Tag Archives: CIA Torture

The U.S. Still Tortures with Impunity

By Robert Abele
July 09, 2015
Global Research

 

torture USA 2Here we go again. More disturbing news arises about the depth of the U.S. torture program; a few politicians express their disgust at it; the U.S. media complex becomes complicit in the continuation of the program either by their adumbration of torture (Fair.org reported extensively on this in December and January), or by their silence; and the torture program itself continues and deepens, until the next report, when the cycle will repeat again.

So once again, with the latest news of U.S. torture policies, we must raise the salient issues concerning torture, and rekindle the anti-torture movement until others can see not only the degree to which our own government conducts its confinement policies with such sadistic brutality, but to realize that the same degree of brutality which the government is willing to inflict on “foreigners” is the degree of brutality to which we become susceptible from our own domestic jailers, as well as from those who confront U.S. intervention abroad.

Specifically, by the end of June, we learned two new crucial things about the U.S. torture program that, once again, the corporate media ignored almost in entirety. First, we learned through a report from the Center for Constitutional Rights, that Guantanamo prisoner Majid Khan testified that he had been subjected to torture that was far more brutal than the U.S. Senate report on torture made public last year. Khan testified that, among other tortures, he had been waterboarded, raped, sexually abused, subjected to solitary confinement in total darkness, and hung by his wrists for days at a time from ceiling beams. Every one of these actions is a direct violation of international law and of our deepest and most humane ethical convictions. Any one of these treatments, by themselves, would constitute an international crime against humanity. Taken together, the obvious conclusion is that the U.S. torture program is not only alive and well (unlike its prisoners), but is a program that is itself flaunting international conventions and basic ethical behavior.

The second—and more horrifying—thing we learned in June was that the CIA crafted its own internal regulations that permitted the agency’s director to override all international law in its torture practices, and to go the furthest ends of sadism: experimentation on human beings. Again ignored by the U.S. media, it took the Guardian from London to publish the document “AR 2-2, Law and Policy Governing the Conduct of Intelligence Activities.”

Don’t feel bad if you had not heard of these developments. Most people haven’t, thanks to our enabling media complex.

But now that the information has become public through non-mainstream media channels, we can respond to such deliberate and culpable media ignorance by continuing to underscore four issues in public discourse and protest: the definition of torture, international laws on torture, reminders of what substantive ethical arguments condemning torture should say, and understanding the final purpose of torture: control over people.

1) Defining Torture

The internationally accepted definition of torture comes from the U.N. Convention against Torture (UNCAT, which came into force in June, 1987): “the intentional infliction of severe physical or mental pain or suffering for purposes such as obtaining information or a confession, or punishing, intimidating or coercing someone.”  Treating civilians in such fashion would be illegal, according to this convention.

2) International Law and Treaties on Torture

That torture is heartily disapproved by nations worldwide may be seen by examining some international laws concerning torture. For example,

–The U.N. Convention against Torture (UNCAT): Article 1, Section 2: If a nation has signed the treaty without reservations, then there are no exceptional circumstances whatsoever where a nation can use torture; and Article 3: “No State Party shall expel, return or extradite a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.”

–The U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 5: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

–The Third Convention: Article 3; Part III, Section I; Article 87 (“Collective punishment for individual acts, corporal punishment, imprisonment in premises without daylight and, in general, any form of torture or cruelty, are forbidden”); Article 130: (condemns “torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health”)

–The Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 3; Article 32 (“This prohibition applies not only to murder, torture, corporal punishments, mutilation and medical or scientific experiments not necessitated by the medical treatment of a protected person, but also to any other measures of brutality whether applied by civilian or military agents”); and Article 147.

–The Geneva Conventions Additional Protocol I, Article 75

–The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Article 7: Torture and abusive treatment are “crimes against humanity” and Article 8: Torture is a war crime

–The European Convention on Human Rights, Article 3: “Prohibition of torture:” “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

The United States has ratified and signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, and UNCAT.

Furthermore, U.S. Federal law specifically defines and prohibits torture (U.S. Code, Chapter 113C, 2340): “torture means… [inflicting] severe physical or mental pain or suffering,” including the administering of mind-altering substances,…threats of death, [and/or] threats of severe physical pain.”

3) An ethical argument against torture

Premise #1: As a general moral principle, most people intuitively reject torture as abusive to persons physically and psychologically

Premise #2: International Law consistently condemns abusive treatment of detainees (dealt with above).

Premise #3: Torturing a “suspect” is immoral and illegal as well. “Suspect” means “innocent,” both legally and morally. Thus, if torturing a morally innocent person is immoral, so is the torturing a suspect.

Premise #4: Empirical givens. First, Torture almost never accomplishes the stated goal of information-gathering (see Alfred McCoy, A Question of Torture). Second, once torture starts, even with low level actions such as face-slapping, there is no stopping it, both in method or in regular use.

Premise #5: Normative premises:

a) Using a person as a means to an end is immoral, according to the normative argument used in Terrorism, above.

b) International Law forbidding all torture is based on a moral conception of human rights.

c) Human rights is based on notions of human dignity and autonomy. Thus, any justification for torture must include a rejection of: i) conception of common human nature; ii) universal human rights.

d) There is no “moral ought” to torture. But if torture is in fact taken in this way, then anything is permitted, since torture is the final crossing point between civilized behavior and barbarity.

Compare these five premises to U.S. history. The U.S. has a long history of ignoring any law that does not suit its own self-interest. Torture is no different. (See Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture). For example, from 1950-1962, the CIA conducted massive, secret research into coercion and the malleability of human consciousness which, by the late 1950’s, was costing a billion dollars a year.  This research produced a new method of torture, “no-touch” torture. Additionally, by 1967, the CIA was operating 40 interrogation centers in South Vietnam that killed over 20,000 Viet Cong suspects. Finally, this practice was the same one used in Kabul on Al Qaeda suspects in 2002, and seen in Abu Ghraib. Now, here we are once again confronted in June and July of 2015, with powerful instances in which the U.S. has not only ignored its international law obligations, but has sought to flout them completely.

The standard objection to my argument against torture is, of course, to appeal to cases of one-off instances, such as the ticking-bomb scenario (i.e. a bomb is going to explode in a heavily-populated area, and under routine questioning, the suspect will not provide information as to its location). There are several replies to such concocted scenarios.

First, it is important to note that the empirical evidence shows not only that the torture will not merit the intended goal of information, but that even if it does result in getting information, tests show that in 60 out of 100 instances, interrogators could not distinguish between the truth or falsity of the information they got.

Further, there are several false assumptions about the ticking-bomb dilemma. First, the objection assumes that the evidentiary requirements for police to act to defuse the bomb or vacate people cannot and would not be met in real-time. It assumes further that there is no other way to obtain information regarding the bomb than to torture a suspect; that the suspect has all the knowledge the detainers need to get to and defuse the bomb; that the suspect will surrender all this knowledge without leaving any pertinent detail out, prior to the bomb exploding, etc. Second, these types of scenarios all presume that our legal and governmental institutions can make the necessary determinations about when torture is called for a permissible. Third, they all presume that our legal and governmental institutions can control when and how torture is used, and to what extent.

