Category Archives: Extradition/Prisons

American police brutality, exported from Chicago to Guantánamo

Spencer Ackerman reports for The Guardian:

Police brutality updatedWhen the Chicago detective Richard Zuley arrived at Guantánamo Bay late in 2002, US military commanders touted him as the hero they had been looking for.

Here was a Navy reserve lieutenant who had spent the last 25 years as a distinguished detective on the mean streets of Chicago, closing case after case – often due to his knack for getting confessions.

But while Zuley’s brutal interrogation techniques – prolonged shackling, family threats, demands on suspects to implicate themselves and others – would get supercharged at Guantánamo for the war on terrorism, a Guardian investigation has uncovered that Zuley used similar tactics for years, behind closed police-station doors, on Chicago’s poor and non-white citizens. Multiple people in prison in Illinois insist they have been wrongly convicted on the basis of coerced confessions extracted by Zuley and his colleagues.’

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‘Guantanamo of the East': Ukraine Locks Up Refugees at EU’s Behest

Maximilian Popp reports for Spiegel:

Most asylum seekers trying to make their way to Europe take the dangerous route...‘[…] The European Union has provided Ukraine with €30 million ($34 million) in funding, which Kiev is using to build and renovate migrant detention centers, along with other facilities where they are housed temporarily. The International Organization for Migration received several million euros to support Ukrainian authorities in such areas as the internment of undocumented migrants. Brussels is apparently hoping that the system will reduce the number of asylum seekers in Europe — without attracting too much attention.

In 2010, the human rights organization Human Rights Watch criticized the EU for investing millions to divert flows of refugees from Europe toward Ukraine, while neglecting to take sufficient steps to ensure the humane treatment of refugees in Ukraine.

The refugee crisis along the eastern edge of Europe could now escalate in the course of the Ukraine conflict. The government in Kiev has its hands full caring for almost a million internally displaced persons fleeing the fighting between government troops and rebels in eastern Ukraine. It is hardly capable of providing for asylum-seekers from the Middle East and African countries, as well, warns Ilya Todorovich, the UNHCR representative in Ukraine.’

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How Guantanamo Became America’s Interrogation ‘Battle Lab’

Jason Leopold writes for VICE News:

‘[…] According to a new report, there was an ulterior motive for setting up Guantanamo: It was the ideal long-term interrogation facility, a “battle lab” where detainees would be subjected to untested interrogation methods and “exploited” for their intelligence value in what turned out to be a massive “experiment.”

The claims in the 66-page report, “Guantanamo: America’s Battle Lab,” prepared by Seton Hall Law School Center for Policy & Research and shared with VICE News, aren’t new. In 2009, the Senate Armed Services Committee released the findings of its investigation about the treatment of detainees in custody of the US military and reached similar conclusions.

But the Seton Hall study, co-authored by the university’s adjunct professor and senior research fellow Joseph Hickman, a former Guantanamo guard who challenged the military’s narrative surrounding the June 2006 deaths of three detainees – the government called them suicides, Hickman came to believe they were murders – makes a much stronger case. The report relies exclusively on internal government and military documents and statements public officials have made since Guantanamo opened 13 years ago to show how the detention facility “was covertly transformed into a secret interrogation base designed to foster intelligence’s curiosity on the effects of torture and the limits of the human spirit.”‘

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Obama’s State of the Union Double Speak

Chris Hedges on Roots of Terrorism, Free Speech Hypocrisy & Translating #JeSuisCharlie

Editor’s Note: The interview with Chris Hedges begins at around 8:07.

The CIA Didn’t Just Torture, It Experimented on Human Beings

Lisa Hajjar reports for The Nation:

‘[…] The “war on terror” is not the CIA’s first venture into human experimentation. At the dawn of the Cold War, German scientists and doctors with Nazi records of human experimentation were given new identities and brought to the United States under Operation Paperclip. During the Korean War, alarmed by the shocking rapidity of American POWs’ breakdowns and indoctrination by their communist captors, the CIA began investing in mind-control research. In 1953, the CIA established the MK-ULTRA program, whose earliest phase involved hypnosis, electroshock and hallucinogenic drugs. The program evolved into experiments in psychological torture that adapted elements of Soviet and Chinese models, including longtime standing, protracted isolation, sleep deprivation and humiliation. Those lessons soon became an applied “science” in the Cold War.

