Washington D.C. May 12, 2004: CIA interrogation manuals written in the 1960s and 1980s described "coercive techniques"
such as those used to mistreat detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, according to the declassified documents posted
today by the National Security Archive. The Archive also posted a secret 1992 report written for then Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney warning that U.S. Army intelligence manuals that incorporated
the earlier work of the CIA for training Latin American military officers in interrogation and counterintelligence techniques
contained "offensive and objectionable material" that "undermines U.S. credibility, and could result in significant embarrassment."
did not apply to "war on terror" detainees at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, an army
spokesman said. Paul Boyce corrected an earlier statement by another army spokesman, Sheldon Smith, who said the
revision of the army regulations
on procedures for military executions could affect enemy combatants at Guantanamo.
24 Two legal professionals who made allegations about prisoner abuse at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre have been ordered not to talk to the media about the claims,
lawyers who work with the pair say. Marine Lt Col Colby Vokey, who represents a detainee at the US naval
base in eastern Cuba, filed a complaint with the Pentagon last week alleging that abuse was ongoing at the prison. "I can't even talk about it," Vokey said when reached by telephone. When asked if he was going
to abide by the order for the time being, he said: "Yes." There are now 454 detainees at
Guantanamo Bay, according to Vincent Lusser, a spokesman for the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross. The Red Cross just completed a two-week visit to the prison, meeting the alleged mastermind of the September
11, 2001 US terror attacks and 13 other high-profile detainees who were transferred there weeks ago from CIA custody. Guantanamo
inmates include Australian terrorist suspect David Hicks who was captured among Taliban forces in Afghanistan in December
2001. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, attempted murder and aiding the enemy.
A FORMER inmate of the Guantanamo Bay camp has been identified as the first British
citizen known to have been subjected to the CIA’s practice of rendition — the capture and transfer of terrorism
suspects across the world without legal process.
More information in the book
The CIA’s Secret Rendition Programme by Stephen Grey is published in Britain, by C Hurst
& Co at £16.95
U.S. Fights Detainee Access to Attorney
WASHINGTON 11-4-06 - A suspected terrorist who spent years in a secret CIA
prison should not be allowed to speak to a civilian attorney, the Bush administration argues, because he could reveal the
agency's closely guarded interrogation techniques.
Human rights groups have questioned the CIA's methods for questioning suspects, especially following the passage of a bill
last month that authorized the use of harsh but undefined interrogation tactics.
In recently filed court documents, the Justice Department said those methods, along with the locations of the CIA's network
of prisons, are among the nation's most sensitive secrets. Prisoners who spent time in those prisons should not be allowed
to disclose that information, even to a lawyer, the government said.
"Improper disclosure of other operational details, such as interrogation methods, could also enable terrorist organizations
and operatives to adapt their training to counter such methods, thereby obstructing the CIA's ability to obtain vital intelligence
that could disrupt future planned terrorist attacks," the Justice Department wrote.
The documents, which were first reported by The Washington Post, were filed in opposition to a request that terror suspect
Majid Khan should be given access to an attorney. Khan, 26, immigrated from Pakistan and graduated high school in Maryland.
3-21-06 Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., today released previously withheld portions of an FBI document
critical of interrogation practices used by the Department of Defense (DOD) at Guantanamo Bay in 2002, disclosing information
in that document previously withheld by the Department of Justice (DOJ). In a letter to DOJ on February 10, 2005, Levin and
Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., had requested reconsideration of the decision to withhold portions of that FBI document and,
in response, DOJ released a new version of the FBI document with the additional information. ( MORE HERE )
DOJ has indicated that it is awaiting word from DOD
about releasing still more withheld information in the FBI document. Levin has also asked DOJ why the names of some FBI personnel
are still being withheld.
Boeing Corporation, Being Used for Rendition? .....Here
are some facts:
Since 2003, human-rights investigators and news media
reports have described a Boeing Business Jet as one of the most-dreaded planes in the Central Intelligence Agency's clandestine
air force. The modified 737 -- a model rolled out in Renton in 2001 -- was built for executive fun and comfort.
But it is alleged to be the flagship of the CIA's "extreme rendition" squadron, ferrying suspected terrorists to secret agency
prisons or countries where the U.S. is
said to outsource torture.
The use of this jet, with a 6,000-mile flying range
and plush customized cabin, has until now been Boeing's only connection to the prison airlifts. But a British author and an
ex-prisoner's attorney say that records uncovered by Spanish investigators show Boeing has a more direct role -- planning
and organizing the flights through a unit of its Seattle commercial airplane division.
The cargo of prisoners includes many who say they were
tortured and others who claim to have been mistakenly abducted and abused. One detainee, Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese
decent who is suing the CIA and aviation companies under the Alien Tort Statute for alleged Fifth Amendment (due process)
violations, says he now plans to add Boeing to his lawsuit.
Masri "was injected with a drug and chained to the
floor of the plane," says his attorney, Ben Wizner of the New York ACLU. "I don't think anybody would hold Boeing responsible
for manufacturing the plane. However, the emergence of [Boeing's flight-assistance role] changes all that."
"We don't necessarily know very much about the purpose
of a flight because that information isn't necessary to create a flight plan. What somebody's going to do when they get off
is not part of that plan."
It's not publicly known how much Boeing, the nation's
No. 2 defense contractor, earned from the flights. The CIA, a stand-alone agency, does not reveal its contracts and agency
work can be billed through other government departments, including the Pentagon. Jeppesen has done $7.7 million in defense
contracting since Boeing bought it in 2000, based on a review of Pentagon records.
The lawsuit was thrown out earlier this year, not because
it lacked merit but because it could lead to disclosure of state secrets, a federal judge ruled. Masri is appealing and Wizner,
his attorney, was scheduled to make his arguments this week before a Virginia
"Obviously," says Wizner, "before we can add Boeing
to the suit, we have to get it reinstated. It's a real hurdle -- the CIA is, in effect, claiming immunity, that they're never
liable in such cases." He's buoyed by three federal court rulings in recent months that rejected similar government-secrets
argument -- all of them cases involving challenges to warrantless eavesdropping authorized by President Bush.
"If the el-Masri suit can continue, we would try to
develop evidence that people within Jeppesen were aware that detainees were being subjected to human rights abuses on these
flights," Wizner says. "If we can show that, Boeing should by all rights be a defendant."
(11-20-05) November 20, 2005 -- CIA torture flights remain in operation. On November
18, a CIA aircraft, a CASA CN-235-300 turboprop, tail number N196D, operated by front company Devon Holding and Leasing, Inc.
of Lexington, North Carolina, was recorded as traveling from Iceland to St. John's, Newfoundland, to Manchester, New Hampshire
and finally to Johnson County Airport in Smithfield, North Carolina.
N196D stopped in Malta, on May 17, 2004 -- its itinerary was Halifax-St.John's-Keflavik-Edinburgh-Frankfurt-Malta-Amman-Afghanistan.
Paper work filed indicated two owners: Devon Holding and Leasing and Stevens Express Leasing Company of Tennessee, another
front company being investigated by the Spanish Interior Ministry for fronting for torture flights through Mallorca, Ibiza,
and Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
A similar Devon-owned aircraft, tail number N168D, flew a route from St. John's to Keflavik, Iceland and on to Prague on
April 6, 2005. It was also reported to have landed in Malta on August 12, 2005; Palma de Mallorca on January 16, 2005; and
Ponta Delgada in the Azores on January 11, 2005 for a stop while en route from St. John's to Cagliari, Sardinia.
A former Piedmont Airlines Boeing 737, now CIA torture plane, tail number N313P (re-registered as N4476S), was spotted
on the runway at Palma de Mallorca on January 23, 2004. CIA front owners have been variably listed as Premier Executive Transport
Services and Keeler and Tate Management, both linked to Jeppesen Dataplan of California. The Boeing 737 was also spotted in
Tulsa; Geneva; Oporto, Portugal; and Frankfurt.
Another CIA front company is called Prescott Support. Its C-130, the L-100-30 Hercules, (the same aircraft type reported
to be involved with flying around "crated" prisoners) has been spotted at Frankfurt, Singapore (Changi), Kuala Lumpur's Subang
Airport (parked in an isolated position away from other aircraft just a few weeks following the Indian Ocean tsunami), Malta,
Ponta Delgada (Azores), Kuwait, Oporto (Portugal), Helsinki (Vantaa), and Kenya. Another Prescott Support plane, a DeHavilland
Twin Otter/VistaLiner, was identified on a long flight in October 2004 from North Las Vegas to Prescott, Arizona to Starkville,
Mississippi to Florence, South Carolina to Wilmington, North Carolina to Goose Bay, Labrador to Reykjavik's city airport in
Iceland to Stansted, London, England to Cairo to Kenya.
PORTLAND, Ore. - KATU News has uncovered new evidence about
a Portland business man linked to the so-called 'torture jet,' evidence that raises questions about whether the man exists
Human rights groups say the CIA used a jet, a Gulfstream V, registered in Oregon to transport terror suspects
to countries that allow torture, but trying to track down the mysterious jet has proved tough.
The company that the jet is registered to, Bayard Foreign Marketing, does not seem to exist and neither
does the listed owner, Leonard T. Bayard.
In two documents obtained by KATU News, the signatures of Leonard T. Bayard look very different.
One of the documents is the 2004 Annual Report filed with Oregon's Secretary of State office. The other document is
a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration to transfer ownership.
Michael Munk, a retired Portland political science professor and anti-torture advocate said you do not
need a handwriting expert to figure out that something is fishy.
"I'm sure that anyone wanting to make their case in court would need one," he said. "But I think
everyone can make up their own minds without that expertise."
Munk is also the person who initiated an investigation by the Oregon State Bar Association that is trying
to determine if a Portland lawyer violated ethics laws by registering Bayard Foreign Marketing in a false name.
That lawyer has told the bar association that attorney-client privilege precludes him from saying anything
about his client, Leonard T. Bayard.
However, according to the Oregon State Bar Association, Bayard's identity is not protected and their investigation
Bayard's company has a Portland phone number. KATU News has called half a dozen times over the past
few weeks, but has not been able to reach him. Instead we get an answering service.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Egypt cleric claims CIA torture in 2003 rendition from
Italy Caitlin Price at 4:21 PM ET
year ago, Donald Vance learned what its like
to be falsely accused by the U.S. military of aiding terrorists. He was held without charge
for more than three months in a high-security prison in Iraq,
and interrogated daily after sleepless nights without legal counsel or even a phone call to his family.
On Wednesday, the former private security contractor was honored for his ordeal
in Washington and for speaking out against the incident.
At a luncheon at the National Press Club, Vance received the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling, an award named in memory of
Army helicopter gunner Ron Ridenhour who struggled to bring the horrific mass murders at My Lai
to the attention of Congress and the Pentagon during the Vietnam War.
Vance was joined by former president Jimmy Carter, who won a lifetime achievement
award, and journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran of The Washington Post who was recognised for his recent book, "Emerald
City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone".
As hundreds at the luncheon finished their lobster salad, Vance, a two-time George
W. Bush voter and Navy veteran, recounted the events of his imprisonment and the grief of his fiancé and family. They did
not know if he was alive or dead, he said. They were already making inquiries to the U.S. State Department on how to ship
his body home.
He then drew a wider circle around his ordeal to include the countless others who
have been held falsely without charge and denied normal legal constitutional protections under law. "My
name used to be 200343," Vance said recalling his prisoner ID. "If they can do this to a former Navy man and an American,
what is happening to people in facilities all over the world run by the American government?"
Vance's nightmare began last year on Apr. 15 when he and co-worker Nathan Ertel
barricaded themselves in a Baghdad office after their employer,
an Iraqi private security firm, took away their ID tags. They feared for their lives because they suspected the company was
involved in selling unauthorised guns on the black market and other nefarious activity. A U.S.
military squad freed them from the red zone in Baghdad after a friend at the U.S. embassy advised him to call for help.
Once they reached the U.S.-controlled Green Zone, government officials took them
inside the embassy, listened to their individual accounts and then sent them to a trailer outside for sleep. Two or
three hours later, before the crack of dawn, U.S.
military personnel woke them. This time, however, Vance and Ertel, Shield Security's contract manager, were under arrest.
Soldiers bound their wrists with zip ties and covered their eyes with goggles blacked out with duct tape.
The two were then escorted to a humvee and driven first to possibly CampProsperity and then to CampCropper, a high-security prison near the Baghdad
airport where Saddam Hussein was once kept. Vance says he was denied the usual body armour and helmet while traveling through
the perilous Baghdad streets outside the safety of the Green Zone or a U.S. military installation.
It was not the way the tall 29-year-old with an easy charm and keen mind had expected
to be treated. Vance claims that during the months leading up to his arrest, he worked as an unpaid informant for the Federal
Bureau of Investigation. Sometimes twice a day, he would share information with an agent in Chicago about the Iraqi-owned Shield Group Security, whose principals and managers appeared
to be involved in weapons deals and violence against Iraqi civilians. One company employee regularly bartered alcohol with
U.S. military personnel in exchange for
ammunition they delivered, Vance said.
"He called it the bullets for beer programme," Vance claimed while relating the
incident during an interview this week at a cigar bar just walking distance from the White House.
But his interrogators at CampCropper weren't impressed. Instead, his jailers insisted that Vance and
Ertel had been detained and imprisoned because the two worked for Shield Group Security where large caches of weapons have
been found -- weapons that may have been intended for possible distribution to insurgents and terrorist groups, Vance said.
In a lawsuit now pending against former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and
"other unidentified agents," Vance and Ertel accuse their U.S.
government captors of subjecting them to psychological torture day and night. Lights were kept on in their cell around the
clock. They endured solitary confinement. They had only thin plastic mattresses on concrete for sleeping. Meals were of powdered
milk and bread or rice and chicken, but interrupted by selective deprivation of food and water. Ceaseless heavy metal and
country music screamed in their ears for hours on end, their legal complaint alleges.
They lived through "conditions of confinement and interrogation tantamount to
torture", says the lawsuit filed in northern Illinois U.S. District Court. "Their interrogators utilised the types of physically
and mentally coercive tactics that are supposedly reserved for terrorists and so-called enemy combatants."
Rumsfeld is singled out as the key defendant because he played a critical
role in establishing a policy of "unlawful detention and torment" that Vance, Ertel and countless others in the "war on terror"
have endured, the lawsuit asserts, noting that the former defence secretary and other high-level military commanders acting
at his direction developed and authorised a policy that allows government officials unilateral discretion to designate possible
enemies of the United States.
Because the incident and allegations are now in litigation, the Pentagon has no
comment, spokesman Army Lieut. Col. Mark Ballesteros said. He referred all inquires to the U.S. Justice Department, which
also had no comment for similar reasons.
But darker allegations are included in the complaint over false imprisonment. Because
he worked with the FBI, Vance contends, U.S. government officials in Iraq decided to retaliate against him and Ertel. He believes
these officials conspired to jail the two not because they worked for a security company suspected of selling weapons to insurgents,
but because they were sharing information with law enforcement agents outside the control of U.S.
officials in Baghdad.
"In other words," claims the lawsuit, "United States
officials in Iraq were concerned and wanted to find out about what intelligence
agents in the United States knew about
their territory and their operations. The unconstitutional policies that Rumsfeld and other unidentified agents had implemented
for 'enemies' provided ample cover to detain plaintiffs and interrogate them toward that end."
It may take some time to sort out the allegations as the legal process grinds forward,
but, in the meantime, Vance is raising new questions about his detention. He still wonders why his jailers didn't just call
the FBI and have him cleared. They had access to his computer and cell phone to determine if his claims were true.
"When I told them to do that, they just got angry and told me to stop answering
questions I wasn't being asked," Vance said. "I think they were butting heads with the State Department. I just snitched on
the wrong people. I took the bull by the horns and got the horn."
And why weren't managers with the Shield Group held and interrogated?
Interrogators were certainly interested in these other individuals, according to
the lawsuit. They wanted to know about the company's structure, its political contacts, and its owners -- most of whom are
related to a long-established Iraqi family who fled Iraq
during the years the country was ruled by Saddam Hussein, Vance said.
More startling even now is that the company has reformed. At the time they left,
Shield Security held U.S.-funded contracts with the Iraqi government, Iraqi companies, NGOs and U.S. contractors. As far as Vance knows, the company still does -- but under a
different name: National Shield Security.
"I built their web site," he said. "And they are still being
awarded millions of dollars in contracts."
This is a portion of my prepared comments for KBOO 90.7(FM) in portland ore, today
Today I'm going to talk about torture. Shortly I will have a guest, an author and compiler of essays
on the subject, a legal mind, if you will. But first I'm going to just vent.
There was a certain day in September
2001, we all know the one, in which everyone who had access to videos media was obsessed, as I was, with watching buildings
fall in New York, and wondering what it meant. I didn't know then, though I can state with certainty now, that the stunt had
been arranged by the neocons, and that the New York buildings had been professionally detonated. I didn't know that then,
but I knew the history and tendency of American elites to control the masses through fear, and to subvert democracy wherever
it raised its beautiful head.
I knew Bush Junior to be the ideological successor to Reagan, who had used the grossly
inflated Soviet threat to justify a dirty, death squad war against Nicaraguan and Salvadoran citizens. I knew he followed
in the footsteps of Nixon's then-secret Phoenix torture and assassination program. I could see that he was an arrogant, nasty,
On that day, we were having a Pledge Drive here at KBOO as we are now, and we suspended that effort
to perform ongoing news and analyses. It was around that time that the American people started noticing feelers from the Bushites
about torture, and that absurd canard, about whether it was justified to torture a nuclear bomber, began the rounds of the
conformist talk shows. Clearly, the Bush regime wanted the acceptance of the terrified US citizenry; we were to nod and gulp
and accept the absurd idea that a practice that had faded away from the time of the Age of Reason was now fresh, new, and
There were those of us who resisted, but we were drowned out, not only by the corporate media, but by
the terrified masses seeking quarter from the unknown. Reasonable discussions were sidelined by mysterious American-made anthrax
attacks. There was never a reasonable discussion of torture, but rather a national whimper of acquiescence.
still difficult to talk about torture, because we are ashamed. I am ashamed to be part of a nation that is so far from reason,
so far from compassion, so ignorant of history as to condone torture. And torture has festered along with every conceivable
breach of the rule of law, so that we are engaged in wars based on lies, our secret police roam the globe to kidnap people,
our own soldiers perish from uranium poisoning—and then there are the concentration camps. Here is a sample from Wayne
Madsen, published today:
"So too are the three U.S. secret concentration camps now in Ethiopia. According to our Ethiopian
opposition sources, the main camp is located at the Ethiopian airbase at Debre Zeit, near Addis Ababa. The two others are
in the Ogaden region of eastern Ethiopia and in Tigre Province, which borders Eritrea in the north. Tigre is the home of the
Ethiopian dictator Meles. The camps are housing detainees from 19 countries, including Sweden, France, and Canada and a number
of Ethiopian opposition members, including ethnic Oromos, Ogadenis, and other minority groups."
I won't ask if this
news makes anyone feel safe, because if it does, it only adds to my contempt for those so comforted. No one has a right to
feel safe by torturing others—and does anyone doubt that death and torture are an essential component of those Ethiopian
camps, and of the numerous clandestine dungeons that our secret police now maintain around the globe?
Where now can
our loyalty attach? Can we, in good conscience, pledge allegiance to a regime that unceasingly promotes terror, torture, imprisonment,
and murder? Doesn't that flag reek of blood and filth? Hold it to year ear, can you hear the screams of the hordes of children
we have mutilated and orphaned? Run it up a flagpole, does it not suck the color from the landscape?
The time has
come for a clean break, for revolution against elitism, against corporate rule. It is time for building a new society, for
tearing down dungeons. We can have an open, transparent, tolerant, generous society, or we can sit idly, and watch everything
rot until the world finally shrugs us off like lice.
Sometimes the music was American rap, sometimes Arab folk songs. In the CIA prison in Afghanistan, it came blaring through
the speakers 24 hours a day. Prisoners held alone inside barbed-wire cages could only speak to each other and exchange their
news when the music stopped: if the tape was changed or the generators broke down.
In one such six-foot-by-10-foot cell in February 2004, equipped with a low mattress and a bucket as a toilet, sat a man
in shackles named Ibn al Sheikh al Libi, the former al Qaeda camp commander described by former CIA director George Tenet
in his autobiography last year as "the highest ranking al-Qa'ida member in U.S. custody" just after 9/11.
In this secret facility known to prisoners as "The Hangar" and believed
to be at Bagram Air Base north of Kabul, al Libi told fellow "ghost prisoners," one recalled to me for a PBS "Frontline" to
be broadcast tonight, an incredible story of his treatment over the previous two years: of how questioned at first by Americans,
by the FBI and then CIA, of how he was threatened with torture. And then how he was rendered to a jail cell in Egypt where
the threats became a reality.
In his book, officially cleared for publication, Tenet confirms how the CIA outsourced al Libi's interrogation.
He said he was sent to a third country (inadvertently named in another part of the book as Egypt) for "further debriefing."
The Bush administration has said that terrorists are trained to invent tales of torture.
Yet, on this occasion, the CIA believed al Libi's tales of torture -- an account that has proved to be one of the most
serious indictments of the agency's practice of extraordinary rendition: sending suspected Islamic terrorists into the hands
of foreign jailers without legal process.
In a CIA sub-station close to al Libi's jail cell, the CIA's "debriefers," who had been talking to al Libi for days after
his return from Cairo, were typing out a series of operational cables to be sent Feb. 4 and Feb. 5 to the CIA Headquarters
in Langley, Va. In the view of some insiders, these cables provide the "smoking gun" on the whole rendition program -- a convincing
account of how the rendition program was, they say, illegally sending prisoners into the hands of torturers.
Under torture after his rendition to Egypt, al Libi had provided a confession of how Saddam Hussein had been training al
Qaeda in chemical weapons. This evidence was used by Colin Powell at the United Nations a year earlier (February 2003) to
justify the war in Iraq. ("I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these
[chemical and biological] weapons to al Qaeda," Powell said. "Fortunately, this operative is now detained, and he has told
But now, hearing how the information was obtained, the CIA was soon to retract all this intelligence. A Feb. 5 cable records
that al Libi was told by a "foreign government service" (Egypt) that: "the next topic was al-Qa'ida's connections with Iraq...This
was a subject about which he said he knew nothing and had difficulty even coming up with a story."
Al Libi indicated that his interrogators did not like his responses and then "placed him in a small box approximately 50cm
X 50cm [20 inches x 20 inches]." He claimed he was held in the box for approximately 17 hours. When he was let out of
the box, al Libi claims that he was given a last opportunity to "tell the truth." When al Libi did not satisfy the interrogator,
al Libi claimed that "he was knocked over with an arm thrust across his chest and he fell on his back." Al Libi told CIA debriefers
that he then "was punched for 15 minutes." (Sourced to CIA cable, Feb. 5, 2004).