4) The ultimate purpose of torture

The most important thing to keep in mind in discussing torture is that it is the complete denial of the humanity of the tortured, and simultaneously the total control over another person, reducing them to the moral status of an inanimate object. Presumably, that is precisely what those who torture, such as our own CIA and some local police departments in the U.S., want: not information, but total control over people. On the other hand, if a state and its people are willing to embrace or willfully ignore their own government’s torture practices, the only form of government that is possible for that society is totalitarianism: complete control of people, with no limitation.

It is a truism because it has been repeatedly demonstrated, that any government that is willing to inflict such extreme violence on the hated “other,” the “foreigner,” will be willing to inflict it on their citizens as well, in order to maintain and control them and to enhance its own power. U.S. citizens, especially minorities, have testified to such torture being used against them in our own domestic prisons. Thus, to fight it before it becomes entrenched as an instrument of local as well as federal government policy to control its citizens is not only a practical imperative, it is a moral imperative as well.

Dr. Robert Abele holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Marquette University and M.A. degrees in Theology and Divinity. He is a professor of philosophy at Diablo Valley College, located in Pleasant Hill, California in the San Francisco Bay area, and is the author of five books and numerous articles. His new book, Rationality and Justice, will be out in 2016.

US government covered up 14,000 photos documenting CIA secret prisons

By Thomas Gaist
June 29, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

The US government has concealed the existence of some 14,000 images documenting the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) network of secret “black site” torture and interrogation centers established after September 11, according to unnamed US officials who spoke to the Washington Post.

The existence of the photographs was known to the US military prosecutors involved in ongoing military commission cases against four alleged terrorists for at least several months prior to the publication of the media reports on Saturday, according to the Post.

The photos had never been brought forward during more than three years of hearings in the cases of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and three other alleged participants in the September 11 attacks.

After a brief attempt to conduct their trials in a New York federal court, the accused are again standing before military-run commissions established to deny basic democratic rights to “enemy combatants” captured by the US government as part of the so-called global war on terror.

Images from black sites in Thailand, Afghanistan, Poland, Lithuania, Romania and possibly others are included in the photo cache, which the Obama administration still refuses to release.

The photos, now under review by US officials, include images of naked prisoners taken during transportation to the torture sites. There are also reportedly photos of a wooden board used for waterboarding detainees at a black site in Afghanistan as well as photos of the small confinement boxes which a number of detainees were forced into for hours on end.

The concealment of the photos has prompted calls for the suspension of the commissions, pending an official investigation into the images.

In spite of ferocious efforts waged continuously by both the Bush and Obama administrations to suppress investigation of the torture programs, the basic facts are more or less known. More than 100 individuals are confirmed to have been “rendered” to secret prisons between 2002 and 2006. Individuals without any remote connection to Jihadist organizations were detained and tortured for years as a result of mistaken identity.

Khalid El-Masri, a German citizen, underwent prolonged torture and confinement in Afghanistan before being dumped by CIA officers in rural Albania after proving to his captors that his name was very similar to, but not the same as, that of the man they had intended to interrogate.

At least five of the detainees disappeared to black sites by the CIA have been confirmed to have been killed as a result of being subjected to the “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

The total number of victims may be much higher. The CIA organized more than 1,200 flights to and from locations on the European continent between 2002 and 2006, as part of its rendition and torture operations, according to a 2007 report approved by the European Union’s main legislature.

A slow trickle of detainees have been quietly released or transferred without explanation. Two Tunisians held at a CIA black site in Afghanistan for over a decade were flown back to Tunisia for release on June 15, traveling on board a US military plane. An unknown number of other detainees held by US forces at black sites were handed over to the Afghan government last December.

The refusal of the US government to release the photos, along with their secrecy in the first place, are serious crimes in themselves. As part of the cover up, the Obama administration continues to hold dozens of “enemy combatants” who have been cleared for release as early as 2009.

The collaboration of European governments in the operation of the secret torture network has also been covered up. Details of the European role in the torture network were subject to heavy redaction in the already heavily redacted Senate torture report.

Nonetheless, it is known that Poland, Lithuania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania all hosted secret prisons directly run by the CIA, while a broader circle of some 20 European states ran sites in close collaboration with the CIA.

Security personnel from the British government were directly involved in CIA torture sessions. Other collaborating governments received millions in US government money paid out by the CIA, including more than $1 million paid to Lithuania for the right to set up a single detention center.

At least three of the agency’s black sites, located in Poland, Romania and Morocco, were established from the CIA branch office in Frankfurt, Germany. The Frankfurt office, previously a “sleepy” logistics outpost for the agency, suddenly received millions of dollars’ worth of budget increases under orders from the White House, beginning in 2002.

Instead of being punished, the bureaucrats who oversaw the programs, including current CIA Director John Brennan, are now ensconced in powerful offices at the highest levels of government.

Documentation proving that the Obama administration has dismantled the vast array of resources, camps and personnel networks involved has not been forthcoming.

Guantanamo detainee details CIA sexual abuse and torture

By Thomas Gaist
June 5, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Newly-released testimony from Guantanamo Bay prisoner Majid Khan has shown that the CIA used torture practices that were “far more brutal and sadistic” than even those revealed by the Senate report on torture released last year.

In interviews with his attorneys first publicized in a Reuters report Tuesday, Khan described being hung from rafters for days at a time, submerged in ice water, and sexually abused by his guards and interrogators, who were frequently intoxicated with alcohol during the torture sessions.

 

Khan’s experiences were detailed in 27 pages of notes taken by a team of attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), with whom he was able to meet only after protracted efforts by the White House to block his access to legal counsel.

“The CIA has repeatedly and continuously lied about the torture program,” CCR attorney Wells Dixon noted in response to the publication of portions of the notes.

“As layers of secrecy have been peeled away throughout the Obama administration, we see more and more evidence of CIA savagery,” Dixon said.

When the torture programs were launched, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) maintained publicly that its agents used “enhanced interrogation techniques,” i.e., scientifically designed forms of torture “lite,” designed to inflict mere moderate levels of suffering short of full-blown torture.

During the rollout of “enhanced interrogation” by the Bush administration, the corporate media treated the American people to slick computer-generated demonstrations of the various “stress positions,” “waterboarding,” etc, which presented the interrogation programs as precise methods, applied in a limited fashion for the purpose of stopping terror attacks against the US.

The latest revelations from Khan make clear that at the main US prison camp, Guantanamo Bay, the reality was far closer to the scenes of medieval dungeons traditionally associated with torture in the public imagination.

There is little doubt about the credibility of Khan’s testimony, given that it fully corroborates the claims made last September by a CIA inside source to The Telegraph .

“They got medieval on his ass, and far more so than people realize,” the CIA source told the British paper last year. “They weren’t just pouring water over their heads or over a cloth. They were holding them under water until the point of death, with a doctor present to make sure they did not go too far. This was real torture.”

In his extensive testimony, Khan paints a picture of Guantanamo as a depraved environment in which the US government’s professional interrogators were given free rein to abuse and terrorize prisoners at will.

Majid Khan, held at Guantánamo Bay detention since 2006 after capture in Pakistan in 2003.

Majid Khan has been in U.S. custody since 2003.

 

Khan’s description of being pulled from his cell late at night for impromptu torture sessions by guards reeking of alcohol suggests that conditions at Guantanamo have degenerated to the point that torture is being carried as a form of entertainment.

