bahrain," BBC reported.

Bahraini human rights activists have unsuccessfully called on the international community to intervene, in what they described as the suppression of the country opposition.

Bahrain – home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet – is ruled by a Sunni monarchy, while over 75 percent of the population is Shia. In February 2011, thousands of protesters swarmed the streets of Bahrain's capital Manama, demanding democratic reforms and the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa. At least 82 protesters have been killed since the start of the uprising.

Bahraini protestors gather during clashes with riot police, who prevented them from reaching Salmaniya hospital to reclaim the dead body of Mahmud al-Jaziri, on February 25, 2013. (AFP Photo / Mohammed Al-Shaikh)

Torture at Guantanamo: Lt. Col. Stuart Couch on His Refusal to Prosecute Abused Prisoner

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Today we spend the hour taking an inside look at the Guantánamo military prison, where 166 men remain locked up. Many have been held for over a decade without charge. Our first guest today was one of the first military officers assigned to prosecute prisoners at Guantánamo. Stuart Couch joined the Marines in 1987, enrolled in law school, became a military prosecutor, and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He eventually left active duty but returned after the September 11th attacks. A friend of his, Michael Horrocks, died on September 11th. Horrocks was the co-pilot of United Airlines Flight 175, the second plane to hit the World Trade Center.

AMY GOODMAN: Two months after the attacks, President Bush issued an order creating military commissions to try prisoners captured abroad. Lieutenant Colonel Couch's first assignment was the prosecution of a man named Mohamedou Ould Slahi. At one point, Slahi was described as "the highest value detainee" at Guantánamo Bay. The case would change Couch's life and put him at the center of a national debate around torture, interrogations and ethics.

Couch's story is featured in the new book, Terror Courts: Rough Justice at Guantanamo Bay. It's by Wall Street Journal reporter Jess Bravin. Later in the show, we'll be joined by Jess, but first we turn to Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Couch, who's joining us from Charlotte, North Carolina, where he now works as an immigration judge.

Lieutenant Colonel, welcome to Democracy Now! Talk about the first day you went to Guantánamo and what you found.

LT. COL. STUART COUCH: Well, Amy, it was in October of 2003, shortly after I had joined the Office of Military Commissions. And on that particular day, I was waiting to watch the interrogation of one of the detainees who had been assigned to me to prosecute his case. This was a detainee that was particularly cooperative and involved in some very serious activities in the Gulf region. As I was waiting in a room next to his interrogation room, I heard some loud heavy metal rock music playing down the—down the hallway. I went down to investigate. I thought it was a couple of guards that were off duty and didn't realize that we were getting ready to conduct the interview. So I walked down the hallway, and as I reached the room where the source of the music was coming out, the door was cracked. And I looked into the room, and I could—all I could see was a strobe light flashing. The rest of the lights in the room were out, but from the flashes of the strobe light, I could see a detainee in orange sitting on the—seated on the floor and shackled, hand to feet, and rocking back and forth.

There were two civilians who asked me, you know, what was I doing. And I said, "I'm Lieutenant Colonel Couch. You need to turn that down. What's going on here?" And they just basically told me to move along, and shut the door in my face. There was a judge advocate reservist with me, and I said, "Did you see that?" And his immediate response: "Well, yes. That's approved." And so, that was my first inclination that there was—of evidence of coerced interrogations going on at Guantánamo.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, what did you do at that point?

LT. COL. STUART COUCH: Well, I started mulling that over. For me, it was—it was a degree of a flashback. Before I had become a lawyer, I was a naval aviator in the Marine Corps, a C-130 pilot. And part of that training as an aviator, we were sent to a school called SERE school—Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape. It's a school conducted by various Department of Defense entities to help train aviators for how to conduct themselves if they're ever taken into captivity by the enemy. Basically, it's—the course is based upon lessons learned of the treatment of aviators in the war in Vietnam and also the treatment of our own POWs that suffered in Korea. And so, what I saw occurring on that day in October of 2003 was right out of the SERE school playbook. It was precisely the same treatment that I had received there.

And so, having had that experience, my immediate concern was, if this is how the evidence is being collected in some of our cases, it's going to be inadmissible, because it's going to be at least coercive and at worst torture that precipitates that information. And so, there—at that time, I was still becoming acquainted with the military commissions process that had been set up. The rules and standards of admissibility of evidence were significantly different than I was accustomed to, both in civilian prosecutions as well as military courts-martial. And so, in my view, this incident sort of crystallized for me very quickly that there were going to be some problems with some of the evidence that we were to use.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Now, this, of course, was in 2003, before the Abu Ghraib photos were revealed to the world and where—before there was real discussion of possible mistreatment or torture of prisoners in U.S. custody. Could you talk about the—when you then began to get the case of Mohamedou Ould Slahi and what you found as you began to deal with that particular case?

LT. COL. STUART COUCH: Well, by the—not long after I joined the office in August of 2003, the Slahi case was presented to me. And at that time, to our knowledge, he was one of the very few detainees held at Guantánamo Bay that had a 9/11 connection. As I was studying over the different statements that he had made, the intelligence reports that had come out of his interrogations, I could see a trend where he was uncooperative for a long period of time, but then, beginning in the later part of the summer of 2003, I saw where he began to give up significant information. And so, again, as a prosecutor, my view was past conduct and what evidence I had of past conduct and what was going to be his connection to 9/11, if any.

The vast majority—virtually all of the evidence I had against Slahi at that point were his own statements, as well as statements of another detainee. And so, to determine the veracity of that information, I had to find out, OK, why is he saying the things he's saying about his own conduct? And I actually plotted it out over a chart on a timeline, and I could see a definite point where he went from giving no information to giving a lot of information. And so, that was—after I saw what I saw in October of 2003, my concern was, if this—if these were the kinds of interrogation techniques that were being applied to Slahi to get his cooperation, then we might very well have a significant problem with the body of evidence that we were able to present as to his guilt.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Could you go into the details of some of his interrogations and what they reported?

LT. COL. STUART COUCH: Well, at that time—at that time, I was not privy to what techniques were applied in his interrogations. All I had was the intelligence reports that came out that stated what he—what admissions he made. And I do want to make sure I'm clear on this, that none of the information that I'm going to talk about today is classified at this point; it's all been subject to a congressional inquiry and is a matter of congressional record.

I requested information to tell me, OK, give me the circumstances of the interrogations and interviews where Slahi was giving his information, again, in preparation for the day down the road that I would have to present this evidence in court, with the concern of basically credibility of the information. That information was not provided to me. I had a criminal investigator that was working on this case, and as we began to discuss these matters, he had the same concerns that we might have a problem with the evidence. And I would note he's—he was also a former marine, as well, so we had a lot of commonality on how we viewed the world. This criminal investigator had unofficial sources of information on the intelligence side. There was kind of this dividing line between the law enforcement efforts at Guantánamo and the intelligence efforts at Guantánamo. My investigator had sources of information on the intelligence side, and he was able to start receiving documents and information that painted, for lack of a better term, the rest of the story—in other words, why—you know, what was the nature of these interrogations. And that information was coming out piecemeal.

And so, over the subsequent eight or nine months, it became clear that this information—that what had been done to Slahi amounted to torture. Specifically, he had been subjected to a mock execution. He had sensory deprivation. He had environmental manipulation; that is, you know, cell is too cold, or the cell is too hot. He, at one point, was taken off of the island and driven around in a boat to make him believe that he was being transferred to a foreign country for interrogation. He was presented with a ruse that the United States had taken custody of his mother and his brother and that they were being brought to Guantánamo. It was on a letter with fake letterhead from the State Department, I believe it was. And in the letter, there was a discussion that his mother would be the only female detainee held at Guantánamo and concerns for her safety.

So, any one of these individual things, I don't believe, as a legal matter, rose to the level of torture, until I got evidence of an email between one of the officers responsible for the—for the guards that were guarding Slahi and a military psychologist. And there was this discussion over this email about the fact that Slahi was experiencing hallucinations. And then—and the psychologist, as she was giving her opinion as to this concern raised, it was clear to me that she was aware that the circumstances of Slahi's detention had been set up to such a point where he would experience these types of mental breakdown.

And at that point, I had done some research. We had another lawyer in the office, another prosecutor, who was very experienced in international law, and I had discussed the issue with him. And under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment—it's a treaty that was ratified by the United States in 1996—under that treaty, there is a definition of torture. And under that definition of torture, it includes mental suffering. And so, as I put it all together, what I saw was the fact that Slahi ultimately began to give information after all of these different interrogation techniques had been applied to him. I came to the conclusion we had knowingly set him up for mental suffering in order for him to provide information—

AMY GOODMAN: He was also sexually humiliated.

LT. COL. STUART COUCH: —and that that met the definition under the U.N. Torture Convention.

AMY GOODMAN: Is that right? He was also sexually humiliated.

LT. COL. STUART COUCH: He was. The evidence I saw was—apparently, he had a—he had an issue about the fact that he had been unable to impregnate his wife. And the interrogators at some point learned that and then began to capitalize on that with various issues related to sexuality. There was like a room set up with photographs of male and female genitalia on the walls, a baby crib, just some kind of, you know, just bizarre types of efforts related to his sexual hang-up, if you will.

AMY GOODMAN: We're going to break and then come back to this discussion, and we'll be joined, as well as Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Couch, retired U.S. Marine Corps prosecutor, by the author of the book called Terror Courts, Jess Bravin of The Wall Street Journal. This is Democracy Now! Back in a minute.


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Lieutenant Colonel Couch, if you could, talk to us about your decision to tell your superiors that you did not feel you could prosecute this case because of the issues of possible torture.

