Saturday, December 13, 2014

Torture is torture - outsourced, hidden, denied, or justified as part of "The War On Terror," it's still torture






This documentary explores the American military's use of torture by focusing on the unsolved murder of an Afghani taxi driver who, in 2002, was taken for questioning at Bagram Force Air Base. Five days later, the man was dead. The medical examiner claimed the driver died from excessive physical abuse.  Taking this case as a jumping-off point, the film examines wider claims of torture that occurred at bases like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay during the Bush administration.
Initial release: January 18, 2008 (Los Angeles)
Director: Alex Gibney
Initial DVD release: September 30, 2008
Screenplay: Alex Gibney
Producers: Alex Gibney, Susannah Shipman, Eva Orner

Torture - The new orange.

On Tuesday, the now infamous and heavily redacted version of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's Executive Summary to the "Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program," aka, "The Torture Report," was finally released.  The bi-partisan committee "Report" has been a giant bone of contention between the CIA and the committee for years, even culminating in the attempt of the CIA, under John Brennan, to hack into the computers of the SSCI in an attempt to spy on and steal much of the documentation that is contained in the report.

Finally, we have confirmation of, at least, some of that which was so feared by the CIA. The Summary details just a bit of the evidence proving the CIA's blatant disregard for US Law (U.S. Code Title 18: Part I: Chapter 113C: § 2340 and § 2340A) and International law (Human Rights Watch, "The Legal Prohibition Against Torture", March 11, 2003. Please note, HRW has been reporting on allegations of torture by the US since 2003), not to mention the universal moral and ethical laws of humanity, using torture and abuse on multiple "suspects" and "detainees" (prisoners of war) captured, bought, sold, kidnapped and renditioned without regard for those laws nor the consequences of their actions on America as well as the rest of the world.

To call the CIA Torture Program - euphemistically called "EIT", or "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" - short-sighted is giving war criminals too much credit.  We must call it what it is - the acts of war criminals; acts of crimes against humanity and acts of those with a blatant disregard for all that we creatures claim to hold sacred, not the least of which:


"...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness..."

("Declaration of Independence," IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776. "The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America")

But does this "Summary" go far enough?  Did the investigation go far enough?

We may never get the final 6,000 pages of the full report released. If we do, I suspect that it will be so heavily redacted that journalists and scholars will try for years to reconstruct information and determine what, who, where, how much, and by whom, was committed in the name of the American people.

Keep in mind, we, as a nation, are no more or less than that which is done in our name by those entrusted with acting on our behalf.

The "public" is shocked - well many of us are.  Many are enraged; others try to justify it to themselves with the same lame denials, excuses and lies perpetuated by those who have been caught  with wet towel, black hood or rectal rehydration tube in hand or in memory of their approval (John Brennan, Dick Cheney, George Bush, James Mitchell)

A few of us have been paying attention and some have been hammering on US policies of torture and abuse (and it is not just the CIA) for years.  These are just some of the journalists and researchers who dedicated themselves and their time to bring the stories to light going as far back as 2004:
  • Jason Leopold (self described described "Muckraker" and government agency described "FOIA terrorist") of Vice News, author, journalist, and now documentary producer, his articles have appeared in "Al Jazeera America", "TruthOut", "The Guardian", "The Public Record", and other prestigious publications.
  • Jeffrey Kaye, psychologist, journalist, whose articles have appeared in "The Public Record," "FireDogLake," "Alternet"and "TruthOut."
  • Seymour Hersh, investigative journalist, often published in "The New Yorker" and other publications
  • Glenn Greenwald, now with "The Intercept," constitutional attorney turned journalist, best known for articles on surveillance, government spying and the NSA, but has been writing about the US government's abuse of powers after 9/11, since 2005.  Formerly with "The Guardian," and "Salon.com". 
  • Jeremy Scahill, now with "The Intercept," investigative journalist and author of, "Dirty Wars" and the documentary of the same name.  Formerly of "Democracy Now" and has published in "The Nation" and other magazines
  • Whistleblowers to include former guards, a former CIA member (the only prosecution to ever come out of the CIA torture program has been the prosecution of a CIA whistleblower and that was under the Obama Administration.  John Kiriakou still sits in prison after pleading guilty in 2012, for revealing information on the torture policy of the CIA), former military personnel. and many others who have tried and been stopped.


The summary of the "Torture Report," highly discussed as it is, doesn't cover the entire matter.  Not even close.  What it does not discuss is anything or anyone outside the CIA from 2001 through early 2009.


This image of Ali Shallal al-Qaisi being tortured
has become internationally famous, eventually
making it onto the cover of The Economist


What we learned from Abu Ghraib - we know the Department of Defense has tortured

In 2003, the story of Abu Ghraib, the DOD (Dept. of Defense) run Baghdad Central Prison in Iraq, broke.  After a not so transparent "review", the Bush Administration determined the abuses at Abu Ghraib to be just "a few bad apples."  That didn't fly.