The CIA maintained since 2004 that its practice of “waterboarding” detainees consisted of pouring water over the faces of subjects for “no more than 20 seconds.”

Substantiating the claims of the CIA source cited by The Telegraph last September, Khan describes “waterboarding” incidents from May and July 2003 that amounted to near drowning in ice water, providing grisly new details about what “waterboarding” has actually looked like in practice.

According to his account, Khan was slowly submerged feet first in a tub of ice water, while shackled and hooded, and held underwater until the verge of drowning.

“Khan was forced into the tub and held down on his back, his hands were shackled underneath him and the arch of his back forced his head to tilt backwards into the water at an angle. A cloth hood remained on his face as the guards forced his body down into the tub. One of the interrogators held a bucket filled with water and large chunks of ice over his head. The interrogator poured the water and ice into Khan’s mouth and nose as well as on his genitals from a high distance. As the interrogator poured the tub began to fill up. Khan could not breathe and water went into his lungs,” the notes compiled by Khan’s lawyers read.

Such water torture sessions punctuated the several years Khan spent in solitary confinement, including being held in complete darkness continuously for much of 2003 while caged in a bare cell with an uncovered bucket for a toilet, no toilet paper, a sleeping mat and no light.

“It is clear that the CIA interrogators were completely out of control,” Khan’s lawyer said in comments to the Telegraph this week.

“What happened to men like Majid Khan is far more brutal and sadistic than has been revealed in the Senate report or any of the other prior public disclosures,” he said. The torture report published by the US Senate last year only covered “the tip of the iceberg.”

Apparently following the advice of US government psychologists specializing in torture, interrogators issued threats against Khan’s family, including his young sister, throughout his detention.

Prior to his capture and rendition to a CIA black site torture camp in Afghanistan during a March 2003 visit with his wife in Pakistan, Khan was a legal US resident who attended high school and lived with family near Baltimore, Maryland, working for his father.

Khan was moved to the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in 2006, where he has been held since, prevented from meeting his young daughter.

Khan’s testimony to the CCR legal team represents a major deepening of the growing body of evidence implicating the entire US ruling class in unpardonable crimes. Major abuses reported by CCR include:

* “As described in the Senate Intelligence Committee Report, Khan was raped while in CIA custody (‘rectal feeding’). He was sexually assaulted in other ways as well, including by having his ‘private parts’ touched while he was hung naked from the ceiling.”

* “They would come in with a bag of tools and set them down next to Majid. They would pull out a hammer and show it to Majid. One of them threatened to hammer Majid’s head. They sometimes smelled like alcohol.”

* “Interrogators and guards at a black site hung Khan by his hands from a wooden beam for three days. He was naked and shackled. He was provided with water but no food.”

* “When a physician came to examine him, Khan begged for help. In response, the physician instructed the guards to take Khan back into the interrogation room with the metal bar and hang him. Khan remained hanging there for another 24 hours before being interrogated again and forced to write his own ‘confession’ while being filmed naked.”

The Senate report acknowledged that Khan was raped and sexually abused by his captors, including through insertion of tubes into his anus as part of the practice referred to by CIA interrogators as “rectal feeding,” and subjected to blows against his genitals while hanging from the ceiling of an interrogation chamber.

For all this, the US Senate torture report released last year acknowledged that Khan’s torture never produced any intelligence of value.

Khan’s account represents yet another blow against protracted efforts of the US government to conceal the unbridled savagery that reigns inside its torture facilities.

The Senate’s torture report, for all its limited exposures, was quickly buried by the media. Despite containing significant revelations, the Senate report itself was extensively redacted under the oversight of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, undoubtedly to remove accounts of the types of brutality related by Khan.

The suppression of the Senate report is the culmination of years of deception by the CIA and the executive branch to cover up the true nature and scale of the US government’s torture program.

In 2005, the CIA destroyed at least 90 video recordings of CIA torture sessions conducted in recent years. Jose Rodriguez, head of the CIA’s covert wing, the National Clandestine Service, has since received effective legal immunity from the Obama administration. In 2010 the White House announced that the US government would not prosecute him for overseeing destruction of evidence.

Barack Obama finally acknowledged that the US government organized torture on a mass scale in remarks last year. “We tortured some folks,” the president said, referring to the grave violation of US and international law and crimes against humanity.

Obama then proceeded to express his “full confidence” in CIA Director John Brennan, a central player in the erection of the torture apparatus and in the Obama administration’s drone wars. Far from being held accountable, those most directly involved in establishing the American gulag have been protected and elevated to the highest levels of the state during the Obama years.

Federal court blocks release of CIA torture report

By Ed Hightower
May 22, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

A US District Court judge has thrown out a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that sought the release of the full Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on torture by the Central Intelligence Agency, as well as an internal CIA report commonly referred to as the Panetta Review.

The Senate Intelligence Committee released a heavily redacted executive summary of its report on CIA torture on December 9, 2014. The Panetta Review, which consists of summaries of material on CIA torture activities to agency leaders to assist them in avoiding legal repercussions, is not available to the public in any form at this time.

The May 20 memorandum opinion by District Judge James E. Boasberg is the latest judicial rubber stamp of the dismantling of democratic rights.

The ACLU originally requested the full SSCI torture report in February 2013 through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) filing with the CIA. The latter denied the FOIA request, stating that the full report was generated and controlled by Congress, making it exempt from FOIA (only agencies of the federal executive are subject to FOIA requests, unlike the legislative and judicial branches of the government).

On December 19, 2013, the ACLU filed another FOIA request for the document known as the Panetta Review, whose existence had just become known a few days earlier in a speech by then-senator Mark Udall. The CIA denied this new request as well, claiming that the Panetta Review fell under the deliberative-process privilege, a legal doctrine that protects documents that are part of an agency’s decision-making process.

The rationale for this doctrine is that agencies will hesitate to deliberate fully on any controversial issue if there is a risk that steps in their collective “thought process” will be disclosed publicly. The deliberative-process privilege is presented as akin to the attorney-client privilege. However, it amounts to exempting from scrutiny every stage in a criminal conspiracy—in this case, the conspiracy to cover up torture—except the final overt act.

In the case of both the full SSCI torture report and the Panetta Review, the court refused to order the release of the documents in any form. The 24-page memorandum opinion garnishes its bogus factual claims and sham legal arguments with contempt for the ACLU and anyone who might question the workings of the military-intelligence apparatus.

To start with, Judge Boasberg offers a potted history of the internecine war between the CIA and Congress over the torture revelations, which reached a boiling point a year ago when Senator Dianne Feinstein publicly indicted the agency for spying on congressional aides in violation of the separation of powers principle of the US Constitution.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence first announced its investigation into the CIA’s torture, rendition and detention program in March 2009. Feinstein headed the SSCI at that time. She and the CIA leadership agreed to have SSCI personnel review relevant documents at a CIA facility, where they would store their work on a CIA computer server. The SSCI vetted its 6,400-page full report and executive summary with CIA officials and the White House, and after final changes were made, approved both documents, and released a heavily redacted version of the executive summary in December 2014.

The 2014 crisis erupted over the CIA’s spying on SSCI personnel using the CIA server to prepare the torture report. Feinstein made an hour-long speech on the floor of the Senate to denounce the unconstitutional CIA action against the committee, which is legally mandated to conduct oversight on the agency. Judge Boasberg refers to this crisis as “further discussions” and “much negotiation,” roughly the equivalent of saying that Hurricane Katrina dropped “some rain” on New Orleans.