LT. COL. STUART COUCH: Well, Juan, it was—again, it was sort of an incremental thing. I was receiving this information from a criminal investigator that he was gleaning through these unofficial sources. And after studying the U.N. Torture Convention, I found that there was a provision under Article 15 of the U.N. Torture Convention that said any evidence derived as a result of torture was inadmissible in any proceeding. And so, you know, I was trying to figure out, OK, what is "any proceeding"? And as I could tell from the source material behind the U.N. Torture Convention, I came to the legal conclusion that that included a military commission, as we were conducting them at that time under the president's military order of November of 2001.

I then turned to the ethical concern about what information did I need to be able to turn over to a defense counsel for Slahi in the future. And I would note, at that time, Slahi did not have a defense counsel, because we had not gone through the formal process of bringing a charge against him. So, I reviewed the pertinent ethical obligations. Under the discovery provisions of the president's military order at that time, it was evidence of his guilt known to the prosecution. And another provision was that the detainees would have a full and fair trial. And so, it was a very broad, broad construct, if you will, for discovery. As I looked at the ethical obligations that we have in the United States under the ABA Model Rules, and specifically under the rules of professional conduct of my bar, the state of North Carolina, I concluded that if I was in possession of information that, if given to his defense counsel, would allow his defense counsel to utilize those protections under Article 15 of the U.N. Torture Convention, I had that obligation to turn over to that defense counsel what I knew. And that was, again, prospective.

I was wrestling with these—with this legal issue and with this ethical issue. And then, ultimately, you know, one Sunday when I was in church, it all kind of came together. I describe myself as an evangelical Christian. I was attending a church service in the Anglican tradition, and it was a baptism of a child. And anybody who's ever been to one of these services knows that at the end of the baptism all of the congregants in the church stand up, and the pastor goes back and forth with basically the tenets of the Christian faith. And one of those tenets was that we would respect the dignity of every human being. And it was at that time, when I was professing that on Sunday, begged the question to me, if this is what you believe as a Christian, then how does that inform how you're going to act the other six days of the week? And that really, for me, was the moral point that I came to of what I had to do next.

And what I did next was I went and met with the chief prosecutor for the Office of Military Commissions. I told him my legal opinion. I told him my ethical opinion. And then I stated in—you know, I have a moral reservation at this point that what's been done to Slahi is just reprehensible, and for that reason alone, I'm going to refuse to participate in the prosecution of his case. Shortly, within a couple of days, I reduced that—those positions into writing. I provided them to the chief prosecutor. And then, after a few days, I was told to transfer that case to someone else and for me to get busy on my other cases.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, in that memorandum, you not only raised the question, you said that, quote, "If these techniques are deemed to be 'torture' under the [Geneva] Convention, then they would also constitute criminal violations of the War Crimes Act." And you went on to say, "As a practical matter, I am morally opposed to the interrogation techniques employed with this detainee and for that reason alone, refuse to participate in his prosecution in any manner." Now that must have been a bomb for you to put that into a memorandum to your supervisors in resigning from the case. What was the reaction?

LT. COL. STUART COUCH: Well, he wasn't happy about it. And—

AMY GOODMAN: And his name was?

LT. COL. STUART COUCH: —in our—that was Colonel Bob Swann. He was not happy about it. I felt like putting it into a memorandum was what I had to do to allow him to make an informed decision about the reservations that I had. My hope was that that memorandum would be shared with higher authorities over in the Department of Defense; you know, even if he didn't agree with my legal reasoning or my ethics opinion or my moral reservations, for that matter, at least to present to someone, "Hey, this is a potential issue that could be raised, and we need to be able to address that." And to my knowledge, that memorandum was never shared outside of the office.

AMY GOODMAN: So the defense never saw it, either.

LT. COL. STUART COUCH: Well, at this point, Slahi has never been charged in a military commission. He does have of counsel who represents him for a habeas corpus petition that he has brought in federal court, but where that memorandum went after that point, I don't know.

Water Torture, as American as Apple Pie

What does it mean when torture, already the definition of “cruel,” becomes usual?

February 24, 2013  |  

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Try to remain calm -- even as you begin to feel your chest tighten and your heart race.  Try not to panic as water starts flowing into your nose and mouth, while you attempt to constrict your throat and slow your breathing and keep some air in your lungs and fight that growing feeling of suffocation.  Try not to think about dying, because there’s nothing you can do about it, because you’re tied down, because someone is pouring that water over your face, forcing it into you, drowning you slowly and deliberately.  You’re helpless.  You’re in  agony

In short, you’re a victim of “water torture.” Or the “water cure.”  Or the “water rag.”  Or the “water treatment.” Or “ tormenta de toca.”  Or  any of the other  nicknames given to the particular form of  brutality that today goes by the relatively innocuous term “waterboarding.” 

The practice only became  widely known in the United States after it was disclosed that the CIA had been subjecting suspected terrorists to it in the wake of 9/11.  More recently, cinematic  depictions of waterboarding in the award-winning film  Zero Dark Thirty and questions about it at the Senate confirmation hearing for incoming CIA chief John Brennan have sparked debate.  Water torture, however, has a surprisingly long history, dating back to at least the  fourteenth century.  It has been a U.S. military staple since the beginning of the twentieth century, when it was employed by Americans fighting an independence movement in the  Philippines.  American troops would continue to use the brutal tactic in the decades to come -- and during the country’s repeated wars in Asia, they would be victims of it, too. 

Water Torture in Vietnam

For more than a decade, I’ve investigated atrocities committed during the Vietnam War.  In that time, I’ve come to know people who employed water torture and people who were brutalized by it.  Americans and their South Vietnamese allies regularly used it on enemy prisoners and civilian detainees in an effort to gain intelligence or simply punish them.  A picture of the practice even landed on the  front page of the  Washington Post on January 21, 1968, but mostly it went on in secret.

Long-hidden military documents help to fill in the picture.  "I held the suspect down, placed a cloth over his face, and then poured water over the cloth, thus forcing water into his mouth,” Staff Sergeant David Carmon  explained in testimony to Army criminal investigators in December 1970.  According to their synopsis, he admitted to using both electrical torture and water torture in interrogating a detainee who  died not long after.

According to summaries of eyewitness statements by members of Carmon’s unit, the prisoner, identified as Nguyen Cong, had been "beat and kicked," lost consciousness, and suffered convulsions.  A doctor who examined Nguyen, however, claimed there was nothing wrong with him.  Carmon and another member of his military intelligence team then "slapped the Vietnamese and poured water on his face from a five-gallon can," according to a summary of his testimony.  An official report from May 1971 states that Nguyen Cong passed out "and was carried to the confinement cage where he was later found dead.”

Years later, Carmon told me by email that the abuse of prisoners in Vietnam was extensive and encouraged by superiors.  "Nothing was sanctioned," he wrote, "but nothing was off-limits short of seriously injuring a prisoner."

It turns out that Vietnamese prisoners weren’t the only ones subjected to water torture in Vietnam.  U.S. military personnel serving there were victims, too.  Documents I came across in the U.S. National Archives offer a glimpse of a horrifying history that few Americans know anything about.

FBI Agent: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Used By CIA Torture Promoters

The Hollywood gossip is that the film's presentation of torture locked it out of the Oscar race.

This former FBI agent who was deeply involved in catching and questioning top Al Qaeda members says the producers of "Zero Dark Thirty" were manipulated and used by the pro-torture contingent in the CIA. He's right - using the fig leaf of "based on actual events" does not excuse putting such serious misinformation into the popular record of what happened -- and why:

I watched “Zero Dark Thirty” not as a former F.B.I. special agent who spent a decade chasing, interrogating and prosecuting top members of Al Qaeda but as someone who enjoys Hollywood movies. As a movie, I enjoyed it. As history, it’s bunk.

The film opens with the words “Based on Firsthand Accounts of Actual Events.” But the filmmakers immediately pass fiction off as history, when a character named Ammar is tortured and afterward, it’s implied, gives up information that leads to Osama bin Laden.

Ammar is a composite character who bears a strong resemblance to a real-life terrorist, Ammar al-Baluchi. In both the film and real life he was a relative of Bin Laden’s lieutenant, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. But the C.I.A. has repeatedly said that only three detainees were ever waterboarded. The real Mr. Baluchi was not among them, and he didn’t give up information that led to Bin Laden.

In fact, torture led us away from Bin Laden. After Mr. Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times, he actually played down the importance of the courier who ultimately led us to Bin Laden. Numerous investigations, most recently a 6,300-page classified report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, have reached the same conclusion: enhanced interrogation didn’t work. Portraying torture as effective risks misleading the next generation of Americans that one of our government’s greatest successes came about because of the efficacy of torture. It’s a disservice both to our history and our national security.

While filmmakers have the right to say what they want, government officials don’t have the right to covertly provide filmmakers with false information to promote their own interests. Providing selective information about a classified program means there is no free market of ideas, but a controlled market subject to manipulation. That’s an abuse of power.

John O. Brennan, a former C.I.A. official and now President Obama’s nominee to head the agency, recently testified that the classified report raised “serious questions” about information he received when he was the agency’s deputy executive director. Mr. Brennan said publicly what many of us — who were in interrogation rooms when the program was devised — have been warning about for years: senior officials, right up to the president himself, were misled about the enhanced interrogation program.

For instance, a 2005 Justice Department memo claimed that waterboarding led to the capture of the American-born Qaeda member Jose Padilla in 2003. Actually, he was arrested in 2002, months before waterboarding began, after an F.B.I. colleague and I got details about him from a terrorist named Abu Zubaydah. Because no one checked the dates, the canard about Mr. Padilla was repeated as truth.

When agents heard senior officials citing information we knew was false, we were barred from speaking out. After President George W. Bush gave a speech containing falsehoods in 2006 — I believe his subordinates lied to him — I was told by one of my superiors: “This is still classified. Just because the president is talking about it doesn’t mean that we can.”

Some of these memos, and reports pointing out their inaccuracies, have been declassified, but they are also heavily redacted. So are books on the subject, including my own.