Charles Graner poses over the dead body of an Iraqi prisoner. The body of Manadel al-Jamadi, dubbed the "Iceman", wrapped in cellophane and packed in ice, believed to have been taken at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, Iraq. Manadel was tortured and died in US custody on 4 November 2003.

Abuse, torture and homicide were revealed at the prison that was to have been under the "watchful" eye of the DOD.  The DOD eventually removed 17 soldiers and officers from duty at Abu Ghraib.  11 soldiers were convicted of various charges relating to the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib (to include maltreatment, aggravated assault and battery but no charges of torture) and each one of the convictions included a charge of "dereliction of duty" - most of these soldiers only received "minor sentences".  Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, in charge of all "detention centers" in Iraq, was demoted to "Colonel" and reprimanded. 3 soldiers were either cleared or not charged. As far as the homicide death of Manadel al-Jamadi.- no one was ever charged or convicted - one person was granted full immunity.

Then there was the "Romper Room" - an interrogation chamber maintained by the CIA and the US military at the at Baghdad Airport. The disclosure of this Romper Room came out during testimony given at the court martial of Navy Lieutenant Andrew Ledford, the commander of the SEAL team that captured Manadel al-Jamadi, the prisoner who later died at Abu Ghraib. Ledford was accused of allowing al-Jamadi to be severely beaten; tried through court martial; but cleared of the charges.

The description of al-Jamadi's treatment at the Romper Room (from Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Torture ProgramBy Stephen Grey, 2007, Macmillan. p. 161. ISBN 9780312360245):
"The SEALs took al-Jamadi back to their Navy camp near Baghdad Airport, Camp Jenny Pozzi. The commander of the SEAL platoon, Lieutenant Andrew Ledford, was later put on trial at a court-martial in San Diego, accused of allowing al-Jamadi to be severely beaten. He was cleared by the jury of the charge of improper conduct. But in testimony, witnesses testified that al-Jamadi was punched, kicked, and struck by the SEALs at the camp, among other places in a tiney space known as the Romper Room. Al-Jamadi was stripped, and water was poured all over him. Among those there were the SEALs and CIA officers, the latter including an interrogator and polygraph expert named Mark Swanner and "Clint C," a private contract translator for the agency."



Finally, we have testimony and accounts from former guards and an MP who have spoken out - Brandon Neely, Terry Holdbrooks, Christopher Arendt and Joe Hickman.


From Brandon Neely's interview with UC Davis' Guantanamo Testimonials Project:

Any incidents of abuse soon after the arrival of detainees?

There are a couple things that I remember seeing first-hand that come to my mind and that I believe were totally unjust and just plain abuse. I am not sure of the dates or times when they occurred, but it wasn't too long into the beginning of Camp X-Ray.

One night I was assigned to Charlie Block as a block guard. The medic was handing medication out on the block. He made his way over to one detainee on the block and instructed him to drink a can of Ensure (a lot of detainees were given this since they were underweight and malnourished). The detainee refused to take the Ensure. The medic told him multiple times to take it and the detainee still refused. The medic then went and told the block NCOIC of the situation. The block NCOIC then went to the detainee and gave him the same instructions to take the can of Ensure. Once again the detainee refused to follow these orders. Next the on duty OIC (or Officer in Charge) was notified of the situation. The OIC then made his way to the block where a discussion went on about the situation and the conclusion was that the detainee could not refuse any medications at all. The camp OIC then went over to the detainee and gave him the same instruction to drink the Ensure or, if he refused, he would be forced to take it. Once again he refused to drink it.

The call was made on the radio for the IRF team. The IRF team entered the block where they were met by the OIC and the medic. They were told of the situation and advised once they entered the cell they were to restraint the detainee so the medic could give him the can of Ensure. The IRF team then started to approach the cage the detainee was in. Since I was on the block I walked on the other side of the cage so I could watch what was going on. Once the IRF team was lined up and got in position to enter the cell the OIC unlocked the lock and pulled it off and opened the cage door. The detainee just stood there, facing the IRF team. BOOM! the Number One Man hit the detainee with shield causing him to fall to the cement floor of the cage. Quickly the whole team was on top of the detainee. I could not see exactly what they were doing. They stood him up and hand-cuffed him to fence in the cage. The person who had the shield held the detainee's head so he could not move. The medic then entered the cage with the can of Ensure. Once he entered the cage he looked up and saw me. He then motioned for me to move over to my left (his right). So I moved over. I did not think anything about it. He then opened the Ensure can, grabbed the detainee by the neck, and started to pour it down his throat. The detainee was attempting to move his head, and he wouldn't swallow any of it. The Ensure just ran down his face all over him.