The court also fudges the law. In considering whether the legislative exception to the FOIA applies to the full SSCI torture report, the relevant legal question is which branch of government possesses and controls the document in question. The court had to bend over backwards to explain away Senator Feinstein’s sending of the full report to president Obama and the CIA with a cover letter giving the executive branch, including the CIA, ownership of the report.

In that letter, dated December 10, 2014, she wrote:

“As you [Obama] said publicly on August 1, 2014, the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques were techniques that ‘any fair-minded person would believe were torture’… I strongly share your goal to ensure that such a program will not be contemplated by the United States ever again… Therefore, the full report should be made available within the CIA and other components of the Executive Branch for use as broadly as appropriate to help make sure this experience is never repeated… I hope you will encourage use of the full report in the future development of CIA training programs, as well as future guidelines and procedures for all Executive Branch employees, as you see fit.”

This makes it clear that while Congress created the report, it entrusted the document to the executive branch, making it subject to public access under the Freedom of Information Act.

Judge Boasberg claims to find in this quotation no relinquishing of ownership, instead saying that it “does bestow a certain amount of discretion.” He concludes that the Feinstein letter “should not be readily interpreted to suggest a wholesale abdication of control.”

The twisting of applicable law finds even starker expression in the court’s analysis of the Panetta Review.

This review began in 2009 in response to the SSCI’s investigation into the CIA torture program. Initially known as Special Review Teams (SRT), the project had the character of a damage-control operation, designed to keep the CIA leadership “apprised of ‘the most noteworthy information contained in the millions of pages of documents being made available to SSCI’ so as to ‘inform other policy decisions related to the [Senate Intelligence] Committee’s study.” The SRT reviewers would determine “whether certain contents of those documents [given to SSCI] might be relevant to informing senior CIA leaders in connection with the SSCI’s study.”

Translated into English, the SRT was a program to monitor the congressional panel tasked with oversight of the CIA itself. Moreover, according to senators who have read it, it made unvarnished admissions about the use of torture that contradicted what the CIA was saying publicly.

While the Panetta Review was certainly not protected by the legislative exception to FOIA, the court found that the supra-constitutional undertaking was part of “the give-and-take of the consultative process,” even though attorneys for the CIA could point to no specific decisions that the SRTs influenced.

For a case study in bad-faith jurisprudence, readers should look at the full opinion. While exceeding the scope of this article, the rationale listed in defense of CIA crimes on pages 22-24 should not be passed over. (“If Senator Udall’s statements [alleging that the SRTs document CIA crimes against Congress] are correct, they serve to confirm, rather than undermine, the Panetta Review’s privileged status).”

The ruling in ACLU v. CIA, as this case is titled, underscores several features of decaying American democracy.

Most prominent is the utter prostration of the judiciary before the military-intelligence apparatus. One sees this in Boasberg’s downplaying of the constitutional crisis last summer and his refusal to intervene. As he puts it “the ACLU asks the Court to interject itself into a high-profile conversation [!] that has been carried out in a thoughtful and careful way by the other two branches of government.”

More subtly, if undeniably, the ACLU v. CIA decision shows that the co-equal branches of government (executive, legislative, judicial) no longer serve as a system of checks and balances against tyranny as was intended by those who wrote the Constitution. Instead, they act as coconspirators against the population, with one bloody hand washing the other.

The author also recommends:

What is in the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on CIA torture: Part one
[16 December 2014]

American Psychological Association played critical role in CIA torture program

By David Walsh
May 1, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Image from: PressTV

A report by health professionals and human rights activists has exposed the role of the American Psychological Association (APA) in collaborating with the Bush White House and the CIA in developing and defending torture and abuse of detainees in the so-called “war on terror.”

The Association officials and members who colluded with the government in its use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including waterboarding, “rectal hydration,” sexual humiliation, mock burials, ice water baths, sleep deprivation, “stress positions,” confinement in boxes and other barbaric practices, were operating in the tradition of Dr. Josef Mengele and other Nazi doctors who experimented on live human beings in concentration camps.

The report, “All the President’s Psychologists,” was co-authored by Stephen Soldz, professor at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis; Nathaniel Raymond, Director of the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, an anti-torture activist; and Steven Reisner, clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst and founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology.

In their preface, the authors assert, “The APA’s complicity in the CIA torture program, by allowing psychologists to administer and calibrate permitted harm, undermines the fundamental ethical standards of the profession.”

The report bases itself primarily on an analysis of emails from the accounts of the late RAND Corporation researcher and CIA contractor Scott Gerwehr, who died in 2008. The selection of emails was drawn from a larger collection obtained by New York Times reporter James Risen.

As one of their key findings, the authors explain that the “APA secretly coordinated with officials from the CIA, White House, and the Department of Defense to create an APA ethics policy on national security interrogations that comported with then classified legal guidance authorizing the CIA torture program.”

This was no small matter. In the spring of 2004, the exposure of the crimes committed by US intelligence and military personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq put the Bush administration on the defensive. In June, CIA director George Tenet felt obliged to sign a secret order, as Risen explained in the New York Times on Thursday, “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.”

“At that critical moment,” writes Risen, “the American Psychological Association took action that its critics now say helped the troubled interrogation program.” The APA convened a secret meeting in July 2004 on “Ethics and National Security,” bringing together APA, CIA, White House, Department of Defense and FBI officials, academics and others.

The email invitation to the meeting from the APA’s Ethics Director Stephen Behnke expressed its “sensitivity to and appreciation of the important work mental health professionals are doing in the national security arena,” and also promised confidentiality.

One year later, in June 2005, the APA convened its Psychological Ethics and National Security (PENS) Task Force over one weekend, and the following day the association’s board rubber-stamped the PENS policy in an “emergency vote.” The Soldz-Raymond-Reisner report notes that, “The PENS policy endorsed continued psychologist participation in national security interrogations—unlike the policies later adopted by the American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association, which prohibited such involvement by their members.”

Revealing the thorough integration of the American Psychological Association and similar bodies into the state, the PENS task force, observes the report, “consisted heavily of uniformed and civilian psychologists from the military. Six of the nine voting PENS members were Department of Defense employees directly involved in national security interrogation practice, supervision and/or research. In addition, many of the PENS members themselves held commands or have been linked to installations where detainee abuse had been reported.” Thus, the accomplices of torture endorsed their own continued participation in the practice.

The involvement by health professionals in the brutal program, argues Risen, “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.”

In an email to the Times reporter, co-author Dr. Stephen Soldz commented, “In 2004 and 2005 the C.I.A. torture program was threatened from within and outside the Bush administration. 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.”

One of the key organizers of the meetings in 2004 and 2005 was APA Director of Science Policy Geoff Mumford. His role is significant because of his direct contact with the infamous Drs. James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the architects of the CIA torture program.

In a sinister August 6, 2003 email, Dr. Kirk Hubbard, Chief of Operations of the Operational Assessment Division of the CIA, wrote Mumford: “You won’t get any feedback from Mitchell or Jessen. They are doing special things to special people in special places, and generally are not available.” In other words, they were busy torturing and experimenting on prisoners.