Meanwhile, promoters of torture get to hoodwink journalists, authors and Hollywood producers while selectively declassifying material and providing false information that fits their narrative.

‘America Doesn’t Torture’—It Kills

If the president can order the killing of 
American citizens abroad should he decide they are involved with Al Qaeda, can he assassinate suspected Al Qaeda–connected US citizens in London or Berlin? What about a suspect’s teenage son, a junior in a Canadian boarding school? If he can drop hellfire missiles on a house in northwestern Pakistan because he believes a terrorist cell is meeting inside, could he blow up a motel in Florida where supposed terrorists are staying and chalk up any dead vacationers as “collateral damage”? Of course not. Pakistan is completely different. Anwar al-Awlaki may have been a US citizen, but he was in Yemen, which is different too. As for his 16-year-old son, killed in Yemen in a drone attack some weeks later along with several other people, former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs put it well, if ungrammatically: “I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well-being of their children.” Unlike in the United States, in Yemen kids choose their parents.President Barack Obama walks to the Marine One helicopter, February 13, 2013. (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

Whatever happened to arresting people, extraditing them, giving them lawyers, putting them on trial—all that? Even in the hottest days of the Cold War, when millions believed communism threatened our very existence as a nation, Americans accused of spying for the Soviets had their day in court. No one suggested that President Eisenhower should skip the tiresome procedural stuff and just bomb the Rosenbergs’ apartment. 

The president and his choice to head the CIA, John Brennan, assure us that they are extremely careful, and the kill list is “legal, ethical and wise” (although they won’t tell us anything more about it). Brennan asserted in 2011 that no civilians have been killed by drones. Maybe he even believes this, although the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documented more than 500 civilian casualties in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia, with a high estimate of many more. When President Obama appointed Harold Koh legal adviser to the State Department in 2009, it looked like he was sending a message: the bad old days are over. Koh, who once referred to President Bush as the “torturer in chief,” was an outspoken critic of that administration’s legal rationales for torture, Guantánamo and “targeted killings.” Fast-forward to today, and Koh provides legal rationales for those same “targeted killings” and gives critics the kind of snide brushoff the Bushites were famous for: justice for enemies “can be delivered through trials. Drones also deliver.” 

“The president is a thoughtful, analytical guy,” a national security adviser tells a group of CIA officers including Maya, the Osama-obsessed heroine of Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty. Before he orders the assault on Osama’s compound, “he needs proof.” In another scene, a TV in the background shows Obama telling Steve Croft, “America doesn’t torture.” Even giving Obama the benefit of every doubt, do we want the president to be a one-man death panel? And what about the next president, and the one after that? Precedents are being set that concentrate far too much power in the executive branch and rely far too much on the moral capabilities of one man. The buck not only stops with Obama; it starts with him, too. 

Polls suggest that most Americans are fine with drones—including most liberals: 78 percent of viewers of Ed Shultz’s MSNBC talk show. Apparently, we are not persuaded by what seems to me obvious: law and morality aside, dropping bombs is no way to win friends and influence people. Last year a Pew poll found that
74 percent of Pakistanis consider the United States an enemy. Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s US ambassador, told reporters that the drone campaign “creates more potential terrorists on the ground and militants on the ground instead of taking them out.” September 11 enraged Americans so profoundly we started two wars, one against a nation that had nothing to do with it. Why do we assume that the people we attack are any different?

How did we end up here? Surely one fatal turning point was Obama’s decision not to prosecute anyone connected with the Bush administration’s brutal policies, especially torture. Not only did this breed cynicism and callousness; it tacitly allowed that maybe Abu Ghraib and black sites and Baghram and Guantánamo were justifiable, given the fiendish and shape-shifting nature of terrorism.

That’s certainly the message I took from Zero Dark Thirty, and, frankly, I don’t understand how anyone can see this much-praised movie as ambiguous on the torture question. The movie says torture works: “In the end, everybody breaks,” Dan (Jason Clarke) tells the prisoner he is beating, waterboarding, walking like a dog and forcing into a tiny box. “It’s biology.” And sure enough, the man gives up the clue that eventually leads to Osama’s front door. If, in real life, this information was actually obtained by other methods, as Senators Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin attested in a public letter about the film, there’s no suggestion of it onscreen. But the movie does something even worse: it not only makes torture look necessary; it makes the torturers cool. Dan is handsome, smart, humorous and unconventional—his own person in a crowd of company men. When not stringing people from the ceiling, he’s caring—a good friend to Maya, an animal lover. He doesn’t let his job turn him into a brute or a sadist—he knows when he’s reached his emotional limits and gets out. As for Maya, the lonely avenger of 9/11, what can one say? She’s not only smart, dedicated, selfless, brave and tireless—she’s Jessica
Chastain! The most beautiful woman in the world, with flowing locks of red-gold hair that light up every scene she’s in, including the one where she fetches a pail of water for the waterboarding.

The only person in the CIA who will see a day in prison for anything that happened during all this is James Kiriakou, the anti-torture whistleblower recently sentenced to thirty months for revealing the name of a covert CIA officer to a reporter. Don’t hold your breath for a Hollywood movie about him.

© 2013 The Nation

­US used ‘Christian heavy metal’ to torture Iraqi militants

U.S. Army soldiers escort former Iraqi prisoners out of Abu Ghraib prison (Reuters / Ceerwan Aziz HH / JV)

U.S. Army soldiers escort former Iraqi prisoners out of Abu Ghraib prison (Reuters / Ceerwan Aziz HH / JV)

Torture doesn't necessarily have to deal with physical pain. The US military have used Christian heavy metal music by the band Demon Hunter after rockers Metallica asked they stop using their recordings on prisoners.

The US Navy SEAL involved in the killing of Osama bin Laden told Esquire magazine that prior to using Demon Hunter recordings, the commandoes used Metallica music to pull information out of Iraqi prisoners.

“When we first started the war in Iraq we were using Metallica music to soften people up before we interrogated them,” the spokesperson said. 

James Hetfield, lead singer and guitarist of US rock band Metallica (AFP Photo / Petras Malukas)
James Hetfield, lead singer and guitarist of US rock band Metallica (AFP Photo / Petras Malukas)

However after the band, who is totally opposed to violence, asked the US military to stop using their music at interrogations, the commanders chose Demon Hunter.

“Demon Hunter said, ‘We’re all about promoting what you do.’ They sent us CDs and patches. I wore my Demon Hunter patch on every mission – I wore it when I blasted Bin Laden,”
the Navy SEAL added.

“Part of me is proud they chose Metallica, and then part of me is bummed about it. We’ve got nothing to do with this and we’re trying to be apolitical as possible – I think politics and music, at least for us, don’t mix," Metallica front man James Hetfield said in 2008 commenting on the news that US military used the band’s music for the interrogation of Guantanamo prisoners.

Investigation Confirms Rampant Torture in Afghan Prisons

The use of torture within prisons controlled by Afghan security forces trained by the US military is still rampant in the country, according to the results of a two-week "fact-finding mission" by an internal Afghan government commission.

Prisoner looks out of his cell window at the main prison in Kandahar, Afghanistan, April 25, 2011 (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan, File) The findings, released Monday, confirm a U.N. report released last month that exposed widespread abuses among Afghan forces.

The earlier U.N. report found over half of 635 detainees interviewed had been tortured—including 80 minors—the same ratio found in a similar report in 2011.

Though the Afghan commission refused to use the term "systemic" to describe the brutal treament within the prison system, it did confirm the use of torture techniques including hanging detainees from the ceiling by their wrists, beatings with cables and pipes, threats of execution or rape and administering electric shocks.

The government-appointed commission will discuss the findings with judicial officials and President Hamid Karzai later this week.

While the reports of torture have come under condemnation from the West, a report released last week by the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), 'Globalizing Torture', detailed a long history of US torture practices, which implicated 54 countries including Afghanistan in a widespread "extraordinary rendition" network, spearheaded by the CIA.

Investigation Confirms Rampant Torture in Afghan Prisons

The use of torture within prisons controlled by Afghan security forces trained by the US military is still rampant in the country, according to the results of a two-week "fact-finding mission" by an internal Afghan government commission.

Prisoner looks out of his cell window at the main prison in Kandahar, Afghanistan, April 25, 2011 (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan, File) The findings, released Monday, confirm a U.N. report released last month that exposed widespread abuses among Afghan forces.

The earlier U.N. report found over half of 635 detainees interviewed had been tortured—including 80 minors—the same ratio found in a similar report in 2011.

Though the Afghan commission refused to use the term "systemic" to describe the brutal treament within the prison system, it did confirm the use of torture techniques including hanging detainees from the ceiling by their wrists, beatings with cables and pipes, threats of execution or rape and administering electric shocks.

The government-appointed commission will discuss the findings with judicial officials and President Hamid Karzai later this week.

While the reports of torture have come under condemnation from the West, a report released last week by the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), 'Globalizing Torture', detailed a long history of US torture practices, which implicated 54 countries including Afghanistan in a widespread "extraordinary rendition" network, spearheaded by the CIA.

Proof MI6 and MI5 Aided Libyan Torture

New evidence has emerged that proves the UK was complicit in the kidnap and torture of a Libyan man. For over a decade British politicians including  Gordon Brown, Jack Straw and David Miliband have strongly denied that the UK had involvement with torture. Crucially, the files detail a meeting between senior heads of MI6,  MI5 and Gaddafi's external intelligence agency.

The Face of Austerity: Photoshopping Away Police Torture in Greece


Greek police may vainly try to Photoshop away the torture of four alleged bank robbers, but they cannot gloss over the radicalization of Greek youth.

The story is as follows.

On February 1st 2013, an attempted robbery of two banks takes place in a small village of the Western Macedonia region, called Velvento. The bounty was around 180.000 euros and the police managed to arrest the robbers after a short chase. The news would have passed unnoticed, if the heavily armed robbers were not very young middle and upper-middle class boys, whom the police associates with the armed urban-guerilla group ‘Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire’.

