Tag Archives: Torture

Doctors for Assange Say UK May be Liable for His Torture, from Consortium News

The British and US governments want to kill Julian Assange as quickly as possible, without it looking like murder. From consortiumnews.com:

In a new letter to the British medical journal The Lancet, Doctors for Assange say that the British government may be held legally responsible for the torture of the imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher.

Here is the doctors’ statement followed by the letter to The Lancet and the doctors’ letter to the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland.

UK officials may be legally culpable in the torture of Julian Assange

Doctors have warned that UK officials could be held accountable for the torture of Julian Assange in an open letter published in The Lancet on International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

The 216 undersigned physicians and psychologists from 33 countries have accused UK and U.S. government officials of intensifying Julian Assange’s psychological torture in spite of the world’s leading authorities on human rights and international law calling for his immediate release from prison.

Clinical Psychologist and Australian co-author of the publication, ‘The ongoing torture and medical neglect of Julian Assange’, Dr Lissa Johnson said the failure to properly treat Mr Assange may amount to an act of torture in which state officials, from parliament to court to prison, risk being judged complicit.

“Our letter is published just two days after the US Department of Justice announced a new superseding indictment against Assange representing yet another escalation in psychological torture tactics,” said Dr Johnson.

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An Illustrated First-Person Guide to the C.I.A.’s Torture Program, from ENMNews and The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

Anyone who doesn’t think the CIA tortures prisoners should volunteer to undergo one or more of the “enhanced interrogation” techniques described in this article. From ENMNews and The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting at enmnews.com:

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — One shows the prisoner nude and strapped to a crude gurney, his entire body clenched as he is waterboarded by an unseen interrogator. Another shows him with his wrists cuffed to bars so high above his head he is forced on to his tiptoes, with a long wound stitched on his left leg and a howl emerging from his open mouth. Yet another depicts a captor smacking his head against a wall.

They are sketches drawn in captivity by the Guantánamo Bay prisoner known as Abu Zubaydah, self-portraits of the torture he was subjected to during the four years he was held in secret prisons by the C.I.A.

Published here for the first time, they are gritty and highly personal depictions that put flesh, bones and emotion on what until now had sometimes been portrayed in popular culture in sanitized or inaccurate ways: the so-called enhanced interrogations techniques used by the United States in secret overseas prisons during a feverish pursuit of Al Qaeda after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

In each illustration, Mr. Zubaydah — the first person to be subject to the interrogation program approved by President George W. Bush’s administration — portrays the particular techniques as he says they were used on him at a C.I.A. black site in Thailand in August 2002.

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More British complicity exposed in latest ‘CIA Torture Unredacted’ report, by TruePublica

The CIA Torture Report is horrifying, and the British play a prominent role. From TruePublica at truepublica.org.uk:

The latest report about kidnappings, rendition, ‘black sites’ and torture is a remarkable piece of investigative work. It provides us with nothing less than a litany of shocking evidence and testimony and at 403 pages it makes for truly grim reading. This article is made up of a very brief set of extracts from the just-released  CIA Torture Unredacted report. It presents the findings from a four-year joint investigation by The Rendition Project and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism into the use of rendition, secret detention and torture by the CIA and its partners in the ‘War on Terror’. 

Attempts to hold UK authorities to account for their role in the rendition (kidnapping and/or movement of suspects) and torture programme have been thwarted at every turn. Successive governments have repeatedly denied any involvement of UK security service or military personnel in torture or CIDT. Even as credible evidence mounted, officials were slow to fully investigate, were reticent about holding anyone to account, and have done very little to offer meaningful redress.  In 2010, the incoming UK Coalition government led by David Cameron finally launched a judge-led inquiry chaired by Peter Gibson, which was closed down before witnesses were even called, in part because of the considerable constraints placed on the Inquiry by government. Indeed, successive UK governments have gone to great lengths to suppress vital evidence, including passing legislation precisely for this purpose and continue to this day to resist repeated calls for a new inquiry.

Between 2001 and 2009, the CIA established a global network of secret prisons (‘black sites’) for the purpose of detaining terrorism suspects, in secret and indefinitely, and interrogating them through the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The abuses which took place were severe, sustained, and in clear violation of domestic and international law. The perpetrators have never been held to account. The Rendition Project’s website (www.therenditionproject.org.uk), provide the most detailed public account to date of the CIA torture programme.

Information about CIA torture programme prisoners had to be prised out of the US military’s unwilling bureaucracy. But already at that time, there were rumours of an even more secretive programme, run in parallel by the Central Intelligence Agency outside the Pentagon’s chain of command. Press stories spoke of people abducted in the middle of the night, manhandled onto planes and never heard of again.