Dr. Mumford later left the American Psychological Association and went on to work for Mitchell Jessen and Associates. The firm was paid $81 million by the CIA to devise interrogation methods, some of which John Rizzo, the CIA’s acting general counsel, in his book Company Man, described as “sadistic and terrifying.”

The APA collaboration with the Bush administration was so intimate that a White House official, Susan Brandon, was permitted to “craft” language in the APA’s 2005 PENS report related to research. The document ultimately approved by the association explained, “One focus of a broad program of research is to examine the efficacy and effectiveness of information-gathering techniques, with an emphasis on the quality of information obtained. … Also valuable will be research on cultural differences in the psychological impact of particular information-gathering methods and what constitutes cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.”

As “All the President’s Psychologists” explains, the language of the PENS Task Force “appears to call for psychologist involvement in monitoring interrogations,” in a manner consistent with May 2005 memoranda issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel that “sought to provide legal authorization for the continued use of torture and other forms of abusive interrogations.”

The final finding of the new report is that despite substantial contact between the APA, the White House and the CIA, including more than 600 emails, “there is no evidence that any APA official expressed concern over mounting reports of psychologist involvement in detainee abuse during four years of direct email communications with senior members of the US intelligence community.”

No one at the American Psychological Association, whose self-proclaimed mission is “to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives,” in the words of the Soldz-Raymond-Reisner report, expressed “surprise, concern, or outrage regarding mounting evidence of abuses of detainees in CIA or military custody in general.”

This was, in part, because they wanted to get their hands on a lot of money. In his book Pay Any Price, Risen asserts that a “tight network of behavioral scientists” was “so eager for CIA and Pentagon contracts that they showed few qualms about getting involved” with institutions carrying out torture.

Beyond that, the exposés in the new report speak to the corruption and rightward shift by a considerable section of the affluent professional classes, which identifies with the American ruling elite and its drive for global domination. There is not a shred of humane or democratic consciousness in the layer exposed by “All the President’s Pschologists.” They would collaborate in the commission of any crime whatsoever.

No Bush administration or CIA official has been indicted for his or her role in the detention and torture program. The Senate Intelligence Committee report on the program, released in December 2014, has been buried by the media and forgotten. The Obama administration has pledged itself to defend the torturers, even as it proceeds with its equally criminal campaign of murder by drones. As Dr. Soldz told the WSWS in December 2014, “While torture is illegal by international law and by US domestic law, there is little disincentive for perpetrators to repeat these violations when no one is held to account.”

The author also recommends:

Brutal torture detailed in Senate report on CIA interrogation
[10 December 2014]

Physicians’ group details psychologists’ role in CIA’s “extensive system of torture”
[19 December 2014]

When Torturers Walk

Negative Culpability

By Jeffrey St. Clair
March 21, 2015
Counter Punch

 

Here’s what we learned from the release of the Senate’s report on the CIA’s use of torture: the Agency tortured some people, in the President’s flippant phrase. More than a few people it turns out, though we probably will never know exactly how many. The techniques of torture were brutal, even sadistic. Though, again, the most barbarous measures have been redacted from public disclosure. The CIA learned almost nothing of value from these heinous crimes. More strikingly, the Agency didn’t expect to pry out any fresh intelligence. Instead, what the torturers wanted most desperately was to extract false confessions, writhing accounts of fantastical ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, linking Iraq to the 9/11 attacks, that could be used retroactively to justify a phony war. Thus does one crime feast on another.

But here’s the rub. We still know much less than we know about the government’s torture program. And that’s not just because two-thirds of the CIA report remains sequestered at Langley. Why? To protect sources and methods? Hardly. You can find those easily enough in any book on the Spanish Inquisition. The techniques haven’t changed that much in five centuries. Just add a few jolts of electricity.

While the CIA wants to keep the details of its torture methods cloaked in mystery, the agency was very happy to let the fact that it was torturing prisoners of its covert operations slip out. Partly this was intended to send a message to the agency’s enemies, that terrible torments were going to be inflicted on the bodies and minds of anyone would stood in its way: from Jihadis to Edward Snowden, if they could just lay their hands on him.

But, and here’s where the psychology gets a little tricky, the Agency also wanted the existence of its torture program to leak out to the American public, to whet the growing appetite for vengeance and, perhaps, to distract attention from the agency’s record of massive blunders. And, by all accounts, the ploy worked. In the befouled moral consciousness of post-911, a stout majority of Americans, 59 percent in a recent poll, support the CIA’s torture program. Many of those back the use of torture even though they know it is totally ineffective as a means of intelligence gathering. In other words, they crave blood, and virtually any Muslim’s blood will do, regardless of culpability.

The declassified sections of the CIA report provide a grisly glimpse at the torture of 119 prisoners, many of them kidnapped. The agency now admits that at least 27 of those torture victims were absolutely innocent—though it is important to note that none of the others were proved to have committed crimes more serious than the ones committed against them. One of those guiltless men was tortured to death, KillingTrayvons1that is: murdered by his American captors. In another case, the CIA nabbed the wrong guy off of a busy street, then tortured him until his mind snapped. A bystander was killed during this botched operation.

Aside from a few editorial boards and human rights groups, no one seems too distraught by the ghastly revelations, veiled as they are. Perhaps this is a kind of twisted sign of imperial maturity, the country finally coming to terms with its own true character. Only the most gullible seem to cling to the naïve notion that torture is “un-American.” This is, after all, the nation that has happily funded the School of the Americas for decades, where graduate seminars are offered in the finer points of torture and assassination for the butchers of Latin
America.

Still it’s possible to briefly mourn the loss of American innocence. In his 1987 film Full-Metal Jacket, Stanley Kubrick devoted the first half of his film to a harrowing depiction of basic training for Marine recruits at Parris Island. Here the young soldiers are forced to endure a sadistic regime of ridicule, humiliation and abuse, aimed at de-humanizing them, stripping them of basic notions of morality and their capacity for human empathy. This kind of official debasement is what it took to compel young Americans in the late 1960s to torch peasant huts, machine-gun farmers in rice paddies or drop napalm on women and children.

These days that dehumanization process takes place in the lecture halls of Yale, Georgetown and the University of Chicago, where the architects of torture and rendition learn the bureaucratic tools and legalisms of their trade. These are the same species of managerial elites who consult the novels of Charles Dickens in order to learn new ways to punish the poor. Austerity, of course, is a kind of system-wide torture by other means.

We now know no one will be held to account for these egregious acts. There will be no naming of names. No disciplinary actions. No terminations. No prosecutions. Indeed, one of the CIA’s most notorious torturers, an officer who fetishized the waterboard, was promoted to lead the Agency’s “global jihad unit.” This is what John Keats might have described as Negative Culpability, where the perpetrators of some of the most vile crimes in American history simply dissolve into the mist of the system.

The logic of impunity for the torturers doesn’t just let government criminals off the hook; it sanctifies the crimes they committed and enshrines torture as a legitimate mechanism to enforce the American imperial enterprise. There can be no regrets when you aspire to dictate your terms to the rest of the world.

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net.

 

CIA whistleblower calls for prosecution of officials responsible for torture

By Tom Hall
February 17, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

John Kiriakou, the only CIA officer in prison for the torture program is the whistleblower who exposed it

John Kiriakou, the former CIA agent who helped reveal the agency’s use of waterboarding in a 2007 interview, was released from prison on February 3 after serving a two-year sentence.