Twenty four hours later, the police make public the photos of the bank-robbers, and the whole country is appalled by what it sees: the faces of four badly beaten20-25 year olds, which have also been — badly — photoshopped in a vain attempt to hide the cuts and bruises, and the hands (?) that are holding the youngsters’ heads in order for them to be photographed.

The police rush through an announcement to justify themselves, claiming that only the minimum amount of violence necessary was used due to resistance during the arrest, while the Minister of Public Order Mr Dendias (the man whothreatened to sue The Guardian for having published a report on the torture of 15 anti-fascist activists by the Greek police, the same man who launched a waragainst Greece’s squats) said that the pictures were photoshopped in order for the faces of the arrested to be more recognisable (!), claiming that no torture had taken place.

The youngsters themselves — through their families and lawyers — claim that they did not resist their arrest and that they were badly beaten up/tortured while in detention; while there is evidence (videos and pictures from the moment of the arrest) that proves that they were not beaten during the arrest, but whatever happened, it did so afterwards. Some alternative Greek media, together with some international ones, as well as Amnesty International, strongly questioned the official explanations, while the latter also commented that “the Greek authorities cannot just photoshop their problems away”.

Under heavy public criticism, the Minister had to promise that a torture investigation would take place and the results are still expected. The bank robbers are now in detention, yet they describe their actions as political, and consider themselves anarchist ‘prisoners of war’, shouting during their transfer to the Prosecutor’s office “zito i anarhia koufales!” — “long live anarchy assholes!”. What is also worth noticing is that one of the four arrested anarchists is the friend ofAlexandros Grigoropoulos — the 15-year-old boy who was assassinated by police in Exarchia in 2008 — and happened to be by his side on that very moment, which surely played a big role in shaping his view of state power and police brutality.

The story is indicative of the radicalization of a young generation of Greeks, and of Greek society as a whole, under the structural conditions imposed by austerity. But it is also indicative of the way the state has chosen to deal with the voices of opposition in the country, be they legal or illegal: with repression, human rights abuses, and public humiliation.

Let’s not forget that a few months ago, the same government, the same Minister of Public Order, and the same police force, tortured — as it was proven — 15 antifascist activists for having organized an AntiFa moto-parade. And it is the same state officials who launched an attack against the country’s squats, for no obvious reason other than silencing any oppositional voices around.

It is by now obvious that the Greek state, in order to defend the extremely unpopular and unsuccessful austerity measures it has been imposing for a couple of years now, has chosen the road of repression. It is not something new: we have seen such practices in the past too — in Chile, in Argentina, and elsewhere. The difference is that in those cases we were talking about military dictatorships, while in the Greek case we are talking about a democratically-elected government, which is even more scary and unacceptable. At the same time, it is also obvious that this strategy of the state is resulting in the further radicalization of the Greek youth.

Post image for Photoshopping away police torture in Greece

Brennan and Kiriakou, Drones and Torture

John Brennan and John Kiriakou worked together years ago, but their careers have dramatically diverged. Brennan is now on track to head the CIA, while Kiriakou is headed off to prison. Each of their fates is tied to the so-called war on terror, which under President George W. Bush provoked worldwide condemnation. President Barack Obama rebranded the war on terror innocuously as “overseas contingency operations,” but, rather than retrench from the odious practices of his predecessor, Obama instead escalated. His promotion of Brennan, and his prosecution of Kiriakou, demonstrate how the recent excesses of U.S. presidential power are not transient aberrations, but the creation of a frightening new normal, where drone strikes, warrantless surveillance, assassination and indefinite detention are conducted with arrogance and impunity, shielded by secrecy and beyond the reach of law.AP/Jacquelyn Martin

John Kiriakou spent 14 years at the CIA as an analyst and a case officer. In 2002, he led the team that found Abu Zubaydah, alleged to be a high-ranking member of al-Qaida. Kiriakou was the first to publicly confirm the use of waterboarding by the CIA, in a 2007 interview with ABC’s Brian Ross. He told Ross: “At the time, I felt that waterboarding was something that we needed to do. ... I think I’ve changed my mind, and I think that waterboarding is probably something that we shouldn’t be in the business of doing.” Kiriakou says he found the “enhanced interrogation techniques” immoral, and declined to be trained to use them.

Since the interview, it has become known that Zubaydah was waterboarded at least 83 times, and that he provided no useful information as a result. He remains imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, without charge. Kiriakou will soon start serving his 30-month prison sentence, but not for disclosing anything about waterboarding. He pled guilty to disclosing the name of a former CIA interrogator to a journalist, with information that the interrogator himself had posted to a publicly available website.

Meanwhile, John Brennan, longtime counterterrorism advisor to Obama, is expected to receive Senate confirmation as the new director of central intelligence. I recently asked Kiriakou what he thought of Brennan:

“I’ve known John Brennan since 1990. I worked directly for John Brennan twice. I think that he is a terrible choice to lead the CIA. I think that it’s time for the CIA to move beyond the ugliness of the post-September 11th regime, and we need someone who is going to respect the Constitution and to not be bogged down by a legacy of torture. I think that President Obama’s appointment of John Brennan sends the wrong message to all Americans.”

Obama has once already considered Brennan for the top CIA job, back in 2008. Brennan withdrew his nomination then under a hail of criticism for supporting the Bush-era torture policies in his various top-level intelligence positions, including head of the National Counterterrorism Center.

What a difference four years makes. With the killing of Osama bin Laden notched in his belt, Obama seems immune from counterterror criticism. John Brennan is said to manage the notorious “kill list” of people that Obama believes he has the right to kill anytime, anywhere on the planet, as part of his “overseas contingency operations.” This includes the killing of U.S. citizens, without any charge, trial or due process whatsoever. Drone strikes are one way these assassinations are carried out. U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in Yemen by a drone strike, then, two weeks later, his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was killed the same way.

I asked Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005, what he thought of Brennan. He told me: “What’s happening with drone strikes around the world right now is, in my opinion, as bad a development as many of the things we now condemn so readily, with 20/20 hindsight, in the George W. Bush administration. We are creating more enemies than we’re killing. We are doing things that violate international law. We are even killing American citizens without due process and have an attorney general who has said that due process does not necessarily include the legal process. Those are really scary words.”

While Kiriakou goes to prison for revealing a name, the U.K.-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism is launching a project called “Naming the Dead,” hoping “to identify as many as possible of those killed in U.S. covert drone strikes in Pakistan, whether civilian or militant.” The BIJ reports a “minimum 2,629 people who appear to have so far died in CIA drone strikes in Pakistan.” John Brennan should be asked about each of them.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

© 2012 TruthDig

Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 1,100 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

Brennan and Kiriakou, Drones and Torture

Brennan and Kiriakou, Drones and Torture

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Posted on Feb 6, 2013

By Amy Goodman

John Brennan and John Kiriakou worked together years ago, but their careers have dramatically diverged. Brennan is now on track to head the CIA, while Kiriakou is headed off to prison. Each of their fates is tied to the so-called war on terror, which under President George W. Bush provoked worldwide condemnation. President Barack Obama rebranded the war on terror innocuously as “overseas contingency operations,” but, rather than retrench from the odious practices of his predecessor, Obama instead escalated. His promotion of Brennan, and his prosecution of Kiriakou, demonstrate how the recent excesses of U.S. presidential power are not transient aberrations, but the creation of a frightening new normal, where drone strikes, warrantless surveillance, assassination and indefinite detention are conducted with arrogance and impunity, shielded by secrecy and beyond the reach of law.
John Kiriakou spent 14 years at the CIA as an analyst and a case officer. In 2002, he led the team that found Abu Zubaydah, alleged to be a high-ranking member of al-Qaida. Kiriakou was the first to publicly confirm the use of waterboarding by the CIA, in a 2007 interview with ABC’s Brian Ross. He told Ross: “At the time, I felt that waterboarding was something that we needed to do. ... I think I’ve changed my mind, and I think that waterboarding is probably something that we shouldn’t be in the business of doing.” Kiriakou says he found the “enhanced interrogation techniques” immoral, and declined to be trained to use them.
Since the interview, it has become known that Zubaydah was waterboarded at least 83 times, and that he provided no useful information as a result. He remains imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, without charge. Kiriakou will soon start serving his 30-month prison sentence, but not for disclosing anything about waterboarding. He pled guilty to disclosing the name of a former CIA interrogator to a journalist, with information that the interrogator himself had posted to a publicly available website.
Meanwhile, John Brennan, longtime counterterrorism advisor to Obama, is expected to receive Senate confirmation as the new director of central intelligence. I recently asked Kiriakou what he thought of Brennan:
“I’ve known John Brennan since 1990. I worked directly for John Brennan twice. I think that he is a terrible choice to lead the CIA. I think that it’s time for the CIA to move beyond the ugliness of the post-September 11th regime, and we need someone who is going to respect the Constitution and to not be bogged down by a legacy of torture. I think that President Obama’s appointment of John Brennan sends the wrong message to all Americans.”
Obama has once already considered Brennan for the top CIA job, back in 2008. Brennan withdrew his nomination then under a hail of criticism for supporting the Bush-era torture policies in his various top-level intelligence positions, including head of the National Counterterrorism Center.
What a difference four years makes. With the killing of Osama bin Laden notched in his belt, Obama seems immune from counterterror criticism. John Brennan is said to manage the notorious “kill list” of people that Obama believes he has the right to kill anytime, anywhere on the planet, as part of his “overseas contingency operations.” This includes the killing of U.S. citizens, without any charge, trial or due process whatsoever. Drone strikes are one way these assassinations are carried out. U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in Yemen by a drone strike, then, two weeks later, his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was killed the same way.
I asked Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005, what he thought of Brennan. He told me: “What’s happening with drone strikes around the world right now is, in my opinion, as bad a development as many of the things we now condemn so readily, with 20/20 hindsight, in the George W. Bush administration. We are creating more enemies than we’re killing. We are doing things that violate international law. We are even killing American citizens without due process and have an attorney general who has said that due process does not necessarily include the legal process. Those are really scary words.”
While Kiriakou goes to prison for revealing a name, the U.K.-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism is launching a project called “Naming the Dead,” hoping “to identify as many as possible of those killed in U.S. covert drone strikes in Pakistan, whether civilian or militant.” The BIJ reports a “minimum 2,629 people who appear to have so far died in CIA drone strikes in Pakistan.” John Brennan should be asked about each of them.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,000 stations in North America. She is the co-author of “The Silenced Majority,” a New York Times best-seller.

© 2013 Amy Goodman

Distributed by King Features Syndicate

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Report Finds Global Collaboration in Torture Scheme

Report Finds Global Collaboration in Torture Scheme

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Posted on Feb 6, 2013
Open Society Foundations

The U.S. counterterrorism practice known as extraordinary rendition, in which officials quietly transport suspects to secret prisons around the globe for detention that can lead to torture, involved the participation of more than 50 national governments—or more than one-quarter of all countries in the world—an Open Society Foundations report released Tuesday says.

The report, which constitutes the most comprehensive accounting of the top-secret program to date, says 54 nations did the United States’ dirty work, either hosting CIA “black sites,” questioning or torturing prisoners, or otherwise collaborating in the effort. The document also identifies by name 136 prisoners who were subject to extraordinary rendition.

Officials in the George W. Bush administration claimed they never intended for terrorism suspects to be tortured abroad, but some of the countries where prisoners were sent—Egypt, Libya and Syria among them—were known practitioners of violent interrogation methods.

When he arrived in office, President Obama pledged to end the U.S. government’s use of torture and ordered the closing of the CIA’s secret prisons around the world. But Obama retained the practice of rendition, which allows U.S. officials to circumvent due process requirements for suspects.

The Obama administration claimed it was relying on “diplomatic assurances” that host nations would not torture suspects in their custody who were awaiting trial or other action.

Absent the benefit of government records, the OSF’s top legal analyst for national security and counterterrorism and the report’s author, Amrit Singh, surveyed news reports, the investigations of human rights groups worldwide and notes on a handful of proceedings by foreign courts that have investigated their own countries’ involvement.

“What Singh saw was a hasty global effort, spearheaded by the United States in the months after 9/11, to bypass longstanding legal structures in order to confront the emerging threat of international terrorism,” Joshua Hersh reports at The Huffington Post.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Joshua Hersh at The Huffington Post:

Singh condemned the consequences of that effort in the report’s introduction. “By enlisting the participation of dozens of foreign governments in these violations, the United States further undermined longstanding human rights protections enshrined in international law—including, in particular, the norm against torture,” she wrote.

“Responsibility for this damage does not lie solely with the United States,” Singh added, “but also with the numerous foreign governments without whose participation secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations could not have been carried out.”

The list of those nations includes a range of American allies (Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany) and familiar Middle Eastern partners in the messy fight against radical Islam (Jordan, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates). Their alleged levels of participation vary widely, from countries like Poland, which agreed to host CIA black-site prisons, to nations like Portugal and Finland, which merely allowed their airspace and airports to be used for rendition flights.

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Over 50 Countries Complicit in US Worldwide Torture Campaign

A new report published Tuesday titled Globalizing Torture reveals the 136 people who were channeled through and the 54 countries that were complicit in the CIA's covert, worldwide kidnap, detention and torture operation.

A photo of the CIA secret prison where Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and other ghost detainees were tortured and interrogated; it's on a residential street in Bucharest. (Photo via Google Maps) Compiled by the human rights group Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), the 231-page report details in excruciating detail the practice, known as “extraordinary rendition,” of taking detainees to and from U.S. custody without legal process and, as Danger Room's Spencer Ackerman writes, often "handing detainees over to countries that practiced torture."

"There is no doubt that high-ranking Bush administration officials bear responsibility for authorising human rights violations associated with secret detention and extraordinary rendition, and the impunity that they have enjoyed to date remains a matter of significant concern," said report author Amrit Singh. "But responsibility for these violations does not end with the United States. Secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations, designed to be conducted outside the United States under cover of secrecy, could not have been implemented without the active participation of foreign governments. These governments too must be held accountable."

The Guardian reports:

The states identified by the OSJI include those such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt and Jordan where the existence of secret prisons and the use of torture has been well documented for many years. But the OSJI's rendition list also includes states such as Ireland, Iceland and Cyprus, which are accused of granting covert support for the programme by permitting the use of airspace and airports by aircraft involved in rendition flights.

Canada not only permitted the use of its airspace but provided information that led to one of its own nationals being taken to Syria where he was held for a year and tortured, the report says.

Iran and Syria are identified by the OSJI as having participated in the rendition programme. Syria is said to have been one of the "most common destinations for rendered suspects", while Iran is said to have participated in the CIA's programme by handing over 15 individuals to Kabul shortly after the US invasion of Afghanistan, in the full knowledge that they would fall under US control.

The report does not presume that these practices have completely subsided under the Obama Administration. In 2009, after taking office, President Obama rejected calls for a national commission to investigate such practices, saying he wanted to "look forward and not back."

And, as Ackerman adds, "while Obama issued an executive order in 2009 to get the CIA out of the detentions business, the order 'did not apply to facilities used for short term, transitory detention.'"

Much of the information revealed is likely to also reside in a 6,000-page study recently completed by the Senate Intelligence Committee of the C.I.A. detention and interrogation program; however, that report remains classified.

"Despite the efforts of the United States and its partner governments to withhold the truth about past and ongoing abuses, information relating to these abuses will continue to find its way into the public domain," the report promises.

Critics suspect that the publication of the report was meant to coincide with Thursday's confirmation hearing of John Brennan, Barack Obama's choice to head the CIA.

Outsourcing Torture: 50 Countries Complicit In Extraordinary Rendition

For the first time, a report from the Open Society Foundation reveals the scale of global CIA torture. At least 50 countries took part in “extraordinary rendition” following the 9/11 attacks, which involved taking detainees to and from U.S. custody without any legal process.

Zero Dark Thirty, Manhunt and Obama Admin. Justify Use of Torture

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Michael Ratner is President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York and Chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin. He is currently a legal adviser to Wikileaks and Julian Assange. He and CCR brought the first case challenging the Guantanamo detentions and continue in their efforts to close Guantanamo. He taught at Yale Law School, and Columbia Law School, and was President of the National Lawyers Guild. His current books include "Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in the Twenty-First Century America," and “ Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder.” NOTE: Mr. Ratner speaks on his own behalf and not for any organization with which he is affiliated.


PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay. Welcome to this week's edition of The Ratner Report with Michael Ratner.