The medic looked up one quick time and punched the detainee twice on the left side of his face with his right fist. The medic then just turned around and walked out of the cage like nothing happened. The detainee was then un-handcuffed from the cage and laid down on the cement in the cage. He was then hog-tied. He laid in this position for a couple hours.

When the whole incident was over I turned around and noticed the guard tower where the Marines were stationed watching over and realized that the medic had placed me in front of the view of the tower and I had not even realized it.

I later learned through other detainees on the block the reason the man refused the Ensure was that he thought he was being poisoned.


That was a ghastly incident…

One day, while on duty at Camp X-Ray, I was assigned to escorting duties. I was at the very back of the camp. There was like a big shed there. This was also where the IRF team was stationed at until called upon. On this day the call came for the IRF team to come to Bravo Block. They made their way to the block and, at the time, I was not doing anything, so I made my way down to the block to watch from the outside of the block. The situation on the block was that a detainee had called a female MP "bitch" a couple times. For punishment, the IRF team was called upon to enter the cage and hog-tie the detainee. The female MP was very upset, yelling "Whip his ass!"

The IRF team, along with the camp OIC, approached the detainee's cage and told him to stop yelling and lay down so he could be restrained. The detainee just stood there, staring at them. The IRF team lined up in position to enter the cage. The OIC unlocked the lock on the cage door and, when this was done, the detainee turned around, went to his knees and placed his hands on the top of his head. The lock was taken off and the cage door was opened. The Number One Man on the IRF team tossed his shield to the side and, with a quick run towards the detainee, hopped in the air and came down on the back of the detainee with his knee (the Number One guy on the IRF team was no small guy). This caused the detainee to fall to the cement floor of the cage with the Number One Man on top of him. Then the whole IRF team was on top of him hitting, punching, and kicking him. It seemed like a long time, but in reality it lasted 15-20 seconds.

While the IRF team was still on top of the detainee someone yelled for the female MP that was called a bitch. She entered the cage and she punched the detainee a couple times in the head and then left the cage. Everyone in the cage stood up and the detainee laid there cuffed-up but motionless and unresponsive. Next thing I saw were medics coming from the medical house with a stretcher. They left the block with the detainee on the stretcher; they took him to a waiting military ambulance and was transported to the main hospital. The IRF team would ride along with the detainee. I went back to work not fully knowing what was wrong or what happened to the detainee.

Later that night, after we had been off for a while, the IRF team came back from the hospital. They would go on and talk about how they hit and punched the detainee and how they held him down so the female MP could hit him a couple times. They went on to talk about the ambulance ride saying no one spoke and it was a very silent ride. One of them even stated the detainee went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance. I do not know if this statement is true or not. I know the camp OIC of this incident would joke many times about how he never heard his name and "war crimes" in the same sentence so many times in his life.

Eventually the detainee would return back to the camp from the hospital. About a week or so later I was assigned to work Bravo Block, and the block NCOIC happened to be a member of the IRF team. He was the Number One Man of the day of this incident. When the NCOIC walked onto the block a detainee named Feroz Abbasi yelled "Sergeant, have you come back to finish him off?"

(Later in the same interview).....
What about medical abuse?

I know that detainees could not refuse medication or it would be forced upon them as I stated in previous incidents. The detainees knew they would be IRFed if they refused, so many of them just took the medications so they would not be IRFed. And I know this since I was told tis many times from some of the detainees there.

I talked about the detainee who came to Camp X-Ray wounded from a .50 caliber. His bicep had attached to his forearm due to the fact his arm was in the sling for so long. I escorted this detainee to medical a couple times for physical therapy as he could not bend his arm down at all. On one occasion, when I escorted him there the medic began to massage the area that was attached and he kept rubbing harder and harder to the point the detainee started to cry and squirm all over the bed. The medic stopped massaging and started to stretch the detainee's arm down a little at a time. You could tell this was very painful and uncomfortable for him. The medic said "You really want to watch him scream." Then he stretched the arm all the way down until it was straight out on the bed. The detainee started screaming loud and crying. The medic finally put his arm back up and did it again. And then he said he was finished with the physical therapy. The whole time the medic just laughed at what he was doing. We then escorted the detainee back to his cage.

I witnessed the "physical therapy" sessions a couple of times, and never had it went the way I described it above. Usually they would just massage the area for a bit, then stretch the arm a little bit just to the point it got uncomfortable to him. But the medic that did this therapy was not the same one that I saw before.

From Terry Holdbrooks' Cageprisoners interview:

CP: Right, OK. So during the time that you were doing this, did you ever witness abuse of detainees, or indeed their torture?