Kiriakou was convicted in 2013 on trumped-up charges of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which he said was retaliation for “blowing the whistle on the CIA’s illegal torture program and for telling the public that torture was official US government policy.”

In an interview with Russia Today last week, Kiriakou called for the prosecution of those responsible for CIA torture, declaring, “no one went to jail but me.”

“But what really bothers me, is that there is no prosecution of CIA officers who obviously violated the law; those CIA officers who were conducting interrogations in which prisoners were killed.” Kiriakou said. “I have no idea why there is no outrage, and why those officers are not being prosecuted.”

Kiriakou said he was proud to have helped expose torture by the government, despite the great cost to him personally. “You know, I really do believe that it was worth it. I’m proud to have played a role, however small, in the outline of torture in the United States.”

He also recounted the subhuman conditions he faced while in federal prison, about which he is planning to write a book. “American prisoners aren’t even fed human-grade food,” he said. “And the medical care was even worse. There were almost a half a dozen deaths of prisoners when I was there in prison, and almost every one of those deaths was preventable.”

News reports from Kiriakou’s time in prison allege that he also faced harassment from the prison administration for posting on the liberal news site Firedoglake, in which he published an open letter to Edward Snowden urging him not to cooperate with the FBI and declaring that the FBI “is the enemy; it’s part of the problem, not the solution.”

Kiriakou’s 2007 interview with ABC News was the first time that the use of waterboarding by the CIA was publicly confirmed by a government agent, and earned him the enmity of the political establishment. With characteristic vindictiveness, the Obama administration indicted Kiriakou on trumped-up charges in 2012, including three counts of espionage under the WWI-era Espionage Act, which would have carried a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison.

Although the espionage charges were dropped, Kiriakou pled guilty to a lesser charge out of concern for the well-being of his family, who were reduced to subsisting on food stamps as a result of skyrocketing legal expenses. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison. He now faces a further three months of house arrest and another three years of probation.

Kiriakou was a 14-year veteran of the CIA and the head of counterterrorism in Pakistan at the time of the September 11 attacks. He oversaw the raid which captured Abu Zubaydah a few months later in March 2002, the first high-profile capture of an alleged Al Qaeda operative, who was then falsely described by the Bush administration as an Al Qaeda “mastermind” and the group’s third-highest ranking operative. Zubaydah was severely wounded in the operation, and at some point had his left eye removed by CIA agents.

It was Zubaydah’s case that Kiriakou’s 2007 interview centered on. Basing himself on an internal CIA cable, Kiriakou admitted that the agency had once waterboarded Zubaydah, describing the practice as official government policy. In fact, that cable turned out to be false, and it has since been revealed that Zubaydah was waterboarded a total of 81 times in CIA “black sites.”

Moreover, last fall’s Senate torture report, which mentioned Zubaydah a total of 1,001 times, revealed that the agency used him as a “guinea pig” for developing its “enhanced interrogation” techniques after 9/11. Zubaydah’s lawyer says that he is the only detainee known to have been subjected to all of them. One procedure, developed after it was discovered that Zubaydah had a fear of bugs, involved locking him in a tiny “confinement box” filled with insects. His lawyer says that Zubaydah has suffered permanent brain damage from his ordeal and can no longer even recognize his parents.

The Obama administration finally admitted in 2011 that Zubaydah was neither a top Al Qaeda leader, nor a member of Al Qaeda, nor even “formally” identified with the organization. Nevertheless, the administration refuses to release him from Guantanamo Bay, where is held to this day without charges. Zubaydah’s unimportance was practically admitted by Kiriakou in his 2007 interview, when he told ABC News that “we didn’t go after him because he was Abu Zubaydah. We went after him because he just happened to be in Pakistan and we thought there was a chance we could catch him.”

While Kiriakou struck an ambivalent tone during his 2007 interview, defending the effectiveness of waterboarding in obtaining information, he has since become a public opponent of the federal government’s torture program. In 2010 he wrote an autobiography, The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIAs War on Terror, which contained a damning exposure of the policies pursued by Washington under the guise of the “War on Terror.” The book release was delayed for two years by the CIA, and one of the charges tacked onto his 2012 trial was that he had allegedly lied to the CIA’s Publications Review Board while attempting to receive clearance for his book.

Last week, Reporters without Borders released its Press Freedom Index for 2014, in which the United States sunk to 49th place in the global ranking, directly below countries such as El Salvador and Burkina Faso. Reporters Without Borders justified their decision on the basis of the US government’s continued witch-hunting of whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden, the vindictive hounding of journalists such as James Risen and Julian Assange, and the wanton attacks on journalists by riot police during the violent crackdown of protests in Ferguson, Missouri last fall.

The Obama administration, which came into office on a wave of anti-war sentiment and promising the most transparent presidency in history, has not charged a single government official for war crimes stemming from the so-called “War on Terror.” Meanwhile, Obama has indicted seven whistleblowers on espionage charges, more than twice as many as all previous administrations combined.

Last month a federal court convicted former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling on six counts of unauthorized disclosure of state secrets for revealing details of the government’s campaign of sabotage and assassination against Iran’s nuclear program to New York Times reporter James Risen. Risen, a respected Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who himself was threatened with a lengthy prison sentence for refusing to disclose his sources as part of the investigation, denounced Obama last August as the “greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.”

The author also recommends:

Whistleblower who exposed CIA nuclear sabotage operation convicted under Espionage Act
[28 January 2015]

Former CIA agent responsible for torture revelations sentenced to prison
[28 January 2013]

Leaking Against the Impossible: Whistleblower John Kiriakou, CIA Torture and Leaking

By Binoy Kampmark
February 12, 2015
Global Research

 

cia_torture“What about the CIA officers who directly violated the law, who carried out interrogations that resulted in death?  What about the torturers of Hassan Ghul?” – John Kiriakou, Democracy Now, Feb 10, 2014

He was the only agent of the Central Intelligence Agency to blow the otherwise hesitant whistle on the torture program made infamous by the Bush administration.  And for all that good grace, he paid with a prison sentence, having violated the covenant of the espionage service. In 2007, John Kiriakou publicly confirmed and noted the use of waterboarding by agents in dealing with terrorist suspects.  And it hardly came with bells and whistles.

His CIA credentials as officer and analyst were well minted – 14 years in service, and designated head of the operation that led to the finding of al-Qaeda member Abu Zubaydah in 2002.  It should be noted that Kiriakou was no angel coming late to a feast of innocence.  As an agent, he had been privy to the darker sides of the supposed “war on terror”.  He had also, at one point, defended waterboarding as a practice.  In his own words to Scott Shane of The New York Times, “I think the second-guessing of 2002 decisions is unfair.”

In January 2013, he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years, pleading guilty to confirming the identity of a covert officer to Shane.  Material for a second story was also provided to another reporter, which also involved disclosing the name of another agent.  A plea bargain ensued, trimming a sentence, but affirming his guilt.  He is currently under a house arrest term of three months.

This case reveals, as do whistleblowing cases in general, that the discloser is presumed to be guilty, the tribal member who went against the creed.  The result of that disclosure – exposing an illegal program, implemented by individuals who, one would think, would be the subject of prosecution – is evaded.  Twisted logic ensues: the perpetrator of abuse escapes the exposure; and the one doing the exposing received due punishment.  Rules, not substance, matter.

