Category Archives: Torture

PM’s daughter blows whistle on 54 nations that helped US w/ illegal detention & torture

open quoteThe 54 countries which were co-opted in the sweeping CIA drive against terrorism include the usual suspects such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria and Libya which have poor or non-existent legal systems, judicial oversight, and human rights. But it also includes western countries such as Australia, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Spain, and Italy, some of which are fierce advocates of civil liberties and human rights.

India is not among the countries named in the report. The list of 136 detainees does not include any Indians, nor were any apprehended in India. A majority of them were detained in Pakistan in raids and many of them are Pakistanis, confirming the country’s reputation as a terrorist haven.close quote (Read more)

Wrong man seized in Macedonia, brutalised by CIA, dumped in Albania

I resent the James Bond image of CIA agents. An organization with the ability to hide its mistakes and escape consequences is bound to be a circus of depravity and abuse.

open quoteBERLIN: A German man who was mistaken for a terrorist and abducted nine years ago has won a measure of redress when the European Court of Human Rights ruled that his rights had been violated and confirmed his account that he was seized by Macedonia, handed over to the CIA, brutalised and detained for months in Afghanistan.close quote (Read more)

Hmmm…. the original story seems to have vanished from the internet, but many references to it remain.

US waterboarded Libyan Islamists (before we helped them)

open quoteThe United States waterboarded Libyan Islamists opposed to Moamer Kadhafi and handed them over to his regime for further torture during the Bush administration, a rights group said Thursday.

A new report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch said a former detainee claimed to have been waterboarded and another described a form of water torture, indicating wider use of the method than is officially claimed.

“Not only did the US deliver Kadhafi his enemies on a silver platter, but it seems the CIA tortured many of them first,” said Laura Pitter, the author of the report.close quote (Read more)

Israel breaks silence over army abuses

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Hafez Rajabi was marked for life by his encounter with the men of the Israeli army’s Kfir Brigade five years ago this week. Sitting beneath the photograph of his late father, the slightly built 21-year-old in jeans and trainers points to the scar above his right eye where he was hit with the magazine of a soldier’s assault rifle after the patrol came for him at his grandmother’s house before 6am on 28 August 2007.

He lifts his black Boss T-shirt to show another scar running some three inches down his back from the left shoulder when he says he was violently pushed – twice – against a sharp point of the cast-iron balustrade beside the steps leading up to the front door. And all that before he says he was dragged 300m to another house by a unit commander who threatened to kill him if he did not confess to throwing stones at troops, had started to beat him again, and at one point held a gun to his head. “He was so angry,” says Hafez. “I was certain that he was going to kill me.”

This is just one young man’s story, of course. Except that – remarkably – it is corroborated by one of the soldiers who came looking for him that morning. One of 50 testimonies on the military’s treatment of children – published today by the veterans’ organisation Breaking the Silence – describes the same episode, if anything more luridly than Hafez does. “We had a commander, never mind his name, who was a bit on the edge,” the soldier, a first sergeant, testifies. “He beat the boy to a pulp, really knocked him around. He said: ‘Just wait, now we’re taking you.’ Showed him all kinds of potholes on the way, asked him: ‘Want to die? Want to die right here?’ and the kid goes: ‘No, no…’ He was taken into a building under construction. The commander took a stick, broke it on him, boom boom. That commander had no mercy. Anyway the kid could no longer stand on his feet and was already crying. He couldn’t take it any more. He cried. The commander shouted: ‘Stand up!’ Tried to make him stand, but from so much beating he just couldn’t. The commander goes: ‘Don’t put on a show,’ and kicks him some more.”close quote (Read more)

‘Vomiting and screaming’ in destroyed waterboarding tapes

open quoteSecret CIA video tapes of the waterboarding of Osama Bin Laden’s suspected jihadist travel arranger Abu Zubaydah show him vomiting and screaming, the BBC has learned.

The tapes were destroyed by the head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, Jose Rodriguez.

In an exclusive interview for Newsnight, Rodriguez has defended the destruction of the tapes and denied waterboarding and other interrogation techniques amount to torture.close quote (Read more)

Bush Convicted of War Crimes in Absentia

open quoteKuala Lumpur — It’s official; George W Bush is a war criminal.

In what is the first ever conviction of its kind anywhere in the world, the former US President and seven key members of his administration were yesterday (Fri) found guilty of war crimes.

Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their legal advisers Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, Jay Bybee and John Yoo were tried in absentia in Malaysia.

The trial held in Kuala Lumpur heard harrowing witness accounts from victims of torture who suffered at the hands of US soldiers and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They included testimony from British man Moazzam Begg, an ex-Guantanamo detainee and Iraqi woman Jameelah Abbas Hameedi who was tortured in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

At the end of the week-long hearing, the five-panel tribunal unanimously delivered guilty verdicts against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their key legal advisors who were all convicted as war criminals for torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.close quote (Read more)

a CIA official is able to publish a book glorifying his illegal acts

open quotehe New York Times reported that the CIA “in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about its secret detention program.” Documents obtained when the ACLU asked a federal judge to hold the CIA in contempt of court — for destruction of evidence which that judge had ordered be produced — subsequently revealed that the agency had actually “destroyed 92 videotapes of terror-suspect interrogations.” The videotapes recorded interrogations of detainees who were waterboarded and otherwise tortured. The original NYT article, by Mark Mazzetti, reported that “the decision to destroy the tapes was made by Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., who was the head of the Directorate of Operations, the agency’s clandestine service” (the NYT later reported that some White House officials had participated in the deliberations and even advocated the tapes’ destruction).

Destruction of these tapes was so controversial because it seemed so obviously illegal. At the time the destruction order was issued, numerous federal courts — as well as the 9/11 Commission — had ordered the U.S. Government to preserve and disclose all evidence relating to interrogations of Al Qaeda and 9/11 suspects. Purposely destroying evidence relevant to legal proceedings is called “obstruction of justice.” Destroying evidence which courts and binding tribunals (such as the 9/11 Commission) have ordered to be preserved is called “contempt of court.” There are many people who have been harshly punished, including some sitting right now in prison, for committing those crimes in far less flagrant ways than was done here. In fact, so glaring was the lawbreaking that the co-Chairmen of the 9/11 Commission — the mild-mannered, consummate establishmentarians Lee Hamilton and Thomas Kean — wrote a New York Times Op-Ed pointedly accusing the CIA of “obstruction” (“Those who knew about those videotapes — and did not tell us about them — obstructed our investigation”).

In 2008, Attorney General Michael Mukasey appointed a Special Prosecutor to determine if criminal charges should be filed. When I was writing my last book about the legal immunity bestowed on political elites even for egregious crimes, I actually expected that Rodriguez would be indicted and that his indictment would be an exception to the rule of elite immunity which I was documenting. As I wrote in my book, “even our political class, I thought, couldn’t allow lawbreaking this brazen to go entirely unpunished.” But I was quite wrong about that.

In November, 2010, the Obama DOJ — consistent with its steadfast shielding of Bush-era criminals from all forms of accountability — announced that the investigation would be closed without any charges being filed. Needless to say — given how subservient federal judges are to the Executive Branch in the post-9/11 era — the federal judge who had ordered the CIA to preserve and produce any such videotapes, Alvin Hellerstein, refused even to hold the CIA in contempt for deliberately disregarding his own order. Instead, Hellerstein — who, like so many federal judges, spent his whole career before joining the bench as a partner for decades in a large corporate law firm serving institutional power — reasoned that punishment for the CIA was unnecessary because, as he put it, new rules issued by the CIA “should lead to greater accountability within the agency and prevent another episode like the videotapes’ destruction.”

In other words, as I put it in a Guardian Op-Ed about Hellerstein’s CIA-protecting decision: the CIA has promised not to do this again, so they shouldn’t be punished for the crimes they committed. Aside from how difficult it is, given the agency’s history, to make that claim without triggering a global laughing fit, it is also grounded in a principle of leniency rarely applied to ordinary citizens. After all, most criminal defendants caught up in the life-destroying hell of a federal prosecution are quite unlikely to repeat their crimes in the future, yet that fact is no bar to punishing them for the illegal acts they already committed. But the CIA, of course, operates under a different justice system: one in which they are free to deliberately break laws and violate court orders with impunity.

Protected by the DOJ and Judge Hellerstein from any and all accountability for what he did, the CIA official who ordered the videotapes’ destruction, Jose Rodriguez, is now enjoying the fruits of his crimes. He just published a new book in which he aggressively defends his decision to destroy those tapes (“The propaganda damage to the image of America would be immense. But the main concern then, and always, was for the safety of my officers . . .I was just getting rid of some ugly visuals that could put the lives of my people at risk”). He also categorically justifies the CIA’s use of torture (“I am certain, beyond any doubt, that these techniques … shielded the people of the United States from harm and led to the capture of killing of Usama bin Ladin”) as well as the agency’s network of black sites (“Why not bring the detainees to trial?,” asks The Washington Post‘s Dana Priest in a review today of the book; Rodriguez’ answer in the book: “because they would get lawyered up, and our job, first and foremost, is to obtain information”). The title of the book: “Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives.”

Rodriguez thus joins a long line of Bush officials — Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, et. al — who not only paid no price for the crimes they committed, but are free to run around boasting of those crimes for profit.close quote (Read more)

CIA Secret Prison: Polish Leaders Break Silence About Black Site

open quoteFor years, the notion that Poland could allow the CIA to operate a secret prison in a remote lake region was treated as a crackpot idea by the country’s politicians, journalists and the public.

A heated political debate this week reveals how dramatically the narrative has changed.

In a string of revelations and political statements, Polish leaders have come closer than ever to acknowledging that the United States ran a secret interrogation facility for terror suspects in 2002 and 2003 in the Eastern European country.close quote (Read more)

Files found at a Libyan government building show strong cooperation between the CIA and Muammar Gaddafi’s intelligence agencies

open quoteFiles found at a Libyan government building show strong cooperation between the CIA and Muammar Gaddafi’s intelligence agencies, including shipping terror suspects to the North African country for interrogation, a report said Friday.

The Central Intelligence Agency, under the administration of then-president George W Bush, brought terror suspects to Libya and suggested questions that Libyan interrogators should ask them, the Wall Street Journal said, citing documents found at the headquarters of Libya’s External Security agency.

The CIA also moved to set up in 2004 “a permanent presence” in the country, the Journal said, according to a note from CIA top operative Stephen Kappes to Libya’s intelligence chief, at the time, Moussa Koussa, was head of Libyan intelligence.

Suggesting the close relationship between the two top clandestine services officials, the note begins “Dear Musa” and was signed “Steve,” said the Journal.

An unnamed US official quoted by the daily noted that, at the time, Libya was breaking diplomatic ice with the West.

“Let’s keep in mind the context here: By 2004, the US had successfully convinced the Libyan government to renounce its nuclear-weapons program and to help stop terrorists who were actively targeting Americans in the US and abroad,” said the official.

The files were uncovered by Human Rights Watch researchers who toured the Libyan government building, and gave copies to the Journal.close quote (Read more from blogs.aljazeera.net)