TH: Oh, a number of times. Which one would you like to talk about first--there are different categories of that--there’s interrogation, there’s simple on-the-block procedure, there’s ERF squad procedures--which I don’t believe Chris touched on--Emergency Response Force…

Some of the interrogation tactics--what I’ve come to learn about the American news is, if I read CNN and then I read the exact same article on Al-Jazeera, and I battle between the two of them and come to a happy medium, I’ll probably found the truth. I say with the example of that, for a long time, CNN denied any time of wrongdoing, any type of religious oppression or wrongdoing that ever occurred down in Guantanamo, when I had seen Qur’an’s thrown in toilets, I had seen Qur’ans picked up with a left hand, I had heard a good number and witnessed a good number of guards cussing about a Qur’an or prayer for that matter, ‘Oh, don’t touch this f****** Qur’an’, and that sort of thing--not entirely polite, but nonetheless as I said I’ve seen them thrown in toilets, I’ve seen them spat on--some of that happened quite often.

With interrogation, there was a good number of times when we’d have downtime or whatnot, and we’d sit in the same building that the interrogation would be going on in, and there’d be detainees that would be locked up for hours in horrible positions--for hours upon hours upon hours, in a room that might be fifty degrees, might be sixty degrees, might be colder, mind you they had a very thin jump suit on, and nothing else, with nothing but a strobe light playing and unbelievably loud music, some of which I reflect back on--some of which at a time I was a fan of--music I enjoyed, but to an average listener--a random Joe listening to that music, it was not anything anybody would like. Very often they would play music, and the idea that you were being subjected to for six, eight, ten hours--even I couldn’t listen to a song I enjoy for that long--I’d go crazy.

There was a day that came around where we had to issue flu shots to every detainee, and obviously I can understand that due to the circumstances, maybe one, maybe two; maybe a few detainees decided they were going to take advantage of this to create some kind of uproar, and state that perhaps it wasn’t a flu shot--perhaps it was going to be something that was going to kill them. So this caused an uproar--it spread through the camps quite quickly--it seems that within twenty minutes every block within the camp had this idea--that they shouldn’t get their shot--that their shot was bad, it was a horrible thing, it was going to kill them. Quite amazing actually, here are all these dirt farmers, who have no intelligence, at least that is what the army would tell us, and they can get a message through the entire Camp Delta with all the barriers in place, language, cells, construction, isolation, in 20 minutes. So what resulted--what should’ve been maybe a four hour process ended up becoming a day and a half, a two day process--for us to give every detainee their flu shot. And more often than not, how that worked was with an ERF squad--an Emergency Response Force, where one individual--the bigger individual (usually a redneck--there was no intelligence whatsoever), would be holding a giant shield, and he would go running into the cell with four other guards behind him. And they would run, they would tackle or slam a detainee into the wall, or his bench or his faucet, whatever. And then in the quickest, not very caring lackadaisical manner, subdue him and restrain him with the shackles, and after that give him his shot. So a good number of times that happened, detainee’s hands were stepped on and injured, or had their stomachs intentionally kicked in, or perhaps their hand slammed in the door and broken--a number of things like that occurred--it wasn’t an uncommon practice

From Chris Arendt's interview with UC Davis Guantanamo Testimonials Project:

There are two specific things I would like to address about the operation of Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. One is the issue of torture. I've heard a lot of speculation as to what torture is considered. First and foremost, I would like to ask of everyone (well, I don't really expect an answer, but I just, for your own considerations) whether or not living inside of a cell for five years, away from your family and your friends, without ever been given any answers as to why you're there, asking 19-year old boys that don't have any idea about the policy of our government and the politics that make these things happen why they're there. And the answers that we weren't able to give. I consider that torture [APPLAUSE].

But if that weren't enough (if that wasn't enough), there were other methods as well to make certain that we got around to torturing these people. As I said earlier, I dispatched the detainee movements. I would come into the office at 4:30 in the morning and sometimes there would be a little paper in the wall with a number on it which represented a detainee --which represented a detainee inside of an interrogation room. An interrogation room which was anywhere from maybe 10, 20 degrees in temperature, with loud music playing, and that detainee had been there for an indeterminate amount of time. And sometimes that detainee would stay there for my entire 12 to 14 hour shifts. Shackled to the floor by his hands and his feet. With nothing to sit on. With loud music playing in the freezing cold. And I guess that's torture too.

Depends on who you ask. I hear that there is an official list of things that are and are not torture. Waterboarding is. This is not. If my recent example is not torture… I can't believe that a human being could even write a list like that, but [APPLAUSE].

The other issue I would like to address is the common usage of the instantaneous reactionary force [sic] which is a five-man team that is established on the day every day. It is a rotating force [over] whoever is on the camp at that time. They make the teams in the morning. If, by any chance the detainee is unsatisfied with his stay, and becomes rowdy, five grown men which have been all eating well--which is a privilege these detainees are usually not allowed--are fitted with riot gear and a shield and are lined up outside of a cell while the platoon leader of that particular camp sprays the detainee in the face with OC [Oleoresin Capsicum or pepper] spray. I don't know who in here has been sprayed with OC spray, but I'm positive that anybody that has would never want it to happen again. I had that happen to me, and I certainly feel that's probably been one of the worst moments of my life. It was an incredibly intensely painful experience, and I would never ever want anyone to have this happen again (have this happen to them, I'm sorry).

And after spraying the detainee with this (which put me on my knees for probably two to three hours afterwards, and in a great deal of pain for the next three days because it is oil-based and it's incredibly painful), these five men would rush in and take whatever opportunity as they could to--usually, they ought not, I have to state, because they did make a book about it; it is called the SOP [Standard Operating Procedures] and it does not state that you should beat the S-word out of detainees, but, I guess that some people just decided that that's what they were going to do anyway.
And Joseph Hickman, former Staff Sergeant at Guantanamo, - who testified that 3 detainees who had died at Guantanamo did not die from suicide -  goes to "Harper's" with the story.  Here is the story as told by Scott Horton, journalist for "Harper's," at Democracy Now:





Yes, the CIA tortured but so did JSOC, the US DOD and it's arms, The US Army, the Navy Seals, contractors and personnel but the Military side was not addressed in the summary nor is it being addressed by the MSM.  Only a few people are reminding us of this fact.

The story of Bagram,  the (COBALT)"Salt Pit," and more - continuing "The War On Terror" under the Obama Administration

Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, using his candidacy to vent "outrage" at the continued denial of "habeas corpus rights," abuse, the use of Black Sites, and the operation of Guantanamo under the GW Bush Administration.  He made promises to restore habeas corpus rights, close those Black Sites and close Guantanamo.

On August 1, 2014, President Obama finally admitted,"we tortured some folks" (some?), but as noted by Jason Leopold on Twitter that same day, Obama stated that when he came to office, he banned "some" of the interrogation techniques:



The direct quote from Obama's speech:

"After I took office, one of the first things I did was to ban some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques that are the subject of that report.  And my hope is that this report reminds us once again that, you know, the character of our country has to be measured in part not by what we do when things are easy, but what we do when things are hard."
President Barack Obama may have banned "some" of those techniques but, obviously, not all.

In April, 2010. the BBC's Hilary Andersson in Bagram, published a report, "Afghans 'abused at secret prison' at Bagram airbase," based on accounts from multiple sources recounting their tales of torture after Obama took office, at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan.  From the report:

Afghan prisoners are being abused in a "secret jail" at Bagram airbase, according to nine witnesses whose stories the BBC has documented.
The abuses are all said to have taken place since US President Barack Obama was elected, promising to end torture.
The US military has denied the existence of a secret detention site and promised to look into allegations.
Bagram was the site of a controversial jail holding hundreds of inmates, who have now been moved to another complex.
The old prison was notorious for allegations of prisoner torture and abuse.
But witnesses told the BBC in interviews or written testimony that abuses continue in a hidden facility. 
Sleep deprivation

"They call it the Black Hole," said Sher Agha who spent six days in the facility last autumn.

"When they released us they told us we should not tell our stories to outsiders because that will harm us."

"I could not sleep, nobody could sleep because there was a machine that was making noise," said Mirwais, who said he was held in the secret jail for 24 days.
"There was a small camera in my cell, and if you were sleeping they'd come in and disturb you," he added.

The prisoners, who were interviewed separately, all told very similar stories. Most of them said they had been beaten by American soldiers at the point of arrest before being taken to the prison.

Mirwais had half a row of teeth missing, which he said was from being struck with the butt of a gun by an American soldier.

No-one said they were visited by the International Committee of the Red Cross during their detention at the site, and they all said that their families did not know where they were.

In the small concrete cells, the prisoners said, a light was on all the time. They said they could not tell if it was night or day and described this as very disturbing.

Mirwais said he was made to dance to music by American soldiers every time he wanted to use the toilet.

The ex-prisoners said they were imprisoned at the secret jail before being taken to the main detention centre at the Bagram airbase, a new complex called The Detention Facility in Parwan.

From Der Spiegel, "The Forgotten Guantanamo: Prisoner Abuse Continues at Bagram Prison in Afghanistan," By Matthias Gebauer, John Goetz and Britta Sandberg, September 21, 2009:
US President Barack Obama has spoken out against CIA prisoner abuse and wants to close Guantanamo. But he tolerates the existence of Bagram military prison in Afghanistan, where more than 600 people are being held without charge. The facility makes Guantanamo look like a "nice hotel," in the words of one military prosecutor.

The day that Raymond Azar was taken by force to Bagram was a quiet day in Kabul. There were no attacks and the sun was shining.

Azar, who is originally from Lebanon, is the manager of a construction company. He was on his way to Camp Eggers, the American military base near the presidential palace, when 10 armed FBI agents suddenly surrounded him.

The men, all wearing bulletproof vests, put him in handcuffs, tied him up and pushed him into an SUV. Two hours later, they unloaded Azar at the Bagram military prison 50 kilometers (31 miles) northeast of Kabul.

As Azar later testified, he was forced to sit for seven hours, his hands and feet tied to a chair. He spent the night in a cold metal container, and he received no food for 30 hours. He claimed that US military officers showed him photos of his wife and four children, telling him that unless he cooperated he would never see his family again. He also said that he was photographed while naked and then given a jumpsuit to wear.....

On that day, April 7, 2009, President Barack Obama had been in office for exactly 77 days. Shortly after his inauguration, Obama had ordered the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention center and ordered the CIA to give up its secret "black site" prisons. He wanted to shed the dark legacy of the Bush years -- there should be no torture any more, no more secret kidnapping operations of terrorism suspects, no renditions. At least, that was what Obama had promised. He did not mention Bagram in his speeches....

Bagram is "the forgotten second Guantanamo," says American military law expert Eugene Fidell, a professor at Yale Law School. "But apparently there is a continuing need for this sort of place even under the Obama administration."

Then there is this report from Somalia ("The Nation." Jeremy Scahill).  Jeremy Scahill in an interview for "Democracy Now":



video

Part I

video

Part II



The US government, through it's intelligence and military "watch dog" agencies, has committed numerous crimes against humanity.  It took 13 years for the government to finally allow just a tiny bit of the information to be seen by the public and even that has been redacted, homogenized and limited to a simple summary from a 6700 page report on the investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence consisting only of a review of CIA documents.

The revelations of that Executive Summary, called "torture" by members of the Intelligence Committee, are still denied as torture by the President and those "watchdog" agencies who would prefer they just all went away.  Speeches about "looking forward" or "moving forward" mean little more than "let's forget about all this nonsense".  Denials echoed through the press by perpetrators, planners and apologists are little more than attempts to cover, smokescreen and confuse the basic and simple fact that the US government tortures and continues to want the option to torture.

President Obama and his administration still refuse to admit to or to hold anyone accountable for the crimes against humanity committed in the name of all citizens of the United States and many appear to be continuing today under his administration.  His DOJ has already closed all open cases involving claims of torture and abuse, fought to deny habeas corpus rights to prisoners held at Guantanamo, fought to continue abusive acts on those prisoners (force-feeding, genital searches, isolation), and fought to keep whistleblowers from coming forward by prosecuting them, even torturing them.

To admit to and prosecute the crimes of torture and abuse from the previous administration would cause the current administration multiple problems, not the least of which could be charges and prosecution for acts after Barack Obama took office..  Politically, prosecution of the Bush Administration could only assure retribution and retaliation by a Republican Congress against the current president, current and future Democratic Party members in Congress, and any Democratic Party member elected to the Presidency in the future, similar to the GOP response after the resignation of Richard Nixon. Globally, the admission and prosecution could open the door for international sanctions as well as prosecution in the International Court.

Our own laws define "Torture" as:
18 U.S. Code § 2340 - Definitions

(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality; and
(3) “United States” means the several States of the United States, the District of Columbia, and the commonwealths, territories, and possessions of the United States.

But the US government, charged with enforcing the law, has proven, repeatedly to do everything possible to keep from enforcing the law.  Too much would be lost - politically, economically and socially by those who protect war criminals.

Prosecution of these crimes would prevent other presidents from continuing the paradigm of "The War on Terror" - for what is that war but just an excuse to act criminally abroad?

Unfortunately, until the rest of the world forces the US to be accountable, we will deny all responsibility and accountability.

It remains up to the journalists and whistleblowers to continue to expose our acts of criminality and terror;  to confront the criminal conspiracy called "The War on Terror."

And it remains up to the people to demand change - to demand a stop to torture, to demand a stop to the abuse of people around the world, and to demand and end to "The War on Terror".



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The executive summary of SSIC Torture Report is released, sort of - Will it really make a damn bit of difference?






"Hubris consists in doing and saying things that cause shame to the victim…simply for the pleasure of it. Retaliation is not hubris, but revenge.…Young men and the rich are hubristic because they think they are better than other people."


~ Aristotle, "Rhetoric"

“The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.”
~Wade Davis, Anthropologist/Ethnobotanist




After September 11, 2001, the world changed for America (again).  We were shocked out of our complacency and into abject fear.  "It can't happen here" proved false - it can and did (again).

For the third time in a matter of a few decades, the nation was attacked - twice by al Qaeda on the same building - but to the average American, the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon was the first time, in their awareness, that the real world came crashing into their living rooms.  

Fear does a lot of things to people - it can cause blood pressure to rise,  acting out, and a flight into hubris and vengeance.  We did it all.

The War on Terror - just another name for exceptionalist hubris

Today, the US, finally, admitted to torture - sort of.  We still refuse to accept the term. We still call it "enhanced interrogation".  Just a bit nicer.  Kind of like calling the men stolen from their families and sold to the US for $5000 a head by anyone and everyone, "detainees"; or calling the flagship of Black Sites sitting on Guantanamo, a "detention center."

No, we aren't "capable" of TORTURE - After all, the god of willful ignorance and arrogance, Ronald Reagan, said it was illegal; the UN said it was illegal; the US said it was illegal...This "Nation of Laws" went into a fugue state forgetting we have always BEEN a nation of torture (Trail of Tears, Andersonville, Abner Louima - I won't recount here the anecdotal stories of Intel Spooks ordering American soldiers to get buckets of water to be used on POWs in the jungles of Vietnam ...I think I've made the point).  This "Nation of Laws" is still a nation of torture (Force-feeding prisoners of war at Guantanamo, use of isolation in all prisons - to include Guantanamo -  and in "adolescent treatment centers").

The War On Terror just gave us sanction to torture more and then claim it was all for "the greater good" but there is no good, only more fear, anger and hate that comes with torture.

The War on Terror is a scam to appease otherwise thoughtful people into accepting and even justifying our blatant inhumanity and into believing we are exceptional,  yet we have proven to be anything BUT exceptional by our ignorance, cognitive dissonance and our inhumanity.

(USA, USA, Fuck yeah!).

To this very day, the CIA (and its paramours from Hayden to Kerry to the rest of the imperialist fools we have allowed to be in office), is, still, trying to deny its policy of human rights abuse;  policy of war crimes; policy of torture.  It is, still, attempting to smokescreen with justifications, denials, and "threat alerts" - sounds like the Bush days of "Yellow Alert" at every election, "Yellow Alert" when the people began to question, "Yellow Alert" when some us were in the streets screaming, "No More!" to torture.

Yesterday, Mark Udall said we "will be disgusted!"

Yes, Senator Mark, we should be disgusted but we should have been disgusted all along.  We all knew it was happening, we had ample information - reports by the IRC, HRW, AI. even the friggin' State Department have been released over the past 7 years...all with public access.  Even the MSM in the US - that bunch of sanctimonious corporate whores manipulating the news as they see most profitable - reported on the reports and the evidence compiled by organizations around the world.

Whistleblowers Brandon Neely,  Terry Holdbrooks, and Chris Arendt have been speaking out since 2008; UC Davis' The Guantánamo Testimonials Project has been on line for 6 years!

An Iraqi detainee appears to be restrained after having suffered injuries to both legs at Abu Ghraib.
It is unclear whether his injuries were from dog bites.
"Use of Dogs to Scare Prisoners Was Authorized
Military Intelligence Personnel Were Involved, Handlers Say"
By Josh White and Scott Higham
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, June 11, 2004; Page A01

We had Abu Ghraib and no one really believed it was "a few bad apples".  Well, at least, no one with an attention span longer than a Rovian soundbite and the ability and curiosity to use the "googles."

Then there is John Kiriakou, former CIA, now in prison for his whistleblowing on CIA torture.

"How 'bout them Broncos?" ("USA!  USA! Fuck, yeah!)

Today is the day when a few more people might get a clue as to the evil committed by men in our name.  Something the rest of the world already knew for over a decade.


Now what will the people of the US do?  Oh, right - Thursday Night Football is coming up - Rams and the Cardinals,  YAY!

The Senate Select Intelligence Committee's Torture Report, has yet to be released - only 500 pages of the original 600 page executive summary, culled of any real blame, homogenized and redacted to protect the not so innocent, will be the discussion of a few journalists over the coming weeks.

The summary will be inspected, dissected, and regurgitated in university classrooms and in a few newspapers.

Partisan bloggers will link to it and use it to browbeat the "other" side as the 2016 elections roll out.

Some of us will continue to scream about torture and our inhumanity.

But will the general public learn anything from the experience or will it just fall back into the complacency and willful ignorance that has plagued us for decades?

Will the cognitive dissonance and hubris of exceptionalism remain standard operating procedure?


USA, USA, Fuck, yeah!



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

From the IBT: "NSA Reform Could Split GOP Hawks, Libertarians"




Common Cause:
A joint interest, as in “The common cause against the enemies of piety” (from John Dryden's poem, Religio laici, or a Layman's Faith, 1682). This term originated as to make common cause (with), meaning “to unite one's interest with another's.”
[common cause. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms 
by Christine Ammer. Houghton Mifflin Company. 
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/common cause 
(accessed: November 25, 2014).]