As Assistant Director in Charge of the case, James W. McJunkin, explained after Kiriakou’s plea with an almost vulgar clarity, “Disclosing classified information, including the names of CIA officers, to unauthorized individuals is a clear violation of the law.”[1]  Kiriakou, it was noted, had conceded to sign “secrecy and non-disclosure agreements” to the effect of not disclosing such material to unauthorised persons.

Some commentary on Kiriakou has been ambivalent, cutting fine distinctions as to the nature of sensitive leaks on the one hand, and their supposed effect on the other.  There are generic leaks, and then, suggests Seth Mandel, writing in Commentary (Jan 7, 2013), there are those naughty, destructive leaks that sink the state. “First of all, not all leaks are created equal: some are legal and others break federal law.  Second, some leaks are clearly damaging to national security, and thus put Americans in unnecessary danger.”[2]

Mandel seeks to draw one example out of the hat of bad leaks – the New York Times’ decision to publish details of a successful clandestine program used by the government to monitor and track the finances behind terrorist activity.  “The program was legal and constitutional, but the Times saw an opportunity to damage the Bush administration’s national security efforts, and took it – safety to Americans be damned.”

But Mandel misses the vital point: that such distinctions are artificially made when it comes to prosecuting leakers, and those connected with the process. It follows, as a rule, that any such disclosure breaks the law irrespective of the motivation of the whistleblower, or the damning quality of the material.  The onus is on the whistleblower to deny or disprove his or her putative illegality, to dig deep into the legislative drawer to find viable defences.

Then come the more troubling apologias scripted by the White House.  Presidential candidate Barack Obama may have expressed his concerns about torture, but President Obama wore a different, adjusted hat when in office.

In 2009, he cooled on the issue of whether to prosecute those in government who had made the program possible.  In August 2014, he would show considerable latitude to the torturer whose task it was to defend the United States, despite breaching the law in cavalierly bloody fashion.  “I understand why it happened. I think it’s important, when we look back, to recall how afraid people were when the twin towers fell.”[3] Fear justifies bestial retaliation, fuelling the engine of vengeance.  The odds, in other words, lengthen for such individuals as Kiriakou, who ended up disclosing improper conduct that was looked upon favourably by excusing authorities.

Obama goes even further, using the desk defences that were dismissed at such trials as those of Adolf Eichmann.  “It’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job those folks had.”  The patriotic brute of pen and action is well and truly alive – as long as the job is tough.

Assessments made as to whether a “leak” is damaging are shoddy at best, largely because they are based on the grand hypothetical that is “national security” – protective measures that seek justifications in the vaguest, most nominal of terms.  Justifying the concealment of a torture program can be justified by any source keen to conserve the illusion that rights trump the security machinery of the state, even if that state is the US.  We really are good chaps who tend to err in the name of goodness.

Process, in its uncritical, unthinking form, is what matters in the cult of security; the quality of the classified material – revealing, for instance, a program of abuse – is irrelevant to an establishment that simply assumes that its own secret status is threatened.  This flaw in exposing abuses in governance, and in a specific sense, intelligence processes, is a defect that has been treated, less with relief than contempt.  The reformers on this subject, at least, remain at bay, since the problematic assumptions still hold sway.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

America’s “Blacklist” Conspiracy of Silence

By Gordon Duff
February 7, 2015
New Eastern Outlook

 

hqdefault (1)Last week the Pakistani government told the media that the ISIS leader they captured in December had a US based paymaster, something neither confirmed nor denied by the US though the press release indicated that Secretary of State John Kerry was briefed on this revelation.

There is a reason for Kerry’s silence. If ISIS is funded by the US then the black C130 aircraft that resupply them are American too. Given what we now know, it is not unreasonable to assume that Victoria Nuland, on orders from “somewhere “ordered the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 while her “betters” managed the press response and the phony half-hearted Dutch “investigation.”

This hypothesis, hardly a conspiracy theory, supports one inexorable fact; the rumors of a “Secret Shadow Government” are more fact than rumor. High level sources within the US Department of Justice tell us that every major investigation undertaken since 1990, financial fraud, terrorism, narcotics, espionage, all have been quashed, all involved silenced, removed, discredited and even killed.

All investigations end because all real investigations stumble on the same players and come to the same conclusions; America is ruled by a multi-generational crime cartel that includes the biggest names in America politics. Yesterday, an American television show got it exactly right as “fiction” is the only outlet for truth in a world turned upside down. The show was Blacklist and we will be discussing how much they got right.

The Torture Report

Recent reports of CIA torture and abuses omitted a key fact, the CIA “black site” prison system a worldwide gulag hidden on abandoned oil platforms, in underground storage facilities and psychiatric hospitals or, most often jails or prisons on trumped up charges, or on American military bases, contains more American “whistleblowers” than terrorists. Susan Lindauer was “black sited” in a psychiatric hospital on an American military base, Lee Wanta was “black sited” as was Chip Tatum, Victor Bout and Dimitri Khalezov. Gwyneth Todd escaped assassination by Bush operatives in Bahrain but Roland Carnaby, Chris Kyle, Helric Fredou, Dr.David Kelly, Michael Connell, Vince Foster, Ron Brown and John Wheeler III died mysteriously.

US Senators Paul Wellstone, Mel Carnahan along with candidates Sonny Bono and John Ashbrook were murdered, two air crashes, a “skiing accident “and accidental ingestion of crushed glass. I could add a hundred names to the list, keeping it “recent,” I would start with John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King and, when I finished, it would be enough names to fill a stadium. Do you see where this is going?

Bridging the Gap Between Drama and Reality TV

An American TV drama, as is sometimes the case as with the quickly cancelled and quite excellent Rubicon, which exposed US complicity in 9/11, has broken new ground. Most are aware of America’s rendition program and CIA black site prisons. Blacklist show regularly covers these issues. It also openly admits that the CIA routinely executes prisoners. They actually show the method, prisoners hoisted in the air by electric winches, chains around their necks strangling them, something that a skilled operator can use for both interrogation and “termination with extreme prejudice” or, as they call it now, “depersonalization.”

Where the “new ground” is broken is the admission that black site prisons are America buries its secrets not its enemies. The TV show “Blacklist” openly exposes, albeit fictionally, a deep parallel with the reality behind 9/11 and so many terror attacks and the virtual army of silenced witnesses and investigators that were too valuable to be “suicided or killed,” too independent to be threatened with gag orders and too moral to be bribed.

Too often, fiction trumps reality. Last night was no exception. Yesterday was a historic day by American standards; it was “Superbowl Sunday,” now a holiday celebrating watching television and drinking beer. Nothing could be more appropriate to follow than the new season of the TV show “Blacklist.”

Let me explain. Blacklist is a TV show about a fugitive billionaire arms dealer who makes a deal with the US government to help him kill his enemies who are, for the most part, also wanted fugitives. The character is based roughly on Victor Bout.

Salon, in an article from February 2010 explains a bit about Bout and the arms trade, an article that strangely has no listed author:

“First, the substantial Jewish investment in the global arms trade permits Israel to support rebel groups worldwide through mafia channels that otherwise would be credited to Israeli government policy. For example, Russian-Jewish mafia figures are financing the Darfur separatists in Sudan (though the agency of Ukrainian-Jewish boss Viktor Bout), and the Colombian communist FARC rebels through the agency of the greatest boss of them all, the Israeli Simon Mogilevich, who bought the Hungarian anti-aircraft factories in the early 1990s…”

Gagged and Silenced

Thousands of Americans, members of the military, police, judicial, legislative, regulatory and intelligence services and agencies are currently gagged, silenced from reporting crimes against the people of the United States and the world at large.