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Saudi journalist tortured to death in prison, by Middle East Monitor

By tomorrow this will be yesterday’s news, even among the few media organs that mention it. The journalist was not a American writing for the Washington Post. From Middle East Monitor at middleeastmonitor.com:

Saudi journalist and writer Turki Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Jasser was tortured to death in Saudi Arabia while in detention [Prisoners of Conscie/Twitter]

Saudi journalist and writer Turki Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Jasser was tortured to death while in detention in Saudi Arabia [Prisoners of Conscie/Twitter]

Saudi journalist and writer Turki Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Jasser has died after being tortured while in detention, the New Khaleej reported yesterday.

Reporting human rights sources, the news site said that Al-Jasser was arrested and tortured to death after Saudi authorities claimed he administered the Twitter account Kashkool, which disclosed rights violations committed by the Saudi authorities and royal family.

The sources said that the authorities identified Al-Jasser as the admin using moles in Twitter’s regional office located in Dubai. He was arrested in March.

According to the sources, these spies are considered part of the Saudi Cyber Army which was established by Saud Al-Qahtani, the former aide of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

In a tweet, Al-Qahtani has said that the fake names on Twitter would not protect those behind the accounts from the Saudi authorities.

*  *  *

Where’s the international outrage? The condemnations?

 

Senator Richard Burr: a Longtime Fan of Torture, by Ray McGovern

Why should Gina Haspel’s record running a torture site disqualify her from running the CIA? Torture is, after all, a CIA speciality. From Ray McGovern at consortiumnews.com:

Newly released declassified documents prove once and for all that CIA Director Gina Haspel oversaw torture in Thailand, which the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee knew all along, as Ray McGovern explains.

Newly released official documents obtained by the National Security Archive showing that CIA Director Gina Haspel directly supervised waterboarding at the first CIA “Black Site” simply confirm what Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC) already knew as he orchestrated the charade that was Haspel’s confirmation hearing.  Burr allowed her to “classify” her own direct role in waterboarding and other torture techniques so that it could be kept from the public and secure her confirmation—-further proof that this Senate oversight committee has instead become an overlook committee.

That Haspel supervised the torture of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri at the first CIA “black site” for interrogation was already clear to those who had followed Haspel’s career, but she was able to do a song and dance when Sen. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) asked her about it.  Haspel declined to reply on grounds that the information was classified. It was of course because Haspel herself had classified it. All the senators knew that only too well. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) had strongly objected to this bizarre practice only minutes before.

Witnessing this charade from the audience prompted me to stand up, excuse myself for interrupting, and suggest that the committee members were entitled to an honest answer since this was a public hearing with thousands watching on TV.  The American people were also entitled to know whether or not Haspel was directly involved in torture. As I was calmly pointing out that any Senate Intelligence Committee member who prepared for the hearing already knew the answer, I was “escorted out,” manhandled and charged with disrupting Congress and resisting arrest.

McGovern after he made a comment at Haspel’s confirmation hearing.

Jeremy Scahill later did a good job on Democracy Now! in putting needed context around the free pass and encouragement CIA torturers continue to enjoy at the hands of co-conspirators like Sen. Burr.

I have now had time to read through the documents obtained by the National Security Archive via Freedom of Information Act requests.  Suffice it to say they are so sad and sickening that I had to stop reading.

To continue reading: Senator Richard Burr: a Longtime Fan of Torture

The Friendly Mask Of The Orwellian Oligarchy Is Slipping Off, by Caitlin Johnstone

Gina Haspel looks like a grandmother, the kind who locks the grandkids in a closet and feeds them a ketchup sandwich once a day. From Caitlin Johnstone at medium.com:

Gina Haspel has been confirmed as America’s new CIA Director, fulfilling her predecessor Mike Pompeo’s pledge to turn the CIA into “a much more vicious agency”. “Bloody Gina” has reportedly been directly involved in both torturing people and destroying evidence of torture in her long and depraved career, which some say hurts the CIA’s reputation.

Others say it just makes it more honest.

The lying, torturing, propagandizing, drug trafficking, coup-staging, warmongering Central Intelligence Agency has done some of the most unspeakably horrific things to human beings that have ever happened in the history of our species. If you think I’m exaggerating, do your own research into into some of the CIA’s activities like the Phoenix Program, which used “Rape, gang rape, rape using eels, snakes, or hard objects, and rape followed by murder; electric shock (‘the Bell Telephone Hour’) rendered by attaching wires to the genitals or other sensitive parts of the body, like the tongue; the ‘water treatment’; the ‘airplane’ in which the prisoner’s arms were tied behind the back, and the rope looped over a hook on the ceiling, suspending the prisoner in midair, after which he or she was beaten; beatings with rubber hoses and whips; the use of police dogs to maul prisoners,” and “The use of the insertion of the 6-inch dowel into the canal of one of my detainee’s ears, and the tapping through the brain until dead. The starvation to death (in a cage), of a Vietnamese woman who was suspected of being part of the local political education cadre in one of the local villages…The use of electronic gear such as sealed telephones attached to…both the women’s vaginas and men’s testicles [to] shock them into submission.”

This is what the CIA is. This is what the CIA has always been. This is what Mike Pompeo said he wanted to help make the CIA “much more vicious” than. Appointing Gina Haspel as head of the agency is just putting an honest face on it.

To continue reading: The Friendly Mask Of The Orwellian Oligarchy Is Slipping Off,

VIPS Call on Senate Intel Panel to Vote Against Haspel, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

It would be an interesting exercise to have proponents of “enhanced interrogation” undergo some of it, and see if they still think it’s not torture. Let’s start with Gina Haspel. From the VIPS at consortiumnews.com:

With torture-overseer Gina Haspel set to face the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday instead of a judge, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity urge committee members to vote against her nomination.

MEMORANDUM FOR: Members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

SUBJECT: Opposition to Gina Haspel as CIA Director

We, the undersigned intelligence, diplomatic, law enforcement, and military professionals, are writing to urge you to vote against Gina Haspel to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.

Putting Haspel in charge of the CIA would undo attempts by the agency — and the nation — to repudiate torture. The message this would send to the CIA workforce is simple: Engage in war crimes, in crimes against humanity, and you’ll get promoted. Don’t worry about the law. Don’t worry about ethics. Don’t worry about morality or the fact that torture doesn’t even work. Go ahead and do it anyway. We’ll cover for you. And you can destroy the evidence, too.

Described in the media as a “seasoned intelligence veteran,” Haspel has been at the CIA for 33 years, both at headquarters and in senior positions overseas. Now the deputy director, she has tried hard to stay out of the public eye. Former CIA Director Michael Pompeo has lauded her “uncanny ability to get things done and inspire those around her.”

That is true for those of Haspel’s mindset. But many of the rest of us who knew and worked with Haspel at the CIA called her “Bloody Gina” because of her direct involvement in the CIA’s torture program.

The President’s appointment of Haspel hurts morale among CIA officers who recognize that torture is wrong, inefficient, and counterproductive. It comforts people at the agency who still believe that “enhanced interrogation” is somehow acceptable.

The message it sends to our friends and allies (and the countries we criticize in the State Department’s annual human rights reports) is this: We say we’re a shining city on a hill, a beacon of respect for human rights, civil rights, civil liberties and the rule of law. But that simply is not true. We say those things when it’s expedient. We say them to make ourselves feel good. But when push comes to shove, we do what we want, international law and the 8thAmendment to the Constitution be damned.

To continue reading: VIPS Call on Senate Intel Panel to Vote Against Haspel

Would Trump’s New CIA Director Reinstate Torture Program? by Ben Swann

Trump’s new pick for CIA Director ran a black site “enhanced interrogation center,” and then destroyed 92 tapes, perhaps because some people might not understand the difference between enhanced interrogation and torture. Not that her record should disqualify her from the CIA Directorship. Trump probably could have dug up someone with an even more checkered record. From Ben Swann at theburningplatform.com:

 

The next director of the CIA might be one of the most controversial picks ever.

Gina Haspel not only helped to oversee the CIA’s torture program, but may have also destroyed evidence in an effort to hide torture techniques. And one CIA whistleblower says Haspel and those around her “tortured for the sake of torture.”

Is this really the person who should run the Central Intelligence Agency?

Let’s give it a Reality Check you won’t get anywhere else.

Gina Haspel is making headlines as the newly nominated director of the Central Intelligence Agency. She’s been chosen to step in for outgoing CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who President Trump chose to become Secretary of State in place of outgoing Rex Tillerson.

Some of those headlines are for her being the first woman nominated to the top CIA post. But others are rightfully questioning her connections to the CIA’s failed torture program.

So who is Haspel?

Well, we know she’s been with the CIA since 1985 and was assigned to the Central European Division.

According to the New York Times, Haspel served “in Turkey and Central Asia, before ascending to station chief in New York, where she was posted when Osama bin Laden was killed and worked closely with the F.B.I. as the agencies combed through files taken from his compound.”

In her career, she’s also headed up the CIA station in London — twice — and served as the acting director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service in 2013.

But what’s troubling is her role in torture, and destruction of evidence of torture, dating back to 2002.

In October 2002, Haspel was placed in charge of the CIA “black site” prison named “Cat’s Eye” in Thailand. She arrived after Al Qaeda terror suspect Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded and tortured at the cite.

But, under her watch, another Al Qaeda suspect, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was waterboarded three times.

To continue reading: Would Trump’s New CIA Director Reinstate Torture Program?

Unsealed CIA Memos Provide Shocking ‘Salt Pit’ Black Site Details, by Tyler Durden

The CIA paid two psychologists $81 million dollars to provide cover and conduct interrogations at a secret torture facility in Afghanistan. Read it and weep. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

A new batch of 274 CIA documents connected with Bush era torture have just been made public as a result of a lawsuit brought by families of victims. Contained in the documents are newly unearthed details on the CIA’s “black site” program which reached its peak under Bush’s ‘war on terror’ as well as shocking details revealing how the agency integrated its contract psychologists into its ‘enhanced interrogation’ program in order to give torture a veneer of legality. While much of this story of CIA torture has already slowly come to light over the past few years, especially with the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report, the just released documents capture internal high level agency discussions revealing a cover-up in action.

Many of the memos focus on the CIA’s infamous ‘Cobalt’ site in Afghanistan (also code named The Salt Pit), routinely described in headlines as the “sadistic dungeon” and “dark prison” for its full sensory deprivation darkness which detainees experienced round the clock, sometimes for years, as well as the two psychologists credited with designing the program of brutal interrogation techniques: John “Bruce” Jessen and James Mitchell.

Two surviving prisoners and the family of a detainee who died at the Colbalt site reached an out-of-court settlement with the CIA psychologists in August after a lawsuit was brought for their role in the torture. As was hoped, the CIA and Pentagon were forced to declassify the documents related to the case in pretrial discovery. 


Satellite image of Cobalt site, also called the Salt Pitt, from now public documents.

The documents show the psychologists had been directly involved in designing and implementing torture, and that the blurring of lines between CIA interrogators and the psychologists originally brought in for “research” and development of techniques had agency leadership worried over future legal ramifications. Jessen himself had spent 10 days at the Cobalt facility in November 2002 where he was involved in interrogating Gul Rahman – a suspected militant who died of hypothermia while chained naked from the waist down to a concrete floor. He died 5 days after Jessen left. 

To continue reading: Unsealed CIA Memos Provide Shocking ‘Salt Pit’ Black Site Details

Hiding the Ugly Business of Torture, by Ray McGovern

If anything should absolutely be made public, it’s the government’s record of torture. From Ray McGovern at antiwar.com:

A grisly feature of the “war on terror” was America’s descent into torture, but the powers-that-be have decided that the common folk shouldn’t worry their little heads about this ugliness

So, you did not believe in the power of the Deep State? Well, you may change your mind after reading a report in The New York Times that the powers-that-be in Washington are about to deep-six the 6,700-page Senate report based on original CIA cables and other documents that not only to depict savage torture practices during the George W. Bush era, but also show that CIA officials consistently lied in claiming these heinous practices yielded information of any intelligence value.

 

In what amounts to a gross violation of the public trust – not to mention his oath to the Constitution – Senate Intelligence Committee chair, Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, has recalled all copies and will put the report under lock and key for good – dismissing it as a “footnote in history.”

The only hope for those of us who want to see torturers held accountable is that some patriotic truthteller has – or will – put the report on a thumb drive and send it off to WikiLeaks or some other brave outlet that will publish it.

Small wonder that those agencies and individuals involved in the torture and those – like Burr – who are afraid of the torturers want to keep the report from public view. According to the Times, the full report describes interrogation sessions “in great detail.” It also “explains the origins of the program, identifies the officials involved, and offers details on the role of each agency in the secret prison program” in which detainees were tortured.

Is that why, when copies of the original report were sent to Executive Branch agencies, no one was allowed to read them? Katherine Hawkins, senior counsel at the Constitution Project, immediately called the return of the report to the Senate committee “extremely disturbing.” She labeled “absurd” that no one in the Executive Branch was permitted to read the Senate report, five years in the making.

What Burr’s subservience to the intelligence agencies that he is supposed to be overseeing tells me is that he will shy away from anything implicating former CIA Director John Brennan and his co-conspirators in other shocking activities.

To continue reading: Hiding the Ugly Business of Torture