Michael now joins us from New York. Michael's the president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He's chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights. He's also a board member of The Real News. And he's got all kinds of other hats, too.Thanks for joining us, Michael.MICHAEL RATNER, PRESIDENT EMERITUS, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: It's good to be with you, Paul.JAY: So tell us what you've been following this week.RATNER: Well, other than getting a slight flu and a cold, I made it over to Sundance, which is the big film festival in the United States. And there I saw some films that just are—very depressing is the best way to say it—about what's happened in America and what's happened to the issues of torture and the rehabilitation of the CIA. The film I saw there was called Manhunt. And it's supposedly the real story, with the real CIA agents, of how they murdered or killed Osama bin Laden. The film has the real agents in it. It has the women who were on the team. It has a man named—a CIA agent named Marty Martin, who supposedly led the team as an analyst, and then overall in charge of the team.So the first thing you recognize about a film called Manhunt is that to get the authority of the CIA to give up these agents' names, they had to do a film that the CIA was going to like. And let me tell you, the CIA is going to like this film, or they liked it if they saw the cut before, because, first, it justifies—and completely justifies—torture. It essentially says—not essentially; it says openly that torture is how we got the clues that allowed us to kill people from al-Qaeda all over the place, including track down Osama bin Laden. And they have as the talking head in the film—and this is where I was almost ready to run out of the movie theater—they have Jose Rodriguez. Jose Rodriguez was in charge of the counterterrorism section of the CIA in the first decade, or part of the first decade, of 2000 to 2010. He is the one who destroyed the tapes of the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, supposedly waterboarded, or according to government documents, 183 times. Those tapes, the videos, were destroyed by Jose Rodriguez, who was in charge of that whole operation. Now, what was incredible is he stood on that screen, he was on that screen talking to these whole Sundance fancy upper middle class, middle class audience, saying first [unintel.] techniques, you know, shaking people, slapping them around, that's not torture. And then the four last techniques, while he didn't use the word, he said, that's how we got what we needed; we have to use techniques like waterboarding, we have to use drones; that's what we're about. And they never say in the film—and that's why it's—in one way why it's such a slanted film—they never say, this is the man, Jose Rodriguez, who actually got rid of the very videotapes of the waterboarding. So you have Rodriguez saying that. Then you have Marty Martin, who's no longer at the CIA but apparently made a lot of money afterwards, Marty Martin again saying that, yes, these techniques are absolutely necessary. And one of the great ironies, which if people have seen Zero Dark Thirty, which is the sort of supposedly based on the truth, but the more narrative form of how they got Osama bin Laden—it's the Kathryn Bigelow film. If you see that, in both of these films, in Manhunt and in Zero Dark Thirty, there's the incident that happened up in Khost in Afghanistan, which is where a doctor from Jordan came in and he blew up and killed a half a dozen CIA agents, maybe more, including a woman who was involved or in charge of that base, a CIA person named Jennifer, who actually appears in the film Manhunt—and, of course, all the CIA agents are crying about how she got killed.But the incredible irony about how she got killed, about how Jennifer got killed by a person who wore a explosive belt, the Jordanian doctor, into that military base in Afghanistan, the incredible story they follow in Manhunt—and what they say is this Jordanian doctor was really angered by the Iraq War, and he started blogging against America, etc., etc., from Jordan. Eventually his house gets raided by some combination of the U.S. and their Jordanian intelligence agencies, and allegedly he turns and becomes an informant for the United States. I say allegedly because the United States made the mistake of trusting him. He comes up to that military base to give them a lead of how they're going to reach Osama bin Laden, and what does he do? He wears an explosive belt. Because they trust him so much, they don't inspect him, and he blows up these CIA agents.Now, I say irony about the film Manhunt and its basically lauding of interrogation techniques like waterboarding is because if you look at the Iraq War, a key link in selling the Iraq War to the United States was the claim, the claim that Saddam Hussein was supporting al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Where did that, quote, evidence come from, evidence that was used by Colin Powell, our secretary of state, at the UN? It came from the torture of a man named al-Liby by the CIA. It was false evidence, not real evidence. So here you have the irony of a CIA that is supporting torture, supporting waterboarding, being blown up by a man who is angry because of an Iraq War justified in part by a false relationship between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.Let me step back for a second and let's go to a bigger picture. So you have Manhunt, which justifies the CIA waterboarding, torture, etc. Then you have Zero Dark Thirty, which while it's been—enough written about it to fill a phone book, the majority of the opinions that I respect, including my own (and I saw the film), is that that film justifies torture, opens with torture (the agent eventually gets acclimated to torture), and of course doesn't show what we did as a result of these wars to Muslims all over Afghanistan and Iraq, Pakistan. But it justifies torture, in my view, Zero Dark Thirty. You put that together with Manhunt, Zero Dark Thirty justifying torture, and you add to that two films that I think most of your viewers will be familiar with. One is called Argo, which is the recent film about how the CIA successfully helped get some people who had been—or wouldn't have been held hostage after the Iranian Revolution in '79, and got them out of Iran, and how the CIA played a heroic role in that. And then a film called Green Zone about the green zone in Iraq, where again there's an avuncular CIA agent in that film getting the truth that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So now you have four films—Zero Dark Thirty, Manhunt, Argo, and Green Zone—all incredibly justifying and really rehabilitating a CIA that is known for and should be known for what it really does, which is to assassinate people and infiltrate legitimate institutions all over the world. And that's all in the last couple of years. So what we're seeing now in the media is really the justification of torture in two major films, and in four films really a rehabilitation of a CIA that I spent much of my life fighting against what it did in Central America, in South America, and over the world. And it leads me to, really, the last point I want to make for this talk today on torture in film, because one of the trials going on right now are the military commissions at Guantanamo. A military commission's an illegitimate form of trial. They were set up 11 years ago by President Bush. We expected them not to be continued by President Obama. He of course continued them. They're not like military—they're not like court martials, they're not like regular trials. They're set up after the crimes have been committed, and the rules are all slanted. Those are going on in Guantanamo as we speak. And one of those people on trial now in the so-called 9/11 conspiracy case is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, if we circle back to the beginning of this talk, in Manhunt is the person who was allegedly waterboarded—not allegedly; he was waterboarded 183 times. I say allegedly because Jose Rodriguez, who is the one who destroyed the tapes of those waterboardings, says in the Manhunt film, it wasn't really waterboarding 183 times, it was 183 pitchers of water, as if that's somehow better. Once you get to one waterboarding, it seems you're at 183. But in any case, we would actually know what's going on had Jose Rodriguez—someone who I believe is a war criminal—had Jose Rodriguez not destroyed the tapes. So that trial is going on now in Guantanamo. And it's a farce. It's been a farce for 11 years. So it's going on in Guantanamo. It's a farce then; it's a farce today.So, recently what happened is you go down to that trial, and there's a glass window in front of you. You can't hear anything in the courtroom. If you're a reporter or if you're a human rights person, you can sit behind that glass window and watch, and they feed the trial into you so you can hear what's going on. And there's someone who sits next to the judge with the red button, and when there's something that's classified that comes up in the trial, that person hits the red button and cuts off the feed so that I as a reporter or a human rights person cannot hear the classified material. None of that's good. I object to it. It's all bad. They classify everything. But what happened recently was really astonishing, apparently even to the judge. The feed is coming in to the reporters. All of a sudden what's happening in the courtroom is shut off. And the judge doesn't even know why it's shut off. Apparently, unbeknownst to the judge, there's another CIA person somewhere outside that court (it's hard to believe the judge didn't know this) somewhere with another red button. That person cuts off stuff going on at trial so the reporters can't hear it even if the judge didn't order it cut off. The judge, to his credit at least, or maybe to at least his credit that he thinks he controls the courtroom when he really doesn't, got outraged and said, this isn't going to happen anymore; I control the red button; you don't. So the trial just goes on like that with farce after farce after farce. And the next thing that's happened in that trial, which also is going to throw the whole thing into a tizzy: there's only been two people convicted by trial at Guantanamo in all these many years—all these many years. And both of those trials, both of those convictions seem to be in jeopardy. One has already been overturned because they tried the person on a conspiracy count—....So there's only been two people tried at Guantanamo by trial. Those two convictions are in great jeopardy. One has already, as I recall, been overturned because he was tried for conspiracy—that's bin Laden's alleged driver. And according to the court of appeals now, there's no such crime of conspiracy that can be tried by a military commission. So that conviction is gone. But, of course, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged 9/11 conspirator, is on trial for that very act, conspiracy. So the prosecutor at Guantanamo is saying, I don't want to try him on this; he's going to get—this conviction may be reversed; let's not try him on this. The government, the Obama administration, says, no, no, we want to keep going forward on a conspiracy. It may be that they can't prove anything but a conspiracy. So you have that craziness of the trials.This would have all been avoided had they brought Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the others to New York to try them as they were supposed to do, as Eric Holder supposedly wanted. And then Obama overruled Eric Holder, and then Congress got into the act. So you have these farces going on at Guantanamo. You still have a Guantanamo that's open with 187 people there. And I'll end on this really not optimistic note. When Obama took office 4.5 years ago, or just over 4 years ago, he promised to close Guantanamo in a year, issued an executive order to that. He appointed a special person to close Guantanamo, Ambassador Fried. Ambassador Fried was in the State Department. His one portfolio: close Guantanamo. And guess what happened a couple of days after Obama took office this time, when he just got—took the oath again? Mr. Fried no longer has a job to close Guantanamo; that office to close Guantanamo at the State Department has been closed. And now Ambassador Fried is in charge of the sanctions against Iran and Syria.So we no longer have an office to close Guantanamo. It looks to me, Paul, sadly, that something that was an abomination 11 years ago continues today. Guantanamo, indefinite detentions, and rump kangaroo trials continue. And so you put that all together, we have movies justifying all of this behavior, torture, etc. This country has gone a long way on the road to perdition.JAY: Alright. Well, one question. Go back to Sundance. How did the audience react to that film?RATNER: Oh, I'm really glad you asked that, Paul. Manhunt received standing ovations, particularly when the CIA agents took the stage. They were there. Two of the women were there and Marty Martin were there. And of course, you know, in some way it's—understandable is not the right word, but to the audience, it looked like these CIA people were heroes. They saved us. They were looking for Osama bin Laden for years. They eventually found him. And that's why we haven't had a terrorist attack or that's how they at least, you know, got to kill Osama bin Laden. So they took the stage and everybody cheered for them. So it was disheartening to see that. And as we left the theater, the people basically said that to us, because there were some people who objected to the film and said, well, you know, what about the destruction of the tapes, what about the waterboarding, isn't this torture, and they said, we just know that these people are keeping us safe.I do want to say that it's unclear what exactly was going on, because we also saw the best single film at Sundance, which people will see soon in this country because it was bought and it'll be distributed in 15 markets, and that's—['krOliz] was the director and Jeremy Scahill was the person they followed. He had written Blackwater. And that film was called Dirty Wars. And that's about the drone wars going on in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, throughout the Middle East, and the consequences of those drone wars for the peoples not only in those areas, but mainly in those areas, but the blowback that's going to have in the United States. That film also got a standing ovation. So it could be different audiences, it could be same audiences, etc. But I would say that it was impossible, impossible to make headway against what has now become, I would—the idea or the principle in this country that torture works. It was used to capture Osama or to kill Osama bin Laden, and we needed it when we needed it, and it's justified. I mean, that sense, you have to say that Obama, despite banning the worst aspects of torture, was a total failure. Had he actually prosecuted someone like Jose Rodriguez or the people who wrote the memos or the people who carried out the waterboarding or Cheney and Bush, who ordered the waterboarding, we wouldn't be having films like Zero Dark Thirty and Manhunt which justified torture. So I laid this, obviously, at the feet of President Bush. But Obama, for allowing this to be—for allowing torture to become essentially a political football—and I wish it were still that—but to essentially be something that people can now justify in this country, I lay that at the feet of Obama.JAY: Alright. Thanks for joining us, Michael.RATNER: Thank you, Paul.JAY: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


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Activists censure G4S role in torture

Human rights activists protest at G4S firm’s role in human rights abuses outside London Stock Exchange on June 7, 2012.

British activists have staged a protest outside the London headquarters of security company G4S over its complicity in the illegal detention and torture of Palestinian children in the Israeli regime’s prisons.

Pro-Palestine activists took park in the demonstration on Friday, which was organized by the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) and Inminds, to condemn the private company’s provision of expertise and security systems to Israeli jails.

A big placard written “Free All Palestinian Political Prisoners” was hanging from the wall outside the G4S office in London and some protesters were hanging posters on their neck reading "G4S Complicit Israeli Torture of Palestinian children".

Shireen Issawi, a former prisoner, whose brother Samer has rejected food for more than six months, said, "Deliver the voice of the oppressed prisoners and hold this company G4S accountable for its responsibility towards these prisoners and its partnership to the occupation in its inhumane practices."

The protest was also in solidarity with Palestinians on hunger strike. Ayman Sharawna and Samer Issawi have both been without food for over six months whilst Yousef Yassin, Jafar Azzidine and Tarek Qa’adan have each been without food and liquid nutrients for more than two months.

G4S has been heavily criticized for its cooperation with the Israeli regime, including providing equipment and services to Israeli checkpoints, illegal settlements, the apartheid wall and jails where Palestinian political prisoners, including children, are held in violation of international law and subjected to mistreatment and torture.


Captured Islamists say Malian military tortured them

French soldiers patrol outside Djinguereber mosque after Friday prayers in the centre of Timbuktu February 1, 2013.(Reuters / Benoit Tessier)

French soldiers patrol outside Djinguereber mosque after Friday prayers in the centre of Timbuktu February 1, 2013.(Reuters / Benoit Tessier)

Three suspected Jihadists who were arrested in the liberation of Timbuktu have said they were tortured by Malian soldiers who used a method similar to waterboarding. There are also reports of child soldiers being used by the Malian army.

­The three suspected militants were being held in an earthen cell in the remains of a military camp in Timbuktu, according to journalists from AP who spoke to the men.

Timbuktu was freed last weekend by Malian and French soldiers after 10 months under the rule of radical Islamists, who had imposed Sharia law in the town.

The men, tied together in the cell with one handcuff and a turban, all admitted to the journalists to having been members of Ansar Dine, which has links to Al-Qaeda.

“To force me to talk they poured 40 liters of water in my mouth and over my nostrils, which made it so that I could not breathe anymore. For a moment I thought I was actually going to die,” said one of the men who said he was from the central Malian town of Niono.

The other two soldiers spoke of similar treatment, although their account could not be independently verified.

A Malian army colonel, Mamary Camara, told reporters that Malian forces arrested the men in the town of Lere and that one of them was from Libya and had been wearing a foreign military uniform and said he had a wristwatch with a memory card that he allegedly used to communicate with other jihadists.

The Islamist who was allegedly from Libya gave AP contradictory information about his origin. First he said he was born in Mali but was of Libyan dissent and then said he was from Tripoli but had lived in Mali for years. He also initially denied being part of Ansar Dine, but then admitted to belonging to the movement. He was visibly frightened; cowering in his cell, according to AP.

There are also reports emerging from Mali of child soldiers being used by the army. A freelance journalist in Mali, Gonzalo Wancha, told RT that in the town of Diabli many of the military forces were heavily armed child soldiers.

“My brother was attacked by a group of militants. There were children among them. One of the children fired at him. My brother fell and was riddled with bullets,” Mohamed Kandanku, a local, told Wancha.

The exact number of underage youths or their exact age could not be verified.

Both allegations come as both Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International issued reports Friday of misconduct against the Islamists by the Malian army.

Wancha said that civilians had been killed by the Malian army in Sevare, in the center of the country, and had dumped their bodies in a well.

Human Rights Watch also reported that witnesses had seen Malian soldiers interrogate passengers at a bus station in Sevare, who they suspected of having links with Islamic extremist groups.

“Before the soldiers marched them off, many of the detained men frantically tried to find someone in the crowd who could vouch for them and verify their identity. They were driven or marched to a nearby field, where they were shot and their bodies dumped into one of four wells,” the HRW report said.

The Friday reports also stated that human rights abuses have been committed by the Islamists, who reportedly executed at least seven Malian soldiers, five of whom were wounded during the battle for the town of Konna.

France has said that it wants to hand over responsibility for the mission to the Malian army and the armies of other West African countries.

The Malian government has promised to investigate allegations of torture and other human rights abuses by its military.

Ex-Gitmo Prosecutor: Obama’s Drone Surge as Damaging as Bush Torture Program

Retired Air Force Col. Morris "Moe" Davis, once the lead government prosecutor for terrorism suspects at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, says that the US torture regime under Bush and now the drone assassination program run by the Obama administration have combined to make the world less safe and called both programs—whether they could be legally justified or not—"immoral."

US Air Force Col. Morris Davis (Ret.), who says: "If we're the country we claim to be, we've got to get back to the values we claim to represent." (Photo: US Air Force) "We are not the shining city on the hill," Davis told the small crowd gathered at Johnston Community College in North Carolina on Thursday night. "If we're the country we claim to be, we've got to get back to the values we claim to represent. Regardless of whether it's illegal, it's immoral."

"War is hell. But the rule of law makes it a little less hellish," Davis added.

The talk was part of a series given by Davis this week in which he lectured at several North Carolina colleges with the message that the United States' use of torture, secret detention and extraordinary rendition imperils the reputation of the country while also putting its own soldiers at increased risk of mistreatment in the future.

Not only have the practices harmed us abroad, Davis argues, but more than a decade of war has left a generation of Americans vulnerable to the idea that such policies are moral and correct.

As the local Fayetteville Observer reports:

Morris lamented that the majority of Americans accept torture. He attributes the statistics to young adults who have grown up in a post-9/11 world.

He argued that torture does not elicit information that can be used in the court of law and said the practice has damaged the nation's image.

The group that sponsored the evening's lecture, North Carolina Stop Torture Now, noted that Col. Davis' appearances come on the heels of reports by the Washington Post and European human rights advocates that the Obama administration continues to secretly detain suspected terrorists captured abroad.

Comparing Bush's torture regime to Obama's escalated use of drones to carry out attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere Davis said it was "six of one and half a dozen of another."

Davis retired from active duty in 2008 and subsequently took a job at the Library of Congress. He was fired from that position, however, after writing this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal which took a mild, but critical, stance against the Obama administration's approach to the ongoing Military Commission trials at Guantanamo Bay.

Fox News Gang Clings To That ‘Torture A-Go-Go’ Dream

Fox & Friends welcomed author Howard Wasdin as the latest in their series of pre-emptive strikes against a Hillary Clinton candidacy – in this case, to argue that Benghazi is Clinton's “Black Hawk Down.” Of course, the attack on an American outpost in Benghazi was nothing like the mission in Somalia that led to the Black Hawk Down incident. Still, it made for a neat way of tying Hillary to Bill and tarring them both in one segment. But the Curvy Couch Crew got more than it bargained for when Wasdin began preaching the benefits of "two to the body, one to the head."

Wasdin said it looked like Hillary Clinton “took a page from her husband's playbook, which is not to give what's asked for.” Nobody pointed out that Hillary Clinton has recently testified before Congress that she never saw the request for increased security in Benghazi, nor that she said, “Obviously, it's something we're fixing.”

Meanwhile, a banner reading "A CASE OF DEJA VU: IS BENGHAZI THIS PRESIDENT'S BLACK HAWK DOWN?" hit the screen.

But Wasdin wasn't about to let his 15 minutes go by without holding forth on the evils of the liberal media and President Obama, too.

I watched appallingly on 60 Minutes the other day and found out that we live in a dangerous and complicated world. But what the Clintons or the Obamas will never understand is, my dangerous, complicated world is different from theirs.

Wasdin did make a point, which is that he, his friends and his family know what it's like to be "in harm's way," unlike most of the leaders who send them there. But Presidents Obama and Clinton have been a lot more cautious and measured about putting troops in harm's way than the chickenhawks in the Bush administration who started these wars. Not that any of the “fair and balanced” hosts brought that up.

Wasdin continued:

Why the American people, why CNN, why the mainstream media is not picking up on this, why they're not asking the tough questions really surprises me because here's something you won't hear in the mainstream media. Here's how you defeat terrorism, America: you take a hard stance on it. If you're not killed by Americans, you will be brought here – not given three hots and a cot, not given an attorney, not allowed to lawyer up.

You'll be brought here and somebody like me WILL waterboard you. And I'm gonna get the information and I'm gonna defeat you at your grassroots so that you can't recruit. Becaues it's a lot less appealing to the people being recruited if they know they got somebody like me that's waiting for 'em when they get to America. Otherwise, they're gonna be recruited because you've got a president saying we need to retake our moral high ground. Here's what I say: two to the body, one to the head and then if you do survive, we're gonna torture you – I'm sorry, 'enhanced interrogate' you – until we get our answers. That's how you defeat terrorism.

Doocy responded, “Well put, Howard.”

Fox liked this so much, they repeated the rant later in the show.

U.S. Secret Prisons and the Guantanamo Trials, Systematic Torture

WAR CRIMES AND TORTURE: Guantánamo and back: an interview with Moazzam Begg

According to UN investigations in 2010 there are more than 27,000 prisoners held by the U.S. in more than 100 secret prisons around the world and on 17 ships as floating prisons. These are almost entirely Muslim prisoners.

According to Center for Constitutional Rights 92% of the prisoners held just at Guantanamo are not “Al-Qaeda fighters” by the U.S. government’s own records and 22 were under 18 years of age when captured.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed one of the 5 now on trial at Guantanamo was subjected to water board torture 183 times. He wore a camouflaged vest to court to make the point that he was once part of the U.S. armed and paid mujahideen force in Afghanistan in 1980s and U.S. proxy army in Bosnia in 1990s.  The U.S. can be expected to treat its proxy army in Syria and Libya in the same way.

U.S. government targeted kidnappings and assassinations are today continued through daily drone attacks with Hellfire missiles in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Mali and as far as the Philippines. Again thousands of civilians, including youth and women are among the victims.

President Obama had promised to close Guantanamo Prison as one of his first acts as president in 2009. Yesterday it was decided instead to close the office and eliminate the special envoy Daniel Fried whose role was to close the prison at Guantanamo. Daniel Fried’s role will now be to intensify the sanctions on Iran and Syria.

Close Guantanamo and ALL U.S. secret prisons! End the drone wars! End the Sanctions!

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Copyright © Sara Flounders, RT, 2013

CIA Nominee John Brennan’s Worry Over Torture Ended with Who Might Get Blamed

As John Brennan readies for confirmation hearings as CIA director, re-surfaced episodes of how the spy operative and national security adviser dealt with knowledge about the torture program under the Bush administration shows that his reticence about ...

Child Soldiers, Torture, A Humanitarian Crisis And An ‘Invisible War’

As Britain prepares to send hundreds of troops to West Africa to support French forces fighting Islamists in Mali, charities and human rights groups have warned of serious atrocities being committed on both sides of the conflict.

Reports from workers on the ground suggest child soldiers are being drafted into a war that is split down ethnic and geographical lines, and one that is threatening to turn into a major humanitarian crisis.

More than 2,000 French soldiers are currently supporting the army in Mali after Islamist fighters seized hold of several regions in the North more than nine months ago.


Malian soldiers boarding a French Transall military plane in Bamako, Mali

“We are winning in Mali," French President Francois Hollande told a news conference on Monday, after armed forces secured the key city of Timbuktu.

While news footage showed local Malians celebrating the departure of the Islamists and cheering the French, the situation is far more complicated than some bulletins suggest.

Phillipe Bolopion, the UN Director of Human Rights Watch, told the Huffington Post UK the organisation was documenting "serious evidence of multiple killings by the Malian army", recounting how bodies are dumped and wilfully ignored by the local police.


Malian soldiers walking through the rubble of a former army base leveled during fighting with Islamist rebels in Konna

Bolopion, speaking from Sévaré, a town in the Mopti Region of Mali, said a number of people from different ethnic groups were rounded up from around town and bus stations a few weeks ago and then slaughtered.

"The bodies were dumped in a well close to the Gendarmerie station and they are still there. No one is interested in investigating," he said.

Islamist groups have been driven from the area, yet Bolopion painted a stark picture of the scene that will greet British troops, adding: “If Sevare is the test case of things to come in other liberated areas it is very worrying."

“We are trying to piece it all together but the army are intimidating people and telling them not to talk. We told the Gendarmerie; ‘the bodies are still there, you can see them, but they say ‘why dont you ask my boss? or 'it's the fire service’s fault.’ And what this shows is there is no interest in investigation from local authorities.’

malian soldiers

Malian soldiers outside Gao airport

His disturbing account follows a report by The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) alleging that the Malian army is responsible for at least 33 killings since Jan 10, particularly in the towns of Sévaré, Nioro, and Mopti.

Refugees have told of horrific atrocities committed by the Islamists too, with public whippings, children being recruited to fight and rebels chopping off people’s hands.

As displaced families struggle with the emotional and physical toll of what they have witnessed, both Save The Children and UNHCR have reported on how members of different ethnic communities blame each other for supporting the separatist rebellion which led to the present conflict.

Many of these people have already survived the worst food crisis in living memory and there are fears that the situation could develop into a major humanitarian crisis.

burnt out car in konna

A burnt-out car in Konna after the fighting

Sévaré is not the only town that has seen conflict. Konna, in the centre of Mali, witnessed fierce fighting less than a week ago. Many of the town’s main buildings were razed to the ground after clashes between Malian army and rebel groups and then the French forces moved their troops in.

Bolopion claims they have collected evidence of civilian casulties after a French airstrike in Konna and said there had also been reports of people being taken away from the Malian army and turning up either dead or missing.

french soldiers mali

A crowd cheers the arrival of French soldiers in Timbuktu, in northern Mali

He said they had documented four civilians who were killed in the airstrike so far, with one woman, and three children, aged six, ten and 11.

He added: "Reports suggested there may be more but we did not have enough time to check as the Malian army did not allow it."

There has been widespread frustration at the lack of access to the places where fighting has taken place, either to journalists or to people providing humanitarian aid. Al Jazeera's Yasmine Ryan, who is in Mali, described the conflict as an 'invisible war' with no official death tolls for civilians or soldiers.

french soldier timbuktu

A French soldier guards the Timbuktu airport in Mali

Despite these accounts of violence, Tom McCormack of Save the Children said most people seem happy that the West has intervened.

Speaking from the capital Boloko, McCormack told the Huffington Post UK: "It seems most Malians accept that forceful intervention was needed and most people feel relieved that armed groups (Islamists) are gone."

The brutal violence of these groups was documented in a January 2013 report by Amnesty, which told how Tuareg and Islamist armed opposition groups engaged in widespread rape and torture and killed of captured Malian soldier and recruited child soldiers.

"We dont have first hand reports but we are hearing stories of child soldiers being involved in the fighting, being lured into training camps with a little bit of money and being used in the conflict in various ways."

McCormack said he thought the recent flurry of violence was now settling down into a "long simmering conflict" which came with its own set of challenges.

mali islamists

Angry crowds shout at suspected Islamist extremists in the back of an army truck in Gao

Thousands of people have been displaced by the fighting, with very few refugee camps and instead refugees staying with host families or extended relatives.

According to UNCHR some 380,000 people have fled northern Mali since the start of the conflict a year ago. This includes 230,000 who fled South, and more than 150,000 who are living as refugees in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Algeria (despite the border being closed)

McCormack said this displacement threatens to push communities to breaking point. "These are some of the poorest people in the world and it wont take very much for people to be pushed over the edge," he added.

"People have always been able to accept the many different ethnic groups in Malian society and prided themselves on getting along but these Islamist groups have proved really divisive.

"There’s an added factor of social strain now. A lot of people resent this, and blame the Touregs for this tension and some Northern Malians living down south fear they could be stigmatised and blamed for the crisis. People are pitted against people and there have been isolated cases where northern malians have been targeted.

"I fear there will be some social damage with reprisals as those in the south see it a chance to punish people in the north for the unrest."

mali looting

Hundreds of Malians looted stores in Timbuktu, saying the shops belonged to 'Arabs' and 'terrorists' linked to the radical Islamists who occupied the desert town for 10 months

This is supported by a report by the UNHCR which talks of "tension between ethnic communities" and appeals to community leaders and to the Malian authorities "to give urgent priority to initiatives to promote peace and reconciliation between various ethnic groups."

Additionally both the Red Cross and Crescent and Plan International have raised concern over the developing humanitarian situation in the region. ICRCC have been involved in large scale food distribution in the north, amid shortages of fuel needed to power water pumps and lack of chemicals to treat the water.

Dr Krishnan of Plan International told the Huffington Post UK: "We, the global humanitarian community, have been struggling to raise money to help almost 400,000 people displaced by the fighting. We are asking for just one-third of the military budget – US$370 million. But as of this morning only 1% has been committed.”

Lindsay German of Stop the War Coalition told the Huffington Post UK that intervention in these kinds of situations never worked "because it doesnt address the problems and grievances people are facing on the ground."

"Every time the government does a knee jerk reaction like this you know its not addressing the real problems.

"They need to address the inequality of people living there. Islamists do well in part in these regions because the state is not functioning for the people and they provide some sort of alternative for people who are very very poor."

Iraqis Seek Independent Public Inquiry Over British Torture Allegations

Scores of Iraqis will come to the High Court on Tuesday seeking an "independent" public inquiry into allegations that British interrogators abused, killed and tortured civilians in Iraq. Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), acting on behalf of 180 Iraqis, a...

Obama’s Vendetta against Whistleblowers: Former CIA Agent Who Revealed US Agents Involved in Torture,...


The Obama administration’s vendetta against whistleblowers continues with the sentence of 30 months jail time handed down on Friday for former CIA agent John C. Kiriakou, who in 2007 acknowledged that US agents were involved in torture.

On December 10, 2007, Kiriakou was interviewed on ABC News about the capture of Abu Zubaydah, who the Bush administration claimed was an Al Qaeda “mastermind” and aide to Osama Bin Laden. In the course of the interview, Kiriakou acknowledged that CIA agents waterboarded Zubaydah.

Kiriakou’s statements about torture in the 2007 interview were ambivalent. On the one hand, Kiriakou stated that the torture of Zubaydah was effective in obtaining information. On the other hand, Kiriakou was apparently troubled by the political, legal, and moral implications of torture.

Whatever Kiriakou’s intentions in his initial ABC News interview, his statements represented the first public confirmation by a government agent that Zubaydah had been waterboarded. The interview was widely reported and lauded internationally, but it also made Kiriakou a number of enemies in high places.

Kiriakou’s 2007 interview represented a step forward in efforts to bring to light the criminal abduction, torture, and murder apparatus erected by the US government in the course of the so-called “war on terror.” The revelation that Zubaydah was tortured certainly implicated top personnel in the US government, as well as the torturers themselves, in war crimes and other serious violations of US and international law.

In the upside-down world of the US justice system, the orchestrators of torture remain at large, and Kiriakou is going to prison.

According to his 2010 memoir entitled, The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror (which the CIA prevented him from publishing for two years), Kiriakou did not participate in the torture of Zubaydah. Kiriakou instead relied in the 2007 interview on one internal agency cable, according to which Zubaydah had been waterboarded only once and had provided “actionable intelligence.” In fact, the cable was false. Two years later it emerged that Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times.

In the course of his capture, Zubaydah was shot and seriously injured as he attempted to flee. In secret CIA “black sites,” Zubaydah endured brutal beatings, sexual humiliation, sleep deprivation, extreme temperatures, stress positions, being locked in a crouching position in a tiny box for long periods of time, and loud music at debilitating volumes. At one point, CIA agents removed Zubaydah’s left eye.

The Bush administration claimed that Zubaydah was Al Qaeda’s “number three” leader and the “hub of the wheel.” However, in subsequent legal proceedings, the US government admitted that Zubaydah had not been a “member” of Al Qaeda or even “formally” identified with the organization, and he had no advance knowledge of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

According to his attorneys, Zubaydah currently suffers from permanent brain damage and can no longer remember his father’s name