Here was a cable then that informed Washington that one of the key pieces of evidence for the Iraq war -- the al Qaeda/Iraq
link -- was not only false but extracted by effectively burying a prisoner alive.
Although there have been claims about torture inflicted on those rendered by the CIA to countries like Egypt, Syria, Morocco
and Uzbekistan, this is the first clear example of such torture detailed in an official government document.
The information came almost one year before the president and other administration members first began to confirm the existence
of the CIA rendition program, assuring the nation that "torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries
that do torture." (New York Times, Jan. 28, 2005)
Last September, these red-hot CIA cables were declassified and published by the Senate Intelligence Committee, but in,
a welter of other news, one of the most important documents in the history of rendition had passed almost without notice by
the media. As far as I can tell, not a single newspaper reported details of the cable. (Senate Intelligence Committee, page 81, paragraph 2)
A spokesman of the intelligence committee told me last month: "We were not able to establish definitively who was told
about the cable or its contents or who read it." Other members of Congress may soon be taking up this story to find out just
who at the White House was told about the cable.
Meanwhile, al Libi, who told fellow prisoners in Bagram he was returned to U.S. custody from Egypt on Nov. 22, 2003, has
disappeared. He was not among the "high-value prisoners" transferred to Guantanamo last year.
*Stephen Grey is the reporter for a documentary "Extraordinary Rendition" broadcast on PBS
on Tuesday Nov. 6. He is the author of "Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA's Rendition and Torture Program"
(St Martin's Press). He is an award-winning investigative reporter who has contributed to the New York Times, BBC, PBS and
ABC News among others.
children raped at Abu Ghraib,
Pentagon has videos
Posted by Xeni Jardin, July 15, 2004 12:22 PM |permalink
From Daily Kos' partial transcript of a video (link to REAL stream) of Seymour Hersh speaking at an ACLU event. He says the US government has videotapes of children being raped at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
" Some of the worst things that happened you don't know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some of
you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib ... The women
were passing messages out saying 'Please come and kill me, because of what's happened' and basically what happened is that
those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the
cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are
in total terror. It's going to come out."
Link (via Warren). There's also a piece worth reading in this week's Newsweek about new allegations of rape and sexual torture
at Abu Ghraib. Feature includes details on the identities of the Iraqi prisoners shown in those widely-circulated photographs
-- including Satar Jabar (charged with carjacking, not terrorism), whose iconic hooded figure with wires attached is derisively
described by many Iraqis as the "Statue of Liberty." Link
Update: Geraldine Sealey at Salon on Hersh's remarks:
After Donald Rumsfeld testified on the Hill about Abu Ghraib in May, there was talk of more photos and video in
the Pentagon's custody more horrific than anything made public so far. "If these are released to the public, obviously it's
going to make matters worse," Rumsfeld said. Since then, the Washington Post has disclosed some new details and images of
abuse at the prison. But if Seymour Hersh is right, it all gets much worse. (...)
Notes from a similar speech Hersh gave in Chicago in June were posted on Brad DeLong's blog. Rick Pearlstein, who watched
the speech, wrote: "[Hersh] said that after he broke Abu Ghraib people are coming out of the woodwork to tell him this stuff.
He said he had seen all the Abu Ghraib pictures. He said, 'You haven't begun to see evil...' then trailed off. He said, 'horrible
things done to children of women prisoners, as the cameras run.' He looked frightened."
There are several questions here: Has Hersh actually seen the video he described to the ACLU, and why hasn't he written
about it yet? Will he be forced to elaborate in more public venues now that these two speeches are getting so much attention,
at least in the blogosphere? And who else has seen the video, if it exists -- will journalists see and report on it? did senators
see these images when they had their closed-door sessions with the Abu Ghraib evidence? -- and what is being done about it?
Update 2: BB guestbar alum Russ Kick of Memory Hole reminds us of a post he made in May about the type of as-yet-unreleased evidence Hersh is presumably discussing. Here, Russ quotes Republican Senator Lindsay
Graham: "The American public needs to understand, we're talking about rape and murder here. We're not just talking
about giving people a humiliating experience. We're talking about rape and murder and some very serious charges."
Update 3: BoingBoing reader Lars has an update from Germany -- some European media perspective on the allegations:
"Report Mainz" is a German TV show/magazine of the SWR (Sudwest-Rundfunk = South-West broadcasting). "Report Mainz"
reported already on 5th July 2004 about the potential abuse of children in Abu Ghraib. (Link). A video (in German) of the feature is available at the page (Link to streaming Real file). You can see interviews with persons who testify that they have seen children arrested in Abu Ghraib
and who have seen and have heard of a boy and a 12 year old girl terrified (cold water and mud were spilled over them) by
guards or military personal. The boy and the girl were then used to terrify their also arrested parents who were willing to
cooperate after seeing their children terrified by the guards/military personnel.
Another TV show/magazine covered the issue too: "Kulturzeit", of the German-Austrian-Swiss broadcaster "3Sat" (Link). The main theme in these features is the concern about the fact that children are arrested and that they are used to apply
pressure on their parents."
UPDATE: Evidence to support Hersh's claims in the Taguba Report? Link
Inside the CIA's notorious
Exhibit I: Rendering of Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah's first cell in Afghanistan (based on Bashmilah's own drawings).
A Yemeni man never charged by the U.S. details 19 months of brutality
and psychological torture -- the first in-depth, first-person account from inside the secret U.S. prisons. A Salon exclusive.
Dec. 15, 2007 | The CIA held Mohamed
Farag Ahmad Bashmilah in several different cells when he was incarcerated in its network of secret prisons known as "black
sites." But the small cells were all pretty similar, maybe 7 feet wide and 10 feet long. He was sometimes naked, and sometimes
handcuffed for weeks at a time. In one cell his ankle was chained to a bolt in the floor. There was a small toilet. In another
cell there was just a bucket. Video cameras recorded his every move. The lights always stayed on -- there was no day or night.
A speaker blasted him with continuous white noise, or rap music, 24 hours a day.
The guards wore black masks and black clothes. They would not utter
a word as they extracted Bashmilah from his cell for interrogation -- one of his few interactions with other human beings
during his entire 19 months of imprisonment. Nobody told him where he was, or if he would ever be freed.
It was enough to drive anyone crazy. Bashmilah finally tried to
slash his wrists with a small piece of metal, smearing the words "I am innocent" in blood on the walls of his cell. But the
CIA patched him up.
So Bashmilah stopped eating. But after his weight dropped to 90
pounds, he was dragged into an interrogation room, where they rammed a tube down his nose and into his stomach. Liquid was
pumped in. The CIA would not let him die.
On several occasions, when Bashmilah's state of mind deteriorated
dangerously, the CIA also did something else: They placed him in the care of mental health professionals. Bashmilah believes
these were trained psychologists or psychiatrists. "What they were trying to do was to give me a sort of uplifting and to
assure me," Bashmilah said in a telephone interview, through an interpreter, speaking from his home country of Yemen. "One
of the things they told me to do was to allow myself to cry, and to breathe."
Last June, Salon reported on the CIA's use of psychologists to aid with the interrogation of terrorist suspects. But the role
of mental health professionals working at CIA black sites is a previously unknown twist in the chilling, Kafkaesque story
of the agency's secret overseas prisons.
Little about the conditions of Bashmilah's incarceration has been
made public until now. His detailed descriptions in an interview with Salon, and in newly filed court documents, provide the
first in-depth, first-person account of captivity inside a CIA black site. Human rights advocates and lawyers have painstakingly
pieced together his case, using Bashmilah's descriptions of his cells and his captors, and documents from the governments of Jordan and
Yemen and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to verify his testimony. Flight records detailing
the movement of CIA aircraft also confirm Bashmilah's account, tracing his path from the Middle East to Afghanistan and back again while in U.S. custody.
Bashmilah's story also appears to show in clear terms that he was
an innocent man. After 19 months of imprisonment and torment at the hands of the CIA, the agency released him with no explanation,
just as he had been imprisoned in the first place. He faced no terrorism charges. He was given no lawyer. He saw no judge. He was simply released,
his life shattered.
"This really shows the human impact of this program and that lives
are ruined by the CIA rendition program," said Margaret Satterthwaite, an attorney for Bashmilah and a professor at the New
York University School of Law. "It is about psychological torture and the experience of being disappeared."
Bashmilah, who at age 39 is now physically a free man, still suffers
the mental consequences of prolonged detention and abuse. He is undergoing treatment for the damage done to him at the hands
of the U.S. government. On Friday, Bashmilah laid out his story in a declaration to a U.S. district court as part of a civil
suit brought by the ACLU against Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., a subsidiary of Boeing accused of facilitating secret CIA rendition
Bashmilah said in the phone interview that the psychological anguish
inside a CIA black site is exacerbated by the unfathomable unknowns for the prisoners. While he figured out that he was being
held by Americans, Bashmilah did not know for sure why, where he was, or whether he would ever see his family again. He said,
"Every time I realize that there may be others who are still there where I suffered, I feel the same thing for those innocent
people who just fell in a crack."
It may seem bizarre for the agency to provide counseling to a prisoner
while simultaneously cracking him mentally -- as if revealing a humanitarian aspect to a program otherwise calibrated to exploit
systematic psychological abuse. But it could also be that mental healthcare professionals were enlisted to help bring back
from the edge prisoners who seemed precariously damaged, whose frayed minds were no longer as pliable for interrogation. "My
understanding is that the purpose of having psychiatrists there is that if the prisoner feels better, then he would be able
to talk more to the interrogators," said Bashmilah.
Realistically, psychiatrists in such a setting could do little about
the prisoners' deeper suffering at the hands of the CIA. "They really had no authority to address these issues," Bashmilah
said about his mental anguish. He said the doctors told him to "hope that one day you will prove your innocence or that you
will one day return to your family." The psychiatrists also gave him some pills, likely tranquilizers. They analyzed his dreams.
But there wasn't much else they could do. "They also gave me a Rubik's Cube so I could pass the time, and some jigsaw puzzles,"
The nightmare started for him back in fall 2003. Bashmilah had traveled
to Jordan from Indonesia, where he was living with his wife and working in the clothing business. He and his wife went to
Jordan to meet Bashmilah's mother, who had also traveled there. The family hoped to arrange for heart surgery for Bashmilah's
mother at a hospital in Amman. But before leaving Indonesia, Bashmilah had lost his passport and had received a replacement.
Upon arrival in Jordan, Jordanian officials questioned his lack of stamps in the new one, and they grew suspicious when Bashmilah
admitted he had visited Afghanistan in 2000. Bashmilah was taken into custody by Jordanian authorities on Oct. 21, 2003. He
would not reappear again until he stepped out of a CIA plane in Yemen on May 5, 2005.
Bashmilah's apparent innocence was clearly lost on officials with
Jordan's General Intelligence Department. After his arrest, the Jordanians brutally beat him, peppering him with questions
about al-Qaida. He was forced to jog around in a yard until he collapsed. Officers hung him upside down with a leather strap
and his hands tied. They beat the soles of his feet and his sides. They threatened to electrocute him with wires. The told
him they would rape his wife and mother.
It was too much. Bashmilah signed a confession multiple pages long,
but he was disoriented and afraid even to read it. "I felt sure it included things I did not say," he wrote in his declaration
to the court delivered Friday. "I was willing to sign a hundred sheets so long as they would end the interrogation."
Bashmilah was turned over to the CIA in the early morning hours
of Oct. 26, 2003. Jordanian officials delivered him to a "tall, heavy-set, balding white man wearing civilian clothes and
dark sunglasses with small round lenses," he wrote in his declaration. He had no idea who his new captors were, or that he
was about to begin 19 months of hell, in the custody of the U.S. government. And while he was seldom beaten physically while
in U.S. custody, he describes a regime of imprisonment designed to inflict extreme psychological anguish.
I asked Bashmilah which was worse: the physical beatings at the
hands of the Jordanians, or the psychological abuse he faced from the CIA. "I consider that psychological torture I endured
was worse than the physical torture," he responded. He called his imprisonment by the CIA "almost like being inside a tomb."
"Whenever I saw a fly in my cell, I was filled with joy," he said.
"Although I would wish for it to slip from under the door so it would not be imprisoned itself."
After a short car ride to a building at the airport, Bashmilah's
clothes were cut off by black-clad, masked guards wearing surgical gloves. He was beaten. One guard stuck his finger in Bashmilah's
anus. He was dressed in a diaper, blue shirt and pants. Blindfolded and wearing earmuffs, he was then chained and hooded and
strapped to a gurney in an airplane.
Flight records show Bashmilah was flown to Kabul. (Records show
the plane originally departed from Washington, before first stopping in Prague and Bucharest.) After landing, he was forced
to lie down in a bumpy jeep for 15 minutes and led into a building. The blindfold was removed, and Bashmilah was examined
by an American doctor.
He was then placed in a windowless, freezing-cold cell, roughly
6.5 feet by 10 feet. There was a foam mattress, one blanket, and a bucket for a toilet that was emptied once a day. A bare
light bulb stayed on constantly. A camera was mounted above a solid metal door. For the first month, loud rap and Arabic music
was piped into his cell, 24 hours a day, through a hole opposite the door. His leg shackles were chained to the wall. The
guards would not let him sleep, forcing Bashmilah to raise his hand every half hour to prove he was still awake.
Cells were lined up next to each other with spaces in between. Higher
above the low ceilings of the cells appeared to be another ceiling, as if the prison were inside an airplane hanger.
After three months the routine became unbearable. Bashmilah unsuccessfully
tried to hang himself with his blanket and slashed his wrists. He slammed his head against the wall in an effort to lose consciousness.
He was held in three separate but similar cells during his detention in Kabul. At one point, the cell across from him was
being used for interrogations. "While I myself was not beaten in the torture and interrogation room, after a while I began
to hear the screams of detainees being tortured there," he wrote.
While he was not beaten, Bashmilah was frequently interrogated.
"During the entire period of my detention there, I was held in solitary confinement and saw no one other than my guards, interrogators
and other prison personnel," he wrote in his declaration. One interrogator accused him of being involved in sending letters
to a contact in England, though Bashmilah says he doesn't know anybody in that country. At other times he was shown pictures
of people he also says he did not know.
"This is a form of torture," he told me. "Especially when the person
subjected to this has not done anything."
In his declaration, Bashmilah made it clear that most of the prison
officials spoke English with American accents. "The interrogators also frequently referred to reports coming from Washington,"
After six months he was transferred, with no warning or explanation.
On or around April 24, 2004, Bashmilah was pulled from his cell and placed in an interrogation room, where he was stripped
naked. An American doctor with a disfigured hand examined him, jotting down distinctive marks on a paper diagram of the human
body. Black-masked guards again put him in a diaper, cotton pants and shirt. He was blindfolded, shackled, hooded, forced
to wear headphones, and stacked, lying down, in a jeep with other detainees. Then he remembers being forced up steps into
a waiting airplane for a flight that lasted several hours, followed by several hours on the floor of a helicopter.
Upon landing, he was forced into a vehicle for a short ride. Then,
Bashmilah took several steps into another secret prison -- location unknown.
He was forced into a room and stripped naked again. Photos were
taken of all sides of his body. He was surrounded by about 15 people. "All of them except for the person taking photographs
were dressed in the kind of black masks that robbers wear to hide their faces," Bashmilah wrote in the declaration.
He was again examined by a doctor, who took notations on the diagram
of the human body. (It was the same form from Afghanistan. Bashmilah saw his vaccination scar marked on the diagram.) The
doctor looked in his eyes, ears, nose and throat.
He was then thrown into a cold cell, left naked.
It was another tiny cell, new or refurbished with a stainless steel
sink and toilet. Until clothes arrived several days later, Bashmilah huddled in a blanket. In this cell there were two video
cameras, one mounted above the door and the other in a wall. Also above the door was a speaker. White noise, like static,
was pumped in constantly, day and night. He spent the first month in handcuffs. In this cell his ankle was attached to a 110-link
chain attached to a bolt on the floor.
The door had a small opening in the bottom through which food would
appear: boiled rice, sliced meat and bread, triangles of cheese, boiled potato, slices of tomato and olives, served on a plastic
Guards wore black pants with pockets, long-sleeved black shirts,
rubber gloves or black gloves, and masks that covered the head and neck. The masks had tinted yellow plastic over the eyes.
"I never heard the guards speak to each other and they never spoke to me," Bashmilah wrote in his declaration.
He was interrogated more. Bashmilah recalls an interrogator showing
him a lecture by an Islamic scholar playing on a laptop. The interrogator wanted to know if Bashmilah knew who the man was,
but he did not. It was in this facility that Bashmilah slashed his wrists, then went on his hunger strike, only to be force-fed
through a tube forced down his nose.
The CIA seems to have figured out that Bashmilah was not an al-Qaida
operative sometime around September 2004, when he was moved to another, similar cell. But there was no more white noise. And
while his ankles were shackled, he wasn't bolted to the floor with a chain. He was allowed to shower once a week. He was no
longer interrogated and was mostly left alone.
Bashmilah was given a list of books he could read. About a month
before he was released, he was given access to an exercise hall for 15 minutes a week. And he saw mental healthcare professionals.
"The psychiatrists asked me to talk about why I was so despairing, interpreted my dreams, asked me how I was sleeping and
whether I had an appetite, and offered medications such as tranquilizers."
On May 5, 2005, Bashmilah was cuffed, hooded and put on a plane
to Yemen. Yemeni government documents say the flight lasted six or seven hours and confirm that he was transferred from the
control of the U.S. government. He soon learned that his father had died in the fall of 2004, not knowing where his son had
disappeared to, or even if he was alive.
At the end of my interview with Bashmilah, I asked him if there
was anything in particular he wanted people to know. "I would like for the American people to know that Islam is not an enemy
to other nations," he said. "The American people should have a voice for holding accountable people who have hurt innocent
people," he added. "And when there is a transgression against the American people, it should not be addressed by another transgression."
Spurred by the detainment of
prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, American lawyer Khan decided to offer help to the detainees.
Born to Afghan parents, she
used her language skills as a translator, and from her time with these detainees she has written a diary that provides insights
into the lives and families of those held at Guantanamo.
Mahvish Rukhsana Khan is a recent law school graduate and journalist.
She has been published in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, the Washington Post, and other media. She is the
author of the book,
Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Monday called on Congress to set the rules by which
Guantanamo detainees will challenge their detention in civilian courts.
In a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, Mukasey said the recent Supreme Court
ruling granting detainees court access, "left many significant questions open." He argued that those questions are best answered
by lawmakers, not judges.
"Today, I am urging Congress to act," Mukasey said. "Judges play an important role in
deciding whether a chosen policy is consistent with our laws and the Constitution, but it is our elected leaders who have
the responsibility for making policy choices in the first instance."
He urged lawmakers to set up the rules for some 200 habeas corpus petitions that are
currently pending before the U.S. District Court in Washington. Those are petitions by Guantanamo detainees who say they are
being wrongfully imprisoned. Mukasey said these hearings raise significant national security concerns.
Mukasey said lawmakers should, for example, establish rules for handling classified evidence
"For the sake of national security, we cannot turn habeas corpus proceedings into a smorgasbord
of classified information for our enemies," he said.
Mukasey also asked Congress to dictate that courts cannot order a detainee to be released
into the United States. He said detainees should only be allowed to testify at their hearings via video link from Guantanamo
Bay, and he said detainees should not be able to call American troops to testify as witnesses.
Mukasey is "calling on Congress to essentially not let the courts do their jobs," said
Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents Guantanamo detainees.
Warren argues that judges can resolve all of the issues Mukasey mentioned in his speech.
In some cases, Warren says, they already have. For example, Mukasey said all of the habeas corpus petitions should be heard
in one district court. The petitions have already been consolidated before the federal district court in Washington.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, says the White
House did not consult with the committee on the speech or notify them that Mukasey would be making this announcement. Leahy
said he doubts that Congress can pass such a law during an election year in the final months of the Bush administration.
"I don't know how we'd ever get anything this complex and get the kind of consensus needed
to get something passed," Leahy told NPR in a phone interview.
Mukasey was more optimistic. In answer to a question after his speech, he said, "Congress
has talented legislators," adding "Together, I'm sure we can craft legislation."
The chief judge for the court handling these hearings is Royce Lamberth. Lamberth said
guidance from Congress is always welcome. "Because we are on a fast track, however, such guidance sooner rather than later
would certainly be most helpful," Lamberth said.
Ask a friend/coworker/neighbor/relative who has never done so to take action to stop
torture by writing a letter to their Members of Congress or signing an action postcard.
Call or email my Members of Congress in support of a fully independent commission
to investigate all allegations of torture and ill-treatment by agents of the U.S. government around the world.
Email friends, coworkers, and relatives and ask them to sign Amnesty International's
online petition against torture.
Moderately Time Consuming Actions Against Torture
Distribute Amnesty postcard actions to stop torture and ill-treatment and bumper
stickers to friends and family.
Write a letter-to-the-editor of my local newspaper against the use of torture and
ill-treatment by agents of the U.S.
Write a short story for a community newsletter or bulletin of my faith community
educating people about the issue of torture and ill-treatment in the context of the U.S.-led "war on terror" and present opportunities
to take action.
Most Time Consuming Actions Against Torture
Arrange a monthly table in a public area to distribute information about torture.
Ask my book club to read a book about torture and take action against torture. (If
I'm not in a book club, I'll start or join one.)
Ask my local bar association or law school faculty to sponsor a public event about
torture and ill-treatment.
Circulate petitions and deliver signed petitions to the district offices of my Members
Hold a public reading of the play "Honor Bound to Defend Freedom" about the treatment
of detainees at GuantanamoBay.
Organize a Denounce Torture Teach-in in my community using the Denounce Torture Teach-in
Guide. There is no experience or expertise needed to do this!
Organize a visit to my Representative/Senators' district office at an appropriate
time identified by the Denounce Torture Initiative.
Organize at least one vigil against torture and ill-treatment treatment at my town
hall, please of worship, or some other appropriate public location in my community.
Show a screening of the documentary "The Torture Question" to a faith community,
hold a discussion after and share action opportunities with participants.
Rory Kennedy is the producer and director of the "The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib." She is one of
the nation's most prolific independent documentary filmmakers, focusing on issues such as poverty, human rights and AIDS.
She is the co-founder of Moxie Firecracker Films.