The people of the US are so balkanized, is it even possible to get those factions, separated by their own blind adherence to their isolating ideologies, to work together in common cause?

**********


Efforts to curb the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of American phone metadata were dealt a blow with the defeat of the USA Freedom Act on Nov. 18. With a 58-42 vote, the bill failed to attract the 60 votes necessary to clear the Senate filibuster. With Republicans taking control of Congress in January, privacy advocates…

Monday, November 24, 2014

Racism lives here. After over 250 years, yes, Racism does live here!

St. Louis Symphony - Protest for Michel Brown

Tonight, as the Grand Jury, charged with reviewing the Darren Wilson shooting of Michael Brown,  announces their decision...

The media hype and the government incitement to violence leads to this moment and this moment was always going to be a major let down for the people.

Governor Nixon has hammered the "State of Emergency" propaganda for over a week now; Ferguson's nearly all white police force, loaded with over $100,000 in new tear gas balls and munitions, are chomping at the bit; State and federal anything-but-"peace" officers are ready to descend.

Nothing like setting up self-fulfilling prophecies.

The people - they are angry, scared and in mourning.  After 50 years, Civil Rights in America; Human rights in America are little more than a few words sprinkled throughout speeches by politicians pandering for election.  We heard it from Obama (habeas corpus rights, human rights, civil rights) in 2008 and we are shown even he doesn't give a crap about them.  We hear it from senatorial candidates, US Representative candidates, gubernatorial candidates all the way down to city council men and women - all great soundbites until those polls are counted and nary a word after the election...The blood and the hate, the stupidity and the blatant disregard for humanity is institutionalized in this nation.

Michael Brown Jr. (Screenshot from CBS/AP News Report)

Michael Brown was gunned down by a police officer in Ferguson, MO,  but this is not just about Michael Brown.  That young man from a suburban community outside of St. Louis, MO, is now a symbol for something much bigger than even he could have ever fathomed.  He is a symbol for all the hundreds of young men and women abused and assaulted; slaughtered in their streets by police forces gone rogue - and those forces are the face of the government that never, ever gave a crap about young men and women that might not be quite white.

Racism does live in America and it is thriving - It thrives through the 350,000 KKK (their figures though intelligent sources say it is 3,000 to 8,000) still actively racist and actively acting on that hate filled willful ignorance daily after 140 years; America's oldest, organized, white boys hate mob is still accepted, denied, ignored and allowed - along with  their brother and sister gangs of Skinheads, Neo-Nazis, Aryan Brotherhood and the rest of the fearfully stupid actively acting out against everyone not them.  But they are not the problem -  they are just the throbbing, oozing pustules on the diseased body of exceptionalism known as the United States of America.  

The US Supreme Court claims there is no more racism in America as people continue to be balkanized by race, color, creed, religion, gender, lifestyle and every other "category" anyone can name. 


Racism is bred through fear and ignorance - something our government, at all levels, has become very adept at manipulating.   They want us all balkanized and fighting since it keeps us, as a body, ineffectual .


We throw people in prisons, torture them, deny them their humanity and claim it is for "national security" and "freedom"; we allow our police to bully and beat protesters; gun people down in their homes and in the streets; harass and abuse the people and they get a pass.  The US government has armed small towns and major cities with all their excess military equipment and turned them into war zones - occupied.

Ferguson is a microcosm of the United States diseased body and the people are finally saying enough once again.  The people are in the streets; the lines are drawn; the dye is cast...

Whatever happens tonight and in the following days is on the head of the corrupt and bullying  government that has baited the people and the people have risen.

People of Ferguson, activists of America - It is now time to tear down that wall of racism and hate that is institutionalized in the US government balkanizing us all.

Time to join together and stop being balkanized.

Tear down that wall! 

Carry on.

Friday, November 14, 2014

From Newsweek: Leahy's NSA Surveillance Reform Bill Pushed Forward for Vote in Senate

From Debating Europe
Introduced by Patrick Leahy (D-VT) last July, S.2685, aka, "USA FREEDOM Act of 2014," was introduced last July. For more information as well as the text of the Senate Bill, go to "THOMAS" or Congress.gov

********



Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has ended speculation over whether the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance reform bill, first introduced in the Senate in July by Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, will receive a vote this year. In a surprise move on Wednesday, Reid filed a procedural motion to put the USA Freedom Act on the…

Thursday, November 13, 2014

From IBT: UN Anti-Torture Panel Seeks Answers From US Officials










The U.N. Committee Against Torture interrogated American officials on Wednesday about lapses in complying with an international anti-torture treaty. The panel, which is conducting a two-day hearing in Geneva, focused on the country's interrogation techniques and torture of detainees, suspected to be involved in terrorism, since the 9/11 attacks. Italy’s Alessio Bruni, one of the panel’s…

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