Whistleblowers have revealed more than just classified material. They have described the enormity of what is an even greater threat, how “national security” and phony investigations are used to gag witnesses and cover up crimes.

Currently there are secret grand juries across the US that have no other purpose than to corral witnesses and threaten them with prison. No indictments ever come out of these legal monstrosities including and especially the Houston based Federal grand jury covering the Able Danger/9/11 related crimes.

In the TV drama, Blacklist, the secret to be protected wasn’t a terror plot but rather a list of government officials who were complicit in covering up crimes. “If the public finds out, if they get ahold of this list, they will hang every one of them.”

The witnesses who could and should be testifying against many of America’s top generals, members of congress, the entire Bush (41) administration, not just for torture but drug running, espionage, fraud and murder, all are silenced.

Inside the “Beltway,” the road surrounding the US capitol, insiders share the spoils of worldwide crime, protected by a legal system used to protect only the worst criminals while supposedly warring on imaginary terrorists.

The only laws consistently enforced inside the United States are those that silence those who would report complicity in treason and terrorism by the “highest in the land.

Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War that has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades and consulted with governments challenged by security issues. He’s a senior editor and chairman of the board of Veterans Today, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

 

Did the United States Department of Justice Just Lie to the U.N.?

By Janet Phelan
February 6, 2015
New Eastern Outlook

 

439268For Americans, confidence in government is at a low. Growing numbers of people now question nearly any declaration made by the US government, particularly when its assertions are either

1) addressing terrorism or

2) addressing domestic policies.

Recent statements by David Bitkower, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, United States Department of Justice to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, statements made during the review by that body of the US and its torture policies during the past five years, could be considered as subsumed under both of the above two categories. And sadly, Bitkower misrepresented actions taken by the US DOJ.

The statements in question were made this past November when UNCAT convened to review the torture record of the US and were subsequently included in the official UNCAT report without substantiating documents and indeed, without questions being raised as to the veracity of Mr. Bitkower’s assertions.

At a time when torture has increasingly become a concern, one might expect the US to put some spit shine on its face to the world. Bitkower was certainly in the polishing mode, as his presentation of the DOJ’s “Critical Role in Upholding US Obligations under Convention Against Torture” was rife with self congratulatory references to the attention that the US government is giving to its torture record, both internationally and domestically.

However, Bitkower went too far. While expounding on domestic prosecutions for police abuse, a subject which is always of concern when one discusses torture, Bitkower made a pronouncement that was so far from reality that one wonders how the UN could have swallowed a whopper of this magnitude without gagging.

Declared Bitkower,

“The vast majority of law enforcement officers in the United States perform their jobs with integrity and respect for the communities they serve.  But when systemic problems emerge, and officers abuse their power, the Justice Department uses its authority to implement meaningful reform and hold officers accountable under the law.

In the civil context, the Department’s Civil Rights Division has opened over 20 investigations into allegations of systemic police department violations over the past five years. “

And then came the whopper. Said Bitkower, “In the criminal realm, we have prosecuted over 330 police officers for misconduct in the last five years.”

Before delving into the magnitude and implications of this patently false statement, let’s fill in some blanks here. We are going to focus here initially on people killed by police, as a worst case scenario of potential police abuse.

The numbers of people killed by police officers in the US is admittedly a cloudy figure. According to estimates, the numbers run somewhere between a thousand and two thousand  a year. While the FBI is supposed to maintain a database on these killings, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal revealed the inadequacy of this database.

According to the WSJ article, local police agencies are not fulfilling their mandate to report these killings.

A non-government website, Killedbypolice.net, is tracking these killings through media reports. The first seventeen days of January saw 53 people killed by police throughout the US, according to this website. The website tracked 1103 such deaths in 2014.

In an interview this past week, Franklin Zimring, William G. Simon Professor of Law at UC Berkeley Law School, expanded upon the difficulty of obtaining an accurate headcount. In an interview last week, Professor Zimring pointed out that all the deaths at hands of the police may not get news coverage; indeed, some may not be reported at all.

So with these thoughts in mind, and understanding that the numbers reported either by the FBI or by independent calculations may be low, one might figure that the “330 prosecutions for police abuse” cited by Bitkower might be realistic.

However, as it turns out, Bitkower was blowing a huge plume of smoke up the collective behinds of the international community when he made this statement to the United Nations. According to Professor Zimring, this figure is “very suspicious. I would doubt there were as many criminal prosecutions as the fingers on one hand.”

A review of the website for the US DOJ, Civil Rights Criminal Division produced four cases in which the US DOJ successfully prosecuted police for misconduct in the past five years.

There was no mention of any unsuccessful prosecutions.

In fact, a spokesperson for the DOJ was unable to come up with a single prosecution by the DOJ for police abuse in the relevant five year time period. In response to a request for the documentation of these criminal prosecutions, George Horneado of the DOJ press office replied with a document listing the consent decrees created by the DOJ in recent years.

Consent decrees are not prosecutions. In this context, Consent decrees are arrangements between the DOJ and a local police agency wherein the policies and actions of the police agency are subject to review and modification by the DOJ—without criminal prosecution. Quoting from the document provided from Horneado:

“In the past five fiscal years, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has opened over 20

investigations into police departments, more than twice as many investigations than were opened in the previous five fiscal years.

The department has entered into 15 agreements with law enforcement agencies, including nine consent decrees.”

When it was pointed out to Horneado that a consent decree is not a criminal prosecution and that the request was for information on criminal prosecutions, Horneado declined to tender any information concerning these cases.

The police in the US seem to have tacit permission to murder US citizens. The recent uproar in both Ferguson and in New York over the separate failure to prosecute police for the murder of two unarmed black men are only the most recent incidents highlighting the latitude given police.

When the ACLU of Southern Oregon was recently approached with evidence that a local Internal Affairs department was covering for abusive police officers, the head of their legal department asserted, “The climate is not right now to address police abuse.”

If that is so, then Bitkower’s false assertions as to the record of the DOJ in criminally prosecuting police officers assumes a different dimension. If indeed abusive and murderous police are being given a pass for actions that deserve prosecution, then Bitkower’s whopper may be seen as a studied attempt to convince us otherwise.

As David Bitkower stated so earnestly to the United Nations in November:

My colleagues from the State Department have discussed ways in which the United States has not always lived up to its values.  The Department of Justice has been part of the broad, long-lasting, and comprehensive effort to examine those failures and ensure they do not happen again. “

But the failure- to- protect inherent in allowing police to abuse without culpability is happening again. And again. David Bitkower, given the nature of his position in the US government, would be fully aware of underground policies which may be de facto promoting police abuse by giving police free rein to abuse and/or murder US citizens, without culpability. His efforts to portray the situation in an entirely different light could therefore be seen as an act of deliberate– and somewhat alarming– propaganda.

Janet C. Phelan, investigative journalist and human rights defender that has traveled pretty extensively over the Asian region, an author of a tell-all book EXILE, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook