Showing posts with label Torture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Torture. Show all posts

November 3, 2016

Ugandans Emphasize Police Use Torture to Proof Homosexuality









It was early in the morning when Jackson Mukasa was awakened by the chants outside his Kampala home. 
"The homos are in there!" the crowd yelled, banging spoons on metal cooking pots. 
Mukasa, a 21-year-old gay man living in the Ugandan capital, was terrified. 
"We opened the door, and there were police and people everywhere. The local councilman was there, yelling 'Out with the homos! You are scaring people in the area.' I still have scars from the beatings that followed," Mukasa said. 
It was January 2014. After being beaten by the mob, the police took Mukasa and a male friend staying with him in for questioning, he said. 
They were both subjected to forced anal examinations, said Mukasa. 
"We were questioned, beaten again, forced to admit to homosexuality. They took us to … (a) clinic in Kampala where we were examined," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 
"It is so painful. The doctor puts a machine up your rectum. It hurts so much, and there is blood," he said in a phone interview.  

Photo taken on February 14, 2010 shows Ugandans taking part in an anti-gay demonstration at Jinja, Kampala. Trevor Snapp / AFP/Getty Images

ILLEGAL
Uganda is one of 36 countries in Africa where homosexuality is illegal, and one of eight countries globally where Human Rights Watch has compiled evidence of the use of forced anal examinations to "prove" homosexuality. 
Emilian Kayima, a Kampala police spokesman, denied that forced examinations took place. 
"We do not need anal examination to prove a person is gay. When we arrest gay people, we take them to the courts of law because what they are engaging in is illegal under the laws of Uganda," Kayima told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 
"If any gay person claims they have been tortured or forced to undergo anal examination, they need to come forward with evidence stating when and where it happened instead of running to the press to make baseless claims," Kayima added. 
The Ugandan health ministry declined to answer questions from the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 
However, local rights campaigners and Human Rights Watch say Mukasa is one of several victims of forced anal examinations in the east African country. They say while the practice is used ostensibly to prevent the transmission of HIV, it is merely a form of discrimination and abuse. 
Uganda lawyer Nicholas Opiyo is preparing a constitutional case to ban forced anal examinations. He believes the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act is used illegally, as an excuse to "prove" homosexuality. 
"They are using the law as an excuse to carry out the examinations. We want them banned," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from Kampala in a phone interview. 
"In all the cases we have dealt with, people are arrested and taken to certain clinics," he said, describing how Mukasa's case was typical. 
DEHUMANIZE
Like most of sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda is highly religious and socially conservative. Violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people is common and politicians have long tried to pass legislation that denies basic rights to the LGBT community. 
A law passed more than two years ago, punishing gay sex with long prison terms, provoked an international storm of protest and led some donor countries to withhold aid. 
The constitutional court overturned the law - formerly known as the "Kill the Gays" bill because a first draft included the death penalty for gay sex - on a technicality in August 2014. 
Cases like Mukasa's are not designed to get LGBT people convicted in court, according to Opiyo. "The examinations aren't used as evidence, they are used as a tool to dehumanize and stigmatize," he said. 
Mukasa, who used to work in a restaurant, said police and authorities made no attempt to hide his identity. "I cannot walk the street, I cannot get medicine, I do not have any money and cannot claim benefits because I am a homosexual," he said. 
According to experts such examinations have no validity, either legally or medically. 
"There is absolutely no value in such examinations for this purpose," Vincent Iacopino, medical director at Physicians for Human Rights, said by phone from the United States. 
He said the examinations were unethical, harmful, and in some cases, torture. 
Asger Kjaerum, advocacy director at the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, agreed. "These practices lack both scientific value and violate international standards on the ban of torture and ill-treatment," he said in an email from Copenhagen. 
SURGE OF EXAMINATIONS
Homosexuality was banned in Uganda in 1952. In recent years, assaults against LGBT people have been on the rise, according to Human Rights Watch, fueled by the anti-gay policies of President Yoweri Museveni's government. 
"Heated discourse around the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act and its draconian provisions appears to have led to an increase in harassment of persons perceived to be LGBT by civilians and the police alike," Neela Ghoshal, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a report this year. 
Human rights lawyer Opiyo is currently preparing his case, and expects to file it within the coming months. "Anal examinations are a form of torture, a violation of the Ugandan Constitution, the African Charter, and international human rights. We want them banned," he said. 
"If the court declares the practice unconstitutional, the examinations will be unlawful, meaning anyone engaged in performing the examinations could be sued," he said. 
Mukasa's case was eventually dismissed due to lack of evidence, but he says he feels convicted, and is serving a sentence - albeit out of jail. 
He has changed his identity since the case, and is now living in a shelter, isolated from family and friends. 
"I have lost my job because of the case," he said. "People know who I am, I can't leave my house. I cannot get a taxi, I cannot get a job, all because of the case.”

Reuters
nbcnews.com

May 1, 2015

Ame.Psychological Asso. Collaborated with Bush to Justify Torture


                                                                             

The American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror, according to a new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists.

The report is the first to examine the association’s role in the interrogation program. It contends, using newly disclosed emails, that the group’s actions to keep psychologists involved in the interrogation program coincided closely with efforts by senior Bush administration officials to salvage the program after the public disclosure in 2004 of graphic photos of prisoner abuse by American military personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. 

video Anatomy of an InterrogationAPRIL 19, 2015
“The A.P.A. secretly coordinated with officials from the C.I.A., White House and the Department of Defense to create an A.P.A. ethics policy on national security interrogations which comported with then-classified legal guidance authorizing the C.I.A. torture program,” the report’s authors conclude.
Report on American Psychological Association’s Role in Bush-Era Interrogation Program
The organization’s involvement “undermines the fundamental ethical standards of the profession,” argues a group of dissident health professionals and activists.


  
The involvement of health professionals in the Bush-era interrogation program was significant because it enabled the Justice Department to argue in secret opinions that the program was legal and did not constitute torture, since the interrogations were being monitored by health professionals to make sure they were safe.

The interrogation program has since been shut down, and last year the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a detailed report that described the program as both ineffective and abusive.

Rhea Farberman, a spokeswoman for the American Psychological Association, denied that the group had coordinated its actions with the government. There “has never been any coordination between A.P.A. and the Bush administration on how A.P.A. responded to the controversies about the role of psychologists in the interrogations program,” she said.

The Bush administration relied more heavily on psychologists than psychiatrists or other health professionals to monitor many interrogations, at least in part because the psychological association was supportive of the involvement of psychologists in interrogations, a senior Pentagon official explained publicly in 2006.

DOCUMENT 

Report on American Psychological Association’s Role in Bush-Era Interrogation Program 

The organization’s involvement “undermines the fundamental ethical standards of the profession,” argues a group of dissident health professionals and activists.



The American Psychological Association “clearly supports the role of psychologists in a way our behavioral science consultants operate,” said Dr. William Winkenwerder, then the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, describing to reporters why the Pentagon relied more on psychologists than psychiatrists at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. “The American Psychiatric Association, on the other hand, I think had a great deal of debate about that, and there were some who were less comfortable with that.”

By June 2004, the Bush administration’s torture program was in trouble. The public disclosure of the images of prisoners being abused at the Abu Ghraib prison earlier that year prompted an intense debate about the way the United States was treating detainees in the global war on terror, leading to new scrutiny of the C.I.A.’s so-called enhanced interrogation program. Congress and the news media were starting to ask questions, and there were new doubts about whether the program was legal.




On June 4, 2004, the C.I.A. director, George J. Tenet, signed a secret order suspending the agency’s use of the enhanced interrogation techniques, while asking for a policy review to make sure the program still had the Bush administration’s backing.

“I strongly believe that the administration needs to now review its previous legal and policy positions with respect to detainees to assure that we all speak in a united and unambiguous voice about the continued wisdom and efficacy of those positions in light of the current controversy,” Mr. Tenet wrote in a memo that has since been declassified.

At that critical moment, the American Psychological Association took action that its critics now say helped the troubled interrogation program.

In early June 2004, a senior official with the association, the nation’s largest professional organization for psychologists, issued an invitation to a carefully selected group of psychologists and behavioral scientists inside the government to a private meeting to discuss the crisis and the role of psychologists in the interrogation program.

Psychologists from the C.I.A. and other agencies met with association officials in July, and by the next year the association issued guidelines that reaffirmed that it was acceptable for its members to be involved in the interrogation program.
To emphasize their argument that the association grew too close to the interrogation program, the critics’ new report cites a 2003 email from a senior psychologist at the C.I.A. to a senior official at the psychological association. In the email, the C.I.A. psychologist appears to be confiding in the association official about the work of James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the private contractors who developed and helped run the enhanced interrogation program at the C.I.A.’s secret prisons around the world.

In the email, written years before the involvement of the two contractors in the interrogation program was made public, the C.I.A. psychologist explains to the association official that the contractors “are doing special things to special people in special places.”



More than a decade after George J. Tenet, then the C.I.A. director, signed a secret order suspending the agency’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques, the American Psychological Association’s actions are coming under scrutiny. Credit Mark Wilson/Getty Images
More than a decade later, the association’s actions during that critical time are coming under new scrutiny. Last November, the association’s board ordered an independent review of the organization’s role in the interrogation program. That review, led by David Hoffman, a Chicago lawyer, is now underway.

“We have been given a mandate by the A.P.A. to be completely independent in our investigation, and that is how we have been conducting our inquiry,” Mr. Hoffman said. “We continue to gather evidence and talk with witnesses and expect to complete the investigation later this spring.”

The three lead authors of the report are longtime and outspoken critics of the association: Stephen Soldz, a clinical psychologist and professor at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis; Steven Reisner, a clinical psychologist and founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology; and Nathaniel Raymond, the director of the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, and the former director of the campaign against torture at Physicians for Human Rights. 

“In 2004 and 2005 the C.I.A. torture program was threatened from within and outside the Bush administration,” Mr. Soldz said by email. “Like clockwork, the A.P.A. directly addressed legal threats at every critical juncture facing the senior intelligence officials at the heart of the program. In some cases the A.P.A. even allowed these same Bush officials to actually help write the association’s policies.” 

  
Ms. Farberman, the association’s spokeswoman, said that the group would wait until Mr. Hoffman’s investigation was complete before responding further, and so would not comment in detail on the critics’ report.

“We are focused on the independent review,” Ms. Farberman said.

For years, questions about the role of American psychologists and behavioral scientists in the development and use of the Bush-era interrogation program have been raised by human rights advocates as well as by critics within the psychological profession.

The critics frequently criticized the 2005 findings of an association committee, the Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security, or PENS, which concluded that it was appropriate for psychologists to remain involved with interrogations, to make sure they remained safe, legal, ethical and effective. The PENS report eventually drew so much criticism from within the psychological profession that the association was forced to retract its permissive guidelines.

But the degree to which the association allowed psychologists and other behavioral scientists from the national security agencies to help craft the PENS Task Force’s report was not fully understood until the recent disclosure of a trove of emails from one behavioral science researcher who died in 2008.

The emails are those of Scott Gerwehr, a researcher who worked at the RAND Corporation and later at a defense contractor who had close ties to behavioral scientists both at the psychological association and in the national security agencies.

The Gerwehr emails include many between association officials and government psychologists on which he was copied by friends and colleagues. The new report by the association’s critics is based in part on a comprehensive analysis of his email archive. 

After the PENS Task Force completed its work in 2005, Mr. Gerwehr was copied on an email from Geoffrey Mumford, the director of science policy at the association, to Kirk Hubbard, a psychologist at the C.I.A., thanking Mr. Hubbard for helping to influence the outcome of the task force.

“Your views were well represented by very carefully selected task force members,” Mr. Mumford wrote. “I thought you and many of those copied here would be interested to know that A.P.A. grabbed the bull by the horns and released this Task Force report today.”

By that time, Mr. Hubbard had just left the C.I.A. to work for Mitchell Jessen and Associates, the company the contractors had created to conduct their work on the interrogation program.

December 10, 2014

Preferred CIA Torture, Rectal Feeding


Detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Image: Shane T. McCoy, Wikimedia
This great piece of reporting was originally posted at Motherboard.vice

When the CIA 'torture report' report was finally declassified, freshly re-outraged Americans were, sadly, familiar with many of the terms—waterboarding, sleep deprivation, abuse—that splashed across headlines and cable news tickers. But there was at least one newly-surfaced atrocity revealed in the report, too. Interrogators had subjected at least five detainees to 'rectal feeding' and 'rectal rehydration,' often against their will. 
The CIA, it turns out, had administered rectal feedings and hydration both to counteract prisoner hunger strikes and to exercise "behavioral control" over the detainees. 
The new documents reveal, often in disturbing detail, how rectal rehydration was employed to humiliate and injure inmates at Guantanamo and other detention sites. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) was one high-profile recipient of the treatment; it was used on four others, and threatened on even more.
Rectal rehydration, or proctoclysis, is essentially the act of infusing a patient's rectum with large quantities of fluids through a drip system—it's a century-old technique that rose to prominence during World War I. It was invented by an American surgeon named John Benjamin Murphy (the apparatus is called the Murphy Drip to this day), and was used to both deliver drugs and to keep patients hydrated when they lost use of their mouth.  
The Murphy Drip. Image Wikimedia
Over the course of the century, as physicians became more skilled at administering intravenous therapy, the Murphy Drip fell out of regular use. In  ​a 2010 article in the journal Emergency Nurse, the author notes that while rectal rehydration is still occasionally used in Chinese medicine to administer herbal remedies, "With the widespread use of intravenous infusions in contemporary emergency nursing, some might question whether there is a place for proctoclysis."
But the CIA used it anyway, and often.
"At least five CIA detainees were subjected to 'rectal rehydration' or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity," the torture document explains. 
This is why.
"CIA medical officers discussed rectal rehydration as a means of behavior control," the torture report noted. "As one officer wrote, '[w]hile IV infusion is safe and effective, we were impressed with the ancillary effectiveness of rectal infusion on ending the water refusal in a similar case.'" 
Translation: Administering water and saline through an IV drip worked perfectly well to keep detainees hydrated and fed, but rectal rehydrations had a penchant for degrading prisoners until they ended their hunger strikes.
For those curious about how the procedure was carried out, allow the CIA to explain: 
"The same officer provided a description of the procedure, writing that '[r]egarding the rectal tube, if you place it and open up the IV tubing, the flow will self regulate, sloshing up the large intestines ...  [w]hat I infer is that you get a tube up as far as you can, then open the IV wide. No need to squeeze the bag—let gravity do its work.'" 
And a few other revealing details:
"The same email exchange included a description of a previous application of the technique, in which 'we used the largest Ewal [sic] tube we had'...  As described in the context of the rectal feeding of al-Nashiri, Ensure was infused into al-Nashiri 'in a forward-facing position (Trendlenberg) with head lower than torso.'"
It wasn't just hydration; detainees' meals were also liquified and administered rectally, as in the case of Majid Khan. The CIA claims that Khan, who was attempting a hunger strike, had initially cooperated with rectal feeding. But "After approximately three weeks, the CIA developed a more aggressive treatment regimen 'without unnecessary conversation.'"
Image: Patient with Murphy Drip. Via ​Lecture on Dietetics
After that, his force-feeding veered towards the inhumane:
"Majid Khan was then subjected to involuntary rectal feeding and rectal hydration, which included two bottles of Ensure. Later that same day, Majid Khan's 'lunch tray,' consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins, was 'pureed' and rectally infused. Additional sessions of rectal feeding and hydration followed." 
The humiliation inflicted by such practices apparently took its toll: "In addition to his hunger strikes, Majid Klian engaged in acts of self-harm that included attempting to cut his wrist on two occasions, an attempt to chew into his arm at the inner elbow, an attempt to cut a vein in the top of his foot, and an attempt to cut into his skin at the elbow joint using a filed toothbrush."
Beyond the drips, the documents show that the CIA had a predilection for violating detainees rectums.  ​Previously leaked documents showed that agents "sodomized, tortured" a German-born terror suspect back in 2003, and the new report reveals violent behavior during cavity searches:
"CIA leadership, including General Counsel Scott Muller and DDO James Pavitt, was also alerted to allegations that rectal exams were conducted with 'excessive force' on two detainees at DETENTION SITE COBALT... CIA records indicate that one of the detainees, Mustafa al-Hawsawi, was later diagnosed with chronic hemorrhoids, an anal fissure, and symptomatic rectal prolapse."
It goes without saying, but all of these detainees who are being routinely rectally violated, have never stood trial. That goes too for the most famous of them, who apparently was administered rectal feedings on more than one occasion. 
"Chief of Interrogations [redacted] also ordered the rectal rehydration of KSM without a determination of medical need, a procedure that the chief of interrogations would later characterize as illustrative of the interrogator's 'total control over the detainee.'" Furthermore, "On March 5, 2003, KSM was also subjected to additional rectal rehydration," which [redacted] described as helping to "clear a person's head" and effective in getting KSM to talk.
The CIA, for its part, does not deny the rectal feedings, but claims it was all above board. " The CIA's June 2013 Response does not address the use of rectal feeding with CIA detainees," the report states, "but defends the use of rectal rehydration as a 'well acknowledged medical technique.'"
Rectal rehydration, is indeed a "well acknowledged medical technique," but it hasn't been widely used for decades. The drip was used as an implement of humiliation, to cause suffering, perhaps even to torture. 
As the authors of Force-Feeding at Guantánamo: Medical, Legal and Ethical Analysis, "The International Red Cross, the World Medical Association, and the United Nations recognize the right of competent prisoners to go on a hunger strike. All three organizations have labeled force-feeding a violation on the ban of cruel, inhumane, and degrading punishment." 
The CIA chose not just to force-feed detainees, which could be cruel enough—agents also pushed nutrients through their nasal cavities with nasogastric tubes—but apparently to augment the aggression with a pointedly humiliating tactic. In light of these new documents, it seems painfully clear that the agency turned to an antiquated medical procedure as an excuse to inflict suffering. 

September 26, 2014

Torture Officers at Police Stations, Nazi Germany? Yes and Nigeria too


                                                                       
  

The young Nigerian man shown above is growing up during a grim time in his nation’s history: One in which the use of torture is so routine in police work that many stations are keeping informal “torture officers” on staff to handle aggressive interrogations.
A gruesome report from Amnesty International exposes the scope of the problem, showing that both the military and police use torture routinely in interrogations against everyone from suspected militants to supposed thieves — and sometimes, even victims of crimes are subjected to horrific tactics. Amnesty claims to have collected the data over the course of the last ten years, illustrating how sustained the issue is, and the human rights organization is calling for immediate action to stop the torture and murder of Nigerian men, women and children.
Spokespeople for the Nigerian police see the issue differently. Emmanuel Ojukwu, a police spokesman, told the BBC that while torture “may happen,” it’s “appropriately dealt with,” and that anyone wishing to file complaints should contact supervisors at police stations and higher up in regional police authorities, if necessary. His comments fly in the face of the massive amount of evidence collected by Amnesty, which includes testimonials from people of all ages not just about graphic torture, but about how routine and unremarkable the process was — many police stations, for example, had chambers specifically set up for torture, as well as officers tasked to perform it. Victims reported rape, electrocution, water torture, beatings and other abuses at the hands of Nigerian law enforcement.
                                                                           
Amnesty’s press release notes that: “The report also reveals how most of those detained are held incommunicado – denied access to the outside world, including lawyers, families and courts…Torture has become such an integral part of policing in Nigeria that many police stations have an informal ‘Officer in Charge of Torture’ or O/C Torture. They use an alarming array of techniques, including nail or tooth extractions, choking, electric shocks and sexual violence.”
This does not speak well of Nigeria’s law enforcement system — violating human rights is in and of itself a terrible abuse that needs to be rectified, but it also means that police are not properly investigating crimes and that the outcomes of any police investigations, trials and subsequent convictions or acquittals are also suspect. That leads to widespread trust and reliability problems with the entire police force and justice system — even when a department respects the human rights of suspects, the actions of abusive departments cancel out its efforts to solve cases within the boundaries of the law. When a nation’s criminal justice system is compromised, it can increase the risk of corruption as well as larger risks for residents, including an increased risk of violent crime.
Shockingly, torture isn’t even illegal in Nigeria. If it’s not a big issue, as police officials claim, surely a formal ban with clearly-outlined penalties for being involved in torture shouldn’t present a hardship or a concern for police departments. After all, if they’re not torturing anyone, surely a law about it won’t affect them…right?
 

 http://www.care2.com 

November 10, 2013

Abducted Owner of Medical Marijuana Dispensary Lost His Penis in Tortured


This image provided by the Orange County District Attorney's Office shows Kyle Handley, one of four people charged with kidnapping a California marijuana dispensary owner, torturing him with a blowtorch and cutting off his penis during a robbery because they thought he was burying piles of cash in the desert, authorities said Friday, Nov. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/ Orange County District Attorney's Office)
This image provided by the Orange County District Attorney's Office shows Kyle Handley, one of four people charged with kidnapping a California marijuana dispensary owner, torturing him with a blowtorch and cutting off his penis during a robbery because they thought he was burying piles of cash in the desert, authorities said Friday, Nov. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/ Orange County District Attorney's Office)
 LOS ANGELES: Four people have been charged with abducting the California owner of a medical marijuana dispensary, torturing him and cutting off his penis in an attempt to force him to divulge the location of cash they mistakenly believed he had hidden in the desert.
Two of the suspects, Ryan Anthony Kevorkian, 34, and Naomi Josette Kevorkian, 33, were arrested in the central California town Fresno, on Friday, a day after a third defendant, Hossein Nayeri, 34, was taken into custody in the Czech Republic.
Authorities said Nayeri had initially fled the United States to Iran for several months, and was picked up by the FBI in Prague while trying to make an airline connection to Spain to visit family there.
Kyle Shirakawa Handley, 34, the accused mastermind of the kidnapping scheme, has been in custody since he was arrested last October, not long after the crime occurred, police and prosecutors said in a joint statement.

Each of the four is charged with kidnapping, aggravated mayhem, torture and burglary, with a sentencing enhancement for inflicting great bodily injury. All are being held without bail and face a maximum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.
The victim was not identified, but was described as the owner of a lucrative dispensary for marijuana, which is legal in California for medical purposes.
He survived the kidnapping and mutilation ordeal but was hospitalized for an extensive period of time. Police said the suspects who abducted him fled with his severed penis so that it could never be reattached.

Details of the case, in which the FBI assisted, were outlined in a statement issued by the Newport Beach Police Department and Orange County District Attorney's Office.
According to their account, the kidnapping plot was hatched after the victim had taken several marijuana growers who were suppliers for his pot dispensary, including Handley, on an expensive weekend trip to Las Vegas.

Handley is later suspected of telling his co-defendants that the victim was extremely wealthy, and they set about devising plans to abduct and rob him.
They went on to carry out weeks of video surveillance of the victim and followed him as he took numerous trips by car to discuss a possible investment deal, incorrectly surmising he was making those desert trips to bury large amounts of cash there, authorities said.
The plot came to a head on Oct. 2, 2012, when the three male suspects allegedly slipped into the victim's home, kidnapped him and the girlfriend of a roommate who happened to be there, then drove them both to the desert. They also are accused of stealing cash from the victim's home.
According to police, the three suspects repeatedly tortured the dispensary owner during his ordeal by burning him with a blowtorch, before finally cutting off his penis.
They then poured bleach over the victim in an effort to destroy any DNA evidence before dumping both captives on the side of a road and fled. Naomi Kevorkian was not present during the kidnapping but was charged because she participated in the plan to abduct and torture the victim, according to the statement.

The woman abducted with the dispensary owner was unharmed and managed to flag down a police car after running for a mile in the dark.
The Kevorkians are expected to be arraigned on Tuesday. Nayeri faces extradition proceedings in Prague. Handley is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 15.

  http://www.dailystar.com. 

April 18, 2013

Waterboarding..we Do it ...We Deny it How do we do what we deny?



Now a new report issued by the Constitution Project that appears today says that what occurred after September 11 was not only unprecedented, but also completely unjustified. Judging by the excerpts that appear in the New York Times, it sounds wholly sensible. Read in the context of Russia's response to the Magnitsky Act, which included banning the authors of torture such as John Yoo from setting foot in the Russian motherland (a move that he seems to be taking in stride), it provides a further reminder of the degradation left behind by the George W. Bush administration, which claimed to be advancing democracy while acting undemocratically. The point would seem to be simple: you can't purport to stand for human rights abroad even as you systematically violate them. This legacy continues to haunt the CIA, which was suborned into acting illegally and whose new chief, John Brennan, now claims he can't really remember with any degree of exactitude what he did or did not witness during the Bush years. 
The study examined discussion involving President George W. Bush and his top advisers after 9/11 and the how they had considered inflicting “pain and torment on detainees” in custody as part of challenging the “global terrorist threat.” It also examined how detainees were treated by President Bill Clinton and how they have been treated under President Barack Obama.

It was put together by a “Task Force on Detainee Treatment” setup by The Constitution Project, which describes itself as a “national watchdog group that advances bipartisan, consensusbased solutions to some of most difficult constitutional challenges of our time.” The co-chair of the “Task Force” was Asa Hutchinson, a Republican who worked in the Department of Homeland Security under Bush. James R. Jones, who helped President Bill Clinton pass the North-American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), was the other co-chair.

Those behind the report are Beltway-types, people who believe in the Washington Consensus. That is both a strength and a flaw.

As highlighted by the few media organizations that actually bothered to cover the report’s release, the report’s “findings” include the fact that the US government did engage in torture and high-ranking officials were responsible for allowing and contributing to torture.

Bush declared the Geneva Conventions would not apply and authorized “brutal techniques” the CIA was allowed to use on detainees. Secret “black site” prisons were setup by the CIA in countries like Thailand, Poland, Romania and Lithuania, for detention and interrogation. Medical advisors used the” Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape program (SERE) as the basis to fashion a harsh interrogation regime for people captured in the new war against terrorism.” The Justice Department had lawyers that crafted “legal guidance” designed to “allow treatment that amounted to torture.” They drafted memos that limited the “definition of torture to those acts that might implicate organ failure,” which “remain a stain on the image of the United States and a potential aid to repressive regimes elsewhere when they seek approval or justification for their own acts.”

None of this may be news to those who have followed this issue closely, but these findings are part of the consensus that the Constitution Project seeks to build with their report.

In the aftermath of the debate the film Zero Dark Thirty rekindled, the report clearly states, “There is no firm or persuasive evidence that the widespread use of harsh interrogation techniques by U.S. forces produced significant information of value.” It appropriately castigates those who would defend torture techniques:

… [T]hose who make the argument in favor of the efficacy of coercive interrogations face some inherent credibility issues. One of the most significant is that they generally include those people who authorized and implemented the very practices that they now assert to have been valuable tools in fighting terrorism. As the techniques were and remain highly controversial, it is reasonable to note that those former officials have a substantial reputational stake in their claim being accepted. Were it to be shown that the United States gained little or no benefit from practices that arguably violated domestic and international law, history would render a harsh verdict on those who set us on that course… [emphasis added]

Hence, this is why former Counterterrorism Center head Jose Rodriguez, who was part of the decision to destroy torture tapes, wrote a book and has periodically been popping up to defend torture. His reputation and status depends on people thinking what he did worked.

The report acknowledges that prisoners in Guantanamo are being subject to “indefinite detention.” The Obama administration happens to disagree, since they are trying to “close” the prison.

It finds the US “violated its international legal obligations in its practice of the enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention of terror suspects in secret prisons abroad.” The US government knew, when individuals were rendered to countries, that some of those countries were likely to torture those people. And, “US officials involved with detention in the black sites committed acts of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

Again, none of this will be news to people, who have closely followed this issue and even argued former Bush administration officials should be prosecuted and jailed for their involvement in torture. However, the Task Force, in putting together this report, is forcing those in Washington to confront the reality of what the US government actually did in the past twenty or so years.

The report explicitly condemns the Obama administration for “the high level of secrecy surrounding the rendition and torture of detainees since September 11.” It urges the State Department, Pentagon and CIA to “expeditiously declassify and release information pertaining to any secret proxy detention (upon US authority or pursuant to US official requests) occurring abroad.”

It calls on the Executive Branch to declassify the significant 6,000-page Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture that remains classified. It also requests the administration release the following:

The Report of the Special Task Force on Interrogation and Transfer Policies.

The CIA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reports on the deaths of Gul Rahman, Manadel al-Jamadi, and Abed Hamed Mowhoush; the rendition of Khaled El-Masri; the non-registration of “ghost” detainees; the use of unauthorized techniques at CIA facilities; and all OIG reports on the CIA’s interrogation, detention and transfer of detainees.

Investigations by the Armed Forces’ criminal investigative divisions, the chain of command, and the Department of Defense into abuses of detainees by Joint Special Operations Command Special Mission Unit Task Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It highlights how the Obama administration has been explicitly violating the Convention Against Torture by invoking the state secrets privilege in lawsuits brought by torture victims, making it impossible for “the victim of an act of torture” to obtain “redress” for treatment.

The Obama administration has also violated the Convention by refusing to “criminalize all acts of torture, attempts to commit torture or complicity or participation in torture.” In other words, it has contributed to a coverup that has let CIA officers escape accountability, as none have been convicted or charged for crimes committed. “Many acts of unauthorized torture by military forces have also been inadequately investigated or prosecuted.”

There is much more to present from the report and, from now until the weekend, The Dissenter will be highlighting key parts that merit further attention. To conclude, let’s take a brief look at what Hutchison told Scott Shane of The New York Times about the report.

At first, he did not think America had tortured people. It was not “an easy inquiry for me, because I know many of the players.” He said, “It’s incredibly important to have an accurate account not just of what happened but of how decisions were made.” But, he concluded, according to Shane, that “everyone involved in decisions, from Mr. Bush down, had acted in good faith, in a desperate effort to try to prevent more attacks.”

This may be the key flaw of the report: the language downplaying the nature of crimes committed and sometimes even framing it as damaging to America’s “image.”

It was not a mistake, a flaw or some product of the fog of war, that detainees were imprisoned and tortured. Perhaps, a few lower-level soldiers unwittingly found themselves in situations where they were abusing humans and now regret it tremendously. There have been stories of soldiers apologizing for what they did and that should not be overlooked. But, at the highest levels of government, this is what officials wanted to be able to do to terror suspects to “win” the war: torture.

There is no “good faith” in torturing people, especially when you are someone like John Yoo, who worked in the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) under Attorney General John Ashcroft and consciously crafted legal guidance so CIA officers and military interrogators could get away with using torture techniques on detainees. But, this is similar to how there are so many willing to say Bush made “mistakes” and “failures” when deciding to invade Iraq, even though officials manipulated fabricated intelligence to sell Americans on the idea that the US had no choice but to go to war.

The Task Force’s report adds to the ever-increasing body of evidence that the Bush administration committed war crimes and the Obama administration has sought to cover it up or distract from this reality. It is made clear that the public is reading this report because Obama did not favor any sort of “truth commission” that would address abuses and crimes committed by Bush officials.

In conclusion, the report should revitalize efforts toward declassifying key reports and pushing for accountability for officials responsible for clear crimes. While this may not seem possible, it is what is owed to the victims of torture and all who are cleared for release in the Guantanamo Bay prison but remain there in indefinite detention.

April 16, 2013

Bush and Members of His Admin Knew and Ordered Torture

A variety of Torture, the Iron Maiden and Nuremberg used in dark days 

The Constitution Project, a nonpartisan organization led by former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR), who served as undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security under the Bush administration, said in a newly-released 577-page report that President Bush and his administration knowingly ordered torture, reports the New York Times.
“After conducting our own two-year investigation, weighing the credibility of all sources and studying the current public record, we have come to the regrettable, but unavoidable, conclusion that the United States did indeed engage in conduct that is clearly torture,” Hutchinson said in a press release.
“What sets the United States apart as a world leader, in addition to our military might, are our values and respect for the rule of law. All the available evidence led us to conclude that, for many of these detainees, the U.S. violated both international law and treaties and our own laws, greatly diminishing America’s ability to forge important alliances around the world,” added former Rep. James R. Jones (D-OK).

“This has not been an easy inquiry for me, because I know many of the players,” Hutchinson told the New York Times. “But I just think we learn from history. It’s incredibly important to have an accurate account not just of what happened but of how decisions were made.”
“We went to a lot of trouble to find out what we could do, how far we could go, what was legal and so forth,” former Vice President Dick Cheney said in 2011, according toDailyCaller.com. “Out of that emerged what we called enhanced interrogation. It worked. It provided some absolutely vital pieces of intelligence. It was a good program. It was a legal program. It was not torture. I would strongly recommend we continue it.”

The Obama administration has refused to prosecute anyone from the Bush administration who ordered or performed torture.
President Reagan signed the United Nations Convention Against Torture in 1988.
.
 By Michael Allen


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