During the Vietnam War, the CIA developed the Phoenix program, which combined psychological torture with brutal interrogations, human experimentation and extrajudicial executions. In 1963, the CIA produced a manual titled “Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation” to guide agents in the art of extracting information from “resistant” sources by combining techniques to produce “debility, disorientation and dread.” Like the communists, the CIA largely eschewed tactics that violently target the body in favor of those that target the mind by systematically attacking all human senses in order to produce the desired state of compliance. The Phoenix program model was incorporated into the curriculum of the School of the Americas, and an updated version of the Kubark guide, produced in 1983 and titled “Human Resource Exploitation Manual,” was disseminated to the intelligence services of right-wing regimes in Latin America and Southeast Asia during the global “war on communism.”

In the mid-1980s, CIA practices became the subject of congressional investigations into US-supported atrocities in Central America. Both manuals became public in 1997 as a result of Freedom of Information Act litigation by The Baltimore Sun. That would have seemed like a “never again” moment.

But here we are again.’

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ISIS Leader: “If there was no American prison in Iraq, there would be no ISIS.”

Martin Chulov reports for The Guardian:

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Isis.‘In the summer of 2004, a young jihadist in shackles and chains was walked by his captors slowly into the Camp Bucca prison in southern Iraq. He was nervous as two American soldiers led him through three brightly-lit buildings and then a maze of wire corridors, into an open yard, where men with middle-distance stares, wearing brightly-coloured prison uniforms, stood back warily, watching him.

“I knew some of them straight away,” he told me last month. “I had feared Bucca all the way down on the plane. But when I got there, it was much better than I thought. In every way.”

The jihadist, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed, entered Camp Bucca as a young man a decade ago, and is now a senior official within Islamic State (Isis) – having risen through its ranks with many of the men who served time alongside him in prison. Like him, the other detainees had been snatched by US soldiers from Iraq’s towns and cities and flown to a place that had already become infamous: a foreboding desert fortress that would shape the legacy of the US presence in Iraq.

The other prisoners did not take long to warm to him, Abu Ahmed recalled. They had also been terrified of Bucca, but quickly realised that far from their worst fears, the US-run prison provided an extraordinary opportunity. “We could never have all got together like this in Baghdad, or anywhere else,” he told me. “It would have been impossibly dangerous. Here, we were not only safe, but we were only a few hundred metres away from the entire al-Qaida leadership.”’

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Ex-CIA Operative John Kiriakou Says Prison Was Punishment for Whistleblowing on Torture

Brian Ross reports for ABC News:

‘Former CIA officer John Kiriakou is the only CIA employee connected to its interrogation program to go to prison. But he was prosecuted for providing information to reporters, not for anything connected to waterboarding or other actions that today’s Senate Intelligence Committee report calls “torture.”

No other person connected to the program has been charged with a crime, after the Justice Department said their actions had been approved legally or that there was not sufficient admissible evidence in a couple cases of potential wrongdoing, even in light of the death of two detainees in the early 2000s.

Today the Justice Department said that the Senate Intelligence report didn’t provide new information that would lead them to reopen any of the old cases.

Kiriakou was the first person with direct knowledge of the CIA interrogation program to publicly reveal its existence, in an interview with ABC News in 2007. He is now serving a nearly-three-year prison sentence for violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, but he says that’s only what the government wants people to believe.’

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CIA Agents Blast Report, Defend Torture

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘It’s already glaringly obvious that the Senate isn’t going to follow up the CIA torture report with any actual reform, or even a token attempt to hold any of the torturers accountable. Still, CIA officials are outraged.

Nobody likes to be called a torturer, even if they tortured people and even if they’re going to get away with it. CIA Director John Brennan and others were furious about the release of the heavily redacted summary of the report.’

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CIA Torture Report Incomplete as Key Documents Remain Withheld: Interview with Marcy Wheeler

Editor’s Note: Marcy Wheeler is an investigative journalist who focusses on national security and civil liberties issues. You can find her writings over at emptywheel.net

Why the Senate Torture Report Doesn’t Matter: Interview with David Remes

New Calls to Prosecute Bush Admin as Senate Report Reveals Brutal CIA Torture: Interview with Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch

ACLU Head Calls For Obama To Pardon Bush And Those Who Tortured

CIA Tortured Many, Lied Often, Gained Little Intel

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘The Obama Administration finally released the redacted 540-page summary of a still secret 6,000+ page report on CIA torture in the wake of 9/11. The story it tells is not a pretty one.

Brutal methods that led to the deaths of captives were the order of the day, and the CIA lied to both the American public and then-President George W. Bush about what they did and what it got them.

What did it get them? Not much as it turns out. The old adages about torture not being a reliable way to gather information and captives telling torturers what they think they want to hear to get them to stop proved true once again, getting them very little usable intelligence.’

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CIA’s brutal and ineffective use of torture revealed in landmark report

Spencer Ackerman reports for The Guardian:

 ‘The CIA’s post-9/11 embrace of torture was brutal and ineffective – and the agency repeatedly lied about its usefulness, a milestone report by the Senate intelligence committee released on Tuesday concludes.

After examining 20 case studies, the report found that torture “regularly resulted in fabricated information,” said committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, in a statement summarizing the findings.

“During the brutal interrogations the CIA was often unaware the information was fabricated.”

The torture that the CIA carried out was even more extreme than what it portrayed to congressional overseers and the George W Bush administration, the committee found. It went beyond techniques already made public through a decade of leaks and lawsuits, which had revealed that agency interrogators subjected detainees to quasi-drowning, staged mock executions, and revved power drills near their heads.’

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US Prepares for Blowback as CIA Torture Report Looms

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘After a protracted battle with the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Obama Administration will finally release its heavily redacted summary of the Senate’s CIA torture report Tuesday.

Details of what will be in the report are scant right now, though there have been reports that the 480-page document will not use the word torture at all when describing the CIA’s torture of detainees.

Officials who opposed the release were long warning it would provoke a backlash if the world knew what the CIA did, and US embassies the world over are ratcheting up security for the planned release.

The Pentagon is also making preparations, putting thousands of Marines on high alert across the Middle East and Africa for potential operations that may be launched after the release.’

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United Nations Panel Slams U.S. Record on Police Brutality, Torture, Child Migrants & Guantánamo

‘As protests continue over the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the United States is facing pressure internationally over its failure to put a halt to police brutality. In a new report, the United Nations Committee Against Torture expresses deep concern over the “frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals.” The Committee also criticizes a number of other U.S. practices on torture and imprisonment, Guantánamo Bay, and the custody of migrants including children in “prison-like detention facilities.” We discuss the report’s findings with Dr. Jens Modvig, member of the Committee against Torture and one of two rapporteurs for its report.’ (Democracy Now!)

Obama’s Record on Defending Civil and Constitutional Rights Abysmal: Interview with Michael Ratner

Editor’s Note: Michael Ratner is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), and U.S. attorney for Julian Assange and Wikileaks. In this interview with the Real News, Ratner discusses the Obama administration’s policy towards Ferguson, the NSA, Gitmo and torture.

Camp Bucca: How the Islamic State evolved in an American prison

Terrence McCoy writes for The Washington Post:

‘In March 2009, in a wind-swept sliver of Iraq, a sense of uncertainty befell the southern town of Garma, home to one of the Iraq war’s most notorious prisons. The sprawling Camp Bucca detention center, which had detained some of the war’s most radical extremists along the Kuwait border, had just freed hundreds of inmates. Families rejoiced, anxiously awaiting their sons, brothers and fathers who had been lost to Bucca for years. But a local official fretted.

“These men weren’t planting flowers in a garden,” police chief Saad Abbas Mahmoud told The Washington Post’s Anthony Shadid, estimating that 90 percent of the freed prisoners would soon resume fighting. “They weren’t strolling down the street. This problem is both big and dangerous. And regrettably, the Iraqi government and the authorities don’t know how big the problem has become.”

Mahmoud’s assessment of Camp Bucca, which funneled 100,000 detainees through its barracks and closed months later, would prove prescient. The camp now represents an opening chapter in the history of the Islamic State — many of its leaders, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, were incarcerated and probably met there. According to former prison commanders, analysts and soldiers, Camp Bucca provided a unique setting for both prisoner radicalization and inmate collaboration — and was formative in the development of today’s most potent jihadist force.’

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Moazzam Begg: ‘MI5 gave me the green light to go Syria’

Murky Special Ops Have Become Corporate Bonanza, Says Report

Ryan Gallagher reports for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Murky Special Ops Have Become Corporate Bonanza, Says Report‘The U.S. government is paying private contractors billions of dollars to support secretive military units with drones, surveillance technology, and “psychological operations,” according to new research. A detailed report, published last week by the London-based Remote Control Project, shines a light on the murky activities of the U.S. Special Operations Command by analyzing publicly available procurement contracts dated between 2009 and 2013. USSOCOM encompasses four commands – from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps – and plays a key role in orchestrating clandestine U.S. military missions overseas.

Researcher Crofton Black, who also works as an investigator for human rights group Reprieve, was able to dig through the troves of data and identify the beneficiaries of almost $13 billion worth of spending by USSOCOM over the five-year period. He found that more than 3,000 companies had provided services that included aiding remotely piloted drone operations in Afghanistan and the Philippines, helping to conduct surveillance of targets, interrogating prisoners, and launching apparent propaganda campaigns.’

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Defense lawyer of ‘9/11 mastermind’ resigns, says U.S. is crafting a ‘show trial’

NPR reports:

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has claimed to be the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and multiple attempted attacks against the U.S.‘Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks, is facing a military commission at Guantanamo Bay and potentially the death penalty. He was captured in 2003 but his case still hasn’t gone to trial. Last week, Maj. Jason Wright — one of the lawyers defending Mohammed — resigned from the Army. He has accused the U.S. government of “abhorrent leadership” on human rights and due process guarantees and says it is crafting a “show trial.”

[…] Wright tells NPR’s Arun Rath that it’s hard to gain any client’s trust, but it was especially hard with Mohammed. His former client is one of six “high-value detainees” being prosecuted at Guantanamo for offenses that could carry the death penalty. “All six of these men have been tortured by the U.S. government,” he says.

Wright says Mohammed in particular has faced a level of torture “beyond comprehension.” He says his client was waterboarded by the CIA 183 times and subjected to over a week of sleep deprivation; there were threats that his family would be killed. “And those are just the declassified facts that I’m able to actually speak about,” Wright says. Given that treatment, Wright knew it would be hard for Mohammed to trust him.’

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Decaying Guantánamo Defies Closing Plans

Charlie Savage reports for The New York Times:

‘[…] More than 12 years after the Bush administration sent the first prisoners here, tensions are mounting over whether Mr. Obama can close the prison before leaving office, according to interviews with two dozen administration, congressional and military officials. A split is emerging between State Department officials, who appear eager to move toward Mr. Obama’s goal, and some Pentagon officials, who say they share that ambition but seem warier than their counterparts about releasing low-level detainees.

Legal pressures are also building as the war in Afghanistan approaches its official end, and the judiciary grows uncomfortable with the military’s practice of force-feeding hunger strikers. And military officials here, faced with decaying infrastructure and aging inmates, are taking steps they say are necessary to keep Guantánamo operating — but may also help institutionalize it.’

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Britain ‘attempts to censor’ US report on torture sites

Jamie Doward and Ian Cobain report for The Guardian:

Diego GarciaThe government stands accused of seeking to conceal Britain’s role in extraordinary rendition, ahead of the release of a declassified intelligence report that exposes the use of torture at US secret prisons around the world.

The Senate report on the CIA‘s interrogation programme, due to be released in days, will confirm that the US tortured terrorist suspects after 9/11. In advance of the release, Barack Obama admitted on Friday: “We tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.”

Now, in a letter to the human rights group Reprieve, former foreign secretary William Hague has confirmed that the UK government has held discussions with the US about what it intends to reveal in the report which, according to al-Jazeera, acknowledges that the British territory of Diego Garcia was used for extraordinary rendition.’

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Obama: “We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks”

David Jackson reports for USA Today: AP_OBAMA_64873740

‘President Obama said Friday that some CIA officials who interrogated suspects after the 9/11 attacks “crossed a line” into torture. “We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks,” Obama said while discussing a forthcoming Senate report on enhanced interrogation techniques. “We did some things that were contrary to our values.”‘

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Lawyer: UK Officials ‘Dodging’ Accountability On Rendition, Torture

Nadia Prupis reports for Mint Press News:

‘As Abdel Hakim Belhaj appeals the ruling that barred him from suing MI6 for its role in his rendition and torture in 2004, his lawyer told a British court that UK government officials are trying to evade responsibility and prevent the case from continuing.

Richard Hermer QC, who represents Belhaj, told the judges of UK’s high court on Monday that government officials want “immunity from accountability… irrespective of the illegality of the act.”

Belhaj is suing MI6, MI5, the Home Office, the Foreign Office, and other UK intelligence agencies and officials for their collusion in his and his wife’s abduction and rendition to Libya, where they were tortured by security forces of Muammar Gaddafi. Belhaj’s wife, Fatima Boudchar, was pregnant at the time. Belhaj, a prominent Libyan dissident, was a leader of the anti-Gaddafi Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and the Libyan al-Watan party.’

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MPs demand control over CIA activity on British territory of Diego Garcia

Richard Norton-Taylor reports for The Guardian:

US bomber plane on Diego Garcia‘The US must not be allowed again to use Diego Garcia, Britain’s territory in the Indian Ocean, to transfer terror suspects, for combat operations, “or any other politically sensitive activity”, without the explicit authority of the British government, a cross-party group of MPs insists. Information about the extent to which the CIA used the island as a “black site” to transfer detainees is still being withheld, it suggests.

Inhabitants of Diego Garcia were forcibly removed by the Labour government in the 1960s to make way for a large US military base. The island has been used as a bomber base for air strikes against Iraq and Afghanistan. More controversially, it was secretly used as a refuelling transit stop for CIA aircraft rendering detainees to Guantánamo Bay. In 2008, the Labour government was forced to retract assurances it had previously given to MPs about the CIA’s use of the base. In its report on Thursday,, the Commons foreign affairs committee refers to a classified US Congress investigation that suggests the British government is still withholding information about the full extent of the CIA’s use of Diego Garcia.’

READ MORE @ THE GUARDIAN…

Secret state: Photographing the hidden world of governmental surveillance, from drone bases to “black sites”

Peter Popham reports for The Independent:

National Reconnaissance Office Ground Station, New Mexico‘Trevor Paglen is an artist of a very particular kind. His principal tool is the camera, and most of his works are photographs, but the reason they are considered to be art – the reason, for example, that this bland photo, three feet wide by two feet high, showing the outer wall and the interior roof outline of the Salt Pit, with a dun-coloured Afghan hill behind it, sells for $20,000 – is because of the arduous, painstaking, sometimes dangerous path that culminated in pressing the shutter; and because it reveals something that the most powerful state in history has done everything in its power to keep secret. Since he was a postgraduate geography student at UCLA 10 years ago, Paglen has dedicated himself to a very 21st-century challenge: seeing and recording what our political masters do everything in their power to render secret and invisible.’

READ MORE @ THE INDEPENDENT…

So Obama Really Can Close Gitmo

Medea Benjamin and Alli McCracken write for Common Dreams:

‘Over the weekend the government of Qatar brokered a dramatic deal between the US and the Taliban to swap five Guantánamo prisoners for Bowe Bergdahl, a US soldier held as a prisoner of war for almost five years. Flexing his political clout, President Obama demonstrated his ability to navigate with ease through the Congressional obstacles in the way of releasing prisoners from Guantánamo. Some House Republicans accused the President of breaking the law to get his way. But the Obama administration made it clear that the President had added a “signing statement” to the bill restricting the transfer of Guantánamo detainees, saying that the restrictions violated his Constitutional prerogative.

Called “the hardest of the hardcore” by hawkish Republican Senator John McCain, the Guantánamo prisoners released in the swap have been identified as high-level Taliban operatives. According to Human Rights Watch, one of those released, Mullah Norullah Nori, could be prosecuted for possible war crimes, including mass killings. All of the men were recommended for continued detention because of their “high-risk” status. Qatar has assured the US that the released men will be held and monitored in Qatar for at least a year, but some US officials are highly critical of the move, saying that the men are likely to return to their former positions within the Taliban.

If Obama is willing to take the risk with these “high-risk” prisoners, and if he really wants to close Guantanamo as he has claimed many times, why hasn’t he been using his authority all along to release the 77 prisoners already cleared for release? Of the remaining 149 Gitmo prisoners, 77 were cleared by the President’s Guantánamo Review Task Force – meaning the US government has deemed them innocent or not a threat to Americans. But since President Obama’s speech at the National Defense University in May of 2013, in which he reiterated his promise to close the detention facility, only 12 of these men have been transferred.

In his May 23 speech, the President also announced he was lifting a self-imposed ban on repatriating Yemeni prisoners, who represent the majority of remaining prisoners. Yet over one year later, not one Yemeni has been transferred. If finding a safe place to transfer prisoners is indeed a problem, President Obama could immediately accept the generous offer of Uruguay’s President Mujica to take five men from Guantánamo.

By releasing the five Guantánamo prisoners without prior Congressional approval, President Obama has blown away the excuse that his hands are tied by Congress.’

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Important Revelations From New Leaks of CIA Torture Report: Interview with Michael Ratner