Rory Kennedy, Sen kennedy daughter, producer and director of "The Ghosts
of Abu Ghraib." She is co-founder and co-president of
"The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib" - a new HBO documentary - traces the political and legal
precedents that led to the torture of prisoners at the infamous Iraqi prison. It includes numerous interviews with U.S. soldiers
directly involved with torture at Abu Ghraib, Iraqi torture survivors as well as experts, legal scholars and former government
officials. We speak with acclaimed filmmaker Rory Kennedy.
Editor's Note: George W. Bush's decision
not to issue a pardon for any former White House officials has left open the question of whether he or his subordinates might
be prosecuted for crimes committed during the past eight years. Saying that "we need to look forward as opposed to looking
backwards," President Barack Obama has signaled that he is not likely to delve too deeply into his predecessor's actions.
Yet, as legal scholar Karen Greenberg argues in this companion piece, there are still ways besides trials and investigations to hold the Bush White House accountable for its abuses of power.
And even if the Obama administration and Congress do not pursue justice for former Bush
While Democratic staffers say that
Congress will continue to pick through the Bush administration's record, they doubt that it will take on the big issues. Assuming
Congress and the White House punt on Iraq and torture, who else could throw the book at the Bush/Cheney crew? A few possibilities:
A Rogue district attorney In his recent book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi lays out a creative argument that state or local prosecutors could indict Bush for murder
if a soldier from their jurisdiction was killed in Iraq. It's a far-fetched premise, but with 2,700 DAs out there, Bugliosi—famous
for putting Charles Manson away—says, "I just need one." (Last fall, the Vermont Progressive Party's candidate for attorney
general said that if elected, she would appoint Bugliosi to implement his plan.) This unusual strategy is not unprecedented;
witness New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison's investigation into John F. Kennedy's assassination (as dramatized in
JFK ). Garrison successfully subpoenaed evidence like the Zapruder film, which had not been seen publicly before
the trial. Potential upshot: major embarrassment for Bush. Likelihood: low.
Ticked-Off Lawyers Most of what happened under Bush was "legal"
in the sense that the Justice Department issued opinions—such as the so-called torture memos—that said as much. The new administration, if only to placate the military and intelligence agencies, will be loath
to go after Bush officials who can claim legal cover, no matter how flawed the reasoning behind it. But the lawyers who actually
drafted the legal justifications for torture—particularly Dick Cheney's chief of staff David Addington, Alberto Gonzales, and Justice Department lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee—may be vulnerable. They could be indicted in federal court if
they knowingly issued faulty legal opinions that led to criminal acts. However, that would be an extremely difficult case
to make unless one of the defendants turned against the others. More plausible is that, like Bill Clinton and Scooter Libby,
they could face disbarment, limiting their employment prospects.
The United Nations A range of observers, from former UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan to überhawk Richard Perle, has acknowledged that the invasion of Iraq violated the UN Charter. In theory, the Security
Council could sanction the United States or even authorize the use of force to expel our troops. But that's a nonstarter,
not least because the Security Council signed off on the occupation of Iraq. Likewise, the United States could be tried in
the UN's International Court of Justice and forced to pay reparations to Iraq. That's also doubtful, since the Security Council
enforces Court rulings; the US could use its veto power as it did in 1986, when the icj found we had violated
international law by supporting the Nicaraguan Contras. If the UN wanted to go after American officials for torture, it could
set up a special tribunal like those for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. But such courts are the creation of—you guessed
it—the Security Council.
the International Criminal Court The Third Geneva Conventions,
which the United States signed in 1949, as well as the UN Convention Against Torture, which Congress ratified in 1988, forbid
torture. The International Criminal Court (not to be confused with the icj) was convened in the Netherlands
in 2002 as a permanent venue to try crimes including violations of Geneva. But the United States hasn't ratified the icc treaty
and has pressured 100 countries to agree never to extradite American citizens to the court, so Dick Cheney's unlikely to wind
up in the dock at The Hague.
The Garzón Factor Not that George W. Bush & Co. shouldn't
be worried about international laws that they once sneered at. There are hints that they already are: A 2002 State Department
memo cautioned officials about the "risk of future criminal prosecution," and the Pentagon's 2005 National Defense Strategy
warned of enemies who might "employ a strategy of the weak using international fora and judicial processes."
The biggest threat comes from European magistrates like Baltasar Garzón, the Spanish
"superjudge" who nearly brought Augusto Pinochet to justice. In 1998, Garzón issued an arrest warrant for the former Chilean
dictator for the deaths of Spanish citizens who'd been tortured by his regime. Days later, the unsuspecting 82-year-old was
picked up while visiting England.
In many European countries, most notably Spain and Italy, judges can initiate prosecutions and—as in the
case of Pinochet—may do so independently of the executive branch. Peter Weiss, vice president of the Center for Constitutional
Rights, says such a court might be the most plausible venue for a case against Bush. "The prime minister of Spain was completely
against going after Pinochet," he points out, "but a judge lower down was able to do it." The approach might prove especially
effective in pursuing torture cases. As signatories to the Convention Against Torture, most European nations are obligated,
theoretically, to investigate violations by other signatories, such as the United States. Sure enough, human rights advocates
have filed complaints in Germany, France, and Sweden against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for authorizing the
torture of Iraqi and Saudi citizens in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. The ccr claims a pending case convinced Rumsfeld to alter his travel plans to Germany.
"Believe me, people from the top of the administration will be consulting with lawyers for the rest of their
lives," says Christopher Simpson, a professor at American University and an expert on international law. "They will have to
coordinate very, very closely with the State Department's specialists whenever they leave America. This is something they
cannot take lightly." Larry Wilkerson, who served as former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff, has warned that
former Bush officials like Gonzales, Yoo, and Addington "should never travel outside the US, except perhaps to Saudi Arabia
When I first posed these hard questions in the NY Times about the C.I.A. torture tapes, we were all
under the belief that only two tapes had been destroyed. Now that we know it was ninety two
tapes, all kinds of further questions emerge. But the most pressing is this one: how can this still be swept under the rug?! Sweeping dark
things under the rug is never the answer. And despite the crude attempt to avoid accountability by shredding the evidence,
I can't imagine a time there was such a need for an independent prosecutor to shed light on what Cheney once termed "the dark
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - A former State Department lawyer tells The
Associated Press that the Bush administration panicked after 9/11 and tortured prisoners.
Former President George W. Bush denied anyone was tortured. But Vijay Padmanabhan is at least the second
insider to publicly describe as torture the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" used by the U.S.
Padmanabhan was the department’s chief counsel on Guantanamo litigation. He says it was "foolish"
for the Bush administration to declare that detainees were beyond the reach of U.S. and international laws and the Geneva
He told the AP Friday that "Guantanamo was one of the worst overreactions of the Bush administration."
C.I.A. interrogators used waterboarding, the near-drowning technique that top Obama administration officials have described as illegal torture,
266 times on two key prisoners from Al Qaeda, far more than had been previously reported.
The C.I.A. officers used waterboarding at least 83 times in August 2002 against Abu Zubaydah, according to a 2005 Justice Department legal memorandum. Abu Zubaydah has been described as a Qaeda
A former C.I.A. officer, John Kiriakou, told ABC News and other news media organizations in 2007 that
Abu Zubaydah had undergone waterboarding for only 35 seconds before agreeing to tell everything he knew.
The 2005 memo also says that the C.I.A. used waterboarding 183 times in March 2003 against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The New York Times reported in 2007 that Mr. Mohammed had been barraged more than 100 times with harsh
interrogation methods, causing C.I.A. officers to worry that they might have crossed legal limits and to halt his questioning.
But the precise number and the exact nature of the interrogation method was not previously known.
The release of the numbers is likely to become part of the debate about the morality and efficacy of
interrogation methods that the Justice Department under the Bush administration declared legal even though the United States
had historically treated them as torture.
President Obama plans to visit C.I.A. headquarters Monday and make public remarks to employees, as well as meet privately
with officials, an agency spokesman said Sunday night. It will be his first visit to the agency, whose use of harsh interrogation
methods he often condemned during the presidential campaign and whose secret prisons he ordered closed on the second full
day of his presidency.
C.I.A. officials had opposed the release of the interrogation memo, dated May 30, 2005, which was one
of four secret legal memos on interrogation that Mr. Obama ordered to be released last Thursday.
Mr. Obama said C.I.A. officers who had used waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods with
the approval of the Justice Department would not be prosecuted. He has repeatedly suggested that he opposes Congressional
proposals for a “truth commission” to examine Bush administration counterterrorism programs, including interrogation
and warrantless eavesdropping.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has begun a yearlong, closed-door investigation of the C.I.A. interrogation
program, in part to assess claims of Bush administration officials that brutal treatment, including slamming prisoners into
walls, shackling them in standing positions for days and confining them in small boxes, was necessary to get information.
The fact that waterboarding was repeated so many times may raise questions about its effectiveness,
as well as about assertions by Bush administration officials that their methods were used under strict guidelines.
A footnote to another 2005 Justice Department memo released Thursday said waterboarding was used both
more frequently and with a greater volume of water than the C.I.A. rules permitted.
The new information on the number of waterboarding episodes came out over the weekend when a number
of bloggers, including Marcy Wheeler of the blog emptywheel, discovered it in the May 30, 2005, memo.
The sentences in the memo containing that information appear to have been redacted from some copies
but are visible in others. Initial news reports about the memos in The New York Times and other publications did not include
Michael V. Hayden, director of the C.I.A. for the last two years of the Bush administration, would not comment when asked
on the program “Fox News Sunday” if Mr. Mohammed had been waterboarded 183 times. He said he believed that that
information was still classified.
A C.I.A. spokesman, reached Sunday night, also would not comment on the new information.
Mr. Hayden said he had opposed the release of the memos, even though President Obama has said the techniques
will never be used again, because they would tell Al Qaeda “the outer limits that any American would ever go in terms
of interrogating an Al Qaeda terrorist.”
He also disputed an article in The New York Times on Saturday that said Abu Zubaydah had revealed nothing
new after being waterboarded, saying that he believed that after unspecified “techniques” were used, Abu Zubaydah
revealed information that led to the capture of another terrorist suspect, Ramzi Binalshibh.
The Times article, based on information from former intelligence officers who spoke on condition of
anonymity, said Abu Zubaydah had revealed a great deal of information before harsh methods were used and after his captors
stripped him of clothes, kept him in a cold cell and kept him awake at night. The article said interrogators at the secret
prison in Thailand believed he had given up all the information he had, but officials at headquarters ordered them to use
He revealed no new information after being waterboarded, the article said, a conclusion that appears
to be supported by a footnote to a 2005 Justice Department memo saying the use of the harshest methods appeared to have been
“unnecessary” in his case.
WASHINGTON, April 19 2009 (Reuters) - CIA interrogators used the waterboarding technique on Khalid Sheik Mohammed,
the admitted planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, 183 times and 83 times on another al Qaeda suspect, The New York Times said
The Times said a 2005 Justice Department memorandum showed that Abu Zubaydah, the first prisoner questioned
in the CIA's overseas detention program in August 2002, was waterboarded 83 times, although a former CIA officer had told
news media he had been subjected to only 35 seconds underwater before talking.
President Barack Obama has banned the
use of waterboarding, overturning a Bush administration policy that it did not constitute torture.
The Justice Department
memo said the simulated drowning technique was used on Mohammed 183 times in March 2003. The Times said some copies of the
memos appeared to have the number of waterboardings redacted while others did not.
The Senate Intelligence Committee
is investigating the CIA interrogation program, which under President George W. Bush also included slamming prisoners into
walls, shackling them in uncomfortable positions and depriving them of sleep.
Bush administration officials had claimed
such methods were needed to get information but the repeated use of the waterboard on Zubaydah and Mohammed were sure to raise
questions about its effectiveness. (Writing by Bill Trott; editing by Chris Wilson)
FACT SHEET: Vice President Cheney Debunked 5.22.09
Today, former Vice President Cheney continues his pro-torture public relations tour with a speech at the American Enterprise
Institute. His listeners can expect to hear more arguments for the use of torture and abuse. What they won’t
hear from Vice President Cheney is that national security experts overwhelmingly disagree with his assessment about the value
of resorting to abusive policies. Those with experience conducting interrogations, leading forces in the military, and
doing the work of keeping America safe overwhelming reject the use of torture.
Vice President Cheney says torture prevented attacks following 9/11. Repeatedly, Vice President Cheney
has said that information gained by torturing detainees has been crucial in helping the government “defeat or disrupt
all further attempts to strike the homeland” (ABC News, Dec. 16, 2008). He says without torture, “we would have been attacked again” (Politico.com, Feb. 4, 2009). Cheney even goes so far as to say that removing the ability to use torture is making the nation less safe. He said Obama
is making choices that “raise the risk to the American people of another attack.” (CNN, March 15 2009.)
Vice President Cheney Debunked: FBI Director Robert Mueller says that isn’t the case. When Vanity
Fair asked if torture prevented additional attacks, Mueller said “I don’t believe that has been the case.”
(Vanity Fair, Dec. 16, 2008).
Vice President Cheney Debunked: Interrogator says the use of torture has led to American deaths in Iraq.
Military interrogator Matthew Alexander says that it is torture that is recruiting for the enemy: “I learned
in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq… It's no exaggeration to say
that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because
of our program of detainee abuse.” He goes on to quantify the costs of torture: “The number of U.S. soldiers who
have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number
of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me -- unless you don't count
American soldiers as Americans.” (Washington Post, Nov. 30, 2008)
Vice President Cheney Debunked: “This war will be won or lost not on the battlefield but
in the minds of potential supporters who have not yet thrown in their lot with the enemy. If we forfeit our values by signaling
that they are negotiable in situations of grave or imminent danger, we drive those undecideds into the arms of the enemy.
This way lies defeat, and we are well down the road to it. (Charles Krulak and Joseph Hoar, Washington Post
Op-Ed, May 17, 2009)
Vice President Cheney says that crucial information has been revealed through torture. “Well, I
would say that the key to what we did was to collect intelligence against the enemy. That’s what the terrorist surveillance
program was all about, that’s what the enhanced interrogation program was all about.”(CNN, March 15 2009)
Vice President Cheney Debunked: Experienced interrogators says torture doesn’t “work”.
Fifteen former interrogators from both the CIA and FBI stated in a statement that “the use of torture and other inhumane
and abusive treatment results in false and misleading information, loss of critical intelligence, and has caused serious damage
to the reputation and standing of the United States.” (“Top Interrogators Declare Torture Ineffective in Intelligence
Gathering,” June 24, 2008)
Vice President Cheney Debunked: Even Jesse Venture knows that the information revealed through torture cannot
be relied upon. As Jesse Ventura, former Governor of Minnesota, puts it, “You give me a water board, Dick Cheney
and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.” Jesse Ventura has in fact been water boarded in
preparation for his service in Vietnam. He says, from personal experience, that it constitutes torture. (CNN, May 12, 2009)
Vice President Cheney Debunked: Abu Zabaydah said he gave up false information simply to stop being tortured.
In his Combatant Status Review Tribunal, the tribunal president asked him: “So I understand that during this
treatment, you said things to make them stop and then those statements were actually untrue, is that correct?” Abu Zubaydah
replied: “Yes.” (Combatant Status-Review Tribunal” at Guantánamo, March 27, 2007)
Vice PresidentCheney claims that a “wartime situation” justifies torture.
Cheney says that after 9/11, methods of law enforcement were no longer applicable. After 9/11, he said it was a “wartime
situation.” Such a situation, according to Cheney, justifies using all your “intelligence resources, your military
resources, your financial resources, everything you can in order to shut down that terrorist threat against you.” According
to Cheney, the wartime situation justifies the use of torture. (CNN, March 15, 2009)
Vice President Cheney Debunked: General David Petraeus rejects torture. In a letter to his troops in
Iraq, General Petraeus clearly states that torture is not only illegal, but also not useful and not necessary: “Some
may argue that we would be more effective if we sanctioned torture or other expedient methods to obtain information from the
enemy. They would be wrong. Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequently
neither useful nor necessary. Certainly extreme physical action can makes someone “talk;” however, what the individual
says may be of questionable value. In fact, our experience in applying the interrogation standards laid out in the Army Field
Manuel (2-22.3) on Human Intelligence Collector Operations that was published last year shows that the techniques in the manual
work effectively and humanely in eliciting information from detainees.” (Letter to the Troops, May 10, 2007).
Former Vice President Cheney’s daughter, Liz Cheney, justifies torture in the context of a ticking time bomb
situation. She says “We are talking about a situation when there are imminent threats against the united states
so if you to me, this guys has got information that is going to save your kid’s life and my kids’ lives, that
is going to keep this country safe, but we gotta water board him to get it, I got no problem with that.” (MSNBC, May 12, 2009)
Liz Cheney Debunked Ticking time bomb situations are fictional, according to a former CIA officer. A
retired senior CIA officer said in an interview with David Rose that “Nobody in intelligence believes in the ticking
bomb. It’s just a way of framing the debate for public consumption. That is not an intelligence reality.” In his
article, Rose reported that the officer said that inside the CIA, “there was hardly any argument about the value of
coercive methods” (Vanity Fair, Dec. 16, 2008)
The Scott Horton article from Daily Beastis the best I have seen describing the photos that the Obama administration
is trying to keep secret.Unlike our general impression, these photos do contain previously unpublicized
atrocities—specifically the actual rape of Iraqi men and women by U.S. soldiers and private contractors.
This revelation by Horton explains exactly why the Obama administration wants them suppressed.As Horton comments:“A senior military officer familiar with the photos told me that they would likely provoke a storm of outrage
if released.”That’s it.The Obama administration does
not want such a storm of protest.
might ask why Obama would be so determined to avoid this protest, since one might expect such protest to amplify the anger
at the Bush administration and against the very sort of torture thatObama is pledged to end.
the real story is that the protest will not be limited to the torture.It will also be directed at all
manner of U.S. atrocities—in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan—especially the huge number of civilian casualties,
particularly the recent drone attacks in Pakistan.But beyond this, it will amplify the anger at the American
presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the incursions into Pakistan and (less well publicized) in Iran and Syria.
other words, the pictures will contribute to the protests--in the Middle East, in Europe, and in the United States—against
the United States military presence in the region. The Obama administration--for all its claims about
finding peaceful solutions to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it promises to “stabilize” Pakistan and other
countries in the region—intends to keep a very large and very powerful American presence in the region. It
therefore has no interest in generating, amplifying, or encouraging outrage about the U.S. presence there.
saddest thing about the attempted suppression of these pictures is what this effort at continued censorship is a symptom of:the ongoing effort of the U.S. Government to establish and sustain a dominating U.S. presence in the Middle east.
090529 – Horton – The Bugus Torture Cover-up
The Pentagon is denying the facts: Photographs of Abu Ghraib torture are even more sexually explicit
than first reported, including rape and sodomy, writes The Daily Beast's Scott Horton, who has obtained specific and detailed
corroboration of the photos.
by Scott Horton
The Daily Beast has confirmed that the photographs of abuses at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, which President Obama, in
a reversal, decided not to release, depict sexually explicit acts, including a uniformed soldier receiving oral sex from a
female prisoner, a government contractor engaged in an act of sodomy with a male prisoner and scenes of forced masturbation,
forced exhibition, and penetration involving phosphorous sticks and brooms.
These descriptions come on the heels of a British report yesterday about the photographs that contained some of these
revelations—and whose credibility was questioned by the Pentagon.
The Daily Beast has obtained specific corroboration of the British account, which appeared in the London Daily Telegraph,
from several reliable sources, including a highly credible senior military officer with firsthand knowledge, who provided
even more detail about the graphic photographs that have been withheld from the public by the Obama administration.
A senior military officer familiar with the photos told me that they would likely provoke
a storm of outrage if released. The well-informed source confirmed, just as reported
in the Telegraph, that many of the photographs are sexually explicit, including those mentioned above. The photographs differ
from those already officially released. Some show U.S. personnel engaged in sexual acts with prisoners and each other. In
one, a female prisoner appears to have been forced to expose her breasts to be photographed. In another, a prisoner is suspended
naked upside down from the top bunk of a bed in a stress position.
The Telegraph article quoted retired Major General Antonio Taguba, who directed the official
inquiry in 2004 into the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Taguba told the Telegraph that the "pictures show torture, abuse, rape, and
every indecency." The Telegraph reported: "At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner
while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee. Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults
on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire, and a phosphorescent tube. Another apparently shows a female prisoner
having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts."
In response to the Telegraph account, Bryan G. Whitman, a deputy assistant secretary of Defense, attacked the newspaper.
"That news organization has completely mischaracterized the images," he said. "None of the photos in question depict the images
that are described in that article." White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, later in the day, widened the assault to a
general one against British journalism. "If I wanted to read a writeup today of how Manchester United fared last night in
the Champions League Cup, I might open up a British newspaper," Gibbs said. "If I was looking for something that bordered
on truthful news, I'm not entirely sure it'd be in the first pack of clips I'd pick up."
In one withheld photograph, not previously described, Specialist Charles A. Graner, Jr., an Abu Ghraib guard, is shown
suturing the face of a prisoner, a reliable source tells The Daily Beast. The suturing appeared to serve no ostensible medical
purpose than perhaps Graner's attempts to humiliate or terrorize the prisoner, the source suggested. Graner was court-martialed
and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment in 2005 for charges that included prisoner abuse. A number of the withheld photographs,
according to reliable sources, show Graner engaged in sexual acts with Specialist Lynndie A. England, another soldier assigned
to duty at Abu Ghraib. She appears in some of the most notorious photographs disclosed so far, including one in which she
walked a detainee on a leash-enacting a regimen later revealed as an authorized technique known as "walking the dog."
Other suppressed photographs show a female prisoner assuming sexually suggestive poses in a chair, while a prison guard
appears behind her in some frames. In another series, prisoners are shown hooded in a transport with open copies of pornographic
magazines in their laps.
Still other withheld photographs have been circulating among U.S. soldiers who served in Iraq. One soldier showed them
to me, including a photograph in which a male in a U.S. military uniform receives oral sex from a female prisoner.
The photographs differ from those already officially released. Some show U.S. personnel engaged in sexual acts with
prisoners and each other. In one, a female prisoner appears to have been forced to expose her breasts to be photographed.
The Obama administration's decision to challenge the Telegraph account presents a dilemma because many of the photographs
have already been leaked, and they match the very images that Taguba described and which Pentagon spokesman Whitman denied.
The already leaked photographs can be seen at the Web sites of Salon.com, the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia, the Australian Broacasting Corp. Dateline program, and the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.
The suppressed photographs and videos are the subject of a Freedom of Information Act litigation brought by the American
Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU prevailed against government claims of secrecy both in the federal district court and in the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. (Full disclosure: I supplied a legal expert's opinion on the Geneva Conventions,
which was cited by both courts in reaching their conclusions.) Yesterday, the Justice Department filed papers asking the court
to reconsider its decision directing that the photographs be made public. In its papers, the Justice Department suggested
it would seek to have the matter reviewed in the Supreme Court if its motion were to be denied.
The immediate pushback against the Telegraph story from the Pentagon, coupled with the decision of White House press
secretary Gibbs to chime in, suggests the sensitivity of the issue. The full-scale
strike against the Telegraph, the leading conservative quality newspaper in Britain, broadened into an offensive against the
whole of British journalism, suggesting the precariousness of the public-relations effort.
The Pentagon spokesperson, Bryan G. Whitman, who came to prominence during the Bush administration, has drawn on standard
operating procedures honed during the Rumsfeld era. Instead of offering correction of supposed factual inaccuracies, he has
slammed the credibility of the publication itself. Yet his statement is both sweeping and extremely vague, and the claim that
none of the photos reflect the descriptions in the article is immediately belied by an examination of the photos that
have already been leaked.
Whitman has used this sort of bludgeoning attack on news organizations before. Ask Michael Isikoff at Newsweek. When
Newsweek's April 30, 2005, issue ran a brief Periscope piece referring to an internal report's description of an incident
in which a Quran was thrown down a toilet, Whitman launched a dramatic attack on the publication, pressuring it to retract
and apologize. The report had, it later turned out, been correct. In 2007, the ACLU secured, through a Freedom of Information
Act request, a copy of a 2002 FBI report which documented a prisoner's charge that his Quran has been thrown in the toilet;
five other cases of mishandling Qurans were reported, although the Pentagon insisted that none of them amounted to desecration.
The most prominent victim in the past of Whitman's disinformation may have been none other than Barack Obama. On the
campaign trail, in Austin, Texas, candidate Obama said he had gotten a message from an Army captain in Iraq who described
how his unit had been shorted in munitions and equipment. I learned from reporters that Whitman started a whispering campaign
with the Pentagon press corps telling them (not for attribution) that he didn't believe Obama's claims were true. Whitman's
game, however, was stopped by ABC reporter Jake Tapper, who tracked down the captain, interviewed him and fully verified the
Bryan Whitman remains on the job in the Pentagon today. But the effort to suppress the shocking photographs is already
failing, as they leak to the public and reliable sources verify their authenticity. A senior military officer told me that
in the months before the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, Pentagon officials engaged in strange maneuvers to avoiding viewing the
pictures. That, he noted, didn't make the photos any less real. But it apparently made it easier for Pentagon officials to
dissemble about them. That process hasn't stopped.
Scott Horton is a law professor and writer on legal and national-security affairs
for Harper's magazine and The American Lawyer, among other publications.
Michael Schwartz Stony Brook State University
IraqViews is a not-so-occasional posting from
Michael Schwartz regarding the situation in Iraq, U.S. policy in the Middle East, and everything else tangentially related
If you wish to receive IraqViews postings, send an email to email@example.com with the message: sub
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No Justice for Canadian Rendition Victim Maher Arar
Court Refuses to Hold US Officials Accountable for Complicity in Torture
WASHINGTON - November 2 2009
Today, a federal Court of Appeals dismissed Canadian citizen Maher Arar's case against U.S. officials
for their role in sending him to Syria to be tortured and interrogated for a year. Arar is represented by the Center for Constitutional
Rights (CCR). The court concluded that Arar's case raised too many sensitive foreign policy and secrecy issues to permit relief.
It leaves the federal officials involved free of any legal accountability for what they did.
Maher Arar is not available to comment in person, but is issuing the following statement: "After seven
years of pain and hard struggle it was my hope that the court system would listen to my plea and act as an independent body
from the executive branch. Unfortunately, this recent decision and decisions taken on other similar cases, prove that the
court system in the United States has become more or less a tool that the executive branch can easily manipulate
through unfounded allegations and fear mongering. If anything, this decision is a loss to all Americans and to the rule
Said Georgetown law professor and CCR cooperating attorney David Cole, who argued the case,
"This decision says that U.S. officials can intentionally send a man to be tortured abroad, bar him from any access to the
courts while doing so, and then avoid any legal accountability thereafter. It effectively places executive officials above
the law, even when accused of a conscious conspiracy to torture. If the rule of law means anything, it must mean that courts
can hear the claim of an innocent man subjected to torture that violates our most basic constitutional commitments."
CCR Senior Staff Attorney Maria LaHood said, "With this decision, we have lost much more than
Maher Arar's case against torture - we have lost the rule of law, the moral high ground, our independent judiciary, and our
commitment to the Constitution of the United States."
The case was re-heard before twelve Second Circuit judges after a rare decision in August 2008 to rehear
the case sua sponte, that is, of their own accord before Arar had even sought rehearing.
Mr. Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen, was detained at JFK Airport in September 2002 while changing
planes on his way home to Canada. The Bush administration labeled him a member of Al Qaeda and sent him not to Canada, his
home and country of citizenship, but against his will to Syrian intelligence authorities renowned for torture. He was tortured,
interrogated and detained in a tiny underground cell for nearly a year before the Syrian government released him, stating
they had found no connection to any criminal or terrorist organization or activity.
In January 2004, just three months after he returned home to Canada from his ordeal, CCR filed a suit
on Mr. Arar's behalf against John Ashcroft and other U.S. officials, the first to challenge the government's policy of "extraordinary
rendition," also known as "outsourcing torture."
The Canadian government, after an exhaustive public inquiry, found that Mr. Arar had no connection
to terrorism and, in January 2007, apologized to Mr. Arar for Canada's role in his rendition and awarded him a multi-million-dollar
settlement. The contrast between the two governments' responses to their mistakes could not be more stark, say Mr. Arar's
attorneys. Both the Executive and Judicial branches of the United States government have barred inquiry and refused to hold
anyone accountable for ruining the life of an innocent man.
Two Congressional hearings in October 2007 dealt with his case. On October 18, 2007 Mr. Arar testified
via video at a House Joint Committee Hearing convened to discuss his rendition by the U.S. to Syria for interrogation under
torture. During that hearing - the first time Mr. Arar testified before any U.S. governmental body - individual members
of Congress publicly apologized to him, though the government still has not issued a formal apology. The next week, on October
24, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice admitted during a House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing that the U.S. government
mishandled his case.
In a strongly worded dissent, Judge Guido Calabresi wrote, "I believe that when the history
of this distinguished court is written, today's majority decision will be viewed with dismay."
Joshua Sohn of DLA Piper US LLP, Katherine Gallagher of CCR, and Jules Lobel, professor at
University of Pittsburgh Law School and CCR cooperating attorney, are co-counsel in Mr. Arar's case.
The Center for Constitutional Rights represents other victims of the Bush administration's programs,
from Iraqis tortured and abused at Abu Ghraib prison to Muslim and Arab men rounded up and abused in immigration sweeps in
the U.S. in the aftermath of 9/11, to Guantanamo detainees in the recent Supreme Court case.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South,
CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social
In the latest of their rulings, Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones said that Mohamed’s treatment “could
never properly be described in a democracy as 'a secret' or an 'intelligence secret' or 'a summary of classified intelligence'."
The judges previously redacted passages from a previous judgment after the Foreign Secretary argued that disclosing the
information could jeopardise Britain’s intelligence-sharing relationship with the US.
The judges have now ruled that the material should be put back in because it was "essential" to their reasoning and was
no threat to national security.
The judges said the material removed from their fifth judgment last month was already in the public domain but the Foreign
Office is taking the issue to the Court of Appeal next month.
Earlier this year President Obama sanctioned the release of memoranda on interrogation techniques on al-Qaeda detainees
such as Abu Zubaydah.
The High Court has re-inserted two passages after the Foreign Office dropped its objections. Five more remain contested.
The first said: "One of those memoranda dated August 1 2002, from Mr JS Bybee, Assistant Attorney-General, to Mr John Rizzo,
acting General Counsel of the CIA, made clear that the techniques described were those employed against Mr Zubaydah, alleged
to be a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda."
The judges said the remainder of the paragraph, which remained redacted from public versions of the judgment, was a verbatim
quotation from a memo made public in America in April this year.
The other passage re-inserted stated that disclosure of the paragraphs redacted from the court's original judgment was
"consistent with the publication of the CIA interrogation technique memoranda" and did not publicise any information about
The judges said in their fifth judgment last month that it was necessary to stand back and ask "whether President Obama
would curtail the supply of information to the United States' oldest ally when what was put into the public domain was not
What they went on to say, which is still undisclosed, relates to their reasoning that publication of the seven paragraphs
withheld from their first judgment "is necessary to uphold the rule of law and democratic accountability".
The judges said: "It is difficult on an objective basis to see any grounds for rejecting the submission of Mr Mohamed,
the UK media and the international media that there is no evidence of any real risk of serious harm to the national security
of the United Kingdom."
They repeated their finding that "what is contained in those seven redacted paragraphs gives rise to an arguable case of
torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment".
A Foreign Office spokesman denied that the information was in the public domain and said: "We have repeatedly made clear
that it is not for the UK to release US intelligence.
"The issues at stake go to the heart of the UK's intelligence sharing relationship with other countries and our efforts
to defend UK security."
Human rights group Reprieve accused Mr Miliband of using "Alice in Wonderland" argument to suppress the details of the
torture of Mr Mohamed and hide embarrassing information from the public, even though those details were in the public domain.
On the night of June 9-10 in 2006, three prisoners held at the Guantánamo prison's Camp Delta died under mysterious circumstances.
Military authorities responded by quickly ordering media representatives off the island and blocking lawyers from meeting
with their clients. The first official military statements declared the deaths not just suicides -- but actually went so far as to describe them as acts of "asymmetrical warfare" against
the United States.
Law Professor Mark Denbeaux, who directed the study, said in an interview that "there are two possibilities here. Either
the investigation is a cover-up of gross dereliction of duty, or it is a cover-up of something far more chilling. More than
three years later we do not know what really happened." (Read a Q&A with Denbeaux: "'The Most Innocent Explanation Is That This Is Gitmo Meets Lord Of The Flies'".)
The new study exposes how the NCIS report purports that all three prisoners on the prison's Alpha Block did the following
to commit suicide:
• Braided a noose by tearing up their sheets and/or clothing. • Made mannequins of themselves so it would
appear to the guards they were asleep in their cells. • Hung sheets to block the view into the cells. •
Stuffed rags down their own throats well past a point which would have induced involuntary gagging. • Tied their
own feet together. • Tied their own hands together. • Hung the noose from the metal mesh of the cell wall
and/or ceiling. • Climbed up on to the sink, put the noose around their necks and release their weight, resulting
in death by strangulation.
The study also notes that there has never been any explanation of how the three bodies could have hung in the cells, undiscovered,
for at least two hours, when the cells were supposed to be under constant supervision by roving guards and video cameras.
Disturbingly, these facts were collected within the NCIS report -- but without discussion or any effort to make conclusions
based on them. Was that because the facts did not fit the conclusions that military leaders had already offered the public
and that the investigators were therefore struggling to support -- namely that the prisoners committed suicide? It is not
even clear that it would be physically possible for the prisoners to commit suicide consistent with these facts.
Iraqis Tortured at Secret Baghdad Prison, says Watchdog
Beatings, electric shocks and rape commonplace according to Human Rights Watch interviews
by Mark Tran
Iraqis held at a secret prison in Baghdad were routinely tortured using whips, electric shocks and rape, according to an
investigation by Human Rights Watch.
A soldier closes the gate at an Iraqi-run prison in Baghdad. Human Rights Watch says the torture of detainees at a secret
prison was routine. (Photograph: Karim Kadim/AP)
The organisation said it had interviewed 42 men who were among about 300 detainees transferred from the secret facility in the old Muthanna
airport in west Baghdad to al-Rusafa into a special block of 19 cage-type cells over the past several weeks. The existence
of the secret prison was revealed in the Los Angeles Times.
All the detainees interviewed, Human Rights Watch said, described the same methods of torture.
"The jailers suspended their captives handcuffed and blindfolded upside down by means of two bars, one placed behind their
calves and the other against their shins. All had terrible scabs and bruising on their legs. The interrogators then kicked,
whipped and beat the detainees. Interrogators also placed a dirty plastic bag over the detainee's head to close off his air
supply. Typically, when the detainee passed out from this ordeal, his interrogators awakened him with electric shocks to his
genitals or other parts of his body."
Human Rights Watch called on the Iraqi authorities to hold a thorough investigation into the allegations, which come at
a time of heightened political uncertainty and tension after close parliamentary elections last month. The former prime minister
Ayad Allawi, whose cross-sectarian coalition won a surprise victory, today called for the formation of an impartial caretaker
government to prevent the country from sliding into violence and counter what he says are efforts by the prime minister, Nouri
al-Maliki, to change the results.
US officials fear that the disclosure of a secret prison in which Sunni Arabs were systematically tortured would not only
become an international embarrassment, but would make it harder for Maliki to put together a viable coalition government.
Human Rights Watch said the stories of torture were credible and consistent, with most of the 300 detainees displaying
fresh scars and injuries that they said were a result of routine and systematic torture. All were accused of aiding and abetting
terrorism, and many said they were forced to sign false confessions.
"The horror we found suggests torture was the norm in Muthanna," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The government needs to prosecute all of those responsible for this systematic brutality."
The men interviewed said the Iraqi army detained them between September and December 2009 after sweeps in and around Mosul,
a stronghold of Sunni militants, including al-Qaida in Mesopotamia. They told Human Rights Watch that torture was most intense
during their first week at Muthanna. Well-informed sources told Human Rights Watch that the secret facility was under the
jurisdiction of Maliki's military office.
One 24-year-old detainee, called I, said he was raped numerous times with a broomstick and pistol. An interrogator told
him that they would rape his mother and sister if he did not confess. During another beating, interrogators hit him so hard
that he lost several front teeth.
Red Cross confirms
secret Afghan jail
Posted Tue May 11, 2010 6:35pm AEST
The Red Cross has confirmed reports there is a second secret detention centre at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan.
The base is already home to the Parwan Detention Facility, which holds prisoners detained by US forces.
The ICRC says there is another structure on the Bagram air base where detainees are being held and, that since August 2009,
the US authorities have been notifying it of names of people detained there.
In recent weeks, the BBC has logged the testimonies of nine former prisoners who say they were held at the facility.
They said they were deprived of sleep by US military personnel there.
In response to these allegations, Vice Admiral Robert Harward, in charge of US detentions in Afghanistan, denied the existence
of such a facility, or abuses, and said the Parwan detention facility - the main jail in the area - was the only detention
facility in Afghanistan.
What I want you to keep in mind as you read this is that we are to assume the
following situation: We have somebody in our custody, who we believe has knowledge of an impending terrorist attack, and we
think that attack could be VERY serious, but we have less than five days to find out what this person knows about the impending
In this piece, I'm going to specifically address using drugs known as "truth serums"
as the means by which we get the intelligence that we need. Some would call this a form of torture.
I want you to know that I don't glory torture for its own sake. I accept it as
a means to survival.
To digress for a moment, and to add a little humor to it, I don't get any pleasure
inflicting pain on anybody, unless you're a quarterback. I hate quarterbacks. I was a linebacker. Quarterbacks live a charmed
life. Think about it. A quarterback never had zits as a kid. He never sweat. He always got the best looking cheerleader. He
or his parents always had the best car. The teachers and coaches would let him get away with murder, and yet call him a saint.
He always had his picture on the front cover of the football guide and the game-day program. He was the class valedictorian.
He never had to dig ditches in 100-degree heat in the summer to make money. Even during practice, he got to wear a different
color jersey from anybody else. He could sit down, kneel down, slide down, fall down, lie down, down the damn ball or throw
it away, and if you even breathed on him you got penalized 15 yards for roughing the quarterback. I ask you, when was the
last time you ever saw any official at any football game -- peewee through the pros -- ever throw flag on anybody for roughing
the linebacker? I rest my case.
When Israel suffers a terrorist attack, almost invariably they retaliate within
24 hours. The reason that they can do this is that they have the world's best human intelligence (humint), and they know how
to interrogate people. Their intelligence is so good and they keep it so current that they know who has attacked them, and
they already have plans in existence for retaliation. Their humint sources are not just Israelis, but actual members of the
society on which they are spying. They use humint and supplement it by signal intelligence (sigint). We do it just ass-backwards,
because we CAN'T do it the way the Israeli's do it -- we simply do not have enough people on the ground. It takes $500,000-1,000,000
and 3-5 years to train and put in place a good humint source (assume this is an American hired by, say, the CIA, to try and
infiltrate some terrorist group). NOTHING that is going on at present can quickly change this equation or situation. Forget
the hearings, the posturing, the proposals, the realignments, the debate. It's all based on the INCORRECT assumption that
we already have the tools, they just need to be rearranged. We do NOT have all the tools and no flow chart or organization
chart can change that.
The Geneva Convention was not signed by any terrorist group. No terrorist should
be provided any protection whatsoever under the Geneva Convention.
We are supposed to be a nation of laws. If you are not a United States citizen,
don't expect protection of our laws.
Therefore, no terrorist -- whether running free or in custody -- is entitled to
any protection under any international law to which we are a signatory or law of the United States.
Most of what follows is what I have learned from Israelis, South Koreans, Russians,
as well as Americans.
I want to address several fallacies of interrogation.
Fallacy #1. Torture never works, because a prisoner will tell the interrogators
whatever they want to hear just to stop the torture.
That's based on a faulty assumption. That faulty assumption is that, if you act
on the fabricated intelligence provided by the prisoner, and then you find out that it is not correct, that the prisoner does
not have to pay a price for lying. Before you ask the prisoner for information, you tell that prisoner that if he or she lies,
you will torture the prisoner, the family, the friends, the parakeet, whomever. And then do it.
Fallacy #2. Any prisoner can outwit his or her interrogators.
This doesn't work with interrogators who are members of a free society, and have
very good to excellent intelligence sources to confirm and verify what a prisoner says.
Part of this fallacy was created as a result of what our American POWs told their
North Vietnamese interrogators, when those POWs were held in and around Hanoi during the Vietnam War.
North Vietnam was a closed society. That society only heard and saw what their
leaders wanted them to hear and see. Our prisoners' Code of Conduct was changed in response to the brutal torture that our
Our POWs held out under that torture as long as they could. When they could hold
out no longer, they made up something to stop the torture. Incredibly, and to show you how stupid and uninformed the North
Vietnamese were, our POWs made up names of superior officers. These names included General Mills (the cereal company), Major
Domo, Captain Video, etc. The North Vietnamese interrogators dutifully wrote down this information, smiled smugly, and assumed
that they had extracted critical information from their prisoners.
In this sense, yes, the prisoners did outwit the interrogators. In contrast, when
our POWs were interrogated by Russians, Cubans, East Germans, and Bulgarians, when they tried to pull the same stunt as they
did with the North Vietnamese, our guys were beaten, starved, and tortured unmercifully. Our guys said that you could fool
North Vietnamese, but don't even think about trying it with those other guys.
Fallacy #3. Torture as a means of interrogation is generally not accepted throughout
In point of fact, within the last three years, more than three-quarters of all
countries in the world have practiced torture as a means of interrogation. This applies to their own citizens, as well as
foreigners, whether combatants or not.
Bleeding hearts just don't get it. On the one hand, they kept telling us to allow
the weapons inspectors in Iraq more and more and more time and more and more and more time to uncover weapons of mass destruction.
On the other hand, once the President declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq, the bleeding hearts started screeching
that the rebuilding and democratization of Iraq wasn't happening fast enough. On the third hand, they run their hands at how
quickly we had placed prisoners into detention facilities. This herky-jerky, stop-and-go, inconsistency is nothing more than
Even the ACLU got involved, not on behalf of Americans, but on behalf of our enemies.
If you didn't know this, read this and burn it in your memory: The ACLU was founded by a card-carrying member of the Communist
Party. You should never again wonder why the ACLU is trying to tear apart the moral and legal fiber of this country.
Fallacy #4. These things called "truths serums" don't really work.
They do work to varying degrees of success.
There are three primary truth serums.
Here they are.
Scopolamine (scopolamine hydrobromide; first word pronounced: skoh-PAW-lah-mean),
also known by another name -- hyoscine (hyoscine hydrobromide). It is colorless, odorless and tasteless. Its clinical uses
are primarily as a sedative, and applied locally (directly) as a mydriatic, which causes the pupil of the eye to dilate. When
used as a sedative, the primary uses are to combat vertigo and motion sickness. When used with morphine and pentobarbital,
to a woman in labor, it produces a "twilight sleep." It is also used as a premedication preliminary to surgery anesthesia.
Since scopolamine completely blocks the formation of memories, unlike most date-rape
drugs used in the United States and elsewhere, it is usually impossible for victims to ever identify their aggressors (or
interrogators, if you were a prisoner).
To use scopolamine most effectively to get a prisoner to tell you what he or she
knows, the key is where you inject it, and in what amounts. Normally it is introduced into the body by a transdermal patch
or intravenously in the arm. However, if you inject it into the spine (amount classified), it causes absolutely incredible
pain, accompanied by violent convulsions and seizures. If injected into the spine in the appropriate amount, more than 95%
of all prisoners will tell the truth -- not something fabricated to stop the pain -- within 24 hours (Source: classified).
A far milder form of psychological abuse involves exposing prisoners (intravenously
or orally) to sodium pentathol—commonly known as "truth serum." Sodium pentathol is an ultra-short-acting barbiturate
that depresses the central nervous system, slows heart rate, and lowers blood pressure. In the relaxed state produced by the
drug, subjects are more susceptible to suggestion and are therefore easier to interrogate. The drug does not actually guarantee
that prisoners will tell the truth, however. Often, it makes subjects "gabby" without revealing any important information.
Sodium amythal, also known as a type of "truth serum," with its clinical application
in psychoanalysis, is used primarily to help in memory recovery and dealing with "false" memories. If you can confuse the
prisoner as to what is a real memory and what is a false memory, you might be able to crack their resistance to telling the
truth. However, if the prisoner is smart, he or she will simply shut up and you'll get nothing from them.
What is interesting is that a prisoner could have been subjected to a truth serum
singularly, or two or three over enough time given the appropriate washout of the prisoner's system, and flatly state that
he or she did not tell his or her interrogators anything. From his or her perspective, he or she is telling the truth -- because
he or she has no memory of telling interrogators anything. That's the truth in his or her own mind, but it is not the fact
of the situation.
In terms of training individuals to resist the three aforementioned truth serums,
it is easiest to train someone to resist the sodium amythal, followed by sodium pentathol. There is no known training that
will allow anyone to resist scopolamine, when injected into the spine in the correct amount.
What you don't want to do is "stack" scopolamine with sodium pentathol and sodium
amythal. "Stacking" means adding one drug on top of another before the previous drug(s) has/have washed out of the system.
You stack on somebody, you'll kill them.
When time is not a consideration, and when used in conjunction with skilled interrogators
on a prisoner who has not been trained to resist the effects, sodium pentathol and sodium amythal will get you the truth in
approximately 10% to one third of the cases. When the truth absolutely positively has to be there within five days, forget
them – use scopolamine injected into the spine.
I don't honestly know if we have used any of these truth serums on Saddam
Hussein. Too bad if we didn't. My clearance doesn't extend that high. For those of you who don't know -- and to oversimplify
it -- there are four different levels of security clearances. They are: secret; top-secret; top-secret/code word; beyond top-secret/code
word. The words "code word" could be something like UMBRA. So if I had that level, I would be cleared top-secret/UMBRA, which
means I would be allowed to see or hear anything that is secret, top-secret, and -- separately -- anything that a classified
under the code word UMBRA.
In 1909, before World War I, there were a number of terrorist attacks on the United
States forces in the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, by Muslim extremists. General "Black Jack" Pershing was the appointed
military governor of the Moro Province. He captured 50 terrorists and ordered them to be tied to posts for execution. Since
all the prisoners were Muslim, he asked his men to bring two pigs and slaughter them in front of the prisoners. He then proceeded
by dipping bullets into the pig’s blood.
In the process he executed 49 of the terrorists by firing squad. Then, the soldiers
dug a big hole in the ground and dumped in the terrorists’ bodies and covered them in pig’s blood and viscera.
The last man was set free. For 42 years there was not a single Muslim attack anywhere in the world.
His rationale was quite simple and effective. Since a radical Muslim is willing
to give his life for his religion in a Jihad war, killing him would not make much difference. He would be seen as a martyr
But the General knew that all Muslims believe in eternal life after death with
72 virgins waiting for them in paradise. He also knew that those that embrace Jihad usually prepare themselves physically
and spiritually in case they die in combat.
Since the pig is considered forbidden food (haram) in Islam, Pershing introduced
this variable to thwart their hopes to enter Allah’s kingdom. The pig’s blood automatically nullified any prior
purification by contaminating their bodies.
My interrogation technique is quite simple. I follow General Pershing’s
example and order a pig to be slaughtered near the prisoner. The blood of the animal run's freely toward the prisoner's feet.
He will immediately lift his knees to avoid making contact with it. I fill a syringe with the pig’s blood and threaten
to inject him in the arm. The prisoner will talk -- and quickly.
Fair? Depends on your perspective. Effective? Extremely.
A century ago, General Pershing’s quick thinking installed a great fear
in a large sector of the Muslim population in Mindanao putting an end to any type of subversion in an Island that resents
the presence of non-Muslims.
Last, here are a few tips in terms of determining if who you have in custody really
is a Muslim: Since most of the concentration is on Islamic terrorism, these are a few signs that very few people know about.
A serious Muslim that prays 5 times a day has a small dark discoloration on his
If he wears jewelry, it has to be silver and not gold -- usually a silver ring
with a space inside where there is a passage from the Koran.
Another important pointer comes from physical anthropology, and deals with faces
and body structures. A real Muslim keeps his left hand away from his food, usually under the table.
Bottom line: there are effective ways to get the truth from a prisoner under interrogation.
Some work better than others. When drugs are used, both the person administering the drug, as well as the interrogator, must
be expert at their profession. When time is the most important consideration, you're left with very few options. Whatever
the situation, KNOW YOUR ENEMY.
What I say here are my own opinions, based upon fact. They are not to be construed
as the policy or official position of APUS. As always, you are free to accept or reject anything I say, and verify it by any
means you wish.
Lecture on torture techniques by Dr. Larry Forness of the American Military University (Dec 2005). The document explains
the rationale behind torturing prisoners, torture methods, and a justification for ignoring international law. Forness advocates
the injection of truth serums, threatening to inject Muslim prisoners with pigs' blood, and torturing detainees' friends and
"Dr. Larry Forness is a professor at American Military University. He has earned nine degrees, including three doctorates
and two law degrees, with over half the degrees obtained via distance education. He completed his undergraduate training at
Notre Dame and his advanced degree and training from prestigious universities such as Duke University and UCLA. He also earned
two Law degrees (JD and LL.M.). A former Marine, Dr. Forness provides classified consulting to U.S. Military Special Operations
units. Specialties include unconventional warfare and intelligence." (AMU biography)
Although the document was likely intended for Forness' students, it was subsequently circulated within the US military,
where it came to the attention of the Wikileaks whistleblower Peryton, who also disclosed Guantanamo Bay's main manual
Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedure (2004), which was authenticated publicly by Joint Task Force Guantanamo.
WARSAW — For years, the idea seemed unthinkable, absurd. A secret U.S. detention center in a remote corner of Poland, where Al Qaeda suspects were brutally interrogated by the CIA? About as likely as "the Loch Ness monster," is how one Pole described it recently.
That monster is now rearing its
Cloistered inside government offices, surrounded by classified documents, Polish prosecutors are building a case
that could result in criminal charges against the nation's former spy chief and even, some say, against former senior political
leaders. Evidence that a foreign power was allowed to conduct illicit activities on Polish soil has deeply shaken many Poles'
faith in the United States and in Poland's sense of itself as a successful democracy born from the ashes of the Cold War.
prosecutors' investigation centers on a Polish military garrison that allegedly hosted a CIA "black site" where foreign detainees
were subjected to internationally condemned interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, during 2002 and 2003. The suspects
— including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-professed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks — had either been arrested or snatched under the United States'
"extraordinary rendition" program and questioned abroad to avoid American legal standards for interrogations, prosecutors
The allegations have already damaged the reputation of the country that Poles thank for helping them to cast off
communist oppression. Many now angrily believe the U.S. took advantage of their gratitude, loyalty and eagerness to please
by setting up a torture site that it would never have allowed within its own borders.
"It's the kind of thing we expect
from Soviet Russia. We remember the Soviet occupation; we remember the German occupation," said attorney Mikolaj Pietrzak,
who represents one of the Islamist men allegedly held and questioned in Poland. "The fact that this beacon of liberty which
is America would allow this — it's a great disappointment in the United States as the land of the free."
is not the only country in Europe where the U.S. allegedly operated a secret detention facility with at least tacit permission from somewhere within the host
government. Black sites are also thought to have existed in Romania and Lithuania, two other developing democracies, as well
as in countries in North Africa and Asia.
But Poland is alone among the European nations in having launched an official
investigation of the matter.
"The reputation of Poland is at stake," President Bronislaw Komorowski declared in March. "Certainly this is a sensitive and touchy issue, and possibly painful for the Polish state, but it is
the task of the legal apparatus to clarify this."
At the same time, a number of lawyers, journalists and rights activists
complain that the investigation has been halting, opaque and prone to political meddling because of its potential repercussions
for U.S.-Polish relations and for prominent public figures who may have known about the suspected CIA site.
has traded hands in the national prosecutor's office at least twice since the investigation began in 2008. Recently, for reasons
that are unclear, it was transferred from the office here in Warsaw to the southern city of Krakow.
Pietrzak is frustrated
by prosecutors' refusal to give him access to classified files beyond the initial perusal he was granted.
Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, is accused of plotting the 2000 attack by Al Qaeda on the U.S. destroyer Cole in Yemen, which killed
17 American sailors. Captured in late 2002 in the United Arab Emirates, Nashiri, a Saudi national, is now an inmate at the
U.S. military detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
During his interrogation at the suspected CIA black site in northern Poland in 2002 and 2003, at a military
base in the northeastern town of Stare Kiejkuty, a gun and a power drill were allegedly pointed at Nashiri's head to make
him talk. His lawyer says he was also subjected to waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique that the U.S. has since banned.
now awaits trial before a U.S. military tribunal and could face the death penalty, which makes Pietrzak chafe all the more
at the pace of the prosecutors' effort here in Poland.
"It's not a robust investigation if it takes you four years,"
Pietrzak said. "This is the single worst case of human rights violations known in Eastern Europe in the last 20 years....
The public has a right to know."
What the public knows so far has been due in large measure to the dogged work of journalists
such as Adam Krzykowski, a reporter for Polish television.
While allegations here of a secret U.S. interrogation site
in Stare Kiejkuty were still being dismissed in Poland as fantasy four or five years ago, Krzykowski obtained the flight logs
of several jets that landed at nearby Szymany airport in 2003, a facility usually frequented by small private planes carrying
visitors to the scenic region of lakes and forests.
"When these aircraft were coming, the air traffic controller was
always the same person: It was a military officer who was based 20 to 30 kilometers away," or about 12 to 19 miles, in Stare
Kiejkuty, said Krzykowski. "As for border control [agents] who dealt with the aircraft, it was always the same major."
airport employee told reporters that, on one occasion, the plane parked at the end of the runway in such a way as to block
her view of who got off it. Waiting vehicles from the Stare Kiejkuty military base then sped away, their tinted windows preventing
any peek inside.
Mohammed was captured in Pakistan in 2003. He has said he believes he was interrogated in Poland because, during questioning, he was given a bottle of water
whose label bore an email address ending in ".pl," the Internet country code for Poland.
By 2008, the weight of evidence
and public allegations was such that Polish prosecutors felt compelled to launch their own investigation. The country's president,
prime minister and other senior officials at the time the secret prison is alleged to have been in operation have all denied
knowledge of any black site on Polish soil.
Blame has focused on Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, the former head of Poland's
intelligence service. Siemiatkowski several months ago acknowledged being officially named by prosecutors as the subject of
their investigation (the prosecutors won't confirm or deny the fact). But he has refused to elaborate, saying only that he
is disappointed that the nation he worked for has now turned against him.
Polish news reports say that Siemiatkowski
faces possible charges of exceeding his authority and abetting torture by working with the CIA to set up an alleged detention
center at Stare Kiejkuty.
Adam Bodnar of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, who is based in Warsaw, said it
is hard to believe Siemiatkowski acted on his own authority in an operation requiring coordination among the intelligence
service, the military and the border control agency. But chasing responsibility higher up the chain of command, perhaps all
the way to the president's and prime minister's offices, could open a can of worms.
Bodnar is also shocked that some
of his compatriots defend what allegedly happened at Stare Kiejkuty, including heroes of Poland's anti-communist movement.
Former President Lech Walesa, the iconic Solidarity leader and democracy activist, pronounced himself "against torture," but
said, "This is war, and war has its particular rules."
"The same guys who helped create the constitution now seem to
be approving the violation of the constitution," said Bodnar, shaking his head.
Others fear negative repercussions
for Poland's relationship with its most valued ally, the U.S., which has reportedly refused to turn over documents to Polish
prosecutors. So far, Washington has not openly expressed displeasure over the investigation.
"If it appears that the
Americans were twisting our arms on [setting up a black site] … this would serve as just another argument of how bully-ish
the Americans are and how asymmetric the relationship is," said Bartosz Wisniewski, an analyst at the Polish Institute of
For now, supporters of the investigation wish it would progress faster.
attorney, said he was prepared to pursue the case through any avenue possible. If it turns out that senior Polish leaders
are implicated in the end, causing political and social uproar, so be it.
"The truth is going to come out sooner or
later. The question is whether it's going to come out thanks to Poland, thanks to the active role of the prosecutor, or whether
it's going to come out in spite of the prosecutor's failure to act," Pietrzak said.
"It is a hot potato, but I don't
care," he added. "This case isn't going away."
Limbaugh underlined his true character as the kingpin
of a phony conservative boot-licking Neo-Con spin machine.
On his May 4th 2004 broadcast, Limbaugh said that Abu Ghraib prison guards, who according to Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba's official US Army report and subsequent videos seen by reporter Seymour Hersh, raped children in front of their mothers, were just "having a good time" and "blowing off
In June 2005, Limbaugh plumbed new depths of perversion by releasing a line of "Club Gitmo" t-shirts and coffee mugs that depict the detention camp in Cuba as a holiday home.
The ACLU filed a request on Oct. 7, 2003, under the Freedom of
Information Act demanding the release of information about detainees held overseas by the United States. This page contains
records the government has released under court order.
One week after the American Civil Liberties Union moved to quash an unprecedented government grand
jury subpoena demanding "any and all copies" of a previously "secret" memorandum, the government today backed down from the
fight, asking a judge to withdraw the subpoena and saying that the document in question has been declassified.
was a legal stand-off with enormous implications for free speech and the public's right to know, and today the government
blinked," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. "The Bush Administration's attempt to suppress information
using the grand jury process was truly chilling and is unprecedented in law and in our history as an organization. We could
not be more pleased to have turned back the government from its strong-arm tactics, which were clearly aimed at silencing
critics – both those from within the government and those outside, such as the ACLU and members of the media."
government today also agreed, and the judge ordered, that related documents in the case be unsealed, including a transcript
of court arguments on December 11. (more)
The confirmation that US agents were involved in the
Swedish case provided the first concrete evidence that smce 9/11 the US has been involved in organising a worldwide traffic
in prisoners. Official and journalistic investigations show that the US has systematically organised the repatriation of Islamic
militants to countries in the Arab world and East Asia where they can be imprisoned and interrogated using methods forbidden
to US agents. Some call it torture by proxy. Prisoners have been captured and transported by the US not only from Afghanistan
and Iraq, but from Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Albania, Libya, Sudan, Kenya, Zambia, Gambia, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia.
official term, coined by the CIA, is "extraordinary rendition". No serving US official will discuss it in public. But a former
senior official of the CIA, who left the agency last November, has provided a detailed and candid explanation. Michael Scheuer,
who in the late 1990s headed the unit tasked with hunting down Osama bin Laden, was interviewed for a BBC Radio programme,
File on Four. He confirmed the Swedish case was part of a much wider system
A U.S. Ambassador lashed out against a foreign official last week for standing up to the Bush
administration -- and it wasn't against Hugo Chavez or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or any of the other usual suspects.
It was Canadian Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day -- a fundamentalist creationist, anti-abortion, anti-gay rights hawk
who once spoke at a "Canadians for Bush" rally. At the onset of the Iraq war, he published a pro-Bush letter in the Wall
Street Journal with Stephen Harper, who would become Canada's prime minister in 2006. Day and Harper blasted their own
government's opposition to the U.S. invasion and lauded the Bush administration's "fundamental vision of civilization and
That conservative lovefest is now over. Last week Day and U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins exchanged the most hostile
tit-for-tat to date over the case of Maher Arar. In 2002, U.S. authorities detained Arar, a Canadian citizen, at JFK airport.
After accusing him of having links to al Qaeda, they sent him to Syria, where he was tortured for nearly a year before being
released without charge.
After an exhaustive inquiry, an independent Canadian commission cleared Arar of any terrorist ties last fall. On Jan. 26,
the Ottawa government announced it would apologize for its role in the debacle and compensate Arar to the tune of about U.S.
$8.5 million, plus legal fees.
But while the Canadian government has now admitted that Arar is indeed the innocent computer engineer and father of two
he always said he was, the Bush administration continues to insist that Arar belongs on its "no-fly" list of terrorism suspects.
This has meant that Arar, who spent 10 months in a gravelike underground cell, continues to live under a cloud of secret accusations.
Despite his ideological affinity for President Bush, Prime Minister Harper has not been oblivious to the fact the U.S.
government is about as popular among Canadians today as it was when the Americans invaded in the War of 1812. In October,
he was moved to ring up Bush and ask him to "come clean" about the Arar affair. He even went so far as to ask that Bush acknowledge "the deficiencies
and inappropriate conduct that occurred in this case." That, of course, was as likely as the president admitting to shirking
his National Guard duties during the Vietnam War.
The most U.S. Justice Department officials offered to do was brief the Canadians on the dirt they supposedly had gathered
about Arar from their own sources. When this finally occurred last week, Stockwell Day, Canada's version of our Homeland Security
chief, promptly declared it bogus.
"We've looked at all their information and there is nothing that materially changes our position," Day told reporters.
"Mr. Arar is not a threat, nor is his family."
That provoked Ambassador Wilkins to spout that it was "presumptuous for him to say who the United States can and cannot
allow into our country."
Day's direct contradiction of U.S. officials was indeed a bit of a shocker in the relatively calm history of U.S.-Canadian
diplomacy. Yes, there was that flamboyant Pierre Trudeau who ticked off Nixon by chumming around with Castro, but he and the
American Cold Warrior in chief were natural adversaries. When Bush can no longer count on alter egos like Day and Harper,
you know something is seriously amiss.
It's funny, though, how a strong desire to cover one's legal behind can trump all other interests, be they ideological,
economic or moral. And Maher Arar is suing the U.S. government for violating protections in our own laws against torture.
The case was dismissed on national security grounds a year ago, but an ongoing appeal could get a boost if the Bush administration
were to admit that Arar is not a threat.
Given the executive branch's self-interest in stonewalling, the best hope for Maher Arar lies in the U.S. Congress. Patrick
Leahy, D-Vt., now chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recently lacerated Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, saying it
was "beneath the dignity of this country, a country that has always been a beacon of human rights, to send somebody to another
country to be tortured [Video]" On the House side, Edward Markey, D-Mass., has introduced a bill that would ban altogether the practice of "extraordinary
rendition," or sending detainees to countries known for routinely practicing torture, like Syria.
Now they should crank up the heat by thumbing their noses at the "no-fly" list and flying themselves to Canada to take
testimony directly from Arar. They should also consult with Justice Dennis O'Connor, who headed the Canadian government's
commission on the case, and other Canadian officials. This would be a powerful statement to the world that the Bush administration
will not stand in the way of their efforts to seek the truth. It's too late to prevent the nightmare endured by Maher Arar
and other victims of torture caused by the Bush administration. But it's not too late to prevent other young men from the
Human rights activists and foreign governments friendly to the U.S. are outraged because of a suspected
kidnapping operation being run by American intelligence agencies.
People have been snatched in broad daylight and then whisked to secret prisons, possibly for torture.
The planes used in this controversial operation are often seen in Las Vegas, but the connection goes much deeper.
The I-Team first reported on the so-called "torture taxis" in 2006 and has spotted these planes coming
in and out of Las Vegas on several occasions.
The aircraft are owned by shell companies set up by unknown agencies, quite possibly the Central Intelligence
Agency. Some of the companies were created in Nevada, using phony names and non-existent persons. So far, Nevada officials
don't see it as a problem or a concern.
The images are all too familiar -- prisoners being mistreated, others held indefinitely without charges.
Even more damaging to America's image have been allegations of torture carried out at secret prisons by American agents or
In a way, the legal justification for the torture program has roots in Nevada, since a Nevada lawyer
named Jay Bybee, while working for the Bush administration, wrote the legal brief defending such policies.
It's not hypothetical. Some of the very same planes that have been used in the kidnapping and transport
of suspected terrorists to dark, unknown places fly in and out of Las Vegas on a regular basis. The I-Team has recorded their
arrivals. However, we cannot say what they're doing here, but are pretty sure what they've been used for elsewhere.
Trevor Paglen, of the University of California, said, "It's indisputable at this point that the United
States has been kidnapping people around the world, disappearing them, holding them incommunicado, torturing them. It's beyond
Trevor Paglen is the co-author of Torture Taxi, a book about the so-called rendition planes and the
torture program. The planes in question are owned by private companies with clearance to land at any U.S. military base in
the world. Track the planes and you can figure out where the secret prisons are located, often in countries with dismal human
Such information has outraged European governments. Example: Khaled al-Masri, a German national, was
vacationing in Macedonia when he was grabbed by masked men, flown to Afghanistan, and tortured for five months until his captors
realized they had the wrong guy. Al-Masri is now suing the U.S. Government, along with a Reno company, Keeler and Tate, which
owns the plane suspected of transporting Al-Masri to Kabul.
From all indications, the firm is merely a shell, a false front created by an intelligence agency.
The only officer listed is one Tyler Edward Tate, a person who seemingly does not exist. The lawyer who incorporated the company
is Steven Petersen, who has declined all requests for comment and whom the I-Team discovered, is hard to find, even at his
Petersen's office staff didn't know where he was, how to reach him, or when he might return. The I-Team
can't find any record of Tyler Tate other than what's filed with Nevada's Secretary of State. It's a felony to file false
information with that office, although no one there seems too concerned. The office has known for more than a year that Keeler
and Tate is most likely a phony front. But a deputy told the I-Team there's, quote, "nothing they can do until a formal complaint
is filed by someone."
In other parts of the country -- in North Carolina and Portland, Oregon, for example -- the lawyers
who have filed papers for other fictitious airlines linked to the torture program are being investigated by the state bar.
Not so in Nevada.
On Scott Petersen's door is another name familiar in Nevada -- Laxalt. Peter Laxalt is the brother
of former governor and U.S. Senator Paul Laxalt, a well-connected Washington lobbyist. The lobby directory previously listed
the Paul Laxalt Group as sharing the same suite with Steven Petersen. But, as soon as calls were made about the connection,
the Laxalt name was removed from the directory.
Trevor Paglen said, "We called the D.C. office. The Laxalt Group denied even having an office in Reno.
Their name was on the building directly. We called the secretary and they told us there was a West Coast office of the group
in that building."
This is not a dead end. European nations have filed formal criminal charges against numerous American
intelligence agents. Khaled El-Masri's lawsuit is moving forward and he has the American Civil Liberties Union helping him.
At some point, that suit could force some answers about the mysterious Keeler and Tate in Reno. And, investigations are underway
in two states into the lawyers who assisted in setting up the phony companies.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush signed an executive order Friday prohibiting cruel and inhuman treatment,
including humiliation or denigration of religious beliefs, in the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects
The White House declined to say whether the CIA currently has a detention and interrogation program, but said that if it
did it must adhere to the guidelines outlined in the executive order. The order targets captured al Qaeda terrorists who have
information on attack plans or the whereabouts of the group's senior leaders.
"Last September, the president explained how the CIA's program had disrupted attacks and saved lives, and that it must
continue on a sound legal footing," White House press secretary Tony Snow said. "The president has insisted on clear legal
standards so that CIA officers involved in this essential work are not placed in jeopardy for doing their job -- and keeping
America safe from attacks."
The executive order was the result of legislation Bush signed in October that authorized military trials of terrorism suspects.
The court system was designed to protect classified information and eliminated some of the rights defendants are guaranteed
in civilian and military courts.
It also gave Bush wide latitude in interrogating and detaining captured enemy combatants. While it outlines specific war
crimes such as rape, the legislation said the president can "interpret the meaning and application" of international standards
set by the Geneva Conventions when authorizing less severe interrogation procedures.
The Supreme Court had ruled in June 2006 that trying detainees in military tribunals violated U.S. and international law,
so Bush urged Congress to change the law. He also insisted that the law authorize CIA agents to use tough methods to interrogate
The United States has been criticized by European allies and others around the world over interrogation techniques such
as "waterboarding," in which prisoners are strapped to a plank over water and are made to fear that they may be drowned. Critics
also have complained that the CIA has run secret prisons on European soil and mistreated prisoners during clandestine flights
in and out of Europe.
Bush has repeatedly said that the United States does not practice torture but has not spelled out specific banned procedures.
Leonard Rubenstein, director of Physicians for Human Rights, said the executive order was inadequate.
"What is needed now is repudiation of brutal and cruel interrogation methods. General statements like this are inadequate,
particularly after years of evidence that torture was authorized at the highest levels and utilized by U.S. forces," he said.
The White House did not detail what types of interrogation procedures would be allowed. But it did offer parameters, saying
any conditions of confinement and interrogation practices could not include:
Torture or other acts of violence serious enough to be considered comparable to murder, torture, mutilation and cruel
or inhuman treatment.
Willful or outrageous acts of personal abuse done to humiliate or degrade someone in a way so serious that any reasonable
person would "deem the acts to be beyond the bounds of human decency, such as sexual or sexually indecent acts undertaken
for the purpose of humiliation, forcing the individual to perform sexual acts or to pose sexually, threatening the individual
with sexual mutilation.
Acts intended to denigrate the religion, religious practices, or religious objects of an individual.
The order also says that detainees must receive basic necessities, including adequate food and water, shelter from the
elements, necessary clothing, protection from extreme heat and cold and essential medical care. It says whatever interrogation
practices used must be determined safe on an individual basis. To ensure the professional operation and safety of the program,
it directs the CIA director to issue written policies to govern the program, including guidelines for CIA personnel.
The executive order has been months in the making, with some in the CIA increasingly eager to get the rules of the road
laid out. Asked if one of the agency's most extreme techniques -- waterboarding -- would be allowed, a senior intelligence
official declined to provide any specifics. But, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity about the order, said:
"It would be wrong to assume the program of the past transfers to the future."
While the order did not provide many specifics, CIA Director Michael Hayden asked the Justice Department to prepare a legal
opinion on techniques the agency can use, and the CIA has prepared guidance to its operatives in the field, according to the
In a call with reporters, senior administration officials repeatedly refused to say what specific kinds of interrogation
techniques would be barred, arguing that doing so could tip off al Qaeda members training to withstand hostile questioning.
But sleep is not among the basic necessities outlined in the order, one official said, opening the possibility that sleep
deprivation is among the approved interrogation methods.
The order also does not permit detainees to contact their family members or have access to the International Committee
of the Red Cross. Explaining why, one official said those provisions are not part of the part of the Geneva Conventions that
apply to these kinds of detainees.
"Enhanced" Interrogation Techniques and the Risk of Criminality
A new report issued by Human Rights First and Physicians for
Human Rights provides the first comprehensive look at the legality of 10 so-called “enhanced” interrogation techniques
in light of the medical evidence on their mental and physical impact. Many of these techniques are widely reported to
have been authorized for use by the CIA. On July 20, the President issued an Executive Order on the CIA interrogation
program that fails to prohibit these techniques. The report finds that each of these techniques, including mock-drowning,
sexual humiliation, severe isolation and sensory bombardment are prohibited by U.S. law and could subject U.S. officials who
authorize or use them to criminal prosecution.
Supreme Court refuses to hear CIA kidnapping
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A German citizen who alleges the CIA mistakenly kidnapped, detained and
interrogated him was denied a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court when the justices rejected his appeal for review Tuesday.
At issue was whether Khaled el-Masri's lawsuit against the U.S. government could proceed, or whether
the Bush administration could block it under the "state secrets" privilege in the name of preserving national security.
The court gave no reason for its move.
El-Masri alleged he was abducted in Macedonia on New Year's Eve 2003 and taken to a U.S.-run detention facility in Afghanistan
as part of a secret program aimed at suspected terrorists.
"I was humiliated, I was beaten, I was drugged," the Lebanese-born man told CNN last year. "After five months, they simply
took me back and dropped me like a piece of luggage in the woods of Albania."
U.S. officials told CNN the Bush administration privately has confirmed to Germany the man was captured by mistake, but
it has not made a public admission.
Tuesday's announcement means el-Masri's lawsuit is moot, but the issue of the state secrets privilege is still percolating
in the courts, with a number of pending lawsuits.
The justices are considering a related case dealing with the administration's warrantless wiretap program, where international
calls into the United States can be secretly monitored. The government has refused to reveal details of the program to a broad
range of journalists, academics and advocacy groups that claimed U.S. officials illegally tapped their calls.
With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, el-Masri sued the CIA and private air charter companies that operated
the overseas flights. He sought monetary damages, a public apology and an explanation for why he was detained.
Lower federal courts all rejected el-Masri's legal claims.
The U.S. government said acknowledging el-Masri's detention or even discussing details of the program would compromise
national security. In a legal brief filed with the high court, Justice Department lawyers wrote, "The United States can neither
confirm nor deny petitioner's allegations."
The ACLU had called the government state secrets privilege in this case a hollow argument because President Bush publicly
discussed that the United States was holding some terrorism suspects overseas in secret locations.
El-Masri's German attorney called the U.S. high court's refusal to get involved a "judicial disaster."
Speaking from his office in Ulm, Germany, Martin Gnjidic said, "The verdict highlights that the American executive branch
can commit the most severe in human rights violations with no judicial oversight."
Gnjidic said the decision creates a "lawless environment" in which intelligence groups such as the CIA can operate.
"The world is watching," another el-Masri attorney, Ben Wizner, said last November, when the case was argued in a federal
appeals court in Richmond, Virginia. "But they are not watching to learn the secrets of our intelligence methods. They are
watching to see if the United States of America can give justice to an innocent victim of its anti-terror policies."
The Alien Tort Statute allows noncitizens to bring claims in federal court for "violation of the law of nations or a treaty
of the United States." The law has been used in recent years to bring lawsuits about alleged human rights abuses against the
government, the military or private companies.
It is not known how many terror suspects have been detained under the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program in which
they are moved to other countries. Also unclear is whether the detainees were interrogated primarily by American agents or
by agents of another country's intelligence apparatus.
"I think it's hard to argue that this is within the bounds of international law; after all, it's a kind of kidnapping,"
said Arthur Hulnick, a former CIA officer and a professor at Boston University. "On the other hand, it's one of the few good
weapons that the intelligence community has for pre-empting some of the terrorists."
Although el-Masri lost his bid before the Supreme Court, he has the option of raising his claims before the International Court of Justice, which handles cases over governments'
treatment of foreigners as well as treaty obligations. He also has gone before the German courts for relief, Gnjidic said.
The administration has made a strong legal claim of broad executive authority to fight global terrorism. Federal courts
have issued mixed rulings on the extent of that authority in cases dealing with domestic electronic surveillance and with
the rights of terror suspects held at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The Supreme Court has twice ruled in favor of the rights of Guantanamo detainees to protest in federal court their imprisonment
and the rules for trying them before military commissions. Oral arguments in a third such case will be held later this year.
NEW YORK (CNN) -- A former CIA agent who participated in interrogations
of terror suspects said Tuesday that the controversial interrogation technique of "waterboarding" has saved lives, but he
considers the method torture and now opposes its use.
Ex-CIA agent John Kiriakou says he underwent waterboarding in training and cracked in a few seconds.
1 of 2
Former CIA operative John Kiriakou also told CNN's "American Morning" that he disagrees with a decision
to destroy videotapes of certain interrogations, namely of al Qaeda's Abu Zubayda. Kiriakou made the remarks as two congressional
committees prepared to grill CIA Director Michael Hayden on the destruction of the tapes and on "alternative" means of interrogation.
Waterboarding begins by placing a suspect on a table with the suspect's feet slightly elevated, said Kiriakou,
who was waterboarded several years ago as part of his CIA training. He said he elected not to learn how to perform the technique,
which is designed to emulate the sensation of drowning.
Once a suspect is secured on the table, interrogators wrap his or her face in a cellophane-like material,
"There is a bladder, or a water source, above the head with water pouring down on the mouth, so no water
is going into your mouth, but it induces a gag reflex and makes you feel like you're choking," Kiriakou said. Watch the ex-agent describe the procedure »
Kiriakou said he lasted only a few seconds during his training because his body felt like it was seizing
up almost immediately.
"It's entirely unpleasant," Kiriakou said. "You are so full of tension that you tense up, your muscles
tighten up. It's very uncomfortable."
Abu Zubayda lasted a little longer, said Kiriakou, but not much.
The former agent, who said he participated in the Abu Zubayda interrogation but not his waterboarding,
said the CIA decided to waterboard the al Qaeda operative only after he was "wholly uncooperative" for weeks and refused to
All that changed -- and Zubayda reportedly had a divine revelation -- after 30 to 35 seconds of waterboarding,
Kiriakou said he learned from the CIA agents who performed the technique.
The terror suspect, who is being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, reportedly gave up information that indirectly led to the the 2003 raid in Pakistan yielding the arrest of Khalid
Sheik Mohammed, an alleged planner of the September 11, 2001, attacks, Kiriakou said.
The CIA was unaware of Mohammed's stature before the Abu Zubayda interrogation, the former agent said.
"Abu Zubayda's the one who told us that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was so important in the al Qaeda structure,
and we didn't realize at the time how important he was," Kiriakou said.
Abu Zubayda also divulged information on "al Qaeda's leadership structure and mentioned people who we
really didn't have any familiarization with [and] told us who we should be thinking about, who we should be looking at, and
who was important in the organization so we were able to focus our investigation this way," Kiriakou said.
Abu Zubayda reportedly told the agent who waterboarded him that "Allah had visited him in his cell during
the night and told him to cooperate because it would make it easier on the other brothers who had been captured," Kiriakou
Though the information wrenched from Abu Zubayda "stopped terrorist attacks and saved lives," Kiriakou
said he opposes waterboarding.
"Now after after all these years, time has passed, and we're more on our feet in this fight against al
Qaeda, and I think it's unnecessary," he said.
In a separate CNN interview, Kiriakou said the Justice Department and National Security Council reportedly
approved waterboarding and other "alternative" interrogation techniques in June 2002.
"It was a policy decision that came down from the White House," he said.
Despite the executive blessing, Kiriakou and other agents were conflicted over whether to learn the technique,
"One senior officer said to me that this is something you really have to think deeply about," the former
agent said, adding he "struggled with it morally."
Kiriakou conceded his position might be hypocritical and said that the technique was useful -- even if
he wanted to distance himself from it.
"Waterboarding was an important technique, and some of these other techniques were important in collecting
the information," he said. "But I personally didn't want to do it. I didn't think it was right in the long run, and I didn't
want to be associated with it."
As for the tapes of the interrogations, Kiriakou -- who claims neither he nor the other CIA agents realized
they were being recorded during the Abu Zubayda interrogation -- said he disagrees with the decision to destroy the tapes.
"I don't see the reason to destroy them," Kiriakou said. "There's a possibility that they could be used
in a criminal investigation, and frankly, for the historical record, I think it's important to have things like that maintained."
The Justice Department and CIA have announced a preliminary inquiry into the matter. Hayden, the CIA director,
is slated to go before congressional committees Tuesday and Wednesday.
Hayden has said the CIA destroyed the tapes "only after it was determined they were no longer of intelligence
value and not relevant to any internal, legislative or judicial inquiries."
Congressional leaders said they were never properly notified about the decision.
Detailed Discussions Were Held About Techniques to Use on al Qaeda Suspects
By JAN CRAWFORD GREENBURG,
HOWARD L. ROSENBERG
and ARIANE de VOGUE
April 9, 2008 —
In dozens of top-secret talks and meetings in the White House, the most senior Bush administration officials discussed
and approved specific details of how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency,
sources tell ABC News.
The so-called Principals who participated in the meetings also approved the use of "combined" interrogation techniques
-- using different techniques during interrogations, instead of using one method at a time -- on terrorist suspects who proved
difficult to break, sources said.
Highly placed sources said a handful of top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects
-- whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding.
The high-level discussions about these "enhanced interrogation techniques" were so detailed, these sources said, some of
the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed -- down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.
The advisers were members of the National Security Council's Principals Committee, a select group of senior officials who
met frequently to advise President Bush on issues of national security policy. <<more>>
Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Monday called on Congress to set the rules by which Guantanamo
detainees will challenge their detention in civilian courts.
In a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, Mukasey said the recent Supreme Court ruling granting
detainees court access, "left many significant questions open." He argued that those questions are best answered by lawmakers,
The US military has dropped all charges against five men held at Guantanamo Bay prison, but has no
plans to release them. The news came just weeks after the resignation of Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, who was the prosecutor
in all five cases. He had accused the military of deliberately withholding evidence that could have helped clear them. We
speak to Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights. [includes rush transcript]
Michael Ratner, president of the Center for
AMY GOODMAN: The US military announced Tuesday it’s dropped
all charges against five men held at Guantanamo, but added it had no plans to release them. The news came just weeks after
the resignation of Lieutenant Colonel Darrel Vandeveld. He was the prosecutor in all five cases. He had accused the military
of deliberately withholding evidence that could have helped clear them.
One of the five men is the Ethiopian-born Binyam Mohamed. His lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, said, “Far
from being a victory for Mr. Mohamed in his long-running struggle for justice, this is more of the same farce that is Guantanamo.”
He said the military has already said it plans to file new charges against Mohamed within a month.
Meanwhile, the White House has confirmed reports President Bush has no plans to close the prison at
Guantanamo before leaving office. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday it was an issue for the next administration
and Congress to take up.
We’re joined now by Michael Ratner, president of the New York-based Center for Constitutional
Rights. He has been closely following developments in Guantanamo. He joins me here in the firehouse studio.
Welcome to Democracy Now!
MICHAEL RATNER: Thank you, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s start with these five prisoners, who they
are, charges dropped, but they remain in prison.
MICHAEL RATNER: Well, they were people tried by the military commissions. And I think people
want to be aware, there’s sort of two things going on. There’s the military commissions, and there’s the
habeas corpus. Military commissions are what try people; the habeas corpus proceedings are what test the detention,
even without trial. And I actually think that while there’s lots going on within the administration, lots of suppression,
that what’s going on is they’re trying to put out all of these fires that people have caused them that try and
give people rights, both with habeas as well as rights in the courts.
These five, of course, were before a military commission. They were two weeks away from a hearing.
Typically of the Bush administration, they go and, right before a hearing, they try and change everything, because they cannot
sustain a court hearing in any of their cases, really. And as you’ll see, that’s a pattern they followed. Of course,
the fact that one of half a dozen prosecutors resigned in this case, claiming that they weren’t giving all the evidence
they should have been to defendants, is obviously very significant here, as well. So, within the military commissions, you
have those five.
You also have, of course, the administration now saying with Hamdan, the so-called bin Laden driver,
that they are now going to ask for a higher sentence for him than he was given, five years and five months—six months.
He’s supposed to be out December 31st. They’re going to ask to keep him in. Underlying that, of course—and
I think it’s being destroyed right now—is the administration’s belief that the executive can do whatever
he wants in the so-called war on terror, hold people forever and try them in kangaroo courts. So the military commissions
system, the kangaroo courts, is really coming apart.
But I should also say, the habeas system is also coming apart, which is to say it—we won,
after three Supreme Court victories, finally, the right to go into a court and challenge detentions. And what happened just
in the last couple of days was, in the Boumediene case, which is the lead case in the Supreme Court, six people charged
with allegedly a conspiracy to bomb an embassy in Sarajevo, the administration is no longer depending on those charges, charges
which have been depending for years. And again, that’s right before the hearing of the habeas case in the district
court. So you’re seeing, really, the administration policy, I think, coming apart, coming apart in the kangaroo courts,
coming apart in trying to hold people.
AMY GOODMAN: What about the resignation of Lieutenant Colonel Darrel
MICHAEL RATNER: Well, you know, this is one of a half a dozen prosecutors.
You’re not even talking about just the courts going after this administration, as sort of hard as it has been to get
them to move. There’s been five—I think five or six prosecutors who have resigned, because the entire system is
one in which the President decides, or the Pentagon, what they like and what they don’t like. I mean, if someone is
pushed to do a prosecution or someone is pushed to withhold evidence, military prosecutors who are trained in the law are
not going to accept it, and they resign. His resignation was a big one, because he basically said, we are not giving people
what we lawyers call exculpatory evidence, evidence that might show their non-guilt.
AMY GOODMAN: What about President Bush, it being reported by the
New York Times, saying he privately decided not to close Guantanamo, or Robert Gates saying it’s going to be
up to the next administration?
MICHAEL RATNER: Well, it’s certainly going to be up to the
next administration. That’s a given, you know. But what—President Bush has been saying for a long time that he
would close Guantanamo. Both presidential candidates have said they would close Guantanamo. And I remember promises, when
I litigated the Haitian cases at Guantanamo, of President Clinton saying he would close Guantanamo. That didn’t happen.
And the question in this next administration, will it really happen? Will they really close—will either of the candidates
really close Guantanamo?
AMY GOODMAN: Do you have any indication, for example, that Obama
would or that McCain would?
MICHAEL RATNER: Well, they’ve said they would close it. And,
of course, there was an interesting reaction to the recent Supreme Court decision, the Boumediene decision, which gave
habeas rights to people at Guantanamo. And McCain called it one of the worst decisions in American history; Obama celebrated
the decision as an important decision. And that’s the same case, that I’ve just described, in which now the administration
has withdrawn its charges about Sarajevo. So that’s an indication that at least one candidate may feel more strongly
about fundamental constitutional rights than the other. But until they take office and until they act, it’s too difficult
to say. I can only say that we’re going to have to keep pushing on all of these issues, no matter who takes office.
AMY GOODMAN: And the significance of the recent referendum that was
passed overwhelmingly by members of the American Psychological Association, over the objections of the leadership there, a
movement that’s been going on for a while, approving a landmark measure banning members, psychologists, from taking
part in interrogations at Guantanamo, and now this historic election for the APA, where the leading dissident psychologist,
Steve Reisner, a New York psychoanalyst, is, as we speak, being voted on? The vote is being taken place for the next president
of the American Psychological Association. They’re voting by email.
MICHAEL RATNER: Well, I give Democracy Now! tremendous credit
for this whole change in the American Psychological Association. You went after these people really early and got them into
very embarrassing positions about their cooperation in interrogations at Guantanamo and probably in other places around the
world. The fact that it took them seven years to get there is pretty outrageous to me. The fact that they have psychologists
drawing up interrogation plans for people, finding their weaknesses, finding the ways they exploit people, is a 1984
all the way. And so, it’s about time they pass that resolution. But I just want to credit DN! again for that.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Michael Ratner, thank you very much for joining
us, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
an ambiguous undercurrent to the catchy pop smash that introduced a pig-tailed Britney Spears to the world in 1999 -- so much
so that Jive Records changed the song's title to "… Baby One More Time" after executives feared that it would be perceived
as condoning domestic violence.
It's a safe bet, however, that neither Britney nor songwriter
Max Martin ever anticipated that this undercurrent would be picked up on by U.S. military personnel, when they were ordered
to keep prisoners awake by blasting earsplitting music at them -- for days, weeks or even months on end -- at prisons in Iraq,
Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay.
The message, as released Guantánamo prisoner Ruhal Ahmed explained in an interview earlier this year, was less significant than the relentless, inescapable noise. Describing how he experienced
music torture on many occasions, Ahmed said, "I can bear being beaten up, it's not a problem. Once you accept that you're
going to go into the interrogation room and be beaten up, it's fine. You can prepare yourself mentally. But when you're being
psychologically tortured, you can't." He added, however, that "from the end of 2003 they introduced the music, and it became
even worse. Before that, you could try and focus on something else. It makes you feel like you are going mad. You lose the
plot, and it's very scary to think that you might go crazy because of all the music, because of the loud noise, and because
after a while you don't hear the lyrics at all, all you hear is heavy banging."
Despite this, the soldiers, who were largely left to their own
devices when choosing what to play, frequently selected songs with blunt messages -- "Fuck Your God" by Deicide, for example,
which is actually an anti-Christian rant, but one whose title would presumably cause consternation to believers in any religion
-- even though, for prisoners not used to Western rock and rap music, the music itself was enough to cause them serious distress.
When CIA operatives spoke to ABC News in November 2005, as part of a groundbreaking report into the use of waterboarding and other torture techniques on "high-value detainees" held in secret prisons, they reported that, when prisoners were forced
to listen to Eminem's Slim Shady album, "The music was so foreign to them it made them frantic." And in May 2003,
when the story broke that music was being used by U.S. psyops teams in Iraq, Sgt. Mark Hadsell, whose favored songs were said
to be "Bodies" by Drowning Pool and "Enter the Sandman" by Metallica, told Newsweek, "These people haven't heard heavy metal. They can't take it."
Approval for the Use of Music Torture in the War on
Depending on people's musical tastes, responses to reports that
music has been used to torture prisoners often produces flippant comments along the lines of, "If I had to listen to David
Gray's ‘Babylon'/the theme tune from Barney (the purple dinosaur)/Christina Aguilera, I'd be crying ‘torture'
too." But the truth, sadly, is far darker, as Hadsell explained after noting that prisoners in Iraq had a problem with heavy
"If you play it for 24 hours," Hadsell said, "your brain and
body functions start to slide, your train of thought slows down, and your will is broken. That's when we come in and talk
Hadsell, like senior figures in the administration, was blithely
unconcerned that "breaking" prisoners, rather than finding ways of encouraging them to cooperate, was not to best way to secure
information that was in any way reliable, but the psyops teams were not alone. In September 2003, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez,
the U.S. military commander in Iraq, approved the use of music as part of a package of measures for use on captured prisoners
"to create fear, disorient … and prolong capture shock," and as is spelled out in an explosive new report by the Senate
Armed Services Committee into the torture and abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody (PDF), the use of music was an essential part of the reverse engineering of techniques, known as survival, evasion, resistance,
escape (SERE), which are taught in U.S. military schools to train personnel to resist interrogation. The report explains:
During the resistance phase of SERE training, U.S. military
personnel are exposed to physical and psychological pressures … designed to simulate conditions to which they might
be subject if taken prisoner by enemies that did not abide by the Geneva Conventions. As one … instructor explained,
SERE training is "based on illegal exploitation (under the rules listed in the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment
of Prisoners of War) of prisoners over the last 50 years." The techniques used in SERE school, based, in part, on Chinese
Communist techniques used during the Korean War to elicit false confessions, include stripping detainees of their clothing,
placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over their heads, disrupting their sleep, treating them like animals, subjecting
them to loud music and flashing lights, and exposing them to extreme temperatures. It can also include face and body slaps,
and until recently, for some who attended the Navy's SERE school, it included waterboarding.
The Senate Committee's report, which lays the blame for the
implementation of these policies on senior officials, including President George W. Bush, former Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney's former legal counsel (and now chief of staff) David Addington, and former Pentagon
General Counsel William J. Haynes II, makes it clear not only that the use of music is part of a package of illegal techniques,
but also that at least part of its rationale, according to the Chinese authorities who implemented it, was that it secured
false confessions, rather than the "actionable intelligence" that the U.S. administration was seeking.
The Experiences of Binyam Mohamed and Donald Vance
In case any doubt remains as to the pernicious effects of music
torture, consider the comments by Binyam Mohamed, a British resident still held in Guantánamo, who was tortured in Morocco for 18 months on behalf of the CIA, and was then
tortured for four months in the CIA's "Dark Prison" in Kabul, and Donald Vance, a U.S. military contractor in Iraq, who was
subjected to music torture for 76 days in 2006.
Speaking to his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, the director of
the legal action charity Reprieve, Mohamed, like Ruhal Ahmed, explained how psychological torture was worse than the physical torture he endured in Morocco,
where the CIA's proxy torturers regularly cut his penis with a razorblade.
"Imagine you are given a choice," he said. "Lose your sight
or lose your mind."
In Morocco, music formed only a small part of Mohamed's torture.
Toward the end of his 18-month ordeal, he recalled that his captors "cuffed me and put earphones on my head. They played hip
hop and rock music, very loud. I remember they played Meatloaf and Aerosmith over and over. I hated that. They also played
2Pac, "All Eyez On Me," all night and all day. … A couple of days later, they did the same thing. Same music. I could
not take the headphones off, as I was cuffed. I had to sleep with the music on and even pray with it.”
At the Dark Prison, however, which was otherwise a plausible
re-creation of a medieval dungeon, in which prisoners were held in complete darkness and were often chained to the walls by
their wrists, the use of music was relentless. As Mohamed explained:
It was pitch black, and no lights on in the rooms for most of
the time … They hung me up for two days. My legs had swollen. My wrists and hands had gone numb. … There was loud
music, Slim Shady and Dr. Dre for 20 days. I heard this nonstop, over and over. I memorized the music, all of it,
when they changed the sounds to horrible ghost laughter and Halloween sounds. It got really spooky in this black hole. …
Interrogation was right from the start, and went on until the day I left there. The CIA worked on people, including me, day
and night. Plenty lost their minds. I could hear people knocking their heads against the walls and the doors, screaming their
heads off. … Throughout my time, I had all kinds of music and irritating sounds, mentally disturbing. I call it brainwashing.
Vance's story demonstrates not only that the practice of using
music as torture was being used as recently as 2006, but also that it was used on Americans. When his story broke in December
2006, the New York Times reported that he "wound up as a whistle-blower, passing information to the FBI about suspicious activities at the Iraqi
security firm where he worked, including what he said was possible illegal weapons trading," but that "when American soldiers
raided the company at his urging, Mr. Vance and another American who worked there were detained as suspects by the military,
which was unaware that Mr. Vance was an informer."
Vance, who was held at Camp Cropper in Baghdad, explained that
he was routinely subjected to sleep deprivation, taken for interrogation in the middle of the night and held in a cell that
was permanently lit with fluorescent lights. He added, "At most hours, heavy metal or country music blared in the corridor."
Speaking to the Associated Press last week, he said that the use of music as torture "can make innocent men go mad," and added more about the use of music
during his imprisonment, stating that he was "locked in an overcooled 9-foot-by-9-foot cell that had a speaker with a metal
grate over it. Two large speakers stood in the hallway outside." The music, he said, "was almost constant, mostly hard rock.
There was a lot of Nine Inch Nails, including 'March of the Pigs.' I couldn't tell you how many times I heard Queen's 'We
Will Rock You.' " He said the experience "sort of removes you from you. You can no longer formulate your own thoughts when
you're in an environment like that."
After his release, Vance said he planned to sue Rumsfeld on
the basis that his constitutional rights had been violated, and he noted, "Saddam Hussein had more legal counsel than I ever
had." He added that he had written a letter to the camp's commander "stating that the same democratic ideals we are trying
to instill in the fledgling democratic country of Iraq, from simple due process to the Magna Carta, we are absolutely, positively
refusing to follow ourselves."
Musicians Take Action
Last week, Reprieve launched a new initiative, Zero dB (Against Music Torture), aimed at encouraging musicians to take a stand against the use of their music as torture instruments. This is not the first
time that musicians have been encouraged to speak out. In June, Clive Stafford Smith raised the issue in the Guardian, and when, in an accompanying article, the Guardian noted that David Gray's song "Babylon" had become associated
with the torture debate after Haj Ali, the hooded man in the notorious Abu Ghraib photographs, told of being stripped, handcuffed
and forced to listen to a looped sample of the song, at a volume so high he feared that his head would burst, Gray openly
condemned the practice. "The moral niceties of whether they're using my song or not are totally irrelevant," he said. "We
are thinking below the level of the people we're supposed to oppose, and it goes against our entire history and everything
we claim to represent. It's disgusting, really. Anything that draws attention to the scale of the horror and how low we've
sunk is a good thing."
In a subsequent interview with the BBC, Gray complained that the only part of the torture music story that got noticed was its "novelty aspect" -- which he compared
to Guantánamo['s] Greatest Hits -- and then delivered another powerful indictment of the misappropriation of his
and other artists' music.
"What we're talking about here is people in a darkened room,
physically inhibited by handcuffs, bags over their heads and music blaring at them for 24 hours a day, seven days a week,"
he said. "That is torture. That is nothing but torture. It doesn't matter what the music is -- it could be Tchaikovsky's finest
or it could be Barney the Dinosaur. It really doesn't matter, it's going to drive you completely nuts.
"No-one wants to even think about it or discuss the fact that
we've gone above and beyond all legal process and we're torturing people."
Not every musician shared Gray's revulsion. Bob Singleton, who
wrote the theme tune to Barney, which has been used extensively in the War on Terror, acknowledged in an op-ed for
the Los Angeles Times in July that "if you blare the music loud enough for long enough, I guess it can become unbearable," but refused to
accept either that songwriters can legitimately have any say about how their music is used, or that there were any circumstances
under which playing music relentlessly at prisoners could be considered torture.
"It's absolutely ludicrous," he wrote. "A song that was designed
to make little children feel safe and loved was somehow going to threaten the mental state of adults and drive them to the
emotional breaking point?
"The idea that repeating a song will drive someone over the
brink of emotional stability, or cause them to act counter to their own nature, makes music into something like voodoo, which
it is not.”
Singleton was not the only artist to misunderstand how the use
of music could indeed constitute torture -- especially when used as part of a package of techniques designed to break prisoners.
Steve Asheim, Deicide's drummer, said: "These guys are not a
bunch of high school kids. They are warriors, and they're trained to resist torture. They're expecting to be burned with torches
and beaten and have their bones broken. If I was a prisoner at Guantánamo Bay and they blasted a load of music at me, I'd
be like, 'Is this all you got? Come on.' I certainly don't believe in torturing people, but I don't believe that playing loud
music is torture either."
Furthermore, other musicians have been positively enthusiastic
about the use of their music. Stevie Benton of Drowning Pool, which has played to U.S. troops in Iraq, told Spin
magazine, "People assume we should be offended that somebody in the military thinks our song is annoying enough that played
over and over it can psychologically break someone down. I take it as an honor to think that perhaps our song could be used
to quell another 9/11 attack or something like that."
Fortunately, for those who understand that using music as part
of a system of torture techniques is no laughing matter, the Zero dB initiative provides the most noticeable attempt to date
to call a halt to its continued use. Christopher Cerf, who wrote the music for Sesame Street, was horrified to learn
that the show's theme tune had been used in interrogations. "I wouldn't want my music to be a party to that," he said.
Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine has been particularly
outspoken in denouncing the use of music for torture. In 2006, he said to Spin magazine: "The fact that our music
has been co-opted in this barbaric way is really disgusting. If you're at all familiar with ideological teachings of the band
and its support for human rights, that's really hard to stand." On this year's world tour, Rage Against the Machine regularly
turned up on stage wearing hoods and orange jumpsuits, and during a recent concert in San Francisco, Morello proposed taking
revenge on President Bush: "I suggest that they level Guantánamo Bay, but they keep one small cell, and they put Bush in there
... and they blast some Rage Against the Machine."
And on Dec. 11, just after the Zero dB initiative was announced,
Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails posted the following message on his blog:
It's difficult for me to imagine anything more profoundly insulting,
demeaning and enraging than discovering music you've put your heart and soul into creating has been used for purposes of torture.
If there are any legal options that can be realistically taken they will be aggressively pursued, with any potential monetary
gains donated to human rights charities. Thank GOD this country has appeared to side with reason, and we can put the Bush
administration's reign of power, greed, lawlessness and madness behind us.
Even James Hetfield of Metallica, who has generally been portrayed
as a defender of the U.S. military's use of his band's music, has expressed reservations. In a radio interview in November 2004, he said that he was "proud" that the military had used his music (even though they "hadn't asked his permission
or paid him royalties"). "For me, the lyrics are a form of expression, a freedom to express my insanity," he explained, adding,
"If the Iraqis aren't used to freedom, then I'm glad to be part of their exposure." Hetfield laughed off claims that music
could be used for torture, saying, "We've been punishing our parents, our wives, our loved ones with this music forever. Why
should the Iraqis be any different?"
However, he also acknowledged the reason that the military was
using his music: "It's the relentlessness of the music. It's completely relentless. If I listened to a death metal band for
12 hours in a row, I'd go insane, too. I'd tell you anything you wanted to know."
While these musicians have at least spoken out, others -- including
Eminem, AC/DC, Aerosmith, the Bee Gees, Christina Aguilera, Prince and the Red Hot Chili Peppers -- remain silent about the
use of their work. Britney Spears' views are also unknown, but if her comments to CNN in September 2003 are anything to go by, it's unlikely that she would find fault with it. When Tucker Carlson said to her,
"A lot of entertainers have come out against the war in Iraq. Have you?" Britney replied, "Honestly, I think we should just
trust our president in every decision he makes and should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens." Perhaps
she should speak to Pamela Anderson, who recently posted a simple message to Barack Obama on her blog: "Please Shut down Guantánamo Bay -- figure it out -- make
amends/stop torture -- it's time for peaceful solutions."
-- CIA Director Leon Panetta has carried through on his pledge to prohibit independent contractors from conducting interrogations
of terror suspects.
CIA Director Leon Panetta
says secret prisons used to detain terror suspects have been closed.
In a message to agency employees on Thursday, Panetta said he
had notified the congressional oversight committees about the current CIA policy regarding interrogations.
Besides discontinuing the use of contractors, the director outlined
in the message other steps taken in response to executive orders issued by President Obama in January.
The harsh interrogation techniques authorized by the Bush administration
will no longer be used. Panetta said questioning of suspected terrorists will follow the approaches authorized in the Army
The director said the agency will "not tolerate, and will continue
to promptly report, any inappropriate behavior or allegations of abuse."
He said that included suspects held by Americans or those who
might have been transferred to other countries.
The secret prisons used to detain terror suspects have been closed,
Panetta said no individuals have been detained since he became
director nearly two months ago. However, he said the "CIA retains the authority to detain individuals on a short-term basis."
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein issued
a statement in support of Panetta's actions, in particular the decision to drop contractors.
"I am very pleased that Mr. Panetta has announced
that contractors will no longer conduct interrogations," said Feinstein, D-California and House speaker, who had previously
sponsored legislation to end the process.
TORTURE Discussion and Obama responsibility to proscute:
Bruce Fein is the founder of the American Freedom Agenda, that works to restore
constitutional checks and balances. He served in the US Justice Department under President Reagan and has been an adjunct
scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, a resident scholar at the Heritage Foundation, a lecturer at the Brookings
Institute, and an adjunct professor at George Washington University. He is an adviser to Ron Paul. 2009
Not everyone in the Bush administration supported the use of torture. A trio of high ranking officials in the State Department and the Pentagon waged bureaucratic war against use of so-called
enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, on detainees. They lost this battle, but one of the three is now
telling their story.
Testifying on Wednesday morning before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, Philip Zelikow, a former top advisor to Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice, called for a “thorough inquiry, yielding a public report,” into Bush-era interrogation
policies. Zelikow has previously said that a 2005 anti-torture memo he authored was ordered to be "collected and destroyed" by the Bush White House. At the hearing,
two other internal memos opposing the administration’s detainee policies (the existence of which Zelikow described to Mother Jones last week) were released. (You can read highlights of the anti-torture memos on our blog.)
Zelikow painted a picture of a small team of dissidents within the Bush administration who argued against
the administration’s interrogation policies. At some point in 2005, Zelikow said in prepared remarks, “the president
indicated his readiness to hear alternatives” to the policies that were in place at the time. And Zelikow, along with
then-State Department legal adviser John Bellinger, and then-deputy defense secretary Gordon England, obliged, producing a
joint paper [PDF] outlining a new set of standards on how detainees should be treated. "While balancing the danger these
individuals may present, they must be treated humanely, consistent with our values and the values of the free world," they
But after they submitted the paper, top Bush administration officials apparently didn’t like
what they saw. According to Zelikow, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld not only disavowed the memo, but also retaliated against
his subordinate, Gordon England, stripping him of jurisdiction over detainee issues. Zelikow and Bellinger continued to advance
their anti-torture argument. In July 2005, they circulated another unclassified memo [PDF] that called for the Bush administration to adopt the CID—the "cruel, inhumane, and degrading"
standard used by Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.
By that fall, the arguments Zelikow and Bellinger outlined in the July 2005 memo were starting to gain
traction, Zelikow said. On December 5, Condoleezza Rice announced publicly that the CID standard would be the rule governing
conduct by any US agency anywhere in the world. ("Perhaps coincidentally," Zelikow snarked in a footnote to his prepared testimony,
"CIA officials destroyed existing videotapes of its coercive interrogations in this same time period, November 2005.")
But Zelikow would soon realize that he and the administration differed on what constituted cruel and
inhumane treatment. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, "held that, even if the [CID] standard did apply,
the full CIA program—including waterboarding—complied with it," he said.
In order "to challenge OLC’s interpretation, it was necessary to challenge the Justice Department’s
interpretation of US Constitutional Law," Zelikow said. So that’s what he did, distributing a classified memo analyzing
the OLC’s legal reasoning, "probably in February 2006." Zelikow would later reveal the existence of this document in April, as the debate over Obama administration’s release of Bush-era legal memos justifying
the use of waterboarding, and other harsh tactics, climaxed.
"I later heard the memo was not considered appropriate for further discussion," Zelikow said, "and
that copies of my memo should be collected and destroyed."
Last week, Zelikow told Mother Jones that he suspected the order to deep-six the memo may have come from Vice President Dick Cheney’s
office. Zelikow ignored that order—and his memo has apparently been located and is in the process of being declassified.
SATURDAY 16 MAY 2009
Former Vice President Dick Cheney has been publicly
impossible to say to yourself how did we get there? Who are we? Who are these people that sent us there?
Cheney has been doing a lot of talking lately. From his most recent barrage of public statements, we have gleaned that he
loves Rush Limbaugh, doesn't much care for Colin Powell, believes President Obama is about to sell the Sixth Fleet to the
Taliban for pennies on the dollar and thinks torture is a nifty and effective tool that saves lives and defends freedom. Really,
this isn't anything we haven't heard before from our growly, snarly, face-blasting former vice president. But it does beg
the question: What the hell is he up to? NPR's Ron Elving posited the question in a Wednesday article titled "What is Dick Cheney Trying to Accomplish?"
man whom many consider the most powerful veep in history had already been far more vocal and visible than most of his predecessors
in retirement," wrote Elving. "This week in particular, the former No. 2 has been out there almost daily, doing talk shows
and giving a formal address to the American Enterprise Institute on the importance of interrogation techniques widely considered
to be torture. Along the way, he is also unburdening himself of opinions on everything else, from tax policy to the fate of
the GOP to the choice of a commanding general in Afghanistan.
Once known for his reticence and low profile, the man from Wyoming
is suddenly his party's most prominent national figure and audible voice. He is having his catharsis, and having it abundantly."
for his motives, Elving states his belief that Cheney's sudden whirlwind tour of every television, radio and newspaper in
America has a three-pronged purpose: 1) He is a genuine, dyed-in-the-wool, neocon, true believer, who insists on defending
the use of torture because he believes it actually works; 2) He is defending the legacy of the administration he basically
ran single-handedly for eight years; and 3) He is now liberated from the constraints of White House PR concerns and can speak
as freely as he likes.
Cheney is not the only one who has been out in the public eye defending the practices of the former administration. His daughter,
Liz Cheney, went off like an old barrel of TNT on the cable news shows, going so far as to invoke 9/11 (like father, like
daughter) and accuse Obama of supporting terrorism for even considering the release of photographic evidence of the American
use of torture against detainees. "I have heard from families of service members, from families of 9/11 victims," she said,
"when did it become so fashionable for us to side with the terrorists?"
Cheney clan is not known for their restraint when it comes to launching a verbal carpet-bombing campaign, but even for them,
this is flame-thrower language. Ron Elving's explanation is almost certainly accurate, but only to a point. His analysis leaves
off the one central and defining motive behind Cheney's thunderous defense of himself and the activities of his administration.
was scared, I think.
was scared the real stuff is going to come out.
was scared of the universal damnation that will come down upon him if the truth comes out.
I believe he was scared of going to prison.
why? The American public has been aware of our use of torture for some time now. The Obama administration has made it all
too clear that they have strong reservations about prosecuting the architects of the Bush administration's torture policy,
and that any meaningful actions along those lines are highly unlikely to be taken.
is because Cheney knew, when he began his media assault, that the worst of the horrors inflicted upon detainees at his specific
command are not yet widely known. If the real stuff comes into full public light, he feared the general outrage will be so
furious and all-encompassing that the Obama administration will have no choice but to reverse itself and seek prosecutions
of those Bush-era officials who specifically demanded those barbaric acts be inflicted upon prisoners.
is not about waterboarding, as gruesome as that practice is. It is not about putting prisoners in confined spaces, or about
pushing them, or slapping them, or putting bugs on them or demeaning them and their religious faith.
After Donald Rumsfeld testified
on the Hill about Abu Ghraib in May, there was talk of more photos and video in the Pentagon's custody more horrific than
anything made public so far. "If these are released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse," Rumsfeld said.
Since then, The Washington Post has disclosed some new details and images of abuse at the prison. But if Seymour Hersh is
right, it all gets much worse. Hersh gave a speech last week to the ACLU making the charge that children were sodomized in
front of women in the prison, and the Pentagon has tape of it.
about it, ummm ... Some of the worst things that happened you don't know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some
of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib ... The women
were passing messages out saying 'Please come and kill me, because of what's happened' and basically what happened is that
those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the
cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are
in total terror. It's going to come out."
Cheney wanted everyone talking about waterboarding, close confinement, and all the rest of the torture techniques outlined
in the recently-released "Torture Memos." Talking about waterboarding is still safe territory for him and everyone else who
served his cruel intentions in the Bush administration. They're taking some heat, sure, but the story has been out there for
a while and he's not wearing prison stripes yet.
know why this caged bird sang. He was terrified of the very real cage that could be waiting to swing open and swallow him
up if the true nature of his torture directives became widely known. If the entire country comprehends the awful fact that
women and boys were forcibly raped upon his specific orders, Dick Cheney's bets would all be off.
was then, however, and this is now. Dick Cheney is breathing a little easier today, and why shouldn't he? President Obama
appears to have pretty much let Cheney, along with all the other enables of torture, off the hook.
Obama is seeking to block the release of photographs depicting American military personnel abusing captives in Iraq and Afghanistan,
an administration official said Wednesday," reports The New York Times. "The president's decision marks a sharp reversal from
a decision made last month by the Pentagon, which reached a deal with the American Civil Liberties Union to release photographs
showing incidents at Abu Ghraib and a half-dozen other prisons. 'Last week, the president met with his legal team and told
them that he did not feel comfortable with the release of the D.O.D. photos because he believes their release would endanger
our troops,' said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. 'And because he believes that the national security implications
of such a release have not been fully presented to the court.'"
me, this means two things.
pictures are really, really, really bad, just as Sy Hersh said they would be.
will be no punishment, no justice, for acts of barbarous torture undertaken at the specific behest of men like Dick Cheney.
The Obama administration has chosen the easier path, chosen to ignore the manifest harm done to this nation and the world
by refusing to seek that necessary justice.
The caged bird sang to
stay out of a cage. Now he's free as a bird, and ours is a badly damaged and disgraced country because of it.
Tortured Law, a new 10-minute documentary by Alliance for Justice, examines the
role lawyers played in authorizing torture, and calls upon Attorney General Holder to Join those calling on Attorney General
Eric Holder to release the report of the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility, and hold accountable those who ordered,
designed, and justified torture.
SAN FRANCISCO -- A ruling that allowed a prisoner to sue former Bush administration attorney John Yoo for devising the
legal theories that justified his alleged torture threatens to "open the floodgates to politically motivated lawsuits" against
government officials, Yoo's lawyers say.
John Yoo wrote a 2002 Bush administration memo on interrogation of terrorism detainees. (Photo: Susan Walsh / Associated Press)
In papers filed late Monday with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, Yoo's new team of private
lawyers argued that a judge's refusal to dismiss a suit by inmate Jose Padilla injected the courts into the political arena.
"Threatening executive branch lawyers with personal liability for reaching allegedly incorrect legal conclusions regarding
the constitutionality of a president's wartime actions would infringe on the core war-making authority that the Constitution
reserves to the political branches," said attorney Manuel Miranda.
Yoo, a UC Berkeley law professor, was a Justice Department lawyer from 2001 to 2003 and wrote a series of memos on interrogation,
detention and presidential powers.
The best known was a 2002 document that said that rough treatment of captives amounted to torture only if it caused the
same level of pain as "organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death." The memo also said the president may have
the power to authorize torture of enemy combatants.
Another Yoo memo said that U.S. military forces could use any means necessary to seize and hold terror suspects in the
Padilla was arrested in Chicago in 2002 and accused of plotting with al Qaeda to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb." He
was held as an enemy combatant in a Navy brig for three years and eight months, then was taken out of the brig and charged
with taking part in an unrelated conspiracy to provide money and supplies to Islamic extremist groups. He was convicted and
sentenced to 17 years in prison.
Padilla's suit against Yoo covers his time in the brig. He says the government detained him illegally, denied him contact
with the outside world for nearly two years, kept him for lengthy periods in darkness and blinding light, subjected him to
temperature extremes, confined him in painful stress positions and threatened him with death.
Padilla says Yoo, a member of a Bush administration planning group known as the "war council," reviewed and approved his
detention in the brig and provided the legal cover for his abusive treatment. His suit seeks a token $1 in damages, plus legal
In his June 12 ruling, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in San Francisco said government lawyers, like any other officials,
are "responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their conduct." He said Padilla had a right to sue the "alleged architect
of the government policy" on enemy combatants.
The Justice Department, which had represented Yoo in the case, then withdrew and was replaced by private attorneys. They
argued in Monday's appeal that Yoo, as a legal adviser to the president, had not been responsible for the decision to detain
Padilla, for the conditions of his confinement, or for "any alleged violation of Padilla's rights."
In response, Padilla's lawyers said Yoo's arguments were the same ones White had already rejected. "Lawyers can't aid and
abet their clients' crimes," they said in a statement. "And they can't aid and abet their clients' involvement in torture."
The appeals court has not set a hearing date in the case.
LONDON — A Spanish court has taken the first steps toward opening a criminal investigation into allegations that
six former high-level Bush administration officials violated international law by providing the legal framework to justify
the torture of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, an official close to the case said.
The case, against former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and others, was sent to the prosecutor’s office for review by Baltasar Garzón, the crusading investigative judge who ordered the arrest of the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. The official said that it was “highly probable” that the case would go forward and that it could lead to arrest
The move represents a step toward ascertaining the legal accountability of top Bush administration officials for allegations
of torture and mistreatment of prisoners in the campaign against terrorism. But some American experts said that even if warrants
were issued their significance could be more symbolic than practical, and that it was a near certainty that the warrants would
not lead to arrests if the officials did not leave the United States.
The complaint under review also names John C. Yoo, the former Justice Department lawyer who wrote secret legal opinions saying the president had the authority to circumvent
the Geneva Conventions, and Douglas J. Feith, the former under secretary of defense for policy.
Most of the officials cited in the complaint declined to comment on the allegations or could not be reached on Saturday.
However their defenders have said their legal analyses and policy work on interrogation practices, conducted under great pressure
after the 2001 terrorist attacks, are now being unfairly second-guessed after many years without a terrorist attack on the
The court case was not entirely unexpected, as several human rights groups have been asking judges in different countries
to indict Bush administration officials. One group, the Center for Constitutional Rights, had asked a German prosecutor for
such an indictment, but the prosecutor declined.
Judge Garzón, however, has built an international reputation by bringing high-profile cases against human rights violators
as well as international terrorist networks like Al Qaeda. The arrest warrant for General Pinochet led to his detention in Britain, although he never faced a trial. The judge has
also been outspoken about the treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay.
Spain can claim jurisdiction in the case because five citizens or residents of Spain who were prisoners at Guantánamo Bay
have said they were tortured there. The five had been indicted in Spain, but their cases were dismissed after the Spanish
Supreme Court ruled that evidence obtained under torture was not admissible.
The 98-page complaint, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, is based on the Geneva Conventions and the 1984
Convention Against Torture, which is binding on 145 countries, including Spain and the United States. Countries that are party
to the torture convention have the authority to investigate torture cases, especially when a citizen has been abused.
The complaint was prepared by Spanish lawyers, with help from experts in the United States and Europe, and filed by a Spanish
human rights group, the Association for the Dignity of Prisoners.
The National Court in Madrid, which specializes in international crimes, assigned the case to Judge Garzón. His acceptance
of the case and referral of it to the prosecutor made it likely that a criminal investigation would follow, the official said.
Even so, arrest warrants, if they are issued, would still be months away.
Gonzalo Boye, the Madrid lawyer who filed the complaint, said that the six Americans cited had had well-documented roles
in approving illegal interrogation techniques, redefining torture and abandoning the definition set by the 1984 Torture Convention.
Secret memorandums by Mr. Yoo and other top administration lawyers helped clear the way for aggressive policies like waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques, which the C.I.A. director, the attorney general and other American officials have said amount to torture.
The other Americans named in the complaint were William J. Haynes II, former general counsel for the Department of Defense;
Jay S. Bybee, Mr. Yoo’s former boss at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel; and David S. Addington, who was the chief of staff and legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Mr. Yoo declined to comment on Saturday, saying that he had not seen or heard of the petition.
Mr. Feith, who was the top policy official at the Pentagon when the prison at Guantánamo was established, said he did not
make the decision on interrogation methods and was baffled by the allegations. “I didn’t even argue for the thing
I understand they’re objecting to,” he said.
But Mr. Boye said that lawyers should be held accountable for the effects of their work. Noting that the association he
represents includes many lawyers, he said: “This is a case from lawyers against lawyers. Our profession does not allow
us to misuse our legal knowledge to create a pseudo-legal frame to justify, stimulate and cover up torture.”
Prosecutions and convictions under the Torture Convention have been rare.
Reed Brody, a lawyer at Human Rights Watch who has specialized in this issue, said that even though torture was widely practiced, there were numerous obstacles, including
“a lack of political will, the problem of gathering evidence in a foreign country and the failure of countries to pass
the necessary laws.”
This year for the first time, the United States used a law that allows it to prosecute torture in other countries. On Jan.
10, a federal court in Miami sentenced Chuckie Taylor, the son of the former Liberian president, to 97 years in a federal
prison for torture, even though the crimes were committed in Liberia.
Last October, when the Miami court handed down the conviction, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey applauded the ruling and said: “This is the first case in the United States to charge an individual with criminal torture.
I hope this case will serve as a model to future prosecutions of this type.”
The United States, however, would be expected to ignore an extradition request for former officials, although other investigations
within the United States have been proposed. Calls for the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation have so far
been resisted by the Obama administration, but for more than four years, the Justice Department ethics office has been conducting
its own investigation into the work of Mr. Yoo and some of his colleagues.
While the officials named in the complaint have not addressed these specific accusations, Mr. Yoo defended his work in
an opinion column in The Wall Street Journal on March 7, warning that the Obama administration risked harming national security
if it punished lawyers like himself.
“If the administration chooses to seriously pursue those officials who were charged with preparing for the unthinkable,
today’s intelligence and military officials will no doubt hesitate to fully prepare for those contingencies in the future,”
Mr. Yoo wrote.
Scott Shane and Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: April 5, 2009 Because of an editing error, an article last Sunday about a
Spanish judge’s criminal inquiry into allegations that six Bush administration officials broke international laws banning
torture misidentified, in some copies, a foreign defendant in a Miami federal case brought under a law that
allows the United States to prosecute torture in other
countries. The defendant in that case, concerning torture committed in Liberia, was Chuckie Taylor, also known as Charles Arthur Emmanuel, the son of
former Liberian President Charles Taylor — not the former president himself.
The long ordeal of Fouad al-Rabiah, an innocent man and a 50-year-old father of four,
who had been in US custody for almost exactly eight years, finally came to an end today, when he was flown back to his homeland
of Kuwait from Guantánamo, where he had spent the majority of those lost years, after several brutal months in US custody in Afghanistan.
Until the moment of his release, everything about his treatment at the hands of the US
government was shameful.Twelve weeks ago, when District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly granted his habeas corpus petition,
and ordered his release, she revealed the most extraordinary - and extraordinarily depressing - story. This shone the most unflinching light on Guantánamo as a place where men, who were rounded up for bounty
payments by the US military's allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and were never adequately screened on capture, were then
sent to Guantánamo. Once there, in the absence of any information to back up the administration's claims that they were "the
worst of the worst," they became the victims of false allegations made by other prisoners (who were either coerced to do so,
or were bribed with the promise of improved living conditions), and were then tortured and abused to make false confessions.
During the prisoners' habeas corpus petitions over the last 14 months, numerous examples of dubious allegations made by unreliable witnesses have been exposed by the judges, as well as other
examples of cases that "defie[d] common sense" or exposed the use of torture, but until al-Rabiah's case was examined, the existence of a clear chain of torture and threats inflicted
to produce false confessions at Guantánamo had never been revealed with such alarming clarity.
Al-Rabiah's story began when he traveled to Afghanistan in 2001 to provide humanitarian
aid, but was caught up in the chaos following the US-led invasion, and ended up in the hands of the US military. What followed
was truly shameful. In Guantánamo, unreliable witnesses - whose unreliability was acknowledged by the authorities - claimed
that he had met Osama bin Laden and had provided him with a suitcase of money, and also claimed that he had played a supporting
role to al-Qaeda in the battle of Tora Bora, the showdown between al-Qaeda and US-supported Afghan forces in December 2001,
when bin Laden escaped into Pakistan.
Under torture, which included, but was not limited to prolonged sleep deprivation - being
moved from cell to cell every few hours over a period lasting for several weeks at least, in a program that was euphemistically
known as the "frequent flier program" - al-Rabiah finally broke down, inventing a story to please his captors, and dutifully
repeating it in 2004 during his Combatant Status Review tribunal, a military review board designed to establish that he had
been correctly designated as an "enemy combatant," who could continue to be held without charge or trial.
Although the authorities knew that the witnesses were unreliable, and interrogators and
other personnel cast serious doubts on al-Rabiah's story, he was, nevertheless, put forward for a trial by military commission at Guantánamo in November 2008, based on the credible-sounding story he had parroted at his tribunal,
and it was only when Judge Kollar-Kotelly was able to review his case that the whole sordid story emerged.
As she noted in her ruling, in one of several passages loaded with controlled disdain
for the Bush administration (and for the Obama administration for pursuing the case):
Not only did al-Rabiah's interrogators repeatedly conclude that [his] confessions were
not believable - which al-Rabiah's counsel attributes to abuse and coercion, some of which is supported by the record - but
it is also undisputed that al-Rabiah confessed to information that his interrogators obtained from either alleged eyewitnesses
who are not credible and as to whom the Government has now largely withdrawn any reliance, or from sources that never even
existed ... If there exists a basis for al-Rabiah's indefinite detention, it most certainly has not been presented to this
What makes this story even more shocking is that al-Rabiah's innocence was established
in the summer of 2002, when a CIA analyst and an Arabic expert interviewed him as part of a fact-finding mission to Guantánamo,
which revealed that a large number of the men held "had no connection to terrorism whatsoever." As Jane Mayer described his
findings about al-Rabiah in her book, "The Dark Side":
One man was a rich Kuwaiti businessman who took a trip to a different part of the world
every year to do charity work. In 2001, the country he chose was Afghanistan. "He wasn't a jihadi, but I told him he should
have been arrested for stupidity," the CIA officer recalled. The man was furious with the United States for rounding him up.
He mentioned that every year up until then, he had bought himself a new Cadillac, but when he was released, he said, he would
never buy another American car. He was switching to Mercedes.
What followed was even more disturbing and demonstrates, succinctly, how the "enemy combatant"
program developed by the Bush administration was fueled by the most damaging arrogance. As Mayer explained, when John Bellinger,
the legal adviser to the National Security Council (NSC), and Gen. John Gordon, the NSC's senior terrorism expert, learned
of the agent's report and tried to reveal the information to President Bush to ask him to urgently review the cases of the
men held at Guantánamo, a meeting with Alberto Gonzales, who was then the White House counsel, was hijacked by David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's legal counsel, who dismissed their concerns by declaring, imperiously,
"No, there will be no review. The President has determined that they are ALL enemy combatants. We are not going to revisit
As Fouad al-Rabiah prepares to greet his family for the first time in over eight years,
having spent the last 12 weeks detained at Guantánamo for no reason whatsoever (beyond the two weeks' notice demanded by Congress before any prisoner is released), David Cynamon, one of his attorneys, provided me by email with the
following statement on behalf of the legal team that worked so hard to secure his release:
We are pleased that the US Government has at long last complied with the court order
to return Mr. al-Rabiah to Kuwait. The court's opinion in his case is proof that his release is long overdue. Mr. al-Rabiah
is an innocent man. His complete innocence is clearly demonstrated in the trial court's decision, which the U.S. Government
did not attempt to appeal. In fact, at the very outset of Mr. al- Rabiah's confinement, the United States' own expert intelligence
analyst concluded Mr. al-Rabiah was an innocent man in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nonetheless, this innocent citizen
of one of the United States' best allies was wrongfully imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay for almost eight years, during which
he was tortured, abused, and coerced into making false confessions. We call upon President Obama to provide both a formal
apology on behalf of the United States and appropriate compensation for Mr. al-Rabiah's ordeal. Mr. al- Rabiah can never reclaim
the eight years he lost at Guantánamo Bay - and the United States must not simply turn and forget.
face Guantanamo abuse claim
Complaints allege psychologists had role in Guantanamo detainee
Two Army psychologists helped perpetrate abuse of detainees at Guantanamo Bay including sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation,
according to complaints filed Wednesday by human rights groups trying to have the psychologists' state licenses revoked.
The San Francisco-based Center for Justice & Accountability filed a complaint against Dr. John Leso with the New York
Office of the Professions, alleging professional misconduct. Leso led a behavioral science consultation team at Guantanamo
in 2002 and 2003.
The complaint said Leso developed abusive interrogation techniques based on Army survival methods. Those methods, "Survive
Evade Rescue and Escape" or SERE, teach soldiers how to withstand physical and psychological abuse they might face if captured
by the enemy, according to the complaint against Leso.
"Evidence shows that Dr. Leso developed, recommended, and implemented psychologically and physically abusive interrogation
tactics during his tenure at Guantanamo," the complaint said.
The complaint says an abuse memo Leso wrote in 2002 promoted techniques such as exposing detainees to severe cold, forcing
liquids into them intravenously and sleep deprivation.
The complaint against Leso says he is stationed at Fort Rucker, Ala. He could not be immediately reached. Messages were
left with the fort's public affairs office.
In a second complaint, a Toledo psychologist and others allege that retired Army Col. Larry James observed abusive interrogations
and didn't do anything to stop them.
The complaint says James, dean of professional psychology at Wright State University in Dayton, oversaw abuse at Guantanamo
Bay in Cuba in 2003, 2007 and 2008 when he served with the base's Behavioral Science Consultation Team.
"Detainees were systematically abused while Dr. James served on and allegedly led the Guantanamo BSCT," Wednesday's complaint
said. "James participated in, ordered, supervised, ratified, facilitated, acquiesced in, and/or failed to prevent, stop, report,
and punish that abuse."
In one instance, the complaint said, James watched without intervening while an interrogator and three guards subjected
a near-naked man to sexual humiliation by forcing him to wear women's underwear.
The complaint, researched by Harvard's International Human Rights Clinic, seeks to have James stripped of his license to
practice psychology in Ohio.
James declined to comment through a university spokesman.
State boards in Louisiana and Ohio, where a similar complaint was filed in 2008, have declined to investigate the allegations.
James said in his 2008 book, "Fixing Hell," that the Army sent him to clean up abuses in Guantanamo and later in the Abu
Ghraib detention center in Iraq.
He told the Dayton Daily News last fall that he doesn't understand why the allegations continue to come up.
"No matter what third party, objective review board or person, they've all come to the same conclusion — there's
no probable cause," James said in September. "There's no detainee, there's no guard, there's no psychologist who's come forward
and said, 'With my own eyes, I've seen Dr. James do X, Y or Z.'"
Complaints to state medical boards are shielded by Ohio's public records law unless the board takes disciplinary action.
Ronald Ross, executive director of the Ohio state psychology board, declined to comment.
The Ohio board in 2008 "determined that no foundation exists to support the initiation of formal proceedings serving to
deny Dr. James admission to the Board's licensure examination," according to a copy of the board's response provided by the
In June 2007, 350 members of the American Psychological Association signed an open letter to its then-President Sharon
Brehm requesting an investigation of James and other members of the association who served at Guantanamo Bay.
The association didn't investigate, but in 2008 it voted to ban its members from taking part in interrogations at the prison
at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and other military detention sites where it believes international law is being violated.
Actually these two are not the only
ones. Two more psychologists worked for the CIA doing the same thing. They were paid a 1000,000 a week each to advise how
to break prisoners. There names are online. Doctors are the worst. Because they are so well trained. When a doctor goes bad,
nothing is worse.
Throughout history we have seen such doctors. Remember the Tuskee experiments on black soldiers
with VD. They were given the disease by doctors to see their reactions. Remember reading about what the government did in
the 50's? Experiments with LSD that caused deaths. I think that was the CIA also. Some deaths were the result. And some lifetime
There are things done in this country that none of us want to know about. And the government
minions that do these experiments know this. God this government and most of the rest of the world's governments are nasty.
No difference really. You can tell because the whistle blowers that report violations to human beings are subjected to jail
time. Twisted people run this country.
Introducing The Definitive List Of The Remaining Prisoners In Guantanamo
Over the next month, in an attempt to focus attention more closely on Guantánamo, and on the remaining prisoners who
are held there, I’ll be publishing an eight-part series of articles (in conjunction with Cageprisoners, for whom I work as a Senior Researcher), telling, for the first time, the stories of the 176
men who are still held.
The articles to follow, covering the rest of the prisoners still held, deal with those seized in particular locations:
two cover prisoners seized in Afghanistan; two more tell the stories of prisoners seized crossing from Afghanistan to Pakistan
in December 2001; two deal with prisoners seized in Pakistan; and the final article covers the “high-value detainees”
transferred to Guantánamo from secret CIA prisons in September 2006, and other prisoners, seized in a variety of countries,
who were subjected to “extraordinary rendition” and imprisonment in secret CIA prisons.
In reading these articles, I hope that readers will be able to discover the stories of the men behind the statistics of
Guantánamo — and the still-repeated and thoroughly unfounded claims that the prison holds “the worst of the worst.”
In the accounts, readers will encounter a variety of different individuals. Many of these men traveled to Afghanistan before
the 9/11 attacks to fight with the Taliban against the Northern Alliance, and suddenly found themselves to be enemies of America
in a “War on Terror,” and others were not even involved in any kind of military conflict, and were, instead, students,
humanitarian aid workers, missionaries, or economic migrants, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
During a public hearing in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice
and Home Affairs at the European Parliament on 27 March, representatives of Amnesty International said European countries
lacked the political will to carry out in-depth investigations pertaining to the alleged CIA's illegal detention and transfers
of prisoners within Europe.
Amnesty International representative Julia Hall highlighted Lithuania’s refusal to resume a pre-trial investigation last fall despite information
that Abu Zubaydah, who has been at GuantanamoBay
for the past 10 years, might have been brought to Lithuania to Morocco on a 2005 flight. The prosecutor general’s office
stated the new information was not enough to trigger the resurrection of the investigation.
has also refused to launch an in-depth investigation into flights linked to the U.S.
secret detention and rendition program, and flights to Lithuania,
even though it has made plenty of documents public.
Denmark, the country that currently holds the EU presidency, has plead
ignorance to flights related to the US program, despite the fact that a Bucharest-Palanga-Copenhagen flight was mentioned
in the conclusions of a parliamentary investigation in Lithuania.
Norwegian authorities have also claimed the US
government has assured them there is nothing questionable about flights between Bergen and
Oslo mentioned in the context of the U.S.
secret detention and rendition program. The country was satisfied with the US
explanation there is nothing suspicious.
Amnesty International said a resolution should require member states
to conduct human rights probes regarding complicity in the CIA operations, afford redress to the victims and reform any agency
that allowed abuses to take place.
The Council of Europe has estimated that 1,245 CIA-operated flights have
passed over the continent, but an accurate number may be impossible to figure. In a 2007 probe, Swiss politician Dick Marty
accused 14 European governments of permitting the CIA to run detention centres or carry out rendition flights over their territories
between 2002 and 2005.
here on joe-anybody.com 3/38/12)
Gitmo hunger strike: Timeline [posted here 3.23.13]
A mass hunger strike
has been unfolding in the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison for nearly six weeks. RT has been badgering the UN, prison officials,
detainees’ attorneys and activists to get a full account of the situationshttp://rt.com/news/guantanamo-bay-hunger-strike-399/
On Friday, in the District Court in Washington D.C., Judge Gladys Kessler lost patience with the government's obstructions.
Since she ordered the release of videotapes showing the forcible cells extractions and force-feeding of a Syrian prisoner,
Abu Wa'el Dhiab, at the start of October last year, she has had to put up with what she dismissed as a "frivolous" appeal,
and a profound unwillingness on the art of the authorities to comply with her order.
As Close Guantánamo co-founder Andy Worthington explains in his latest article, U.S. Judge Orders Release of Guantánamo Force-Feeding
Tapes, Condemns Government Delays, Judge Kessler ordered the government to release eight videotapes by August 31, with the
necessary redactions made to protect the identities of U.S. personnel.
We very much hope that the government has run out of options to disobey Judge Kessler's order, and that, on August 31, the
world will see what force-feeding looks like, and the closure of Guantánamo will be hastened, as we have no doubt that more
people are moved by pictures than by words, as was demonstrated 11 long years ago when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke.
Ever since that time, it has been clear to us that the lack of images or film from Guantánamo has only helped to keep that
wretched place open, because, if people could see what has taken place there over the years -- and still takes place every
day for hunger strikers, and for those regarded as persistently uncooperative -- there would be a huge outcry against the
If you missed it we also recommend Andy's previous article, Abdul Rahman Shalabi, Guantánamo Hunger Striker for Ten Years,
Is Approved for Release to Saudi Arabia, about the latest decision taken by a Periodic Review Board: to release Abdul Rahman
Shalabi, a Saudi prisoner who, alarmingly, has been on a hunger strike -- and force-fed -- since 2005.
He is the 10th prisoner to be recommended for release by a PRB in the last year and a half, although only two of those men
have actually been released. The rest -- like the 44 other men approved for release by President Obama's high-level, inter-agency
Guantánamo Review Task Force over five years ago, in January 2010, but still held -- need to be freed as soon as possible.
Every day they remain held is a black mark against America's notion of itself as a country that respects the rule of law.
It should be noted that there is no acceptable reason to continue holding anyone at Guantánamo, except the few men facing
trials, but to hold men indefinitely who you said you no longer wanted to hold is a particular cruelty that would shame most
dictators, who do not pretend that any kind of review process applies to prisoners held beyond the reach of the law.
What you can do now
Please call the White House to ask for the release of Abdul Rahman Shalabi -- and the 51 the men approved for release but
still held -- on 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414, or submit a comment online.
With thanks, as ever, for your support.
The "Close Guantánamo" team
P.S. Please, if you will, also ask your friends and family to join us -- just an email address is required to be counted amongst
those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email. Please also note
that we can be found on Twitter here and on Facebook here.